Reunited At Last

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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 ūüôā¬†

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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 screamed.

She punched the door, not even feeling as the wood splintered beneath her hand and her bones cracked beneath her skin.

She cried.

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.

Reunited indefinitely.

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Dead or Alive

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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.

“Dad?”

I Am A Writer

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Author’s Note: The assignment was to write a Shakespearean sonnet poem, meaning 14 lines, with 10 syllables per line. I was told others had written their poems about their love for their significant other, their passion for doughnuts, or even their hate for poetry itself. I wrote the only thing that came naturally to me ūüôā¬†

 

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And just in case you can’t read the mess that is my handwriting, here it is in print ūüôā

 

“I was born a writer inside my blood

For deep within my soul these words have slept

In my brain a story begins to bud

Begging to be heard, listened to, and kept.

The pen flies madly across the paper

Too many thoughts and not near enough time

Although my motivation may soon taper

It is no excuse; instead it is crime.

My character’s story will soon be heard

Their journey splattered across this blank page

Out of the nothing this conflict was stirred

This literature of mine has no age.

For once a story is written, it’s true

Its lessons stain your skin like a tattoo.”

All the King’s Horses pt. 2

Author’s Note: I don’t know that this is the scene that follows right after the first part I posted, but it’s pretty soon after, and this scene is important to Xylia’s anxiety in part one.¬†

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Twelve men gather around a circular table in the massive stone castle, their cheers and laughter echoing off the walls. Vintage wine bottles are exchanged and poured, and plates of food are passed around. The men are dressed quite eloquently, with velvet tunics, jewel encrusted belt buckles, and shiny, metal plated boots, contrasting the dreary scenery of the room around them.

Rickensold smiles from the shadows of the doorway, pleased that all the Guild Masters have shown up early as always. Well, he surmises to himself, almost all the Guild Masters. He looks around, searching for a very specific, very female face. She’s his strongest Master, but definitely with a spirit all her own. She cannot be controlled, especially not by her male counterparts, and that’s why Rickensold likes her. She’s an invaluable asset, both on and off the field.

He pushes his shoulder off the wall and dusts his black leather vest, deciding she will show up when she’s ready, and not a moment sooner. The sunlight hits his face as Rickensold enters the room, accentuating the fine dusting of glitter one of his servants has powdered on his face, and the room erupts into applause at the entrance of their Guild King. He crosses the room with confident strides and a radiant smile before settling himself into one of the thirteen identical chairs around the table. The Guild Masters follow suit.

“My brothers!” Rickensold begins as the applause subside. He neglects the sensual, “my sister” he’d normally offer the woman.

The men respond with a chorus of “Your Grace,” “Your Honor,” “Your Excellency,” “Milord,” and other royalty worthy formalities, and Rickensold stifles his snicker. He is no king; he’s got not one drop of royal blood in his muscled body, and yet over the course of seven years, he’s got the Bandit Towns convinced of his reign.

“You’re all looking well,” he coos, folding his hands and baring his brilliant white teeth in an innocent, friendly smile. “I bring tidings- the gift of good news.” The men answer with raised glasses and toasts. “But first!” he cuts them off with a raised hand. “Status report.” He gestures left, indicating the short, stout man with a mop of curly hair.

The man folds his arms gingerly across his chest. “My men in eastern Andermar are seeking out a new hunting grounds as we speak, My Lord,” he begins, his nasally voice filling the room. “The small village by the name of Craigenfare rumored to hide a secret treasure proved to be no more than a cupboard of wooden relics from a few decades past.”

“Not valuable?” Rickensold asks.

“Not enough, My Lord,” he answers.

“Very well.” He nods at the next man in line, a tall, burly man with a shaved head to show off the rippled scar along his skull. “Master Morlond, what news from the Gate?”

Master Morlond gulps a swallow of wine, sighing in satisfaction, before speaking. “We’ve found seventy six more recruits, Your Grace. Given six months for training, they’ll be fine additions to any guild of your choice.”

Rickensold leans back in his seat, setting his hands in his lap. “Tell me,” he asks. “Where did these recruits come from?”

