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Return to the Dinosaurs

And now for something completely different from mystery novels!

At each meeting of the Uxbridge Writers’ Circle members read out a piece that we've written using a few words selected during the previous meeting.

I love the freedom of writing in any genre, and find that the chosen words can send me off in all sorts of crazy directions.

This is one of the pieces I wrote. The selected words, that I had to use, are shown in italics.

And it's called 'Return to the Dinosaurs'.

Todd poked Jordan with his elbow. Jordan raised his chin off his chest, took the gum out of his mouth, and squelched it onto the back of the hard plastic seat in front of him. He turned and grinned at Todd, who couldn’t maintain his annoyance at his friend’s uncouth behaviour. That smile and the glint in Jordan’s eyes had the intended effect. Todd looked back down at his laptop. At least Jordan had stopped snoring.

The lecture was dull and time almost stood still as the geology professor flashed pictures of his trip to Colorado. It should have been interesting. Jordan had been keen to sign up for the course and convinced Todd to join him. He was still passionate about dinosaurs, even though he’d reached the age of nineteen. As a child, Jordan had lived in a fantasy world where the largest and fiercest dinosaurs lived. They protected him from the real world, which was much more frightening and harmful than even the Allosaurus, believed to be the most dangerous dinosaur of the Jurassic period.

Todd lifted his head to watch the photographs on the screen as the professor droned on about the different layers of sedimentary rock. Most of the dinosaur fossils have been discovered in the green siltstone beds and lower sandstones that are relics of the rivers and floodplains of the Jurassic period. It wasn’t enough to capture Jordan’s attention. He was playing a video game on his phone.

Todd knew he should sever his relationship with this mixed-up guy. Some days Jordan would be full of vitality and could make Todd laugh as he oozed an apparent love of life. He would wear expensive clothes, tell jokes and elaborate tales. Todd considered this posey behaviour, but Jordan’s charm was impossible to ignore.

And the next day, perhaps even later the same day, Jordan would sink into the depths of depression and nothing Todd could do would make a difference. All that happened was that Todd would get behind on his course work and some of the misery would seep into his pores.

Without warning, Jordan would bounce back as if he’d been a piece of tinder on which a spark of life had landed. Todd had trouble catching up. He couldn’t snap out of his melancholy as quickly as Jordan’s mood shifted, mostly because his powerlessness to help his friend troubled him.

Jordan’s erratic moods had caused the rift in Todd’s relationship with Nina. He adored Nina and was desperate when she ended the relationship. She told him, facing him with watery eyes, that she would not be second choice to Jordan in Todd’s life and wouldn’t be stood up ever again simply because Jordan was having a meltdown. He should be able to look after himself and Todd shouldn’t have to keep running to him. That was the last Todd saw of her.

Nina took part of him with her and the ragged hole inside wouldn’t heal.

The monotonous mumble of the professor ended. The screen displayed the requirements for the next assignment and Jordan left before Todd could gather his things. Something told him that Jordan would not be coming to any more of these lectures. Jordan’s interest wasn’t in geology. Todd had told him this several times, pointing out that he should follow his passion to study dinosaurs by becoming a paleontologist. But Jordan would pat him on the back and say he had no choice. Todd didn’t understand, but there was much he didn’t know about his friend.

The next day Jordan was nowhere to be found and Todd hadn’t received the expected texts, pleading with him to come. Todd’s concern grew during the day and he walked out halfway through the afternoon lecture.

The more he dwelled on Jordan’s silence, the more his anxiety increased. And as he jogged across the lawn towards the hall of residence, the flashing lights told him everything. He knew his friend was dead.

Guilt took a bite out of his pounding heart and he had trouble breathing. It was as if someone was strangling him.

He heard his name and turned around. Nina threw her warm arms around him and told him how sorry she was. She had been so down when they split up that she thought she should find out more about this Jordan guy who took Todd away from her.

She told him she’d been selfish and hadn’t known how sick and desperate Jordan was. She’d found out he’d seen psychiatrists and counsellors, but nothing helped. He had no family, just a benefactor who was a geologist who took an interest in Jordan and who funded his university studies.

She told him she’d heard Jordan slit his wrists with a razor blade.

They were both crying. Todd couldn’t stop tears from running down his cheeks. Nina told him there was nothing more he could have done. Jordan wouldn’t take his medication. She wouldn’t say how she knew all this stuff.

Nina told Todd that she’d plan a trip to Colorado so they could scatter Jordan’s ashes somewhere in the area of the Morrison Formation where most of the dinosaur fossils were discovered. That way Jordan would be back with his beloved dinosaurs and they’d keep him safe. Todd sobbed. Nina sat on the lawn and Todd wiped his eyes on his t-shirt and lay down next to her. They talked for a couple of hours.

They each felt they should have done more for Jordan, but they knew no-one could have saved him from his demons.

Nina said she wished she’d known what Todd was going through. She would have done more to support him, rather than leaving him. She should have trusted him. They should have talked.

Todd held back unmanly tears as he looked into her brown eyes. He saw compassion, kindness, and love.

Vicky Earle Copyright 2021

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