The Bigger Picture – A Short Story

The written piece below is a first draft of a future chapter in a novel I’m writing. I aim to publish for fall of 2023, depending on how things go maybe sooner, probably later. I want to make sure this story is written how it should be, not how I want it to be. For more information on my novels in the works check out this post here. Please feel free to leave comments on what you think, share it with your people! Anything helps 🙂 Enjoy the read…


The stank of the sewer water flowing under the bridge stimulated my senses more than this coffee. My fingers held onto the plastic cup, a few droplets of condensation stuck to my skin as I passed it from my left, to my right hand. The cold sent a shiver up to my arm. “You never rated the muffin, how was it?” Polaris walked step by step beside me, playing catch up with my long strides. She was slow and clumsy, yet I love that about her, for the most part. We hadn’t talked much since I got off from my real job and she had been in classes. What can I say? Rough day.

I looked over at her with a smile, “Muffin’s not bad. Dry though.” I sniffled, feeling the bits of chocolate chip fall on my tongue as I swept the inside of my mouth clean of muffin crumbs. My tastebuds picked up a hint of cigarette as we walked through Victoria Park passing an older man with a smoke lit. Impulsively I reached for my smokes. “Other pocket. Here’s the lighter.” Polaris laughed at me with a smirk, handing me the lighter she slung her hand around my waist like a lasso pulling me closer to her. “Thank you m’love.” My eyes said the rest and I kissed the top of her head. What would I do without this girl? Tingles went up my spine as her fragile flower hand brushed my arm to grab the coffee with her other hand. She took a generous sip as we walked in sync, rounding the bend where the park ended and Main Street started.

A bird call pierced the sky above, looking up I noticed a red-wing blackbird circling the Main & Brawne intersection. I stepped off the sidewalk to light my smoke in the LCBO parking lot while we waited for Joey and Max to show up. Cars tires making the sharp right turn onto Main kissed the pavement with passion to keep the car on the road, the city bus behind it turned the bend faster than usual down the street. The red-wing blackbird pierced the sky again with its call, this time diving in front of Polaris and I, then up and over the fence behind the LCBO. Polaris shrieked in shock. “What the fuck was that?” That bird did not look right… didn’t fly right either. The air brakes hissed from the bus as it came to a stop not more than three metres away from where we were smoking in the lot. The automated voice overflowed onto the sidewalk calling out “Next stop. Main & Brawne Street” The suction of the bus doors closing made my heart drop for a moment, then the bus pulled off. The bus number on the back read: “1002.” The same bus Cam died on. This wasn’t right, that bus was terminated from service months ago. People coming out of the LCBO seemed to be walking in slow motion into the parking lot and into the streets. The sun disappeared behind a thicket of dark clouds. My sun-kissed skin turned grey under the cloud’s shade and the leaves made a white noise as they danced to a halt. The music of life paused for a moment. Nothing felt right.

Polaris sensed my intuition was bugging out and squeezed my hand tight. “Talk to me, M.” Before I could speak my phone rang. Children screamed simultaneously as they biked by, my thoughts and nerves running rampant. I wait for the screaming kids to pass before answering. “Yo, it’s M. talk.” From the other end, rough static, faint cries and a sniffle. “Yo M… I know you don’t wanna talk to me right now… but I got serious news…” The voice trailed off, bottles clanged in the background and girls laughed. My whole body tensed up.“Talk!” I demanded. “M, Max is dead…and I just did blow for the first time.” 


I couldn’t see my surroundings with the mass amount of tears pouring out from my eyes. Everything in front of me was blurry and the faster I tried to run the harder it became to see. Trees blurred together, creating a thick line of gradient greens. Cars flew by me simultaneously, blinding me with their headlights, stars of light taking over my vision when I looked at them. Dazed, my eyesight began to fade. I watched through the slits of my eyelids closing as my feet started missing the sidewalk and headed towards the road. In and out of sight, lost in blinding car lights, and the stars that they created, it was too late to see where I was going. I saw a glimpse of the curbs edge and felt a drastic drop in my step. My head swayed back and forth, the white dotted lines became one. Horns blared around me and now I saw the black river surrounding me. Walking down what looked like a flat white path that never ended, a runway with blinding lights came at me from all sides. I struggled to put one foot in front of the other, soon realizing I was laying on the road. Cars stopped around me. I jumped to the other side of the road letting one side of traffic flow, horns blared and tires screeched. The last thing I saw, before darkness, was the grill of that Cadillac blaring its horn and heading right towards me.


