Henfield was a small enough town that it didn’t take much digging to know who was with whom, where so-and-so worked, and whatever happened to that kid, you know- the one who lived two doors down from the Sanderson’s.
six degrees or less
a whispered cartography
strangers’ life path’s mapped
Forrest was back in town after finishing up his boarding days at Dunnstown Grammar. Trailing him discreetly, it seemed he spent much of his time either at the skate park or making a beeline, without any sense of urgency, between Al’s Corner Produce and his parents’ home. I knew his 18th birthday was approaching, so if my hunch was correct, whatever would happen was due to transpire in only a matter of weeks. I had to stay close without raising suspicion.
I became a regular at Al’s. The clandestine shopping trips made me broaden my repertoire, a few items at a time, with the somewhat random selections dependent on the path Forrest led around the well-stocked store. Our increasing familiarity meant that Albert made a point of making small talk about the weather, though his eyes remained glued to the tiny TV with the test cricket unfolding, while I’d will the conversation to an end so I could continue the slow paced chase that usually ended at Forrest’s front gate. I hoped that it wouldn’t happen within the confines of his home, as there was no way I could explain my way in, for those long hours he spent inside each day.
The sun-faded poster of Cynthia on the notice board outside the store served as a reminder of my quest. If the sun didn’t make her fade away, the cluster of notices for a fridge and freezer for sale, the local school fete, and a number of hastily scrawled advertisements for house mates threatened to encroach on the desperate plea to find her. Her eyes followed me as I crossed the road and walked past the line of bicycles and leashed dogs, to enter.
I’m sorry, I didn’t know it would lead to this, I wanted to tell her. Then the daunting thought how many others were there? I hadn’t seen any sense in checking over the children’s entries for the time capsule. What was the point in correcting their grammar or spelling? The idea was for their future-self to see an untainted snapshot of their junior dreams.
Forrest showed no signs of recognising me, or picking up on anything out of the ordinary in my presence at the store, on his daily visits.
My efforts were rewarded two days shy of his birthday. I was purchasing a few tomatoes, a stick of celery and some hummus. He was standing ahead of me in the queue, with a woman between us. I could see his regular items, a Twix and a carton of strawberry milk. Not a great deviation from the milk and cookies of not so many years ago I thought, when suddenly a blue light shimmered around Forrest’s lanky frame. Even standing a couple of meters from him, I felt the radiant heat. His hands shook erratically, hurling a splash of pink across the room. I pushed past the woman in front of me, making her drop the change she’d diligently counted out, and grabbed a hold of Forrest’s arm. I was going wherever he was going. We left in a dark swirl of strawberry scented heat, followed only by the echo of the other shopper’s screams, and evidence of Albert having finally peeled his eyes away from the cricket, before everything fell silent.
“That’ll be $4.53 mate, what the…”
In the first draft, I actually had used the terms ‘life path’ within the prose, when it occurred to me that they were the latest prompt words for RonovanWrites’ Weekly Haiku Poetry Prompt Challenge, so I decided to make this post a kind of haibun, using the prompt words in the haiku. 2 birds, 1 stone!