& Other Stories
By Tiffany Riddle
Most women say the happiest day of their lives is getting married. Having
that certain special someone ask you to spend the rest of his or her life together, forever
and always. To be a Mrs., to write that new last name that you waited since childhood to
have, in his new fancy checkbook, or on loans, credit cards, etc. Though I am not like
most women, I believed that was why I‘d found the right guy, or I thought I had.
I met Bernard Alan in high school; he was one of those guys everybody liked and
nobody messed with. He was bittersweet, telling everybody how it really was, and
making you love the way he said it. He was somebody who could really make me laugh.
Over a period of time, the laughter faded because there was nothing that was funny
anymore. Everything that came up to the surface was serious-- life. So the fights started,
names were being called, phones constantly hung up with the conversation still going on
the other side, and that‘s just what happened. There were only happy times when alcohol
was being poured into cups or wine glasses, though names were still being called before
it was even touched: drunk.
There I was, on a Friday night at Applebee‘s by myself at the counter eating
nothing but a big bowl of spinach and artichoke dip and guzzling down a beer, or three.
Every time we‘d fight I‘d leave, just get the hell out of his face and use his money to
satisfy my needs, and this time the spinach and artichoke dip had called my name. The
waitress, Sandy, looked at me like I was a mental case. I was there on a Friday night.
Shouldn‘t a girl my age be out with friends somewhere else than here?
―Hey, Missy, how are you feeling today? I see you got your usual,‖ Sandy said as
she took the bowl of dip away from me and replaced it with another.
―Fine, Bernard is on my nerves. I guess it‘s a bride- to- be thing. I just had to get
out. I shouldn‘t eat this shit. I‘m getting fat again,‖ I complained and indulged in more
dip and beer.
―Hell, Missy, you‘re perfectly fine. You have a small figure, really awesome hair
and you got a great job. Now look at me, almost thirty, not married, and work part-time at
this dump. I‘d love to do what you do.‖ Sandy smiled at me, holding onto her black
carrying tray. I guessed I‘d have to tip her better than last time.
―Thanks, Sandy, well, I better get going, can‘t have anymore beer and drive
home. I don‘t want to be a bride-to-be convict.‖ I smiled, paid the tab, tipped her an extra
ten, and stumbled out the door to my ‘98 dark green Volvo that I told Bernard I would
never get rid of.
The drive home was relaxing, as I thought it would be. I love driving on the
windy roads in the suburbs outside of Philadelphia. Passing by all the dark green foliage,
passing by the moon, it always helps me think better. The wedding is soon, I thought.
Missy and Bernard together forever--my stomach turned upside down and I didn‘t think it
was from the spinach and artichoke dip. ―Missy Alan,‖ I said out loud to myself. I didn‘t
like it. The name altogether creeped me out. Knowing that I would be married soon
creeped me out. Maybe I wasn‘t ready, but I‘d been with Bernard for years. I knew this
was just a symptom of ―cold feet,‖ an illness every bride-to-be comes down with. I
stopped thinking these thoughts. I was home now, and I shut my car door, walked up on
the steps that lead to my wooden front door, and unlocked it. I heard Bernard‘s angry
footsteps coming closer to me; you could tell he was unhappy, pissed because of
whatever I did. Of course, it was my fault. It always was, well, to him at least.
―Well, Miss? Are you going to apologize or stare at me the whole damn night?
Why did you have to be such a bitch and then just storm off like that? Where did you go,
huh? Drunk, that‘s all you are, all you will ever be,‖ he said to me. Wearing a plain black
t-shirt and plaid pajama bottoms, he‘d been waiting for me for hours. It was only, what,
eleven thirty, twelve? Sick of hearing his constant complaints, I walked past him and he
watched me with his dark brown eyes. I hated coming home to him. I dropped my purse,
my keys, and walked up the steps trying to dodge the papers, photos, and junk that was
―I‘m going to bed!‖ I screamed at Bernard, who was fighting to get into the
covers. I was done arguing with him, done being this person I used to be.
―If you can‘t talk about little things, Missy, then how are we supposed to stay
together and be husband and wife? Why don‘t you care anymore about us?‖ Bernard said
to me, his suppose- to- be wife fast asleep on their bed, not even underneath the jersey
knit sheets, just right on top of the comforter, just like our relationship: One person
always snuggled in bed happy to be in the relationship, excited for new beginnings, while
the other lay on top of all the covers, scared, worried, and unable to let herself get in to
deep into the sheets where she might get lost.
In my dreams I am happy. I become whoever I want to be, and meet whomever I
want to meet. I could see him, the perfect person who made me perfectly happy; he was
beautiful and for some reason he thought I was too. He came close to me and I could
almost feel him touch my hand; then in an instant he vanished, my dream ended.
His snoring was my alarm clock. I‘m a light sleeper, so no matter what, I wake
up. If it wasn‘t his snoring waking me up, it‘s his constant nightmares that did. Bernard
would end up kicking me or screaming in his dreams. He was never a pleasant person to
share a bed with. I looked around our room, not the way I wanted it to be. The walls were
tan, the dressers, of course, were black, and the comforter was a light brown with
corresponding dark brown sheets. He picked it all out, because he didn‘t like my ―let‘s
put our personalities together and make it look like us combined‖ idea. I would have
rather liked a light yellow or a sea-foam green on the walls; this was another constant
thing we fought about, our differences. The clock read seven thirty and I got out of bed,
leaving Bernard to wake up by himself again, all on his own.
My house became infused with the smell of Colombian coffee brewing in the
kitchen. Just like driving, the early mornings helped me think about my life and where it
was heading. I really loved Bernard; I did, I just wasn‘t happy anymore. Lately I‘d been
feeling happy alone, drinking beers by myself, hanging out at the bar by myself, driving
home by myself and waking up drinking coffee by myself. He used to make me feel free,
now I felt contained in his own world-- that I had to be this type of wife for him, one that
didn‘t argue, listened to him, accepted whatever he said to me and tried to cope with it
my own way, not letting him know. I have to be his puppet. The coffee was finally done
and I poured it in a small Christmas mug, the one that could hold the most coffee. I told
Bernard that this one was mine and I wouldn‘t be sharing fortunately, this was the only
thing that didn‘t change. I heard stumbling around upstairs in the bedroom looking over
at the clock. I realized it was eight fifteen and Bernard was late for work.
―MISSY!‖ Bernard screamed from upstairs. I smiled as I sipped the coffee while
sitting on the love seat. I wished they would just call it a small couch.
―Yes dear?‖ I replied, holding the mug up to my lips my whole body snug on the
―You mind telling me why my alarm didn‘t go off? You know I can‘t be late for
work again. I‘m the freaking manager of the store. How are you going to do this to me?
This is pretty much the only income coming in!‖ I hated when Bernard patronized my
job, saying that I didn‘t make any money. I illustrated and wrote books for elementary
schools and daycares and made a great amount of money. The only down side is that I
worked at home. He knew how to make me angry and used it, pretending that he didn‘t
know what he said.
―I guess I‘m just so tired of being yelled at last night, being called names, that I
forgot you had to work today.‖
Bernard ran down the steps trying to fix his tie, the white and green one with the
PHILADELPHIA Eagles on it. It was his favorite. I bought it. I walked over to him,
setting down my coffee, and fixed his tie for him. He looked right at me; my dark blue
eyes met his brown ones. He smiled after I finished with the tie and held me tight. I used
to love being in his big arms, to breathe in his scent that reminded me of my teenage
years. He was my first love; I never realized firsts of anything could die.
―I love you. I don‘t want to fight anymore,‖ he whispered to me in my ear
and I tried to wish the same.
―Okay, it‘s just a fight. I know you‘re the one, Bernard, and when I walk down
the aisle everyone will know it too.‖ I didn‘t look at him. Talking about the wedding was
just something I hated to do.
―All right then, I‘m gonna jet. You have a great day, babe. See you at six.‖
Bernard kissed me on my forehead, almost as if he was leaving his mark on me. Not
wanting to hurt his feelings, I kept my mouth shut and quietly pulled away from his hug.
Grabbing the mug of coffee, I found that spot on the couch that called my name. He was
gone for the day, just what I needed.
Falling back into my dream, I could make out all his facial features, the color of
his hair, his eyes. I saw the scar on his forehead and smiled gently at him. It wasn‘t until
the doorbell rang that reality woke me up. I was still at home, still getting married, and
the doorbell continued to ring.
―Who can that be?‖ I said to myself, getting up from the couch and walking to the
front door. I noticed a small older woman with brown hair and a smiling face, my mother.
―Hi, Mom,‖ I said to my mother in a melancholy tone. My mother, was a short
Italian woman with olive skin to match her dark hair, was standing at my front door with
her purse and a note pad that said, ―Wedding Preparations.‖ I forgot that today we were
supposed to be going over the wedding routine, great.
―Hi, baby! Come here. Give me a hug.‖ She squeezed me tight and looked at my
face. ―Melissa, have you been sleeping? You look terrible!‖ My mother pulled away from
me and reached towards my face, staring at the bags underneath my blood shot eyes.
―Mom, I‘m fine, just stressed about the wedding, and Bernard isn‘t helping any.‖
―He‘s a good man with good money, dear.‖
―Mom, please. I don‘t care about the money, just care about being happy
together.‖ Great, I thought to myself, I opened up a can of worms.
―Are you saying you‘re not happy, Miss? You better be. You‘re getting married in
a week! ONE WEEK!‖ My mother stressed the one-week by using her hands in an angry
―I am happy, just stressed, happy and stressed, mom.‖
―Well, good, all brides are stressed and deep inside they are filled with complete
happiness, just like I was and like I still am with your father.‖
My mother sat on the couch and with the pad of paper and a pen in her hand she
wrote everything that was supposed to happen on my day to shine. We didn‘t exchange
words. I let her write; I listened closely to the pen meeting the paper, as it soothed me and
helped me remember the time I used to write constantly. Ever since I came into the flow
with Bernard, I lost my way with words.
We made a checklist: tables were done; flowers done, food, cake, alcohol, band,
everything was done. She ripped the piece of paper out of pad it lived in and folded it up
a few times, until it was a small symmetrical square. My mother placed it deep inside her
Mary Poppin‘s purse and stared at me with her caring eyes. She looked at the pajamas I
was wearing and I knew at the time what she was thinking.
―Bernard is fine, right? He‘s not cheating, correct?‖ I nodded and she went on
―So then what‘s wrong? I know you children must be fighting, but love conquers all. You
must feel so happy to see him.‖ She waited for a response and when she realized she
wasn‘t getting one, she continued her rant, and I, being her child, had to listen. ―You have
time to say no, I hope you know.‖
I looked down at my lap and played with the strings to my pajama pants and
responded almost in a whisper, ―No, Mom, I love him.‖
―Then you should be fine for next week. You‘ll be so beautiful and your sisters
are so happy for you. Just wait, it‘ll be your day,‖ my mother said and I smiled
sheepishly. ―Are you sure you‘re happy, dear?‖ I looked around the room to find
something to distract her, but there wasn‘t anything. I gave up and instead of lying to her
eyes, I looked directly at her cheekbones that had been coated a few times in pink blush.
―I am happy.‖
―Good, I‘m happy to hear that. Let‘s review this sheet one more time.‖ My
mother got out the list one last time and repeated to me the procedures of the wedding
while I listened. Her words began to slur together as the dream entered my mind. I began
thinking of it more in depth now, his eyes, his hair, the scar; at that late afternoon I left
my mother in my thoughts, entering a different world, one filled with happiness that I
knew I could tell nobody about.
Bernard came home and saw me where I was at seven in the morning on the
couch, where my mother had left me when she went home to greet my father from a long
day at work. Bernard was angry because he saw that none of the chores around the house
were done and because I told him I‘d finish everything that weekend for the wedding the
following week. He picked up dishes in the sink and dropped them, to make a loud
smashing noise and to wake me up from the couch.
―Hey, there,‖ I said to him now standing over the couch; I stretched out my arms.
―Hey, there, thought you were going to clean up. This place looks like shit.
There‘s dishes in the sink, your laundry everywhere. It‘s a complete mess.‖ Bernard
loosened his tie and threw it on the ground, putting his hand on his head, pacing back and
forth. ―What the hell am I going to do with you, Missy?‖ he shouted.
―You‘re being silly. Now there is more to clean up because you dropped your tie.‖
I flashed him a sinister smile and got up off the couch. Searching around the room, I
picked up a pair of black jeans, a white knit top and heels. I put them on and looked
around for my keys.
―Missy, where are you going? I just got home.‖ Bernard‘s tone began to soften
and I knew it was going to be a long night with him.
―I don‘t feel like arguing. You said it was over. You lied and I‘m going out now.
Don‘t wait up for me or anything.‖ I walked by the door and grabbed my purse.
