FALL 2011




Solidus Online

Ian Hartley

Where Are You Going?

My friend arrived at central station. With a suitcase in hand he said that he had come back from a long journey, and needed a place to stay for the night. He didn't mention how many nights, but I was certain he would leave just before sunrise.
For the years that passed, Charlie wrote several letters about his troubles; what Charlie had yet to say, was when he would be moving back home. When I asked about his home, he said: “Don't you worry, if things work out, I'll just move.”
Charlie wasn't excited about this place. Something was getting to him; he just looked down at the floor, and started talking under his breath. He looked through the window, and smiled when we arrived at my house.
Charlie got out. Walking closer until he was on the front lawn, he looked at the mansion. I told him I had just gotten a small fortune, but Charlie didn't believe a word I said. It was only yesterday Charlie said that I would see him tomorrow. Over the phone, he said he was taking a trip, but all his life he was on one endless journey after another.
It was the first day of school, and the leaves where beginning to age. Charlie was sitting on the stoops. People just walked by, and looked at him just for a second. They didn't seem to care that this boy was a scholar. Charlie needed an education, but some time later he would say that education, wasn't as great as being free.
Charlie was something special to his teachers, whenever he would sit in a classroom he was always reading. Nobody was certain where he went, but after some time people just thought he was somewhere on the moon, or just sleeping on a park bench.
When I asked where he was staying all these nights, he just laughed, and said: “I'm never going home, but a park bench is no place to stay.”

The first time I brought Charlie over to my house, my parents looked at him like the other school kids. My family wasn’t the type of people who liked strangers; the only people they knew were church folk. Charlie never showed me where he lived. He followed me home every day, and there we would play in my father's study.
When my parents first met Charlie, it was the first time they had seen me with another boy. My father liked Charlie. He didn’t mind that he was different, or acted like no other person from mass. Charlie would always be interested in my father’s toys. On the walls he would hang his medals, and in the drawers he would keep his guns; Charlie would hold one as if he was about to go into enemy territory.
* * *
In the summer we would run through tall grass, and feel heat going through our faces. We didn't know what we were doing, but it was better than seeing everything for the hundredth time. Charlie told me he was leaving. He had me fooled that he was part of some dying middle class America, and his mother and father didn't want him.
He said, “Now that I'm leaving Danny, you should know that I haven't always been honest with you, but you should know that whenever someone speaks the truth, you know they have nothing to hide, as they've already given up everything, and have become something they hate.”
I didn’t know if he went through all the states, Charlie had yet talk about his travels. On the nights I couldn't rest, I would dream about anything that came through. He was always the dream that came back. When I was still a boy, I thought my friend would be older someday; in this dream, we never grow old with ourselves.
We still understand that's not enough, we need to know that everything we did was for the best intentions, and after trying so hard, we know it doesn't matter when you’re a kid. It doesn't concern a man, when he's finally confessed what he is.
Charlie left the morning after. It scared me to say that he was gone, but one thing that was important about my friend, is that you never knew if he was real. I went upstairs to find that his room was cleaned out. At the train station, the newest arrivals came through the doors. I thought Charlie was just sitting inside and thinking how California, is better than any place on earth.
Inside everybody was ready to go. I almost left, but when I closed my eyes, I could almost see Charlie. Outside the town there was a farm, and men had already begun to work.


Ian Hartley

is from Palm Coast, FL.