Say That You'll Stay for One More Year...

...And leave the rest behind


Writer's Block: It's allergies ... really!
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What was the last thing that made you cry?

Going off to college.

That Precious Minute
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There were intricate little fingers of frost forming on the sides of the windows, beckoning for someone to come outside and enjoy the last few weeks of winter. At least I had, I thought to myself. No matter, for the spring would herald a new adventure of sorts; maybe there would be a reinstatement of the Super Suicide Society... But would it be of the "Spring Session?" Or the "Summer Session?" There wouldn't be a summer session, for I'd be enlisted by then....

Or maybe I wouldn't. I would most definitely love to, but something tells me otherwise. I cannot help it; I cannot think. If I don't enlist, then what use would I be? What would there be left for me to do...? Blast it, Gene.

Hell, I knew otherwise. Of course, I knew, but there was never any harm in trying...even if it meant following your friend into battle. You would never know, would you Gene--- My real intention of enlisting never crossed your mind. Maybe its best if you'd never know...after that violent reaction to the way I casually reminded you that you were truly my best pal...I wouldn't want to disrupt the peace between us.

Maybe after I get out from surgery this afternoon, I could have you visit me in Boston....we could return to the way things used to be. I could invite you to our family's Nantucket summer house before we leave for war...

Things have to be better from here anyway. Naturally.

I begin to remember that spooked face of yours when we met up at the tree for the first time-- that glorious June afternoon.

The door creaks open (and is in serious need of some oiling) and Dr. Stanpole comes in, clipboard in hand.

"Phineas, my boy. Your procedure will begin in 10 minutes; we're going to give that leg of yours the old college try once more."

I grin and nod at him, still lost in my own memories of the summer before. My eyes fall onto that right leg of mine; marked by a cluster of austere and alien-looking scars from the last procedure. I heave in a final breath as I roll up my gown to my knee, to prepare for that minor operation. Hopefully it'll be my last. Then I can live my life once more--

Dr. Stanpole rests his hand firmly on my shoulder, lightly squeezing it for reassurance as he tells me everything will be fine. I try and tell myself that, and I wonder why I am not half-as-convinced. But I shrug it off, and just focus on getting back home, and what I would do after that...

In the last minutes before I will be undergoing anesthesia, I stop and take the time to take a look out the window. It is perfect, as Devon has always been, and I can see students shuffling back and forth across the yards. And for a moment, I get cheered up after seeing you walk your way to the 1st Academy Building. You slip on some icy patch on the sidewalk--and catch yourself--and pick up your mess of papers sprawled along the ice-encrusted grass. I could have shot myself in the foot if you broke something; of anyplace in the world, I wouldn't want you ending up here. You deserve to go on and do things. You keep on walking and keep going--I know you'll be waiting for me in the end. I'd just have to catch up---

*Dr. Stanpole arrives with his medical tools of sorts; I have no idea which is which*

The doctor's hands slightly tremble, and he casually explains how he was short on sleep the night before. We laugh at that, and he begins to prepare the anesthesia. I feel the small prick of the needle into my arm, and I wait.

I rest my eyes and I wait.

And everything goes blindingly white.




A Prayer Unheard: Gene & Phineas
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Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.


-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- I guess we never believed enough

You insist that I tag along with you, wherever you go. Even if I refuse. Although I do not refuse for the sake of refusing, perhaps it is just to see if you really want me to follow. If you honestly want me around. But when would you stop being so guileless; so untainted? To ask you that would be to put your own youth at risk. To put that world that you took me into and blast it into smithereens; useless and barren. Like the shadows of my own dark and tormented mind.

I catch myself holding in my breath whenever you speak to me. It is almost like some sort of habit that I have developed around you and only you, for maybe I anticipate something…anything that would mean not hiding anymore.

To go after what I truly do desire.
What it may be specifically, I do not know. I guess I am as innocent as you are in that sense. But that is where our similarities end. For you and I are brought from different planets; cut from different pieces of cloth. And yet, we conjoin at a place where I sense it may be the most sensitive and the least enduring; the most unstable. The least everlasting. Whether I had liked to admit it in the past, you and I are conjoined at the soul, as odd-sounding that may be to us.

People stab each other in the back; friends in the front.


That wretched line.
I hear my pulse race through my ears like muffled drumbeats; the tempo matching that of gunshots being fired. Never could I do something as unthinkable as that! Nothing as barbaric and animalistic as that! To backstab…..it would completely taint what you had given me. It would expose the lie that had been growing ruthlessly in the decrepit eaves of my soul.

Being torn in half…being pitted against yourself….sometimes I wonder if you would know what that is like. What if the truth that you were exposed to hurt you so much, you might never be able to walk again?

You would be a cripple. Almost like a leper.

“Gene?”

My nauseating and see-sawing thoughts are interrupted. As I turn to look at you from my cot, I see you, your head poking out from underneath the covers and your golden flack of brown hair being bathed in the moonlight. Your eyes twinkle endlessly and are awash in wonder.

“You alright there? Haven’t you slept…? We’re going swimming tomorrow buddy, and we’re not going to miss it, even if you wake up late!”

You grin at me, flashing dimples that I had never noticed before. I lie and say that I had just been thinking of something, and you go your own way, believing every little thing I say. Your faith in me makes me feel disgusted with myself.

*The clock strikes 12 in the morning and the bell in the cupola rings; resonating clearly like death knells*

I hear a rustling of bed sheets and I prop myself up on my elbows and look up in your direction. Your whole entire body is bathed in a grey and dismal light that had crept its way from the window, while you sit there on the side of your bed. You appear to be praying.