―Missy come on! I never get to see you and you were the one that started it! Hey,
Missy, please come back. MISSY, HEY, COME BACK!‖ Slam, the door went and I
Applebee‘s was too packed that night. Cars filled the parking lot and I saw Sandy
seat a few couples in different booths. I drove past it to find another place where I could
go and drink by myself and not be crowded with happy people, living happy lives, in this
happy go lucky suburbia. I turned my car around and took back roads till I found this
perfect secluded place, a bar called Max‘s. I got out of my car and enjoyed the night.
When three in the morning stumbled around, I did too. My car started up, the old
engine roared, and I couldn‘t make out what way to go home, so I went straight, not
realizing I was driving on the opposite side of the road and swerving. Blue and red lights
flashed my car and I pulled over not so great. That‘s when he knocked on my window
and I rolled it down, staring at his beauty.
―Miss, do you have your license and registration on you?‖ he said and I was so
mesmerized by his face that I didn‘t reach for my purse and just stared at those beautiful
―Miss?‖ he repeated.
―You know my name‖ were the only words that came out of my drunken mouth,
and he opened the car door and looked for my purse himself.
―Melissa Anderson, nice to meet you. Can you please step out of the car for me?‖
With that, I got out of the car and had to try and walk in a straight line. I was way over
my limit to drive. Officer Landon Scott had to take me with him to the police station.
When he asked me to get in his car, I giggled and realized this wouldn‘t be the last time I
For the next few days I grew quite accustomed to Landon Scott. The night he
arrested me for driving drunk he made a pot of Colombian coffee, and like me he also
used a big mug. He asked me why a girl my age went to a bar that was basically filled
with senior citizens. I told him I had to get away, far away, from people who are happier
than I am. Landon thought I had everything, a great job, a soon to be marriage.
―What more do you need?‖ he said, staring at me across from his desk. ―Isn‘t that
what every beautiful woman wants and deserves?‖ I smiled, flattered by his compliment,
only he was the only beautiful person in the room to me.
―Happiness, all I want is happiness,‖ I said, and he touched my hand and my heart
began to jump.
―I hope one day you‘ll find it, Missy‖ was all he said to make me experience
that feeling that I felt when I first fell in love with Bernard.
When I left his office that following morning, he gave me something that I
thought I was done with. He gave me his phone number and put his name underneath it
and excluded the ―officer‖ and just put Landon Scott. I gave him my number. He wanted
to make sure I was okay; I was pretty upset the whole night and just needed someone to
talk to, someone who understood. Landon had been in a serious relationship, but she left
him after he proposed; he was lonely. He knew how I felt and he treated me unlike most
of the people who arrived in his office. He treated me like a real person, a human being.
We talked for hours about our lives, how he was a troubled teen and once he
got older he stepped up and wanted to be a police officer to try and help teenagers who
were just like him. Landon learned a lot about my life, too. I told him about my paintings
and how I wrote and illustrated children books. He thought it was sweet and something
he‘d like to see. He was very astonished, learning about Bernard and how he treated me
―You better not let him treat you like that anymore or I might have to step in‖ is
what he said, or sometimes, ―Man, if I had a woman like you, I would never do anything
to make her step back and think about the relationship. I‘d blame all the arguments on me
just to see those dark blue eyes dry.‖
After he dropped me off where my car was parked from the night, he told me
not to worry and that I‘d see him soon and to stay out of the bars; if I ever felt lonely to
call him, but I‘d probably see him before I started dialing the number and I held onto that
hope that he was telling the truth.
Bernard was out with his brothers trying on their suits for the wedding, which was
the following day, he wouldn‘t be back for hours. That‘s when I saw the police car at my
house and Landon in regular clothes walking up to the door. Excited, I rushed to my
bedroom and sprayed some perfume and took my hair out of my hair clip, letting my hair
bounce onto my shoulders. I ran back down the steps, dodging shoes, books, and papers,
and opened the door.
―Hey, speedy, take a breather. You look like you‘ve been running around,‖
Landon said, stepping into my house, putting his keys on the kitchen countertop.
―Yeah, I had to, um, run around and get ready. How did you get my address?‖
―Sweetheart, you must have forgotten that I am a cop. I got all your information
in the computer in my car. I really hope that doesn‘t seem strange. I just didn‘t want to
call and have Bernard answer.‖
―It‘s fine. It‘s fine. I kind of like that you came over to see me. Tomorrow‘s the
wedding. I don‘t think I‘m ready. It doesn‘t feel right,‖ I said, turning the coffee pot on,
waiting for the aroma to fill the air.
― Missy, what feels right?‖ Landon‘s hands touched my face. He got closer and I
looked away. I couldn‘t do this, not now.
―I want to show you something.‖ I led him back into my office, where I wrote and
where I painted, a place Bernard couldn‘t follow me and where my troubles stayed at the
doorway. On the canvas was a portrait of Bernard and me for the wedding, it sat right by
the doorway for the wedding, to lead people in. Landon held it looking at my features on
the portrait and then looking over at me.
―Your eyes are much deeper and darker in the portrait. Almost as if you were
hiding in there.‖ He set the portrait down, grabbed my face, and kissed me gently on my
―If you can‘t do this, don‘t. Who cares if all the preparations are done for the
wedding and if all your guests took off the day from work to come. It‘s supposed to be
you‘re day and you‘re supposed to be happy, not sad, not having second thoughts--
―Landon, I feel like I‘m only happy when I see you. You know me, the real me,
the new me. Bernard, he only knows what he wants. He likes the old me from high
school. I grew up. I‘m done being this girl. I need new skin.‖
That‘s when he finally did it. He pulled me closer to him, letting all my worries
all my fears wither away with his kiss. “You‟re beautiful,” he whispered in my ear. He
held me in his arms, and like a child I held onto him. Tears streamed down my face as he
kissed them away. His hands made their way down to my waist, buttons, zippers and any
other particle of clothing found its way onto the floor as we both made our way to the
couch. As I lay there with him and began what was certainly a huge mistake, I breathed
in his scent and decided I didn‘t care anymore. This was me, this was my new skin and
Landon would be the first one ever to see it, touch it, love and experience it.
My mother knew what was going on and I didn‘t tell her nor did Landon. The
room at the small Catholic Church was filled with all females getting ready for my
wedding. My sisters at one end of the room applying makeup to their naked skin, my
niece, the flower girl running around the room throwing pink rose petals singing here
comes the bride. Then there was my mother, who helped me with my dress, very angry at
me for some reason, and at the time I didn‘t know why.
―Melissa, you better go tell that boy what you did before I do,‖ my mother said
angrily to me, pulling the dress down by my ankles.
―Mom, did you already start drinking without me? Come on!‖
―This isn‘t funny, Melissa. You‘re getting married in about five minutes. You‘ve
been acting strange ever since you were out at three in the morning. What has gotten into
you?‖ My mother and I both stared at the mirror. ―Oh, and look now, you‘re glowing.
You must have done something bad, and if you ask me, dear, I love your father and I
would never do anything to hurt him, so why do you insist on hurting Bernard and me,
for Christ‘s sake!‖
―Mother, stop. This is my day. I know what I have to do soon. I‘ve been happy
because of someone else and I haven‘t had the courage to tell Bernard because what if
something happens and we‘re better, you know?‖
―You are already having doubts. You better think of something quick because
once you say I do, it‘s going to be hard to obtain divorce papers for about six months.‖
The music started playing and everybody was leaving the room. I gave one last
glance at myself in the mirror and knew what I had to do. Wedding bells were being rung
outside and inside the church, the piano played beautiful music, and people stood up as
my father grabbed my arm and led me down the aisle. I thought about Landon and what
we shared together. He had a part of me nobody knew about. My heart raced in all
different directions. Melissa Alan, no I hated that name. I can‘t do this, I thought to
myself. I started sweating repulsively and shaking. My father whispered something and I
couldn‘t understand, something in between ―Are you okay?‖ or ―Stop moving around,
you idiot, you‘re getting married.‖ It was time to do it. I dropped to the ground. My arm
fell out from my father‘s grip and I fell onto the pink rose petals that smelled so beautiful.
I kept my eyes closed and everybody surrounded me. I could hear my mother say the
Lord‘s name in vain and everybody saying, ―Give her room! Give her room!‖
By the time I woke up, everybody had left the church. The wedding was off for
today, for good. When I got home I packed up my belongings and told Bernard I needed
time to be by myself. I knew it wasn‘t right to faint at my wedding, it wasn‘t right that
my poor mother knew why and shooed off all our guests, our family, for my selfishness.
It wasn‘t right to try and make myself love Bernard the way I used to. I apologized to him
for that before I left the house. Bernard would forever be my first love, but that‘s all, just
my first. As for Landon, I didn‘t leave Bernard for him. People change and I had to, too.
Landon had been there to help me through a difficult time. I didn‘t know whom I wanted
to be with, but, what was worse, I didn‘t know what I wanted or what kind of person I
was. My new skin? Just like a snake, I realized, our skin sheds more than once.
―Thanks a lot Mrs. Morgan!‖ said Kevin, a 17-year-old boy, as his best friend‘s
mother handed him a small bag of weed in exchange for twenty dollars.
―Anytime, Kevin. See you next week?‖
Samantha Morgan shut her back door and walked into her kitchen where her son,
Daniel, was smoking from her bong that they shared. She liked to think of this as
‗bonding‘ with her son and did it most mornings before school. Daniel handed her the
bong and was in a hurry to get his things and be out the door.
―What‘s with you this morning?‖ said Samantha
―Mom, I have to pick up Alana. We can‘t be late for school again. Or else we‘ll
get a detention, and Alana won‘t like that.‖
Daniel hopped into his Jeep Wrangler and drove into a development in the upper
class side of the suburbs called Greystone Estates, where his girlfriend, Alana Riviera,
lived. He pulled up to the circular driveway right in front of where Alana was sitting in
the outdoor sofa on her wrap-around porch. As she saw him drive up to her she put on a
smile, which was fake today, threw her bag over her shoulder, and made her way to her
boyfriend‘s car, which she noticed reeked of marijuana the moment she opened the door.
―Hey, babe,‖ Daniel said as he leaned over for a kiss. She gave him one, but not
because she wanted to, but just simply because he was there.
―Hi Daniel listen I - ‖
―Ready for the party tonight!?‖ he interrupted.
―Yeah, but listen, Daniel, I think we need to have a talk after school today.‖
Daniel was slightly confused but he went along with it.
―All right, wanna just chill at my house then?‖
―Sure, that would be fine,‖ said Alana. The rest of the car ride to school was
It was the end of last year, their junior year, when Daniel really started to notice
Alana. She was about five feet some odd inches tall and stood just under his chin, which
Daniel thought was perfect. Her long brown hair was naturally entangled into perfect
curls that joined together to sit perfectly in the center of her shoulder blades, but it was
her deep sapphire eyes surrounded by a smooth circle of long lashes that laid against her
soft olive skin that made Alana Riviera stand out to Daniel more than any other girl he
had ever seen before. There was only one problem and it was pretty clear: Alana was
sweet and innocent and Daniel was known more as a so-called ‗badass‘ around school; so
therefore, the two hung out with completely different sets of friends. That didn‘t mean
Daniel couldn‘t at least try; he was always up for a challenge anyway. He started by
getting her number and after he didn‘t get rejected from that step he started texting her
and they hung out a lot over the summer. Eventually, things got more serious and before
you new it, Alana was Daniel‘s first real girlfriend.
Even though they were two people from different groups of friends, Daniel and
Alana were perfect and everyone loved them being together. They rarely ever fought;
actually, they had never been in a real fight in the whole 7 months they had been dating.
If anything, there was a small disagreement here or there but nothing too bad or worth
worrying about. So as far as Daniel was concerned, he was in the flawless relationship
and couldn‘t possibly imagine why Alana wasn‘t her cheerful self and what she wanted to
‗talk about‘. The only problem Daniel knew Alana had was with his mother because she
smoked all the time at the house with her son. The two had already talked about that issue
plenty of times before, and she most likely would not want to talk about it again since it
seemed to always make her uncomfortable and upset.
That afternoon, Daniel hurried to meet Alana like usual outside of her last class
and they both walked up to her locker to get her books for home. Daniel didn‘t care that
they had to walk to the complete opposite end of the school and back again every single
day because he saw it as just more time to spend with Alana.
―So, I guess we‘ll just go back to my house?‖ said Daniel. There was no ‗hi‘ or
‗how was that test?‘ not even a kiss when they saw each other, and they barely talked
while they walked in the earsplitting hallways at the end of a Friday.
―Sure,‖ and with that Alana grabbed her coat and slammed her locker shut for the
There was another silent drive back to Daniel‘s house. When they walked in the
door the first thing they saw, which was pretty typical, was Samantha standing in her
kitchen bong-to-mouth, getting high. After she was finished, she held it out to Daniel.
―Wanna hit, Dan?‖ He looked at Alana, who did not seem pleased at the question
―Not now, Mom.‖ He took Alana‘s arm and led her to his bedroom.
He sat on his bed and moved over to leave the spot where she usually lays next to
him open, but today she just sat on the chair at his desk. Daniel patted the mattress with
his hand that usually made Alana go over faster, but she stayed still in her place with her
legs crossed on the uncomfortable wood chair.
