Disappointment dominated my emotions when the police officer told me he was found dead last night. The sudden echo of sound waves created by my pen hitting the floor bounced off every wall and filled my place of work. As I stood being forced to listen in shock, pain and disbelief I felt the warm salted tears roll down my cheeks and cling to the cracks in the corners of my lips. Disappointed yes but disappointed with what? Myself? Society? Charlie? That was his name, Charlie. Charlie Sullivan!
I first met Charlie 12 months ago he was hanging around the retail area in the pharmacy where I work. He was tall, very tall possibly 6ft3. He had brown hair, mousy brown I think but it was difficult to see underneath his fitted cap. His body language was interesting posturing inwards with a captive but dismissive demeanour. I couldn’t see the colour of his eyes he was too far away but there was something about them so intriguing but very unwelcoming. After continuing with my head down jotting some notes on a piece of paper I suddenly felt an overwhelming presence so outstanding it would hold you in your path. I lifted my head to greet the man who stood in front of me. Charlie Sullivan! The smell from his blue checkered shirt barged its way through my nasal cavity destroying every neurosensory in its path like a hurricane. Behind each burned singed pull string that hung from each side of his grey zip-up hoody was a pouch of tobacco trying to escape the pocket of his shirt. As my vision scanned passed his pale cracked skin, his tatty unshaven facial hair, his lips that did not part but spoke a thousand words and the dark dull shadows that sat on top of his cheekbones, we finally made eye contact. His eyes took my breath away but not like a romantic breath-taking scene from Romeo and Juliet. It was more like a forceful blow to the chest the kind of impact that steals your breath rather than takes it at such speed your only option is to choke. His eyes that were so detaining struck me as glass marbles! But not the average net of marbles you could just pick up from any store these were just like the Opel Owl marble - model 129800, rare! I had never seen eyes like those before. So detained and unable to look away I soon discover the Cleary marble, these marbles are beautiful but they don’t stand up to wear and tear. His eyes looked tired and just like the Cleary marble after a life of being battled their finish becomes dull and chipped. Although If you search hard enough behind the battered scratched glass you can still see the beauty of a once joyful soul. He looked down to my hands through the needle exchange hatch and pushed me a grey bag in exchange for another containing clean sterile equipment. I knew then that the mibster who battled these marbles was in fact a man made substance - heroin.
Charlie and I saw each other everyday from then onwards and quickly become friends . Over the year I could see for myself how the simplicity of his daily trip to the pharmacy was replaced by social anxiety just as quick as an unexpected pandemic. His brother drowned to death and his mother died long ago. Every needle that dropped through the hatch represented another battle that he’d lost in his life. He truly was alone in this global crisis. I wanted to help Charlie I believed in him more than he would ever know and cared for him so much more. I watched him deteriorate day by day. His eyes begged for happiness. His body craved nourishment. His soul screamed out to freedom. He’s shackled to isolation, dressed in despair and submerged in disparity between humane free will and a country governed by “superiors”
Charlie took a heroin overdose and died. I asked myself what I was disappointed with? Myself because I could have done more I failed him as a friend. Society because its population is quicker to judge than they are to reach out and help. Charlie? Charlie because he never believed in himself.
Last night Charlie returned to his basement flat. His front door creaked open where he was greeted by loneliness and despair. Lured in by his convincing demons he closed the door on another hopeless day. As he listened to the familiar sound of his damp rotting floorboard catch the leak escaping the flat above he tucked into his freshly prepared meal, a slice of off-coloured ham wrapped in a piece of stale bread chosen from his local wastebin located at the side of the supermarket. He was fortunate to have dug out a fresh unopened bottle of water to wash down the earthly taste of poverty. With a measly half full but grateful stomach Charlie settled down on his dirt-stained mattress. He combined his ingredients and ignited the flame positioned beneath his burnt overused spoon. The flame flickered and frantically swayed left to right from the cold airy draft that crept through the floorboards. He patiently waited for the powder to liquidise controlled by his rusty clipper lighter in the sweaty palm of his shaking hand. As he watched the powder turn to brown sizzling liquid he believed that every bubble was a spaceship so he could fly to the galaxy where imagination would become his only escape. The aroma of freshly baked heroin jumped off the spoon and cunningly climbed up through the inside of his nose alerting Charlie that it was time for take-off. Each vein anxiously awaited not knowing which one will be pierced by the sharp syringe that had just been filled with the fuel he’d carefully prepared. He moved quickly into a more comfortable position buckled up and shot the warm liquid deep inside his vein. Having just enough time to replace the syringe with a cotton wool aid he lay back and entered a euphoric state just before lift-off.
