Molly, Tiber and I gathered here everyday on our way home from the Ginger Root High. Our dorm rooms would sit empty for now, the first few weeks of school, the longings for home pulled us back like stretched out elastics as soon as the bell rang.
We wound our bikes along the narrow and bumpy dirt road leading to the train tracks. Overgrowth nearly blocked our views, green tendrils and soft branches stretched into each other and upwards into the sky. A bit further out of the way of the path, ash, birch and eucalyptus trees stood as anchors for the masses of butterfly bushes, wild hibiscuses and thistles. At the last turn, we could finally see that a shallow cluster of pebbles formed a ramp to the tracks, allowing our bikes to ride up to and past the metal rails. Branches and twigs brushed our hair as we rode, tickling our skin. Mosquitoes and flies swarmed some days. We longed for rain when everything smelled fresh, though dreaded the aftermath of more insects collecting in the puddles forming all about.
That afternoon Tiber led the way. Molly followed in the middle and I dragged behind. I had lots on my mind. Molly and Tiber shared a kiss after dropping me off last night, as my home was the first on our ways. When Molly shared her secret with me, I froze on the spot not knowing what to say. Tiber had been asking her to "go out" for days now, and she finally said yes, sealing her answer with a kiss. Her eyes flashed, her face blushing, a smile stretched as far as the corner of her mouth would go. I stared at her in disbelief, this quiet and shy person I knew transformed into a vixen right before my eyes. I reckoned, at that moment, that I was jealous. I wasn't in love with Tiber, but I wanted to be in love with someone, and to have that kind of a smile on my face. The kind of smile even the armies of the First Emperor of China could not defeat or remove.
The scream pierced the drums of my ears. It sounded like a girl but it was from Tiber. He turned to us with eyes bulging and face contorted, colorless against a dark background of dirt, rocks and greens. Molly and I pedaled closer, then jumped off of our seats. We turned to each other. I could see Molly's mouth wide open, but no longer dripping happiness but horror. I looked beyond her to Tiber and saw blood against the palest colored flesh.
Tiber was standing next to the rails, next to the girl laying across it. Blood covered her green summer dress, and the grass growing next to her on the track. It was a moment of complete stillness, a second that lasted a lifetime. Rocks, wooden planks, bare legs, blood soaked fingers, all took on a life in telling me a story I had no way of knowing, or wanted to know. Before I could blink, sound erupted out of the still space like someone had turned off life's mute button. I looked up and realized people were running towards us, screaming in confused curses. Soon we were pushed aside by the crushing onslaught, some uniformed, many not. Molly and I landed outside the thick circle of onlookers forming around the body, hugging our bicycle handlebars but not each other.
Momentarily, we were separated from Tiber, and from the smell of terror, death and defeat. We stopped stretching our necks after a while. Instead, we walked backwards toward the other side of the road, where it was brighter, quieter and sat down. We sat down next to each other, shivering in the late summer heat, waiting for life to come back to us, unchanged.
I've decided to add this section as of today. I'm hoping it'd be a regular feature.
A few thankful things:
* The boy's recovery from painful stomach flu.
* Having something to look forward to next week. More beach time.
* Quiet early morning hours of cool air and playing with bunny.
* Non stop chattering of the boy marking the return of a healthy spirit.
* Being where I am, who I am, who I am with, this hour, this day.