THE UNWANTED BURDEN by Saima

By Saima, Year 12

Written as part of Factory Feedback

Abes had hated dirty Chicago with its ugliest, uninteresting and lifeless streets since the day he arrived there. He was very clumsy and brutally honest which obviously meant that he was resented by his neighbours in Chicago.  But he always told them “ it’s okay, mum promised we will leave soon” 

Deep down he knew and felt the resentment towards him, but remained very optimistic. Chicago wasn’t the place for him. It was a place that made him feel unstable but never understood why he left his home and settled in a place just so his mum could take him to some weird place, leaving behind his siblings and his favourite person, Ava. 

His best friend. His soulmate. His human diary. Ava was the one person who understood and listened to Abes. 

Not a single day passed by when he did not miss Ava. He wrote to her everyday, hoping he would get a reply. 

As he waits for his mum to return home , he starts writing another letter.

‘My dear Ava, 

It has been 151 days, 8 hours and 43 minutes since I have seen you. Mum tells me everyday that we will go back but…..we are still here. She still takes me to that weird looking place where I told you all these people come who give me lollies. Mum tells me if I stay with them then we can go back but I come back with her because…….. I don’t know, that place makes me feel weird and makes my stomach feel funny. Mum went last week and said she will come back next week.a nd told me not to go anywhere but she hasn’t left me any food. She is still not back, I really hope she is not lost. Actually I’ll take you with me to get food from these lifeless streets of Chicago’ 

Abes gets ready wearing his raincoat and placing his pen and diary in his mini spiderman bag. He heads outside remembering to grab his dull black umbrella and continues to walk. Not knowing where to go he pulls out his diary and starts writing again to Ava.

‘……now I don’t really remember where we got food from but I will continue walking. Oh oh it’s getting all wet’

He hurries in putting everything back into his bag and opens the umbrella. He continues walking for hours without realising until he stops in a place where everything becomes silent. Now he stands in a place where no humans can be seen and gets darker and darker as he stands there. He thinks nothing of it and decides to continue suddenly he can hear footsteps.

Unable to see anything in that darkness he follows the sound of footsteps. He feels as if someone is calling him. He reaches the doorstep as anxiety takes over his soul. He counts down in his head ‘3,2……1’ as he pushes open the door only to be faced with another door. He repeats the same step 7 times as he faces 7 doors. He reaches the 8th door thinking it will lead to another door and pushes the door open with confidence only to see nothing but a book in the centre of the room on a rusted table. He reaches for the book that is covered in dust but puts it down murmuring to himself ‘mum said not to touch things that didn’t belong to us’ 

He stands there silently staring directly at the book. He feels an urge to just open it. He reaches for the book and decides to open the book. Wiping the dust off the cover he opens it as his heartbeat races against his hands. ‘Oh wow nothing is in even in here’

He starts flicking through the pages and his eye caught a piece of paper folded in the middle of the book. 

‘It’s a map’ talking to himself.

He applies his  geographical knowledge to read the map and starts moving backwards from where he can from. He follows the map to the point it was marked. Now he must stop again, he has reached his destination and is faced with a door. Without thinking he pushes open the door to his mum sitting with Ava and the man she told him to stay with. 

‘’Oh my gosh he is awake, “she says as she comes too close to him, staring directly at him. . 

He remains silent not knowing what his mum is saying. He steps closer towards Ava, and starts crying ‘where were you, I have missed you so much’.

She says nothing and just sits back down. Now he can hear the conversation between his mum and the man ‘listen doctor, I never wanted this child, especially this unwanted burden who lives less with us but more in Chicago and I don’t where else. He lives in his imaginations with some weird person like himself who he calls Ava, not with us. Just put him back to sleep’

For the first time Abes can feel the words of his own mother slashing through his heart as the words ‘unwanted burden’ hits him.

He looks at his mum and says ‘I’m sorry mum you will not be bothered by me’ as he runs towards the door. 

No one knows where he went and he cannot be found. Would he be alive and cope with living alone?

Factory Feedback was created with, and generously supported by, the Dusseldorp Forum.

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