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Contemporary Drama Crime

He lifts the weathered ladder-back chair, holding it aloft shakily as he makes his slow way across the road to the bridge. I follow behind him cautiously, ready to catch him if he falls. Once we make it we sit on the edge of the bridge, our bare legs swinging over the dark water. I know this will be one of the last times I spend with Archie. I can just see it in the way he walks, talks, and even breathes. It pains me to sit across from him at the dinner table, to watch his pale hands shakily bring his fork to his mouth. Tears spring to my eyes everytime I see how much concentration it takes for him to do such a simple task. But I cannot cry. Boys don't cry.

Except there was one time that I did cry. It was the day that Archie was condemned to the life he has now. I remember it as the last completely normal day I’ve had. We were vacationing at Lake Hartwell, a family tradition adored by children and adults alike. Archie and I had decided to go swimming in the bass hole, which was forbidden by our overly-strict mothers. It was the last day of the summer though, so we had to. We planned to make up a lie to tell so we could sneak away to the beautiful forest. Archie was scared to lie, but I wasn’t. I lied all the time and so did my mother. She told her boyfriend that she loved him. Guess where he is now.

The trees in the forest were our hiding place, they held what was left of our childhood when it started to whittle away. We would make up stories about what we couldn’t see, like fairies and trolls. What we didn’t know was that these woods were going to become a nightmare. Ripping its ferocious claws at the small fairies. Even strangling the trolls with the tree's large roots. We were going to watch our childhood leave without a goodbye, but with a scream and the eerie silence of something dire. We thought there wouldn’t be consequences. We thought it would be fun to swim with the bass. We thought it would be a great way to end the summer.

We thought.

Before the life-ruining, dream shattering disaster happened, we arrived at the lakehouse with a skidding stop. 

My mother left the car without turning the engine off, engulfing Aunt Faye in a tight hug. Archie was standing beside them with his hands folded in front of him, obviously waiting for me. I fumbled with the keys, accidentally setting off the alarm, my mom ran over with a screech and a thunderous laugh, called me a silly boy, turned off the engine, and patted my head. When Archie and I finally made eye contact, I smiled and ran over to him, shaking his hand. His little brother, Randall patiently waited for my two sisters to climb out of the car, they’re twins.

Archie was a year older than me, but the age difference was never very apparent to us. Although, he was always a bit more strange than me. He never let me hug him, so we always greeted each other with a firm handshake. 

He looked over to our mothers who already had glasses of wine in their hands and motioned for me to follow him. We walked up to the room we’ve shared since our irrational fears of sleeping far from our mothers went away. 

After he closed the door, Archie finally let his shoulders slump and jumped on my bed.

“So, what we gonna do tomorrow?” he asked with a goofy smile.

“I dunno, we could go fishing maybe.”

“Nope, don’t want to. Want to climb the highest tree we can find?”

“I guess,” I said, shrugging my shoulders. Archie never would let me choose what to do, even if he asked me. He would always try to find the craziest things to do, though. His mother was very strict. She made him play the cello, I guess that’s why he had become so rebellious.

The first night was normal, we ate mushroom pizza on the dock by the lake. Archie and I talked about school and our girlfriends. He had two. I said I had one but I was lying. I was good at lying. Still am.

“You know, if I was at home, I would see the same stars,” Archie said while finishing a piece of pizza crust.

“That’s not true.”

“Is too. I don’t lie like you, Ash.” This comment brought tears to my eyes and I tried to be quiet, but a pitiful squeak came out of my mouth. “Stop it, boys don’t cry,” Archie said.

The weeks went by quickly. Grandpa Hitch showed up a week late because he lost his job and needed some time to get over it. All week, he smelled like alcohol, like my dad. I am jealous of people that have nice grandpa’s, mine grumbles all the time and never wants to go fishing. I think he lies when he tells me he loves me. We’re all good at lying, I guess. 

We did the usual family stuff that summer. We went tubing behind our boat, we caught crabs and let them pinch us until our fingers bled, we ate good dinners, we listened to Archie play his cello, we watched the parents get too drunk, and they were happy.

They were happy.

I was having thoughts.

I had always had the thoughts but they were especially bad this summer. They made me look crazy, or go crazy. Like the one where I had to touch the doorknob three times before we went tubing. Or the one that made me have to touch grandpa’s shoulder every time he grumbled. Archie told me to just stop when I complained to him about it but that made me do it even more. My mother forgot about my thoughts a lot. I tried to forget, except for the day that they made me angry at Archie.

~   ~

“Look, a log!” I say, pointing to a decaying log that hangs over the bass hole. Archie’s eyes light up and I know he’s thinking exactly what I want him to think.

“Let’s go climb it and jump into the water, I’ll do a dive!” he says. A giddy feeling erupts in my stomach and the thought that I had the night before is ready to pounce. I climb up the log behind Archie, impatience tingling my neck. When we reach the top of the log, Archie looks back and smiles, I don’t smile back.

Then, he starts counting down from five. So do I, but when he gets to one, he springs up and I get just close enough to push him, causing his body to contort out of a diving stance. He is still going headfirst but his arms are flapping, he’s yelling my name but the thought in my mind is gone. I don’t hear it anymore!

I don’t hear Kill Archie, anymore!

