Chapter One: Soul Break — Available Soon
As 21 year-old Kyle Evans sat watching the green fields and hills pass beyond the window in the rear seat of his families sedan, the itch with no cure began to nibble at his veins. It was a beckoning for his soul to break, pleading for a numbness, as it had ever since his 8th birthday when the darkness first clawed into his skin and began scratching towards his soul. His life was complex and chaotic. In essence, his soul was a maze of chaos and anarchy, and his thoughts and emotions a cavern of distortion and mayhem.
It had been that way since he looked up 13 years ago into the eyes behind the light, the eyes that sole him.
Yet the picture of God’s world outside his window, with such dainty notes of perfection made the search for redemption that his soul so sought cringe with a contemptuous lament.
The humidity inside the car refused to offer the greatest support or comfort and it added to his suffocation, making him feel caged – harder now with the move than before when he could remain caged up at his own freewill in more comfortable surroundings to overcome being everything he was.
The yearning for escape bubbled inside of him, almost unbearable now. Eight hours of road, eight hours to escape one life and attempt to start a new. Kyle realized it wasn’t him, the itch had barely been a factor for a very long time but the overwhelming apprehension of the move was too much no matter how he tried to put his mind at ease. He wasn’t ready to be emotionally strong enough.
The fear and depression added an overwhelming weight to his soul, making his insides cringe and squirm. As he sat at the window, staring into the world that swept by silently beyond the glass, he knew that he had to make himself change. He had the perfect opportunity now to step out of the darkness of a world he had come so deeply to know over the years, but his self-loathing was an acid to his thoughts, to his strength. Escape his past and with his family leave behind them a life of secrets, tragedy, darkness and shadows. This was the time for the Evan’s family to regain their strength and rebuild their broken and exhausted souls, and as the world flew past his window Kyle Evans tried desperately to imagine himself without the blackness that bulked over his heart, without the solid steel around his emotions, cutting him off from letting anyone in. His heart raced in nervousness.
I can’t do this, I don’t know how?
Inside he wanted to die more than anything, as it seemed to be the only way to escape the darkness that clung to him and for failing his attempts, he clenched his fists, scoffing at how pathetic his existence had become.
The events of his past were stored in a place within his substance where it lingered in obscurity and cold, where its shrieks and groans would echo through his mind and snake through his blood.
His tortured and tormented past was there all the time abrading his soul and no treatment or therapy would remove it or subdue its force. Behind his eyes lay a vicious and cruel darkness.
By their home at the coast it was easier to try and free himself of the darkness that he willingly buried himself into but now the more the droning of the tires on the tar hummed around him, he wondered if in this new world they were heading to, it would be as simple to ease his ever self-hating soul. A soul that at only 21 years old already carried on it deep, awful fraught scars, besieged by anger, tormented by the never ending shame and self despise that devoured his heart daily. Beneath his clothes lay old scars stemming from that 8th birthday through every passing day until present, a reminder that he could never out run the darkness. Seeking absolution from a life of torture, deceit, and suffering – such self-loathing and inner despise had proven impossible to shake. The life he would — with this move — truly try to leave behind him despite the anger and rage boiling within his core, beneath his skin was the life he had felt ensnared into and confined to back in the small town of Salt Rock just north of Ballito and Shaka's Rock on the Dolphin Coast.
This was the perfect chance to escape the dark, leave behind pain and suffering and take small steps towards the light he had long forgotten. But he didn’t know how to be the normal guy he’d always craved to be and the thought alone frightened him, made him feel weak and pathetic – adding to the darkness feeding inside of him.
Kyle’s face portrayed on it such a calculation and an innocence, yet his eyes were riddled in a pain and anguish, holding within them masses of agony and sorrow. He hated everything about himself because it was, to him, a lie.
At first glance his gorgeous face was structured at hiding his emotions and everything of his soul. His facial structure, eyes, faultless chin, full lips and perfect skin portrayed a wonderful being, remarkably handsome. But it was his eyes that glistened with the desperation and torment, begging for the soul once lost to be set free from the cages he had himself constructed, cages that had locked the person he could have been deep inside, banished from ever being normal or free to experience the simplest things of life.
It was this fact that he scorned the most about himself because the world saw something that was nothing more than a lie.
At first sight of Kyle Evans, his striking good looks and Greek god-like handsomeness subtly eluded the intensity of the boy the world would never know – making the world around him oblivious to the boy who died on his 8th birthday. A boy that was valiant and brave, filled with life and adventure had been murdered and replaced by a forgotten boy that bore in him such a charge of dangerous rage-fuelled intensity – beautiful chaos.
His long golden blond hair often hung free on the sides of his face, or tucked behind his ears on rare occasions when he did not want to hide from the world.
For obvious reasons to those only seeing his shell — Kyle Evans was an idol, and the one thing that scared him more than anything else was the moment someone would see what lie beneath it all. He saw only filth and used everything possible to keep a strict distance from everyone around him, out of fear that they would uncover the real being behind the shell.
There had been no talking in the car since they left the garage in Volksrust more than an hour ago.
His mother Claire, in the front passenger seat, had nodded off to sleep and Edward, although fully focused on the road, had his mind all over the place, nervous and excited about his new job, but worried about how the family would react in a new town so far inland away from the only life they had known. The silence hadn’t deterred him, in fact he welcomed the time to let his imagination picture together the life ahead of them all in Secunda. On the back seat next to Kyle lay his four and a half year old brother Bennie — slumped up against pillows fast asleep.
Seeing his little brother there, so innocent and with a full life to lead without knowing such darkness and suffering, Kyle felt the numbing cold graciously dissipate, a slight hopefulness filling his heart that at least his brother would know life, love, friendship and the simple things he had never known. As he softly caressed his brothers golden hair, he saw shining from within the little boy’s heart a faint reflection of himself that he had long forgotten. It was the peacefulness of youth, and the innocence he had lost when all the guests were out in the back yard waiting to sing and eat cake on his 8th birthday. While he, the star of the day first became engulfed by the blackness that would tar his soul each day after, for an eternity of pain and heartache.
Stop thinking about it, let it go, bury it.
His thoughts screamed in his mind and he clenched his eyes shut, his soul to shattered to think of it, recall it or speak of it.
He clenched his fists and slumped back into the seat again, riddled again with frustration and self-contempt.
You can’t protect Bennie, you failed piece of human shit!
What plagued him as he sat staring into the nothingness beyond the window was his failed attempts at ridding the world of his existence, because now at 21 he was faced with trying to be a grown up when he didn’t want to be alive at all.
It was a hard road he’d been on, to reach the point where he was now en route to a new life with a chance to really leave behind everything in the shadows and attempt stepping into the world again.
But the thought of it all caused a craving to be numbed, and he grit his teeth, the angst more dire to quench the need for an escape. And his remedy was called V.
Stop thinking about it! Breathe! Remember your steps!
He tried to control his thoughts, clear his mind.
You have to stop hurting them all. Get a grip you piece of shit!
He sighed trying hard to shrug off the nausea and hatred he felt inside, for everything he had done to lose his purity and his hope, his innocence and his identity.
Looking back out the window at the lowveld plains stretching far into the distance and the tranquility of the world in that moment he felt a grin moving over his lips as the dark face inside laughed out loud, roaring in amusement at him for finding beauty in anything touching his eyes, his hands, his lips or his skin. He looked back down at little Bennie, then up at Edward and Claire in the front of the car, resigning himself to the silence, the self torment again, sordid and violently strained to keep forever in his soul the darkness he met on his 8th birthday, burning away at everything great he could ever be.
