“Don’t mess with me,” she said.
And I let her walk away with the naive idea that she actually possessed the power to hurt me.
Author’s Note: I’m thinking about making this story interactive, a choose-your-own-adventure style tale, depending on the amount of participation I receive. If it doesn’t work out or you guys aren’t liking it, I’ll continue with the story myself. That being said, I would really like the chance to interact with you guys, so please leave a comment if you’d like to continue this story interactively or if you’d like another story to participate in (prompts are always welcome!) Thank you guys so much and I hope you enjoy! 🙂
There’s thoughts that cross your mind at the moment of a betrayal that you can’t quite process at the time, thoughts that won’t make sense even to you until you have the time to sit down and think about “What the hell just happened?” These are the thoughts I call Lurkers. They’re there from the very beginning, just hiding out of view, waiting for you to torment your brain enough, to slave over every tiny detail for hours upon hours, until they’ll finally come to light. This coming to light might provide you answers to questions you’ve been endlessly pondering, might satisfy an emotion you’ve been debating over the significance of, or it might not help you with anything at all. Lurkers are cruel that way.
Then there’s the thoughts I fondly call Late Bloomers. These thoughts start out as a subconscious understanding of the situation, already knowing the bad and the ugly, the right from the wrong, but they stay locked away in the subconscious for what feels like an eternity, because your mind will not accept the knowledge they bring. And so they hide in the darkness until you are ready to acknowledge the truth – and most times, this truth comes to you too late for you to do anything about it. I don’t blame the Late Bloomers. It’s obviously my fault for being uninviting to knowledge I already possess.
Shifters are by far the most heinous of all my thoughts. They cannot make up their mind about what they think or how they feel, changing to suit an inconsistent mood. They make a clear remembrance of the occurrence almost impossible, because first they lie to themselves, then they lie to you, then they get confused about which lies were lies, and it all comes spiraling downward into the void of pain where we lock away our deepest, darkest, most haunting memories.
But this time, this betrayal, there were no thoughts. No Lurkers, Late Bloomers, Shifters, not even an arbitrary emotional reaction. All I had was a basic understanding that due to someone’s actions, I was in the middle of a chaos I had no power to control. I was in a kind of danger that couldn’t be seen coming. I was possibly going to die because of what someone did – or perhaps, didn’t do.
Never in my life had my body taken over before my brain could think it through, but it did. With a blank mind, but a soul filled with a raging fire and an unprecedented determination, I set off to find the one responsible, no matter what the stakes, no matter if I came back alive or not.
Because hell, after the turmoil they’d just subjected my spirit to, I was half dead anyway.
Alabaster warned me, when he first gave me the book, that the words written in human blood across the pages were cursed. He couldn’t tell me how or why, he just told me that should I ever decide to read the ancient prophecies, I would be putting myself in grave danger.
Alabaster warned me, as he handed me a sealed container, that inside were relics from a long forgotten village. He told me stories about a terrifying war and a devastating end, and that if I ever lost these precious belongings, the town’s memory would be lost, and the villagers blood would stain my hands until my death.
Alabaster warned me, as he tucked into my hand a small, transparent, diamond shaped crystal, that a day would come when I would be forced to leave my tribe, and that on this day I would understand how to use it. He told me to beware its power, and that if I ever tried to use it before that day, great destruction would befall me.
Alabaster warned me of these things as he presented me all these “gifts,” but he never told me how they came into his possession, or why he was giving them to me. Why would my Elder want to tempt my already less than promising destiny?
Author’s Note: This isn’t a writing piece. This is something I’ve been meaning to tell you guys for a while, but only just got around to. Writing gets pushed to the back burner sometimes when school and work are overbearing. Nonetheless, this is how I feel and what I think about my internet friends. I love all of you dearly, even the ones I don’t talk to anymore…
Since the time I got my first smartphone at 13, I’ve made, and lost, a lot of internet friends. Sometimes, this virtual friendship is beautiful. It lets you learn about different cultures. It lets you in on different perspectives from a different standpoint. You learn about geographical barriers and tourist traps never to visit. You grow as a person, whether you realize it or not.
