The Seeker

Alexis Pratt

The Seeker.

Teachers are gullible as hell.

Honestly, I could tell them anything and they’d believe me.

It’s funny though,  when I say, they’re gullible AS hell, I should really turn it into a metaphor and say teachers ARE hell. Class IS hell and school IS hell.  But I’ve conjured up some ways of dealing with it and escaping the deep, dark caves of fury. So, another art lesson, another violin lesson, the perfect opportunity. All it takes is a dashing smile, an explanation and I’m free, free from the black, gaping abyss which is the classroom.

I confidently saunter through the school gates (aka hell), and leave the “school me” behind, me with the wide grin, aggressive tennis serve and  perfect test results. You see, when I’m in school, I  take on someone else’s personality. When I’m with my friends, it’s boys, bands and gossip. But when I’m with my parents, well it’s basically, “I love you” and “here are my test results.” But, these people, these characters I portray aren’t really me. I’ve had a hard time dealing with the fact that I really AM a nobody, this time it’s really NOT a metaphor up for discussion.  

I like it this way.  

I hear my shoes echoing on the pavement and the distant rumbling of traffic, here I can truly be myself, a part of the public, merging into their mundane lives.

I turn the corner to the park.

From here I can make out the decrepit ice cream van, and almost see the twinkle in the eyes of queuing children, not to mention the predictable exhausted look in the parents. The trees sway, I think, as if they are an old couple, dancing to a record player, but maybe I’m just being fanciful. When did I ever see an old couple dance?

Finally, I reach the spot.

A relieved sigh escapes before I can stop it.

The sun, a lemon sherbet contrasting with the steely, grey sky. Like January, I am content, simply sitting and observing, soaking up the atmosphere, legs swinging like a child. But rain looms, like a predator.

Suddenly, screams as people dash for cover. I laugh, I don’t mind. I like the way the raindrops fall and hit the ground, then clump together to form puddles. The drops pierce my skin, like needles but I don’t mind. I like the pain.

Eventually, the rain ceases and the sun scampers from it’s hiding place beneath the clouds.

I spot my first victim.

The silhouette of a man, and following a blinding light, flashing. Realisation floods; a fitness freak.

Fitness freaks are the first to grab some dry weather. I mean, usually they’ll venture out rain or shine but today they seem to be a little tentative. They’ll look for any excuse to run or cycle or work out. I think It’s distraction therapy, really.  I think they run to forget, to forget about responsibility, relationships and work. I can relate to the fitness freaks. For me, this is also distraction therapy, emerging myself in other people’s lives to ease the pain of my own.

Then come the depressed teens some lugging dogs around. That will never be me.

But soon, the park falls into silence.

At peace, I let my head fall back against the bench and close my eyes. The fresh air christens my lungs. My hands trace the intricate pattern engraved into the precious wood, some inscriptions from many years ago.  The familiar routine soothes me. Despite my greatest efforts, I fall into a daydream. My daydreams usually consist of many different colours and sounds, clashing together to create a cacophony of beauty.

The timing of his approach was impeccable. I think part of me was genuinely surprised when he pounced, but the rest of me completely neutral and knowing. I didn’t hear the footsteps as they snuck up behind me, too entranced by the firework display going off inside my head. The next thing I could recall was the sharp loss of breath, the feeling of an unfamiliar yet  familiar hand curving around my mouth. His voice resembling something of the men who like to stand outside the pub and shout things as you walk by.  However, the sheer strength of his voice frightened me. I didn’t struggle or protest as he clamped an arm around my shoulders, his physical strength far too immense to overcome. The next thing I remember is his alcohol induced breath in my ear, whispering;

“Miss no name, miss no identity, I bet you think that you are invisible sitting there watching everyone. Well, I’ve been doing some observing of my own, and I know all about you and your little……… hobby!”

I tried to imagine that he was tall, his skin red from the amount of alcohol and red meat he consumed. He would be fat, I thought but, not unhealthily fat, -like the chip shop workers who always insist on giving you extra salt and vinegar and getting into an interminable conversation with you about Elaine with the Romanian boyfriend –  just like, enough fat to cushion him if he fell. He’d also probably still be getting grief from his pals for not nipping that bottle of vodka from the Spar when he was 15. I hope this gives you an insight into the kind of guy he is, a manufactured clone, (I’m sure you know the kind.)

Suddenly, he grasped me by the waist and led me towards a black Audi.  Frantically, I twist my head head around, hoping someone’s still in the park. However, much to my despair, it’s unusually quiet.