Daniel let out a sigh, ―All right, just tell me. What‘s wrong? Something‘s
obviously been on your mind today.‖ All she could do was look at him, because what she
was about to say was the hardest thing she had ever had to do.
―I think we need to break up.‖ Daniel didn‘t know what to do. What was wrong
with their relationship? He was the happiest kid in the world who thought he made his
girlfriend the happiest girl in the world. For a moment they just sat there together and
after a while of silence, she got up and sat next to him on his bed. What else was she
supposed to do; she just told the person that loved her most she didn‘t want to be with
him anymore. It had to be a shock to Daniel; poor kid didn‘t even see it coming.
―Why? What‘s wrong? Did I do something?‖
―No, you‘re great. I love you. It‘s just…‖ She paused. ―I don‘t really know how
else to say this but I just don‘t think it‘s really a good thing that I‘m around here
anymore.‖ He looked more and more confused every minute she was talking, and it‘s not
like she wanted to break up, but it‘s what she felt like she had to do. ―I mean, come on
Daniel, your mother is getting high in the kitchen! I don‘t think I can do it anymore‖
There it was, he thought.
―Aw, come on, Alana‖ was all Daniel could say as he kissed her hand. ―We‘re
perfect together and its Friday. Let‘s not ruin our weekend with this plus there‘s a party at
Kevin‘s tonight and his parents aren‘t home!‖ His hand untangled from her fingers, his
arm wrapped around her shoulder, and their lips touched. She smiled.
―Let‘s just see how the weekend goes, and if we have to talk about this later, we
will on Monday.‖
Alana got ready with a million thoughts running through her head that night. She
wasn‘t as excited as she usually was when getting ready to go out on a Friday night. She
kept thinking about what Daniel and how much she loved him. Alana saw the reflection
on her wall from Daniel‘s headlights going around the circle in front of her house; this
was something new since she always waited for him on her porch. She went downstairs
to say goodbye to her parents and assured them that she would be home by curfew. The
car ride to the party wasn‘t as silent, or awkward, as the ride to school earlier that day.
They talked about the party, the kid throwing the party, and everyone who would be in
attendance, but they never talked about them. Which was the way Daniel liked it; he
didn‘t want to hear Alana talk about breaking up anymore that day.
The party got going but Daniel thought it could be an even better time if he was
alone with Alana. He pulled her away from her friend in the direction to the stairs.
―Come on,‖ he said, as he put his foot on the first step. ―There‘s no one in Kevin‘s
room.‖ She held his hand and followed him up; he would apologize to Kevin later.
Once they got upstairs, Daniel went right for the bed and laid down. He extended
his arm out for Alana to fit into next to him, which she did. They started kissing at first
and then one thing led to another.
Daniel got up. ―Hold on,‖ he said to Alana. ―I‘ll be right back.‖ Daniel walked
into the bathroom and took the condom out of his wallet and looked around for a safety
pin. He finally found one and thought, ‗I‘ll be will Alana if she has to stay with me‘.
Alana was woken up on a Sunday morning, about 5 weeks after the weekend that
she almost broke it off with Daniel, by a nauseous feeling in her stomach followed by her
hovering the toilet. This had been happening for the past week and a half; there was
obviously something wrong, so Alana went to the doctors. While there, she thought of the
night at the party when she and Daniel had sex, and then she started to get paranoid. Her
hands were shaking and all she noticed in the waiting room were the babies. ‗No‘, she
thought, ‗there‘s no way! Daniel used a condom. I probably just have the flu or
Alana told her doctor everything that was wrong with her, like how she was
always tired and bizarrely craved pickles all the time. The doctor ran some tests to rule
out any major disease and after that she was waiting in his office. ‗Please be the flu‟, she
thought. The doctor came out and said everything was fine except for one thing, and
Alana even knew way before he said anything that she was pregnant. Everything was
clear to her; all she needed was to hear those words from the doctor to make it real to her
that her life would cease to exist as it was now. Now she just had to break the news to
‗We need to talk. Can you come over?‘ Daniel read on his phone in a text from
Alana. „Not again!‟ he thought. Their relationship had been going really well the past few
weeks, so this time it really confused him about what she would possibly want to talk
about. He got in his jeep right away and drove over to Alana‘s, and all he thought about
was what he could have done wrong and if she was mad.
Nobody was home with her, so they had the whole house to themselves; usually
they would take advantage of this, but today it was the complete opposite. Alana was
anxious and her hands were even shaking a little, the way they always did when she got
nervous. Daniel arrived and when Alana opened the door she immediately ran into his
arms, crying, and out of nowhere it came rushing out of her and she said, ―I‘m pregnant!‖
Daniel had thought of this happening and even hoped for it, but he never thought
it would actually happen! He tried to process what Alana just told him but he couldn‘t,
and he pushed his arms out in front of him so he could see her face. She looked at him
and he used his thumbs to wipe away the tears from her face.
After she told Daniel, he stayed with her and they told her parents right away. The
Riviera‘s were enraged but they knew they had to deal with the situation in the right way.
Daniel wasn‘t going to include his mother; he planned on telling her, but she could
probably care less, so he didn‘t want her involved. Together, they decided that the best
thing for everyone would be for the baby to be adopted.
Alana sat in the hospital eight months later with her parents and Daniel waiting
for a delivery room to open up. Giving up her baby would be the hardest thing she had
ever had to do but she knew that Josh and Grace, the adoptive parents, were the perfect
pick. Josh was a plastic surgeon and Grace was a lawyer so they could give her baby a
much better life than she ever could.
When it was time for Alana to finally go home, she was tired and upset. Daniel
came over to comfort her, but Alana knew she had to get away from everything that had
just happened and put it behind her, including Daniel.
―Daniel, we‘re over,‖ she said to him. ―This whole thing just changed my life, and
I don‘t think it was for the better.‖ She was crying when she walked him to the door and
gave him one last hug goodbye.
The shots stopped and during midday the enemy had retreated behind the mosque
that they were firing out of. We took cover in this empty building, the outside of it
covered with graffiti that we couldn‘t read and bullet holes, until we could get vehicle
support. Our Humvee was disabled during battle. The transportation arrived; we all got
in and headed back to base. When we got back, they were starting to serve dinner in the
dinning hall everyone was telling stories about why they joined. ―Well I joined because
of September 11th‖ said PFC. Jones, which was the reason for most of the people around
me for enlisting in the marines. My reason was totally different. I was the kid in school
who didn‘t like to pay attention and needed discipline and something to do because
college didn‘t interest me. I was so glad that I had graduated from high school and that
part of my life was over for me; I remember when I signed to join and that first week of
boot camp a month after graduation. I remember the first days we ran three miles and
marched almost five; those 12 weeks were filled with memories good and bad. I learned a
lot from that short amount of training. When I got to Iraq things were not what I
expected. The drill instructor always said these test dummies would be armed and
shooting back at you, but I couldn‘t comprehend this until I actual got here and into
battle, I still remember it. The third day here we were going to apprehend a group located
in the southwest, and they started to fire at us, I froze up in the field, I just remember
hearing, ―Johnson, take cover,‖ and scrambling behind the wall and returning fire when I
was ordered to. I snapped back to reality when I heard ―Jim, why‘d you join?‖ from
across the table I just said, ―I wanted to be one of ‗the few, the proud‘.‖
Weeks into this experience I lost someone I had begun to think of as a friend. Ed
was his name. He was standing right next to me when the group fired at us, and he was in
the middle of finishing a sentence when I saw him drop I looked at him, he looked at me,
and his eyes just closed. He had just got married a few months ago and had a kid on the
way. My girlfriend and I had just got engaged, all I could think about was that image of
him, his wife getting that knock on the door that you see in all the military movies, his
daughter or son not growing up with a father, and my girlfriend. I didn‘t even sleep that
night, and when I did get a few seconds of rest I just kept seeing Ed looking at me and
going to sleep. The next day at breakfast all I could think about was if the marines were
for me or not. Should I stay and protect my country and potentially lose my life or should
I go home and be selfish? I couldn‘t make up my mind.
A few months had passed and the violence had calmed down, for now. Over the
past few months I had seen seven people die since Ed died and now I am uncomfortably
numb to death. Today was 4/11, my birthday, and I got letters from friends and family
even people I hadn‘t talked too since high school, which seemed so long ago even though
it had only been 9 months, one that said ―Hey, ‗bro,‘ I was reading the paper a few
months back and it said local graduates heading over to Iraq, and your name was in there,
I was shocked, well I remembered your birthday was coming up, and I dropped this off to
your mom so she could send it for me. I was just wishing you a happy birthday and stay
safe‖ – John Taylor,‖ a good friend of mine in high school I couldn‘t even imagine using
the word ―bro‖. The letter had reminded me how far gone I was from high school and that
I was becoming a man, or I guess, ―One of the few, and the proud,‖ like I said at that
table. I read the letter from my girlfriend. She told me about the people around town and
what was going on back home, how she missed me, and she seemed to ramble about
nothing until I got to the end and read, ―I‘m pregnant, stunned by what I read, I got to the
nearest phone to call home. It rang and rang and rang, I didn‘t think anyone would
answer. I talked to her yesterday and she didn‘t mention anything about being pregnant.
She finally answered and I didn‘t bring it up right away. She said happy birthday and
asked if I had gotten her letter. I said yeah and asked her why she didn‘t tell me sooner,
she said that she didn‘t know how to tell me. I just sat there silent for a second, thinking
she didn‘t say anything either until she asked if I was upset or not, I was still quiet and
said no. I asked how long she was pregnant she said it must of happened when I left and
that she was almost due. The last thing I said to her was I would be home to see my child.
I promised and hung up the telephone.
I was starting to not want to make friends by the time a year rolled around. It
seemed like everyone I got close to was dying, but that didn‘t stop me. You always
wanted someone to talk to or to toss the football with around the base. My newest
acquaintance was a Black Hawk pilot, Jake, doing his second tour in Iraq. He always
gave me advice about how to survive over here. He told me ―You can‘t be infatuated with
death…‖ but that‘s all I could think about. I was so obsessed with staying alive just to
keep that promise to my girlfriend and unborn child that taking the lives of other people
was becoming second nature to me. I was literally turning into an animal, like a lion an
animal that kills to stay alive, except my prey were not a different species, they were
other human beings. I realized that some of the things I took for granted back home were
the things that I wanted the most, like quality time and sleeping in my own bed.
Pretty soon, one group of marines were leaving and another group was coming in.
In the group leaving was Jake, his tour here was over, it was bittersweet, I was happy he
was going home to see his family but still I was losing another friend different
circumstances this time though, I was happy for him. The new group of Marines had
come in and I saw some familiar faces, well, one familiar face in particular, a kid I went
to high school with. We were close until the petty arguments in senior year kind of ended
our relationship after graduation. Steve Walls, we hadn‘t spoken since then. At one point
in time we called each other brothers. I remembered the first time I met my recruiter Staff
Sgt. Rodriguez. He made this sound so good, ―40k+ a year base pay, 12k housing
allowance, and we will pay for your education after high school, if that‘s what you want
to do.‖ I actually told Steve about it after the first meeting, he laughed and said ―It
sounds too good to be true‖ this was the beginning of where we started to split ways. He
started hanging with the wrong crowd and got into the wrong stuff, and that lifestyle
wasn‘t for me. Now, seeing him here was a total shock to me I walked over and extended
my hand; he extended his and said, ―You inspired me...‖ this wasn‘t what I expected to
hear from someone I haven‘t talked to in close to a year. I just replied ―Welcome to the
marines…Brother,‖ and smiled. We caught up, He told me about the article in the
newspaper about the marines that were leaving when I left from around the surrounding
area, and how after what he read he realized he needed to change his life around and
enlisted. We talked about how horrible boot camp was, or as we called it ―12 weeks of
hell.‖, how things were back home before he left and basically caught up on life since I
had been gone.
A month had passed since Steve had arrived and the fighting had increased. The
insurgents were extremely aggressive, and they killed as many of us as we did of them.
