The South Bank Review Winter 2017 | On The Run
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On The Run

Police sirens were screaming in the distance as Josh came to a standstill gasping for air. He knew that the next morning he would be in the headlines. However, he had no choice, there was nothing else he could do to make a living as no one had any job vacancies.

 

Josh hid behind a big bin in the dark alleyway, with the stack of cash in his hand. He saw a police van drive past carefully eyeing every corner of the street. As soon as he saw the coast was clear Josh legged it back to the flat he shared with Logan, a young boy that worked in the small café up the road. As Josh walked in he sat down on his bed as he dropped his backpack in front of himself, emptying it of the big stash of cash which he had just stolen from the ATM machine downtown. “What you got there lad?” Logan asked as he hid his stash under his mattress.

“None of your business!” Josh replied back in his most grumpy tone. Clearly, Josh was not in the mood to answer innocent Logan’s questions as he knew that they would just be questions about where he had been and what he had just done. Josh was afraid that Logan would give him away to the police, however, Josh refused to let Logan notice his fear as he had a reputation of being a fearless and serious kind of person.

 

Josh had to leave home due to his family not really being the typical happy family you would expect to be. His parents would constantly fight which ended with them divorcing, which led to Josh becoming involved with the wrong crowd, exposing him to a world of crime; such as becoming a drug addict and stealing for a living. Josh considered himself to be lucky because he had not yet been caught as he masterminded his moves before he made them.

 

Next morning arrived and Josh woke up to the loud sound of his alarm ringing. He reached over and hit the snooze button then forcefully got up as he had to go to the bank to put his hard earned money in his account. He sat up in his bed then slowly walked over to the bathroom to find that his flatmate Logan was still taking a shower. Josh knocked, almost banging on the door signalling for Logan to be quick. “Hold on mate, I’m nearly done!” Logan replied loud enough for Josh to hear. Josh walked back over to his bed and held his phone in his hand. He stared at the screen as it lit up with the childhood picture of himself with his parents as his background.

 

“Joshy! Hey Josh, come over here my little teddy bear!” Josh’s mother said in a happy, almost excited tone as she ran after little Josh to put his shirt back on. Little Josh giggled as he ran to his father to save him from his mother because he did not want to put his shirt on. He just wanted to play with his dinosaurs whilst he also pretended to be a dinosaur himself. Josh’s father giggled as he grabbed Josh and tickled him and somehow managed to trick him into putting his shirt back on.

 

The shower water stopped running and after about five minutes, Logan popped out drying his hair with a towel as he got ready to go to work. Josh switched off his phone screen as he made his way to the bathroom. He splashed water on his face then looked up to see himself in the mirror. This was not how he had imagined his life to be. His life just kept taking all sorts of turns, with lots of ups and downs. ‘How much more do I have to endure before I can finally be happy’ he thought to himself. He turned off the tap and put on his tracksuit and made his way down to the bank, successfully loading his account.

 

Josh decided that today he would visit his mother as he had not seen her for quite some time now. As he reached there he did not have to knock on the door because it was already half open. He slowly walked into the room as his mother lit a cigarette. She gave just one glance towards Josh and then sat down on the sofa. “Oh, so today you remembered that you have a mother?” she said in the deadest voice. “How are you?” Josh said, completely ignoring the sarcastic remark she had just made. “Oh I couldn’t have been better!” she said with a fake smile on her face. Josh felt awkward being in his mother’s house, which was the reason why he did not really want to be there.

 

Whilst he was there, his father showed up unexpectedly. Josh had not seen his father for years after he had divorced his mother and left. He was the main reason why Josh had to leave the home where he had grown up. Josh was very hurt when his father had left home, because he wanted his parents to always be together and be that happy family which many children have. Josh felt as though his childhood was something which had been snatched away from him when his parents had announced their divorce. Even though Josh had a bad boy image, he was still a little child inside who craved for love and attention from his parents. He had never actually said it in front of them as he had hoped that it would not be something that he had to ask for but something which his mother and father would give him from the bottom of their hearts. “Hello Margaret”. His father simply greeted his mother as he walked in through the front door. A look of shock hit his face as he did not expect Josh to be there. Josh would always make sure that he came at a time when he did not have to face both his mother and father at the same time. Unfortunately, he was now in this very situation and could not even run away from it.