Sometimes, this virtual friendship is funny. You learn things about people. Within the first two weeks, you can learn what their biggest fear is, or that they’re allergic to red food coloring, and then five months later you find yourself asking, “Wait, you have a dog? Wait, you have three dogs??”
Sometimes, this virtual friendship is helpful. When stuck in a bad situation, you turn to these friends across the world to guide you through the day, to help you put one foot in front of the other, who help you breathe when you feel like you’ve run out of air. Other times, you learn random facts that you’ll probably never need to know ever, but three years down the road you’ll still be able to recall who taught you that random tidbit.
But sometimes, this virtual friendship is ugly. It’s heartbreaking. Sometimes, it’s getting texts in the middle of the night that say, “I don’t want to be alive anymore.” Sometimes, it’s receiving pictures of bruises with the caption, “Dad came home drunk again…” Sometimes, it’s sharing an exhausted phone call with someone you only started talking to a month ago, because neither of you wants to be alone, and nobody else would understand your silence. It’s feeling the need to hug them, to hurt the ones causing them pain, to help them with daily tasks when they’re incapable of doing it themselves, but being unable to because of the geographical barriers you so often discussed.
Today, I am unable to help three dear friends because I can’t drop everything and drive across the country to come to their aid. As much as I want to, as much as they need me to, I can’t. It’s not feasible.
Internet friendships, nonetheless, are invaluable. You gain and share not only knowledge, jokes and laughter, but also pain and torment. You share everything they feel, and they share everything you feel. There’s no obligation to stick around if you don’t want to, so you know that if someone has stayed by your side this long, they intend on staying a lot longer.
I send an apology to the friends I am unable to help. Know that I am with you in spirit, that not a day goes by when I don’t see something that reminds me of you. Know that, as often as I can, I am available for your 3 am existential crisis, or your 5 pm silent phone call. I am here.
For lack of better phrasing, I leave you with a quote from the movie First Knight.
“I take the good with the bad. I can’t love people in slices.”
Author’s Note: I’m putting this here so I won’t lose it because, let’s face it, if I leave it anywhere else it’s going to end up at the bottom of some document I never open, and I need to be able to reference it often. You’re not going to/supposed to understand this, but if I ever get this book done, you will 😉 Nonetheless, enjoy my shit poetry!
Makeup to cover the bruises
Smiles to hide the pain
Oh what a girl wouldn’t do
To just be whole again.
Maybe it was fate
Or just a long, cruel joke
But time would soon tell her
The truth in the words he spoke.
She was not worth the light or day
She was not worth his time
She was not worth his energy
Her existence was her crime.
From the day she knew these things
Her heart began to break
What had she done to incur his wrath
And just what was at stake?
He was a man of power
In her life, so powerless
He was her only future
Nothing else to yearn or miss.
Poor little girl, he often said
You pathetic whining bitch
I’ll cut your throat, dance in your blood
You ungrateful little witch.
She changed her name to suit her mood
“A girl can change her stars”
Brayden, Abigale, Xylia,
But her body still bore the scars.
And so she took off in the night
To find herself alone
And with her dying breath she found
A new place to call home.
She hit the wall. Again.
Until she couldn’t feel her fingers.
Until she was almost positive she’d broken every tiny bone in her hand.
Until she realized that she could fill a river with all the blood she’d lost.
And then she hit it one more time.
Just to prove to herself that she could.
Just to feel the explosion of her own nerves as they panicked and ruptured.
But, alas, the wall wasn’t what she wanted to hit.
And her hand wasn’t the only thing she wanted to see bleed…
The blackness of the room is suddenly illuminated with blinding white light, and though I squint my eyes against the intrusion, I don’t stop moving. I’m now on a rather demanding timetable, and I can’t afford to lose even a second. “Leon.”
