Everyone was gone.
That’s the only way I can explain it.
One day, I just woke up and no one was there.
At first I thought mom and dad had gone to work early, but I noticed more peculiar things as the day went by. I opened my car door, and for some reason it was filled with water. It startled me as all of it came rushing out at my feet. Along with that, no one was at the bus stop as they usually were, no one was at school like how they’re supposed to be, no one seemed to be anywhere.
I came home and dropped my bag on the floor, with absolutely nothing to do.
I decided to eat some toast and Nutella.
I sat down at the table and took smaller bites than I usually did.
I looked outside the window.
The view from the kitchen was to the road, and there were always cars driving on it. Now, there were none, not even a car parked to the side.
Except for mine.
It’s like the whole city was pulling some sort of prank on me.
If this was a prank, I surely didn’t like it.
It’s been one and a half weeks now, so I’ve kind of gotten used to it, but it still hurts to be alone. I tried playing cards, but what’s the use of that with no one to play with? I tried playing soccer, but what’s the use of soccer without a team?
So I decided to take a walk. That’s one thing you can do without needing someone else, and it was rather peaceful too. It was a bright day. As the hours went by the sun didn’t seem to get any more or less bright.
I lay down on the grass for a while, looking up at the sun.
And the clouds
And damn, it was beautiful.
The goldness of the sun outlined the clouds.
It seemed so amazing to me how much I think I know, and yet, how little I’ve seen.
I noticed on someone’s lawn was a garden gnome, that was sort of odd, because everyone’s houses were completely swept out. I picked up the garden gnome, it’s expression was rather friendly. I looked around me far and wide, then back at the gnome. There was no one as far as the eye can see, and that’s pretty far. I would need a friend, cause it looked like I would be seeing no friends, no anyone, for days to come. I smiled a quick and small smile, and walked back home to introduce the garden gnome to it’s new house.
Eventually it turned dark.
I was hungry, and there isn’t much a 17 year old guy can make, so I had to eat Nutella and toast again.
The silence of loneliness seemed to be swallowing me whole.
At school, I was the popular guy, there was always someone to talk to, but now, I was feeling so isolated, as if everyone on earth went away and left me behind.
Damn, what I would give to see someone.
I went to bed.
I was alone.
All alone, unless you count Gnomey, but I was lucky enough to have Silence. That’s what I liked to call him, Silence.
Silence is always with me, through the good and through the bad. Silence listens when I talk to him, and, in a way, talks back, in my head.
I decided to think back to my life before everyone disappeared.
“Silence, show it to me,” I said.
And he did.
Before me, in my head, appeared images of my best friends, and I dozed off into my dreams.
It was when I met my best friend Garrett.
I was in the third grade.
Believe it or not, Garrett used to bully me, and it seemed like I could never avoid him. We lived on the same street, we rode the same bus and we were always in the same class. Whenever he felt like it, he did whatever it could to make my life torture (and yes, there are things that a third grader can do.) He would make farting sounds and blame it on me, cut in front of me in the lunch line and rip my homework to shreds. I didn’t like him at all.
But that all changed the day he saved my life.
I, being a silly little third grader, was walking in the streets, licking an ice cream without a care in the world, and not a sense to notice an oncoming car. At that moment, Garrett had come out to start bothering me, but seeing the car he quickly ran and pushed me out of the way just before the car could hit me.
I was startled by this. Garrett had a pretty nasty scar on his knee but seemed to have not noticed it the least.
“Why’dyou do that for me?” I asked, shocked of what happened. He looked me, and a giant ball of light seemed to enter his hazel eyes. A smirk crossed his face. “Who else am I gonna bug if you’re gone?” he said.
But in the days after that, he didn’t bug me at all, in fact, we became friends. Which was good because we lived on the same street, rode the same bus and were always in the same class. We were inseparable.
I could feel a warmth going over me as I dreamt, starting from the deepest part of my heart and ending at where my skin meets the world.
Next, Silence showed me the memory of my one and only crush for as long as I can remember.
Her name was Ariadiena, but she asked people to call her Ari, regardless of the gender of the name. She was a mix of african and asian, and was the most beautiful girl I’d seen in my life.
I remember growing up with her. We went to the same school since the first grade, she always seemed to be the smartest, most talented, or most beautiful person I’d ever met. She had a personality like a lamb and a smile like sunshine, but she was always in the background; kind of like gold, you have to sift through a lot of sand to find one.
