Stripling

From ever since, he had looked toward a different time, a different life, hoping it would blend into the now that he knew. He mused on it frequently, on where it would be, on how long it would take, and etceteras. He acted too, tried the little things that promised to pull his new life closer. He kept burrowing for comfort, unable to find a place where his limbs fit.

Eventually, he grew tired of playing with his dreams. Every time he met them in the sandbox, they pushed him to ground with their enthusiasm, and then laughed when the grit got in his eyes. So, he held a requiem for them one night, bringing a bottle along for the ride. Because he hated what he had made of his thoughts, the visions he had created in his head. They scarred his retina every time he chanced a look at them. They were too bright, too full of hope.

He thought up silly fantasies to take their place. He wanted to be an English man with an English name and have an English wife. He wanted two dogs and lots of plants in the backyard. He wasn't sure about kids. Kids messed things up. But he wanted a yacht too, a vessel to sail on and remember days gone by when what he had achieved was all just wishful thinking. And as for work: he wanted to start at the top. His skin wasn't too tough after constantly being rubbed between the ground and the shoes of his superiors. He wanted a sweet life, sweet like candy, and pretty like money. He’d seen the futility of his desires and refused to put them within his reach. If they dangled too far, there was no point in making the effort to reach them. Maybe, they would drop from the sky and hit him in the eye, without him ever noticing them while they were too far to touch.

Sometimes he would get lost in these thoughts. Then he would remember where he was and how things really were, the heat whipping against his face, the sounds of the city and murmurs of gossipers, all carried along by a silent wind, a wind that just wouldn’t bring him what he wanted.

Sweaty bodies lurched against each other as the vehicle moved. Dust, plastic wrappers and bits of paper repeatedly jumped up and returned to the surface of the bus floor. They maintained a gentle rhythm, dancing with the flaws of the road. Kamal absent-mindedly watched this. Every night when he reached home, it seemed as if his mother were even angrier than the night before. She constantly nagged him to go find work, pressuring him to do something about his state of limbo. The pitch and persistence of her words stung his ears and fueled his reluctance to try. His friends looked at him through slit eyes, accusing him of laziness in an effort to urge him on. He didn't see the point. Experience had perfected his fatalistic expectations. Besides, he had told Ashlee that he was going to call her tonight.

He came off the bus at his stop, the clinking of coins being exchanged familiar. As he continued the journey to his house, he watched his neighbours kicking ball under a street light's yellow glow. He pushed his gate open. The air had cooled the metal. It unfortunately did nothing to stop the horrible creaking that always sounded as the gate opened. Yes, this was home.