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Crossroads In Suburbia (Chapter 9)

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Chapters:
Prologue
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Epilogue

The waiting room at the therapist’s is dead silent apart from the ticking of the clock in the corner. Affirming posters hang around the room, colourful and bright against the beigeness of the walls and ceiling. A bookshelf sits in the corner with rows of self help books and a sign reading: for your taking. 

Marcus has his head held up steadily beside me, a pillar of strength, and his hand rests an inch from mine, but he doesn’t move it any closer. 

“This is the right thing to do,” Marcus says quietly.

“I know,” I mumble, taking a deep breath. 

“Isaac Chen?” A voice suddenly calls from the door and I look up with a start.

A young, kind faced man stands there; plaid button up shirt and hands casually in his pockets.

I turn to Marcus and he gives me a reassuring nod.

“I’ll be right here,” he promises, as I get up from the soft couch chair and plod over towards the entrance to the back room.

Marcus and I sit quietly in the park as I scroll through photos I’m editing on my laptop. He has his head on my shoulder, eyes closed, and we’re sharing earphones; quiet piano music drifts in between us like a dance. 

The soft sunlight pours down from above and I take a deep breath, letting a lightness in my chest I haven’t felt for many, many months grow tenderly, cautiously.

A family is playing catch with their dog in the distance, and the happy bark travels through the wind towards us.  

Therapy. Photography. Marcus.

Suddenly there’s a sharper noise from the near distance and I immediately look up, clutching my laptop.

A gaggle of boys – one who I recognise as Chip – stroll over in the park, some of them holding beer cans in their hands. 

Marcus reacts immediately, almost pushing me backwards as he gets up to his feet.

“What are you doing man?” Chip asks as he nears, eyeing Marcus up and down and barely giving me a second glance.

“Just working,” Marcus replies shortly, after half a second’s hesitation. 

Chip raises an eyebrow and turns to the rest of the boys; a few of snigger under their breaths. 

“Sure,” Chip says with a snort, shrugging a shoulder. He pauses. “You gonna head to Jamie’s house with us, Marcus? He got some new stuff.” 

Marcus shoots one glance at me then back at Chip. 

“I’ll be right there.”

Marcus turns to me apologetically, not quite meeting my gaze.

“I gotta go,” he mutters. 

“What – ” I begin, but Marcus is already hurriedly grabbing his things and his posture changes to a semi saunter as he runs off with his gaggle of friends, leaving me sitting at the park laptop still hugged in my lap. 

Afterschool the next day, and Marcus is in the distance sprawled at the back of the yard after school, and he’s flanked by four of his closer friends. 

There’s Chip’s flock of bright red hair, just faintly tinted by the smoke drifting off of the group. There’s another blonde haired boy I can’t quite place, with a familiar grin plastered from ear to ear. 

“There goes your little boyfriend,” Chip’s sharp voice cuts through the air like a bullet through glass and I’m left with nothing but the shrapnel. I don’t try and meet Marcus’ gaze as I turn the music in my earphones up louder and stride away from the school grounds. 

Their laughter follows me long after I leave earshot, and I end up at the top of the park overlooking the city, my camera in my hands. I take a few shots at the buildings outlined in the setting sun, but I lose my heart for it minutes later, placing the camera down and lying down with a thump in the damp grass.

Birds sing in the distance, and I’m miles away from everything, everyone, from the past present future and time.