Then the satisfaction is gone. The demon leaves me and I realize what I’ve done. I killed Archie. I shouldn’t have listened to the thoughts, they ruin me! The forest is being whipped around by violent winds and only a ripple in the water is seen in Archie’s place. 

Without thinking, I jump off the log. I imagine the splash echoing through the hollow woods as I take the same path as Archie into the water. The water stings my eyes as I search for him, feeling around for anything that resembles Archie, my Archie. I feel his soft skin brush up against my finger and drag his limp body out of the water. Archie’s lips are blue and there’s a bump forming on his small head. I’m crying, nearly screaming.

~   ~

That night, I lay on the dock looking at the stars. I wondered if Archie could see the same ones from the hospital. He probably saw fake ones from the bump on his head. The bump I put there.

Everything from this point on has escaped from my mind. All I know is that Archie was not dead, it turned out to be much worse than that. 

He’s alive, but he forgot. He doesn’t know I pushed him, no one does. It’s perceived by everyone else as an accident. He’s alive, but so are the thoughts in my head. So as we’re sitting on this bridge in silence, I know he won’t know what to do when I push him. But I know what I’ll do.

I’ll lie.

February 03, 2021 13:04

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25 comments

18:46 Feb 25, 2021

Anna, omg, this was soooooooooo good! Honestly. I wasn't expecting that to turn so dark so quickly. The ending was perfect, everything about this story was heartbreaking and sad but I love how you drawed everything back together and created a master piece. I love that back story how you told it was perfect as well. Honestly it was so good and it hurt my heart! I have noo critique! Great job! And keep writing!

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Anna Mosqueda
19:11 Feb 25, 2021

Thank you so much Ugochi! I'm glad you got to read this :))

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23:37 Feb 27, 2021

Of course!

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Thom Brodkin
03:23 Feb 17, 2021

I don’t know if it’s fair to ask on one story for two reads but in my defense I came looking for your latest and there wasn’t a new one to read. That being said if you have some time give “Her Other Sock” a read. You might enjoy it. 😀

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Anna Mosqueda
13:42 Feb 17, 2021

Sorry, I've been a bit behind lately! I'll check out your new story when I get out of school today!:)

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Thom Brodkin
16:51 Mar 02, 2021

Hey there, I came to read a new story and to ask you to read mine but there is no new story. If you check mine out I promise to read your new one when you post it. 😊

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Anna Mosqueda
13:02 Mar 03, 2021

Hey Thom! I will definitely check out your story. I have a work in progress right now that should be done soon ;)

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Thom Brodkin
15:16 Feb 09, 2021

Hey there Anna, I enjoyed this story a lot. I was a little confused about the beginning. I thought the MC was with Archie but the end of the story made me unsure. It was eerie, I think intentionally, and that actually made it an easier read. It seems like this could be a fantastic chapter in a much longer book. You make me want to know the back story and what happens next. Bottom line, great job, again. I wrote one this week called "Him'. If you have a moment, let me know what you think.

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Anna Mosqueda
19:31 Feb 09, 2021

Hey! Thanks for reading, I'm glad you enjoyed it:) So to clear things up, the MC was with Archie on the bridge and he flashes back to tell a story of why Archie is so messed up and it's not like it used to be. Then, at the end of the story, it flashes forward to the present, where they're on the bridge. I hope that makes more sense! Sorry it was so confusing, other people seemed to be confused as well!! That's why I'm glad to see it from another's point of view because I would not have noticed that very well. I'll check out "Him" when I get...

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Hope Reynolds
03:27 Feb 04, 2021

Nice job with the imagery -- when the reader could almost see a panning over to the moms, with Archie on the side, and the way you make the character and let him loosen into a different chill, in control, unshy, assertive, shrug mannerism. Some might say it is hard to get the character, but I think there is a emotion present in this story - like when its night-time, and he is crying, Archie is in the hospital. There were some parts I especially liked. I also noticed the transition - description of the scene and festivities, to "they were hap...

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Anna Mosqueda
12:46 Feb 04, 2021

Thanks so much! Glad you liked it and I always love getting feedback so thanks for the advice. I knew I was having trouble with point of view and everything and after I finished the story I tried to nail it but I was still having trouble with seeing it from a reader's point of view. When I go back through and edit, I'll consider changing the fairy part :)

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Hope Reynolds
03:49 Feb 05, 2021

You are welcome!! 👍 I think the point of view wasn't problematic really; I see it from his point of view, I think. Maybe more the stage of life or tense as the narrator: time of life in his point of view. That's where, within the point of view, I personally was referring to. :) It might seem to fluctuate just a little. Not that a reader can't handle that ;)

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Anna Mosqueda
16:42 Feb 07, 2021

Ohh okay, I see what you mean! Thanks for pointing that out;)

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Hope Reynolds
16:53 Feb 07, 2021

No worries! In some ways though, it's a strength, perhaps. It's not as static, one dimensional, or simple. At least having emotional background or something seems good to me, which is present, even if it could be perfected a little. :) I found the description withthe fairies and such to be a bit long or something, though Maybe we should get Leo in here, lol. How are you?

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Anna Mosqueda
21:11 Feb 07, 2021

Alright! I'll work on that. Now that I think about it, the fairies was a bit long haha. I'll fix it if I still can, I'm not sure, though, since the contest for last week is over. And yeah, we should ;) I'm good! Thanks for asking! We actually just got home from a vacation in Florida so It was nice to have the weekend off. How about you?

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