In the hospital again, my thoughts scrambled. Again. I can’t make sense of this fucked up situation. The smell of disinfectant, that distinct smell you can’t find anywhere else except the hospital. That same disinfectant smell went straight to my brain every time I came here, it was definitely stronger than usual today, someone must’ve died. Before I was even a metre away, the sliding doors opened and the coloured lines painted on the floors lead the way. Conveniently colour coordinated to lines on the walls with words reading ER in bright red, Waiting Room in blue, Nursery in pink, Psych in yellow. I stumbled towards the front desk, engaging my inner actor to get myself to the psych ward to avoid having to deal with the cops. After all, the Cadillac guy pressed charges and I can’t afford to waste that time, plus, my friend is dead and I don’t know why.

A nurse came running up to me with a wheelchair waving. “Hey there, my name’s Joseline.” She maneuvered the wheelchair behind my knees so I could sit down. “Can you tell me what happened to you dear? Your ankle seems to be bleeding, we can get that all fixed up. Okay, was it a bad game today? I think I saw you here last weekend, something about a basketball game at school?” Thoughts raced in my head. She remembers me from last time. Does she know what I’m really up to here? Why is she playing along? Joseline wheeled me down a long hallway following the Yellow line I remembered was listed as “Psych Ward.” Well, I guess I didn’t have to do much. Joseline talked the whole way to the psych unit which made me zone out getting lost in the maze of the hospital.

Nearing the doors of the psych unit, two uniformed police officers stepped in Joseline’s way. “Excuse me, ma’am may we have a word with Marillo please regarding a crime he committed last night. It’s urgent.” Joseline gave me a look and turned to face the officers again. “I’m sorry officers, he’s not in the right state of mind to be answering questions right now so you can come back after lunch time.” Without hesitation Joseline wheeled me past the officers, scanned her key card and the psych ward welcomed us with hysterical laughter, screaming and giggles. I turned and smirked at the officers as the doors locked shut between us. 

Polaris’ POV

I never wanted it to come to this, though a part of me is happy this happened. I’m free from Marillos drama and lies. They need to get the help they need and as much as I want to be that person, I’m not enough. They get mad at me for the smallest things, even my mother wouldn’t stress over; she’s the most religious, strict mom you could ever meet. I packed up the rest of my things into my bag, notebook, pen, and drawing book. I zipped my bag and was about to open my bedroom door to leave when I heard my father come out of his room. We haven’t got along since I met Marillo and although a part of me is happy they’re gone for a while (who knows how long this time), most of me is sad.

My father can’t understand the simple feeling of love, it mentally and physically affects you like a drug. No drug could ever compare to how Marillo makes me feel, I’ve told him this yet he still treats me like garbage sometimes. I get what he’s going through though. I sympathise and get lost in his mixed ocean blue eyes with flakes of green I could watch flicker forever. The way his faded blonde hair blends perfectly into the curls that stop right above his shoulders. I’ve been in awe since I laid eyes on him the first day of grade nine, he looked different back then, but still stunning to me. Marillo was a leader then, and a leader now. “IMANA!” My father screamed my birth name through the door. “YOU’RE LATE!” His voice made my whole body stiff. Moments like these, I craved Marillos hugs. I knew when I got to school though they wouldn’t be there to make me feel better. I had to do this on my own. 

The brakes of the school bus screeched to a stop and the doors swung open. “Thank you!” I smiled at the bus driver. On the streets, I switched my resting bitch face on. Smiles didn’t get you very far in high school or on the street, Marillo taught me that. They also taught me how to read a situation. Marillo was taken last night. His one text I got said he’d be out in 72 hours if this happened, for fuck sakes that’s 3 days minimum. I checked my watch, 8:51 AM. An hour late. Marillo’s text said he was taken at 3:00 AM on Sunday morning. It’s been 29 hours. No one believes Marillo except me. “OY!” Joey shouted from the school smoke pit. “Where the fuck is M?!” I ran over to Joey at the pit. “Explain to me why M hasn’t been answering shit and you haven’t said anything in over 24 hours which is against the motherfucking rule!” He shouted. “Keep your damn voice down.”

