Linus turned his coat collar up around his neck and lowered his eyes to keep out the biting sea breeze. He should have been at work, but he had called in sick. He didn’t feel he could possibly go to work at all for the rest of the week—maybe ever again. He needed some time ... time to weigh things up ... time to work things out ... time to think.
He looked up and, squinting into the teeth of the salty gale, saw a park bench set back to where the foreshore rose up to meet the road. It was partially sheltered behind low-growing saltbush. He leaned into the wind and made his way towards it. Sinking wearily onto the bench he sighed, hunched forward and twisted his hands together in a gesture of desperation. He looked quickly to the right and to the left, and when he was sure that no one was in sight, gave vent to a flood of tears that warmed his chilled and pale cheeks.
As he sat there on the bench by the sea, his chaotic thoughts raced in several directions at once. First, he thought of the weekend just gone—the circumstances of which had led him to where he was right now, missing work and doubting his ability to return. Then his mind roamed back a few months, then years, then forward again. He tried to slow the frenetic pace of his thoughts and memories by taking several deep breaths, and found that this helped for a while.
He was almost twenty-two years old, but was at a place one usually arrives at much later in life. He was at that place where you sit to take stock of your life, wondering where it began to go wrong and looking for the things that could have been done, or choices that could have been made, to steer life in a different direction.
As he mulled things over, he realised there was nothing he could have done to escape any of it. He hadn’t chosen the family he was born into. He hadn’t been the one in control. Others had mapped out his life and destiny. He’d had no say in the matter. Maybe things couldn’t be undone, but perhaps if he put his mind to it, he could find a way out … a way of escape … a way of setting things right.
His memories settled upon his childhood, and he began to painfully relive it. It was a childhood that he swore his own children would never have to live. He was going to be a different kind of man from his father, and a different kind of man from what his grandfather had shown himself to be this weekend. As he sat there in the biting cold wind, he swore that the bitterness that had gripped them in its fatal clutches wasn’t going to have its way with him. The vicious circle stops with me, he thought.