In the 7th grade, she gave me her number. We would text each other about the most random things, if we liked elephants or what life would be like a million years from now. When we were done texting, and it was one in the morning, I would read our conversations over and over again.
In the 8th grade, everyone seemed to start noticing me as attractive and cool, and it grew out of hand. At the same time that it annoyed me to death, to be honest, I kind of liked it.
But Ari didn’t.
She despised it.
But then, 9th grade came. We had one class together and one class only, but I was lucky enough to sit next to her. Once, she told me about how people in her other classes were so obsessive over me.
I could see that she didn’t feel the same way about me as she might’ve felt before.
“Popular people” had always annoyed her, especially when they were liked for no reason at all.
I guess that was me.
So I told her what she wanted to hear. I told her, ‘Damn, they annoy me so much. I wish it would stop.’
And with that, a light came back into her eyes, she looked at me and through the curls of her hair, and smiled.
Just the way I liked it.
My heart starting beating rapidly and loudly, it surprised me that the whole world couldn’t hear it. I started doing my hair in the morning, for her, maybe she noticed, maybe she didn’t.
It wasn’t until the 10th grade that I finally picked up the courage to tell her that I liked her. It was Valentine’s day, which wasn’t too far away from her birthday, the 18th. I had gotten her a bouquet of forget-me-nots which I knew was her favorite type of flower. I spent the whole night before practicing what I would say. I went up to her, took a deep breath, and said, ‘I know it’s kind of dumb for me to being saying this now when we’ve spent so many years together. But, everyday I think about you… And I just want to tell you that I like you.’ I handed her the forget me nots and smiled.
And she smiled. ‘That’s exactly what I’ve wanted to hear for so long,’ she said.
I could feel myself smile in my sleep recalling this memory.
Isn’t it amazing how beautiful people look when they smile?
After that, Silence showed me another memory, but this one was different, I never remember it happening.
I took Ari to prom, but it started raining.
It kept on raining and raining.
It flooded the streets and buildings all the way up to the top.
I started panicking.
I saw Garrett get washed under by the rain. I could hear him scream, but I couldn’t save him.
“Help!” I heard someone scream; I heard Ari scream.
“Please--” I saw her hand reach for mine, but I couldn’t grab it, and she went under.
“Ari!” I yelled. I swam down trying to save her, but it was too late. There was no light in her eyes, I could see small bubbles coming from her mouth. Next to her I could see Garrett, floating motionless, the water undoing his tie.
I could feel my tears even though I was underwater. I looked up at the sky through the water, through the rain. There was no moon, no stars, no light of hope. I could feel myself losing air. I struggled and wriggled my body about. I tried to swim back to the surface, but something kept on pulling me farther under, not allowing me to get out. I pounded on the force field, but it wouldn’t budge.
"NOOOOOOOOOOO !!!!!!!!" I yelled.
I sat up straight in my bed. My face covered in a cold sweat. It was morning once again, and a quite bright one too.
Once again, I was alone, but more peculiar things had happened.
There was an ice cream sandwich on my bed stand, and clothes folded on my desk. I looked around the house to see if someone had come, but it was just me, Gnomey and Silence.
I put my head into the folded clothes, I sniffed them, they smelled like forget-me-nots.
The ice cream sandwich, although it was still good, tasted like mud.
I stepped in the shower, but quickly got out recalling the feeling of getting drowned by rain.
I went to the park with Gnomey, I had nothing else to do, and it was a nice day as well.
Then I saw it.
Someone was there.
He was wearing a white cloak. I could see his face, it was rather friendly, just like Gnomey. I quickly ran over to where he was, but he hid himself behind a tree. A second later, I got to where he hid himself, but he vanished.
I didn’t understand what had happened, I was almost afraid.
I knew what I had seen, someone was here.
Gnomey and I walked home, even at how bright it was I couldn’t help but feel worried as if there were shadows following me.
We arrived home. I placed Gnomey where he always stood waving friendly at any person that looked at him.
A week passed with nothing to do at all. I bounced a tennis ball along the wall for entertainment. I was running out of Nutella. My phone had run out of battery. I’ve read all the books in the house twice. I’m running out of things to list…
I recalled more memories at the nights went by.
This one was about me hanging out with my friends in high school.
We were 16 and crazy. We went out 7 11 to get some food, and we found a speed detector as we were walking by. It showed us how fast we were going.
