Tangent looked over his notebook’s contents from the past months. All verse fragments, incoherent streams of consciousness, broken clauses…
“What the hell have I been doing?” he whispered, leaving his mouth agape long after the utterance.
‘At least if I add some punctuation and do some reformatting some of this could be presentable,’ he thought. It was salvaging time.
When left to its own devices, my mind panics
But that’s what happens when you’re left
With a water bottle and a bed.
Dream with me now a world where time is flayed
Where short term still sustained is framed by night and day
But long term Long gone
Deadlines approach but do not arrive Goals are never reached
“Oh, he went to pick up the ball we left behind.”
“That’s nice of him,” Tangent uttered. His tone was appreciative to the point where the girl had no idea if it was mockery or sincerity (not that the ambiguity of Tangent’s expression was a new development).
The two stood watching the boy as he walked to the basketball court. Everyone else was long gone. He picked up the basketball. But instead of returning, he began throwing the ball up against the backboard, alone.
“Oh, now he’s shooting some hoops,” Tangent commented, with the same ambiguous appreciation. The thought struck him that this was an awfully private moment that he shouldn’t interfere in, or even be watching. But it was only a passing thought. He was never known for his sensitivity.
3 days before the expedition into Everwood Forest, night
“Axie? Really?” Axel hissed.
“It’s a thing she does. She adds an ‘ee’ sound to the names of people she likes. Think of it as a good thing!”
“I’ll think of it as a silly thing.”
Jess merely groaned in response.
Axel was back at Jess’ house, but as it turned out, she wasn’t the only person he was there to spend time with. The two were waiting by the microwave, making popcorn. Axel looked back to Lucy through the kitchen divider. She was idly watching TV, sitting on the carpet.
4 days before the expedition into Everwood Forest, night
On the outskirts of town, there was a figure walking into the forest. An item of clothing was draped over the figure’s shoulder. The figure did not bring a torch, their eyes having adjusted to the darkness fairly easily after years of walking around late at night. No one was around to see the figure, so no one was there to identify the figure as Axel Heronicus. Using the pale light of the moon to guide his way, he disappeared among the cluster of trees. He had no visible destination but walked with purpose nonetheless. He shivered a little as he weaved his way through the trees (it was a fairly cold night), but not once considered putting on the item of clothing draped over his shoulder: a dark blue hooded coat. Was he that committed to his monochrome fashion trend that he didn’t want to wear a coloured piece of clothing? No — it was meant for someone else. Granted, the latter didn’t necessarily mean the former wasn’t true.
Eventually, Axel stopped and frowned. Something wasn’t right. Something should have happened after wandering this far, he thought.
5 days before the expedition into Everwood Forest, night
A shiver ran up Axel’s spine, throwing him out of his daze.
What have I been doing? he thought to himself. A quick survey of what lay in front of him suggested he was lying on his couch, watching TV at his house. However at second glance, he realised it wasn’t his couch, nor his TV — this wasn’t even his house! But if it wasn’t his house, whose house was it? Axel looked around and noticed what appeared to be a family photo, framed and hung on the wall. The photo displayed a mother, a father and two daughters, one in her late teens and the other a small child. Upon closer inspection, he recognized the older daughter as his friend, Jess. He concluded that he was in Jess’ house (a safe assumption). But where’s Jess, then? The only reason he would be in her house would be to hang out with her, yet here he was sitting and watching TV by himself — not hanging out with her. Perhaps we were watching TV together, but she left to go to the bathroom or something? That would make sense. She’ll probably be back soon. I better just wait here.