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The Last Riddle

The Last Riddle


"It mourns when we pass it; it rejoices when we take its hand. Many call it a monster, but for those with no remorse, it’s more of a friend. A friend that takes us out of the darkness and towards an unknown future. A friend that shows us the value of what we think obsolete and eternal. Forever it waits because it trusts we will go. But forever it’s not an option for us. To be forever is to stop feeling the way you did once. Is to forget, not by sickness or desire, but for time itself. Without it, there’s no reason to fear. There’s no reason to believe; or hold the hand of a loved one a bit longer at night; or glance at the sky before clouds cover the stars; or travel along the sea before it goes dry; or climb the highest mountain before we are taken underground. There’s no reason to do anything because everything can be done one day. It makes memories a treasure, cause they can’t happen again. Without it—there’s no reason to live. Dear death, I ask, take my soul, for I see what I’m not and hold onto what is gone. Dear death, I plea, let me feel, to those who I wish the best, I’ll see you all at the other end. By dying tonight, I’m alive. Cooper Harrington." That’s what a young poet’s suicide note on the hands of Billy Mccgarth read. He had no leads as to how the happiest kid on the block drank arsenic from a porcelain cup adorned by cartoon stickers. Yes, such details as a porcelain cup did not pass the brownish, sharp eyes of officer Mccgarth. And he did well in asking the poet’s old aunt where it came from. The woman slipped another tear from her cheek. It was from a friend, she said in spite of her trembling lips. “Does this friend have a name?” She blew her nose on the pink handkerchief and directed the man to the front house. Apparently, the girl next door was the closest friend of her son. Unfortunately, she died two years ago from a cardiac sickness. Billy Mccgarth did not stop his investigation, not even when the cops from his unit decided to leave the judgment up to god. Billy was not a believer of the high powers, he preferred to serve justice with his bare hands. So he kept searching for the answer. “Can I take a minute of your time, Miss Nottleblanc?” Billy said, crossing the pair of tainted, yellow doors of the school director’s office. The woman bowed her head, motioning the officer to take a seat in front of her. “I hope this does not take long, my husband is waiting for me at home,” Miss Nottleblanc said. Billy began the brief explanation, skipping what everyone inside the small town of Arvareth already knew. It was simple: There’s a riddle without an answer, a murder without a reason, and a middle-aged officer who wanted to find any of the latter before closing his eyes to sleep tight. “I’m sorry, officer, but there isn’t much about Cooper. He was a good student, the silent type. Very few times did he enter my office, most of them to deliver something from the teachers,” Miss Nottleblanc said. “Yes, I heard as much. May I take a look at his classmate’s addresses?” “Sorry but I thought he committed suicide.” Billy narrowed his eyes at the stoical woman. “That’s true. He killed himself, and I want to know why.” “Why?” The woman rolled on the chair, taking papers and placing them on her suitcase. “People who end their lives so young usually are under drugs or after forbidden love around here. We don’t have many deaths as Cooper’s.” “What about Stephany? She attended your school.” “Oh, my officer, she died from a heart attack back at her house. We had nothing to do with that! I’m sorry but if you want to interrogate me, you might as well get an order, excuse me.” Miss Nottleblanc stood up, hurrying Billy towards the exit. He had no more option than to follow her lead. He was on a personal quest now, which meant there would be no backup or support from his department. On the contrary, if any of his superiors were to find out he still hasn’t sent his report, they would fine him immediately. Billy jumped inside his car, took a cigarette out, and lowered the window. Smoking was his escape, as suicide was Cooper’s. He thought he understood the kid. Last summer, he attended one of those free events at a local bar. By chance, he came across one of his poems. He remembered. Vibrant, radiant green, palming my skin. A reference to the grass, he thought then. He liked to guess what the words meant. Each verse like puzzles diverting him from the same patrols and calls of aid that resulted in trivial accidents. Billy sighed. A deep cigar puff and smoke went out of his yellow teeth. Like everyone, he knew people took their lives when they did not feel like living it anymore, or a tragic fate was set upon them. But Cooper had a brilliant future as an artist, and if he did not succeed, he could inherit his family’s store. The only event that fit the profile was Stephany’s, the young one’s best friend, death. “‘By dying tonight, I’m alive...’ a code?” he asked himself. “Why Cooper? Why did you take your life in such a painful way?” Billy got home, heavy footsteps dragged across a metal gate. His house was nothing big but sustained the four people living on it. He heard the calls of his kids coming from the kitchen, and the smell of vegetables got a grin on his face. He hated vegetables, but the young woman who cooked them while humming a popular song she probably just heard from the radio… Well, that was an entirely different story. He sat with a grunt and placed his coat on the empty chair beside him. “Dad!” a little shouted. She crept her way on top of her father’s lap and smiled widely at the tired face. “Can we play cards tonight?” “Sorry, babe, maybe tomorrow,” he said. “Abby, don’t bother your father, he must be exhausted!” the woman said. She kneeled behind the refrigerator, and the little girl pouted in return. “You heard mom, sit down,” An older girl intervened. She took Billy’s coat, hanged it, and sat on the table. The meal felt different that night for Billy. He sweated under the low roof and tight walls, and his daughters’ chitchat got him dizzy at times. Heavy eyelashes led him right to the bed after finishing his dinner. “Finally!” He chanted when his back hit the mattress, about to find comfort and sleep. Yet a knock on his door got him to face up—it was the older girl. She wore a rugged dress that did not cover her knees and a ponytail that kept her curly hair obedient. “Dad, can I ask you something?” she said. Her hand scratched her arm. For Billy, that was a sign to sit up. He did and called the girl. She dragged herself and sat beside him. Without facing Billy’s eyes; she spoke. “I know you had a lot of work lately, but I… I thought maybe we could...” she stammered and drifted off. Billy sighed. “Tell me, Leigh, I won’t get mad.” The girl fidgeted with her hair, pressed lips, and wishful eyes turning towards him. “I and Abby have vacations next week, can we go camping? It could be anywhere, but she wanted to camp so I thought maybe we could…?” Again, her words died out. Probably because of Billy’s wrinkled gesture, or dried skin. The man tilted his head, he thought back to the load of work he would face if he were to take the week off. Then again, it’s been almost six months since he did not spend time with his daughters. A balance popped in his mind and the girl’s hopeful wishes began to dissipate. “I don’t know Leigh, maybe next—” The girl stood up suddenly, cutting Billy’s words with her clenched fists. “I knew it, I knew you were going to say that!” she snapped. “Leigh…” “You are always working, always busy, always worried about something! How do you live with yourself? Abby waits for you at the door when you are late! Mom cook for you and clean everything you mess up, and when we ask you to help you get mad or tell us to get mom! Even if you are here...it’s like you don’t exist!” Billy froze. Echoes of a voice not well known but with a strong soul filtered through his mind and stroke down his heart. A friend that shows us the value of what we think obsolete and eternal. It makes memories a treasure, cause they can’t happen again. By dying tonight, I’m alive. “Cooper, you crazy poet,” Billy whispered to himself, “your suicide was a tribute to your friend’s life.” Leigh stepped back, her furrowed face replaced by widened eyes at the sight of her father’s rough laugh. A gentle tear fall from the cheeks, bringing the pale skin a bit of color. He faced up, meeting the pair of brownish orbs of his family in the girl’s puzzled expression. “Is your sister awake?” he asked. “...I think so….” “Good, take the cards out,” Billy said. He stood up, passing the girl by and brushing her hair on the way. “and don’t think you’ll be going on a trip without paying the fee first. Tonight it’s poker night.”
Author : Yu Gen ( Ecuador )
( Instagram Handle : @yugen2001 )
Lable : Inflame Story

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