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They smiled as the lie slipped past her lips. It was always the same. They never doubted her, never asked for the truth. She was their golden child. She did everything perfectly. And she was dying inside because of it. She flipped her hair over her right shoulder and placed the drink down on the table. She thanked them, once again, and walked out of the room. Reaching the stairs, she put her hand on the banister. It felt cold and smooth to the touch. She climbed the steps and entered her bedroom. Slipping under the sheets, she finally cried.
The computer beeps as it comes to life. Whirring and blinking continues. Then it stops. A press of a button here. A check of a plug there. Nothing. Control, alt and delete. Damn Safe mode. Go to the Start menu. Restart the computer. Cross your fingers. More of the same beeping and whirring. And then, once again, nothing. Resisting the urge to throw the computer out the window. Also resisting the urge to hit something. One more try. Please God, let this work. It has to work. Then it looks right. Normal. Bliss. Finally. So happy. It freezes. Oh Fuck.
I can still remember his eyes. They were so dark, reminded me of chocolate every time. I can still remember the butterflies in my stomach. He would walk into a room and they would start fluttering. I can still remember his smell. The cologne that a 16-year-old boy shouldn’t wear. I can still remember his silence. The last six months of hell and second- guessing. He was my crush and never my boyfriend. My feelings were never returned. Or so I thought. Now, six years later, I find out something different. They were requited. But is it far too late?
Dear 12-year-old girl, you are smart and an extremely hard worker. Things come easily to you and that’s okay. But don’t expect perfection every time something comes your way in life. It won’t happen. You’ll learn that the hard way, I’m afraid. Depression, anxiety and fear will knock you on your ass before too long. You won’t know what to expect until you are in the thick of things. It’ll be scary and hard and a long process. But don’t worry too much. There’s hope for you yet. Because you’re still smart, just not the way you expected to be.
The sticky heat of the evening was starting to fog up her brain. She forgot what it was like to be so hot. Her bra strangled her body, her jeans stuck to her legs. It was hellish. And all anyone could say was “Isn’t this nice?” Well, actually, no it wasn’t. The cool temperatures earlier in the week were since a distant memory and she missed them. 65 degrees wasn’t so bad. The rain beating down on her window hadn’t been so bad. But it had disappeared. And apparently spring had arrived in her little northern Florida town. Oh yah.
She dusted off the suitcase that fell to the floor. The trip had been planned for months. There was no going back now. Popping open the locks, she pulled the top lid up. She felt along the bottom for the cut in the fabric. Once she found it, she pulled the fabric back and took out the envelope. Her life was in this envelope. Placing the envelope on the table, she proceeded to put her clothes in the suitcase. Once finished, she closed the lid and stood up. She stuck the envelope in her purse. And walked out the door.
He looked up at the night sky. His dreams were shattered now. The accident, the fear, the worries had stopped his plans. But he still dreamed of the possibilities. He still wished for the opportunity to prove himself. He was a member of a group and had a voice. But he didn't care. The night sky beckoned him. And he ached to follow its lead. Taking one last look, he stood up on the hard ground. He put his jacket back on and got into his car. Ignition. Drive. The stars twinkled as he drove down the highway towards home.
There was only silence on the other end. She was angry once again. I kept calm and talked her ear off, in order to placate her. It didn't work. The only thing that ever worked involved leaving her alone. I sighed once I hung up the phone. I would wait a day, maybe two. She would call. It would be forgotten. Peace would reign once more. Until next time. I never know what to say. But that's the way it works in my life. I'm always confused. Always frustrated. Always lost. I hate the silence. It's always way too loud.
Jack woke from his restless dreams. He sat up in his bed, the sheets piled on the edge. He didn't know why the dreams had come back. The last time they occurred was when he was a child. But they were back and darker than ever. He ran his fingers through his hair and tried to concentrate on relaxing. It didn't work. Jack got out of bed and walked out into the living room. Sitting on the couch, he turned on the television. A flickering black and white movie came to life. The images provided a sense of rare peace.
The battle begins. The list has been picked and placed in the slot. The pencil is sharpened and poised over the pad. With a flick of the wrist, the timer starts. Concentration now. It's all about concentration. Trying to fit the categories to the letter rolled. Sometimes it is difficult. Other times the words flow out so easily. But you have to watch out. Your opponent could think up the same ideas. You finally finish. You cross your fingers. The timer ends. Pencils down. The first answer is called out. Damn. You both thought of the same thing. It ends.
