It was a balmy day along the lush green banks of the mighty river. The single lane highway radiated waves of heat that made the road seem to melt before the eyes of a young man whose heart was dead. His name was Andrew Dentch, and he was going to see one of the few people who hadnâ€™t abandoned him. Andy was going to help his friend learn about the things of this world too boring to be called literature, physics. Andy didnâ€™t know very much about the workings of the universe, but he could make any subject come to life, he was a teacher.
Andy was a bit of a nerd, though nothing about his outward appearance would suggest that. The myriad of scars that criss-crossed his arms told the tale of one whose hands were accustomed to hard use. The meager amount of flesh on a frame that was once built to hold muscle suggested that food was a luxury to Andy. A quick glance in his rear-view mirror reminded Andy of the dark crescents steadily growing under his eyes, his eyes used to be so handsome. Now his eyes were empty orbs sunken deep into his gaunt face, making him look like an addict who hadnâ€™t seen the sun in months. Drugs didnâ€™t take the life from Andyâ€™s body, no it was something worse, something there is no 12 step program to cure.
Andy suffered from a wasting grief, he suffered from a continual feeling of loss. Andyâ€™s dark eyes told a story of sorrow to anyone willing to look deep enough into them. Plagued by nightmares that found shape in the horrible memories of a childhood that never was, Andy slept very little in those dark days. He had escaped from a life he didnâ€™t fit into, only to find that there was no place for him to fit in. in years of searching for joy, Andy found that misery was waiting for him at every turn. After enough attempts at happiness becoming repeated exercises in futility, Andy had come to the conclusion that he was not ever going to find it. Andy was driving down the road with a monstrous hangover earned from three days of binge drinking. He couldnâ€™t remember most of what had happened, all he knew for sure is that the booze had not made him feel any better.
It had been a long time since Andy had felt anything, to his friends Andy seemed to be little more than a walking corpse, an empty shell of what was once human. None of them seemed to understand what had made Andy so empty, none of them could see the gaping hole in his heart. Andy had read volumes from all of the worldâ€™s religions, spoken with various teachers of those religions for innumerable hours, all for nothing. None of their answers fit his question, years of studious research, lead to the same end every time. Andy was alone, and there was no hope of finding anything that could change that. Andy wanted his body to follow suit, and join his soul in death. The only thing that kept him from ending the farce with his own hand, was Andyâ€™s stubborn refusal to leave a legacy of pain as proof that he had existed. All of these thoughts and many more troubling dilemmas followed Andy like a shadow, over those last few weeks. In fact, while he was driving to tutor his friend and star pupil, he gave serious consideration to the river on his right.
There was no rounded metal barrier to keep him on the road and out of the riverâ€™s fast current. The thought occurred to Andy that his car could easily reach a suitable impact velocity. He knew that of all the people that would cry at his funeral, only a small handful would mourn the loss of the real Andrew Dentch. Most of them would just do it to try and fool all the other false mourners into believing they cared. It would be like a morbid pissing contest. Andy could see the reception after his wake, everyone there telling stories about how much Andy had meant to them. If those stories were true, then why werenâ€™t those people available when Andy needed them.
These swiftly circling thoughts made Andyâ€™s foot press harder on the gas. His dark eyes focused on a banked turn that would send car and driver flying into the middle of the river. There would be no chance of a rescue boat fighting through the unyielding mass of water, not quick enough to free a man from a fate he did not wish to escape. While waiting for his car to reach the improvised “stunt ramp” Andy decided to visit his funeralâ€™s reception again. As his aging Buick sped toward the point of no return, Andyâ€™s imagination searched the faces of those that would be left behind, for some sign of sincerity. He searched nearly the whole crowd gathered at his grave for some reason to stay, any reason not too follow through with his hastily organized plan.
When he had given up and turned toward the door that would bring him back to the reality of what he was doing, Andy saw a pair of young adults sitting in the corner, a boy and a girl. The pair stood out from the rest, because like the others they were crying, but not as a show of insincere sorrow.
These two were set back from the rest, eyes filled with tears of ice, pain evident in the quivering of a large young manâ€™s back as he sobbed silently. Pain that showed in the small yet amazingly comforting hand of a normally cheerful young girl. The sprightly face of the young girl was darkened by the ever present reminder of her loss. Both figures had the bodies of children, but there eyes spoke of a pain that had grown them prematurely into a man and woman.
Those painful images reminded Andy of his upcoming date with destiny, of the banked turn that would soon lead Andy into the next life. With all of these conflicting thoughts circling in his head, and the choice to turn with the road or go straight into the river, time seemed to stop for Andy. This paralysis of time was a gift, given by some undefined higher power, to help Andy make his decision. He couldnâ€™t face another day in this life that he hated, but he didnâ€™t know if he could die peacefully knowing what his actions would leave behind. Even if it was just an insignificant lonely pair that would pay in mental anguish for Andyâ€™s self serving actions, two was more than enough.
Father time and the rest of the universe would not wait any longer for this dark little man to make up his mind. The turn rose up in front of Andy like a mountain in the desert. The imagined tears of his last friends on earth weeping for his loss, the silent sobs of his innocent victims, tore down his resolve. He couldnâ€™t go straight into the river, maybe some day, but not today. Andy cranked the wheel away from the river, and let off the accelerator, making the turn at the last minute.
The blacktop was hot and Andyâ€™s Buick had no air conditioning, that was alright his sprightly young studentâ€™s house was cool and not far. He knew he would not be able to met her eyes. She would look right through his forced smile and see the ghost of his plan in the depthless emptiness of his eyes. He would look at everything except her, and ask how her morning was, to which she would say something wonderful and upbeat. She was going to ask about his drive, and he would lie expertly, never meeting her beautifully childish gaze. That was how it always went, weather he thought about killing himself, or just forgot about the simple tasks necessary to maintain life.
When Andy arrived at his destination he would exchange pleasantries with his friend, and he would help her with her studies. For that help she would offer a sympathetic ear and if need a shoulder to cry on, none of this was said, but he always knew it was there.
Andy never took the help that was offered. He never wanted his problems to be a burden on the people whose presence in his life, kept him in it. So lonely little Andrew Dentch would keep his dark thoughts to himself. That refusal to deal with his emptiness worked well for Andy, until the day that time and the universe didnâ€™t stop and wait for him to change his mind.