He stirs instantly, rolling to face the sound of my voice, pulling himself out of sleep’s hold. “What is it.”
“You can sleep in the truck, right?” I ask apologetically as my fingers work to tie the old straps of my worn leather boots.
He wipes his face and stretches, his fist colliding with the headboard. The loud *thunk* it elicites startles him, and he looks over at me with an expression of mixed confusion, embarrassment and sleepiness, which would be quite amusing if I wasn’t so exhausted. “Why.”
I stand and start stuffing things into my duffle without any organization, subconsciously knowing that if I don’t organize, not everything will fit. “I just, uh… We need to go, we just need to get outta here.” The small bag containing my essentials slips out of my fingers before I can zip it closed, and it falls to the floor, leaving the contents scattered across the rough motel carpet. “Goddammit…” I mutter, hastily stooping to collect my toothbrush, toothpaste, razor, hair ties, and a few other odds and ends.
Leon sits up in bed, the cover slipping off his bare chest, his head now slightly more involved in the game. “Nor, what’s going on?”
I sigh internally as I continue my search of the room, gathering my things and putting his in a pile for him to collect, if he ever gets off his ass. “I got a call.”
“Hogwarts. Who else.” I sling my overstuffed bag over my shoulder, feeling the strain in my muscles and the tension in my shoulder. “I’ve been summoned.”
“Again?” he asks incredulously.
“Duty calls…” I mumble, sidestepping towards the motel door with chipped red paint and dirty panelled windows.
“When do we need to leave?” he asks, stretching to a less than graceful stand and scratching the back of his head.
I’m halfway out the door, the freezing wind biting at my skin as large water droplets pound the ground. I turn and look at him solemnly, the gravity of the situation finally starting to sink in despite my best attempts not to let it. “Yesterday.”
Author’s Note: Trigger warning. If you respond badly to violence or abuse or existential crises, please don’t read this excerpt. Also, don’t get the wrong idea. I’m doing research for the backstory of a character I’m building, and I wrote this in honor of her.
And in honor of him 🙂
She kicked the wall. Hard. Once. Twice. Three times. Four times. She kicked it until there was a hole through the drywall and she was sure she had at least three broken toes.
She picked up the closest thing, whatever it was, she didn’t bother to pay attention, and threw it across the room as hard as her sore muscles would allow. Whatever it was, it shattered, clattering to the floor.
She punched the door, not even feeling as the wood splintered beneath her hand and her bones cracked beneath her skin.
More like she sobbed. Wept. It was ugly and loud and she was miserable and angry and heartbroken and tired. God, she was so fucking tired.
And then the floor approached her, and she slumped into a pathetic heap on the ground, her rage too hot for her to control but her body too numb to make her move.
And she prayed. She didn’t believe in God or anything, wasn’t religious in the least. But if there was anything out there, anything watching over her, or even haunting her, she prayed to it.
She prayed for death. She prayed that if she could finally fall asleep for the first time in days that she would never wake up. She prayed that she could walk out in the road and be struck by the biggest vehicle there was. She prayed that lightning would strike her. She prayed that shoving the fork into the electrical socket would zap her to death. She prayed she could bleed out when she pressed that blade into her skin and ripped her arm open all the way to her elbow. She’d always been told, horizontal for attention, vertical for results.
She grit her teeth as her mind flooded with the thoughts of all the things she hated about her life, her home, her existence in general. She hated every part of it. She hated living. Living wasn’t worth it anymore.
And suddenly, he popped into the forefront of her mind. Him. His voice. The sound of his keyboard when they’d be on the phone and he’d be working. The train horns in the background every hour. Just him.
He’d always told her he would always be there. He always said that if she needed him, she could call him. He always told her how much he loved her, how it wasn’t her fault, how she never needed to apologize for her shit existence. He always said he’d be there.
She could call him. Right now. Her hands may be broken and bleeding and she may be too hoarse to be able to speak, to tell him what happened and that she loved him and that she was sorry, but she could call him. It was easy. He made it easy. He made living worth it.