Kyle shut his eyes and lay back his head hoping that prayer would find life within his heart and escape from his lips, yet as it had in the years before, he could not find prayer inside himself. In defeat he turned his attention to what lay beyond the window of the wine red Toyota Fortuner, wondering what life now lay ahead of him in the inland Mpumalanga province and town of Secunda almost 580 kilometers away from his deranged history in Salt Rock.
Remember the steps. Remember the steps.
He couldn’t imagine a new life away from Salt Rock where he could no longer run to the ocean and spend whatever time he could hiding away with only the water and sand to judge him.
The silence that paved way to his thoughts broke by the voice of his mother Claire who raised her head wearily, smiling to her husband Edward with a yawn, “Still not there yet?”
Edward, turned to face her with a bright smile, “Not to far now, about an hour or so at the most.” He answered as he lovingly tapped her leg.
Blonde, with short bob cut hair tucked in tightly behind her ears, Claire Evans was two years junior to her 46 year old second husband Edward whose balding brown hair and eyes naturally complimented his gentle graying age while her kind and patient face exposed her gentle courtesy and mothering human nature.
“I'm going to need a chiropractor if we don't get there soon.”
Watching them relish each others trust, partnership and love, Kyle could not help but feel a moderate despise for both of them and what they shared at that moment of looking at them from behind without them knowing. They smiled and seemed to enjoy a freedom, an existence he could not imagine despite how hard he had tried. It was the niceness, the smiles and all other normality that he could never truly muster – not with all the feelings of worthlessness and self despise writhing inside of him. And regardless of how hard he tried to find that normality, and he couldn’t stand it – it was this in other people that drove him to want to linger in V.
Normal ceased to exist for him and at this juncture now, facing a fresh start he wondered if he would ever care for it either. In all degrees he preferred the blackness of his soul for it was all he knew how to be alive with and be comfortable in.
Since leaving Crown and Lake, he had gotten good at keeping others at a distance, safe from him and the blackness he smeared over the world. He’d growl and deliver a coldness to anyone trying to get close to him because he knew it would only be one of two outcomes – either he’d ruin or hurt them, or he’d suffer from the look in their eyes when they realized what filth lay behind his beautiful image.
The world to him was simply a place where good strived to conceal its wicked face by wearing a mask, the identical mask that made people turn their heads away when someone was being mugged or a child being pulled into a strangers car, the same mask that threw a blind eye over the suffering of street children, abuse and injustice. It was this very mask that made people observe and do nothing when something should indeed have be done that Kyle had painted black, welded up and used to keep barrier to the world so no one would ever peer in. And through everything he had endured since his 8th birthday, he had learned all about masks. Yet as much as he felt safe within the dark confines of his silence and tainted soul, the one thing he could never escape was the reality that every human soul has imbedded in the blueprint – feelings and emotions.
Failing to understand and control FEELING often made his inner rage uncontrollable, regardless of how much he would try. As he watched his mother lean over to kiss his stepfather on the cheek, a faint smile cracked on his face and he looked away, again exasperated by his subconscious attempts to be normal and enjoy the blissful fixations that were being alive.
Despite sometimes feeling despise or contempt to the way people were, especially Edward and Claire who were always in his world — he did want her to be happy with a man of Edward’s caliber. Even in the loudest, harshest of arguments with him or her nothing would cause revulsion towards Edward or their marriage to each other. Kyle’s hatred stemmed from deep inside of himself, at the weakness, the emotion and the life that he was — there was never any hatred for the world for his neither his problems nor his life, Kyle hated himself and as his thoughts ran across his consciousness he felt the urge rising again: V.
He knew he had to chase it from his mind and he looked to his little brother again. He heaved a deep sigh, trying hard to remind himself of the choice he made – to try find a way to live anyway he could to try and break away from the need to self destruct and eradicate every aspect of the missing years.
As he watched Bennie asleep so peacefully, he wondered how long it had been since he had shown the world his face without the many masks, unsure if he would ever be able to without his voice breaking and being to overwhelm to let it go from inside of him. Having missed almost his entire school career he was beneficial in terms of allowing his hair to grow long because it made him feel safely hidden from the world, from anyone trying to see past his eyes. And the years he spent finishing his education at home, meant never having to worry about people wanting near him. There were no friends, no girls, nothing but the walls of their house that he barely left. All that the world could see of whom and what Kyle Evans was, was the window to the depths of his soul through his captivating blue eyes. The dog style bands on his wrists that covered one of his suicide attempts and the paleness of his soft smooth skin hid a gorgeous young man with the handsomeness and body of a Greek god..
“We’re about an hour or so away Kyle, you better try wake your brother up now or we’ll have a gremlin on our hands when we’re trying to unpack.” Edward said, looking back in the rear-view mirror.
Kyle studied his step-fathers’ eyes and warm smile, and it was in that moment he realized that it would be convoluted for his heart to begin beating now after years of lying numb and soullessness. He again grind his teeth and looked back out the window, wishing that he wouldn’t succumb to admitting such a fate, to live a life of darkness, pain, anger, sadness and of depth never to be known by any other. He looked back down to his little brother and a smile cracked on his face, over time he hoped that choosing this life with his family would someday bring him to expose his face again. This conflict of reality and the pit of his heart and soul tore at him and he craved to outrun his fear – fearing the move, the life ahead and how he would ever grow old in peace without memories of the eyes…staring at him while the party waited his return, the eyes behind the light. He shut his eyes, forcing his mind to accept the choice he had made three days before…
Claire, exhausted from the packing and universal anxiety associated to moving house, wiped her forehead as she leaned up against the railing of the staircase and again called up to Kyle, insisting for him to carry the boxes down from his room as she had previously asked five times before.
“Kyle please can you bring your junk down stairs already? What are you doing up there?” she asked, her voice filled with worn-out frustration. As she turned back to the kitchen area, she sighed a breath that carried in it a prayer for her to overcome the severe angst and uncertainty towards their future and the move.
Concern for Kyle was the overall cause of her nervousness and tentative emotions, yet this move was the first in 21 years — from the only place she ever called home since she and her first husband Jimmy had bought the unit. She had, albeit in turbulent and trying times, grown to know and accustom herself with Salt Rock and the people of the coast. Moving now, not only to a new home but an entirely new location, far inland – Claire tried gravely to assert her trust in Edward. Packing the cutlery she and Edward had received as a wedding gift, she knew that it was nothing more than leaping from her comfort zone, yet the uncertainty of everything involved was over whelming, almost stampeding over her conscious mind.
“I don’t hear boxes coming down those stairs Kyle!” she called again, looking to her wrist watch anxiously, fully certain now that she would not have all the boxes ready before Edward and little Bennie arrived home with take out. She sighed, trying desperately to trust her that her first born son, after everything, was back with her, that her little boy was home and safe.
Her son had vanished on the eve of his 8th birthday, and the eight years stolen from them had changed everything within her soul. She didn’t know her son, couldn’t understand him or who he was. Barely had any real insight into the events that transpired in his eight years away and now since his return he chose to keep himself secluded and have the true darkness of his soul locked within himself for no other to ever know. After months at the Crown and Lake Rehabilitation center, her son came home and via home schooling managed to finish his high school career. There were smiles and short lived chats, but who the young man was she couldn’t figure out. She often wondered if his isolation from the world was harder to fathom than his disappearance.
