benchmates

“Sweet” I said enthusiastically as he agreed “But first il just roll a quick cigarette”

The night had more less fallen by this stage and the path along the river was glowing in the clear moonlit sky. You could make out the the trees and still see the final trimming of coloured leaves hanging on to the edge of their branches. Very few leaves were left on the trees as the seasonal change was in full swing, meaning that we trudged through the remains of the leaves, making a crisp sound everytime we took a step.

“Im sorry, I am terrible with names, what did you say your name was?”

“Christy, well my actual name is Christian” I responded sarcastically, “though I see myself as an atheist so I figured the christian thing to do would be to shorten it to christy” and I put my hand into my pocket to take out my lighter and spark up my cigarette.

“You mentioned you had big dreams while in school, What were those dreams?” Curiously I asked. I figured that Nick had a specific dream that may have fell by the way side but to my surprise he answered ” None really in particular, Well, Nothing extraordinarily special. Travel the world, Meet the girl of your dreams, become a world famous drummer, that kind of thing you know?”

“Wow, you play drums?”

He smiled at me as he replied ” Nah, but iv always wanted to.”

“I mean, happiness, My dreams all circulated around happiness, and its just something i don’t think I’ve felt in a while. Flat,Lifeless I feel like everyone around me seems to be, as you would say making progress.”

A dog, A Beautiful little corgy made his way over to us and decided he wanted to join us  on our walk, we both welcomed him but his owner quickly called him back, leaving Nick with the opportunity to explain to me more about his current wellbeing.

“But I don’t see it as progress, Yes their achieving things and seem to be actively pursuing something, but I don’t think they realise what their pursuing and i definitely don’t think these achievements are bringing them happiness.”

“What kind of achievements?” I asked inquizzitively.

By now Nick was super relaxed and I feel the walk was easing his tension even more. As we briskly walked through the leaves Nicks confidence seem to grow and he was becoming a lot more open.

“graduating college, Promotions at work. You know yourself. The things people my age should be doing”

I stopped and searched for a stone to skim into the river. “Perfect, she’s a beauty, not to thin and perfectly circular! Thats strange”,” Who tells people your age what you should be doing?” and I skimmed my stone successfully into the river, it was dark but I’m pretty sure i managed six skips.It could  have been eight or nine but it was to dark to tell.

Nick paused and again I could see him struggle to come up with an answer, but this time it was fair enough to be bit hesitant as it was not an easy answer.

” I have great admiration for people who seem to be making progress in their lives, but a huge sadness for those who are blinded by the light, and stay on the same track, in a looping wheel never to break free and experience the through beauty of this world. Expectations are unrealistic, from a young age were thought to work hard,study hard, get educated and move in one solid direction throughout this lifetime,and at the end of it all we can retire, knowing that we successfully contributed to society,made a decent income and than relax in our final years with our hard earned money from a lifetime of grafting.”

Nick stopped and began to look out over the river.

“But its al bullshit”I remarked ” Where is the beauty of circulating on a progressive wheel, Its when you go off the beaten track where you find the real hidden gems. In order to stumble across these gems, we must get lost from time to time. But like always, well eventually come upon a thing of beauty, just let it fall into place, enjoy the journey, take the pain and the suffering, hold onto it, don’t dwell on it, but hold on to it so that the next time your lost, you’ll have a map to guide you back to safety.

“I can’t believe this” Nick said joyfully still looking out at the river but now reaching his hand into his pocket. “I can’t believe I met you, your amazing” He praised me.

Taking his hand out of his pocket he took out an envelope folded in half.

My heart sank, the blood drained from my body and I instantly felt sick. It was as if the world around me stopped, I could not move and All i could do was stare at Nick in a panic.

He unfolded the envelope and held it in his hands, sliding it through his fingers for a moment or so, but it felt like decades.

I had realised that Nick seemed bit off, although I never met hi before he just seemed like he wasn’t himself all evening. It was unusual, we were total strangers, we barely knew each other a half an hour, yet a bond and fluidity built up between us and it was as though we were old friends, meeting up after not seeing each other in awhile.

He looked at the envelope in his hands holding the corners with his fingertips, before tearing it right down the middle. I could see his eyes had watered up and now  their was tears flowing gently down his flush cheeks.

“I came here this evening and thought that i would be leaving this note under a stone on the bench you were sitting on. Ive been carrying it around with me all week, but today was the day i thought i would part with this letter. And i figured this note would be found quite some time before Id been found.”

This time it was me that was caught for words. I stood their feeling frightened, frightened for Nick and worried that my advice, or whatever it was I blabbered on  about for the past half an hour seemed like complete nonsense to Nick.

He continued to tear the envelope into many shreds. He paused again and took a deep breath before throwing the pieces of paper into the river.

“Thank you Christy,” He said as he looked at me with a smile and sense of relief in his face. “Thank you!”

 

 

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