Where was he?

This title is how Word first saved my story, and I like it. I have a habit of jumping around my timelines, so in the story I want to write this is about two chapters in. It isn't focussed on the characters, more the emotions and relationship between them, so I'll put it down as a Writing Exercise.

But where was he? He had never been late; he had even missed his own lessons to come and meet me at my school gates. I swept my gaze round the courtyard again, lingering on the wall by the main gates where he always leant, his helmet in his hand, the same casual smile that would make my own face light up in response. Sometimes, if a kind teacher let us out early, I even managed to beat him to that wall – it seemed that way today. I walked slowly over, peeking outside the gates to see if he was still parking his motorbike in the car park of the pub across the street. There was some kind of crowd at the end of the road. It was strange; it wasn’t the same people gathered round an object, it was groups of kids who approached and then either hurried away or stood there, fixed to the spot by what they saw. I caught glimpses of what seemed to be a car, and a hulking red object on the floor. Dave might be over there. It was out of character, but today anything seemed possible. I hitched my bag so it would be more comfortable on my shoulder and took a few steps towards the gathering at the crossroads.

I was almost instantly cut off by Mrs Hughes, who was walking back from the scene with her arms outstretched, shepherding us slow ones back into the courtyard. Her face was blank, smooth, controlled...apart from her eyes. They were glistening. I tried to find my voice, to ask her to explain what was going on. She met my gaze for a few seconds, then carried on past me, assuring the other students that everything was going to be okay, that no friends or family members had been hurt. Except she wasn’t speaking to me anymore. I dropped my bag and began to run. As I approached the crowds parted reluctantly, as if they didn’t want to take their eyes off what was facing them. Or they didn’t want me to see what they had just seen.

It couldn’t be.

 My brain was lying to me, making up situations that would explain Mrs Hugh’s behaviour...except the situation it had come up with wasn’t just ridiculous, it was impossible.

 What I was seeing couldn’t be there, it was a mirage. I had to tell myself this to keep myself upright. The paradise I was so familiar with now that Dave was in my life was somehow, inexplicably crashing around my ears. Dave would need to hear about this when he turned up; I was starting to have waking nightmares about him. I was imagining him sprawled under his motorbike, unmoving, broken...

But surely if it was my personal nightmare, my torture, why could others see it too? Why was it so vivid?  I could hear screams, see out of the corner of my eyes more people rush past me and gather round the boy my eyes were fixed on, as if they could see him too; I was frozen to the spot where I had stopped running in the middle of the street, unable to comprehend. Then, as if from a long way away, down the end of tunnel, I heard my name being called.

I knew I should respond, or at least turn around. But if anything, the voice started my muscles moving again; with more strength and speed than I thought I could ever possess I sprinted across the road – the traffic had stopped completely for the mass of people blocking the way – and pushed through to the front, where my legs finally failed me and I fell to the ground. Still, I couldn’t accept what I was seeing – it was all some horrible, horrible trick. Any minute now Dave would tap me on the shoulder and I would be able to hug him and kiss him, and I would pretend to be angry. He would apologize and mean it, I would laugh, accept it and kiss him again, and then we would ride off on his motorbike into the sunset.

That’s what was going to happen. That was how it was supposed to happen.

My treacherous, shaking hand reached out and touched the gash on Dave’s forehead, as if to prove to myself that it was touchable, it was horrifically real. His helmet had come off and was lying on the pavement where someone had put it, the visor shattered. I barely spared it a glance, my eyes transfixed upon his beautiful, empty face.

His blue eyes were open, his cheeks spattered with blood from numerous small cuts of their own as well as the blood from the head wound. His full lips were still parted with final words that had never been uttered, that would remain trapped forever. I didn’t want to look anywhere else, to see what other damage had been done; I only wanted to stare into his eyes, to find the flicker of life I knew would be in there, waiting for me to coax it out. My other hand grabbed his and squeezed hard, as hard as I could. Tears streamed unchecked from my eyes; I knew by my own standards that there was much worse to follow, and hoped desperately I could keep it together whilst I was in the middle of the road, surrounded by all these children. They didn’t know him; they were here out of curiosity, morbid fascination. They didn’t need to see my grief.

I didn’t feel the hand on my shoulder, nor did I realize I was being helped to my feet until I realized my fingers were slipping away from his. I grabbed on tighter still, until someone murmured in my ear,

“The paramedics are here. They need to see to him, he might have a chance.”

I knew at least half of that was a lie.

Nonetheless, I let myself be carried away and set down on the pavement whilst a swarm of newcomers in green uniform descended on the scene: I hadn’t even heard the ambulance approach. All I could hear now were my own breaths, coming now in heaving sobs as my diaphragm began to jump around inside my chest, making a hollow sound as it ricocheted off the space where my heart had been. He’s gone, a voice said in my head, he’s left you. No promises he could have ever made, no matter how tightly binding, could have kept him here with me.

The blur of colour in front of me, distorted by my tears, reformed itself in my imagination into a face, his face, the red blood seeping from his forehead the most vivid colour – his face was already deathly white. His eyes, open, unseeing, were still locked on mine: but only because mine were locked on his. They would never look at me again. A pinprick of pain began in the centre of the hole in my chest, spreading out in all directions, down my arms and legs, up my neck into my head, until even his face vanished and there was nothing but emptiness - painful, anguishing nothingness. I didn’t know where I was, or where I was going, but I was more aware than I had ever been before he entered my life of just how alone I was. Alone and incomplete, with no reason to exist.

The End

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