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Red Sweater

By Ron Abreu All Rights Reserved ©

Fantasy / Romance

Chapter 1: One bad wheel.

A terribly ear wrenching noise can be heard ringing from down a hall. It is a continuous sound that claws into the brain like scratches upon a chalk board. It is more than this though. It is a symbol. This sound symbolizes the beginning of a new day.

The beginning of a new day should be a moment of beauty. It is in a new day where we can start again. We can take action and become the people we want to be, the people we should be.

This was not the case for Leon Wake. Leon Wake’s new day is just a reminder of how stuck he truly is.

“Bweh Bweh Bweh” there it was again that terrible wrenching sound. “Good god” Wake thought to himself, “Who invented alarm clocks?” His mind’s eye pictured dark and ominous tinkerers emerging up from the bowels of hell just to forge these horrendous creations. An alarm clock draws out the worst characteristics of human nature. Never had Leon wanted to throw something threw a wall more often than when that sound stirred him from his slumber. How could an inanimate object draw out so much hate from a person?

In that same respect how could the red sweater tucked under his pillow draw out so much passion. The smell reminded him of her. The colour teased his memory. The cotton touch sent his senses on a journey. His eyes began to water as he turned to face the sound that jarred him to wake. He saw those eerie green numbers scowling at him. Those numbers which should have read 7:30am started to form words in his mind like, “Get up you lazy ass” or “Why are you wasting your day” and as these phrases passed through his mind and his eyes began to dry he came to the realization that time had actually passed. He was staring at a clock that now read 8:00 am.

“Ahh how in the hell” he spurted out as he kicked the blankets off throwing them onto the floor. He was going to be late for class. There was no time to make his bed, not that he ever did. Wake was not the most put together individual. Growling and groaning he turned off his fan; fought his way through discarded clothes and crumpled up drawings to find the not so dirty articles of dress sitting in his wardrobe. While frantically throwing on which ever garments had the least amount of stains on them he almost forgot to grab his uniform.

As he picked up his uniform he stared at it for just a second and let out a discouraged sigh. Why couldn’t this mean more he wondered? Why couldn’t it be a police officer’s uniform or a doctor’s lab coat or anything at all that symbolized something more than a man who swept up other peoples dirt for a living.

There was no time to dwell in thought now though. He had to get to class. He attempted to make his way from his room to the washroom down the hall but he tripped over a laundry basket just sitting on the floor. It was like jostling a dormant volcano into activity. Flannel boxers and blackened white socks were scattered everywhere.

When he finally made it to the restroom he found himself staring into a mirror. A round but structured white face with rosy cheeks stared back at him. A 5 o’clock shadow just along the jaw line and a few grey hairs were all that stood between him looking like a man and looking like a boy. Despite being over 6 feet tall he had a very childlike air to him. He threw some mouthwash back, patted his hair down and pressed on.

Getting to the door of his tiny apartment was like running the hurdles. First it was the laundry baskets and then it was the waste bins. Carefully timed acts of evasive skill were required to dodge these. He passed the kitchen ignoring a moaning stomach and nearly burst out of his apartment.

Alas he was free. The air seemed almost fresher in the halls just outside his door. When he had finally hit the outdoors he felt truly awakened. Wake stared to the sky which was almost ritualistic to his early morning rush. The sun pierced through the clouds etching out in almost angelic rays of light. What a beautiful sight to behold. Why couldn’t he just enjoy this he wondered? Why couldn’t he just get past it all? If he could only live a life where stopping to smell the roses was a possibility it would be a beautiful life to live but he always seemed to be late for something.

His car was riding a little rough today. In an attempt to drown out that gruesome howling noise coming from his driver side tire he blasted his radio. The radio always seemed to make things right. It just always knew what to say. It is odd though how similar the car radio was to his nemesis the alarm clock. Almost like they were brothers once, but one had decided to take a darker path.

He was just minutes from paying for parking when a song came on that stirred in him some fond but painful memories. His 12 dollar wrist watch told his eyes that it was 8:40. He was already 10 minutes late. Why not listen to the rest of it?

His mind escaped him. It left him filled with images. A red sweater walked beside him. It laughed and punched him in the arm. For all that he tried his mind could not portray her beauty. So in place of her face there was only a haze. Soon the haze was gone. He wondered if it had truly been that long.