The wind blew across her face, causing her to shiver. She lay on the ground, confused as to how she got there. Looking around at her surroundings, she noticed the stream nearby. She struggled to stand and headed over to the water. Placing her hands in the stream, she brought a little of the water up to her lips. She quenched her thirst and then sat down on the banks of the stream. The sky was a bright blue and it seemed to stretch on forever. She closed her eyes at the sight. Nothing would be the same. It couldn't.
His arms wrapped around her back. She didn't understand how she ended up in this position, but there was no denying that that was where she was now. His breath tickled her neck, moving a few of her curls slightly. No words had been spoken. She felt the tension in his arms and knew that she felt the same. Finally, he pulled back from the embrace, his arms still loosely wrapped around her. He pushed back a few strands of her hair that had gotten caught in her eyelashes. Then he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers. Bliss.
"You don't have a boyfriend? Really?" This sentence has been uttered once or twice recently and it's beginning to bug me. I know I don't have a boyfriend. I know I haven't dated in awhile. Okay, a few years. But it's not a state I wish to remain in. Believe me. I'm working on it. There are other issues that need attending to. My depression. My anxiety. College. A full time job. Friends. Etc. A new guy, a boyfriend, a date, whatever you call it is on the list too. I need to fix other things in my life first.
This is the month of birthdays. My cousin. My best friend. Her father. And various famous people whom I like. Today is one of those birthdays. He's twenty years old. He's part of a group of brothers who sing. I've been a fan of this group for almost six years now. I can't describe how their songs make me feel. They just do. They are an incredible group of guys who work hard and are actually talented. Their next album can't come soon enough. I've only been waiting for three years now, but that's okay. Anyway, Happy Birthday Pisces Boy.
Exhausted does not even describe it. Aching feet, throbbing head, and bitten skin. It all adds up to a long day. Starting at six o'clock and continuing on for almost twelve hours, the party lasted. There was fun to be had and food to be eaten. Presents were exchanged and hugs given. All in all, it was a success. The only problem being the preponderance of bites on the legs and hands of the people involved. That was solved with spray, in the nick of time no less. But the sun shone, the sky stayed blue and nature was accommodating.
He wondered if she had seen him walk in. Probably not, but his eyes kept searching for her bright form anyway. He finally spotted her near the balcony doors. She was holding a drink in one hand and her purse in the other. A look of boredom and exhaustion was on her face. He knew what he had to do then. Walking towards the balcony doors, he passed through the throng of hungry, powerful people. Ignoring the inquisitive stares, he continued towards his destination. Arriving at her side, he placed his hand on her trembling arm. "It'll be okay, love."
Jack is working just fine. At least for the moment. I can access the Internet. I can check my email. I can update at 100 words. There are no words for how happy I am right now. There are still things that need to be done. Programs to delete and re-download. Viruses to get off my hard drive. Colors to fix. Songs and pictures to save. But it will be completed soon. Don’t worry about that. I’m determined. I still want a new computer. But this one will have to do. Hopefully I can restore it as much as possible.
Beauty comes in many forms. The color of someone’s eyes. The grace inherent in a person’s walk. A child’s laugh. A kind word. These can all be beautiful things. I wonder about that as I look around at the world. There are dark patches, gray areas of pain and confusion. This is not new and will probably continue. But it’s those moments. Those tiny moments of clarity, of light, that changes everything. I search for those moments. It’s hard to find them sometimes. I usually stumble in my quest. They are worth the risk though. Because they keep me sane.
It’s coming now. There is no stopping it. I still hate the idea and wish it could be stopped. But it won’t be stopped. Troops are in place. Weapons are poised in the area. Leaders are decided. My father is going to be working a lot these next few weeks. God, I hope it ends soon. People are going to die. People’s lives are going to be changed. No one knows if it will be for better or worse. Have we really thought this through? I don’t think our government has. It has a plan. Damned if everyone else disagrees.
Breathe, she said. I listened, but couldn’t quite find the energy to do it. Fear had gripped my heart. Helplessness had settled in my chest. Uncertainty had taken residence in my stomach. No one knows what will happen. There are ideas, formation of theories, but in the end, no one really knows. Memories have been flooding my brain lately. The last war and how young I was. I remember sweeps for bombs. Bomb threats at school. Dog tags worn just in case. My father always in harm’s way. Just imagine peace. Is it that hard? Maybe I just don’t understand.
It was a difficult conversation. It shouldn’t have been. It should have been light and breezy. But CNN didn’t help matters. She tells me that she’s internalized it too much. It hurts to watch the news. Hearing of close calls with my father’s co-workers scares her. I know she imagines my father there, in harm’s way. He has been before. We both worry he will be again. Explosions fill the green screen and the distorted reporters’ voices echo out of the speakers. What do I say to calm her fears? What do I tell myself? Is there anything to say?
