Pine Cones whizzed past a startled flock of buzzards, scattering their family across the sky. Wearing a worn Manchester United shirt combined with last season’s blue away shorts, Eddie had been throwing pine cones at birds for the last hour.
“Full kit wanker”, his friends would berate him, “can’t even get a matching set of kit, wanker” they’d tease. All. Day. Every. Day. And his mother wondered why he spent so much time throwing pine cones at birds.
Eddie’s favourite spot for target practice was directly underneath the branches of the low-hanging birch trees growing just out of sight of his living room window. With discreet displays of sleight of hand he’d take the cones directly from the bottom of the school field, filling his bag with enough at a time to last him through the barren months.
Eddie had begun target practice almost a year ago after throwing a cone in frustration and bopping a passing pigeon on the head, knocking it off course and into a tree. The elation he had felt in that moment was misunderstood by a boy of eleven, however it was the only pocket of joy he’d felt in too long, long enough to forget joy without cause.
‘I do not fit in’, repeat, ‘I do not fit in.’ This was Eddie’s thought process as he’d walk through the dingy corridors of his 17th century Gothic grammar school. Negative reinforcement, he was well aware of the concept from his almost deceivingly sweet councillors, though he preferred to continue forcing it, ‘If I am not accepted I shall go my own way’ was the inkling of his thinking. He knew that for a boy of his age he towered above all intellectually and he wanted to use that to show the world how he, despite the raucous scorn of those around him, actually was more in line and at peace with the Earth than all, that was where Eddie knew he fit in.
At eleven, Eddie’s mother still cut all his hair off at the start of each school year, allowing his proportionately gigantic forehead to gleam in the moderate heat of Grimsby in September. His teeth wonked out because Mother was terrified of the dentist, but though his features individually stuck out, they combined to create a young boy who never struggled for female attention. Calming deep blue eyes and a cute little button nose brought the face together to create a handsome, but not beautiful, young boy. His natural kindness belied the philosophy that he grappled with as a child; He would later blossom to transform all he touched into paradise.
Today though, Eddie scanned the trees with an eagle-eyed precision, spotting a tiny flutter of feathers and launching a pine cone in its direction. One throw would always be enough to scatter a number of birds of various kinds to the sky. Thankfully, Eddie would often think to himself, birds are stupid. He’d utilise the couple of minutes it would take for the birds to return by admiring the sky and the trees, or thinking about the first thing that popped into his head. Then before long he’d be scanning for his next target once again. He was getting pretty good. Eddie reckoned that now he hit three of every five shots, but only the birds knew that his only ever direct hit came with that fateful first throw almost a year ago.