A faint and gentle whisper settles across the room, and it is realized that it had been your voice the entire time:

“….and answer my prayers, that my pal may not be a lie…but even something better than the truth…”

What could be better than the truth? What in hell could be better than the truth?

“….and most of all, keep me safe in all that I do and partake in….keep me safe wherever I go….”

I cannot sleep now. I feel my hands begin to tremble.

“….whatever I do, and whomever I am with…..keep me safe. At school…in the classroom…out on the fields….”

Inaudible and useless words fall from my cracked and barren lips like a jumbled mess of religious jargon, until I cannot extinguish my own whispers from Finny’s any longer.

My words fall clumsily onto the floor, where they lay, shattered and misunderstood.

“….and Father, guard me and keep me close, especially by the river and the tree--”

My eyes snap open, and I cannot breathe any longer. I let out a muffled and uncontrollable coughing fit, which somewhat startles Phineas. He continues on praying for a bit, but then leaves the room swiftly.

As I sit up in my own bed, feeling my throat in the darkness, Phineas returns with a glass of  water.

“Drink up carefully pal; you don’t want to choke on your words tomorrow at this rate,” Phineas softly laughed as he watched me gulp down the refreshingly bland glass of tap water from the bathroom sink.

His eyes gaze kindly at me, with a hint of genuine concern at my momentary ailment. He warmly pats me on my shoulder and walks back over to his cot.

“Don’t you die on me now, Gene; sometimes I think it’s only you and I that understand each other in this world of sorts--” Finny lightheartedly remarked.

I say something to Finny, followed by a “good night,” but as soon as I hear his breathing even out and lighten, I shut my eyes. I begin my own desperate and rushed attempt at a prayer:

Grant me the strength to do what is right; let me cause no harm. Please.

        

Placed Among those Olympians, Phineas
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You would have never known. Of course, how could I expect you to? Your sparkling emerald eyes would just grin at me, seeking to understand; falsely
understanding me. But you would never understand me the way I do.
Understanding is overrated, anyway.

The way the immaculate summer breeze fills my lungs at full capacity and breathes a new person into me; no matter how much I refuse to welcome it...I still refuse. Like how I refuse to accept you, and yet I longingly know that I need you. Unlike everything that is beautiful and serene around us, it is only I that is the repulsive and hideous monster that you insist being friends with. Befriending me would be a burden to you, as much as it is already a burden on myself. My shoulders would break underneath the load; my legs would softly snap at any instant---

Our bikes rest softly against the stern and immovable elm tree. Its verdant and bountiful leaves would provide us with much ample shade, but you insist that we continue on to the beach with much cheer. Your radiance stands superior to that of the sun.

*We walk-walk-skip-run to the beachfront*

I could drown in that dark and hauntingly blue ocean of a sky, gracefully sprinkled with clusters of stars as white as bone. The boardwalk and its neat honky-tonks prove to be more of a distraction from the surreal beauty that hangs softly over us, but you playfully tug on my arm and lead us to the beer garden. “Have my draft card,” you tell me after we finish our glasses. I shake my head and politely refuse (as I most always do around you) but you tell me, with much seriousness in your eyes, “We’ll have a trade…that way, on the battlefield, you’ll have something to remember me by all the way from the Philippines. I’ll have the same while stationed along the Maginot Lines, or something.” A pause of silence. “Er, it’ll be how close pals keep in touch.” I wait patiently for you to follow that up with some punch line or joke, but none follows. We exchange them; those cards that we forged the night before in that dank room of ours, but none of that matters now.

We were the only inhabitants in this blissful and innocent world, marked by starry skies and royally crowned by glorious mornings. The gently churning Ocean, as unattractive as it may have been, had been transformed into the laurel-leaf crown of the summer; it shimmered an intense and angst-ridden azure and easily blurred the gossamer line between the sea and the night sky. We were suspended in mid-air and placed among the cosmos like those famed Greek heroes---

“Gene,” you quietly say in the strangest tone I had heard from you, “Can a chum tell you something?”
My silence is taken as a yes, and you cautiously--if not fretfully--press on.
“It’s been so difficult…so hard for one to adjust to the fame and glory at school. Devon can sure be entrapped with boys…people that will befriend you for the most petty things.”
You continue. “I have friends; sure I do. But do I ever keep them close?”
I shrug my shoulders; my eyes stay transfixed on the ocean in front of us as we remain there, cross-legged and seated on the sand dunes.
“I’m…I’m afraid to keep friends close. I had come to ask myself one time, on a night like this, if a boy could ever make a friend. If a boy could ever desire something so pure and innocent, where one didn’t have to consistently look over his shoulder to see if his friend followed, where you wouldn’t have to have that thorn in your side if a pal had betrayed you or not. One can only keep up for so long--”

You heave in, a slow and quivering breath, almost as weak as a dying fire--

“But alas, I’ve found my friend in you.”

It was my mistake, O mea culpa, Phineas it was my mistake to have not said anything. A pang of raw energy sprung forth from within my chest and nearly propelled me to warn you of what kind of mistake you were making. But my vanity…my pride…held me prisoner. Those words of friendly affection that escaped from your mouth blinded me wholly enough to forget what I had to say. Never would I know how dangerous a false sense of security would be. Never would you know, Finny, of this false peace.

But that is what made you so innocent.
To never know.

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