Morlond points across the table at a large man with a sizable black beard, a different colored ring on every finger. “Courtesy of Master Calt, Your Grace. The Black Claw reclaimed Yenden from those tyrant Witch Men; I simply scooped up the stragglers.”

Rickensold considers this for a moment. The Witch Men are powerful, with half of their strength in their numbers. They spread themselves far and wide to ensure that if some of them are discovered, not all of them are captured. Their network is expansive, and they are one of the few groups that Rickensold fears, regardless of their ridiculous outfits. He licks his lips, maintaining an emotionless expression. Master Calt may have done a thorough job with Yenden, but if Master Morlond happened to scoop up any of the wizards, the entire castle- nay, the entire kingdom- was in for a world of hurt.

“I’d like to see these new recruits with my own eyes at the closure of this gathering,” he says smoothly, covering his anxiety with a coy smile.

“As you wish, Your Grace.” Master Morlond acknowledges.

The cycle then continues as each man relays what information they can to each other and their king. A stocky man with a nicely trimmed beard tells of success in negotiations with the Slox Tribe; A lanky, balding man missing two fingers brags victory in a death competition, his prize being a village to add to the vast collection of Bandit Towns. One by one, every man speaks until conversation returns to what Rickensold offers.

Rickensold forces his fear for the Witch Men to the back of his mind and cracks his knuckles, slowly pushing himself to a stand. He paces his band of followers, barely containing his outrageous cockiness as every eye follows him. He may have began his rule with intimidation, taking superiority by striking fear in the hearts of those around him, but he quickly learned that love is a much more dangerous attachment. A man who loves his king will die for his king, and men who will die for him is what he desires.

“My brothers.” He keeps his voice low, serious. “Long have we waited for the day we’d be accepted by other kingdoms. Long have we suffered the enduring pain of expanding our kingdom through mediocre methods, struggling to trade and negotiate because we have been deemed not credible. Long have we had our rivalry,” he pauses, waiting for the suspense to build. “Our rivalry… with The Holy Brotherhood.” The collective stifled gasp that erupts from the small crowd makes Rickensold’s heart glow, his chest expand with anticipation.

“My brothers. I have found them.”

The men roar. They stand and pound on their chests like animals, banging their cups together and screaming obscenities at the top of their lungs. The Holy Brotherhood has stood in the Bandit’s way for years now, preventing their guilds from expanding west, killing their men whenever they get the chance. They’ve waited a long time to find them, and finally, Rickensold has them headed exactly where he wants them. Durmark.

“Today, we rest,” he tells his men. “For tomorrow, we ride west.” He picks up his wine glass, the fine red liquid making his mouth water. He holds his cup high. “To war!”

The men scream gleefully in return, chanting in ecstasy.

“TO WAR!”

Dying

There’s a million ways to die, but what scares people about death is that nobody actually knows what it feels like until it happens to them.

The thing is though, most people only die once. Maybe twice if they’re lucky enough- or unlucky enough- to be resuscitated the first time. But that’s only if they don’t die of old age or other natural causes. 

 Personally, I have yet to die of old age. He won’t let me go that easily. I’ve died 87 times, 87 different ways. Car accident, heart attack, drowning, asphyxiation- you name it, I’ve died it.

But he won’t let me die of old age. 

And I can’t figure out why for the life of me. 

I Am Angry

Author’s Note: This is not an excerpt. This is not a writing piece that I would usually post here. This is me. Real, raw, unedited, me.¬†

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I am angry.

Constantly. Every waking second of every day I am angry. At myself. At others. At no one in particular. I am always angry.

But today I am angry with good reason.

I am a senior in high school. I am a person who tries to earn the respect of others instead of demanding it. I am a girl who writes instead of cutting. I am a human, though sometimes I am a poor excuse for one. I have a job. I can drive a manual. I cook and clean and take care of the house that I live in because it is needed, not because it is asked of me. I am a young woman striving for the next part of her life, a better, more stable, part of her life.

I am also treated like a child.

At 17 years old, I have to ask permission to go to speak. To go to the bathroom. To call my mother. To take a step outside to calm my anxiety attack.

At 17 years old, I am looked down upon by adults not because I am short (though I’m told every day that I am) but because they find me naive. Uneducated. Immature. Irresponsible. Helpless. Mentally and emotionally handicapped.