 

Josh also had a look of shock. After recovering from his shock he replied quietly, “Um, hello.” His father simply nodded as he did not really know what else to say. He felt just as awkward as Josh did. Josh’s mother went to the kitchen to make some tea, leaving Josh and his father alone in the room. “So…” his father said awkwardly, “What do you study?”

“Um… I work… at a café,” Josh replied, not really knowing what to say as he knew how he actually earned his own living.

 

Josh could not bear the awkward silence and atmosphere anymore so he got up and ran out of the house and down the road. Coming to a stop, he tried to catch his breath as he sat down at a bus stop. He could not believe that he was in the same house as both his mother and father, as he had not been in the same room as them since they had divorced six years ago. Tears welled up in Josh’s eyes but he had to keep strong and did not let them fall. He managed to hold himself together and stopped himself from crying, as he held his jaw shut tight, with anger taking over every vein in his body. After all, what did he do to deserve this. This was all that he kept thinking.

 

A bus stopped at the bus stop that Josh was sitting at. An old man had slowly come off the bus and sat beside Josh in order to catch his breath again. Josh put his hood up covering half of his face because he did not want anyone to see the state that he was in. “Hey there young man,” the old man said. Josh just nodded as a way of sending back his hello. “What lovely weather, isn’t it? Not too hot and not too cold. Just the way I like it!” Josh remained silent as he was not in the mood to be talking to anyone right now. “Boy, why do you look so down and depressed? You having girlfriend issues?” he asked, as he chuckled holding his walking stick. “Boy, let me tell you one thing which I have learned in my years. Good days do not last forever, that is true. But, bad days also do not last forever. You just got to hold on and embrace all the good and bad that comes your way, years from now you will look back and be proud of yourself.” Josh looked up a little bit, taking a peek at the old man as he tried to take in what he had just said. The old man tapped Josh on the shoulder, “Well, I got to go now, boy. Just remember what I said. It should take you far from here and lead you to your happiness,” the old man said as he got up and slowly walked away.

 

Josh also got up and started to make his way back to his flat. As Josh made his way, he came across a poster which was about a company who was in desperate need of someone to work for them. Josh did not believe that he would get the job as he never got any jobs he had applied for in the past. He decided that he might as well give it a shot. As he got back to his flat, he emailed the company a copy of his C.V.

 

Next morning had come and Josh woke up to the buzzing of his phone. He was getting a call. “Hello,” Josh said in his morning voice as he answered. Josh’s eyes shot open, he could not believe what he was hearing. He sat up from his bed. “Really?! I got the job?” He was so happy,  he could not believe what was happening. Logan hid his head under his pillow as it was the early hours of the morning. “Yes yes! I will be there…. What now? Okay! I will be there soon!” Josh smiled for the first time in many years. He quickly made his way to the bathroom to get ready for his interview.

 

Josh nervously made his way to the company office, constantly checking himself in shop windows to see if he looked presentable. ‘This has to be perfect,’ he thought to himself as he entered the building.

 

After having a short interview, Josh had finally got the job. He was so happy he could not wait to tell his mother. As he reached his mother’s house, his father just so happened to be there too. He walked in awkwardly, not knowing if he should actually mention the news to his father or not, but he did anyway. “umm… I… umm… got a job” he said quietly. “What! Oh, my baby,” his mother exclaimed in excitement as she got up to hug Josh. Josh hugged her back. He felt comfortable in her arms just like he did when he was a little child. “Congratulations son,” his father said as he shook his hand.

 

As Josh left to go back to his flat he thought back to the old man. It was true what he had said. ‘Boy, let me tell you one thing which I have learned in my years. Good days do not last forever, that is true. But, bad days also do not last forever. You just got to hold on and embrace all the good and bad that comes your way, years from now you will look back and be proud of yourself.’ Josh smiled as he waited for the next morning to arrive, ready to earn a real living.

‘Boy, let me tell you one thing which I have learned in my years. Good days do not last forever, that is true. But, bad days also do not last forever. You just got to hold on and embrace all the good and bad that comes your way, years on from now you will look back and be proud of yourself’

Photo credit: Warren Wong on unsplash.com
Aksa Chughtai
aksachughtai@hotmail.com

Aksa is a third year student at the London South Bank University. Aksa hopes to be an English graduate as English is one of her favourite subjects and also has a passion for reading.