An express bolted by, a vending machine dispensed something in a crinkly packet, wooden benches worn with graffiti and boredom, cobalt asphalt with long faded yellow lines and the grey sky a heavy blanket, a thick haze of humid fatigue over all passengers on the suburban station platform, the senses dulled, bright colours hurting their eyes and all covered by a shadowy tin and wooden roof.
On the edge, waiting on a yellow line, a private schoolboy kicked at stones with his scuffed black polishable shoes, his cream shorts crinkled from studying all day in the cool dark and dusty library of the city and his school, the book lined dome letting in a soft light that touched upon him like fairies dancing, a strand of blonde hair, gossamer upon his cheeks and a plate of sunshine upon his dark green wool blazer with its gold edging and its proud motto "Scientia est vox".
Walking the isles, this was observed and its strange angelic allure was not lost.
St. Brendan's. It was always catholic schools that were the most concerned with money and prestige, and it was his father who cared about both as well. They went together like fate.
The stones he kicked fell onto the tracks and a seemingly British woman proclaimed through muffled speakers that the 8:10 was arriving. It was the train home, another 30 minutes in which he could try to study or thirty minutes where he had no responsibility, where he could think about anything that amused him. More often than not he decided to think about nothing and tried to ignore everything that was going on in his life. He wondered what his father would do if he just quit, or like so many year twelves hospitalised themselves because of the pressure. But then he thought of his mother and he began trying to think of nothing again.
The silver and shadow jumped his attention, and he hitched his laden backpack higher as he approached the manual doors with their worn yellow handles, the blue streak running alongside mixed with black graffiti and he saw his reflection in the window for a moment. The brakes hissed loudly, beeping went off like all trains do and he pulled the doors open and felt the awkward glances of people as they tried not to watch him as he identified a free seat. It was rare you saw kids in school uniforms at eight in the evening, especially October where they were either locked up studying for year twelve or were at the beach, having no thought nor concern for a professional future.
"What do you want to do with your life, Robert?"
The boy swept his sparkling hair away from his eyes and looked at his books, trying to phrase his words
"I was thinking of teaching maybe"
"Teaching?" The man said lightly, watching as Robert fidgeted away from his gaze
"You could do it; it'd be great to have you."
The boy's eyes flickered as he watched buildings fading away from the windows, as the sky finally turned electric blue of twiglight he let his eyes move from the dancing silhouettes on the sky line and scan the white bathed light of the train. People's bodies danced and jerked like marionettes on the end of a string being jerked here and there as the snake turned, clicking all the time. He scanned interesting faces, a man with almost all his teeth missing, a woman trying to quietly keep her child from running around and chucking a tantrum and through windows and connecting doors; his eyes eventually lay upon a black and white habit.
"Well, in all honesty sir-" Chase paused, as he flickered his eyes up at the Father, "I was thinking of becoming a," nerves made his tongue slowly moistened his lower lip and his teeth softly chew the pink flesh, "a priest."
The Father looked down on him curiously
"I heard you had spent some months over summer attending a seminary?"
The father smiled down upon the blue eyed lad
"Must you insist on using 'Sir'?"
The blue eyes flashed in his smile
"Until you give me something else, Sir"
Away from the nun who was apparently on her own in a carriage, he looked at the time and began to imagine the reception he would get when he finally arrived home. It was Thursday and his father had called him up out of the blue to say he wanted him to come over for dinner.
"I can't really visit you, you're on the east side, I have to study and go to school, remember? " he murmured into the phone, a little annoyed
"I have some of your things from last time you stayed here, and I can drop you off at school. It's no problem."
His father heard a long pregnant pause
"I don't think those clothes would fit me anymore, and besides I really…just can't leave mum at the moment."
"I'll come see you."
He was late, and he wondered what was happening at his house. His mother could have welcomed the estranged husband and be entertaining him right now with polite conversation or could've already pegged every breakable in the house at his father screaming at him in a drunken rage. Chase already knew which one it was, and he grew anxious. He started fidgeting "Calm down!" the mother whispered forcefully at her child behind him.
"Calm down!" a heavy voice in the dark, quick panicked breaths whispering in the dark they swirled and lingered a blinding fog and creepy tendrils of smoke whispering back
He looked back out the window. There was nothing he could do and his father had probably just sent a car to pick him up and take him to some restaurant. Frustration rose like bile, but he thrust it down. He'd stayed late; he'd done some study already, so he needn't worry.
"So, how come you aren't studying religion?"
A small twist of the lips caused the light across his face to change, resting like drops of dew upon his lashes and the glimpse of collar bone under his summer shirt shimmering like crushed gold across his flesh
"I don't know. I mean, I know I'd like to do it, but I don't know if I can. Not at the moment"
"Why not? Now is as good a time as any"
"It's just," the face slowly raised itself to look up at him, the creamy neck arched gracile as the baby blues, innocent and trusting, met his, "I don't know what there is for me there, in my life I just can't see how I can. My father-"
"Then it depends on which father your willing to place your trust in." the man felt his guts freeze, he waited as the hunched over boy let go of his pen and splayed his sleek hands on the desk and sighed a long deep sigh that poured out almost unwillingly out of his mouth, like rush of water it moved in the Father
"I trust the Father"
He smiled a deep smile
"As do I."