I looked around to make sure no one was eavesdropping. “Listen. Marillo and I hung out all weekend. I stayed over. Shit went down on Saturday night that YOU know about. When you dipped, we argued about me staying over another night. He didn’t want me to stay. I left at 2:30 Sunday morning. I was leaving and saw feds going back to Marillos place and I tried to warn him, but the feds got there before me. He texted me he’d be out in forty-eight hours max. It’s been 30 hours since that text. I have to start running this.”

Joey looked me dead in the eyes. “M is complex but simple. Please don’t take this personally… I am the right hand, you’re his girl. What happened last time you tried to take this shit into your own hands? There’s a reason you need to play your position, we’re a team. I’m going to handle this, now get to class and learn that medical shit!” Joey ran off before the principal could say anything. I didn’t even see her coming, but once we made eye contact I was done for. 

Marillo’s Monologue

Oh I know this feeling… oh yes I know this feeling very well in fact like this just yesterday who knows if it will ever end oh but I am kidding myself if I really fucking believe that I’m immortal. Marillo laughed aloud to himself in his hospital room.

I’m going to die one day and all of this will come to an end they have always said that every story has an ending and I’ve always thought life in terms of stories the people that I meet are characters and there is no telling what page they are on in life so who is to say we want to live? This agonizing feeling that no one is aware that suicide really is an option it’s almost as if we pretend it’s such a terrible terrible thing but a choice was made how could the living be suffering so much well somehow we feel this obligation to defend the dead? I mean in certain circumstances I could understand but definitely not suicide. Oh my… if I died today forget all that my mind can’t comprehend I’m never sober only growing older I’m never going to figure this out [no you listen up sissy you’re going to figure this out you ain’t no fucking quitter] everything is temporary nothing is permanent and I cherish the moments when I had the chance in between scaling trimming bagging and oh boy the profit counting and watching the stash because I don’t trust no fucking buddy ok ok!

The nurse walked by the window with a clipboard, the doc was with her. “Marillo, you’ve done well here. I don’t see any reason to keep you here longer, if you sign this you’ll be free to go.” The doc handed me the form and I signed it, not wasting any time.

As if this is what needed to happen right now I stay the fuck out my feelings for a reason I’m not that sensitive one I will burn his house to the ground if I see him again. He’s not going to be able to hide in his room with mommy forever because the day he comes back from daddys house I’ll get word through the grapevine as planned I can already count on him camping inside when I show up peeking out the window its fucking hilarious plotting against who I thought was my brother, someone I looked out for and looked up to me, I thought… ive seen him do this before with other opps, opps I’ve scare to death and worse because he would never fight shame on me I should have seen it then [you did asshat you just think you can fix everyone and you cant] all this little fuck wants to do is play games and steal shit well since he abandoned all of his belongings for two weeks actually his whole fucking house will be mine once I get out of here Where is he now? I’m home alone brothaaa!!!

Marillo laughed hysterically aloud as he gathered his few clothes together, walked down the hall to the nurses desk to sign out and get the rest of his things. The nurse, looking over-worked and out of it, reached behind her going through big clear plastic baggies of other people’s belongings. “Last name again?” She asked me. “Richter.” I replied. Brushing her finger over the baggies she scanned the name tag on them until she found mine. “Here ya go sweetheart! You take care now, I don’t like seeing you in here when I know you can do so much good out there!” The nurse at the desk smiled at me, gazing down at her name tag that read “Lilian” I know she meant well. However, Lilian will forever be known as the Nice Nurse and all the other ones there can kiss my pretty ass. I smiled back to be courteous, and skipped my way down the hall to the door where the security guard was waiting to scan me out of the building. “Peace and love motherfuckers!” I yelled down the hall into the psych ward, my voice echoed the walls as the door locked automatically behind me on my way out. There’s only one place I need to go right now before it’s too late, and that’s back to Joey’s base. 