Night fell and we were riding in the humvee when the shots began to whiz by, they
sounded like humming birds. We were waiting for Steve to return fire from the .50
caliber that was on top of the vehicle. We yelled for him to return fire, but there was
nothing but the sounds of ammunition pelting the armored vehicle. The shots stopped and
there was still no response from Steve. The firing stopped and we pulled over. When I got
out I didn‘t even want to look at the top of the gunner on the humvee, but I did. When I
looked over he was slumped on top of the gun turret. We pulled him down and the wound
was between his goggles and his helmet. We placed him in the vehicle and drove back to
base. When we arrived, I said I wanted to escort him home. They agreed and told me
when our flight would be. When I got back to my bed I began to cry silent tears until I
fell asleep. In a way, I felt responsible for his death. He joined because of me; I was his
―brother‖; I was supposed to be looking after him. I thought I was numb to death, but this
was the one that hit home the most. I couldn‘t believe I was going to be the one knocking
on his mother‘s door and giving her the folded flag, like I saw in all the movies I had
We boarded the plane and it was a normal United Airways plane. The flight was
long all the way back to Hanover, Indiana. The flight was filled with my thoughts and
worries, how would she react, would she blame me, did I want to do this anymore I just
lost my ―brother.‖ These were some of the thoughts going through my mind and then the
flight stopped and landed in the local airport and the captain came over the loud speaker
and I heard, ―Today we have Lance Corporal Jim Blasczvk from the USMC escorting a
fallen soldier home. Would you all remain seated until he gets up and exits.‖ I got up,
placed on my hat, stepped into the aisle, and as I began to walk I heard a round of
applause. I was surprised by the reaction. During this applause, I remembered why I
joined the Marines. I joined to protect these people, and this reaction made me feel
appreciated. Getting off of that plane made what I said earlier become a reality I was
really becoming one of ―the few, the proud,‖ even though when I first said it when they
asked me, I was just covering up that I joined because I was a slacker in high school and
didn‘t have anything better to do. I may have lost a close friend, and a brother, but I
gained something else. I gained the respect of being a marine. The government provided
vehicle was there waiting for me at the airport. They presented me with the flag that was
folded into a triangle for me to give to Steve‘s mother. We got to the address and I
hesitated to get out the car, but I did and knocked on the door, Mrs. Walls answered and
broke into tears. I couldn‘t cry I didn‘t want to look weak in front of her at a time like
this. While I was there, I managed to see my pregnant fiancé and told her I would be
home soon and to not worry.
Humbled by the experience on the plane, the funeral of a close friend, and my
fiancé carrying my child, and I was inspired by her acception of my proposal to finish my
tour of duty. I returned to Iraq to finish my remaining months in my first tour with those
three memories and they made the remaining months that much faster. When I finished it
was bittersweet. The things I learned there in Iraq that first tour would make memories
for a long time, but the things I lost were just as valuable. I‘d never get to see people that
I called friends ever again, but they lost their lives in honor of something bigger than us,
our country. I could honestly say I returned home one of ‗the few, the proud‖ a United
Part 1: Into the Nightmare
Leaves were brushing against my face as I sped by them. Out of breath, I was
losing speed. But I couldn‘t lose. I couldn‘t let him win again. He always won. I could
hear him panting behind me; getting louder and louder as he got closer and closer. I
leaped over a log and almost tripped. I could hear him right behind me. Close enough to
touch. And in an instant he rushed past me leaving me behind. He disappeared through
the beams of light the flooded through the leaves. I finally made it to the edge of the
woods. Wide open fields sat under a placid blue sky. The wind created waves in the
grass. Cannon came running back to me as I made my way to the top of the hill. Cannon
barked and leaped at my feat begging me for attention. His tail waiving vigorously. I lay
at the top of the hill letting the air brush over me. Cannon lay next to me still panting. I
started to dream. An intense Arabian sun shone over a massive city like an imperial God.
Lines of people marched into the city steadily. The magnificent city shimmered in the sun
as heat waves swayed in front of my face. Blazing trumpets could be heard from within
My eyes flickered open. Sitting up, I feel completely refreshed. How long had I
been up here? Getting to my feet, I started to think about the golden city. If only I could
go to a city like that; with a king that ruled over vast armies and citizens. Life would be
so much more interesting than the life a small village boy. Walking towards the woods I
felt so simplistic. My average life would welcome me back when I returned home.
Stepping over fallen branches and rocks, Thoughts of the city flood my mind. If I
lived in the city would I live in a big house with a balcony and servants? Would I live a
life full of adventure and excitement? Suddenly cannon shot forward darting out of the
woods. Running after him, I called his name. Cannon was standing stiffly on top of the
hill that overlooked the village. I walked up next to him. I looked down in awe over the
most dreadful thing I had ever seen. Under an obscured sky, the village glowed in deep
orange and yellow flames. Smoke bellowed from the fires that burned in the valley. Men
were walking around killing all that attempted to fight. I saw a woman being tied to
another then another, straight down a line. The same with the men. The women tried to
hang on to their children as the monstrous men tore them apart. I was so angry that I
cried. I looked for my mom but I couldn‘t tell the women apart so far away. The
children‘s cries echo painfully in my ears. The savage men beat a child who tried to run
away. They dragged him back to tie him up with all the rest of their capture. I couldn‘t
think. I couldn‘t move. I was paralyzed in my position. Being made to watch by an
invisible force. To hear the screams and cries of my friends and not being able to do
anything was the worst feeling in the world. The monstrous men roared along with the
raging fires long into the night. Even through all the smoke, you could see the angry red
moon shine over the scorched earth.
Smoke still rose from the hot ash. The sleepless night emerged into a dreary
morning. Sitting atop the hill with cannon the pain echoed through my body. A grey
mourning sky brought rain. It poured over me masking the tears that bled from my eyes
within it. I looked at all of the people in chains. So sad. So helpless. Never in all my life
had I gone through so much pain. The grey earth stood still. Wind did not flow through
the skies today. IT was so quiet on top of the hill. The silence grew louder and louder,
ringing in my ears like the bells of Notre Dame. The people of the valley slowly rose as
the massive men instructed them to. They started moving towards a hidden trail in
between the hills to the east. Into the sunset they would depart from their home.
The dark sky turned opaque. White almost. The rain grew light as the last of the
village people disappeared into the hills. I felt so sick. I wished for my father to come
back with my mother an little brother. My poor little brother… he must be so scared right
now. And I did nothing to help them. How could I stand here so helplessly? How could I
leave them to their fate? What would I have done anyway? A 14 year old boy cant do
anything against men like that. I was tired of sitting. I got to my feet and looked upon the
remains of what used to be my home one last time. I didn‘t know where I was going to go
but I knew that I had to leave.
―So where do we go from here?‖ I asked cannon. He just looked up at me. I was
trying to be in an optimistic mood to keep myself from being sad. It wasn‘t working. We
had walked for hours and it all seemed so hopeless. The clouds departed and the sun
shone so bright. Clear skies just don‘t feel right though. Surrounded by mountains
walking through fields of red flowers. Such a serene scene. So calm and peaceful. I
would have loved to be in this place any day but today. Today didn‘t feel beautiful. It
definitely didn‘t feel serene. Why were rabbits hopping around playfully? And why the
hell were birds chirping so happily? TODAY IS NOT HAPPY! All these animals should
just drop dead just like my village! A large forest was just in front of us. Cannon stopped
as I did. I looked around. There was no way to tell where this path would lead me to. The
dirt road was not made of yellow bricks. How do I know this is where I want to go.
Where do I want to go?
―Maybe we can go to the golden city.‖
Cannon looked up at me not for not opposed. He would follow me no matter where I
decided. Even if I decided now to go to the golden city I had hear so much about from
stories told in the village, how do I know this road takes me there?
―I guess we‘ll find out.‖ I told myself.
And I took my first step towards whatever this unknown road would take me.
The forest had a dim golden glow. As the wind blew through the leaves, it
sounded as if the forest was whispering to us. It was silent and shrouded by gloom. I
liked this. It set a mood I was in need of. Even though we walked a steady pace following
the trail it felt as if we hadn‘t made any progress. I was tired and getting hungrier with
every step but I just didn‘t care anymore. We walked through what seemed to me as a
hundred years. Every tree looked the same as the last. Every broken log placed seemingly
in the same place. I sighed as hope of getting out of the forest faded from my mind.
The sun shone a little brighter here. The trees were spaced out further from each other.
Grass grew thick here. An open glad appeared from behind a tree just ahead. A girl was
sitting in the middle. She looked like an angel sitting in the golden light that filtered
down from the heavens. She had long, light brown hair that formed Perfect waves. She
looked fragile and somehow innocent. Cannon barked at her waking me from my glazed
over state. She looked up at us as cannon made his way over to her. Cannon barked
fiercely at her but she showed no fear. She stood up casually and glided towards me
gracefully, disregarding cannon completely. She waved at me.
―Hi! I‘m Amy‖ she said with a smile. ―Who are you?‖
―Mika,‖ I said quickly as if trying not to say too much.
―Are you lost?‖
I had to think for a moment. Was I lost? She was now in front of me with cannon at her
―Uh… I don‘t think so. I‘m just making my way through the
―Oh. I know the fastest way out. That trail is so windy. It takes forever to get
through that way. I‘ll take you if you‘d like.‖ She turned and skipped towards the other
side of the glade. Then she disappeared behind a row of trees. I looked at cannon who
looked as if he had a huge question mark over his head. The girl‘s head reappeared from
behind a tree.
―Are you coming?‖ she asked.
We ran to catch up with her as she disappeared behind the trees again.
―So where are you headed anyway?‖ She ask as she leaped over a rotten log.
―A City,‖ I said blandly.
―Which one? There are lots of cities. Are you going to Timaru or Wellington or
I didn‘t know what it was called. I thought about my dreams and everything I heard about
―Uh… it‘s a big city right on the water. It has a huge harbour.‖ That‘s all I could
think to tell her.
―Oh! Your going to Whangerei. That‘s not too far from here. Why are you going
―the town I lived in was burned down,‖ I said not knowing if town was an
acceptable word to describe the little village barely big enough to be thought of as a
―Oh. That‘s bad.‖ She said awkwardly. I could tell she didn‘t really know what to
―So what are you doing out in these woods?‖ I asked starving for information about
―I ran away from home. My parents suck…‖
as she talked about how horrible her parents were all I could think of were my parents. I
missed them. My brother too. If I could only see them again. Pain grew in my stomach
the more I thought about them.
―What‘s wrong?‖ She asked with a worried look on her face.
―Nothing, why?‖ I responded confused.
―Your crying,‖ She answered with a soft voice.
I swiftly wiped my eyes. Looking up ahead I saw the last of the trees.
―Finally!‖ I gasped. ―So where are you headed?‖ I asked as I walked into open
space for the first time in what seemed like years.
―Didn‘t you hear me? I‘m not going anywhere in particular. Just where ever life
takes me. I guess I can take you to Whangerie. I‘ve never been there but I know where it
―Okay,‖ I said smiling. We stood in the afterglow as the sun receded behind the
earth looking at a single lonely cabin.
On the porch of the cabin we peeked through the windows. Curtains block our view. The
Lights were off.
―Do you think someone lives here?‖ asked Amy. ― It looks pretty deserted to me.‖
I shrugged. Suddenly she knocked on the door.
―What are you doing!‖ I screamed in a whisper.
―Well do you want to sleep on the grass tonight? Didn‘t think so,‖ she said with an
attitude as she knocked again.
I looked around to see if anyone was around to see us.
―I don‘t think this is a good idea,‖ I said. Turning back around I found her inside the
house. She walked into the darkness with stealth. I followed her into the house closing
the door behind me.
Moonlight shone through the curtains letting us see very little. She wondered off into the
next room as I looked at all the weird things she had. Old fashioned dolls with the really
big dresses were on the table, dozens of glass balls in a china closet, and all sorts of odd
things spread out around the room. I walked around avoiding the stuffed cats all around
the room . Picking up things for brief seconds and putting them down exactly the way I
found them. I drifted into the next room which was completely dark. I couldn‘t see
anything. I bumped into a table as I continued to walk. Something splashed on the floor. I
couldn‘t even see the door way to get out. I wished Cannon was here. Where was
Cannon. How could I have lost track of him? Suddenly I saw a flickering light create the
outline of a hallway out of what used to be vast darkness.
Amy Appeared in the doorway with a candle. Cannon was by her side.
―Shhh. I think someone is in the house.‖ She whispered before I had a chance to say
something. She led me out of the room and into a long hallway. Starting down the
hallway we heard a noise. I pulled cannon close to me by his collar. Amy clamped to my
arm. We were frozen in the hallway. We didn‘t know whether to turn back or continue
forward. Suddenly a light turned on in a room in front of us. We immediately turned
around and sped to the end of the hallway. There was a door to the right that was locked.
We opened the door to the left to find a long stairwell into a dark cellar. Amy an I looked
at each other questioningly. The door to the room with the light was starting to open. We
quickly descended into the darkness. There was clutter everywhere. It was a maze of
boxes. We hid in the corner and blew out the candle. We heard the click of heeled shoes
on the stairs. We heard a cackling laugh. A laugh that brought chills to my soul.
―I know your down here my little babies,‖ Said an elderly woman‘s voice. I felt as
if the darkness could no longer protect me. I heard a loud crash then a hand pulled hard
on my arm. I dragged cannon a long with me as we crawled away from the sound. There
was another crash just ahead of us. Suddenly a beaming light appeared. It searched for us
as it moved violently around the room.
―Come out come out wherever you are!‖ cried the old woman‘s voice. We had to
get back to the stairs.
As the click of her shoes made its way around the room we crawled behind boxes finding
our way to the stairs. But how could we get out without her seeing us. We slowly crept up
the stairs hoping not to make them creek. Suddenly Cannon lurches to the top of the
stairs. Looking off the staircase we see an old haggardly woman rushing towards us. Amy
and I got to out feet and bolted through the door. We ran through the hallway Bursting
through a door at the end. It was a dirty kitchen with slop dripping off the table and burn
marks all over the wall and unknown foods spread out all over the place. We quickly
made out way through the messy room to the doorway on the other side. We were in a
dark room. Amy led me quickly through the darkness. We bumped into a table. Finding
our way around it we almost slip on the wet floor. The light turns on in the room.
