The park was small, bordering a large freeway. The skatepark used to be an old tennis court before they cleared it and added several removable metal ramps. It was a dingy park, but what it lacked in ingenuity it made up for with its locals.
Bam was shy. With all of the new faces, he didnÕt know if he belonged. Not until he met Fire. Fire loved the arts, from painting to especially skateboarding. He would show Bam his sketches and the stencils he made. As intimidating as everyone else was, Fire made him feel right at home.
Bam began to realize how different the people around him were: people with baggy pants, ripped at the heel, hanging out with people with the newest Nike shoes; people with buzzed hair skating with people with locks of hair; metalheads playing basketball with upcoming rappers. The differences between everyone were endless, yet they all came together to skate.
ÒAlright, IÕm going to head home,Ó Bam said.
ÒLook both ways and donÕt hit a rock,Ó was what Fire would always say.
As the months went on, Bam became infatuated with the park. He began taking the bus to the park when his parents wouldnÕt drive him. He was introduced to new music and developed a greater understanding of it. Some of these changes werenÕt always positive. He started keeping his knife on him and would steal spray paint out of his dadÕs shed to go tagging at night.
It was a cold November night and everyone was at the park. "I haven't seen Fire in a while," Bam thought as he saw him sitting there with his head in his journal. He glanced at his phone and saw the time read 11:32 PM. In a rush, Bam grabbed his bag and skated to his aunt's place. "You didnÕt say bye to Fire," he thought but shrugged it off quickly.
When he got to his aunt's apartment he heard police and ambulance sirens blaring down the street he had just come from. He didnÕt suspect anything as people often called the cops in the area over small domestic disturbances. The next morning he woke up to see his friends post memories of Fire with candles, rosary beads and crosses. There was an altercation that ended in an unknown person shooting Fire three times in the abdomen. Bam was bewildered, unable to comprehend the news. Fire not being around was never something he had thought of. He never really considered how the death of someone close to him would affect him. Bam sat in his room, staring at a painting Fire had done specially for him. ÒI wasnÕt even there for him. I didnÕt even get to say goodbye,Ó he muttered to himself as tears rolled down his face. He flipped the light switch and laid in bed staring at the blank ceiling thinking about who else heÕd taken for granted. "ThatÕs not what Fire taught you," he thought as his eyes shuttered and his world went to black.
© Akhil Dharan
Bio: Akhil Dharan walks with an earnest face, dressed in black, as the sound of jewelry rattling echoes past him. He spends most of his time outside at thrift stores and vinyl shops. He is often hunched over the neck of his guitar, learning scales as his fingers blister.