Chapter 4


Far too faded in the night,
a desperate cry casts no light.
It won't be seen;
it can't be helped;
its fate forever out of sight.

The origin of its self-preservation
is too entrenched in its false revelations.
It lacks that which we covet so,
just that little bit of hope,
that life is something we can control.

Hearing flood lights buzzing from all directions,
watching fog horns ripple his reflections,
they're looking for him,
but he will stay.
He's past the point of no return,
his mind committed to remain.

How could he change?
This isn't so bad.
An entire island just for one man.
There's enough to survive.
There are trees, and a nice cove
to protect from the storms.
What more could the outside world possibly hold?

And though they looked,
they could not find
the man who didn't want to see
beyond his place in time,
beyond his sun-washed island mind.

Too far faded,
in the night, his sun-bleached soul cast no light.

Do You Dare To Leave? Do You Dare Not To?

I didn't think it would feel like this much of nothing; I thought it'd feel like I had at least accomplished something, but no, my high school diploma is just an access card to a part of the world I wanted no part of. It only exists to say that I can do as I am told, and that I wasted so many years of my life in an education system that manages to teach you that learning isn't fun. But that's the past now... now I am free, free to choose my own path through life. And in two days, I'll be free from this town, where the status quo is committing high treason to the states of consciousness, awareness, and anything that resembles an independent and original thought. They all have their cliques, their jobs, and their mundane dreams. Some of them think they're smart; some of them know they're smart, but their lives are built on false self-analysis. None of them exude a shred of anything beyond ordinary. They are so painfully ordinary... not all of them, but there's not enough time in life to know everyone. They'll try to drag you down, to make you one of them... whatever it takes. You must fight to escape, to find your own way, to join in with the other escaped beings. I must get out of this place. I feel like my whole life has been leading up to this moment. This could be the moment that triggers a cascade of events in my life that allows me to develop into the person I want to be. Hold on future me... I'm coming, just wait for a few more days.

Danny, "Our first day of freedom. Too bad Henrik can't join us."
I nodded and looked out across the town, taking it all in before I leave, making sure that there's nothing I'd be missing out on here.
"What'cha thinking about?" Danny asked me.
"Huh?," I thought for a second, "Oh... how awesome it is that I'll never have to do homework again."
Danny laughed and threw a rock down the hill, "what are you really thinking about?"
My face must have looked worried, "whether Henrik is going to come with us tomorrow."
Danny, "Don't worry about it, it's out of your control."
"I'm not worrying, just... thinking." Well, I guess I was worrying a little, but I was more just concerned for Henrik. "Do you remember when we first met? I didn't think you guys were going to let me hang out with you."
Danny, "Well, we didn't really start hanging out 'till high school."
"Yeah. You guys were inseparable. It took me so long to get into the group... but lately it feels like it's been just you and me."
Danny, "I've been getting the same feeling, but maybe he'll surprise us. Maybe he's just going through a funk that he's got to work out on his own."
"I hope he figures it out, whatever it is."

I woke up the next day anxious to get the adventure underway, but it would have to wait until after Henrik got off work. I spend the morning and afternoon making sure we had everything we would need and going over the plan. Soon enough it came time to head out. I triple checked my backpack and gear, made sure my room was perfectly organized one last time, and said goodbye to my parents. I told them I'd be back when the adventure was over, probably in a few months. I didn't really plant to ever come back. The adventure didn't have an end point, but they didn't know that, and it was a satisfying enough answer for them. I headed off to Henrik's house to walk with him to Danny's place. I tried my best to clear my mind so as not to bring any of my preconceptions into the discussion when it came time for Henrik to decide whether he was coming with us or not. I rang the door bell and Henrik opened the door.
"Hi, Henrik. You ready to go."
Henrik,"uh... not really, actually."
"What do you mean? You know we're going tonight, right?"
Henrik, "yeah, I'm just not ready to do this now."
"So, what? You just want to rot in this place until you die. Don't you want to do something about that? Don't you want to leave? Don't you want to be somebody?"
Henrik shrugs and tries to avoid making eye contact.
"Henrik. Are you coming?"
Henrik, "I... I can't. I just can't do it right now."
I knew this moment was coming, but I didn't know what I should say.
"That's disappointing. I really wanted it to be the three of us. I really wanted you to come. I kinda figured this is how it was going to turn out though... with the way you've been lately." My eyes started to water. "Come join us some day okay? We'll come back and get you."
Henrik nodded, "Some day."
We both stood there for a moment, trying our best to figure out how to dance our way through this situation. I looked up at him and tried my best to smile.
"I'm gonna miss you."
I leaned in and kissed him goodbye. His lips held on to mind like he desperately wanted to be rescued from the prison of his own mind, but his face and words had betrayed him for too long. I don't think there was anything I could have done to make him go, so I didn't try. I turned around and walked down his driveway trying to hide a tear, but I looked back anyway, seeing the shell of a boy I once knew standing longingly in the doorway. I never looked back again.

By the time I reached Danny's house I couldn't hide the tears. I knocked on the front door, standing there on the porch with my pack, wiping my eyes as best I could.
Danny opened the front door. My face had already answered his question, "so no Henrik?"
I shook my head.
Danny, "Yeah, I went and talked to him earlier. I have his gear here; he gave it to us to use. He told me he wasn't going, but I was hoping you could convince him to come."
"I already knew he wasn't up to it. I didn't really try to convince him of anything, but I wish he would have come."
We packed the gear into Danny's car in silence. We both gave his parents hugs goodbye. They wished us the best of luck and told us to contact them if we ever needed anything.

We drove off into the night, the start of our adventure. After we got out of town, Danny looked over at me.
Danny, "hey, let's make the best of this, yeah? Tomorrow will be a new day, the first day of our exciting adventure."
"Alright, we'll do that."
We drove for a few hours more until we got tired, pulling off onto the first secluded side road we could find. We had already set up the bedding in the back of the car, so all we had to do was jump in the back and fall asleep. Eventually the excitement of the adventure and the happiness of being free took over my previously dispirited mood and I drifted off to sleep while staring up at the stars through the rear window. It was the best sleep I ever had.