Looking back we see the old hag. Looking furious, her wrinkles hid any human features
she possessed. We rushed out of the room and into the living room. But there she was
standing in front of the door. Amy and I briefly looked at each other. The old woman
cackled once again as if she knew she had won. She slowly moved towards us.
I Pulled Cannon in front of me as he started to growl at the woman. The old woman
stopped and raised an eyebrow. Suddenly cannon was on his side and the woman had me
by the throat.
―Stop!‖ Cried Amy as she moved around the old woman.
The old woman‘s grasp around my throat slowly grew tighter and tighter. I gasped trying
to pull in air. The old woman cackled louder than ever as her eyes grew wide with
excitement. I felt as if my eyes were going to pop out of my head and my lungs were
going to burst in my chest. Then I felt relief. I could breathe. My eyes resumed normal
position in my head and every vain that stretched up into my skin settled again. Looking
over I saw cannon on top of the old woman gnawing her face. Getting to my feat I called
cannons name. I pointed to the door and he ran outside. The woman tried to find the
strength to pull herself up. I leaped over the old woman and met Amy at the door.
Leaving her porch we departed into the dark rain.
Part 2: Through the Fire
The world was still again as if time had stopped. A red moon was barely visible in the
hazy sky. Hours ago we had awaken in the dew by the smoke. It hung low in the air as
the wind carried it across the plain. Following our noses we searched for the source.
―Do you think it‘s from a town?‖ Asked Amy as we crossed the open plain.
―Do you think they‘ll have food? I‘m starving. ―
―I don‘t know.‖ I said. I had a feeling this wasn‘t a gentle fire. There was too
much smoke and it was too putrid. We could see the smoke trailing into the sky.
―Do you see that?‖ Asked Amy pointing into the sky. Snow was falling from
the sky. But it was warm. It gathered in our hair and on our eyelashes. It covered the
grass and smeared on our skin. It was like poison fluttering down to the earth. Then we
saw the hills in the distance. Lots of hills. Big hills of the poisonous snow.
Walking through the ruins of what used to be a town, we gasped for fresh air.
Soot drifted from mounds or rubble. A doll lay in the soot. Her hair was charred and she
was torn. I thought of the poor little girl in chains crying as she clung to her mother. This
made me angry yet I was sad inside. My chest swelled with emotions I couldn‘t release.
Amy picked up the doll and looked at it carefully.
―I remember these dolls. I used to have one when I was a little girl. I used to
put different dresses on them everyday.‖
I didn‘t respond. I continued looking through the ruins of the dead town. Finding the
personal items of several families only made me more upset and enraged. Looking at one
of the piles of soot I saw something unusual. Not a shattered picture frame of a once
happy family or a notebook of a little girl with all her secrets hidden inside, but two little
fingers sticking out of the soot. I wiped away the soot and uncovered a whole hand. Amy
was walking about behind me but I didn‘t pay attention to her. I was uncovering the
remains of a person like a fossil. I couldn‘t stop. I needed to see his eyes. Only after I saw
his eyes could I let go but not a second before. What would they reveal to me. Would I
suddenly know what he saw or would I see all the pain he had endured before he died. I
didn‘t know but I just needed to see his eyes. I hurried as I brushed the soot away.
―What are you doing?‖ Amy asked as she walked towards me.
Uncovering his face I new I was close. Brushing the last of the soot from his face I was
disappointed. His eyes were closed. And I wouldn‘t disrespect the dead and open them
for my own selfish needs. I looked up at Amy who was peering over my shoulder. She
looked down upon us with sad eyes. Looking down at the boy I saw his eyes peering back
―Oh my God, he‘s alive,‖ whispered Amy as he looked at us.
He gasped for air before he coughed violently. It was hard to look at him. I felt sorry for
him. He had burns all over his face and blisters running down his arms. His hair was
singed, as were his clothes. He looked like he wanted to say something, but his voice was
lost. As I looked at the boy who lay by my knees I grew angry. How could they do this
and feel no remorse, no regret? I looked up at Amy who looked as if she were in as much
pain as he was, as if she could feel the burns on her own face and feel the soot seep into
the open wounds. Tears gathered in my eyes and blurred my vision once again in the
same nightmare. Then I wiped the tears from my eyes.
―I‘m not going to cry again. I‘m not weak,‖ I told myself as I stared death in the
face. Then from a single freckle on his face I could see my brother in him. I could see the
innocence in his eyes, the happiness he used to carry with him wherever he went. His
burns disappeared and the blisters vanished. I could see my brother clearly. Then he
coughed and the stranger‘s face reappeared. It was so similar to my brother‘s. But this
body held a different person underneath. Amy sniffed behind me. Cannon appeared
before the boy, sniffing intently. The boy smiled. He raised his hand to meet Cannon‘s
muzzle. Cannon licked over his knuckles before the boy dropped his hand to the cold
ground. His breathing grew light and his eyes peered back at me.
Suddenly, his eyes grew dull. There was no soul behind them. No emotion. Even if he
was still smiling, you couldn‘t feel it. He was gone.
The savage men who stole my family, my life, left a trail wherever they went. We
followed the trail, the destruction they left behind. We learned to walk on the hills to the
east to avoid the trail of smoke. Following the trail meant little sleep. We were always
watching to make sure no one knew we were around. By day we walked drearily through
ravaged fields of dead grass and soot. By night we watched the fires till we drifted off
into a warm paradise in our dreams. But our dreams always ended in sadness. We saw the
world change and the moon disappear. We watched the number of slaves increase as did
the number of destroyed lives. I was tired. I was tired of being sad. I wanted to be happy
again. When I saw the boy I realized I would need my family to ever resume a happy life.
I couldn‘t be happy not knowing if they were all right, not knowing if they were still
alive. I was tired of missing them and not being able to see them. The more I saw the
destruction these men had left behind the more I knew I just had to get my family back.
I could see her. She was searching for me. I stayed quiet, concealed behind the
leaves. She turned as she thought of all the places I could be. As she turned towards me I
started to smile. Her eyes passed over my very position, yet she couldn‘t see me. She
twirled her hair as she thought. I covered my mouth to keep from laughing out loud. I
squinted as I held the laugh. Looking back up, I noticed she was gone. Suddenly there
was a tap on my shoulder. Looking behind me, I saw her standing over me, looking down
at me. I got to my feet as she started to smile.
―Aren‘t you hungry?‖ asked Amy.
―Kind of, but what is there to eat?‖ I responded negatively.
―I don‘t know. Let‘s find something.‖
She looked around the forest as if there would be a grand feast spread over a
silver platter just lying on the ground. I rolled my eyes as she moved farther away,
content in her search. She walked and walked silently in her hunt for something edible.
Cannon was at her feet, looking up into her face as if he wanted to play. She just ignored
him. She and Cannon both stopped simultaneously.
―Do you hear that?‖ she asked, looking up into the distance.
She turned around towards me. I listened for what she heard. I didn‘t hear
anything. Cannon started barking rapidly into the air. The loud crack of a branch breaking
filled the air.
―Someone‘s here,‖ Amy whispered.
Loud thumps now came from behind me. We started to run. We rain straight
down a dirt path. The loud thumps were getting louder and louder. It sounded like
something heavy bearing on the earth. I pushed low branches out of my face as I passed
them. Amy was right behind me. I could hear her heavy breathing. Passing the last of the
trees we came up to a building. Buildings were everywhere. There were people walking
about, looking at us as if we were ghosts. Amy and I looked at each other. A large
Clydesdale trotted up behind us. A large man was mounted on it, looking down at us. He
looked serious. And on top of that, he looked dangerous. The horseman moved back and
forth as if it weren‘t content with its current position. We stared at the man as the whole
town stared at us.
I shoved a piece of bread into my mouth, swallowing before I ever thought to
chew. Amy quietly cut a piece of pork into smaller portions, making me look like a
―The food will still be there if you take the time to chew it,‖ said Amy as if she
were dissatisfied with my eating habits. I stopped myself before jamming a spoonful of
soup in my mouth. The horseman started laughing as food dripped from my face.
―I take it you‘re starving,‖ he said with light humor. I nodded in agreement.
―So, where are you two headed?‖ he asked, his mood completely changing
from joyful to serious.
―Whangarei,‖ we replied.
―Oh! Well that‘s not to far away,‖ he said ―how do you plan on getting there?‖
Love and Lust
By Ryan Bushey
It was 10:13. Three hours since he had settled himself into the couch, four since he had picked her
up. The movie playing was her choice, as usual. He still argued with her when it was time to pick their
entertainment for the night. It was always a movie. His arm was draped over her shoulder limply, and her
head rested heavily on his chest. He shifted his weight. "What?" she demanded.
"Nothing," he sighed heavily and rolled his eyes. The conversation ended there, and probably
wouldn't pick up again until it was time to call it a night. The couch was cold, but the feeling between them
lately was colder. The blanket she greedily wrapped around only herself didn't so much keep her warm, but
rather protected him from her chilling aura.
It hadn't always been like that. When they first met, Corey took her out every weekend; movies,
restaurants, parks, they went everywhere. Their fingers were always intertwined, and their lips couldn't stay
away from each other. Butterflies haunted them like ghosts. The phone conversations lasted for hours into
the morning until their phones refused to show any more signs of life. The first time they said I love you
was outside the movie theater, as they waited for their rides home. The rain was light and misted down,
leaving tiny drops on their smiling faces as they kissed under the streetlight.
He awoke to a nudge in the arm. "Are you ready to leave?" Cara's face blocked the TV.
"Yep," he shot back.
They stumbled into the silent night. The clouds blanketed the sky, rejecting the shine from the moon
and stars. The slams of the car doors echoed down the road as the engine ignited and the headlights awoke
the sleeping night. The ride was quiet, save for the faint twang of a guitar on the radio and the engine
rumbling as the car accelerated uphill. He pulled into her driveway and shifted into park. Her seat belt
unfastened with a click, and she popped the door open. A chilling breeze circulated through the car, wafting
her strong perfume into his face. "Call me when you get home," she sighed as the door slammed. He waited
until she was in the door to pull off into the darkness, savoring the thought of climbing into his bed and
drifting into a peaceful sleep laced with pleasant dreams. He never called.
The phone rang. His eyes blinked open, adapting to the light as he fumbled for the ringing nuisance.
Call from Aaron Schmidt. "Ugh...Hello?‖
"Yo, I tried calling you three times...It‘s one o'clock. Are you coming out tonight?"
"I don't know. What are you doin‘?"
"My friend Dominique is comin‘ over around seven. We‘re just gonna watch a movie. Everyone
else is at some dance."
"Maybe. Cara will probably get mad-"
"Dude. She is a bitch. And it's two guys and one girl. Dominique is like my sister. You'll like her."
"Come over at, like, um, eight?"
"Okay. I'll see you later.‖
The call ended with a descending bell tone. On the screen were three new text messages from Cara.
Without reading a single one, he dialed her number. After several drawn out rings, the call entered voice
mail, where he tiredly mumbled, "Call me."
The house was quiet, with a note from mom on the microwave announcing that she had gone
grocery shopping. He opened the cabinet with a squeak and pulled out the cereal before flipping on the
television to the cartoon channel. The house was large and often felt empty. The noise from the TV echoed
down the long hallways with nothing in them but pictures hanging solemnly from the wall. Even with the
volume in the single digits, the TV was more than once the culprit for rude awakenings in the middle of the
night when his dad fell asleep to the drone of the weatherman's voice. Today was one of those days that
weren‘t too exciting for weathermen and weather fans. The sun tried its very hardest to peek through thin
gray clouds, and the wind was barely enough to stir the crisp red leaves that scattered the driveway. Corey's
phone buzzed violently. He flipped it open to display a text message from Cara. "What r u doin tonight?"
He responded, telling her he was going over Aaron's house to watch the football game, which was a lie.
"Oh, I was just wonderin‘ if you wanted to come over" was the reply. He plopped the phone down on the
counter next to him and let the mindless humor of the cartoon take him over.
By 7:30 he was out of the shower. A shirt and sweatpants would be the attire for the night; he
wasn't worried about looking good for some girl that was likened to Aaron's sister. He fumbled the key into
the ignition and cranked the heat up. It was unusually cold for early November. He had already been
informed twice by Mrs. Costello, his neighbor, that her beautiful rose bush had been "taken before its time"
by the cruel untimely frost. To stop his mind from replaying the time she had caught him spying on her
daughter in 7th grade, he flipped on the radio. A song about love being lost blasted through the speakers.
