I sat hunched over on the edge of the bench, my elbows propping me up. My left arm was dropped, holding a can of drink. In my right hand, a cigarette, unlit. The bench was perched atop a huge hill in the centre of the park. From this bench I could see the whole park and the edges of the surrounding forest. All who came in and out were mine to see. But given the isolated nature of the bench and the neighbouring trees, I was practically invisible. Which was exactly why it was my favourite place on the planet to be. I stared at the cigarette in my hand; twiddling it around my thumb. I knew there was a lighter in my pocket. I could very easily smoke it.
This was the first time I’d ever held a cigarette. The lighter was just a Nick-Nack of mine I fiddled with when I was thinking. Ironically, the only thing stopping me doing just that was the cigarette. I couldn’t help but think it was awfully light for something so deadly. The paperweight feel made me uneasy. Like something that held such significance to death should be a little more significant in physicality. It was also surprisingly sleek. Never had I seen one up close. The butt and neck were cleanly separated, there were no flecks of tobacco in the paper and the end was clean cut. I suppose in my very comparative mind it was like looking at a convicted murderer and thinking “But they look so ordinary.” I took a sip of the drink and leaned back on the bench allowing both my arms to drop beside me.
Why was I holding a cigarette? I never did really work out why. Consider it a moment of ‘seizing the opportunity.’ As in, I saw the opportunity sticking out of my Mother’s bag and I seized it.
The park was empty today. No dog walkers, hikers or whatnot. Just me, enjoying the view as best I could. I would’ve enjoyed it more had I not been thinking. I do it a lot. When I say thinking, I mean analysing and scanning everything. Like a constant search party, looking for something. Fucked if I know what it is though. If I knew, I wouldn’t be sat on a cocking bench on christmas eve, i’d be out getting it. Oh yeah, it was Christmas Eve. Not that that made much of a difference to me. My festivity went about as far as Apollo 1, not very. Way I see it, christmas is just an alcoholics wet dream. An excuse to get plastered and not give a damn. An excuse for everyone to spend stupid amounts of money on gifts that people probably won’t like. Then complain about having no money. I took another sip of the drink. I was nearing the end of the can. I no longer felt the caffeine and sugar, just the come down you get afterwards. Even that was no more than a faint murmur in my head. Everyone always says that the christmases you see on TV are bullshit. That the cheery atmos is just a facade made to advertise turkey or whatever. Course, the only person I’ve actually heard say that is my Mum. Everyone else seems perfectly content with christmas. But the Cooper household was far from jolly. It was a ho-ho-horrific mess of tantrums, tears and broken crockery. It was like a circus in my house at christmas. Except with less clowns and more trapeze accidents. I guess that would make my Mother the Ring-Leader. The conductor to the fuck-up orchestra. Which naturally makes my Father the elephant. By boxing day the only thing that isn’t broken is my Fathers’ snoring. Booze, nap, booze, food, nap. It was a comic duo if i ever saw one. Shame I never liked circuses.
I should probably introduce myself a bit. At this point all you’ve got is a vague tale from a clearly very arrogant kid. Well, don’t expect that to change. My name’s Frank Cooper. And let me start by saying that I absolutely hate my name. Not only is it the most common muck name but it also makes a horrible sound phonetically. The clashing Cs and Ks make you want to hiss when saying it. It’s just horrid. I’m a 16 year old and I don’t like people much. They are in my honest opinion arseholes. So I keep to myself a lot. Because if I didn’t, i’d probably lose the few people that actually talk to me. I’m a bit blunt and don’t care much for what people think of me. I used to. But people change I guess, no point getting all sentimental. My Mother keeps saying ‘What happened to my little angel?’ I reckon she’s senile cos as far as I remember ‘Brat’ was about the finest term of endearment she sent my way.
I’m in secondary school. Or High school. Whatever you want to call it. To be honest it’s just a routine to me, not a place to learn. It’s just a collection of buildings, with a collection of kids and adults who think they’re all better than each other. A few months ago, stuff happened, a lot of stuff. I don’t like to talk about it. But it left me bitter and ‘self-aware’. As in everything i see, i see critically. Like i’m not part of the world, just looking at it. Disassociated one might say. It has it’s upsides, but normally it just makes me a right miserable git.
A stiff breeze knocked me off my train of thought. It was getting darker. The few lampposts into the park began to light. I was never fond of fairy lights but there was something about a lit lamppost that I found quaint. I remember laying in the back seat of the family car on the way home from a long journey. The night had set in and the lampposts were on. I would look out the window to see them flying past. Each one staying for less than a second. I would watch the lights bounce of the ceiling in the car. The orange glow always put me straight to sleep.
The lights in the park were a much more white light. Perhaps to compliment the scenery. There were very often gatherings and events held here so the lights were most likely much brighter and new. There was no comfort in these lamps. Only industrialised, clinical fire. Efficiency in the place of love. As is life nowadays. I gazed to the park entrance to see a distant figure. There was no dog or company beside this stranger. An ominous glow hung about their person that made my stomach turn. Who would come somewhere so desolate at this hour? The question echoed about my person but found no reverb. I am alone in my being. This man is either a fool or drunk. I had no intention of sharing the company of a drunkard nor especially a fool. As I stood to make my leave the figure stopped. For a moment the Earth converged about us. The ever subdued eyes of life turned their gaze to us. 'There is nothing to remark here, nothing to gain or find.' I think to myself.
“You are not welcome here. Get out. I don’t care who you are.” I knew they couldn’t hear me. The acoustics of this place were clear as day to me. I knew it would take little below a foghorn to be heard from this distance. So you can imagine my surprise when the figure began to walk the way it had come. I stifled a laugh to myself and put the cigarette in my pocket. I rubbed my hands together and blew into them, the chill had started to tickle my chest. I felt what hair I had ruffle. My mother had decided it best I keep it short to look orderly. Maybe as a compromise with the rest of my ‘disorder’. I didn't complain, it was easy to manage. Every complains about their hair but I rarely touch mine. Seems like unnecessary vanity to fuck around with your hair. I don't like vanity.
I tucked my hands into my pockets to find warmth. Instead I just got cold fabric. That was my cue to start leaving.