Tucked away in the last pew a young man no older than 14 sat hoping to be as invisible as he felt.
There he listened to the eulogy. A stranger to everyone in the room except Mr. Wanntmore, he stared blankly at the floor and the ragged threadbare cuffs of his pants. Trying not to whimper out loud in dispair, his breathing was shallow and quick as he felt the panic of his world reduced to nothing again.
As with all things in life, and with people, there are always hidden elements. Sides of a person only shared in confidence with another. Maybe it was a side of the old man shared privately with him to redeem himself from the tangled web that was the life these people knew of him, but the boy knew a very different Mr. Wanntmore.
He looked up and panned around the room, his eyes miles away, remembering the first time he met the old man and how their secret friendship had started.
It was an early spring day. He couldn't have been much more than nine. A day like every one before. As usual, he sat alone on a certain bench under a forlorn looking tree that somehow felt comforting to him and watched the world go by for hours lost in an internal dialogue of thoughts and the naive desperate daydreams only a little boy could have.
A life of poverty and a broken home, neither parents were really in the picture. He escaped his reality at this park. Sometimes he would spend his entire time making shapes in his mind with the patterns of the brick footpath there. His only real form of entertainment. Nobody had really taught him any social skills and so he was clumsy, and painfully shy without companions.
"Hey there little man." A old man said strolling up to him.
He simply looked up at him bleakly, not answering.
"I see you here everyday. Don't you have any friends? Parents?"
He hung his head down and shrugged.
"Looks like you need some new kicks." The man commented looking at the holes in the toe of his left shoe, a gentle chuckle in his voice.
He felt uncomfortable. Not used to speaking much, he didn't know what to say and looked away.
"I'll tell you what. I'll be your friend. I pass by here most days." He said to the boy.
He glanced back up and saw him holding his hand out. Some money was in it.
"Here. This is for you. Go get yourself some new shoes."
He took the money meekly and struggled to say thank you, but the words tumbled akwardly out of his mouth.
" Well, I'll see you little man. " He said and began to continue on his way. The boy watched as the old man stopped and gazed back briefly at him, smiled and then walked off.
That was the first bright day in the boys life. He felt slightly less alone. Vaguely hopeful in somehow.
Over time Mr Wanntmore would visit him most days at that same bench. He wouldn't show up every day to see him everyday., But most days. Mr. Wanntmore was obviously a busy man. But, every single day the boy would quickly rush to the bench hoping to catch his friend and have their little talks. Mr. Wanntmore was like a mentor, a kind voice in a painful world.
"Ok. anyone who wishes to say their final goodbyes to our good friend Gready please do so now." Pastor Gossep's voice broke him out of his memories, inviting the congregation to line up and view the casket.
He waited until nearly everyone had finished before he shakily stood up and walked amongst the pews to the front of the church. Except for the twisted knot in his throat and pangs in his stomach, his legs felt numb. He felt numb. Lost really. Still the same shy little boy as when he and Mr. Wanntmore had first met.
He stood in front of Mr Wanntmore laying peacefully in the casket. He felt hollow inside. Less. As if a part of himself was torn away.
Having never seen a dead person before the old man looked different somehow. Almost fake. He hesitantly reaced out and lightly touched his old friends hand. It felt like wax. Another jolt of sorrow and panic rushed through him.
Where are you going the pastors words intruded his thoughts. His whole life he had never really gone anywhere. Except for Mr. Wanntmore, every day had been the same. He knew deep down that he had gone nowhere with his young life, just the same circles endlessly. The reality scared him. And now with his friend gone he felt hopelessly lost.
A few tears escaped his best efforts to contain them and streamed down his cheeks. Reluctantly, he turned and began to walk down the aisle towards the glaring white sunlight streaming through the church doors.
His breathing began to quicken again as he put one foot in front of the other. His chest heaved uncontrollably. Terrified and without a compass. Alone.
Where are you going The words haunted him.
He stood at the precipace, put one hand out to steady himself on the threshold and looked around at the world, blinking away tears.
Where are you going
The truth was he didn't know.
This is the second half of the entry for this weeks We-Write Reboot hosted by @mariannewest, @ntowl and the Freewrite Community. The prompt is "Where are you going" and can be found at the below link;
Part one of this entry can be found here, written by the fabulous @justclickindiva
I tried to take the story to tell the other side of Gready Wanntmore's life. A more candid, tender side.
I hope you guys enjoyed it.
Picture provided by pixabay.com