Stumbling into class a half hour late was not unusual for Leon. He would feel more intimidated by the professor’s glares if he had actually cared. Wake has never appreciated the school system. For all the years of his youth, while others partied and enjoyed vitality, Wake worked. He swept up dirt. He served drinks. He treated people who could care two cents about him with the utmost respect. He did all of this so he could move on and achieve a higher level of education and a higher level of mind. Thousands of dollars he had invested into this failed stock. Years had passed him by and he had nothing to show for it but exhaustion and disappointment.

Class went till 4:00 pm today and work started at 5:00. His day was already slated. His future had already been determined. He knew where he would be and till what time. A fortune teller was unneeded to read his future because every day of Wake’s life was the same.

“Bweh, Bweh, Bweh” There it was again that terrible wrenching sound. Another night had passed him by. How could that have been a day he thought? How could that have been anything more than a moment?

“Bweh bwe-“

“SHUTUP” Wake cried as he slammed the snooze button. A trivial thing it was too as he would simply lie awake staring at his ceiling till it rang again. Only to remind him that he had just wasted 9 minutes of his ever so crucial morning routine.

An arm from the red sweater seemed to have dislodged itself from just under his pillow. It was resting next to his shoulder. He felt warm even with a fan blasting cold air into his face. He heard her laugh as though it emanated from the lifeless piece of fabric resting just beside him. Again his eyes began to water so he turned to see what the scowling green numbers would have in store for him today. At first they read 7:42am and slowly they became 8:00am.

Once again a fan was turned off and blankets were kicked to the floor. Scattered clothing and crumpled up drawings were kicked to the side. Again he struggled to find the least stained articles to wear and this time he remembered tripping on that dormant volcano of a laundry basket. “Success” he thought, only to trip later over the waste bin. He finally made it outside. It was his favourite part. Those brief few seconds before he sat in his car where he could lift his head and take in the beauty that was the sky. There was never a canvas more wondrously unique and ever changing.

No … He was lying to himself. She was just as the sky. She in all her complexities managed to carry radiance with her everywhere she walked. It was as though the sun was up her sleeves. In just moments she could turn a raging thunder storm into a summer day.

A few more staggered breaths pass by. A few more held back tears were almost to follow. Leon takes one last peek to the sun and finally manages to sit down in his car.

Again Leon faced a rough ride to school, and again he turned the radio up to push that menacing howl out of his mind. The amusing local station banter and occasional spurt of lyrics teasing his ears carried him forward into another grueling day. He knew it was to be another mirror image of yesterday, and another projection of tomorrow.

Wake began to breathe heavily. His heart pounded against his ribcage like a frantic fist knocking. “What is the point to all this!?” Wake cried out. “What is the point in just living for the sake of living!? Where is the life!? Where is it hiding!? I don’t feel it anymore!”

Who was he yelling at? Who could hear him? There was no one around. He was losing himself to the dull unflinching carousel that had become his life. He was figuratively shackled to meaningless monotony.

School passed by as it does, work then followed. He made it to the end of the week. It was 2 am Friday night and Wake finally had the chance to just be himself.

It was time for him to add to the scattered pile of drawings that lay upon his floor. Wake was an artist and a dreamer, though he would deny it. He could draw amazing forms of landscape. The sun could look as real upon that piece of paper as it did when resting in the sky above. He always had sketching materials scattered and strewn about. This was not a sign of a lazy unwillingness to clean up but rather a tenacious energy directed on creating true beauty. He wanted to draw her but for all the life inside of him he could not muster the ability to craft such perfection. The arch of her back; the curves of her hips, the soft subtlety of her lips all just seemed so cold when drawn by his hand.

He knew that nothing real could be perfect and all that she had strived to be was real before his eyes. He just could not find any other words that came so close to describing the presence she embodied.

Now a dozen or more cold faced copies of her lie crumpled up on his floor. They are staring at his ceiling watching the light of the moon fade away as room is made way for edges of the sun to sneak past his window shade. This is unbeknownst to him as he continues to craft worlds far more interesting than his own with but a pencil and a piece of paper.

“Bweh,Bweh,Bweh” with the ringing of this all too familiar sound, his hypnotic session of artistic obsession was broken. He had forgotten to change it for the weekend but still he wondered had that much time actually passed?

How could that much time have actually left him? The cruel truth of the world’s spin caught up to him. It looked him in the eyes and said, “I will never stop turning.”

It had been years since this red sweater wearing image of pure light had been in his life. She always seemed to creep her way back into the brightest memories, and seemed to spawn upon them the darkest moments. With her there always came a great love and yet a great pain.

She was dead.

Continue Reading Next Chapter
1. Chapter 1: One bad wheel.
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