Title: Days Pass By
Disclaimer: I do not own characters, settings, or ideas conceived by John Knowles and associates. This was written for pleasure, not profit. No copyright infringement is intended.
Summary: This was originally written for extra credit as an 'additional chapter' to A Separate Piece.
Author's Note: Although there isn't any direct action or dialogue, I hope you enjoy this little insight into Gene's mind after he leaves Devon. I also attempted to write it in the style of the author. Review are appreciated, thanks for reading!
Told from Gene's point of view.
Life after Devon became a steady shuffle from one place to the next. As soon as we had settled into quarters and daily routines, we were sent packing and shipped through unfamiliar American countryside to another base, and so on. As I took my diploma and shook the Headmaster's hand, I essentially traded one life for another. Gone were the days of the summer session, of academic pressure and down time, and in its place was training. Constant, dull, monotonous training that strained the body and mind to their breaking points, and threatened to push even further. Training that differed when the corporals felt we were becoming too soft, so they devised a new, even more rigorous program to prepare us for the war.
The war. I wasn't any closer to it than during my stay at Devon. Sure, the war was more than just food rationing and shoveling out railroad tracks, but the likelihood of my actually coming into direct contact with fighting was scarce. A new weapon had been developed and dropped on suicidal Japan, a weapon which had probably saved most of my generation. Never being in the line of fire had been my goal when I enlisted in the Navy, and so far my hopes had been realized. The downside was my life was extremely repetitious through the constant changes of environment, like a washing machine stuck on the rinse cycle.
Unlike most boys my age, I didn't feel the need to be a part of something bigger, of this war. It wasn't my duty to fight for another generation's problems. That thought always reminded me of Brinker, the corners of his mouth turned down with distaste, remarking, "I'm going to 'serve', I may even get killed. But my dad and his crowd are responsible for it. And we're going to fight in it". But as soon as memories of people from Devon surfaced in my head, I gave it 'the old college try' and shoved them so deep into the recesses of my mind that it would take several atomic bombs to even strike the walls I had built around them.
The reason for this wasn't out of guilt. I now lived in the atmosphere that Phineas was famous for being able to create. I only accepted as much reality as I could at a time, and left the rest for my mind to process later. Not surprisingly, I retreated deep into myself for periods of time. I was an automaton on the outside; I followed orders without questioning them, performed my duties to the best of my ability, and didn't do anything that distinguished me as an individual from the masses. My mind was carefully sheltered as well, and thoughts that could provoke a strong reaction were flagged with big flashy warning signs.
I knew what memories of Phineas, of Leper, would cause. It had the same smell as the barracks when the list of dispatches was posted. Fear loomed as an ever-present dragon over my past at Devon, guarding the memories between its clawed front feet. If I accessed that fear while still in training, there was a chance I would go as mad as a horse without blinders, and blunder through all of the streets and networks of my life that I had planned so carefully. And surely hand-in-hand with that destruction would be a Section Eight discharge.
I hoped to return to Devon one day, to finally extinguish that fear and lack of closure I carried with me now. To visit the First Academy Building, and the tree, where the last bit of my childhood had fallen away when I obeyed Phineas's command, "Jump!"