If your heart calls for adventure then why don’t you listen to it for a change?
“Does he live here?” I ask the gentleman standing by the bus stop. “If you’re talking about Chip Underwood then yes. Since a long time.”, he says. I walk slowly to his house. This is my first field job and I’m trying not to mess it up. I finally reach his house and muster up the courage to ring the doorbell. He opens the door and gestures for me to come inside, if he had been expecting me all morning. What do I say? How do I start? Will I be able to do thi–“Hello.” he says, interrupting my thoughts.
“Hi. I’m John Diamond from the Daily Herald and since you’ve been here perhaps for the longest time, we’d like you to tell us some of your stories about this place”, I said. I saw that it was very dark, despite the fact that it was afternoon. He sat in the center of the room on a rocking chair and I sat on an old sofa with a small notebook and a pencil in my hand, waiting for him to break the silence. He said, “There’s nothing much to tell about this town but the attempts at escaping it” I waited for him to continue but when I realized he had stopped talking I timidly said, “What about 15 years ago? What about Clive Morgan?” I thought he was going to freak out or tell me to get out of his house but he didn’t. He just took a deep breath and said, “Well that’s one story to tell.”
15 years ago.
I wasn’t very sure how to start. The things we did everyday weren’t what you’d call eventful. The town was deserted half of the time, there were empty houses and silence engulfed us. We all knew that we weren’t going anywhere if we stayed in that town. There were people who had grown adjusted to the town and there were people who wanted something more out of themselves. With all of these things I did not know how to start. So I decided to start from the beginning, as most stories do.
I was the son of a local farmer. We used to sell produce and make a living, we won’t do that good but we’d get by. My father left when I was 6 and it was just me and my mom. My mom used to lift rocks so that I could afford an education so I started going to a small school nearby and didn’t have many friends, until I met Clive. People didn’t sit with me in lunch because I wore tattered clothes and Clive was the first one who did. He didn’t say anything for a first few times but then he did and thank god he did. After school, we used to go to a hay field not that far from Clive’ house. In that moment, when we used to run across the field with the wind hitting my face I could forget the world for just a moment. Clive came from the other side of town. He used to walk till school, in good clothes and good everything but never for once did he make me feel like we were different. We were the best things for each other. For eight years
One afternoon, I was sitting in class, trying to focus on the subject at hand but I just couldn’t. All I could think about was not being able to breathe in this classroom, just seeing the teacher’s lips move up and down unable to hear his voice and that’s when I saw the hay-field. I looked at it, trying to recollect my memories from so many years ago. I looked at it with a dream in my eyes. A dream to run across it, with the wind trying to suppress me, my eyes are closed but I can still see the scenery, feel it and it’s magnificent. A dream to feel that one moment again. I asked myself, “What if I could be free again but forever now” I get hit by a chalk and hear a loud voice, “Mr Underwood!” I forgot that I was actually in class. My best friend, Clive Morgan, is sitting two rows away from me and he loses it when I am being lectured. I head home after the last class, a thought constantly bothering me, thoughts actually. Silence is a very difficult thing to deal with. It seems so perfect at times, when you can hear your own thoughts but sometimes it is our own thoughts we don’t want to hear. It feels..empty. When I had seen that hay field, I felt that there was something more to life then the emptiness. I had felt that this small town was slowly caving in, trying to suffocate me and that hay field felt like a way out, an escape. But why now? After years of living here, why now? It was an epiphany. That hay field, in a brief moment had taught me how to dream.
I went to my terrace and confronted these thoughts. Clive was sitting next to me and I was looking up, at the night sky, crowded with the beautiful celestial. I couldn’t stand the silence anymore and I said out loud, “Clive, do you think we’d ever get out of here?”
“I dunno. But I’m hopin’ that the day’s not far.”
That sentence was about to change everything.
“The day’s not gonna come, if we don’t try our best. Eh?” I told him. He nodded with agreement. “Look Chip, there’s no one in this world I’d run away with other than my best friend. So I guess we should pack our bags.”
It is said that caged birds are the ones that sing about freedom in the most beautiful way. So, me and Clive, the two caged birds decided that we couldn’t just sing about freedom, we wanted to experience it. We decided that one night we were going to run, as far as we could, with the limited resources we have. I was supposed to meet Clive at any alleyway between our houses. I reached before time and waited for Clive there. I had never thought twice about what I was doing before now but it didn’t feel wrong, it felt so pure. Maybe that’s what I did wrong.
I thought about the places where we could go. I wanted to open a bookshop by the sea. There would be a small restaurant, where they would serve all types of cuisines. Me and Clive would be the only people who would work there. We would have a small boat that we could take out in the waters and the water below us would be crystal clear. I waited for another hour and there was still no sign of Clive. I was beginning to lose hope now. I told myself that he would come and the bookshop wasn’t too much to ask. Was it? I went back home after hours of waiting. Maybe Clive hadn’t waken up in time, he’d explain everything to me tomorrow. Yes, he’d explain everything to me tomorrow.
I was sitting on the breakfast table in the morning, gulping down a cup of coffee while simultaneously trying to pack my bag. My room was clean for the first time, everything was where it was supposed to be. I hurried till the bus stop and a nice lady stopped the bus until I made it. Clive wasn’t there but the whole day wasn’t completely going to shit and things were nice for a change. I returned home and saw a man in a brown uniform, the local sheriff sitting on the couch. He looked at me like he was examining me and said with a deep voice “You Chip?” “Yessir.”, I said.
“Well, I’m here to tell you son that yesterday Clive Morgan was found dead in the alleyway.”
No. No. No. NO. This couldn’t be happening. I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t do anything so I just cried. I cried and I screamed. How could something like this happen to Clive? Who would do this? I stopped crying for a second and asked the officer, “Was it a suicide or did someone kill him?” He shook his head and told me that they were looking into it. I ran upstairs and stayed in there for a long time. I used to imagine a life without him and I cried. I repeated the whole thing again for the coming days. Mom used to come by once in a while and tell me that things are gonna be alright and give me food. I went to Clive’s funeral, I saw his family there crying loudly as they good. I looked at his grave stone and thought that he truly was a good son and surely an amazing friend. A few days after the funeral, the officer came by and said he wanted to talk to me. He came in my room, sat on my bed and said, “Look son, I know sometimes things don’t exactly go your way and some dreams remain dreams. But time heals all wounds both physical and emotional. We just need to wait and for now you need to grieve. Things will get better son. Just wait.”
“The officer was right. Time did heal all wounds. I grieved and I do feel guilty about the fact that I slowly started forgetting him. I found new friends, graduated school, went through a college and worked as a clerk at one of the banks in the town. I still wonder if I would remember him as often as I do now or I will just remember him on death anniversaries? To this day, I don’t know how Clive Morgan died on that alleyway. I tried everything to find out but all it did was cause me pain. All that he left me was that hay-field. I could never really get out of this town without Clive. That was the story about 15 years ago and my best friend.” He finished.
I was left speechless. I couldn’t speak anymore. So I just said that his story would be published in the coming issue. And I left. They could conquer the world but it got the better of them.