Goodbye Darkness, My Old Friend

Submitted into Contest #222 in response to: Write a story about a character who finds guidance in an unlikely place.... view prompt

18 comments

Coming of Age Inspirational Kids

This story contains themes or mentions of mental health issues.

There must be some way to cheer the world up. It's rained recently. The clouds are moody and the grass is drooping, covered in tears. The tree in our back garden moans in the wind, trying to tell us how lonely it is. No-one listens but me. No-one ever listens but me.

My parents call me into the living room to receive my presents. Florida hands me hers first, and I take it gently. The poor thing is trembling, scared that I might hurt it. I try to smile reassuringly, willing it to be calm.

"Thank you," I say, more to it than to Florry. I unwrap it gently, and it giggles as if I'm tickling it.

I look up at my sister and grin. A small canvas. She knows how much I love to paint. And so does the canvas, which is speeding through pictures to show me, paintings that I might paint in the future, suggestions.

Florry hugs me, and I say "thank you" again, this time to her. As our parents give me their presents, I hear her humming something, and gradually I recognize it. Hello Darkness, my old friend.

Outside, the grass blades lift their heads to the sun, and their tears and worries evaporate.

*****

Cody stared out of the window. I stared with him, thinking how sad it was that his birthday would start with grey clouds and wet grass, but I knew that he was thinking differently. I wished that I could know what was going on inside Cody's head. He never showed any of us.

Our parents called him and he turned around. I handed him his present, seeing in advance the smile he would give, not really that interested anymore. I turned my head back to look out of the window again. More rain.

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him take his present slowly, like he thought it was made of glass.

"Thank you," he said, as politely as if I'd been a stranger. He unwraps it, giggling even before he sees what it is. A small canvas.

I didn't know what it was until he opened it; Mum picked 'my' present for me this time. I hadn't really been able to care. Lately, I hadn't cared about much.

Cody smiled at me, and turned back to him, hugging him. I felt guilty for not caring, and I didn't want him to know what I'd been thinking.

As Cody's last presents were given, I looked out of the window again, humming. Hello Darkness, my old friend. The song had been stuck in my head for the last few days. It wasn't my favourite song - but I wasn't complaining.

*****

We leave the house. Sophie, our little blue car, is asleep, but when our dad turns the key in the lock, she wakes up.

"Good morning," I say to her as I get in.

I look out of the window to see her move, her first steps. It always makes me happy when she wakes up.

I love looking at the world as it passes, waving to the trees by the side of the road and watching them wave back. I hear Florry humming again - the same song.

I love being part of Sophie's social life - seeing her talking to the other cars as they drive past, sometimes racing them.

Sophie parks and we get out. I say "thank you" to her and give her a hug before running down to my favourite beach.

*****

We left the house and got into the car. Cody said "Good morning" to it before getting in, but I only put my seat belt on and tried to ignore him. He looked down through the window when the car started, laughing and grinning as it growled.

I could never understand why he did that - and all his other oddities. My parents say he's - different, and I'm never allowed to ask why.

My eyes stared out of the window, my brain stared into itself. Everything seemed dull. At least the sun had come out; a trip to the beach would be worst than bad without it.

The world passed uneventfully. The same fields, the same trees - cars so similar they might as well have been the same.

I wished that something would happen to bring me out of this depression. Nothing seemed to have a point anymore. Hello Darkness, my old friend, I found myself humming.

The car parked and Cody got out first, hugging it and saying "thank you". Next was me, and as I stepped out, I realised that I had forgotten my shoes.

*****

The pebbles tickle my feet as I walk to the shore, and the waves rise to say hello before joining their brothers and sisters again as part of the ocean. The wind strokes my hair.

My sister runs to the sea, pausing where the waves eat the sand, just in front of me. I stand at her side and face her, smiling. She hasn't been happy lately; now is the right time to show her, I think. I've always wanted to show her.

