There is something so much bigger out there, outside these walls, these walls that bar you in, these walls that cage your world.
This can happen to anyone anywhere so the name of the town where Kenneth Grave lives is perpetually redundant.
You, Kenneth Grave, are walking away. You walk away from your friends not because you had to, but because you want to. A schoolmate you barely ever talked to except for “pass the crayons?” way back in kindergarten is dead. It’s on the news, and it’s stupid, because her body had not even been found, yet they are claiming her demise without actual proof. Sure, it may be a matter of confidentiality, but even as young as you are, you understand the world enough not to try to understand it at all. Paradoxical, maybe, but it sure as hell makes living easier. Because nothing ever makes sense anyway, especially not if it’s the humans with their staggering humanity.
If humanity is a specie, there wouldn’t even be a fossil residue. It is that dead, hypothetically speaking.
“Beautiful day isn’t it? No more Helly-Nelly.”
Michael was the one who brought up the topic over lunch, his mouth full of bacon sandwich. The redundancy of your peers is beyond tipping point. None of them thought of showing the slightest hint of their humanity, and they call themselves human?
Tim, who was chewing, hummed without looking up from his lunch, “Good riddance.”
The others echoed, nodding in agreement before turning to you.
“Oh c’mon,” Tim urged when you made no move to respond. “You’ve heard the news. Nell’s dead.”
(“Finally,” grumbled Michael offhandedly. You pretended he hadn’t said anything.)
Actually, you had not heard the news. In fact, you do not care for them and cannot understand why people, especially grown ups, fancy reading compilations of distorted truths so much. Then again, maybe that’s exactly the reason why they are such good liars; they fill their heads, on daily basis, with lies.
“No, she isn’t,” had been your delayed response, because even if Nell was, how was it ‘good riddance’?
Sure, she had never really had any friends, been existentially transparent most of the time, was almost always as silent as the dead (sorry), but none of these are deserving reasons why ‘good riddance’ should define her death.
“’Course she is,” Michael argued. “The police says so.”
“They found her body?” you asked, putting down your soda.
The others glanced at each other, and you knew that something was inherently wrong about this situation, it just did not hit you yet.
“Uh, no,” replied the spectacled Linus from the corner.
“Then how d’you know she’s dead?”
A creature in the back of your mind screamed, ‘that isn’t the point!’ but unfortunately, it was drowned out by a blood-red tsunami of societal corruption.
The others groaned. Tim went as far as slapping his forehead.
“Don’t be so sore, Grave,” Michael said, loud from across the table. “The witch’s gone for good, i’nt she? We ought to celebrate.”
You tensed up, frowning at your friend’s subtlety, or lack of. “How the hell did you come up with that?”
Then you recalled.
When your age was approaching double digits, the lollies that Tim and Michael had been finching from younger students mysteriously vanished, and after school, a girl named Nell Cornwell was found handing out free treats to the same children they were nicking from.
Also, there was that incident during their eleventh summer, the day after Michael kept throwing stones at any pigeons that braved to share his park bench, a flying apple had rendered him unconscious. Hours later, with superfluous mention of a slight concussion, which Mrs Fleming made a big deal out of, Nell had appeared on the doorstep of Michael’s home with a gift-basket full of apples. She then proceeded to recount the incident from her perspective, then remembered to apologise because she did not mean to give Mrs Fleming’s beloved child something as serious as a slight concussion. She only wanted to teach him a lesson, since, she, not unlike them, might have underestimated the power of morality.
Needless to say, as long as little Nell still lived, the town had never been safer.
That brings us back to the issue of her death. The townfolks suspected that one of her personal villains must have offed her. After all, her father, the eccentric scientist, met his own demise only weeks before his daughter vanished. So what better time to kidnap said child, if not when ripely orphaned?
Anyway, all of this is ridiculous, because you, along with the minority (that is to say, no more than five), know how to appreciate the sprinkle of manmade karma in the vain face of manmade evil, so you, unlike the boys you associated yourself with, might be salvageable. Why? Because that is how the world works (but you do not believe that either—to you, the world is broken).
Nine attempts at reasoning with your friends and twenty minutes later, you groaned, getting up from your seat without bothering to clear your space. “Gods, I’m stupid.”
“That’s what we were trying to–”
“No, it’s– ugh. I’ve just wasted thirteen years of my life,” you scowled, shouldering your backpack. “How did I not realise what fools you all are?”
Only when your peers recovered from the shock of suddenly losing their childhood friend, did they call after you.
And it was pointless because by that time you were long gone.
[to be cont.]