Monday, 8 August 2011
TIME by Luca Veste
Just over twenty-two days I’d waited for this moment. Five hundred and thirty-six hours to be more precise. Now, standing here, I wasn’t sure what to do next. Shifting from one foot to the other in a cold second-floor flat. In the small kitchenette opposite, the man who had brought me here. Living room to my left-hand side and a door leading through to the bedroom behind me.
The sounds of outside life, entering through the slightly open kitchen window above the sink. Cars passing by. A few teenagers walking past, talking far louder than necessary, cackling laughter as someone became the punch-line to a joke delivered in poor taste. The television was still on in the corner, volume turned low. Flickering images trying to catch my attention.
536 hours. Or 16,080 minutes to be more precise. 16,080 minutes since the man standing just six feet away from me had led me to places I never wanted to go. To do things I never wanted to do. All his fault. All of it. Blood on his hands as well as mine. All this and more. To lead me to this place, at this moment. In a shit-hole of a flat, 14 miles from where I call home.
And he was nothing. At least four inches shorter than me, wearing a tatty old T-shirt full of holes from being worn so often. Faded denim jeans and no shoes. Just socks which, judging by the smell emanating from them, hadn’t been changed in a long time. Yet I couldn’t find any words to say. Sure, I’d gone over this moment so many times in my head, yet now it seemed pointless. Words would mean nothing to this man. Nothing.
“Where is he?”
Cold, late autumn breeze entering through the open window. I still felt a bead of sweat form on my forehead. We stood only inches from each other. I could feel his breath on me, short and rapid. I moved closer and he tried to shrink back. There was nowhere he could move to though.
“Where is he?” I repeated.
He shook his head. “Not…not here,” he whispered.
I could feel the lie as soon as it left his lips. An almost imperceptible movement of his eyes over my shoulder to the door compounded my feelings. I locked eyes with him. Blue with shades of grey, filmed with the beginning of tears.
Don’t ... please. I’m … I’m sorry.”
“Sit down on the floor, now. Move one inch and it’ll last longer.”
I backed away from the man, keeping my eyes on his as he lowered himself to the kitchen floor. The tears were starting to flow, his shoulders hitching up and down.
“He’s all I have.”
I stopped at this. Tried to maintain control. If he wasn’t here, I’d need the man alive. Told myself to ignore his delusions. Anger was swelling up inside me now, but I forced myself to count to ten before continuing to move back.
16,080 minutes. Or 382,400 seconds to be more precise. Leading me here to this moment. I turned the handle on the bedroom door and entered. Closed the door behind me softly. Greeted by silence. I moved to bed and shook off the dirty old duvet covering it. Nothing. I heard movement and turned to the built-in wardrobe behind me. Walked towards the doors and pulled them open.
He was there.
Huddled into the corner, sitting with his knees up to his chest and his arms around his legs. He lifted his head towards me and squinted from the sudden light that had entered as soon as I’d opened the doors he was hiding behind. An expression of confusion passed across his face.
Six years old. He was six years old and away from his parents for 22 days. Or 536 hours. Or 16,080 minutes. Or 382,400 seconds.
I held my arms out and he scrambled towards me.
“It’s okay, son” I said holding him tightly to my chest, afraid if I let go he would disappear again. “I found you.”
Similar to some other book reviewers/bloggers, I'm a frustrated writer at heart. 'TIME' is only the second story I've completed. Currently working on a few more short stories before moving onto a full length novel. My blog is here (guiltyconscienceblog.blogspot.com) reviews, interviews and other stuff. I'm a mature student and will be studying Criminology and Psychology in September. From Liverpool and The Wirral, married and with two children...both girls.