Shouting Underwater

The year is 1967 and Daunte Criest is on his way to Princeton to make a case for allowing female students into programs. The U.S. is in social rebellion due to the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, the Cold War, and the British Invasion. Hardly a positive atmosphere for constructive change. Nonethless, Daunte is very determined, and to all those, like Callie who he meets along the way, he seems to pursue a noble cause. In part it is, but it is a nobility that has an eerie beginning, and one to question and affirm along the way. Willow, his sister, is his incentive to travel from Fort Walton Beach to the prestigious campus in New Jersey, a journey she is unable to take and a weight that hangs heavy as he climbs the steps to the train.

UPDATE SCHEDULE: every SUNDAY (or second sunday depending on what's going on)

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3. TWO

RAIN FELL FROM THE ANGRY SKY IN A THICK SHEET. THE HOWLING WIND CAUSED THE DROPS OF RAIN TO DANCE UP AND DOWN LIKE GHOSTS MARCHING ALONG THE GLASS SUPERIMPOSED ON THE LANDSCAPE, RACING AGAINST THE TRAIN BUT SLOWLY FALLING BEHIND.

 

The window had fogged up, and without thinking, Daunte pressed the tip of his finger to the glass and began to draw. First a sad face, then a landscape of his own, and soon enough his ears had tuned out the rickety sound of the tracks blending in with the sound of the raindrops hammering away like rain on a tin roof. But he couldn’t exactly tune out the distant roll of thunder and the train itself rolling down the tracks of an old wooden bridge, or the distant howl of the engine’s whistle far ahead of the rider’s passenger car, but then again he supposed he didn’t want to. It was calming.

 

Movement to his left caused Daunte to drop his finger, his hand falling limply into his lap, and his eyes cast over to where a young girl, no more than seventeen at the most, sat beside him. The attention he paid to the girl was very little, and honestly he could care less. All he wanted was to look out the window like a stereotypical eighteen year old boy with life problems, and be left the hell alone. But when he felt eyes burning through him, his eyes traced a slow path to where the girl sat and perhaps even before one dark brow could raise, she was gone, leaving nothing but silence, a chill breeze, and an unnerving feeling  in her wake.

 

Daunte found that he  couldn’t even muster up enough fucks to give to even give a slight roll of his eyes.

 

He was bored. It was as simple as that. Daunte needed something to do, so lazily getting to his feet, he stuffed his hands into his pockets and walked numbly out of the car, disregarding the bruised circles underneath his eyes, or even the way his hair just decided to do whatever the hell it wanted.

 

The few minutes that it took to make his way down the poorly lit corridor was all a blur, one he didn’t even try to decipher as he entered the dim room. His eyes lazily glanced over the people that occupied the space.  All the families with their children, the people, the noises. He didn’t even want to be there, everything was a damn annoyance.

 

Out of the corner of his eyes, he spotted something that he liked. A bar. A small bar with those old, tall wooden stools with slight paint chipped off of the legs, a round about counter, and a male bartender who looked like he hated his job. But the liquor, that’s what he was after. He wanted to drown himself in booze and hopefully get to the point where he’d black out. That is what he wanted.

 

He fell onto the stool, ordered nothing complicated, and sat in silence, the hateful feeling radiating off of him in waves.

 

“Rough day, eh?”

 

Daunte  just looked the bartender as he continued on cleaning the inside of a wine glass with a small porcelain white towel.

 

“That’s shitty,” the bartender continued, as if the silence he had received indicated any sort of answer. “But man, we all get those. It’ll just blow over and before you even know…”

 

Daunte turned his attention to the sun as it drowned in the horizon.  The image morphed the snowy landscape outside to one of a beach in the summer time. Willow was talking about fish and how they had taste buds all over their body. Kid sister trying to make sense of the beach or trying to impress older brother.  Didn't matter. She was still in school. He had quit. He called her Wicki. Short for Wikipedia. It fit.

 

They were both spread out onto their stomachs onto the wet sand, right where the tide would just rise up high enough onto the sand to soak the tips of their fingers before receding back into the ocean.

 

“Daunte, Daunte, Daunte,” a finger furiously poked  his cheek, smushing it. “Do you think if I touched a fish it would taste me?”

