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January 4, 2010 / Siobhan Argent

Speck


Speck. This work of fiction won 3rd prize in the ‘Teen Short Story’ section at the Greater Dandenong Writing Awards in 2005.

I’m flying.

It’s a glorious day.

I mean, night. Is it night or day? Doesn’t matter. It is glorious right now.

I am flying! Higher and higher I go, shooting up towards the stars, my eyes wide open as the warm dull feeling encloses me and all I can feel are the heights. It’s like I can almost feel the warm soft wind through my hair. It’s almost as if I have wings.

People are laughing around me. So many happy people. I want to hug them all. I can’t hug them fast enough! They’re all so bright and exciting, under the pulsing rays of the nightclub disco lights. The sea of people move and sway together, just like the ocean. Everything is wonderful. I am a happy person. I’ve flown so many times, countless times, but every time I seem to fly higher.

Down.

I am so far down the floor is miles above me. All that is possible is to cry continually, and lie on my bed and think about all the horrible things in the world. Let me die! There is no point going on. The happy people left long ago, and so did I. There is no laughing. It is not possible to laugh anymore. It seems like something out of a strange storybook. I will never fly again. Ever. I just want to die. Let it all be over. There is no future. There is nothing, nothing that can hold any value for me. Life is fruitless. Let me live no more. No more breaths. No more heartbeats. I should never have gotten high in the first place. The down is not worth the up.

Walking the streets, with my fashionable Ugg boots tramping the grey water of the city streets, I buy a coffee hastily from the corner. The corner. Just those two words bring back a terrible feeling. I snatch the coffee mug away from the woman and hand her my money. Have a nice day, she says, accentuating the viciousness in her voice when she says nice. I know she noticed my sunken face and worn mascara that has begun to seep down my cheeks.

The corner. Frank always seems to be there. Always. To fulfil every need. No, I gasp, trying to breathe. I said no more. I can’t. The tears come quicker than I imagine. But it is a powerful force. A formidable magnet. I am only a tiny speck of metal. A magnet does not seek the speck of metal. The metal is drawn to it, whether it wants to be or not. That force is always there. A speck is always a speck.

My hand shakes. I put it in my pocket, and I won’t realise until later that I automatically check for money stashed away in there. I feel the $50 note tickle the tips of my fingers. Oh, god. I feel sick, I feel dizzy. My muscles all ache. I know exactly what will fix it but I said never again. Never…

I’m flying! What a great feeling. The world is beautiful! Haha! I can’t stop laughing!

I swear, that was the last time. Never, ever again.

I make sure I’m nice to the coffee lady. Thanks love, she says. Gruffly, but it wasn’t vicious.

My hand shakes.

This time I make sure there are only coins in my jacket pocket. Little coins that will not amount to much. The corner calls me. The speck can feel the magnet’s irresistible pull. I ignore it. I have to go to the employment agency, find a job. But the agency is only metres away from Frank.

He is on the corner as usual, a huge puffy black skater jacket with the hood pulled over his head. I’ve never seen Frank in anything else. I’m not even sure if Frank is his real name. Maybe it isn’t. I’ve never asked.

Frank turns his head from side to side, looking for potentials. He spots me and I see the smile from underneath his hood. I never noticed how nasty that smile was. Every other time I had seen him I had been out of my mind, desperate with an agonizing need to stop…everything, anything that was hurting me.

He sees my serious look, my determined ignorance, and the smile vanishes. The hand that he never uses when we meet, the one constantly shoved in his huge jacket’s pocket, twitches just a little.

I cross to the other side of the street.

He looks both ways and crosses the road, following me. I try to keep walking, but the magnet is so strong. Before I realise, he is in front of me, blocking my path.

What are you doing? He demands. I can see the worry in his eyes.

I’m…I pause for a moment, thinking. He watches the calm movement of my eyes. It seems to agitate him even more.

I need help, Frank. I can’t go on like this. It hurts. Doesn’t it hurt you?

Frank’s eyes gleam under the hood. He knows what I mean.

I watch as he walks away. Very quickly. I see him swerve into an alleyway. My body says no, my heart says hell no, my brain says I must see what he is doing.

This alleyway is dank and cold.

Suddenly, in one terrifying second, I see why his hand was kept in his pocket. His gun is levelled directly at my face.

You have two choices, he whispers. His hand shakes a little. I think that maybe he is not used to threatening people.

Two choices, he says again. The cops and the bullet, or the drugs and the silence.

I shake. Tears pour down my cheeks. I can’t breathe any more. I am a speck. A speck. I am nothing, it calls and I am drawn to it. It’s suffocating me. I am screaming for breath inside, but my voice is so very steady as I answer him.

You know what?

I’ve grown wings.

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