For Claire the move to Secunda was a hope that she would see her son step out of the shadows. He had been withdrawn from the world since walking out of Crown and Lake, awkward and unsure of how to socialize or even leave the house. It had been hard on the family, even with all the time he remained confined inside his room, and she did not know him as she once did – he was almost willingly feral.
It was time to move on, to start over even this late in her life, in his life. She wanted nothing more than to reconnect with her old self, before everything. She shook her head and continued wrapping the white porcelain dishes, her mind still trying to comprehend leaving Kwa-Zulu Natal for Mpumalanga with Edward who had a great opportunity there with the role of mine captain to open one of the area’s long closed shafts. The money was far greater worth it and even she had interviews lined up, yet it was a big step for her, especially since Kyle had only just begun to loosen up after all this time. As though driven by a higher power, a war of positives drove into her heart, accompanied by her inner being screaming out inside her gut; ‘enough is enough!’
“Kyle, will you please start bringing down your stuff?” she called again as she walked towards the stairs, frustrated that he had unwillingly made such a great portion of her life a bewildering misery.
She was excited for him to get back into the world again, and break free of being confined to the house every hour of every day since leaving Crown and Lake. But it frightened her too because she did not trust him to survive without episode.
Standing alone in the cold empty space that was his short lived bedroom, Kyle’s eyes were welled with tears that without effort caressed down his cheeks. All the time he had missed within those walls, and how being back within home’s security felt like existing on a planet far from the sun on the outskirts of the furthest solar system.
“I’ll be down in a second!” he retaliated behind a broken voice. The boxes shoved up against the door caught his eyes in that brief second — the glimmer of the light on the blade of the utility knife laying atop of them — the knife he craved so badly to put through his chest with a vengeance to silence the screaming of his soul to be free of the darkness.
Yeah right you are pathetic!
With a sigh he turned his attention to the box he was finishing up, knowing that he would never again attempt taking his own life out of fear for the disappointment of another cowardly failure. The failure simply stoked the fire of an already burning self-disgust. The smoke from his cigarette felt oozing into his lungs as he held tight his breath, silently screaming at the hatred curdling inside of him derived from his weakness. Nicotine was not enough to cure the itch starting inside of him, but he had to remember and etch into his mind, like a constant and involuntary function of the unconscious mind, to live.
Since the night four years ago when his parents were called to the hospital in a neighboring province where he lay bruised and shattered, he was forced to retreat from the unfaltering V. Cigarettes were never going to remove his pain, this he knew. It would never satisfy any dire craving to end his life, turn into a monster unleashing his rage or control his inability to feel human. This he knew, but being back in the world again was an existence numb and cold – an undiscovered planet far away from the best lenses where excessive smoking, exercise and reading were the only tools to distract from the haunting screams inside his soul and the flash memories within.
His mother called again from down stairs, but he was trailing other thoughts in the distance of his dark and battered consciousness. Looking at the cigarette in his hands with V lurking in the shadows whispering his name, Kyle knew it was about to get extremely difficult for him to leave behind the little security he had grown accustomed to since his return after 8 years missing. It was everything that frightened him about the move, gnawing at his nerves and made packing very strenuous. It was the security of knowing that he had his Doctor at Crown and Lake – albeit moot for the purpose, he had the doctor to discuss certain things with. It was the security of knowing the streets of his town, when to step outside and where to avoid any human contact or interaction. He feared V and how its voice would grow louder and louder the more change kicked in. He feared the strangeness of a difference place, small town or not, there were monsters in the dark looking for him and he feared where these beasts would be hiding in plain sight.
He feared the thought that perhaps the move to Secunda was just the first rip in the layers of confinement he had created for himself and that soon he would again be ripped back into the dark place where every demon lurked for 8 years of his life.
Slowly, he closed the box and lunged it atop the other beside the door, ready to attempt the strenuous task of closing off his final moving box.
V – It was there in his thoughts, whispering and calling, snickering even. The darkness felt close again, his heart beat had not slow once the entire week. The growing anxiety and fear, the pain of the past catching up — this made him fill with self -disgust again, feeling weak and controllable.
When Kyle was found after 8 years, it was clear that he was shattered at first. Less than shell, he was wholly broken.
After weeks of enduring the with-drawl, it was clinically determined that he had formed a manner of Haphephobia causing him to avoid all forms of touch or invasion of space. The boy who flung off the hospital bed into his mother’s arms would not again allow anyone near him. He had lost his smile, his charm. There was now just a hollow rage staring at them, engulfed in paranoia and remorse.
In the confines of the Crown and Lake Centre, he had no choice but to learn again how to communicate without verbally abusing or cussing. He had to overcome his paranoia, but the fear was never truly gone. Outside of the numerous forms of therapy and psychology he would remain engulfed in books, reading everything and anything he could; from the Britannica Encyclopedia’s to Roald Dahl to the doctors study books. The words would block out the darkness and help with the addiction V had invoked. In Crown and Lake he would for the 2nd time attempt suicide by tying his sheets into a noose.
Five years later and here you stand, where to now?
In the time he had been released back into the world most knew as normal, Kyle had many opportunities to leave the house, run away from the pain in his mother’s eyes and the questions everyone who knew the story of Boy X were desperate to ask. He had considered it numerous times to once again dissolve back into the only world he knew. A world where your eyes were open but everything was dark, where there was only fight or die. Behind his smiles at the dinner table he would eye the forks and knives, wondering if they would be enough to finish what he had tried twice before. Behind his voice lay the pain of memories, the flashbacks of a former world and he would wonder if death would even begin to free him from the torment and pain.
He barely left the house and when he did he would hide behind long hair or hoodies, afraid not only of being clutched by the eyes behind the light but of those who never forgot the nationwide story of Boy X. Rarely those who remembered or knew who he was would ask or speak to him, instead only threw puzzled and bemused glares at him and his family. He brought pain to the world he was forced to leave behind and he could never take that back.
He looked to the panel beside the door where his mother and biological father Jimmy Kent had began recording his growth from 2 years old, certain flashes of an earlier childhood streamed through his mind and he winced at the memories, both the bad and the good. He had once tried to speak of the darkness, in the weeks leading up to his 20th birthday but those words were nothing different to those he chose to allow Doctor Naidu to hear. He stood drenched in rain in the hall way, shivering and scared from an attempt at running away and sparing them the burden. But Kyle stood there, aching to answer to Claire and her new husband Edward, ready to let go of the darkness, set it free off of him and dissolve it into the big world. He was ready to tell them what happened moments after he stepped through the doorway, ready to say it out loud the darkness that stood there waiting to consume him.
“What is it Kyle? What is going on?” He recalled his mother’s words.
Do it Kyle! Say it! You have to say it!
No don’t! You piece of shit! Do you really want them to know WHAT you are!
He closed his eyes, his hands clenched tightly at his sides as the water ran down his face, blending with his tears.
Do you want to tell her what you did? Knowing that she is happy and married? With a small child! Can you be so selfish to ruin her life because of you being who you are! You are worthless!
He opened his eyes and looked up into their eyes, their wild and worried eyes, so confused and alarmed, waiting for answers.
And no matter what you do, no matter what you say they will always look at you knowing that you are black!
Everything inside of him quivered, tremors shaking his very core, slowly cracking his already splintered soul. And again he took a deep breath, knowing that if he didn’t say something soon they would grab him and force it out of him which would be harder to endure.
Filled with blackness, like a disease that will destroy everything you touch you mother fucking piece of shit!
