Too many stories start like this.
Drink, gamble, debt, drink, gamble, debt rinse and repeat constantly for 20 years, throw a kid into the mix about 4-5 years in and boom, there you go, tragic backstory perfectly established. But the turning point? That part which changes everything? That comes much later. From the word “go”
Oscar braced himself, took a deep breath and stepped forward, one, two, three, the gap between the shipping crates was only about three to four feet wide, an easy enough jump to make usually but when your four crates high off the ground with nothing to break the fall, four feet might as well be forty. The gap neared quicker than he anticipated, a sharp intake of breath and he leapt, sailing cleanly over the gap in the crates and landing cleanly on the other side.
“See? I said you could do it!”
Oscar looked over to his friend, Nathan, his oldest and best friend. They had gone through preschool, primary and into high school together, now as they neared the end of high school they had even decided to attend the same college. Nathan was one of those that made everything look easy, good grades, sporty, held his nerve around girls. By all accounts, Nathan would be the hero of the story due to his strengths.
But this isn’t a story about heroes.
Oscar nodded, his stomach was still knotted with anticipation for the jump and he felt a little sick. Nathan patted his back and pointed over to a small building, just away from the crates.
“I bet we can get over there”
Oscar shook his head
“We shouldn’t even be in here, let alone jumping onto the shacks that the guards are probably in”
Nathan hopped forward, spinning around with a gleam in his eye.
“Oh like they’d ever catch us. You stay here and watch me do it then”
He leapt over to the next few crates with ease, all the while Oscar watched with envy. Often he visualised himself doing something that Nathan hadn’t, swapping roles in his head. He had played out scenarios where it had been him suggesting they go climb the huge tree, and immediately after Nathan being scared to do it, saying things like
“But isn’t this to dangerous? Oh but what if i fall??”
Then Oscar waving it off and going ahead, pulling off a quadruple flip and landing twelve branches up.
But that was in his head, and Oscar never really took charge of…
Oscar watched, aghast as Nathan landed badly on the corner of the building and unintentionally bounced off, falling to the side and out of sight.
“Shit! Oh shit…”
What do i do? Oh god what do i do?? Oscar looked at the path along the crates. There were so many breaks and awkward angles that had to be overcome. Oscar thought about leaving and calling an ambulance… but then they would know that they had been over here in the first place.
He bit down on his courage and began making his way towards the shack, leaping across the crates. It started to feel easier, but Oscar still worried about Nathan. What was he supposed to do? That was a long fall, what would he do if Nathan had broken his leg… what would he do if he had…
No, don’t think like tha-
The last crate wobbled underneath him, causing his jump to fall flat a few inches shorter than it should have, Oscars arms slammed into the crates edge. His fingers grabbed at the grooves, but it was no use, the metal was to smooth to hold.
“No no no…”
His fingers barely managed to grip a small sharp lip at the edge, just about stopping his fall. A sharp, jagged pain ran into his fingers making Oscar grunt with pain. He almost let go reactively but his instinct pinned him to the edge. He pulled and scrambled his legs against the cold metal, heaving up and onto the crate. The sickness returned as he rolled himself onto his back and lay, staring up at the orange clouds above, taking in the occasional star that pricked its way through the misted veil.
His thoughts returned to Nathan, lying half dead in an alley, broken, bleeding and alone. Oscar rose to his feet shakily, one last jump to the roof and he could safely get down and find his friend, then work out what he was supposed to do next. The gap between the crate and the small metal building was larger than between the crates by quite a large amount. Oscar began to worry that he could end up lying next to Nathan if this went bad, which it more than likely would, he thought as he looked at the size of the gap. But there was no other way to go now, he had come too far and this was realistically the only way forward.
He looked on the sides of the shipping crate but they had been stacked to well leaving only a sheer drop around him. With gritted teeth, a churning stomach and shaking legs, Oscar sprinted from one end of the crate and pushed off as hard as he could, sailing towards his target in a weird mix of both fast forward and slow motion. Oscar crashed heavily onto the roof, his legs locked up on impact and threatened to throw him off, just as it had with Nathan. But Oscar managed to fall forwards, slamming onto the sloped metal sheets, his foot had wedged on what felt like a clump of stiff wire that pressed viciously into the sole of his shoe. Now, how to get down?
As his face pressed to the cold, ridged metal, he had to figure out a way of getting from the roof and to his friend, but other than letting go and sliding down the sheets, catching himself on whatever guttering their was, it seemed to be quite a dead end. What had he been thinking? Was there any actual way of getting down from those crates without going all the way back to the entrance? Oscar screwed his eyes up, angry at his own rash decision and now, stuck to the sloped roof of a building did the despair hit home. His friend may be dead, or at least severely injured and here he was locked in a state of fear, cowering on a roof. There has to be a way, there’s always a way, Oscar prized himself up and looked down the slope, it was quite long in all fairness, so there was a possibility that the drop from lower down wouldnt be as bad, if only he could see a little, further.
There was a loud thud, a metallic sounding clunk and the sheet Oscar lay on bowed and creaked horribly. He looked on either side for a way off, but it gave way before he could reach anything. He slammed hard into the floor, knocking the breath from his lungs as his eyes scrunched up from the pain. He was grabbed roughly and dragged backwards, his hands fumbled and dragged behind him, his eyes opened and before him was an older man in a suit that looked familiar as well as a large fat man in similar attire. The older man quickly hurried out the room as Oscars mouth was covered by a rough hand and someone whispered “just a short, sharp scratch” followed by a pinprick feeling in his neck. Oscars vision swam before his eyes as they rolled back into his head.