The Weekly Journey. Short Story.

Hope everyone’s week is going well, it’s passing much, much to quickly for my liking. College is starting back at the end of this week and I’ll be entering the home stretch!

I don’t really know how to feel about it to be quite honest. But, for better or for worse, I’ll have my degree and hopefully be starting a masters programme.
Anyway, On with the show!

——————————————————————————————–

He walked down the streets slowly, unsure of where he was going. There were many twists and turns and he hoped he had followed them correctly. Now he was surrounded by small shops, selling flowers and pastries and objet d’art. He paused at one window, trying to discern exactly what it sold as lights flashed in bright, gaudy colours. Puzzled, he moved on. He was nervous and tried not to fidget, a battle he was losing as his fingers pulled at his sleeves, stealing briefly into his pockets before finding themselves once again at his sides. He knew his face was probably bright red, that everyone was most likely looking at him, but he pushed on regardless. It had to be done.

The day was bright and it had tempted people from their homes, they strolled down the streets. Couples hand in hand, groups of friends meandering and laughing, he spotted a few people walking alone, but they all appeared to be going somewhere, some final destination no doubt filled with people. His hands crept deeper into his sleeves. As he walked he looked at the shop numbers, or tried to, many seemed to be devoid of any such markings. He paused at a little alley, then stepped into it. He looked around and spotted a street sign, he sighed, relieved. He had been right so far. The alley was duller than the street, but still full of people, small tables sat outside small café’s inviting and welcoming, begging passer-by to sit down and rest their feet, just for a moment. He slid past the people, past the tables that were meant for two and never one. The alley widened out briefly, more shops seemed to be crammed in this smaller place, second hand shops, shops selling strange herbs and spices, exotic and sometimes unpleasant smells drifting from their doors. He went by a shop with a parrot sitting outside, as he passed it squawked, startling him, his already thumping heart going into over drive for a few moments as he tried to calm himself. Fingers twisting the fabric over and over again, relentlessly. Nearby a woman laughed, loud and penetrating, the noise annoying and alluring. He looked around, trying to locate the source, but she was hidden in the people that moved maddeningly slow down the crowded alley. Some where ahead of him was where he was going, not too long and not to far away or so he hoped. Up ahead he could just discern the juggler through the crowds, who stood around him in awed silence, flaming clubs going up and spiralling in the air, spiralling up and up then down and down, twisting and twirling, flames leaping, black smoke rising, before reaching the jugglers hands and being flung up to the heavens again. He stopped and watched the display for a few moments, watching and waiting for the juggler to be burned, but he never was. He moved passed the juggler, deeper into the alley. The deeper he went the more strange the sights, people riding unicycles, and people playing harps, singers and living statues, all coming together, hoping for an audience, for money, perhaps discovery of something more. As he went by each one their noises and calls faded, replaced by the calls of those ahead.

Finally he cleared the gauntlet of people, breaking free of the shouts and promises, free from the alley. He froze, like a startled animal, unsure which way to go. He went over the directions again, then turned left, after going a few steps, he paused, then turned completely and went right, feeling the eyes of everyone boring into him, he could feel the mental insults being hurled his way. Almost there. Almost. Just a few more twists and turns and he would be home free. For a while at least, then the same journey would occur in reverse. He stopped, a couple with a pram almost colliding with him, he didn’t hear what they said. Cold sweat seemed to cover his entire body, trying to drown him. What was the point, going onward? He would only have to go back again. Indecisive, he stood. Did he really want to wait for a few hours and repeat this whole journey again, the people, the stares, the whispers? He took a deep breath and fought against the nausea that was beginning to build, fighting the harsh beating of his heart, the lump caught in his throat. He’d do it. He had to. Slowly, moving as though the air itself was sticky, trying to force him back, he put one foot forward. It broke the spell. The nausea remained, not as strong, but still there, waiting for it’s chance to return. He swiped at his forehead, using his sleeve to mop away the beads of sweat. He quickly plunged his hand back down, hoping no one saw, no one noticed, knowing that everyone had.

The next street wasn’t as populated and he quickly turned into it, pleased to have some space, some air to breath. He walked slower, aware of it, but unable to speed up, he glanced at his watch and saw the time, his heart leaping in terror. He’d be late, but still his feet dragged. The ground was covered in rubbish, old paper plastered permanently to the pavement by the rain, sweet wrappers fluttering in the breeze, scraping across the ground. He closed his eyes for as long as he dared, trying to control himself. Control the building panic. He was trembling. He made his way down the street, picking his way between the small clusters of people. Almost there, almost there. Soon it would be over. But then he’d have to go back. No. It was too late now. The journey would be almost the same. Go on, just keep going. His feet carried him forward, even as his brain argued. Finally he reached the wooden door, the door he loved and loathed, he stepped up to it and grasped the handle, gently, almost a soft, lovers touch. Then he twisted it and stepped inside.

The room was bright and cheery, but with a faint musty tinge, left by the thousands of people that had waited here before. An air freshener tried to cover the scent with it’s harsh chemical smells, but failed miserably. The stink would always be there, perhaps until the building itself was destroyed. He smiled nervously at the receptionist, she smiled back, not bothering to take his name. She knew him, she knew all the patients. He sat down in one of the chairs and looked at the magazines. They were always up to date but he was always too nervous to read, to do anything really but sit. His fingers played through the fabric of his jacket. He glanced at his watch. He wasn’t late. He was early. Only slightly, but early. There was a low buzz, he jumped, blushing. The receptionist smiled at him again, “The Doctor is free now, if you want to go in.” he nodded gratefully and stood up, fingers still playing, he left the waiting room and went through the secondary door. As he stepped over the threshold something came over him, his body sagged slightly, relaxed. His heart began to slow. He was here now. He was safe.

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About Alan James Keogh

I am a 26 year old writer who somehow tricked U.C.D. into giving me not only a degree in English and Classical studies, but an Hons Masters in Creative Writing too. Visit my blog where I post short stories twice a week (Monday and Wednesday) and an installment of a serialised novel on Fridays. I did consider writing this in the third person, as though it was written by someone else, but Alan is not comfortable writing in the third person as it seems kinda creepy and unbalanced so Alan decided it was probably best to write in the first person. He hopes it went well for him.
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One Response to The Weekly Journey. Short Story.

  1. Pingback: My Writers Cramp | My Writer's Cramp

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