Friday, November 6, 2015

Marc and Angie: A Life After War Backstory

Raised in the same loveless family, Marc and Angie exist on stolen moments that sometimes come years apart. Forbidden by more than just their ages, they are forced to pretend a cool indifference during the day while longing desperately for the future to set them free.

Marc: “My life began the moment our eyes met. Instantly lost in her stunning blue depths, I drowned and was reborn. As what? Hers. I went against everything to have her and there wasn’t a second that I wouldn’t have come if she called. My Angie.”

Angie: “He was my light in hell, a shield against the hate and the roaming hands, and the pain. He gave me hope and he loved me. How could I not feel the same? Even when he was gone and I was on the run, the bond was there, and it only grew stronger when our son was born. My Brady. Without him, there were no seasons, no sun. When he was gone, I stopped feeling. Anything.”

At 12, Marc Brady was close to freedom. Four summers of labor, proceeded by four winters of isolation, and then he would leave his strict home and join the family business. Four years to endure in a loveless home where his very identity has been erased. Almost free…

At 8, Angie was a decade from freedom. Ten more years of abuse and neglect. Another decade of being alone in a family that must never discover how different she really is. What a hard, cold future waited for her…

Repeatedly torn apart, their forbidden friendship forged a bond that even twenty years couldn’t break. I give you Marc and Angie, the backstory, but be warned. This is not a romance. This doesn’t have a happy ending. This is the upbringing, the striking childhood of two Life After War characters before they are reunited to find their missing son after a nuclear war. They are Marc and Angela, and the year is 1990.
I was out of the house by dawn, riding that sweet little dirt bike as if I was as good as the new kid down the street. I didn’t know Daniel yet, but I was sure I would see him during the bike marathon the school was organizing. I wondered if Angie would go and then realized she may not have a bike. Not many of the poorer kids in town did. Whenever one of them got a bike, it inevitably broke from being lent out. It was one of the things that I liked about the side of town that I was forbidden to trespass. They cared about each other.

As the morning of cool breezes and carefully timed jumps drew closer to the magic hour, I ducked out of sight of the other children who were enjoying the day and rode hard through the woods to get to the cornfield

 Only the braver kids found their way down here, for several reasons. The biggest was the rage of the farmer who owned the enormous field. He knew the teenagers spent hours tramping down his perfect rows and ruining his crops with their bonfires and parties. He and the big hunting dog, Ticker, were regular visitors that one might run across. Except Marc and a few others had figured out that the old tractor couldn’t run by the rougher tree line on the far edge of the field, and over the years a large overhang of trees and wild corn plants had grown up to provide cover. That’s where someone had put up an old tire swing, making it the place to be and meet for a generation of children.

Except Angie wasn’t coming.

I felt the minute that something went wrong. I lingered in the heat of the corn until three o’clock and then slowly made my way toward town. I planned to head for the Ival’s restaurant for a cold drink and then see if I could salvage the afternoon somehow

I heard the sirens before I got to the main road and soon forgot about my cool drink. The house on the edge of town was in flames. The tiny shack was engulfed and smoke billowed from it like a chimney. The heat was melting the garden in front and I watched those vegetable pop and sizzle in horror. I hated fire. All the kids raised by Mother Brady’s traditions did.

I spotted a cluster of kids on bikes, the ones I was allowed to be with. Nearby was another, larger group of raggedy children on foot and I scanned them for signs of Angie, even though I knew she wasn’t their kind either. I’d done some careful observations and it seemed like no one cared about her. I didn’t understand that after my brief, unforgettable interactions.

I joined my own kind at the edge of the police tape and listened to their chatter. I stayed quiet, like I usually did, and learned what had happened.

“Was he in there?”

“Who was it?”

“Is he dead?”

“It was that old man who worked at the plant off 128.”

“You mean the feed production place?”

“Yeah. He quit last year. My dad runs the front gate. He said old man Rudder was bitchin’ about keeping secrets and they fired him for stirin’ up trouble.”

“Your dad don’t run the front gate.”

“He does so.”

“Does not. Tommy’s uncle runs it. Your dad just orders the pizza.”

I drifted away from the fight that always came when the two popular boys disagreed about something. I already knew that Alex would win and Ricky would spend the next week telling everyone he had left the shorter boy win. It was how our lives were, only I was growing up faster than them. I assumed it was because of who my mother was to this town, but I couldn’t be sure that some of it wasn’t related to my friendship with Angie. I’d never disobeyed my mother before. It was a big step for me.

I stared in guilty fascination as the ambulance workers rolled the cart from the side yard and I was glad I’d moved away when I heard my approved friends start calling for them to lower the sheet so they could see his charred, mangled body. I didn’t understand why they would want to and it was another moment of comparison. It didn’t take long for me to come to the same conclusion that I’d already reached several time. I was different.

On a hunch, I scanned the stopped traffic that was waiting for the fire truck to back into place and found a familiar brown wagon. My heart thumped.

I picked out Angie’s mother in the passenger seat, head against the window, and Georgie in the driver’s seat, appearing nervous. I looked harder and noticed Frona had a bandage on her neck and felt the hair on mine stand up. That’s why Angie couldn’t come. Her mom had been hurt.

I saw the traffic was about to be let through and quickly wheeled my bike toward a side street. I got out of sight quickly, not sure why I was upset. People got hurt all the time.

Marc and Angie: A Life After War Backstory
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