It was in that moment, standing in the doorway covered in rain, the storm outside raging, his mothers desperate eyes, the anguish in her voice, the troubled anticipation in Edwards eyes…
In that single moment, he chose to never allow it out, to keep the blackness on his own conscience, to endure the torment inside and run from anything looking to pull him from the depths of its grasp and destroy them as it did him. That which has been told will be all the world would hear from his lips, nothing more.
Turning away from the panel beside the door, he moved back to the window and looked out to the stars, taking another deep pull at the filter, his body wet with sweat and realizing he was in a stage of panic he quickly removed his shirt. The skyline in the distance held a promise of a life he knew he would never know, doubtful ever taste or touch. He held up the 5 year old cover of the national newspaper’s cover page, on it the greyscale picture of an eight year old boy with a bright smile and the headline ‘The Story of Boy X’ – the byline reading ‘A world in shock’.
He carefully fold the page and placed it back in the middle of the book by Plato entitled ‘The Republic’.
Taking a pull of the smoke while looking at his reflection in the glass of his bedroom window, he could not escape his darkness each time he saw the scars that remained. He despised being a young adult without any idea of how to face the future and any courage to end the present. Regardless of the thousands of words read in all the books, Kyle would never know how to approach LIVING the way he understood physics or the branches of biology and science.
Tossing the cigarette bud out the window to the garden below, he head across the room towards the dumbbells – anything to eliminate his thoughts. Again his mother called from downstairs but he was lost already to the madness inside the darkness within him.
He had been in a different place since his 8th birthday and now he was still nowhere to be found. It was frustrating to him and one of the outlets was exercising. As he began to lift the 30kg barbell where he stood facing the world beyond his window, Kyle could not understand his mothers grace towards him, or even Edward and Bennie’s patience. In the time it took him to complete his schooling at home he saw in the three of them something he had not witness or experienced in an eternity.
It was a union between the three of them of trust and grace, kindness and togetherness regardless of any flaws. He admired them all for their compassion towards him even after he had only stained their lives, he envied the way they could see the world through untainted eyes. Failing to understand the mechanics behind ‘opening your heart’ was the thing which frustrated him and made him remember how stained he was, unable to ever touch or kiss in fear of what chaos he would spread. Yet they, and the world around him seemed to have this understanding of life and love so commonly.
Claire remembered him, her son and all he was before he went up to his room. But he barely remembered her and yet she was kind and patient with him and everything he had to go through since being found in the middle of the main road. Edward, a man she had met long after his disappearance loved him too and cared for him, cared to know him. And Bennie, his half-brother – a young boy who knows and understands nothing of who or what Boy X is about, is so adamant to love his big brother. It was heart breaking to him because he felt guilty about it all. Jimmy, his biological father had only seen him once since his return home, but to Kyle his father was nothing more than a vile and wicked snake who should have its head removed. The furtive knowledge of the past they shared was something that would remain a fleeting memory, he was someone Kyle would never want to see again. Of everything that would escape his lips to reveal the truth behind Boy X’s story – Jimmy was not one of them for the sake of everything built before his disappearance.
The dumbbell rattled as he began to raise and drop it faster and faster, trying to remember his mother more clearly, but it was a difficult task. On the night he returned, he had felt the dire utmost need to be in his mothers’ arms again, something he had not thought of at all for 8 years. But it was a need that was the last thing he could remember as his body fell through the night sky towards the city below. They told him in Crown and Lake that he had been found on the side of the main road with a punctured lung, broken ribs, numerous fractures on the Humerus and Tibia but that he had somehow managed to flung up to embrace her when she and Edward arrived to his bedside in the emergency room, and that he clung to her tightly for almost a full two minutes before losing consciousness. But he could not recall it. In dreams he would recall falling with the dark sky and stars fading as the wind past his body, but Kyle couldn’t recall why or how he managed to be falling in the first place. It was repressed, as was many of the 2942 days in which he was gone.
He stood flexing the bar up and down from his waist to the top of his chest, wondering what it would take for him to ever feel such a normality again, such a peace inside himself.
You won’t feel it. You shouldn’t! You don’t deserve it after everything you’ve done.
He closed his eyes with a deep breath to silence the thoughts that haunted him. In the twelve months of rehab and constant probing by numerous therapists and psychiatrists, the escape was exercising. It forced away the craving for the numbness, it distracted him from his own guilt and the more he physically improved, the less the doctors felt the need to press him into sharing more of his story.
Intermittent explosive disorder with hypomanic and haphephobic dissociative and repressed bipolar episodes.
He grinned recalling the words on his file, and as he stood there in the dim bedroom about to leave behind everything that defined him – he felt remorse for the failed attempt at ending his own life, wishing in a silent beseech that he would find the will to do it right, right there in his room with the door shoved closed with boxes. He was thankful to his mother for not giving up on him, because he had long ago given up on himself. He was thankful to Edward for allowing him patience when all he did was ruin their lives each and every day. Agreeing to attend college was both brave and utterly stupid on his part, because he was not ready to leave his self confinement. He was not ready to be part of something more than the walls he had managed to put up since they found him in the hospital.
“Kyle!” called Claire from the staircase, breathless and tired but with a harsh adamancy.
“One second ok!” responded Kyle shouting towards the door again as he placed the barbell back on the floor beside the rest of his gym equipment. He still hadn’t reached a point inside his severely fucked up soul where he could focus on being a remotely normal human again, he was still just a torn and broken shell of a human being. Claire sighed, her heart so tender and lost to her son who had for so long carried such a violence and self-destruction in him. As she laid her head onto her arm that leaned her weary body against the banister, she made yet another wish to somehow to know why her son had turned to such darkness inside himself.
“Special delivery…” Edward said from behind her, the aroma of beef and cheeseburgers filling her gut with added appetite as he and little Bennie entered at the doorway. He had been flying between home and Secunda for the past three weeks as often as the mine budget could allow and finally he was home to move with them and the hour that he and Bennie had been gone was enough to make her physically crave his presence near her again.
“Daddy got burgers!” said little Bennie excitedly rushing the parcels past her to the kitchen.
“And just in time too.” she smiled leaning in against Edward’s chest as she wrapped her arms around him, “I’m about to keel over and never wake up!”
He laughed, “Well I’m home now, and I’ll handle it for the rest of the night while you take a good soak in the bath.”
“That’s the best idea you’ve had in a very long time Ed, good luck getting Kyle to bring his stuff down though.”
“Everything ok?” he asked with the usual caution to the subject.
“You know how he is about coming down, I just…I don’t know…” she sighed heading into the kitchen to help her son with serving the burgers, “I just want this to all be over so we can wake up someday and just be happy. The haphephobia is killing, I just want to touch him and hold and…”
Edward smiled and placed his hands to the side of her face, softly kissing her lips, “I love you and I love that you love me enough to leave this entire history behind for a new start and together we will make this thing work. And eventually, in time Kyle will be home again, really home. Like Dr. Naidu said, we need to cut him some slack for awhile, at least until things are settled.”
Claire shrugged her shoulders with a cynical sigh and fell against his chest again.
“Are you sure we can’t just fly ourselves down?” he asked again with a desperation in his voice, “It’s going to give us more time to unpack and enjoy the house before I start for good on Monday?”
“I think a big part of him wants the change, the chance to start over and forget about this place and everything that happened to him.” Claire answered softly, “But he isn’t going to fly Ed, he almost hit full panic attack at the mention of it.”
He kissed her forehead, smelling her hair as he embraced her against his chest again.
“Yes, I was being selfish, sorry.”
“Besides, I’m looking forward to us all just being together in a the car for the trip.” She smiled stepping away, “I’m hoping it’s an opportunity to try and socialize, even if it is just mumble jumble.”