Fuck you fuck you fuck you! Fuck you Joey we were fucking brothers I slept on your couch yeah but I gave you a job I made you popular just like you wanted I got you friends and helped you get your girl back after she cheated on you oh how you begged me to put myself in that position yea we fought about that because she’s no good for you who the fuck wants make a mother at 14? Let alone himself a father at 14? I mean he looks up to his dad so much I know that little rat couldn’t be a decent father if his life depended on it they’ll figure their own shit out and I’ll try to figure out mine… I’ve worked for what I have and used my resources to the full extent worked the graveyard shift while he’s done nothing so he is nothing and should be nothing no more no kidding… oh I know he is screaming right now wherever he is cause he forgot something… anything I know bout him he always forgets his bag. I bet he’s crying to his daddy right now that I stole his zip oh poor boy cried wolf too many times, don’t you know no one will believe the wolf that cries ha! ha! Your daddy gonna tell you he taught you better when you know he didn’t oh my this is a bittersweet moment but I suppose that’s how he likes it well I told him people get hurt… I told him you will bleed one day and it won’t be so funny when you see your own blood spill oh I remember how he laughed after I got beat bad why would he care he’s never fought or ever stood up there’s consequences when you get caught and you’ve been caught ha! I’ve never been caught and for a reason… I gotta move this now.


 I didn’t hesitate when I got near Joey’s base. Vetting the area from the sidewalk I noticed the top floor of the house had no lights on, lights in the kitchen were though and outside since the sun was starting to set now. Sure, I may have been kicked out just a few days ago, except Joey and Ms. Muppet, his mother forgot I’m the one that’s been paying half their bills, legally you guys gotta give big M some time to move out now, 2 weeks to be exact I thought to myself.

I took Joey’s house key out of my pocket and entered the house through the front door. I was careful not to make too much noise in case someone was sleeping around, so it wouldn’t surprise me. I closed the door behind me and looked at the shoe mat first. All the daily wear shoes are gone, no one’s home. I started up the stairs walking as natural as I could and went straight for Joey’s room.

This kid thought he knew it all, yet he left his house key outside for anyone to take and more importantly could never flip what he stole in time. I knew this kid like he was my younger brother and over the years he’s shown me that all he’s street dust. Under his bed I started grabbing one zip, two zip, three zip and four more zips Joey had stashed underneath his bed. Four of my zips. Fourteen hundred dollars of profit this kid had a full 72 hours to make yet it still sat here under his bed and he was likely out on the streets right now getting high thinking he a real g out there. It’s on sight, I thought to myself and the thought of curb stomping this motherfucker never left my mind as I ransacked his room recklessly.

I kept finding things of mine that had gone missing over the past year. A few old burner phones, a rolling tray, some papers, my custom lighter set that my girl bought me. Things I questioned him about and he helped me look for. GODDAMN this bitch wanna be me so bad he gotta hoard my shit. I took a picture on my iphone of everything in the spots I found it before throwing it all in a backpack he had laying around. One backpack can’t hurt, can it? I couldn’t help but laugh aloud and in doing so I heard a faint knock come from the adjacent room. His mom’s room. 

I scanned Joey’s room, felt satisfied with my bag and inched my way down the hall to his mom’s bedroom door. With force my shoulder broke the hinges of the door and it flew to the ground. It’s empty. Right below the dresser was a baseball, my guess it rolled off the dresser and hit the floor when I was banging around in Joey’s room on the other side of the wall. On top of the dresser was his mom’s laptop and a jar filled with coins. That couldn’t hurt either. I threw the backpack down to organize what I got. His mom’s gym bag hung at the end of her bed. I grabbed that, split the weight throughout both bags tossing the zips in the duffle and the rest in the backpack. Perfect. I checked my phone for the time, 5:58pm. His mom’s coming back any minute now, ain’t no time to chill. Slinging the bags over my shoulder I ran down the stairs, and walked out the same way I came. No cameras. No people. No witnesses. 


It wasn’t the first night Marillo had spent on the street. Victoria Park and the memories of him coming here to sleep haunt him as the sun goes down. Things used to be so different, Marillo sat on the steps on the gazebo he called third base and pictured his younger self walking from the trails beside the river behind Mama’s. The trails led through from the streets, from the parking lot, behind the outdoor pool and up the stairs. Around the pond and two rivers, it was endless. People got lost, not Marillo though.

