Everything was going bad, so I went out walking, hoping to shake loose the dark spirits that had me weighed down. I wound into the valley to the winding creek at the bottom to get me some solitude, trying to hide from the demons that had settled over me, thinking maybe I should just give up and give away my possessions, move into some random stranger’s closet, maybe periodically hopping from closet to closet, new adventure to new adventure, lighten the load to have less to weigh me down, to lessen the expectations for life. It seemed it really didn’t matter what I did. It felt like I was doomed; an ominous dread had settled inside.

At the creek, there was a kid sitting on a stone retaining wall that held a tree covered hill back from the winding water. The kid was trying to toss small rocks into the rushing current.

I stepped onto the low stone wall. The kid looked up at me when I stopped to stand beside him. I watched the water glisten and curl and twist and churn in the sun. The kid and I were in the shade, under the line of tall trees at the edge of the creek.

The kid picked up a rock from the ground at his side and tossed it out above the water.

I expected the rock to arc and curl into the water, but in mid-flight, it turned into a blackbird and flew away, up into the tall trees on the other bank across from us.

“Wow, that’s impressive,” I complimented. “How’d you do that?”

The kid scratched at the dirt at his side, secured another small stone, looked at it, then flung it side-arm above the water again, just like the first one. This stone arced above the water and also turned into a blackbird and flew away, up into the sky, disappearing into the sun.

“I don’t know,” the kid shrugged. “It’s just something I can do,” he sighed, unimpressed, as if he really wanted to see the water rush around the momentary ker-plunk of the rock penetrating it, as if nothing could penetrate anything anymore, as if everything he tried also turned into something else, something unwanted, unneeded, as if everything were unexpectedly changing all around us.

“You’re lucky,” I sighed. “I can’t do anything.”

The kid shrugged again, unconvinced. “I guess,” he whispered to himself, selecting another stone at his side and flinging it out above the water and watching it turn into another blackbird in midair, which then flew up and over our heads, into the tall trees behind us.

We watched this, our heads following the bird as it disappeared into the shadows of the dense web of leaves and branches above.

The kid sighed.

I felt I should leave him be, like I was interrupting some deep, personal thinking, so I slid away. “Bye,” I whispered. “Hope you feel better about things.”

The kid scratched at the ground beside himself again, searching, as if it was all he could do. “We’ll see,” he shrugged quietly.

Nothing ever worked in my favor. There was nobody to share nice fall days with. No girls ever wanted to talk with me. I got crushes on all the wrong girls, and didn’t know how to not have crushes on them. I didn’t ever make any difference. There was no reason for my existence. My misfortune rendered everything stupid (stupid face, stupid belongings, stupid luck, stupid brain, stupid decisions, stupid life). A girl I like is ticked at me. Seems I can never break free of the junior high cafeteria. I think I may be trapped in purgatory and can’t figure out a way to work off some odd cosmic debt I’ve somehow incurred. All I could do was write puny little short stories, and the world seemed to have enough of those. I didn’t even have any feelings left anymore. This is what it feels like to have nothing. At least that kid could do something, which was more than I could say of myself.