*****

I tiptoed over the rocks, trying to reach Cody. The stones stuck into my feet and hurt. I looked up and realised how far away I was from him. Taking a deep breath, I gave up tiptoeing, instead running, hoping it would hurt less. It didn't, but at least it took less time.

I stopped at the water's edge. Cody stood beside me and smiled. Slowly, he took my hand.

At first all I could think of was my hand in his. He never, never touched anyone voluntarily. Then -

Everything opens up.

The waves are jumping out of the sea to say hello to me, and I hear music notes, gentle but strong, as captivating as siren-song, as each wave bounces off the shore.

Music from heaven - the clouds are singing to us. Their notes are softer, they last longer, and both are beautiful.

Cody keeps smiling, so happy he can finally show someone his world. This is how he sees everything.

I hear our parents calling, saying something that I can't quite hear. Then I see Cody's hair gradually fading darker, and hear sparkling, stammering music, and I know that it's raining.

We walk back to the car, hand in hand, enjoying together the tickling and singing of the rocks beneath our feet.

I hug Cody, silently thanking him for showing me the music, and the light. I feel like laughing, or crying. All of this was only a hand-hold away. Goodbye Darkness, my old friend.

October 29, 2023 18:36

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18 comments

Graham Kinross
13:13 Nov 15, 2023

I like the title, that alone is great. Great story as well.

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Andrew Victory
13:02 Nov 08, 2023

Great job, made me think about how the things that connect people can seem so trivial from the outside looking in but result in something so meaningful.

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15:11 Nov 08, 2023

Thank you!! 🤍 So glad this made you think, that's what I aim most to do with my stories, after entertaining ❤️

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Tom Skye
23:08 Nov 05, 2023

Beautifully written and powerful. I have seen the multiple perspectives thing before but this definitely brought some fresh. Simon and Garfunkel is always a nice soundtrack to a written story as well :) Great work again Khadija. I think yours was my favorite from last week. The louvre one. Thanks for sharing

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04:12 Nov 06, 2023

Thank you so much!! 🤍 Your support means so much to me.

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Andrea Corwin
02:51 Nov 05, 2023

What a lovely story. He, the “different one” opened the world for her!

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03:01 Nov 08, 2023

Thank you! 🤍

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Michelle Oliver
14:07 Nov 03, 2023

A beautiful story showing how two people can view the same world very differently. I like how Cody has chosen to share his vision of the world with his sister and the dark mood is lifted from her. A lovely ending.

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15:51 Nov 03, 2023

Thank you 💜🤍💜. Seeing a comment from you always makes my day ❤️.

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Mary Bendickson
19:14 Oct 31, 2023

You seem to second guess your selection of titles when you instinctively get it right each time. Another precious story revealing the relationship of family. Glad Cody could pull her out of depression.

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01:46 Nov 01, 2023

Thank you!! 💙🤍

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11:08 Oct 31, 2023

This was very sweet and endearing Khadija. And the gentle message of support via the inclusion of others into our worlds is super wholesome. I love reading your work!

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11:53 Oct 31, 2023

Thank you 💖. And I love writing them ;) 😁

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Annie Persson
12:05 Oct 30, 2023

I love this! And the title's fine. I really like how the two of them have completely different perspectives on the same things around them, and I love how you showed the world from Cody's perspective, it's really cool! The way Cody brings joy to his sister is a stroke of genius. Well done. :)

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03:39 Oct 31, 2023

Thank you!!! 💗

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Karen Corr
20:25 Oct 29, 2023

I love the song. It’s one of my favorites. Our moods do color our world, and sometimes another person’s actions can change our outlook. Your story rings of the truth! (:

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11:54 Oct 31, 2023

Thank you so much! I got that song stuck in my head a week ago, even though I was sure I'd never heard it before. Those were the only lyrics I remembered! (Isn't it annoying when you have a song stuck in your head but you can only remember a word or two of the lyrics?)

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Karen Corr
12:21 Oct 31, 2023

It’s called “Sounds of Silence.”if you wanted to look up the rest of the lyrics. 😊

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