 

Before a word even tumbled past his lips, he got a finger into his eye.

 

“Oh my god,” she began excitedly and daunte hadn’t thought it possible, but her eyes widened even more and portrayed the view of them looking as if they were about to pop right out of her tiny head. “Daunte, what if i accidentally touch the little fish the wrong way and it tastes me but then when it tasted me i got some of the fish powers and then, oh!” she gasped and stumbled to her feet, clapping joyously.  “Then I’ll be able to breathe under  water, Daunte, water.”

 

He looked at her, his face  stoic and before he knew it, a tiny fist connected with his shoulder.

 

“This is AMAZING,” she narrowed her eyes. “Stop being grumpy,”

 

Daunte couldn’t help the grin that stretched his lips from ear to ear. He reached a hand over to ruffle the kid’s hair and her hands slapped him away.

 

A faint presence brushed lightly against Daunte’s back, snapping him from his reverie, and then it was gone. The beach, Willow, and the small minute of happiness. Because  someone had just walked by.

 

Daunte growled lowly and pushed away from the bar. His hands found a ten stuffed in his pocket and he put it on the counter as he walked out of the dining car and into the series of cars with sleeping berths and sitting compartments.  He had to get alone.  Memories were taking him away. He needed to focus on the task at hand.  He had a promise to keep.

 

He didn’t know where his feet were leading him, and he didn’t care. He just knew he wasn’t on his way back to the bar, and he was okay with that.

 

The walk around the train cooled him down and centered him as well.  He was focused on what his stop would bring him.

 

He  wasted no time as he threw open the door to his car and thumped down onto his seat near the window before closing his eyes, and just waiting for the day to be over.

 

“I’m sorry for your loss,” someone said. A girl, one with a voice like velvet.

 

Daunte yawned.

 

“How old was she?” a shuffle made him open his eyes revealing her head cocked to the side. “Nine?”

 

He clenched his jaw. It was silent for a moment, she looked at her watch.

 

“What was she like?”

 

And just like that, he was gone. That was all it had taken, that simple question, before  he was out of the car, walking down the corridor, his hands clenching into fists and then unclenching. He couldn’t do this. He didn’t know how  to do this. To deal. How did others do it?

 

He walked faster.

 

Images flipped through his mind like pages of a book; Willow smiling, Willow and Daunte building sand castles, the stray cat licking Willow’s hand, him holding Willow above his head, Willow laughing as she came off stage from her dance recital.

 

The images had acquired happiness, something he hadn’t been able to feel for awhile.

 

The  images then rapidly took on a darker tint; His father’s bloodshot eyes as he told his only son he’d never accomplish his dreams, Daunte's bloodied knuckles after having gotten into a fight, Willow’s small figure disappearing underneath the dark waves and never resurfacing, her body in the casket with bruises bloomed on her skin like flowers, as if God had painted her from a palette of dark purples and blues.

 

It was as if Daunte was walking right through life in a daze, then. But a daze he never wanted to escape. He could only imagine what would happen to a person that had been running so long , to just stop.

 

So instead he reached out, his hand resting on the coolness of the steel door, and he pushed.

 

But it didn’t open.

 

Daunte then turned around and he blinked. And then blinked again. He stepped away from the door.

 

He had walked through eight train cars while lost in his head. And that was exactly what Daunte had wanted to avoid. He’d been trying so hard to avoid getting lost in his head. It was a dark place, one he disliked to visit.

 

He needed to get a grip.

 

Releasing a long breath, he clenched his eyes shut before they opened once again and he walked back to his car, this walk seeming longer than the last one. And this time his wandering thoughts were kept in a folder stored in the back of his mind, and it was kept closed.

 

Daunte arrived back to his car and at first glance he noticed that the girl who had been engaged a dreadful conversation earlier, was fast asleep. But not only that, a mother and her son were occupying the space beside her, the little boy chatting away joyously.

 

A pang of jealousy relating to the relationship between the mother and son struck him. It struck him hard.

 

But Daunte merely brushed it off before he closed his eyes, and allowed the sway of the train to lull him into a deep sleep.

 

He hoped he’d never wake up.

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