Copyright © 2008 by Grant Bentley.
All Rights Reserved.
Some parts of this could be familiar; others, hopefully not. If they are, it is purely coincidental.
I’ve watched the movie a hundred times. I’ve listened to the song a thousand times. I’ve dreamed of having a group of friends like them a million times.
It’s not to be, though. I’m stuck here in this miserable little town. I’ve been here for almost a year and I still don’t have a single real friend. Actually, I’ve never had a real, close friend. Maybe it’s because I’m so quiet and shy; I don’t know. I sometimes begin wondering if friendship is some fictional bond only seen in movies–but then I remember seeing other guys at school interact like the guys in the movie, so I know it must be real.
Do you know what it’s like to be fourteen and totally alone? Do you really know what that feels like? I do. In fact, I’m alone right now. I’m standing in the middle of the second train trestle. It reminds me of the one in the movie.
The train isn’t due for another two minutes.
It’s so quiet and peaceful. I can’t even hear the crickets chirping way up here. It’s perfect. Standing here in the middle of the tracks, I close my eyes and spread my arms. ‘This is the way it’s supposed to be,’ I think, ‘just me and God.’ In two minutes, He will take me Home and I won’t be alone anymore.
All of a sudden, out of nowhere, I hear, “That’s pretty messed up.”
It startles me so much that I nearly fall off the trestle before a hand grabs me and pulls me back.
I immediately find myself staring into the most unusual eyes I have ever seen. They are almost a golden colour, surrounded by a fine black ring. It takes me several seconds to stop staring and come to my senses.
“What do you know about my life?” I snap.
“More than you think,” he replies.
At that moment, I hear the train whistle and look back to see the train a few hundred feet down the tracks. It’s just beginning to cross the trestle. I feel panicked. Suddenly, I don’t want to die. ‘How could I be so stupid,’ I think.
There’s no time to outrun the train. I look at him and my eyes fill with tears as I realize the mistake I’ve made. He simply smiles at me.
“Come on,” he says as he grabs my hand.
He walks about ten feet before sitting and sliding down between two widely-spaced railway ties, then pulls me down with him. In the next instant, we are squatting on a crossbeam below the tracks and the train is passing above us. The noise is deafening.
As soon as the train has passed, he stands up, climbs back up onto the tracks and reaches down to me. I grab his hand, pull myself up and look to see the train disappear around the bend.
When I turn back, he’s gone.
I just stand there with my mouth open, staring at the spot where he had been standing. ‘Where the hell did he go?’ I wonder. I kneel down and look under the tracks at where we had been when the train passed. He isn’t there. He’s vanished.
“Oh my God, what just happened?” I say out loud as I begin to feel light headed, and I sit down. After about fifteen minutes, I’m able to get up and slowly walk home. I feel detached, like I’m in a dream.
As I walk in the door, I’m greeted by a huge hug from my mother–the first one I can remember since I was a child.
“I was so worried about you,” she says.
“Why?” I ask.
“I had this dreadful feeling that you were about to die,” she replies as a tear runs down her cheek.
“I’m just fine and I don’t plan on dying any time soon,” I say as I return her hug.
Just then, the doorbell rings and my mother quickly answers it. It’s Stan Robertson. He’s a schoolmate who I’m acquainted with but have never spoken to as he’s a year ahead of me.
“Is Robby here?” he asks.
“Yes, he just got home,” I hear my mother respond. “He’s in the kitchen. Go on in.”
He walks into the kitchen with his head down.
“Hi,” I say, a little puzzled.
He slowly looks up at me. “Hi,” he answers, sounding very nervous.
It’s then that I notice his eyes. Oh my God, they are the same colour as the eyes of the guy on the trestle.
I must have stared too long because all of a sudden he turns and starts to leave.
“I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have bothered you,” he says.
“No, don’t go,” I almost shout.
He stops and gives me a deer-in-the-headlights kind of look.
“You want a Coke or Pepsi?” I ask him, smiling.
He smiles back and replies, “Yeah, please, a Pepsi would be great.”
I manage to get myself together and stop staring long enough to grab him a Pepsi out of the fridge.
“So, what brings you here?” I ask.
“I don’t think you would believe me if I told you,” he answers.
“Try me,” I say. “A lot of strange things have happened today.”
“I got an email this afternoon,” he says.
“Okay,” I say with a questioning voice.
“It was from my brother,” he responds as his eyes fill with tears.
“Are you okay?” I ask, suddenly concerned.
“Yeah, I’m fine, just give me a minute,” he replies as he takes a deep breath. “Can I ask you something?”
“Yeah, sure,” I reply.
“Where were you today?” he asks, looking down at the floor.
“Why?” I ask.
“Just tell me, please,” he asks as he looks back up, staring directly into my eyes.
“I went for a walk down the tracks,” I tell him.
“Just for a walk?” he asks.
“Not exactly,” I say honestly, though I’m not sure why.
“Here,” he says, handing me a folded sheet of paper.
I take it and unfold it. It’s a printed email. I begin to read.
It’s the lyrics from Stand by Me.
But at the end is a personal note.
‘Hey little bro,
Do me a favour, man. Look after Robby for me, kay? He took the walk, but HE changed his mind. This time. He’s like us, man, and he needs you.
Til we can be together again,
Your big bro,
A very special thanks to Azy for editing this story for me.