“How did it go this morning, was everything alright?”
“She’s positive about it, less anxious than I am that’s for sure.” She joked as she quickly returned to finish packing while he stood with her.
“Doctor Naidu is very confident in Doctor Morris and believes everything will be fine if we just stick to the routine visits. She also gave me a list of things we need to monitor — it’s on the night stand. She speaks fondly of Dr. Morris in Secunda so she’s certain she’ll help Kyle adjust to the move.”
“She is, really I got zero negative energy from her.” Edward teased, “The force is…”
“I…” she slapped his butt teasingly, “…just wanted to meet her myself before we moved, would have made me feel better I suppose. Doctor Naidu also suggested I open up to Kyle and tell him how I feel about the move.”
“He’s doing good Claire bear.” Edward said tugging her against his chest, “I believe he wants this change as much as we do.”
She stepped back wiping her brow tiredly, “Because I think he feels pressured into it.”
“Claire listen to me, Dr. Naidu said he was a hard book to open. Who knows if he ever will be the Kyle you knew, but the point is he is home now. Home again, where you can see he is safe and eating, he looks good. He’s already gotten his rage under control, the nightmares have taken a serious drop. It’s only a matter of time before he’ll feel comfortable doing things normal people do. And maybe this move will help? Dr. Naidu thinks so and I’m sure Dr. Morris is going to be fine.”
She fell into his arms, resting against his chest as he wrapped his arms around her. The smell of him, his warmth made her feel a security she desperately needed.
She smiled up at him, “I’ve been living in this shaded place for too long. We all have. It’s time we move on from here. Dr. Geel agreed that I could not let my life stop because of him any longer. I’m exhausted, I’m drained.”
“I will be right there when you talk to him.” He said kissing her forehead.
“No.” she said stepping back out from the warmth and safety of his arms, “I will do it alone, Dr. Geel said it is something I have to do as his mother. I have to let him know everything. I love you Edward.”
He smiled, his heart pulp at her strength and courage, pulp in admiration for a woman so amazing that chose him to be hers for life. She managed a weak smile and nod turning to the packets on the counter, giving a warning in the direction of the lounge where Bennie was leaping from couch to couch.
“So, how are things at the mine?” she said trying to add distraction to her thoughts and obsession with Kyle.
Edward heaved a sigh, having hoped to escape the chaos of the mine for at least one night. Bennie rushed in and clambered up to the chair by the kitchenette.
“Well the cages and cranes are only expected to be delivered sometime in the morning.” He explained as Bennie comfortably took his place, “But it’s all very complicated down there right now. Almost nothing has arrived, so much of the equipment is still tied up at the other mines and it’s chaos because no one saw this incident coming. The whole place is a swarm of police cars and union men.” He said as Claire handed him some of the food as he seated himself at the small kitchenette.
“I saw it briefly on the news, they aren’t saying its sabotage?” asked Claire biting into her burger as she sat down beside Bennie. Shrugging with a full mouth, Edward proceeded to answer amidst chewing and swallowing.
“Personally I doubt it, even McDonald can’t see why anyone would deliberately cause so many problems to the shaft knowing that this reopening will bring the town back on the map. You know how the police are, slow with everything so we are still waiting to hear what type of explosive was used.”
“I gave Kyle his food in his room.” Said Bennie remembering to pass the information with a mouth full of burger.
Claire smiled and caressed his hair as Edward proceeded to continue.
“Nevertheless, regulations need to be met before the entire operation gets suspended indefinitely pending questions from the local counsel and Monday is going to be crazy! Already now I can only imagine what chaos is surrounding the mine with the investors feeling threatened.”
“Private funding Ed, those corporations just want the gold in their pockets, anything coming in the way of that is going to scare their pants off. And obviously the mayor is pissed off because this is over his head, but surely he has something to gain out of this financially?”
Edward nod as he chewed the burger, still talking from behind a mouthful, “I’m not in the loop of who the stake holders are in this. Regardless of his direct financial gain in this, it will resurrect most of the town in his district. Yet the mayor didn’t want the shaft opened from the very start, basing his case on the fact that we are only going to abuse the town until our own goals are reached and thereafter leave it to fall back to the same state it was in when the mines surrounding it closed the first time all those years ago.”
“But he does have a point…”
“To fully mine out this reef on E Shaft will take an estimated 5 or 6 years. That’s 5 years where men have guaranteed jobs to bring food on their tables.”
Claire shrugged, winking over to Bennie who looked up at them bedazzled and confused but with such inquisitiveness she could not help but feel the warmth of motherhood.
Fifty five, fifty six, fifty seven…
Kyle counted his stomach crunches, pausing to the knock at his door.
“Kyle? Can I come in?” Claire asked softly. “Sure.” He said rolling to his knees as he stood up towards the door as she carefully came in past the boxes.
“I’ve been calling you…”
“I know.” He said reaching for his shirt to wipe his brow, “I’m sorry.”
“I wanted to talk to you about the move.” She said, her voice soft and cautious, “Rather get it out now than later.”
He nod and moved back as she stepped towards him, his body clenching tight at the mere thought of her trying to touch him.
“Are you going to eat?” she asked looking at the burger on his bed. He glanced to it and managed a trying smile.
“Kyle I’m not going to lie to you.” She said nervously, sitting on the edge of his bed. “I’m scared. Scared of you, scared of what you’re going to do when we get there. Scared of what you are going through inside that you aren’t telling me.”
He froze awkwardly, surprised at her forwardness and nervous to her apprehension and uneasiness which was clearly showing.
She smiled up at him, “There are things I need to get out tonight Kyle, before I never get it out.”
“I am trying.” urged Kyle softly, looking away from her.
“I know you are.”
“What more do you want from me?”
“I just want to talk to you.” She said trying to remain without tears, “I want to be open with you and you with me, eventually.”
Nodding, he moved to the window where the cool sea breeze from outside could cool his sweat covered torso.
“I want to say something to you but I’m scared of how it will make you feel.”
“Say it.” He urged, his eyes dark and saddened.
She heaved a deep breath, her voice vibrating with apprehension baring in it a truth that forced his attention. She held the tears in her eyes bravely as she felt the weight pushing at her chest.
Don’t break Claire, get this out in the open.
“I want you to know that I am very proud of you.”
He just about gasped You are? Why?
“You’ve come a long way from when you were home before…” she paused looking down at her trembling hands, “So please know that what I’m about to say is very difficult for me but at this moment, with the move in front of us and a whole new life waiting out there, I have to let you know what I feel.”
He felt his stomach tightening, his racing heart pounding against his chest nervously as his mind raced to think of what he could have done, he had been isolated since leaving Crown & Lake.
“Kyle I….” she paused to catch her composure, “Myself, Ed and Bennie want you to be part of our family. Really be part of our family, as best you can. I don’t want you to fake it, but please I need to know that you are not going to just keep everything in and self destruct. I cannot stress to you how afraid I am about this move. I feel guilty.”
“Do not feel guilty.”
“I’m afraid that we are putting to much strain on you, that you might….” She paused again, “I’ve just got you back, this time together, these years are nothing compared to what we’ve lost. I cannot, I will not watch you destroy yourself because if you do then — as selfish as this sounds – it’s going to put me in a place where I cannot go. I don’t know how to…anymore…”
Claire paused again, feeling a release by saying these words to him, a freeing that outweighed her guilt for the first time in years. “I’ve exhausted myself these past years to the point where I feel like I am going to break and dissolve.”
