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Wasted Time

BY LEANNE BURKE

It was a cold night at the end of autumn. A few brown leaves still clung to the bare trees in the last hope of the season just past. The sky was a deep shade of pink as the sun set in the sky. There was a chill in the air and the clouds seemed to threaten rain.

A man dressed in an old and worn coat sat on the steps of a lonely and disused building. This man had been through a lot in his life and his creased and weather beaten face seemed to tell his life story. The towering building seemed to be falling to pieces - just like himself. Frank had been homeless for a long time now, he was not sure how many years but he had seen many Christmases come and go. He had seen many people pass him in the streets - just stepping over him like he didnít even exist. Sometimes Frank even felt like he was nothing - just another part of the faded scenery in this lonely sprawling city.

Frank was beginning to feel himself increasingly longing to be nothing. To be gone - like he was never there. And then he could forget all the pain and sorrow, the dark and empty nights, and the terrible memories of his past. It would all be gone and so would he. Frank had been contemplating suicide for a long time now; he had come a point where he could go on no longer. Life was not worth living. Frank had lived for many years with the hope and faith that eventually a miracle would be granted to him and everything would be okay. But this was not so. How many years had he sat here, waiting? There were no miracles. He had no hope left, and he could stand it no longer.

In a deep despair Frank slowly pulled himself up, hoping his creaking, aching legs would carry him as far as the bridge. And then it would all be over.

Lisa sat up abruptly in her bed. The room around her was black dark. Lisa clung to the vague memories of the dream that had awoken her. Frank. Again. She had been dreaming about Frank for the 3rd time this past week. She had to do something about this, she had to find him. Although they had not spoken in a long long time she did not like to think of this, but memories of past arguments were ever-present in the back of her mind. Whatever had happened before, she would forgive him and they could start over. At the end of the day - he was still her brother. Lisa had tried everything to find him - she had made so many phone calls to so many people and even called around to homes she had not seen in years - but not a single soul knew where he was. But she would find him and it would all be okay.

After this decision was made, Lisa drifted back to a slumber filled with dreams. She missed him so much. When Lisa awoke the next morning, she felt too tired to go to work. She would sleep maybe another few hours and then go look for him. In the city.

Frank was nearly there now. He could see the bridge in the distance. He was going to miss this city; it had been his only home for so many years. Filled with dark alleyways, shopping centers, car-parks and people. So many interesting characters - each with a different story to tell. No two people were the same, but Frank felt he knew everyone nevertheless. Most people avoided him in the street, stepped passed him pretending he was not real. Some people were afraid of him but most just could not bear to face their own guilt-reflected in Frankís dark eyes. Yes, Frank was going to miss all of this. But nothing could change his mind. He had spent so long thinking of this - now he could never go back.

Frank only had one member of his family left, Lisa, his sister. They had not spoken in such along time and Frank wondered if Lisa still hated him. Did she remember him? Would she know him if they ever saw each other again? It didnít matter now. He would never see her again.

The city. She had not been here in a long time. But not much had changed. The streets were still dusty and the sky was still barely visible above the tall buildings. Did Frank work in one of these? Did he still live here? Lisa hoped she would find out soon. If not, she would have to give up.

Dark clouds now filled the sky and it looked as if it were about to rain. The evening was turning to night and everything was in shadow. Frank had reached the bridge. He walked slowly over to the low wall at the edge, hoping no one was around. The place looked quite empty - no one ever came to this part of town anymore. This was it. He took a deep breath andÖ heard footsteps rapidly approaching. Frank turned to see a woman running towards him. It was Lisa. Was this the miracle he had asked for? No. It couldnít be. This was all a hallucination. Frank thought he had finally gone crazy. Lisa would never come back for him. He had to forget his past and jump.

For just a second frank began to have doubts about all of this, then he saw how near she was. And, in his last bid for happiness, fell from the side of the bridge to the deep, dark waters below.

Lisa had almost given up hope. She had wandered this lonely city all day and no one knew where he was. She had no idea where he could be. As Lisa approached the bridge she saw the outline of a silhouette standing just a few steps ahead. For some reason unknown to her, this figure seemed familiar to her. Lisa was filled with a vague hope - could this be him? Lisa began to hurry towards him, and as her pace quickened the rain began to slowly pour, like tears.

Lisa was almost upon him now; a feeling of anxiousness began to grow deep inside her until it was almost overwhelming. The dark silhouette turned towards her and again something about him reminded her of her brother - his posture? His height? Lisa didnít know but she was now certain it was him. And then she fell, down she went without time to regain her balance. A sharp pain shot through her right leg, but Lisa didnít let this stop her. She dragged herself painfully up again and was about to hobble along to the man ahead of her when she realized he was - gone.

Lisa felt all hope drain from her and she now felt the awful pain in her leg. Where did he go? He had been just a few steps away and she had lost him. How did he just disappear like that? A feeling of desperate loss and dismay came upon her and tears of sadness began to stream from her eyes. The rain began to get heavier and heavier. Lisa now felt overwhelmed by the pain and she felt as if she were drowning in her own tears. Trying to keep herself together, she shook them away and began to limp across the bridge.

The sky had darkened and now it was getting hard to see. Lisa reached the halfway point in the bridge and then she stopped. She peered over the edge and gazed into the deep dark waters below. The waters rippled and swirled beneath her and she thought she could see her brotherís face through the murky gloom. And then it was gone. She strained her eyes and stared into the water, but all that stared back was her own reflection. Had she really seen her brother? Impossible - she decided.

Lisa straightened up, crossed over the bridge and kept on walking.

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