(This is in relation to this post)
Look up to the sky. Clouds swirling. Gray invading. The illusion of frost creeps upon the edges of the sun.
Look up to the sky. Birds migrating. Horizon stretching. Spread your fingers and reach.
Look up to the sky. A balloon lost and floating. God is watching. Your hand is poised like a gun.
You won’t die.
Look up to the sky. Look up to the sky. Look up to the sky.
Stepping into the air of a Scotland’s morning pre-sunrise is nothing short of an awful experience. August double checks that his shoelaces are tied, shivering from the cold as he glances over his exposed arms and legs speckled with goosebumps and freckles, before breaking out in a jog that’s just the slightest bit too fast. His ponytail bounces on the top of his head, individual dreadlocks threatening to hit him in the face, but always manage to be just out of reach, as music from his ipod float into his ears. He’s treating himself this morning. No audiobooks, no poetry, nothing but uncensored guilty pleasure music to soothe himself into his morning exercise.
The dew on grass seeps into his socks as he cuts away from the pitch, not interested in running the same track as most of the student body. He’s learned to enjoy his mornings in solitude since Kiko had left, no other running partner able to meet the high standard she had set before. He still misses her and the sound her feet made as they practically assaulted the ground beneath them and the way her breath puffed out in white angry clouds and how her hair crinkled across her damp forehead in tiny strands that she never pushed back until the end of her run.
He wonders if he’s lonely as he passes the rugby posts. Thinks that’s stupid as he waves at Rawee and Tom as they make their lethargic first lap around the track. Continues to ponder on that while jogging past the supply shack. Represses the train of thought as his feet hit sand and he begins to circle the lake.
Thinking is hard, running is easy, and Scotland is nothing short of stunning at sunrise.
The thing about dates is that they’re impossible to keep track of outside of a school setting. It creeps up on him. Unexpected and without warning and even when he notices it doesn’t Click until hours later. It’s Monday when he reflects on the fact that Spring is less than a week away, a passing thought as he marks down 14/3/16 on his school notes. It doesn’t come up again until lunch.
He’s spreading butter onto his roll when it occurs to him that in a week it’ll be a year since he first kissed Angel. His face grows hot and he steals a glance at Angel across the table, an odd fondness swelling up. He makes a mental note to ignore him next week. He doesn’t think of it again until school’s almost over.
He’s turning in an overdue homework assignment when he considers the fact that in six days it’ll be the anniversary of the day he was held hostage. The thought is short lived, and passes on after a minute. He doesn’t think of it again until he’s in bed.
The lights are out and he’s groping around in the dark trying to find the cord for his charger when it comes again. (A year ago.) Plugs are hard and he practically stabs at his phone trying to locate the proper hole to charge it. (A year ago.) It’s the wrong way and he twists it around and it won’t go in and he twists it again frustrated with the dark and frustrated with his shitty android and frustrated with the cord. (A year ago.) His hands won’t stop shaking. (A year ago.) He throws his phone off the bed and the loud clack makes him jump and his breath falls out of his chest wet and choked. (A year ago.) His hand continues to shake as he covers his mouth, trying to keep the air in and his breath steady and his eyes stare wide into the dark and he swears the ceiling has never been so expansive and his room so quiet and his heart so loud.
(A year since he could’ve died.)
He reaches up. Smooths his dreads back out of his face. He can hear everything.
August steps out into the cold Scotland morning and without missing a beat breaks out into a sprint. Arms swinging, legs aching, his breath comes out in loud white puffs. He didn’t sleep last night and it took him too long to get out of bed. He runs past the pitch. Runs past Rawee and Tom beginning their jogging routine, and runs past the Gryffindor team beginning their groggy too early practice and doesn’t stop until he’s halfway around the lake. His hands on his knees. His skin slick and his breath raspy and his body burning.
This is how I’m going to die. He thinks all the while knowing that that isn’t true.
He sits down. He didn’t bring water. His headphones aren’t in and his hands shake and his skin is nothing short of steaming.
This is how I’m going to die. He thinks and doesn’t know what that means, but he’s sure of it at that moment.
August stares out at the lake before him. His knees are pulled up to his chest and like this he looks like the child he is as he forces his lungs to stop trying to invert themselves. The lake is expansive and black and glistening and so much alike, yet unlike, the sky in every way conceivable.
