The day before they came was the same as any other. I woke to the sound of my alarm blaring at six a.m.. Grumbling about the unfairness of life, I stumbled blearily into the bathroom where I performed the usual morning functions before showering and dressing for school.
I greeted my family as I sat down to eat the usual bowl of cereal before racing to catch the usual bus. I sat through the usual assembly, attended the usual classes, gave the usual excuses for unfinished homework, caught the usual bus back home, receiving the usual warning from the driver as I laughed and carried on with my friends in the back. Absolutely nothing distinguished this day as anything but normal.
When I arrived home, I changed out of my uniform quicker than you can say Clark Kent, grabbed a muesli bar and raced outside to meet my friends. It was Friday, the one day of the week we were allowed out to play before completing our homework.
Last week we all crowded into Ahmed’s living room to play games on his PlayStation. The week before we spent the afternoon horsing about in Tony’s swimming pool, before his Mum fed us an army worth of food. Today was Mike’s turn to choose, so we were heading to the oval to kick a ball around.
It was a nice day for summer, a bit hot but not too bad, so there were a fair few people mucking about the oval. Seeing a few faces we recognised, we pulled them over and soon had enough people for a game of footy. It was a hard-fought game and, by the time my team lost, it was getting pretty late.
Grabbing the ball, we said goodbye to the spares and headed home through the slowly dimming light. Swatting the occasional mozzie, raising our voices to be heard over the racket the crickets were making, we talked about school, the game, girls, the upcoming holidays… a normal conversation between teenage boys on a warm summer evening.
Had I known then, what I know now…
But you never can know, can you? A husband leaves for work as usual but never comes home. Heart attack. A mother leaves to collect her son from school and never arrives. Car crash. A daughter leaves for weekend visitation and is never seen again. Custodial kidnapping.
It’s the suddenness that gets to you. The lack of foreknowledge. The lack of goodbyes. The words left unsaid.
It was just a normal day. I swear there was nothing to indicate anything out of the ordinary. If I had only known.
If I could go back to that last innocent moment I would tell them that I loved them like brothers. I would tell them that they were as important to me as my family. Maybe more. I would tell them they helped make my life worth living, and their lack would leave a gaping hole in my heart. I would stare at them until the attention made them uncomfortable, and their faces were burned into my memory.
I would tell them goodbye.
That night they came.
So much was left unsaid.
This week’s prompt was taken from Shower Thoughts on twitter:
- At some point in your childhood, you and your friends went outside to play together for the last time and nobody knew it.