He coasted through the lively town of Brushwood. The streetlights and stoplights illuminated the place like
a Christmas tree. People smiled as they briskly walked from store to store. It was amazing how much
happiness could be concentrated in such a small area, because before he could take it all in, he was out of
the town, into Aaron's neighborhood. Here the streetlights didn't so much illuminate the street, but made it
look like a shitty hallway where only half the lights felt like doing their job. He pulled into the driveway
and killed the engine. A black Mercedes was parked neatly behind Aaron's blue Ford, which looked like it
had barely survived a nuclear holocaust. He always made excuses for its poor shape. Crashing into the
guardrail during a street race in the city was his favorite.
As Corey stepped out of the warm car into the bone chilling air, Aaron popped out of the front door
to greet him. "What‘s up, dude?" Aaron was the lankiest eighteen-year-old Corey had ever seen. He had
short blond hair and always wore a white shirt and blue jeans.
"Nothin‘, how bout you?" They slapped and shook hands simultaneously before stepping into the
house. Aaron's home was similar to his car, conditionwise. Both his parents worked late and often didn't
come home at night, leaving the house to Aaron to do as he pleased. The living room contained a large tan
couch and a small glass coffee table. On the wall across from the couch was a 50'' plasma TV. How the
family afforded it was still a mystery to Corey, because next to the TV was a hole the size of a basketball.
The carpet's color closely resembled the tan color of the couch, but the two were far from matching. Each
one seemed to fight for attention. Corey slipped his shoes off and made his way to the couch. The floor
creaked, protesting each step. On the far end of the couch was a girl with dark brown hair, possibly chest
height to him. Corey had been tall ever since he came out of the womb. The doctor joked that he wasn't
really a baby, but a full-grown child. His height always attracted attention from girls, along with his lean
muscles and wavy brown hair. His eyes were a dark brown, giving the impression he was staring into
whoever he was conversing with. The girl smiled at him, and before Aaron could introduce the two, she
energetically hopped off the couch and gave Corey a hug.
"Hi! I'm Dominique." Her smile was bursting through her lips, and before Corey could put his arms
around her in return, she was back on the couch.
"Oh, nice to meet you. I'm Corey," he sheepishly replied, caught off guard by her affection. She
wasn't the most beautiful girl he had ever seen, but something about her left his eyes lingering. Her hair was
straight but thick and fell below her rounded shoulders. She wasn't fat or skinny. Her eyes sparkled with
energy. She was dressed in a baby blue long sleeve shirt and tight black sweatpants. Before he could study
her anymore, Aaron stormed in from the kitchen.
"My fucking parents are making me get my sister. She 'doesn't feel' like staying at the party. You
guys can stay here. I'll try‘n' be back in, like, 20 minutes? Try and keep your hands to yourself, Corey," he
smirked, and walked out the door before Corey could open his mouth. Aaron looked like he might blow
away in the windy night as he trotted to his car.
"So, where do you go to school, Cor?" No one called him Cor except for his parents and girlfriend.
"Um, I go to Lyndonville. How‘ bout you?"
"Cedar High. It sucks there; everyone is so cliquey, you know? Ugh, I can't wait to go to college
and get away from everything. But anyway, enough about school and shit, its‘ the weekend. Anything on
that you wanna watch?"
Corey smiled, and replied with a laugh. "We can watch whatever you want. Actually, do you think
there are any good infomercials on?" She stared at him for a moment, trying to figure out if he was being
serious. He laughed and a smile broke out on his cleanly shaven face. "I'm kidding!" He believed his humor
was what attracted Cara to him. He shared the view with many students that she was the prettiest girl in
school, and he often wondered how he ended up with her. Her eyes were the color of emerald diamonds,
and her blond hair was the color of the sun at it‘s brightest.
"Oh!" Dominique's face blushed with relief as she laughed genuinely. Their laughter could be
measured in miles. Every word shared between them drew smiles the size of crescent moons, revealing
teeth twice as bright. She touched his arm. His body tingled and heated up as if someone had held him over
a fire, a feeling unfamiliar to him since he met Cara. Every skin cell seemed to come alive, dancing to the
beat of his heart. Even after Aaron returned and talked the entire time through Sleepless in Seattle, it felt
like only he and Dominique remained. They shared a blanket to hide their legs, twisted together like a
The drive home was a dream. He floated to his room; invisible hands pulled back the sheets and laid
his body onto a cloud. The second his eyes closed his phone rang. Was it her? His heart fluttered and
butterflies clogged his throat as he grabbed his phone. The dream turned grim as he realized it was his
girlfriend. He immediately felt guilty for possessing such a feeling. He answered the phone, hoping to
redeem himself. ―Hey‖
―Hello,‖ Her voice was crisp on the receiving line. ―What‘s up?‖
The conversation was brief. She informed him she went shopping today. He tiredly breathed, ―cool‖. She
asked what he did. ―Nothing, really, went to Aaron‘s.‖
The conversation died down like an unattended fire, neither party offering more than a few jumbled
words, which were poor excuses for sentences. It ended with a bye, and an unclear suggestion that there
may be more conversing between the two tomorrow.
Sunday passed like a blink of an eye. He spent the entire day replaying Saturday, from the drive to Aaron's
to the time his eyes closed. He wondered everything from whether he spoke the right words to if he smelled
okay. Cara never called, but that was fine with him. He was still coasting on a high, supplied by a girl
whose last name was still unknown to him.
The school week dragged on. Both of his parents were out of town for the week on business trips,
and he considered staying home a few days, and he would have, too, if it weren‘t for his D- in physics.
Wednesday was like a gift from God, the halfway mark of the week. The sky was a crisp blue, unlike
Monday and Tuesday, which hosted non-stop rain and frigid temperatures. It was 9am, too early to be
figuring out Physics equations. The teacher, Mr. Miller, was trying to explain why an object spinning in a
circle, upon release, would continue in a straight line. He was about to give up and try and fall asleep when
his phone buzzed. His heart doubled its speed when he read the few lines of the text message. It was from
Dominique, and she wanted to meet up with him after school. He contemplated what to say back for the
remainder of the period. He wanted to say yes, but not sound too desperate. He crafted his response like a
masterpiece sculpture. Her response was a smiley face.
At 7:30 Dominique was standing in his doorway. At 9:30 he watched her bright red taillights drift
off into the dark. He lay on his bed, staring at the white ceiling. His shirt was hanging from the chair at his
desk, and his heart was still pounding. Her perfume lingered in his sheets; it felt like she was still there. His
arms and legs were numb. Everything seemed to be moving in slow motion, but his body was in overdrive.
He was high on love, and life, and her perfume. The moment would have been perfect if it wasn't for Cara.
She was standing in the corner of his mind with her arms crossed and tears in her eyes. She was wearing
the dress she wore when they first met, and she had the rose he nervously gave her clutched to her breast.
He threw Dominique over her like a sheet. He turned off his light and fell asleep.
"There's nothin‘ goin‘ on between you and Dom, right?" Aaron stuffed pizza into his mouth across
the table from Corey.
"Dude- nah, there isn't. I mean, I have a girlfriend. I love Cara, dude-- you know that," he lied.
"Ok, if you say so, bro. Dom's crazy, though. Just keep that in mind."
"I mean, you know she has a boyfriend, right? And she flirts with everyone. She loves attention and
Corey felt that his face had to have disappointment written all over it. He stammered and searched
for words. "Oh, yeah, she told me that. What do you mean, she loves attention?"
"Well, you know Kev? Last year, she was, like, all over him, and he, like, completely fell for her."
Crumbs shot from his mouth like machine gun fire. "Then she just stopped talking to him, and a week later
she told him she had a boyfriend."
"What the hell? Why are you such good friends with her?" Corey angrily shot back, countering
Aaron's crumb-fire. Inside he burned. His thoughts were running into each other, and guilt and fear
"Because she doesn't do this stuff to me. I steer clear whenever that attention begging shit begins.
What‘s up with you? This shouldn't be any big news. She told me the first thing she said to you was 'I have
a boyfriend'. Just don't get sucked into her flirting... that's all." Aaron said the last line cautiously, as if he
was afraid Corey would leap across the table like a lion.
"Okay, whatever. I'm not like that. Hey, have you seen Cara? I gotta go give her the um, math
"I dunno. She's your girlfriend."
Corey jumped up and paced off into the hall. He could barely breathe, and his eyes swelled up, like
he was having an allergic reaction to his stupidity. All that was on his mind now was Cara. He desperately
tried to remember what class she was in. He glided down the hallway, not paying attention to anything. He
felt like he was chasing a ghost. By luck, or possibly fate, he saw her standing over the drinking fountain at
the end of the hall. "Cara!"
She turned and looked around a few times before spotting him. "What are you doing?" She looked
"I, um, I need to talk to you... About something." His words fell out of his mouth like dumbbells.
"What is it?" She now looked worried; her eyes searched his face like the beam from a lighthouse
searching for lonely ships at sea.
He couldn't find the words. A lot of Ums and Uhs found there way out of his lips, though. He
remembered the first time he walked up to her in the hallway, just after they started talking. His plan was to
ask her for the math homework, then casually suggest going out that weekend. He could barely get any
words out and ended up asking what math was, making her laugh. Her laughter always relaxed him from
then on. Neither of them was laughing right now. He couldn't do it. He needed her, no matter how shitty
things were between them lately. But the guilt swirled in his stomach like poison.
"I just wanted to say, that, um, I... I love you."
"Aww, Corey!" She wrapped her arms around him, and for the first time in a long time, he felt her
warmth. He was stiff as a pole though. He knew he was wrong. He knew he needed to tell her, but he
couldn't. "Walk me back to class, baby!" Her eyes glinted in the light. It was then he realized the sickening
reality of her coldness the past few months. His lack of affection and caring was what was driving her
away. All of this could have been prevented with a few simple ―I love yous‖. And he screwed everything
"Ok, but I have to get back to lunch soon." She grabbed his hand. He knew he could never tell her.
The hallway seemed abnormally dark.
"I love you," she whispered into his ear.
A Hidden Secret
It is a sunny day in mid December of 1941 in our small Polish town. Tomorrow
just happens to be my tenth birthday, December 21. Mother is running all around trying
to get things ready for tomorrow, my birthday celebration. I want to go play but with
what, sticks and brush from behind our house? That is exactly what I asked for, for my
birthday, toys! My two best friends next door to us, Hans-Hans and Gouver, are inside
their houses helping their mothers and I am supposed to be, but I‘m not, well not for long
―Francis! Come inside this instance!‖ I hear her scream out the window. ―This is
your party, your birthday, and you are not helping one bit. I still…‖
―All right, Mom!‖ I scream back, even louder. It seems like we have a screaming
fight every time she needs me. I laugh out loud to myself and I run inside with a gigantic
smile on my face.
―What were you doing out there? You know that we have so much to do and…‖
―Mom, I know, I heard you the first time, and the time before that, and the time
before that.‖ Her face grows a smirk. ―Just calm down.‖
―Okay, now before tomorrow, I need to clean up, and you need to clean your
room. Get your brothers to help you and tell your sisters to clean their room also. I
cleaned down here already.‖ Mom looks over as Henry walks in the door, bringing in
every speck of dirt in with him. ―AHH! Oh no, oh no, oh no! I just cleaned! Henry, go to
your room!‖ Henry looks up at her with tears in his eyes, as he walks off to our room.
―I‘ll go with you, Henry,‖ I say, comforting him as we walk to our room, which is
a mess. I have to fix this, I think to myself.
The sun was shining bright through my cheese curtains. I called them my ―cheese
curtains‖ because they had so many holes in them and it looked like a slice of moldy
cheese when the light rose and shined through them in the morning and when the sun
went down at night. It was my birthday, but not just any birthday; it was my 10th
birthday. I was so excited that I ran downstairs to where I smelled the sweet aroma of
flowers and buttermilk, my mothers‘ specialty biscuits and my favorite breakfast. I ran
and jumped into her arms and she gave me a gigantic bear hug.
―Good morning, my little angel!‖ I looked at her and smiled, but I am not an angel
―Mom, I am 10 years old now! I am not little or…‖ Before I could say, ―boy,‖ she
spit something out.
―Okay, then can I call you my little boy?‖
―… Or boy!‖ I laughed and she gave a smile.
―Okay, I understand, Francis. You are a grown up, man…‖ She paused and
looked at me with a smirk, then continued, ―now. Well, eat up and get dressed, Company
will be here around noon.‖ She walked out of the kitchen to my room to get the rest of
my brothers up.
―Mom, where is my shirt?‖
―Well, last time I wore them…‖ My mother always joked about this stuff when I
would ask her where my clothes where, which I find very ironic because she always
found them either in her room or on the ironing board or on the line outside drying.
―That‘s not funny! They will be here in a couple of minutes!‖
―No, they will be here in four hours, sweetie.‖ She walked into my room holding
a pair of pants and my shirt.
―Thank you!‖ I gave a big smile and shut the door.
