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Duane

Zed

Pale moon.

Stars.

Salty breeze.

Zed stands upright with his legs wide apart at the top of a cliff.

He clenches his hands into fists, smirking at the waves that throw themselves onto the rocks below.

His grandfather passed away a year ago; that was when a dark entity took Zed over.

He stopped playing soccer.

He stopped going out with his mates and his girlfriend.

He stopped going to school and to the gym.

His parents noticed, were quick to get him help.

He felt better at first so he told his mates and his girlfriend he had depression. They rejected him.

He pulls out his iPhone from the pocket of his chinos and takes a selfie.

He admires his olive skin, almond shaped eyes, long lashes, plucked eyebrows and thick brown hair.

He drops his iPhone onto the grass.

At least I’ll die looking hotter than Cristiano Ronaldo, he thinks.

He clenches his hands into fists, stares at the rocks below and steps forward. But someone grabs hold of his polo and drags him back.

Mick

Salty breeze.

Waves crashing onto the sand.

Mick shoves his hands into the pockets of his jean shorts, submerges his large toes in the wet sand, and leans slightly towards the ocean.

Thought surfing could help me, he thinks and flicks his hair out of his blue eyes.

It didn’t.

He leans slightly away from the water and pulls his toes out of the sand.

Gotta get out of here.

He hurries away from the ocean.

He remembers his first anxiety attack as he plays with the bracelet woven round his wrist.

It was just before the qualifying round to get into the Queensland Junior Surfing Team.

He didn’t know what was happening.

He felt hot and dizzy and sweaty and out control.

His parents got him help.

He felt better at first, but it didn’t last.

His mates didn’t want to know him.

His girlfriend dumped him.

Surfing only provided a temporary relief.

He scratches the back of his neck and flicks his blonde hair out of his eyes.

I’m done.

He hurries up the hill; eyes staring ahead, hands swinging by his side.

When he reaches the top, he sees another boy his age step towards the cliff’s edge.

He rushes forward, grabs hold of his shirt, and drags him back.

 

Forest

Empty playground.

Bright lights from a nearby café.

There’s the smell of food in the air mixed with salt from the beach.

He swings back and forth, gripping the swing chain.

He can hear his heart beating.

He can feel a breeze moving through his black hair.

He can feel the sweat across his upper lip.

He slowly stops swinging, but doesn’t make a move to get off.

Instead, he remembers being admitted into the psych hospital. Back when his weight plummeted.

He remembers the struggle to get out.

He remembers the struggle to stay out.

He remembers…alienation.

He remembers clinging to the practice of painting. But painting could only ever provide a temporary relief.

Nothing has changed.

He still struggles.

He still feels alienated.

Painting still only provides…well, nothing now.

He lets go of the swing chain, gets off, and rushes away from the bright café lights.

The darkness of night engulfs him.

He stops running, lets out a sigh of relief, and drops to his knees.

He wraps his arms around himself and gazes up at the pale moon, the stars.

His heart beats quicker.

He closes his eyes.

He rocks his head from one side to the other.

He trembles and groans, like a wounded animal.

He pulls out grass and dirt.

Tears fill his green eyes.

Death, come quick.

He walks up the hill, eyes downcast, with his hands playing an invisible piano.

At the top, he sees a boy his age grab another boy his age from the edge of the cliff.

His eyes widen, his heart beats quicker, and he stumbles back a little.

 

The Welding of Souls

Zed scrunches up his face and shoves Mick back.

“What the hell did you do that for?” Zed asks.

Mick hold his hands up and raises his eyebrows, “Do ya think you’re the only one with a screwed up life?”

Zed stares at the pale moon and shuffles his feet.

He slowly uncrosses his arms and unclenches his hands.

“What are doing here anyway?” he asks.

Mick plays with his woven bracelet and stares at his brown Havaianas, “I was gonna jump too.”

Zed leans closer to him. “You were?”

Mick nods, looks to the left, then to the right, and back down at his feet.

“What stopped you?” Zed asks.

“Dunno,” replies Mick, “Guess you got in the way.”

“Guess I did,” Zed says.

He stares at the car park, at the picnic tables and the swaying pines.

“The name’s Zed by the way.”

Mick takes his hands out of his pockets.

“Mick,” he replies.

They give each other a firm hand shake.

Mick flicks his hair back and stares at the ocean.

Forest slowly walks out from behind the pines.

“H…hi,” he says and scratches up and down his left arm.

Zed crosses his arms. Mick looks beside where Forest stands.

“I’m…I’m…” Forest swallows, grips the left side of his Harem pants and clears his throat.

“I was going to…”

Zed uncrosses his arms and stares at the edge of the cliff too.

Mick flicks his hair back, glances in the same direction.

Forest clears his throat. “Do you think…maybe we could…hang out…sometime?” he asks and bites the middle knuckle on his left hand.

“Yeah,” Zed says.

Mick nods.

Tears fill eyes.

“That’d be great,” they say.

***

You can view more of Duane’s work over at https://www.duanekatene.com/

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