Her breath caught in her throat. But she couldn’t call him. He didn’t need to know. Just earlier she’d told him she was doing great today, that things were starting to look up, that one day she’d be whole again. She’d lied. To spare him. He didn’t need to worry. He didn’t need to care. He didn’t need her.
So she stayed on the floor, knowing that when her father got home he might kill her. She hadn’t done anything she was supposed to do today, and she’d just desecrated his property. She knew she’d fucked up. She fucked up bad. God, she’d fucked up so bad.
And so, to any gods who might have been listening, or even if they weren’t, she sent up one more silent prayer. A hope, a shot in the dark, that maybe, he would be okay. He would go on to do great things, inspire people to great heights. He would survive, and he would thrive, and he would be just fine. He would go on without her and he would be fine with that. She prayed he would just be okay. She needed him to be okay, even if it was without her.
In the distance, she heard the front door unlock. She knew it was him. She knew it was her father. So finally, she let the pain from her broken hands and broken toes and bleeding face and shattered soul and aching heart carry her into the darkness of unconsciousness.
She knew that darkness, like it was an old friend. Reunited at last.
Travis adjusts the flowers in the pale blue vase to be more aesthetically pleasing, knowing full well they’ll wilt from lack of water and soon die anyway. He doesn’t really care about flowers, but his sister said he should bring them; he’d be hard pressed not to follow her advice. He trudges through the doors that open automatically, not bothering to look at the flustered nurse at the help desk before making his way down the winding hallways to the room he’d visited too many times before.
The hospital smells like bleach, and he gulps the stale air. Passersby don’t give him so much as a glance, and in return he studies them carefully. A slender nurse with short red hair and stubby fingers changing the IV bag of an elderly man in a wheelchair, her wrinkled face smiling pleasantly at her patient. A fake smile, Travis knows. That man is dying, and half the hospital is glad to be rid of him. A tall, long haired man with a blue balloon and a gray stuffed toy bunny enters the room three doors down from Travis’ destination, and the happy squeal inside suggests the little girl is ecstatic to see her father and the gifts he’d brought. That small girl has been here as long as Travis can remember, and every time he sees her she’s hooked up to a new machine or being told about a new medicine she’s being put on. He shakes his head. Poor girl.
Travis stops at the door marked A73- William Turst. It’s closed. This door is never closed. He glances side to side, carefully but quickly searching his surroundings for any suspicious figures or strange occurrences, deciding after a brief moment that maybe it’s closed so the man inside can catch some peaceful sleep. He pushes it open, and latches it shut behind him. The pitiful white sheet is pulled closed around the bed, blocking off the bed from the rest of the room. Travis’ heart feels heavy, his breath catching on the lump in his throat. That curtain is never closed.
Travis had been in the hospital when patients had died. Typically, procedure mandates that they’re covered with a blanket, the curtain pulled closed around the body, and everyone is made to leave the room until the morgue arrives from downstairs to transport the body. He’d watched families be ushered from their loved ones side, weeping, sometimes screaming, that the doctors should have done something, anything. The doctors and staff typically apologize profusely, confessing there was nothing else they could have done, before leaving the grieving family to let someone else down with their poor excuse for medical treatment. If the patient dies when no one is visiting, the nurse is called to phone the family and give their condolences…
Travis swallows. He’d received no phone call, but all signs point to death. He presses his lips together as hard as he can, and braces himself for what he’ll see behind the curtain. His fingers gingerly graze the fabric, grip it, then yank it open more forcefully than he’d intended to. He stops breathing.
The monitors are blank, no life readings, no beeping, no dancing lines; the bedside tray, which normally holds an unopened container of pudding, a cell phone, and a notebook, is clean; the pristine white blankets cover an abandoned bed.
And Travis stands in the room alone, his soul shattering into a million pieces and his mind racing to come up with some explanation, any explanation. Nothing comes to his brain, but one quiet word tumbles off his lips.