It was exactly five and a half minutes until my party started, and that meant
playtime with my two best friends, Hans-Hans and Gouver. Minutes later I was in my
room getting my ball, that was to the point of flatness, and my shoes to wear outside,
because they were ―filthy‖ as mother called it and she didn‘t want me wearing them in
the house or when we were company at someone else‘s house. I ran to the door to greet
―Happy birthday, Francis,‖ Hans-Hans‘ mother said as she and her family walked
in the house. I grabbed Hans-Hans and ran outside yelling back at them,
I ran back outside to find that Gouver and his family were walking over. I also
grabbed him and we ran behind the house to our ―play spot.‖
―Happy birth…‖ Gouver‘s mothers started to say happy birthday to me, but I
stopped her midway and said thank you and ran off.
―Francis,‖ my mother yelled at me as Hans-Hans, Gouver, and I ran behind the
house. ―That was very rude! Oh, I am so sorry,‖ my mother smirked at her.
―Oh, those boys, you can never separate them. It‘s all right. It‘s his birthday. He‘s
excited‖ both my mother and Gouver‘s mother laughed and they went inside the house.
We kicked the almost flat ball around for an hour. I could tell that Hans-Hans and
Gouver were bored doing this; even I was. Hans-Hans kicked it high and all of a sudden
we heard a ―POP!‖ and the ball came down from the clear sky like a plane that was just
shot down in the war. We all looked around at each other and we started to laugh.
―Thank God that the ball died!‖ I said to them. They all started to laugh even
harder. Gouver picked the ball up and put the flattened ball on his head like a hat.
―Hey, look! I look like Mrs. Pepers.‖ Mrs. Pepers is one of our neighbors. She
was somewhat poor like us but she always had these funny outfits that made her look like
a peacock and hats that had feathers and things that looked like they were growing out of
them. All of a sudden we heard a yelling voice come from my house.
―Francis!‖ It was my mothers, ―You need to come in right now! Time to eat!‖
―Okay, mom!‖ Again it was like a yelling war.
―I mean it.‖
―I know, Mom. Hans-Hans, Gouver, and I are walking to the door now.‖
―Okay!‖ we laughed as we walked to the front of the house and walked in.
―Happy birthday, Francis!‖ they all yelled as Hans-Hans and Gouver and I made
I sat down at the specified birthday boy‘s spot at the kid table (as my mother
called it): it was marked with balloons and confetti and such to say that this was my spot,
no one else‘s. I saw my little sister pretend that she was the queen on the table. I laughed
and then she saw me and got up. My other little sister came over and kissed my cheek.
Normally, I would say ―ew‖ and wipe it off, but I didn‘t today. Today was a special day
that I was now the new ―man‖ in the house! Ten is such a big deal.
―Aww!‖ my mother said without even thinking. My sister blushed and giggled
and ran in to my mother‘s arms.
―Are we eating now?‖ Hans-Hans said. He was always hungry.
―Haha!‖ I thought the same exact thing.
―Hans-Hans! That was rude. Now go and apologize.
―No need for that.‖ My mother came out of the kitchen with the food. ―The food
is right here. Please dig in!‖ Mother had the biggest smile across her face as she served
everyone and then herself because it is good manners to always serve your guests first,
then yourself, I learned from her. She says I am a very good gentleman; well, I will be
one when I grow up.
We were pigging out, stuffing our faces with the mouth-watering dinner my
mother had prepared for all of us. ―So what do you wanna do when we finish dinner,
guys?‖ I asked my friends.
―Can I join in?‖ my little sister asked me.
―Oh, you‘re too young to play with me. You have to be ten years old, an adult!‖
―Oh.‖ She looked down at her plate and tears started to stream down her tiny face.
I felt bad but we were probably going to play ―war‖ or soccer and she could get hurt. I
was looking out for her.
The adults‘ table was right next to ours. Gouver was sitting next to me and he was
listening to the adults talk about the Holocaust. He turned to Hans-Hans and me and said
he had news to tell us. He had listened to all of their conversation, no wonder he wasn‘t
talking to us the whole dinner.
Dinner was over and it was present time! This was the part I always
looked forward to my birthday. Mother sat me down on my father‘s chair. My first
present was from Hans-Hans and his family. I opened the present roughly, the paper
going every direction as I ripped at it.
―Ah!‖ I couldn‘t help but scream in excitement.
―I thought you might like these, they will keep your feet warm at night in this cold
weather,‖ Hans-Hans‘ mother said as she leaned in to give me a big hug. I was so happy
to get these shoes. I put them on and they fit perfectly.
―Mother made them, and they are your favorite color!‖ Hans-Hans said.
―Thank you so much! I gave Hans-Hans a hug and then I gave his mother another
hug and I hugged everyone in his family, his two sisters and his three brothers. I kept the
slipper shoes on as I opened the present from Gouver. This one was wrapped up in
newspaper and I tore it slowly so I wouldn‘t rip it. Mother saw the headline: ―Nazis Take
Over For Good!‖ and she took the present and ripped it opened for me. She threw the
paper away and she gave me the present. The actual present was in a box. A big dradle,
not the kind that is small, but it was huge!
―Whoa!‖ I said with a gigantic smile on my face. ―Look at this! This is so cool!‖
―I thought you might like it,‖ Gouver said ―Mother picked it out.‖ He said with a
slight grin and his mother hugged him. I went over and hugged him and his mother. Then
I hugged his brother and I put the dradle next to me.
―Thank you guys so much! I love the slipper shoes and the dradle!‖
―Now don‘t forget about your other gift, dear.‖ Mother came in with a box. I
opened it within seconds.
―A new ball!‖ I was so excited, and then I saw clothes. I needed new clothes;
mine were ratty and ripped in some places. Mother would sew them but there are only so
many patches you can have on a pair of pants. I gave her and my whole family a big hug
and told Hans-Hans and Gouver to come outside with me. We ran outside and started to
throw around the new ball I just got on the concrete.
―Hey, Francis, Hans-Hans! I have a secret! You can‘t tell anyone, okay?‖
―Gouver, what is it? You weren‘t talking at all at dinner.‖ Hans-Hans looked over
at him with amazement.
―Okay, well, I was listening to the parents talk about the Holocaust!‖ Hans-Hans‘s
and my mouths just dropped open. What was the Holocaust? My mother had told my
siblings and me we were in a war, but we had no idea what it was called or what it was
about. She just said it was a disagreement. ―They were saying things like it was getting
worse and how we might have to leave our houses to go to safety. Francis, your mom
said that they were going to split up.‖
―WHAT!?‖ My jaw dropped once again. I almost started to cry. I ran behind the
house and back to the edge of the trees where our backyard ended to go into the forest.
Hans-Hans and Gouver followed me running after me, yelling my name as we entered the
“Francis!” Mother yelled my name. “Francis, please come in. Hans-Hans and
Gouver have to leave.” She ran outside to see the new ball sitting on the ground rolling
in the wind. “Francis!” she yelled again. There was no sound, nothing but the sound of
the whistling of the wind.
Hans- Hans and Gouver and I were still walking. It had been an hour or so; we
had no idea where we were or where we were going. We were lost!
―Don‘t you think it would be a good time to go home now, Francis. You seem less
―No!‖ I yelled. ―You can, but I am staying right here.‖
Gouver said, ―Our mothers will be looking for us, and we have to be home now. It
is way too dark and past our bedtime.‖
They started to go the opposite way than I was going. ―Who needs bedtimes
anyway? I‘m ten, and I‘m old enough to be on my own!‖ I whispered to myself. They
turned around and they ran next to me.
―Not me either!‖
They both smiled at me as we kept on walking into the nighttime. Hours had
passed and it was around midnight, I was guessing. The moon shined its brightest in the
―I am getting so tired. Can we please stop and sleep?‖ Gouver exclaimed.
―I agree, Francis. We need to sleep!‖
―Okay, how about here?‖ I said. There was a huge ditch big enough for the three
of us to sleep in. It was very cold outside; it had snowed the night before so the ground
was still snowy, but we didn‘t care. We were tired and we fell straight asleep, except for
me. I was up for a couple of more hours thinking to myself.
It was finally morning and I was the first one to wake up. The sun was bright and
shone through the spots through the trees like my cheese curtains at home. This made me
very sad to think that I was no at home but I woke up in a very different place. I may not
even make it home. Wait! No, Francis! You can‘t talk like that! All three of us are going
to make it home safely. I heard rustles in the bushes ahead. I saw a grey jacket up ahead
with a red symbol on it. I woke up the other two roughly. ―Hans-Hans! Gouver!‖ I yelled
in a whispered voice. ―Get up! Now!‖
―Why? What‘s wrong?‖
―I‘ll explain, but get up!‖ We all covered up the ditch with leaves and ran into the
nearest bush. We kept very quiet, the men walking by looked like soldiers, but we were
very confused and we didn‘t know what was going on. They were mumbling something
but none of us could understand what they were saying. They continued to walk when
they were done whatever they were doing here. We snuck out the opposite way than he
soldiers were going and we ran.
―Francis, what was that about?
―I don‘t know.‖ We all looked scared and we hid in a bush.
We kept on walking, I don‘t know what the time was or what time of day, only
that it must be morning because the sun was not at the very top yet.
―Whoa!‖ Hans-Hans spurted out.
―Whhha… wha, whaa, whaattt… is that?‖
―I have no clue.‖ We all froze like statues as we looked ahead to the barbed-wire-
covered fence. I moved closer to look inside the fence and see what it was. It looked like
an old, dirty farm. But instead of farming pigs and cows and horses, they were farming,
―What?‖ Gouver looked at me. ―No, that can‘t be. Well do they have that sort of
thing now? Farms for, uh, people? None of us made a sound after that. We were all
―traumatized,‖ as my mother would say. She used to say that when my father would
come in with a dead rabbit. It didn‘t bother me because I was a man like him, but it made
my little sisters cry.
―Should we go inside the, the uhh… I don‘t know what to call it.‖ Hans-Hans
looked at me.
―Let‘s give it like a nickname. How about?‖ I stopped and looked around. ―Let‘s
just call it a fun farm!‖
―That‘s a good idea!‖
―So should we go in? I want to see what it is. Maybe we can play with the other
―Yeah!‖ I said. Gouver just stared through the fence; he never said one word the
whole time we were deciding what it was or what to call it because we had no idea what
this place was.
―I don‘t think that we should go inside, guys!‖ Gouver looked sure as anything,
but we didn‘t listen.
―You‘re just a baby!‖ Hans-Hans spurted out. I didn‘t say anything, just looked at
him and followed Hans-Hans as he led us to an opening in the rusty fence.
―This isn‘t safe.‖ Gouver stayed back ―Guys! Francis?‖
―C‘mon, Gouver. It will be okay.‖
We entered through a small hole that went underground a little. The rusty fence
scraped across my back and left a huge hole in my shirt and a curvy line of red on my
upper back. It hurt, a lot. My first instinct usually was to cry or shout out, but I didn‘t
make a sound. I just kept on going.
―You‘re bleeding, Francis!‖ Gouver pointed out.
―Oh, am I really?‖ I just kept on scooting until I reached the other side.
When all three of us got to the other side, we heard a siren that went off. All of a
sudden there was a big wave a people that just came running outside and stood in a line.
Gouver hid behind a bush and we followed. The sound was loud enough to burst our
eardrums. And on top of that it scared all three of us to death.
There was a second siren that followed shortly after the first one. It was just as
loud, but it didn‘t scare us as much as the first one. Through the bush‘s leaves I could see
a bunch of boys and girls, probably my age, and they were hugging what looked like their
families. They looked sad, and it was confusing me. They all entered a building to their
left and then a soldier closed the door
There was another siren. And again, a bunch of people, children and moms and
dads came running outside to a straight line. But this time the soldier picked a couple of
people and took them away.
―Let‘s follow them!‖ Hans-Hans said with a mysterious smile.
―I don‘t think we should Hans-Hans! This doesn‘t seem like a good idea to me,
Francis? Are you gonna go?‖
―Yeah! C‘mon, Gouver. Its an adventure!‖
The three of us followed the group of people. I stopped and shouted ―Hold on, I
will be right there. I forgot my hat.‖ I ran back to get it and when I turned around they
were all gone. Both of them went into the building and the soldier was closing the door.
This time was different from the others. I heard shrieking and screaming coming from the
building. I knew it was Gouver‘s because I knew his voice very well. My face dropped
and I hid behind a bush, but I was too scared to stay. So I ran back to the fence where the
hole was and I started to go under, but then I heard a soldier yell, ―Okay, get them out!‖ I
looked behind me and I saw the soldier pulling out bodies. They looked dead. I didn‘t
want to stay around, so I crawled back under the fence and ran into the fog that covered
the trees like a thick blanket.
All I did was run. I ran until I couldn‘t anymore. All I could think of was my best
friends, how they just disappeared, just like magic. I was so scared and all I wanted was
my friends back and my family!
I ran until the sun went down and the moon rose up in the sky. I was lost; I didn‘t
know if the way I was going was right; I didn‘t know where I was at all. All I saw was
trees and snow and the moon. So I stopped for the night.
I found a ditch. It looked like the one that Gouver and Hans-Hans and I slept in
the first night. I cuddled up in my jacket and the fallen branches around me. I fell into a
deep sleep that made me only think about the stars, the sky, and everything around me:
the fresh fallen snow and the trees that stood miles high.