I rally up all my strength and courage and attempt to remove his hands from my waist.  Sensing my muscles tightening, he snapped it back to its original position. I smiled and grimaced, as the cold outline of metal burned into my skin. He grunted and uttered something like -”don’t try anything like that again, or else”. I obediently nod my head and stare at my toes. My face flushing with embarrassment, much to his delight. Instead of focusing on my anger though, I decided to focus on my plan, running over every detail of it in my head.

We near the car, (a magnificent black Audi – won through gambling I imagine?) but he begins to get a little restless, his grip tightening and his heartbeat quickening. I could feel it through his wrists that were plastered so tightly to my waist.  He effortlessly picked me up and flung me into the back of the boot,  his hawk eyes surveying, as perspiration dripped down his face. He’s thinking he dropped his keys in the park.

Forcefully, he slams the boot but  it doesn’t catch, initiating my plan. I  hear him fumbling, searching for those keys, those I held in my hands. I could picture his concerned face, a popped balloon, frantically turning out one pocket, then the other, with no success. As I had predicted, he starts to retrace his steps, leading him further and further away.

It’s now or never.

Cautiously, I push the boot open and scuttle out. With care, I shut the boot over, closing the gaping mouth, no longer ready to devour me. Adrenaline starts to pump as I crouch behind the back wheel. Eventually, I hear his heavy footsteps returning, now standing one metre away.

Flinging the boot open in a fit of rage, I can picture his face, crumpling,  crumpling in confusion and disbelief. It took two seconds for him to notice the shadow that cast a dark halo around him. Two seconds was all that I needed. Kicking him in the back, he toppled over landing directly on target, “GOAL!” I spat. But, there is no time for celebration.

STOP!

(Play commercial elevator music)

Now, let’s take a break from all the action and revenge, and describe the infamous captor.

After all, this was the first time I had been in such close contact with him, and was intrigued. He wore the same Adidas tracksuit and shoes as he had a week earlier to a friend’s house party. I guess you’re wondering how I would know this about him?

Well, shocker, I know EVERYTHING about Alex. Really, you should’ve guessed it by now, you guys just make everything so easy.

Stealing the keys was easy, planning this was easy. Sickeningly easy. But, this is a sport for me, a way to pass the time.

So, why did I pick Alexander McBride to kidnap,  you may ask?

If I’m being honest I wanted to make it easy for myself. I knew he was going to attempt to kidnap me and I knew that he kept his car keys in his front pocket. What intrigued me the most though was the fact that he was the first person to ever notice me, now I’m not talking about the ‘school me’ or the ‘friend me’ or the ‘daughter me’, just me.

I sit on that damned bench everyday, waiting for someone to glance in my direction or stop to have a conversation with me about the weather, no-one ever does. However he did notice me, sitting on the bench that Friday morning, and I noticed him, and I guess in that moment he decided to kidnap me and vice versa. I mean I’m not exactly flattered that the first person to ever truly notice me decided they wanted me gone, but it changed something in me, and so, that brings us here.

Me, standing over the one person who ever registered me, his big puppy dog eyes pleading, his face creased with fear. His stare stripping me of my filters and covers, my characters and stereotypes.

I stood there staring right back at him, feeling naked.

I kidnapped Alex in hope of him being able to make me someone, tell me who he saw and what I should be, what stereotype I should fit into. But, it’s obvious that this boy, is only a boy. He’s just a boy, a boy who wouldn’t steal a bottle of vodka from the shop or take a shortcut over the trainline; a boy who hopes to become a footballer one day and be able to buy his mum a better flat, one that isn’t above the depressed drug dealer or below the manic, single mum. Just a boy who thought he was a man, the man who kidnaps the girl with the expensive shoes and the darting eyes. Just a stupid boy.

I uttered -”never watch a watcher, Alex.”

My expensive shoes scuffed the pavement as I walked away from the car. I pulled my hood over my head and lowered my eyes to stare at the ground. The black pavement beneath passing like the night sky, the little shards of glass sticking between the stone, sparkling like stars.

My eyes blurred with tears and I didn’t bother wiping them away. I could hear the Audi screech down the street, the puppy eyed boy behind the steering wheel. Never before had I felt so weak yet so powerful. The emotion I felt wasn’t a weakness, but a great strength, and, after today I vowed to utilise it. My pace started to quicken and my heart pumped faster.

I will fall in love!

I will dance!

I will laugh and go for runs by the river, have late night conversations and eat delicious foods!

Life is waiting for me!

This piece is about self discovery.

                                                                                            

{ Alexis Pratt } Bio

I’m a school pupil and an avid reader and writer. I’m interested in Journalism and Modern Studies.