Snow crunched under thick boots, compressing into the earth as I trekked further north. I raised my scarf against the breeze sweeping through the trees that brought a frostbite chill to my nose. Not much further; it should start soon. A thump to the left caused me to turn sharply; the only sound besides the wind and my own footsteps. The branch of a tree had been strained too long, finally releasing the built up snow weighing it down. I was unclear why; the wind wandered its way through the forest carrying not a single snowflake.
On entering his apartment Rob could hear the sound of the television. Coming down the hall he noticed cardboard boxes sealed in duck tape with “Arthur’s clothes and books” written across them in scribbled black text. Arthur sat in the living room, despondent. The light coming from the television broke the darkness at intervals with iridescent flashes. Rob passed into the kitchen.
I start the day of my death like every other: barely alive.
Sleepless and cruising mindlessly through the shopping centre that some town planner has sketched out next to my regional train station, and probably the train station after that. I imagine a carbon copy of me in the next town over, scurrying to pick up the exact same shrink-wrapped and canned goods that will help me subsist during the workday. Tuna. Sweetcorn. More tuna. A limp and vaguely chemical-tasting salad if it’s Monday (which it is) and you’re detoxing, (which I am).
There’s something to be said of the fact that I’d decided to return to a specific place, to the creek in Prospect, to remember Kirby. Walking down the gentle slope of my old street I thought that, even though I had no desire to ever go back to the “Westie” suburb of my childhood, as I tried to write about Kirby on the narrow front balcony of my rented terrace in Surry Hills the words on the page sounded forced, fictive, like I was being dishonest.
“Come on, Kirby!” my brother and his mates used to say.
So, here we are at Lou’s birthday. All the boys have taken over the fire, fighting with each other about who can best build up the flames, drinking and smoking, and talking a whole lot of shit. I was over there about 20 minutes ago, and guess what they were talking about? Premier League fantasy football. No shit, they really were. They were all sitting there with their phones lighting up their faces, comparing teams, players, and some other stuff that I got bored of super quickly.
I got drunk one night and hit someone outside a pub. I broke his jaw and he fell and smashed his teeth on the concrete curb, knocked him out. CCTV footage got it. Police rustled me up around 3am. I did some time. When I got out I called Sharon but she didn’t want to know me. I called Pete but he was too busy and we’d catch up. Yeah.
Last Friday night, Andy, Clay and l met at the park on Old Maryborough Rd. We had organised the finer details of when and what to bring on the stifling bus home after school. Andy would bring the booze, Clay, the weed and I would bring the bong. Clay had even floated the idea of inviting Kim and Tracy but I wasn’t so keen on it. Girls always seemed to bring about trouble; sirens that somehow convince us to sell our souls and loyalty for a furtive hand job behind the toilets at the skate park.
In the dim light of the stairwell Olivia couldn’t make out just where she was. There was an amber gloom as the afternoon sunlight seeped through the orange glass side panels around the front door. Robert groped for one of those push-button light switches that leaves the bulb on for a couple of minutes. He said that his place was on the first floor. He grabbed her hand and cried, “Come on!” This was the first time that Olivia had been to his place, though he’d stayed over at hers a few times since they’d started going out. The rather musty air of the stairs persisted on the landing.
He was attempting to collect his thoughts, to remember why he’d ventured down this way, when he found her standing by the river. She stood with her back to him, staring out at the snake-brown water. Jake didn’t know where the woman was from, or where she was going. He’d never seen her before; yet there she was, lingering on his land as if doing so were the most natural thing in the world.