Her voice broke as tears filled her eyes and the confusion and dilemma broke across her heart, “I don’t know how to make you let me in, to let me love you. I don’t know how to understand most of what happened. I try and I don’t push, I realize that I’m selfish but please, I have to know that you will see Doctor Morris in Secunda, that you will try your best to speak to me if you need to and not just fall apart inside because I love you and I want you to be home, wherever we might go we are family and we all love you and want you to be part of us.”
He wanted to speak but his chest was in agony, his voice stolen by the pain shining off of her, he felt choked. Claire paused, taking a deep breath to correct her trembling voice before she continued.
“Kyle, I don’t blame myself for the way you are since you are home. I did at first, for a long time. But I don’t anymore. I’ve always loved you with every fiber of my body, with my whole heart and soul. I’ve tried to be there for you but you wouldn’t let me in, you chose to shut me out. You shut everyone out.”
He looked out to the ocean in the distance, his heart wishing he had died instead of having to be the person he was, but he clenched his fists to force himself to hear her without the blackness inside screaming WORTHLESS in his mind, drowning over her voice.
“I know that I have been hurt enough over the years to last me an eternity. It’s your right to shut me out, I understand the whole personal space thing, I truly do but in all these years that you are home I feel that you could try to be more open to us.” She said wiping her tears with the back of her hand, “As much as I want to know why…or…what I am doing or have done as a mother to fail you…”
“No.” said Kyle dropping swiftly to kneel in front of her, “I told you before…I’ve told you that none of this is you. This is me, this is only me!”
You worthless black soul! Look at what you’ve done!
Crying she looked up into his eyes, and she put her hands on his shoulders. Touch had been something he had outlawed, denied, restricted and forbade because he never wanted the blackness of his soul that hid on his skin to ever pass onto another. ZERO PHYSICAL CONTACT! It was a very firm boundary, something he had not had control over since he woke up in the hospital. He tried to overcome it, but it was etched in his mind
You are dirt! You are disease! Look at what you are! It’s all because of you!
Sensing his body tighten in distress, she sat back wishing with all her soul she could fall into her sons arms and feel him hugging her, but she had to fight it. The thought frustrated her, fighting to remind herself not to touch him, her own son.
He slumped up to his feet again, heaving a deep, heavy breath filled with sorrow, “Please don’t ask me questions I can’t answer. I’m sorry for everything I’ve done to you, to Edward and Bennie. I just…I…”
He choked again, his heart beat so overwhelming that he felt his breath escaping him. “I don’t want to hurt anyone, I just…I don’t know what more to do.”
She stood up to face him, wiping her cheeks in frustration.
“I don’t expect a miracle Kyle, but you barely leave your room. We barely know you are here unless we drag you out. I don’t want you to ever say you are sorry, nothing is your fault do you hear me? I don’t ever want you to apologize. I just need you to know where I am coming from Kyle. The last thing I or anyone want for you is to have something pulling or pushing you back into that…place.”
It’s black inside of me mom, can’t you see that I’m lost in it? I can’t ever escape it.
His inner thoughts were screaming at him, the darkness inside of him was clawing at his soul, tearing it savagely as his self hatred raged for him to leap through the glass of his window head first, end the misery that was his existence and rid the world of a soul so tormented it should never be.
She continued, slowly trying hard to allow her words out without tears, without drifting from what needed to be said. “We are about to make a major change, for all of us. And just like you Kyle, I am terrified of it. I want to break away and begin to live again but more than that I’m just terrified of all the what-if’s.”
There was a silence between them as she caught her breath again.
“I do not know what to expect, I don’t think I have for years, I just cannot watch what is left of my son shatter until there is nothing left of you.”
“I…” he muttered before she cut him off.
“I’ve been patient and I’ve carried a very heavy weight for a very long time, I don’t think I’ll ever shake off everything. So you are not alone, I have my own heavy shoulders.”
She has a point…
“Kyle you have to promise me that you will do your very best to start over, with us. Or if you feel you aren’t ready to — speak now because I have to know where I stand with you, where we all stand going forward.”
A flash memory scorched through his mind’s eye – the red glare of V, naked and dazed — trying to walk down the long seemingly endless corridor, cold.
Kyle could feel something between them galvanizing the air, stirring the connection they shared from blood. He could feel that she was done, that everything she said had such a cold and honest relevance that if he had to show one more sign of the damage inside of him, he would be lost to the darkness forever without anyone to be there to pull him back. He looked away from her agonizing eyes, their glare to painful against his skin.
“These past four years I have tried to be everything I can be to you — a mother, a friend. Everything I could to understand, to be there for you and until that night when you ran away I didn’t realize that I will probably never be let in again, that whatever you were was no longer my little boy.” She said, her tears now running down her eyes.
Another red haze stung through his mind – a cage, loud metal clanging together and a buzz. His eyes covered in blood and his body aching as the metal rod slammed into his back again.
“So I’m leaving it up to you now, it’s your choice to make. Leave this life behind and give it your best. I’m not saying this to hurt you or upset you. I’m saying this because the chance I am giving you, it’s a chance for me too. It’s a chance to have my son back, to see your beautiful smile again. To see you become a man I knew you could be the minute I cradled you in my arms for the first time. I’m giving myself the chance to get over the fact that I believed my son was dead.”
Her voice broke as the rage left her lips and he put his hand out, touching her shoulder and shutting his eyes as they filled with tears. She cried into her hands and he wanted to hug her, pull her against his body and feel his mommy again, let her know that somewhere very deep below all the vile hatred, all the repugnant anger, all the depraved pain and nefarious torment – he was there. He was down there, far below it all, a version of the eight year old boy who didn’t go upstairs that day of his party, who wasn’t taken by the eyes behind the light.
In the seconds of silence as she tried in vain to control her sobbing, he thought of the first time he tried to take his life away from the world to ease the world’s suffering, but failed. He thought of the many times he had been beaten close to death, but kept regaining his life. He thought of the struggles in Crown and Lake, the journey back to being where he was in that very moment and he stepped back. Staring at her in disbelief, the daunting realization that his devastated and worn out mother had bore a cross on her shoulders because of the raw filth that he was, and she was one of many who had been in contact with him that had been affected by the disease he had become since that night of his party. She looked up at him and he knew in that moment that her eyes touched his, if he wanted to seal in the darkness and confine them to himself without ever causing her any further suffering — he would need more than solitude, more than isolation and the occasional smile. To beat the darkness and keep it from ruining anyone else he would need to find redemption first. He knew it would take time that he could not leap into seeking redemption at its deepest end.
He looked down, his skin crawling.
In a way I did. I didn’t know any better.
“There is so much broken inside of me.” He said softly — his voice broke beneath the weight on his heart, “I realize what I’ve put you through and I do want try, I struggle sometimes. I’m scared of what you will think of me if…”
The red glare struck again, slicing through his inner eyes – tied to a link on the wall in grey room the size of a cell, a thick clear plastic covering the floors, he was dazed and numb – naked and crying – calling out “Hello?”
“Kyle…” Claire said standing up for their eyes to meet, “I have never thought a negative thing about you, not one time. I love you now as I did when you were a baby. I know you are afraid and uncertain, I really understand that but Kyle you don’t ever need to be scared of me.”
He looked down, her hands were clasped around his and for the first time in months he didn’t feel the urge to withdraw. Noticing what she had unconsciously done, his mother let go of his hands and stepped away from him as the silence hung in his bedroom. Kyle looked at his hands, his mother’s warmth escaping them and more than ever he wanted her to reach out for him and drape her arms around him, holding him tightly and tell him that everything would be alright, that together they could remove the stain of worthlessness on his skin, in his veins. But he knew it was his own to harbor.
