Daniel looked down at his wet and muddy trainers. They were just days old; cheap one’s he had treated himself from his meagre earnings. He had worn them to school, a final defiance for everything it seemed to stand for.
He sighed. He could defy no longer. He didn’t give a shit.
His school uniform was in tatters. His tie long gone, ripped from his neck in desperation for air. As his blood stained shirt clung to his sweating torso, he had half run and stumbled up the steep incline, over the barbed wire fence to where he now stood.
The climb to the old railway track had taken him half the time it usually takes. His anger and emotions were running wild, spurring him to run for all his worth, even through the woods and over the crags and brambles.
Exhausted, he had now reached the top, an old viaduct running from where he stood, looking across the steep and green Welsh valley below. He knew this spot well. He had come here many times, to ponder, to think and to wish, that his life had been different.
When his mum died, he came here and just sat for hours, day in and day out, lost in his thoughts and the anguish is his stomach. His mum understood him, even though they shared few words to what really bugged him. He knew she knew and as mums go, she was awesome in his eyes.
His mum knew he was hurting, a dark untouchable pain that never left his conscious mind. She had tried to get him to talk, but Daniel felt it was unmanly, intimidated even then, at the age of twelve, by his peers, his dad, and bullied for seeming quiet and detached from gang culture.
At school it was rife. The teachers turning a blind eye to the torture he faced daily, either before he got to school, or after on the way home. Even at school, the looks, the snide comments and the jostling in the corridors ate away at the esteem of this proud but lonely boy.
It had been nearly three years since his mum passed away. The fragile bond he once had with his dad had waned into nothing. His dad had quickly got over it all, within months taken a fancy to a local supermarket girl who then moved in. While his father clothed and fed him, it was more by conscience than parental love.
His dad had no time for Daniel above his ego as master of the house. Six months ago he beat Daniel with his belt, for nothing more than refusing to eat his dinner. Such beatings became regular, even though Daniel stayed out of his dad’s way for as long as he dared.
Daniel had one friend, an Indian guy whose parents ran the local chippy. They’d knock about together, walking and talking, sometimes swimming or kicking an old football about. Never did Daniel hint at his own personal turmoil and the Indian boy never asked. He too got bullied, but he was more used to white discrimination and the hate towards immigrants, even though he was born here.
Two days ago, Daniel finally shared a secret with his Indian friend. He felt he had to tell someone before it exploded in his mind and he did something stupid and wrong. He trusted his friend, asked for nothing, only to be understood, accepted, just like the Indian guy wanted in this so called enlightened land.
Maybe it was culture, traditions, misguided beliefs or just juvenile ignorance that made judgement on Daniel. Genuine and innocent friendship mattered for nothing as the Indian boy despised him, spat into his face and said he never wanted anymore to do with him.
The next day, his secret was out. The whole school obsessed and reacted to Daniel being gay. He bore it like the young man he was, yet begged nature or God to swallow him up as most of his fellow pupils, even some teachers, vilified him for the filth they imagined was part of his secret.
He had never asked or chosen to be the way he was. As yet, he had never followed the path his instincts steered him.
Word had spread quickly within the Welsh community. His dad was waiting for him after school and before he got through the front door it started. Human evil took over as Daniel was whipped, beaten and thrown from room to room.
It had been like a nasty dream, a nightmare from watching violence on TV, ending only when Daniel retaliated in self-defence. A kick in his dad’s groin gave him enough time to escape and run, his bruised and bloody body fired on by burning adrenaline rather than the energy of youth.
Now, isolated from any help that might still be within reach, he needed his mother’s love more than the air he breathed. Tears filled his swollen eyes, the lump in his throat making him gag as he remembered her soft perfume and her calming ways.
Blood was now congealing in his hair from the poker whipped across his head. His bruised ribs tore into his breathing, and his tongue reached to comfort the weeping gap from two lost teeth. His top lip was split. Tears ran down his cheeks and stung the cut.
As he wiped his sleeve across his bloodied mouth, emotion overtook this abandoned boy, this lost soul of broken youth. Daniel sobbed his heart out like he had never sobbed before.
A crow came and sat close to him, oblivious to the tragedy of this unfolding scene. Daniel asked the crow why life is so unfair, a final beg for a right to be as nature intended.
It was a question asked into infinity, one never to be answered, by crow or by man.
As the crow flew off, the life of this boy and the magic and colour he might have brought to this world evaporated into the damp Welsh countryside.
Daniel jumped, releasing him from this life and the guilt disowned by those who pushed him.
Guilt yet to catch up with us all!