Since he was able to again, after such a long time, he just walked. He went anywhere, not concerned where he ended up. Of course, he had wound up there. It was impossible he could be anywhere else.
He scaled the wall. Now, it took him just mere moments.
He pushed his elbows between the planks of wood. Inside they were hollow, he expected beetles. Inside, the tan bark was nothing but uniform. He could see small chips of wood that resembled the trees they came from. His big boots crunched as he walked.
Somewhere in the courtyard children were gathering. He continued slowly across the brickwork. The buzzing of voices long ago had lost all association for him. Ripples from another world.
Since he was born, there was a stone in his stomach, one that hardened as he grew.
The old brick should have been coated with dust, it wasn't. Back then, he had always felt more comfortable inside the hallway, where he was alone. The carpet was a deep red; the strings pushing out the end. The others preferred to take the other exit. This one was closer, yet they didn't pass through it. On the way towards the playground they would just run, run the way they always did without pause and without intention.
With older eyes, he preferred to see glass perforating and slicing the air, an unmovable wall between him and the outside. He had always hoped that if he were to return it would be there, able to be felt and touched.
He remembered the taste. He was too young to expect what he would taste like, but his lips were soft, his face had melted into his so quietly, he had known immediately just what to do. The pounding of footsteps had been all around, but they knew they were safe. They had tried it many times, in many ways, just to check they were alone.
When he returned to the space, he found it just as it was. He imagined the familiar smells, the size of the art-room and the patterns in the red brick would strike him. Yet, he found it was the same, as though time had not passed through him. He felt himself drifting towards the dark corners again.
Emmanuel. He had called him that. The full name. That was the joke, but every time he heard it it seemed to slip on the edges of scented smoke. He could feel it, the grip of his fingers beneath the creaking wood. The light bleeding through the stained glass. He remembered.
You're not supposed to be here.
An old voice.
I could phone the police.
He wouldn't. He knew that he wouldn't. There would be no point, they would not come. It was clear from the way he had been walking, drifting from outside, that he wasn't the type. He was walking too slowly, uncarefully. He was only here to look around. It was clear he belonged to this place, whether he liked it or not.
I used to go to school here
The smell of detergent reached him. He gagged on it. The smell of the bleach. He watched it sink into the red of the carpet, he watched it wriggle into the fabric.
I'm not surprised you don't remember me... You people never do - but me, I remember you. I saw your face in the newspapers
He wondered how deep the bleach could run.
His family comes here still, from time to time, they like to come here just like you, just to have a look around. I don't know why. It doesn't seem to make them feel any better
He remembered the touch of his hands, the rough fingertips slipping between his.
You need to leave, before the kids get back. You don't want the teachers to catch you. They'll call the cops, for sure, you can count on it.
When he spoke his face seemed to swell and raise. In his eyes he could sense a gloom swelling behind his tired eyes. Coals.
He remembered his hands, his dark black hairs and the sweat. Inside of him there was something warm, that when they would combine would spread and expand into lighting hot feather frills.
I don't care how long its been, I saw the photos, what you did to that boy, I don't care how long it's been... I had to clean it all up, all by myself, you didn't. I told them they should make you do it, but of course they didn't. They never do - But I remember, I'm not ever going to be able to forget a thing like that.
He looked out at old stone. The old stone. It would always be there. Long after he was gone. The red bricks would be there.
I remember. We all remember him, Emmanuel.
Written by Thomas Huntington