“I want you to know that every day you were gone, everything inside me died day after day. And I knew I would not ever rest or know peace or happiness until I knew if you were dead or alive. When the hospital called me, I didn’t believe them. I believed you were dead. I know it’s all you’ve wanted for such a long time.” She said, the sobbing starting again and he took a step closer towards her. He wanted to hold his mother again, but the black chaos on his soul kept reminding him that he was never to allow another to touch him – because he was nothing more than a sickening and worthless shell that would only poison everyone around him.
“I have done everything I could and right now Kyle, while you stand here in front of me I know that I can’t do it again.”
She wiped her eyes and stared coldly into his, and he felt it. Like an electric current, the only love he knew.
Look at what you have done! Like a disease! Look what you became, look at what a vile and putrid waste you are!
He closed his eyes, fighting off tears as another red glare tore through his soul – falling through the air – then grabbing a steel shard and charging in a scream forward, his body soaked in blood – falling, the air cold as the stars dwindled away.
Claire finally sighed as she won the battle over her sobbing, he jolt back to reality and turned to face her.
“Like I said…it’s your choice now if you want to live or attempt being alive, with us.” She said simply turning and heading out of his room, leaving him with everything she had released from deep in her wounded heart.
A movement caught his eyes at the door and he went forward, propping out into the hallway where little Bennie stood quietly. “I will always love you Kyle.” He said with a long face, holding back his tears bravely, “Please chose to come with us.”
Kyle sighed and closed his eyes as he felt tears building inside of him and he fought to destroy it because it too was not allowed. He did not deserve to cry or feel anything a normal person was entitled to so freely. He deserved nothing but cold and dark.
When he looked up again, Bennie was gone and he head back into his room, to swim in his broken thoughts. He turned to the plate on his bed and went to pick it up when another red flash recollection struck him; the eyes again, the eyes behind the light. He gasped and stumbled back, quickly turning for the door and then driving himself to head out from his bedroom. It’s over, you are home he chant to himself as he head down the stairs to join them at the table downstairs.
The road from Salt Rock, KZN to Secunda in Mpumalanga
seemed endless, the journey only allowing his thoughts to unravel
in the silence of the car.
You’re being so pathetic! Simply make it work!
“You excited?” asked Claire from the front, smiling to the man
she had married almost 6 years after her first husband, Jimmy
walked out on them for younger blood.
“I am. I’m happy.” He nod with a sincere and excited smile,
“Concerned about what this little investigation is going to mean
for our schedule, but I'm still happy. Are you?”
Claire smiled and squeezed his hand in hers, “It feels like I can
start to breathe.”
Edward smiled and raised her hand to his lips, “I love you.”
“I love you too.” She said with a certainty she had never felt with
her first husband. Taking a deep breath in a leap of faith to his
own judgment, Edward looked back to Kyle in the rear view
mirror and asked, “How are you feeling? You ok back there?”
Kyle looked up at his eyes in the mirror, knowing nothing else but
to shut people out even if not intended and he nod, “I’m fine.”
Kyle didn’t know how to respond and simply shrugged
awkwardly trying a smile.
Claire turned to face him, “Beats flying doesn’t it?”
A cold befell Kyle’s skin at the mention of it — flying was not an
option. The mere thought of it chilled him to the marrow – it put
flash pieces of memory inside his mind of the night that he was
found on the main road in Salt Rock, the falling, the air
encompassing him. Flight meant being whisked away, there was
too much of it in the eight years of being gone.
Kyle slumped low in the chair to escape his step fathers’ eyes.
There was so much of those eight years that were missing,
repressed somewhere among the dark demons of his soul. The
more he tried to recall the events that led to him falling through
the night sky, the more the face inside laughed at him.
V – The toxic venom that both neutralized and energized. It was
the obscurity of his life for over eight years, the mind warp that
never left his system throughout that time – until the falling.
Whenever he thought of that time, it was red, it was V. It made
the world around him red, there was no other color, no other
thought or ability but a dull redness. When V was coursing
through his veins it was red, and most of his recollection was
limited. V – Paralyzing the mind and body, while keeping it
active and mobile. The darkness began to invoke anger inside of
him again, secrets that ate away his soul like acid.
Claire smiled at Edward, squeezing his hand in hers knowing that
he would never know how much she valued having him in her
life. Leaving behind the home she and Jimmy started 23 years ago
was equally as hard as it was exciting to be heading in a new,
cleaner life direction with the man she honestly loved, their little
son together and her son who broke her soul with pride and joy
when he brought his boxes down to the truck. It felt to her as the
highway sped beneath the car and as the vast openness of the
terrain swung by that the six years of marriage to Jimmy Maritz,
the years of struggling as a single parent and the last four were
finally beginning to let go of her.
“This is going to be the best thing for us as a family.” She said
offering Edward a gentle and trusting smile.
The truth was, she was terrified that her hopes would be crushed.
That the endless cycle of chaos would never leave.
She was craving good days, and could barely recall the last time
any day was good from start to end. And as much joy as she could
recall, it was far outweighed by the negative. There were good
occasions, but no days with total joy, peace and goodness that
lasted. Kyle’s birth was the only day she could remember being
totally overwhelmed with joy, which never ceased for a full seven
days after bringing him home. Life was new to her and Jimmy,
everything seemed good and peaceful. The house was quiet, Kyle
was a quiet baby and the existence of their tiny baby gave her and
Jimmy reason to be whole again. But it too faded and she vividly
recalled it was on a Saturday, Jimmy drunk after watching the
rugby at the local bar.
They would argue often after that day, it was the day that changed
their lives forever and the day which ultimately destroyed both
Jimmy and their marriage. She could very vaguely recall times
when days were happy, but it didn’t last. Even when she found
out about her pregnancy with Bennie, they were overjoyed but it
faded when she recalled her pregnancy with Kyle and had to
accept that he was gone from her. And every day between was the
same. She felt joy meeting Edward, falling in love with him and
getting married to him. She felt joy holding Bennie in her arms
and seeing him walk for the first time or say his first word, build
his first puzzle. But eventually the fact remained: her son was
missing, gone without a trace. Somehow joy never lasted despite
how much she tried to accept that Kyle was dead, because his
death was more final than never knowing. But it was there, a
subconscious alarm in her mind that he was gone, he was taken
from her and that would never truly go away. It would always
lead her back to the last somewhat happy day — his 8th birthday.
It was an exciting morning. It was going to be the first actual
party they could afford, with friends over and cake and balloons, a
clown and even a jumping castle. She and Jimmy kept their
distance most of the morning until the party started and they had
no choice but to put on their game faces. They set up a gazebo
and Jimmy arranged the jumping castle under the trees in the back
yard. Kyle was in his element from the moment his eyes opened,
he was running and helping them to set up the decorations. He
was thrilled at the thought of having friends come over and see his
party because Jimmy never allowed any sleep overs. It was the
first time the kids from school would get the opportunity to see
his room and his toys.
He jumped and played throughout the party, tearing open each
gift like there was no remorse to each carefully wrapped parcel. It
was a good day, seeing him so happy and even being happy
because she and Jimmy had no choice but to be civil, albeit fake
for only a few hours. But as with every other time, the day grew
dark. Not only did the rain clouds cover the sky threatening to
ruin the party, but an accident involving a street light nearby
caused the power to cut. Jimmy eventually turned to sneaking in
alcohol and Kyle felt embarrassed because his friends could no
longer enjoy the jumping castle. Luckily the blowing of the
candles and cutting the cake was kept for last, and it was the
perfect distraction. But Kyle never came back outside, she just
wanted him to bring her the lighter for the candles, but he never
did. He only came back eight years after.