He stared dispassionately into his empty room. The blood-stained cotton wool aid that rolled out of his spaceship had just arrived at the nearby station where tons more had laid still for months. The leaking drips diving from the ceiling into the damp rotting floorboard was louder than ever. The repeated echo was kept well contained between the walls that were decorated in nicotine. To his right was an ashtray that had fallen on its side from the overfilling weight of fag ends, fag ends smoked by lips that had never been kissed before. Inhaled by lungs that had never processed fresh sea air or fresh sheets from a warm cosy bed in such a long time. Exhaled by lungs stained with toxins that had fled his pull-strings that had dangled over the flame of his rusty clipper lighter. His heart that had never fallen in love before starts to beat less efficiently with his toes and fingers turning to grey. With each fading heartbeat the grey unoxygenated tissue races the receding blood flow back to his torso, both arriving heads to head at his heart. The unoxygenated tissue wins the last few beats and stops his heart from beating completely. A grey, malnourished still body. The satisfying trophy for a space-pilot fleeing to find humanity.
I didn’t tell you the colour of Charlie’s eyes unless you know the colour of the rare 129800 Opal Owl marble! They were green, bright green! Green as freshly cut grass on a nourishing hot summers day. Grass that is so energetic and moist it’s given another chance to grow surrounded by happy summer sounds of lawn mowers and kids playing. That’s how green Charlie’s eyes were.
Sadly, not even the never-ending flow of tears Charlie wept every night could replenish his green grass. No longer able to see a soul behind the battered scratched glass of the Cleary marble as they turn to a dull rustic green. A shade no longer worthy of any mibster. No longer a burden to society that never wanted to help. No longer a tenant in his prison let by key holder’s loneliness and despair. His reborn joyful soul fled his corpse clinging onto his spaceship carrying only a one way ticket. No longer a number to his “superiors” he’s free to travel through the galaxy and land his spaceship just so he can dangle his feet from the moon. A moon that is so bright, the grass will always be greener for this beautiful, brave space-pilot who leaps across the stars every night 💫
You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.
The story was beautifully articulated, and I felt the emotions clearly. However, since this is your first story, I would like to give you some critique that I've also gotten before, but which have helped me to improve. So please take this the right way, and apply it in your future stories: 1. I noticed many run-on sentences in the story. Let every succeeding sentence be of a different length than the previous one. Sometimes three to four words are enough to leave a mark. Sometimes you may have to write longer ones or medium-sized ones. But ...
Thank you so much! I admire and appreciate your feedback. I’ve only just joined Reedsy and randomly fell straight onto your profile. I feel that was a gift from the universe to inspire and help me progress in my writing. Thank you so much I’ve wrote all of your tips down to use moving forward. Thank you again xxx
Aww thank you, I really appreciate the compliment! It is wonderful that you're taking critique so positively, it's still something that many people hesitate to do, so very well done :)
Hi Jaz, Reedsy invited me to critique your piece: "Disappointment" I am pretty new to Reedsy so please take my critique lightly. First of all, very powerful piece. A lot of thick emotion. Sometimes a little challenging to piece together the rich imagery you are weaving, but rewarding to read. I feel that the short story format punishes rich imagery because of 2 things: the shear amount of words it takes to properly paint such amazing emotions, and the mismatch with the time and energy investment of the reader. A reader can become bored w...