This is how I’m going to die. The thought is quieter. More accepting and less panicked than before. He doesn’t want to die at the hands of anything or anyone else. He doesn’t want to relinquish that control. His death will be sweaty and hot and uncomfortable and in many ways his own fault, but in every way his.
He can’t stop thinking about it. All through breakfast as he chokes on a bite of a granola bar and makes clipped jittery conversation with anyone that’ll listen. Walking down the hall his shoulders brushing passersby and the automatic recoil and revulsion at the sudden touch. He can’t stop thinking about it as he sits in his chair and writes the date (15/3/16) on his paper and as he stares up at the blackboard with dead eyes as Jai talks.
August has never been one for taking notes, blame it on the ADHD, and it shows as the agenda written on the board swims before his eyes. He scratches at his notebook with his quill, trying to make sense of the assignment and copies down his name. The date. He can’t focus on the words up ahead. He copies down the date. He copies down the date again and again and again and again.
“Mr. Simmers?” It’s a voice cloaked in haze. A voice heavy with radio static. “Mr. Simmers?” August blinks up in the direction of the voice. “August?” His eyes focus. Jai is crouching down next to August, leaning over his notebook with worry etched in the crease between their eyebrows, a seashelled loc falling onto the not yet dried ink.
August breaths out heavy. He places his hands on either side of his head and looks at his desk and doesn’t look at Jai even as they tentatively touch his shoulder as if unsure of what contact is appropriate or needed here.
The date is stacked on top of itself again and again across his notebook page.
He feels sick.
It feels like people are watching.
He feels scared.
Somewhere off in the distance Jai is asking if August needs to go to the nurse but much more readily is the sound of gunshots going off next to his ear as his neighbor’s cauldron decides that now is the appropriate time to take spark and light on fire. August leaps up and Jai steps back on instinct as August slams his hand down on the table groping for his wand. Hits it too hard and sparks fly in tune with a sickening crunch as it snaps in half papers flying at the rush of magic released from its destruction. A melody of panic in such simple actions.
And now everyone is looking as August slams backwards and discards his chair onto the floor with a loud crash that makes him flinch still.
And everyone is looking as he twists towards the exit with eyes so wide they could be summer moons. Mouth opened like a dead fish that had been left to rot in the sun.
And everyone is looking as someone snickers, not sure if August is playing a joke or not, unsure and in some ways not even malicious. Just trying to lighten the mood.
And everyone is looking as August turns and looks back searching, but somehow not seeing anything and everyone can tell.
And everyone is looking as August bolts from the room, door slamming open against the wall hard enough it threatens to crack, and Jai yells after him, and the room is so so quiet for a moment. There is silence. An electric current like the quiet before the storm that’s ready to erupt into gossip and theories and mockery and worry. For a second though there is nothing but quiet, and it’s too bad August isn’t there to bask in the softness of a room without sound.
He can’t go into the nurse’s office because it reminds him of the morning after. The cots splayed wall to wall are gone. His friends healing and mourning and crying aren’t there. There’s no aurors and there’s no real fear and there’s no real threat, but when he tries to enter the room his muscles lock up and his hand tightens on the door frame and his quick breath becomes desperate and choked and-
He can’t go into the nurse’s office right now. Instead he sits on the couch of Andre’s office. His legs pulled up to his chest as he rocks back and forth. He thinks he looks stupid. Most people would find pitiable to be a more adequate fit.
And for a blissful five minutes no one talks to him. No one touches him and no one questions him and no one does anything except let him calm his own breathing and let him collect his own thoughts and let him do what he needs to do.
Sometimes it feels good to breakdown.
His skin feels hot. His chest hurts. Sweat is slick on his brow. In so many ways a panic attack is exactly alike, and yet unlike, running in every conceivable way possible.
It feels good to die sometimes even if that death isn’t real.
“I wanna go home” Even to his own ears it sounds detached and unreal. He doesn’t look at anyone. He has a hard time placing their faces in correlation with their names and voices. He looks outside instead. At the birds and at the clouds and at the expansive never ending sky that threatens to swallow the whole world in one gulp.
“Let me go home.” His words come out slurred as he chews on his own dreadlock. He knows he sounds childish, his shoes dirtying the couch, and his voice nothing short of a mumble. He doesn’t know what they’re asking. Even if he did he’d answer in the same way.
“I wanna go home.” He says out loud, but on the inside he thinks to himself. If I fly high enough, I could burn in the sun.