We were walking at 3 mph.
We had contest to see who could run 15 mph, not one of us could quite seem to do it. The next day at school, the largest, brutest guy came up to us.
His name was Grey.
Grey, technically, had no friends except the people who stood behind him looking as fierce as they could, but it was obvious that the only reason they stood behind him was in fear of getting bullied themselves. Grey took all of our lunches and flipped them over. Pasta sauce got all over my blonde hair which left a red taint for a week or so.
I stood up to him, but only for a split second.
I slammed my fist on the table got up and yelled ‘You’re a piece of trash!’
Grey looked at me dead in the eye with a dark expression.
He towered over me, with so many bulging muscles that it looked like if he made a wrong twist in his body they all might come tumbling out.
‘You say something, squirt?’ he asked in a threatening way. I kept my mouth shut, but my expression was enough to show my hate.
‘I didn’t think so,’ he said, and walked away.
Later that night, me and my friends walked over to Grey’s house with 5 cartons of eggs. We held three in each hand and egged his house while cursing and screaming wildly. I couldn’t remember having more fun, but then, the door to Grey’s house opened, and there was his dad who was 10 times the brute that Grey was. Garrett, idiotically decided to throw one more egg which hit the man square in the forehead.
We all ran faster than 15 miles an hour that night.
I got another memory of Ari. It was the first time I took her out somewhere, just the two of us.
We were at the movies watching James Bond. I thought I had chosen the wrong movie, it seemed like something you’re supposed to watch with you’re best friend, but she was so on edge, I had to stop myself from laughing. The good thing with Ari was that you could like her and still treat her like your friend. Before her mother came to pick her up, she pulled me to the side. She looked me in the eyes. Her eyes were so dark and yet so full of light.
And they were warm.
‘I had the best time,’ she said. She hugged me, I can still recall her smell. Strawberry jam.
Then, that dream came back again. I took Ari to prom. Her, Garrett and I drowned from the rain.
I woke up the next morning again, with sweat all over my face. I don’t ever remember that night.
I took a hot shower, even though I couldn’t be warmer, and went downstairs. On the countertop was an opened jar of jam. I picked it up and looked at it.
I gave a small chuckle, recalling it from my dream.
Then, I heard a thumping sound. I became a statue. I creeped down the hallway and turned my head towards the direction where I heard the noise.
I saw what it was.
My blood ran cold.
It was that guy I had seen before. This time, dressed in a cloak that seemed to be made out of sunlight.
My knees shook. The man was young looking and rather handsome, but I still recognized who he was.
“Pops?” I whispered.
“But you’re… you’re dead,” I mumbled still in shock.
“Child,” he said. “You ought to turn on the TV.”
Because no one was in the city, I didn’t think that the electricity would work, but I never tried either.
I grabbed the remote and pressed ON. It was the news. There was an image of a car being lifted out of a lake. It looked exactly like my car. “It was a rainy day on May 27th,” a woman said, “An accident took place on I 78, a car sped out of the road and crashed in a nearby pond. The car filled up with water drowning three teenagers coming back from prom night at Wilburg High school.” Then, on the screen appeared Garrett’s face, Ari’s...and mine.
We were both silent for a very long time.
Hours seemed to pass.
“Don’t worry,” Pops said.
He lifted his hand and smiled.
“Take it,” he said.
“What are you saying?”
His eyes were warm. “Death is not what people think, it is a gateway to happiness, to a new life.. You’ve been stuck in-between the worlds of life and death.” He gestured to his hand, “It’s now time to bring you to where you belong.”
“What if I don’t want to go?” I said, still shocked.
Pops smiled. “Garrett, is there,” he said, “and he’s your best friend.”
I could leave Garrett; at least I think.
“And so is Ari.”
I couldn’t leave her.
“And I know,” Pops said, “that she loves you very much.”
I looked at Pops. We both had the same eyes, a scary, yet truthful blue.
“Let’s go,” he said.
I took his hand.
My breath was taken away.
All of you back on earth,
you have so much waiting for you,
We may have bid farewell,
but I’ll see you again,
You're in your place,
and I'm in mine.
It might take some time,
but everthing will be fine,
what happens is inevatable,
you'll just have to wait,
but soon we will all be,
where we belong.
This is a really good story! Congrats on the win.
Wow. It was amazing. Definetely 1st place winner!