Chase's phone beeped and he identified his father's number. He was right, there was a car waiting. His stepmother had already had decided she and his father were going somewhere tonight but had an epitome that he could tag along too. It was an art and food function. He sighed and thrust the small silver blue light blinking thing back into his bag and watched as some people amble off onto dark platforms. The night began to flicker past the windows again and he noticed he was alone.
"You're still here."
The blazer moved in a shrug, its straight lines small, fatigue dampening his expression
"Biology, there's a lot to remember"
"You could go home and study."
He saw the face turn pensive, before he murmured
"I'd rather be here," the Father looked at the curved line of the jaw, "It's quiet," the calm stirrings of the boy, the rustle of his shorts and the slight constant squeak of his chair, "I'm alone," the air was thick with solitude, "it's best for me."
The Father swallowed, his tongue thick
His platform was empty and in the jaundice yellow lights he watched the train draw away, his crossed the overpass and began his five minute walk home. His legs trembled with fatigue and he watched as his skin became ghostly under a fluorescent streetlamp, it flickered, small bits of creepy light and then the darkness again.
The light in the store room flickered on and he let his eyes scan the metal DIY shelves for the right box to replace the loose leaf and saw a shadow in the doorway.
Chase jumped as a moth landed on his face, feather light touch and the light flickered out.
"It's okay", a ghosting of fingers across his jaw
His heart hammering away like it was trying to escape, the only part of him that was his limbs jammed, his muscles seized with terror.
Shaking legs against the Father's own, the smell in the room, the sweet perfect lips trembling under his.
He ran home, trying to get there in some kind of time. The car was parked on the corner a block away from his house. He passed and knew it was his father's and the driver waved cheerily at him
He smiled back, aware that his father would've asked the driver to park here so he couldn't go home
"Your dad sent me half an hour ago, you're a little late"
"Yeah, I know. Sorry, I'll run home and get changed real quick-"
"Don't bother mate, your dad put a suit in the car for you to wear"
Chase looked up and saw the lights all dark in the window of his home.
The lights became long on the shinny black as he opened the door and scrambled into the back.
"Right, it's just there. He said it would be your size"
"I hope he's right"
Robert pulled it out and checked the label, right size right brand. His father had it perfect. The car began to glide away and the streets slipped past him.
He sat there with the suit in his lap.
"You better get changed mate, we'll be there soon"
He shook his head and began to unbutton his shirt and in his mind, other fingers began to do the same.
Whimpering, the protests from an impotent tongue. Lulling to his cries, in the dark everywhere noise, touch, smell a thousands ghosts whispering warm air and cold touches, fingers trembling. Words of a heavy voice tumbling over his skin, he gasped as the cold cement touched his legs and rough fingers grazed his hips. Dirt pushed deeper into his skin, grains stuck to him like sand from the beach. Pressure, pleasure, hopelessness. Doing up his trousers as his trembling fingers failed to push the button back into the space, loose leaf flung to every corner of the room and his shaking entity slowly bending down and placing them all back into their box. The taste of blood on his lips. Turning off the light, getting his bag and going home.
Chase sat staring emptily out the window as he was slowly draw closer into the hub of life, dark streets gone to be replaced by cafes and proudly lit up homes. The art studio where people were pouring out of their cars, shiny black everywhere as armies of ants marching, came into his window and he sighed.
"Robert. Good to see you. You're a bit late"
"I was held against my will. Sorry."
His father smiled, before looking at him
"What happened to your lip?"
His words cut off as his stepmother came gliding over, clasping a frosting glass in her frosted fingers, the diamonds dripping with coldness
"How are your studies?" She asked piercing him with her cold stare, "You want to do teaching right?" she added, sounding like she had a bad taste on her tongue.
Chase saw his father look away at a piece of art on the wall behind him.
"No." Chase said firmly. Neither could hide their shock, and suddenly, he had their full attention
"I'm pursuing medicine" he felt the stone within him talking.
"Oh! That's simply wonderful!" His stepmother grabbed him by the lapel of his 100 silk suit and dragged him over to a group of older aged men, "Darlings, you just have to meet this boy. Robert, this is your fathers work colleagues and old time friends, I don't believe your father ever did introduce you"
Chase swallowed, "No"
Chase shook hands with the men, their dry hands firm and sincere in his
"Rowan's son?" One of them murmured looking at him, "How old are you?" Chase answered. The men looked at him contemplating, and his stepmother watched the scene her made up eyes darting sly looks at a handsome man.
The air was thick with appraisal, and only the last criteria filled for them to know him.
"And what occupation are you pursuing?"
Before Chase could answer, he was coldly hugged by his bony mother, who said with more joy than he'd ever heard in reference to him
"He's doing medicine!"
Relaxed smiles, and nods of approval all round, he was launched off quickly into conversation with the men sudden warmth in their gestures and references to him being a chip off the old block.
He felt a burning dart of pain up his abdomen, and grabbed a wine off a passing tray. He went to down the lot when he saw over the rim the cool grey eyes of his father, he stood far away in the room and slowly, ever so slowly, he nodded at Chase.
Robert brought the glass away from his lips and turned back to the conversation with the men.