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Tale of a Town in Maine
I used to live in a lone, white farmhouse when I was a kid, and across the richest of all our fields, lay the tracks for the train to the Big City.
Every hour of every day the train sped past, rumbling across the wilderness and vibrating the forest floor so even the farthest deer could feel it tingling.
At night, I used to venture out of the back door, stepping neatly around the prettiest of our flowers, to lay on the train tracks and stare into the starlit sky, twinkling down on me like crushed diamonds.
When I'd feel them coming, and eventually the light lit across my sorrowful body, I'd step over the metal rails, and onto the field beside the tracks, just far enough away to see the people, to observe their faces, and to wonder where they were going in the ungodly witching hour.
Across the fields from my house, lay a small town of family people. People who never seemed to stop renovating their houses and yards, who hung their laundry in cartoonish and colorful strings, and who held parties and sang songs. I loved going to that town.
If you took the asphalt road that held the biggest house in the town, and proudly walked past the gawking pigtail girls and freckle boys, you'd reach Benedict's house.
Benedict's house was also white, we had that in common, and beyond it, the gravel path stretched into the most beautiful pine and maple woods, swaying into hills and clearings and clear streams, that sparkled from the tree-filtered sunlight. We'd go out there anytime I could make the walk to his home.
He was tall and thin, and always wore seemingly the same outfit - black jacket, all buttoned up, and tight black jeans. His blonde locks were tightly trimmed, revealing his deep-set winter eyes and hollow cheeks.
My mother never seemed to like him, but never openly objected to our friendship. I heard, though, one late night as I was making my way through our picture-ridden hallways to again meet my midnight lover, the tracks and the sky, her words of frustration to my work-tired father. She said, that boy has a Mein-Kampf face, and for most of my days with Benedict, I would not know what she meant.
He and I were special together. From what I understood, he never spoke to anyone else. I wasn’t much better, my only other friends being my close-aged cousins, who came over whenever my family held a significant gathering.
Benedict drew monsters. He drew spindly monsters with haunted eyes, bloodshot eyes, and two-fingered hands, and bony bodies, and he showed me his drawings, and once in a while he’d gift them to me. They were beautiful and I appreciated them, however I couldn’t shake the unsettling oddity that settled over me when I stared at them, really stared. So I kept them in my bedside drawer, and only took them out, when they seemed to almost call for me.
In turn, after months of friendship, I found it proper to stroll to his house one night, shaking in the cool winds and squinting into the few, orange-glowing windows, past the biggest house in the town, to see him. I knocked on his window, and unsurprisingly it slid open a few moments later. Benedict stared down at me with baggy under eyes.
“Come with me,” I said simply, shaking in the cold. It was the first time I’d ever seen him without his usual attire, as he curled over the windowsill in only his underwear. There were large scars across his torso and arms. I tried to not look at them too much.
He closed the window, and for a moment I wondered if my absurdity had finally reached a climax, but sure enough, after a few minutes, it slid open once more, and the lanky figure dropped down and into the grass beside me.
We walked silently through town, our breaths turning it to silver-mist air. The sky was abnormally beautiful, clarity enchanting the royal blue and twinkling million suns. It was perfect. I itched to show him what I had kept to myself for so long.
I never considered showing anyone my midnight lover. Never thought it to be necessary. And perhaps I shouldn’t have. But Benedict had become so special to me, that only excitement rushed through my shallow bones.
We didn’t talk and we didn’t need to. The wind that tugged at our pale skin and turned our cheeks into roses and our noses pink and bright. The field swung back and forth and the rows of wheat waved at us and we waved back and soon enough we found the indent in the grass, where I had sat so many nights before.
I climbed upon the rails, moving my legs up over the rows of metal and sat down. Benedict watched me. I beckoned for him to come, and soon enough he did, and when he sat down beside me, I pushed his stomach flat, so we both lay on the cool metal, with a view of the stars. He interlaced his fingers with mine.
The brilliant sky smiled upon us, and to this day, I am certain, this was the best night of Benedict’s life. And perhaps, that would explain what came next.
When the lights lit up our bodies, I tugged at his wrist and pulled us both down to the grass, where we looked into the dull eyes of the passengers, faces lit with their phones, and some catching our gazes in the grass. I smiled.
Benedict went home and so did I.
The next day passed by in a hurry, as I helped about the farm, and saw no chance to visit the white house by the woods, that I so desperately desired. At night, I went down there again. In my chest, burning, I hoped to see him there again. That perhaps the nights, from now on, would be ours to conquer. And that perhaps I had a new midnight lover.
But not like this.
I came down there, later than I usually would, as my parents argued and fought late into the night, and the clock ticked by, as I waited for my open window of opportunity. I trekked across the fields, and found my spot, undisturbed.
Then I saw him.
His body was crushed and wet and bloody, and the red still oozed from his open wounds. He was smashed, body indented and morphed cruelly from the harsh train wheels, and his face hardly recognisable, still his winter eyes stared up at me hopelessly. I cried and I screamed and the sounds of mine rang across the woods and into my home, and the town, and even the farthest deer could feel the vibration in the forest floor.
And I ran to him, and peeled his sticky body off the tracks, and when I hugged him I could feel shards of broken bone and broken heart.
In the night, Benedict had died alone.
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"Una Vida, I have come to accept that I cant experience everything in life. But what I will, I'll experience deeply..."