Flash Fiction: Pile of Bricks and Structured Steel

Kenny Andriana Widiansyah


Two hours ago, the older one told her to wait at the corner of the street. Cold breeze started to blow when he came back, running and smiling. Behind him, an old man tried to catch him up. He turned her around, shoved a book to her bag and told her to run. "Let’s meet at the building, I’ll knock". As usual, the younger one thought.

The building he meant was a three-story apartment they live in, located near the outskirt of the city. Not too far from where all the chaos takes place, but still far enough you can feel like you’re just a background of the city life. They moved in around the same time. The younger one lives with her parents on the first floor while the older one lives upstairs with his older brother. She didn’t have any friends here, neither did he. So when they decided to explore the buildings around them together, it was nothing more than an act of survival.

An hour passed, still no knock. The book they stole lies on her bed, still wrapped in a shiny plastic. It’s an architecture book, with a brick house on its cover, the one they always want. It’s weird she thought sometimes, how their friendship was bounded over a pile of bricks and structured steel. Well, maybe it’s not the art of architecture that bound them but more about the experience of imagining it; some sort of escape from this pale-gray and dull building.

The sky already turned dark when she hears something outside. She walks out and sees some people already stick their head out to the front porch. There’s the older one, keeping his head down while his brother starts to nudge his ribs, asking him to give back the book he stole. The bookshop owner stands in front of them. No word comes out from his mouth until his brother shoves him in and talks to the old man. She tries to catch his attention, but the older one keeps staring at the floor. Before she does anything else, his brother drags him into the second floor.

She knows exactly what she’s going to hear; a shout, a thud then a muffled sound of crying. It doesn’t happen often, but she heard it sometimes. Her father would say, “That is what happens when the parent abandons their child.” Her stomach churns, she shouldn’t have told him about the book. It’s not like a slice of bread or a pen they used to steal after school. She should’ve told the truth, but she’s too afraid she locks herself up in her room. She wishes it will end soon.

And it does. A week later she finally meets him again, on the stair with a box on his hands. He only smiles and gives her a nod, trying to hide a bruise on his head, before jumps into the truck. He’s moving out. Out of this building they dreaded and cherished at the same time. She’s watching him go when she remembers about it. The book still lies on the younger one’s bed, never been touched. Partly because it still gives her a sting of guilt and the other part because there’s still a hope that they can read it together, just as planned.

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