Edward’s hand on her lap pulled back her train of thought and she
turned to him.
“It’s going to be good for us.” He smiled with an assurance that
calmed the chill inside her skin. She gripped his hand tightly in
hers and kissed it.
“Kyle...” Came little Bennie’s voice in a whisper beside him,
“Can I ask you something?”
“Yeah sure?” he said nodding with a smile only his little brother
provoked in him,
“If you don't want me to be happy, I won’t be.”
There it was again, their love and empathy which he couldn’t
understand, which brought a warmth to his cold forgotten soul,
the final light in his heart that had not yet faded to the darkness
that he survived every day.
“I do want you to be happy.” He said patting his little brother’s
head playfully, “Don’t ever let anything make you unhappy.
Don’t let anything win that from you, alright?”
Bennie smiled and put his head down on his brother’s leg to
resume his nap. Kyle could remember a time, before his 8th
birthday and before the eyes behind the light. A time when his
father Jimmy was still at home, when all they would do is argue
and fight. He remembered standing by the doorway watching his
father, his predestined hero standing in the kitchen – both of them
caught in the middle of a screaming match. When they realized
Kyle was standing there, the yelling stopped and they turned away
from each other. He recalled how he wanted to offer his father a
kind gesture but instead was shoved out the way as Jimmy passed.
Kyle clenched his teeth, softly rubbing his brother’s hair trying to
avoid thoughts of his father until he could make sense of the lies
within his memories, sense of the madness that he couldn’t be
sure of. Were there any good days since you came around?
He turned his attention beyond the window again.
The mine formerly known as Leslie Gold Mines had been closed
for almost 12 years, most of the mine had been broken down and
sold. The small community of Brendan Village, that once thrived
with mining families in the heydays of gold mining, was sold to
private owners who then began letting out and selling the houses
in the hopes that the ‘village’ as such would become something of
a resort for those looking for solitude and peace within its
confining fence. The mine itself was one of the last mines in the
surrounding area to get shut down and to anyone who had lived
during the time of its hey days could feel the ghosts of the past
alive within the mine, the village and the roads leading to, from
and around the area.
Of the hundred some houses, many were empty and the private
owners did as much as they could to maintain the neat little town
for prospective renters and buyers. Yet the village sat some 30
kilometers from the larger town of Secunda — where the SASOL
Plantation boomed on the horizon and with Evander sitting
between the two. Secunda had grown over the years with SASOL
enlarging its work force, and what was once a medium town now
stood as a city. For Kyle, this was a surprising revelation and a
relief – the bigger the city the easier to hide.
What was meant to be a slow and courteous move had been
spiraled into a hasty packing frenzy to cross the province lines in
time for Edward to join the investigation into the mysterious
threat made at the mine shaft the week before when the security
on duty caught up with suspected foul play at the soon to be
reopened E Shaft.
The Toyota Fortuner tore across the black tar towards the home
that would now restrict his every thought, confine him from what
he knew to be his purpose and his pain. Behind them followed the
truck with the life from Jimmy his father, and the newer years
with Edward Evans stepping in as a real man, a father and a
husband — mindless memories and keepsakes and furniture items
that meant nothing to him.
To Claire, the move was more than simply following the man she
loved to a town that needed him it was the opportunity to escape.
To flee from a life she had lived to its driest, whether the years
spent with her first husband Jimmy whom she had married under
rush of being pregnant with his child and the pretense of who he
was, or the last years of fear, worry and guilt to Kyle’s sudden
drop into manic depression. Leaving Salt Rock behind, her job as
a classifieds ads writer for the local newspaper and her life
opened a new road of possibilities for her soul and for those she
loved most. To Edward, heading up the reopening of Leslie
Mine’s E Shaft was merely just another segment to be added to
his already well-esteemed curriculum vitae. His life was spent
traveling from coal mine to diamond mine and now finally to a
gold mine, waiting to find the right woman to settle down with
and parent with, the woman he had found in Claire just four years
ago in a chemist in Ballito, the woman who gave him a heart more
profound than he could dream of and a little son of their own.
Everything else simply felt like the life that he had been waiting
to sacrifice everything for. It was a long road.
The Fortuner pulled up into the drive way of their new home just
as the afternoon sun began its decent below the horizon. Little
Bennie needed only a second to undo his safety harness and leap
out of the car with excitement behind his father, while Kyle
briefly took the moment to absorb what he saw through the
The house was a large four bedroom home, with a red standard
tile roof and a twin garage. The front lawn was wide with
decorative and well kept garden beds and in the centre of the lawn
stood a tall palm tree, encompassed with green ferns. The yard
was fenced off from the neighbors with white walls and a red
palisade fence kept boundary to the road. The drive way was
paved and the front porch was wide, leading to a large wood
crafted door, and as Kyle studied what he saw he admired this
place far better than the duplex they had lived in all his life.
Claire leaned back into the front smiling, “Aren’t you going to
come take a look?”
Sighing, he got out of the car and watched as his brother circled
around Edward as they head across the front lawn, his little arms
spread out at his sides like wings.
“Kyle! Kyle!” came Bennie’s call as he dart around to his big
brother with excitement shining bright through his eyes, “Look!
Did you see? We have our own trees!”
Kyle smiled and nod as Bennie ran up beside his mother who
made her way down the drive way towards the back yard.
“That’s right.” Laughed Edward looking to Kyle, “Not to bad
Kyle raised his eyebrows in silence to stubborn to admit that he
too felt a slight enthusiasm for the new place, despite it being so
far from the ocean.
“Cool!” said Bennie laughing and running around the back of the
house as Claire and Edward took hands and followed behind him.
Kyle looked up to the sky as the darkness of night began to creep
up along the horizon. Looking over his shoulder now at the
houses lining the short street he realized that Secunda wasn’t as
small and as obnoxious as he had anticipated. In his mind it was a
small one horse town where everyone would know them and there
would be no escaping his past.
The truck’s engine broke the silence as it rounded the corner into
the street and Kyle put a cigarette between his lips.
The truck bumped to a stop on the edge of the driveway and Kyle
head towards the front door, still reeling from the sense of repose
the tobacco provided to his system when the movers began
leaping from the truck.
“Waar kan ons begin uitpak?” came the voice of the man in the
dark navy overall from behind him. Without a word, Kyle simply
turned away – the easier way of avoiding contact was to ignore it
“Please don't smoke inside Kyle, besides I thought you were
trying to quit.” Said Claire as Kyle stepped into the entrance hall.
“So did I...” He said looking up at her with the sternness on his
face that seemed to be built into his persona.
“Kyle, come on!”
“Alright...” he said taking the cigarette from his mouth and
motioning towards the front door.
“Thank you.” She said managing a gentle smile over her
nervousness in even attempting any type of reprimand to the boy
who felt like the coldest stranger.
“Mevrou, in watter vertrek moet ons begin indra?” one of stocky
men from the truck asked as he stepped into the doorway.
“I don’t know...” she looked back to the mover, “Laat ek my
“Ask me what?” came Edward around the side now as well, with
little Bennie up on his shoulders smiling with great joy.
“They want to know where to unpack our shit.” Kyle said pushing
the mover aside with a cold and blunt arrogance, heading towards