Swirling colors light the way. Disjointed images of roads, sand, and tanks illuminate the screen. I watch in disbelief, in horror, in fear. I hear of captures, of people killed, of lives changed forever. It’ll be over soon, I tell myself. It has to be. We’re strong. We’re capable. But that doesn’t always mean anything. This thing is tricky and can’t really be predicted. Situations arise that no one was really prepared for in the beginning. It was all about the winning strategy. It was all about our mightier force. But, in the end, all we can do is hope.
I’m thinking of bubbly things. Of sparkly dancing boys and their voices filled with ache. Of television shows with snappy dialogue and soulful performances. Of pasta dinners cooked in alfredo sauce. Of best friends and silly, hour-long conversations on the phone. Of my parents watching silly comedies to take their minds off of things. Of my sister and brother-in-law and their fluffy cat. Of waking up to rainy mornings and finishing with sunny afternoons. Of playing word games that always make me think. Of light and love and hope. Anything that’s silly and slightly fluffy. Anything but the ongoing war.
She didn’t know what love meant sometimes. She loved her mother, father and sister. She loved her various relatives. She loved her friends. She loved music and film. She loved Italian food and ice cream. She loved traveling and the beauty of history. She loved waking up to the sound of rain and going to sleep with the ocean in the background. She loved dogs with dopey grins and cats with green eyes. She loved her ability to write and the pleasure she got from reading. But she didn’t know what it meant. And she wondered if she ever would.
Jack trudged up the hill. Jill followed, dragging the bags behind her. She glared at Jack’s back, at his empty hands. Jack was unaware of Jill’s resentment. Rather, he took in the sights of impending spring. “Almost there,” he thought. He loosened a rock on his upward trek and it rolled downhill. Hitting Jill in the shin. Yowling and cursing profusely, Jill dropped the bags and grabbed her injured leg. Jack took no notice. Finally, reaching the top, he surveyed his kingdom. He looked for Jill. When she reached the top, she surprised him. By popping him in the eye.
An epiphany was reached today in the recesses of my mind. A wave of contentment washed over me and I realized that maybe, just maybe, this is what I should be doing. It’ll change everything. Aren’t that what epiphanies do? Invite change? It seems that way to me at least. My life is so confusing right now. It vacillates between understanding and utter chaos. I have a plan now. A tentative plan. A plan that could change within a month or two, but it’s there. Written out on the yellow tablet. In black ink. I feel so calm. For now.
The time was 10 PM. The television was on and the channel was changed. Then I remembered. My show was on at 9 and I forgot all about it. The end of my horrible, “nothing went right” day came and I wasn’t too surprised. Bad days creep up on you. Sometimes they start out just fine and deceive you along the way, until it hits you that it hasn’t been that great at all. Other times they start out bad. You have no delusions of happy, carefree moments throughout the day. The pattern and bar has been set. That’s it.
The cold air in the room started to seep under her clothes. She forgot to bring a coat with her. For her part, she didn’t think she would need one. The shivers started to run down her back and she wrapped her arms around her waist. It had been over forty minutes and she didn’t understand what the hold up was. She paced back and forth, trying to warm herself up. The thoughts bounced around inside her head and she couldn’t quiet them. What was going on? Fear started to creep in then. And that was not a good thing.
Babies cry. Mothers wail. Men sob. It never ends. Peace and hope and love, are they all pipe dreams? Concepts thought up to keep the masses in line, within the realm of sanity. They’ve been my tether to reality for a long time now. And they will be for a long time to come. I can’t imagine getting rid of the hope inside of me. That feeling, that unknown, has kept me alive. It has reminded me of what’s important. Of what’s worth fighting for. It shakes me awake when I’ve fallen asleep. It’s my constant. It is my sanity.
I miss the kissing. The soft press of lips to your own. The inhalation of breath before it begins. The look in the other person’s eyes. The warmth that seeps into your body and fills you up. I miss all of that. It’s been a long time. A VERY long time. Frustration is too tame a word at this point. What am I doing about it? Not much. But I’ve come to the line. I want to press forward and find something new. I need this now. There are going to be so many changes to come. I can’t wait.
His eyes had that look of dread in them. The brown color darkened and the lines deepened. This wasn’t supposed to happen. He was hurt. His brother was hurt. The blood soaked his white shirt, forming an impossible stain. His hands formed a protective shield over the wound. He leaned down and put his hands over his brother’s own. He looked into those eyes filled with pain and fear. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t remember yelling for help or when it arrived. He only remembered the look in his brother’s eyes. The pleading look for a savior.
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