At 17 years old, I am a prisoner.

I am more than the numbers on my report card. I am more than the number of loads of dishes I’ve done today. I am more than a girl with a head full of fantasies (though, being a writer, I have a lot of those).

I am smart. I am brave. I am defiant when it is called for. I am determined.

And yet I am treated as though I am nothing more than a shadow. A stranger in a room full of friends. A wildflower in a field of roses.

Worse yet, I am treated like a criminal.

“Teenagers can’t be trusted!” I’m told.

“Kids your age are reckless!” they say.

“Wait until you get out in the real¬†world.”

“You’re too young to understand.”

“You don’t know what’s best for you; ask an adult for help.”

I am suffocated by stifled creativity and lack of real guidance. I am smothered by rules and regulations and consequences when I don’t measure up to perfection. I am prevented from happiness because I am drowning in responsibilities without being allowed privileges. I am dying.

My opinions are devalued on a daily basis because what I think doesn’t align with what you think, and for some reason that makes me wrong. More than that, it decreases my credibility. If I’m wrong one time, I’m wrong every time.

Welcome to the life of a teenager.

What would adulthood be without having to recover from the teen years?

But hear me.

Please.

Hear me.

This is not the life I want to live. This is not the life I want to remember.

I want to be trusted. I’ve earned that much. I’ve made some bad decisions and caused some trouble, but nothing worth this cruel, enduring punishment I live through day in and day out. I want to be allowed to grow up.

Please let me grow up.

Please see my side. Please understand that I have the best of intentions. Please stop punishing me for what I cannot control. I am not others, and others are not me. Please try to understand how I feel.

Because I think if you were me…

You’d be angry too.

Broken 

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And she’ll lay down at night and wait for everyone to go to sleep, wait for the silence to feel heavier than her broken heart, and then she’ll cry. She’ll cry for every opportunity she had to say something and didn’t, for every time she denied herself and lost what she wanted in the end. She’ll cry until her throat is hoarse and her body is sore.

And then she’ll make herself some coffee, get ready for school, and face the world like she possesses the power of gods. She’ll smile at the one who broke her so he won’t know how damaged he made her, and she’ll maintain the courage to fight back the tears when they spring to her eyes at the mere thought of him and what they could have been. She’ll drive him home that afternoon and watch him disappear into a tiny speck in her rearview mirror, and she’ll punch the steering wheel and scream in agony and frustration and lust. She’ll compose herself in the driveway and walk into the house to tell her father she got stuck in traffic instead of in her emotions.

And then she’ll lay down that night. Wait for everyone to go to bed. For the silence to be heavier than her broken heart. And she’ll cry. For tearing herself apart inside with a vision of something that will never exist. For stoking the flames of a false hope just because it keeps her from the brink of insanity. She’ll cry until she’s dehydrated and exhausted. And then she’ll shower, wash away the guilt and the shame and the salt. And she’ll go to school to face him once again. And he’ll never realize what he did to her because she’ll smile at him. And she’ll hold back the emotions with a battered flood gate. Hold them back… just a little longer….

And she’ll lay down that night. Wait for everyone to go to sleep. For the silence to be heavier than her broken heart. And she’ll stare at the ceiling because she’s too far gone to cry, lost between a girlish fantasy of love and the cold reality of isolation. And she’ll get up to drive to school. And her hands will go numb as they press the gun into her temple. Click. Bang. Crash.

She’ll be lowered to her final bed that night. Black tie affair. A closed casket. And he’ll be there. Oh yes, he will be there. Because no, he didn’t know he broke her. But he understood all too well.

Because he was broken too.

Nevermore

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“I love you.” he chokes out, tears streaming uninhibited down his face. He shivers, then wraps his arms around himself to brace against the cold. She always told him he needed to wear a jacket. “I’ve never loved anything more in my entire life.” 

She can only look back at him and smile, the light not quite reaching her eyes- it never does anymore. Her hand grips the open door of her truck, and her fingertips turn a ghostly white. “I’m sorry,” she says after long a pause, her voice barely audible over the distance between them, “but I don’t feel anything anymore.”