For a full list of chapters for Marcus T Anthony's novel, Light, click here.
I have a bad habit of rushing things at the last minute, and true to form I ran down to the bus stop outside the Hall, and arrived just in time to see the 101 downtown bus speeding off. I cursed a couple of times, and stared at my watch as if it was going make the thirty minute wait for the next bus go faster.
“Jesus! Can’t the busses ever arrive on time these days!” I muttered. By my reckoning it was almost two minutes early. I looked behind me and suddenly noticed somebody was sitting on the bus stop seat. I probably turned red even as he spoke.
“Having a bad day, Greg?”
It was Michael, the guy from the meditation group. This was bad.
“Yeah.” I sat down feeling a bit shitty, then realised there was no point being snotty about things. “My cat was sick. Got held up.” Michael smiled, which made me lighten up a bit. “So what’s up? Did you go to the mediation group yesterday?”
He looked at me with a kind of gentle but penetrating gaze. The outdoor light made his pale blue eyes even more pale, and with his red hair and slightly freckled white skin he looked like he would not be out of place in a Scottish kilt, playing the bagpipes.
“No, there was no energy on it.” He spoke matter of factly, looking into my eyes a little too intently, as if I was supposed to work out exactly what he was saying.
Michael paused for a moment, looking away at the trees on the other side of the road, then back again.
“Yeah, all things have an energy. It either draws you in or it doesn’t. I wasn’t drawn to yesterday’s session. So I didn’t go.”
“Hmm. So how did you work out that the energy wasn’t there?”
“That’s how it felt.”
I nodded, suddenly understanding where he was coming from. “I think I know what you mean. Sometimes you just know that you should do something, not do it at all.”
“You know more than most.”
“Well, not really.” I then realised that this was a good time to talk about some of the things I’d been experiencing. I looked over my shoulder, checking to see that no one else was around, which I realise must have looked kind of suspicious. Then I said it. “To be honest a lot of this kind of thing scares me. I’ve been experiencing a lot of psychic stuff lately. I don’t really know what’s going on.”
Michael leaned closer, a half-smile upon his lips. “You should give Julie a ring.”
“I gave you her card at the meditation class, remember? She can help you. She helped me.” Then, as an afterthought he added. “But only if there is energy is right, of course.” The smile turned into a small laugh, and I could see that there was a certain light-heartedness about him that was a rare quality. Australian men were supposed to be tough as nails. It was not often that I got to meet a male who had a quiet softness about him. I was intrigued.
He just smiled again, looking away with a muffled laugh, as if there was some very funny secret he was trying not to let on.
“What makes you say that?”
I returned the smile. “The energy. I can feel it.” I was surprised at my own certitude. It wasn’t as if this was known territory for me.
“Maybe you are ready then.”
“Ready? For what?”
The 105 bus to Hamilton was pulling in and Michael stood up abruptly and rustled a few coins from his jeans pocket. I thought he wasn’t going to answer me, as he maneuvered towards the bus doors. But at the last minute, with one foot on the first step of the bus, he turned round.
“When you are ready, you will know what I mean. Give Julie a call. There’s energy on it.”
He grinned broadly then stepped into the vehicle. Moments later it motored away and I was left to ponder. I stared over at the trees across Callaghan Drive and then it happened. A new, luminescent world descended upon the mundane mid-week afternoon. It was as if an excitement had opened up inside my chest and was reaching out, illuminating all. The trees were no longer mere trees, but seemed to be intimately entwined with me; the grasses about my feet seemed soft and almost maternal, nurturing me through the soles of my shoes. The colours upon the walls of the houses brightened, transforming from their sun-washed pale hues to bright shades of technicolour. My mind became silent. There was wonder and awe all about me.
And nothing was happening.
Moments passed in timelessness, and then the 101 pulled up. I found myself taking the ride downtown in a state of almost joyous ecstasy. As each passenger got on and passed me, I felt something stir inside me. It was love. Simple love for them. I had to stop myself from smiling at them, because I was getting a few weird looks.
The bus meandered through old Hunter Street, the long, almost derelict city centre of Newcastle, with its low rise shops on one side and the railway line on the other. After a relatively small earthquake in 1989, which had killed twelve people and damaged numerous buildings, the city centre had almost fallen into disuse. As time passed, shoppers became content to do their shopping at larger suburban malls.
A thought suddenly became lodged in my head. Amanda. I sent her a message.
There in 10.
Even as I did so, I felt a strong shift within me. It was fear. I’d spent the entire previous half an hour fully engaged in my new-found wonder at the world. Now thoughts began to flood back into my mind, and with them, my old world returned.
Another date? No. Don’t think of it like that. It’s not a date. Just relax. But what if she doesn’t like me this time. Should I hold her hand? What if she wears a bikini and catches me looking at her. Maybe she’ll think I’m a pervert or something.
I pressed the button and got off at the top of Hunter Street, which was not far from the beach. I walked along the cement footpaths, past the red brick federation style houses till I go to the ocean road, took a left and walked along. I could smell the slightly salty but fresh sea breeze. It was definitely chilly. The strong touch of mother nature helped ground me again, but the feeling of nervousness was still there. Much to my surprise I found myself shivering slightly, so I put my hands in my pockets and my chin down against my chest and walked along coastal road like some forlorn James Dean figure washed up on the Antipodes. If only I was half as cool.
I soon found myself approaching Nobby’s beach, Newcastle’s most well known swimming spot. As I rounded the bend of the road and the beach came into full view, I noted that it was largely empty, and there were hardly any cars in the huge car park. The water was choppy, the sky cloudy and grey. This wasn’t such a great day for the beach after all.
A loud horn sounded behind me, startling me. I turned round to find a large blue Mercedes slowly rolling towards me, and the driver staring directly at me. It was Amanda.