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Chapter 9

The rain drizzled down again, pattering on windows and bouncing as it reached the pavement, droplets forming into circles on the hair of Charlie’s arms, the shape of each drop visible where his arms lay untouched by his sides. He noticed these droplets glimmering in the street lights, lifting his arm to look the bedraggled piece of paper he had been clutching, the edges wet with rain. He read the address again and checked it with the old, rusty street sign at the end of the road. Looking down the straight path, each house lined up like soldiers for inspection, he stood in the middle of the road. The street was lit with the flickering glow of the candles from each window, a warmth in the darkness that danced in the rain. Walking fervently down the street, finally reaching his destination, he was led to the front door of the Adam’s house, a conspicuous number 40 hanging from their doorframe. The gravel path led him to the front door, walking past their car and the multitude of plants that lined the walkway. He stood, looking at the blue door, his hand clenched into a fist to rap at it, drain pipes running down and splashing at his side, soaking the hem of his trousers. A small puddle ran down the path and into the garden, feeding the flowers. As he lifted his hand to knock, he heard laughter from inside the house, a soft expression that created a curiosity in Charlie. He edged towards the window, and stood behind the foliage that lined the windowsill, crouching down in order to remain hidden. A music box was playing in the corner, the fire aglow in the kitchen as a heavily pregnant Moria had her hand linked with Richard’s, twirling each other around the room to the sound of an old jazz tune. Moria was mid-turn, coming back in to dance once more, eyes closed with a smile on her face that was full to the brim with dreamy contentment. Richard’s hand stretched to reach around her stomach and they laughed at the peculiarity of the thing, questioning how people could ever even get so fat, how they functioned in society with a belly that big. From outside the window, the laughter was replaced with a haunting sadness at a life Charlie saw that he couldn’t have. His intrusion on this private moment showed him the disparity between his life and theirs; how he will always be the observer of happiness in order to be a part of it. He watched for a while longer and thought about what he had to do. He could not approach this house and take away this from them, even if it did help his friend. More people would be sad at the loss of this child than happy at the thought of him and Chris being able to live. He turned away from the house, the rain only just starting to seep through his clothes to his bare skin, changing the colours of his suit which became multiple shades darker than before. He started to shiver, arms wrapping around each other to preserve the residual warmth from his body. He was so cold when the wind blew that he could not think of any alternatives, his walk back to the retreat a long one. He hoped that the sun would come up soon and dry his freezing body. His head was so cold it throbbed, and he shook it to try and think, finding little warmth arising from his fast walking pace. Socrates said that “The truly wise man will know what is right, do what is good, and therefore be happy…” Chris seemed more equipped for that role than Charlie in this present moment. Even with the inclination that the decision he had just made was right, and he is taking the right moral standing, he couldn’t help but weigh up the own personal cost of his death, re-evaluating everything he had felt in the past few months. Sighing with exasperation, he started trudging back through the dancing candlelight, his own hope extinguished, deciding what to do next as his long walk led him away from the village, through the city, and back to the retreat.

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