A Four-Edged Square – Part 1
It was her idea. In the end, I had little to do with it. Sure, some days I felt like a third wheel… or a fourth wheel, considering there were four of us. Nevertheless, I didn’t mind so much. We were all good friends; we always had been. That was the foundation off everything we started, and the foundation of everything we finished.
On that fateful and unforgettable day, we were at the arcade. You know, the place you go to play old video games, shooting zombies with blue and pink guns, or riding motorbikes that inanely swing right and left. The kind of place that always had a sticky linoleum floor, no matter the seemingly perpetual presence of a mop and bucket.
It was like this most weekends. And if it wasn’t the arcade, then it was the cinema, or a tour of the local book and film stores, maybe a bite to eat and even a few beers if we were really feeling it. Sure, maybe it seemed dull to some. Though, for the four of us, it was a lifestyle, things had always been this way. We figured it wouldn’t be changing anytime soon.
Allie blasted away a zombie with a neon-pink shotgun that had seen better days, swinging her hips slightly to the side while doing so. On the screen, more approached, swarming around her, taking her health bar all the way down to zero, before the machine demanded more money to resume her progress through the level. She didn’t insert any, but instead paused, the gun still in her hand. “Let’s do it,” she said, still staring at the flashing red screen.
“Do what, Allie?” Sam asked, who was playing air hockey with Jess.
“You fucking know what. What we always talk about. And that’s all we ever do with it. Let’s actually do it, do something for once in our miserable lives!” Allie said, raising to her tiptoes, and throwing her arms out.
“You serious?” Jess shouted over.
“What do you think, Jess? Do I ever fuck around with shit like this?” Allie smiled slyly. “Yes, I’m serious… now, over to you.” Allie said, bowing.
“It’s just something we talked about. You know, we dreamt about it, envisioned it. It wasn’t ever going to be reality, was it?” Sam said.
“It’s a shit-ton more than that Sam, and you know it. Don’t pretend. Dreams serve no other purpose than to come true.” Allie put the gun down. “We have enough money between us, and enough expertise too. I don’t see why we can’t. This is what we’ve always wanted. I know the three of you feel the same way, regardless of how much we joked.”
“I don’t know…” Jess said, as if calculating the pros and cons.
I glanced at Allie, her face drooped slightly, and her eyes gravitated towards the ground. She was upset. Knowing a person for twenty years, you can see inside them, and right through to the other side.
“I’m in!” I said.
“You are?” Allie asked, seriously.
Upon hearing that, she did a little dance, throwing her hands into the air, and swishing her head back and forth, all with a huge grin on her face. I couldn’t help but watch her, and grin widely myself.
The four of us existed in a somewhat fragile, yet utterly elegant state. I had always liked Allie in a slightly different manner than I liked Sam and Jess. Though, I never let my thoughts, my dreams, get carried away with themselves. We all knew about the unspoken rules that held us together. We couldn’t be with any one of the other. It would completely destroy that delicate dynamic we had so carefully constructed over the years. And yet, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one who thought about it. The relationship we had with each other was complex, strange, and beautiful.
Jess slammed the puck into Sam’s goal, she humphed. “We’ve not got a lot to lose. I’m with Jake, why not?” She shrugged her shoulders.
Allie’s smile grew. The excitement almost burst from her.
Jess always was the calculated one. The very opposite of Allie who seemed to live her live from one spontaneous decision to the next. Sam, on the other hand was just your average guy, living his life between the two extremes. Much like myself, I supposed. We were all an unlikely bunch. Completely different people, worlds apart. Thinking about it, maybe that was what brought us so close. All the different ideals and moralities floating around, creating something enigmatic, something entirely new, free of boundaries and needless limitations.
“Alright guys, I’m with you too… How could I not be?” Sam said, hitting the puck back into Jess’s goal.
Allie pumped her fists into the air. “Yes!” She shouted, no doubt turning a few heads. The arcade was hardly known for its abundance of elation, but its habit of drowning people in its sorrowful nostalgia.
Sam suggested that we get out of there. Go for a beer or two, or three… to mull things over, to let the decision actually sink in. Because I don’t think even Allie knew what it meant just yet. And what it might change.
The decision in and of itself was a monumental moment in our lives. It was what we had always fantasised about, it was the only future that seemed to hold up to those desires that had been lurking within our minds since we were nothing but teenagers.
It was to open a biology lab, a place to splice flora genetics. A gateway to an idealised future we had created for the world. A goal to make crops resistant to disease, cultivable in much wider, much harsher climates than we were used to. Put simply – to solve the world food crisis. Because we figured, with the ever-expanding number of people, something had to be done, and soon.
Everything led up to that moment, to Allie speaking those words, and to us agreeing with them. The motion was created. The line that would lead us to the next destinations. With the sheer amount of motivation that drove the four of us, we could not be stopped. Not until we succeeded with our vision, or we irreparably failed.
It was the world to us.
Two weeks later we had pooled all the money we owned together – there was enough, a generous amount.
I suppose, in retrospect, we weren’t normal people. Not in the true sense, not in the lifestyles that ruled our days.
I was an investment banker, and a pretty decent, well-respected one at that. I understood business inside and out. Give me a computer, records, numbers, revenues, profits… losses – and I could have given you a faultless five-year-plan that a toddler could have undertaken and come out on the other side a whole lot more wealthy. Allie was the biologist. The one that only just left university a year or two ago, coming out of it with numerous degrees, accolades, and things I couldn’t even name. She’s smart, sometimes too smart. Sam was two years older than Allie, Jess, and I. He liked to call himself a writer… then again, don’t all writers. In reality he worked at a mid-to-high-tier online news publication. And granted, he was good at what he did. Jess, on the other hand was something of enigma, nobody knew exactly what she did. One month it was car sales, the next month she was teaching art classes from her home. Then there were periods where she seemingly did nothing at all, living from some mysterious fund. We probed, but we knew better than to dig too deep. There was no need anyway, the trust between us was unquestioning.