It was an old routine for Marillo to grab the classic king size cones from West End Convenience and keep on the path. If he took a right from West End down James street the dead end would start the west trail into the more public area of Pavilion park with the outdoor pool and kid playground. Things were good at P park. But. A quick left from West End, across Main street and down Brown the dead end came to a diagonal path cutting V Park into 2 triangles. The gazebo in the middle on one side and across from it on the left was the fountain. He sat on the concrete steps on the gazebo and stared across the park to King street on the other side at the Mayor’s house.

In between Marillo and the house was the playground, daydreaming about sliding down the old steel slide he played on as a child.  Now a whole new playground stood there, safer maybe, but not the same fun. Marillo would spend hours in the grass area running around collecting as many chestnuts as he could with his friends. Trying to see how many would fit in the pouches they made with the bottom of their shirts. Max always got the most when we were kids.

Sitting on the gazebo steps together counting them out, now Marillo sat on those steps alone. The infamous chestnut tree that covered the grass with nuts in warmer months looked dead now, drained of life. It will never be the same as it once was. The wish fountain in the middle of the park was surrounded by a circle of thick thorned rose bushes and a two foot steel gate with spiked tips to deter any thieves from stealing the change dropped into the fountain. At night the park changed. The town was too cheap to have security or decent cameras. Hoodlums and hooligans of the streets came to life and what was a nice, calm, neighborhood park in the daytime became a wasteland for outsiders of all ages at night.

Marillo sat there staring at the fountain, lost in a trance he couldn’t get out of. Checking his watch, it was almost time for the fountain to turn off. When it did at midnight to drain, he could see himself jumping the cage before anyone else had the chance. The people started to wander into V park to collect the change before the feds showed up at their usual time, too late. Marillo was the youngest living here at Victoria Park, only thirteen years of age, but he was smarter and braver than he looked. The oldest he ever met was an 86 year old army veteran.

Their first encounter was when Marillo saw him kneeling at the war memorial, tears coming down his face. Careful not to scare the old man, thirteen year old Marillo offered all the support he could, forgetting about his own childish worries for only a moment, because that’s what this park did to the people that lived here. They took care of each other. Victoria Park held secrets only Marillo and few others knew about the small town of Tremaine. He remembered the old war vet pointing at the lines on the cement, one was labelled “The French River” and there were symbols of trees painted into the ground. That was the day Marillo learned his own town had fucked up the war memorial facts. They painted lies of Canadian history on concrete, engraved it in stone and never agreed to change it because it would cost too much. Godforbid this war veteran live in peace.

As the fastest growing city in Canada at the time, there were so many people who didn’t know the truth about Tremaine. Dangers not talked about and corruption beyond comprehension. A huge gust of wind woke Marillo up from his flashback on the bench, eyes still wide staring at the mayor’s house across the street. Windier now that the sun is gone and the darkness of night has settled in. Tiredness washed over him as his body registered the concrete steps as ‘home’ again and he started to unpack his blanket in the gazebo. Every tomorrow is a fresh start.

END

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Published by emriyus

I am human, just like you. I have been around for 20 years and although it may not be a lot of time to some, it feels like I've been alive forever. To cope with all the things my life has given me; good and bad, I've always been a writer. Maybe I didn't know or necessarily want to be a writer, but I was always on the creative side, not really understanding how different I was from others; I'm really not that different from you. To this day I'm still eager to learn more about myself, to improve and grow amorphously. I want to use this fuel of constant self-discovery as the direct source of 'energy' that can create whatever I want it to, making writing for me a healthier coping mechanism than most I've tried in my lifetime. That being said, I believe that starting my blog, The Existentialist, (all thanks to Wordpress and Bluehost teams) I finally have the opportunity and creative outlet to unleash my passion for art; writing. The beginning is never easy, and it won't get much easier I am aware. I can only believe in myself and keep my expectations to a minimum; I like to believe I hold no expectations, but they seem unavoidable. To whoever reads this, I'm not one to care about views or reads, I won't encourage/pressure you to read my work because for me, the thrill really comes from just making a finished piece of work I'm happy with, regardless if it is read by others or not; judgement from others is what I've feared all my life. I can only encourage you to have an open mind as a reader and believe in me as much as I believe in myself to accumulate the courage to start showing my creative writing(art) to the world. Everybody creates things in their lifetime, I am just another one of those beings; whether you like it or not, nouns (persons, places and 'things') exist to teach us something about ourselves. There is always more to learn...

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