Revan and the True Sith
Desric was at her door. She thought she had made it clear to him that he would be
sleeping in the Starboard Dormitory and wasn't allowed in hers, but she was willing to
admit him and see what he wanted. Maybe she was really starting to like him. She knew
that couldn't be true; they had barely known each other for half a day. Still, she told HK
to let him in. He entered the room and cuddled beside her. Then he started a rant about
how he had always looked up to her, back during the war, and how she had been the
best of them all. She had almost expected his argument to come from somewhere all the
way from the start, but it was very convincing since it was partly the argument she had
been making to herself. Desric reminded her of how backwards those Jedi were and how
they had betrayed their own philosophies when they had erased her memory and turned
her against her apprentice. She knew all too well the truth here, and his argument
seemed dead-on. Still there was something that had kept her going, and so now she
finally had to make a choice; to finish her mission, or to side with Desric and the True
She remembered the last moment with Carth on the Ebon Hawk. They had raced
from Rackatta after she, Revan, had fought and spared Bastilla Shan. Bastilla had
clearly been corrupted by Malak, Revan's former apprentice, when she had been
abducted. After the fight, Bastilla had flown from the top of the temple in a star-ship, on
a course for the Star Forge. With Revan's memory fully restored, much of the crew had
turned on her. Finally, they had all agreed that Revan's past was not indicative of who
she truly was, since given recent events and with her memory back she had made the
decision to aid the Republic and stop Malak. Quickly, they all had jumped back into
Revan's ship and headed to the Star Forge. The party consisted of Revan, the former
Sith Lord; Carth Onasi, the soldier; Canderous Ordo, the Mandalorian commando;
Juhani, the cat-like Jedi; Mission Vao, the young Twi-lek girl; Zaalbar, the Wookie;
Jolee Bindo, the once-upon-a-time Jedi; and the two droids, T3-M4 and HK-47.
The sky was already ablaze when they left the atmosphere. Warships, crafted by
the Star Forge's ancient power, packed into the view screen. Luckily, it had seemed a
direct course to the Forge, and they docked on a clear port. The events after this point
all seemed to flash by; her destruction of thousands of war droids and dark Jedi, the
fight with Bastilla, and finally the confrontation with Malak. Malak had used the bodies
captured in his glass tanks to regenerate himself. Revan eventually used them against
him and bested the Sith Lord.
The celebrations were very memorable. Everyone who had anything to do with
the victory was given a medal, and there were parties from the core to the farthest
reaches of the outer rim. And Carth had been there with her for every second of it. Now,
nearly three months after the fact, Revan wished that it had gone by even slower. She
was about to reveal to all of her close friends that she would be leaving them. She knew
more than a few of them would want to come with her, but she would not let them. They
all had obligations here with the republic, or with their families and people. She would,
however, take her droids and her ship. With these thoughts, Revan left her room and
made her way to the Entertainment Module on citadel station.
As she waited for her companions to arrive in the cantina (she had sent all of them
notifications) Revan engaged a Duros in a friendly game of Pazaak, stripping him of a
good couple-hundred credits. Twi'leks danced as Bith played stereotypical cantina
music. "Can I help you?‖ asked a serving droid.
"I'll take a Gold Membrosia", replied Revan after a moment. Slowly, the friends,
with whom she had traveled during the past year, trickled into the room.
"More celebrations?" asked Canderous. "I'd have thought you of all people might
have had enough by now." Revan looked at Canderous, a man who valued his heritage
and traditions, and had simply followed her, because she was the greatest warrior he had
ever met. But inside of him she saw a potential; he could be a leader, and he had so
much knowledge to pass on.
"This will be different, I assure you", Revan explained, "and you know that you
don't have to be here if you don't want to be." Canderous ignored her, taking a sudden
interest in cleaning is Assault Rifle.
Zaalbar strutted in after everyone else was there, letting out an unceremonious
"wwrcahwowhwa." Revan understood this Shyriiwook vaguely to mean friend. Since
they had all grown further apart, and the danger they had been in had been behind them,
she had not been as connected to her friends, and the power of the force which conveyed
to her the meanings of various languages did not do so nearly as readily.
Revan hesitated to look at Carth now, knowing how he would react to what she
was about to tell them. She had known Carth longer than any of the others, having met
on Taris after the crash of the Endar Spire. He had been suspicious of her, and it turned
out that he was rightly so, although she hadn't known it. Nevertheless, they had come
together and managed to save the republic. Nothing she had done in her former life as a
Sith Lord could affect the way her friends, especially Carth, felt about her. As much as
she wanted there to be something more between the two of them, it could not happen, at
least not right now. Revan had made up her mind about what had to be done. Years
earlier, when she had been exploring the galaxy with Malak, Revan had gone to
Korriban and Ziost. Ziost had had a few secrets, but the most valuable things she had
learned were about the places she would visit after she left the planet; at least the places
she had intended to visit after the War. Revan and Malak had never been actual Sith
Lords, but merely Jedi who had embraced the power of the Dark Side of the Force, and
much for the sake of the rest of the galaxy, as well as out of arrogance, had taken on the
Revan realized that there was nothing left to do except to reveal her plan, and get
on her way.
"I am going to the unknown regions, where I found the sith ages ago."
Everyone simply seemed a little perplexed, but encouraging enough. She was
going to keep it plain and simple and not allow any room for argument.
―Less for your own sakes than for the rest of the galaxy, I am asking that no one
come with me.‖
Carth obviously objected, as she knew he would, but there was nothing he could
say to change her mind. Carth was needed here in the Republic if they hoped for it to
It was about a week and a half before she actually left, and Revan was busy the
entire time making arrangements. She managed to reveal to Canderous a small group of
his people left on the planet Dxun, where she instructed him to journey, and reassemble
the Mandalorian clans. Zaalbar and Mission left when Revan uncovered some details
about the accident involving Mission's parents. Jolee was eager to be on his way
regardless of what anyone else was doing, and Juhani returned to the Jedi temple to
continue her training, someday hoping to become a master. And, she spent the nights
with Carth, trying to make up for the lifetime of moments they were about to miss
together. For someone taking on the darkest forces in the entire galaxy alone, Revan
seemed pleasant enough. Her ability to look ahead and make plans was impeccable.
This may have been partially due to the favor she asked of Bastilla. While she requested
for Bastilla to stay with the Jedi masters, Bastilla had insisted on using her battle
meditation whenever possible to aid Revan and turn things in her favor.
Revan left Citadel Station with just T3-M4 and HK-47. This may sound like a
lonely crew, but HK-47 had to be the funniest droid in the entire galaxy. Once they were
in deep space, Revan meditated. Without all of the extra life of a planet, it was much
easier to focus out in the middle of nothing. Of course, it wasn't nothing after all. She
could sense all of the life that normal people and detection devices could never pick up.
Still, they did little to cloud her vision; the force was pointing her toward Thyferra. She
saw a forest, and a scene of an ancient war. Men and women stormed from star-ships,
all human in dark robes, many clad in obscure armors that she barely recognized. And
each one carried a blazing crimson sword, although some had curved hilts, some had
two ends, and some even carried two swords. They quickly devastated the insectoid
aliens, who defended their world with primitive weapons. Then she saw another scene,
with the human invaders, or were they still human? They had obviously all been human
at one point in time, but they were all so deformed by the dark energy, which pulsed
through them like a second heartbeat, fifty times stronger than the original. Human or
not, they all accumulated around a group of buildings in a forest. Most of the planet was
covered in forest, but Revan wasn't worried; she trusted the force to guide her exactly
the way she needed to go. That, of course, was assuming that she was doing what the
force wanted and that the force was inherently good. If the force didn't actually guide
her on her quest, then she was chasing ghosts, but she trusted in the force. If the force
wasn't a force for good, then how could the Jedi have saved her from the Dark Side, and
brought her back around to save everyone? Revan was content at this point to trust her
friends, but every now and then she was forced to question whether the Jedi were doing
the right thing. Couldn't the force just be an element of the world that some people were
able to manipulate to their own ends? Still, if that was true, then it was up to her to
decide how to manipulate it, and Revan had decided that she would go down in history
for helping, and building, rather than destroying.
The Ebon Hawk came out of Hyper Space, and Thyferra came into view. Revan
brought the ship around to a star-port in a deep green area. It seemed quite random, but
she thought of all the different worlds she had traveled to in the past few years. It
seemed incredible, but she really enjoyed the rush of new life, of all of these beings
whose lives she had never touched yet. Here she was, on another world she had never
seen before, chasing down enemies that might not even exist. The force had never lied
to her before, though. In the star-port she came across the usual variety of life forms.
There was a small shop that carried just about every type of medical supply she could
The town she entered outside of the port seemed friendly. She decided to check
out the swoop racing scene and headed to the far end of town. Of course all of the
racing and gambling here was handled by Hutts, as it was everywhere in the galaxy.
Revan quickly picked up a conversation with this Hutt, Zordo, and found out about
some troubles he was having with a group of locals. He seemed willing to pay her well
if she helped him settle the conflict, so with the planetary map he provided her, Revan
set off into the forests on a search. Her search obviously wasn't for Zordo's locals, but
for the temples she had seen in her vision, or whatever remained of them. Not far into
the brush Revan began to sense that she was being watched, and followed. Sure enough,
a group of mercenaries drifted into view. They gathered in front of her, and she realized
that they were circled behind her as well. While she no longer sought to take over the
galaxy, and her objective was to help people, she still had no problem with taking lives.
If they were stupid enough to try to attack her, then she was more than willing to
destroy them. That was a difference between her and the Jedi. Jedi were so wrapped up
in saving every life and not going to war unless they had no other options. Revan was
ready to take preventative actions. If the Force guided them, as the Jedi had always
taught her it did, then she could rely on it to help her stop her enemies before they got a
chance to hurt anyone else. She missed whatever garbage the mercenaries spat at her as
she thought, and as they approached her she whipped out her two lightsabers, a green
long sword and a purple shoto, and swiftly sliced through flesh and batted away blaster
fire. In that moment she took in their appearances. Mostly it was a measly group of
Weequay, with a couple of armored soldiers whom she assumed were Iridonians.
Without hesitation she looted through their belongings, finding a blaster she liked and a
couple of hundred credits.
The force soon drew her to a clearing where she found a Corvair Landspeeder.
She boarded the speeder and rushed off to the southeast. Before long she was rushing
through the forest, not on a trail at all, but blazing through the woods. She now felt the
pull of dark energy. It was foreboding, as well as tempting at the same time, and she
knew it all too well. In that split-second of distraction she was nearly killed. An ancient
meditation sphere, with bat-like wings, came flying straight toward her, and the two
ships burst into a conflagration that lit up the darkness in the woods. Revan repelled
herself just in time, as they collided, and brought herself to a landing. Then, she realized
it had not just been the explosion that had lit up her vision, but the sky. She was now
perched atop an obelisk. The Sith Code was written on it in some language, "Peace is a
lie; there is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain
power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The
Force shall set me free."
Barely taking the time to look back, Revan walked toward the ruins that stood in
front of her. She looked into the first one she came to and found that it had been looted
through recently. The only information she got out of it was from the writing on the
walls. The next one went deeper. She felt a life force coming from within. This force
was not purely light, but it was far from the darkness that embodied the rest of the ruins.
As she went deeper and deeper into the structure she was forced to bring out her
lightsaber in order to light her way, not so that she could see where she was headed, but
so that she could search for artifacts as she went. She felt the new presence very close to
her now, and as she came nearly upon it she realized a cave-in was in front of her.
Someone must have come through here recently and gotten closed in. Revan picked
through the rocks in her mind, like a puzzle, and as she did the path cleared. There stood
a Falleen man in all of his splendor. The Falleen were a species of reptilian humanoids
who let out the most powerful pheromones in the galaxy. Even without the pheromones
influencing one's perception of them, a Falleen was magnificent to behold, and the
species was considered the most desirable in the entire galaxy. After conversing with
him for a short while Revan learned a few important things. His name was Desric, and
he had been searching here in the ruins as she was now, for information about the true
Sith. He assured her that he had found everything they needed just before the ceiling fell
in. It seemed odd that he had figured out all of this information without being force
sensitive, but Revan believed that everything happened for a reason. If this being was
meant to help her find her enemy then so be it. The two climbed out of the ancient
structure, to see what must have been a platoon of planetary security aiming blaster
pistols toward them.
Apparently they were suspected of killing a group of Weequay, and of stealing a
landspeeder. They were held together in custody for the next few hours and got to know
each other much better than they had before. She was sure it was just his pheromones
affecting her, but Revan didn't mind having all that time with him. They had a plan now,
once they got off of Thyferra, and with the maps Desric had collected, they should be
dead on the trail before long. The security officers came back in much later, informing
them of how they could not find any evidence of either one stealing the landspeeder.
The Weequay had been traced back to some planetary gang, and it was assumed that
they must have been killed by an enemy gang. Much of this conclusion was due to
Revan's mind influence, of course, but she felt that expedience would be helpful in this
situation and that this influence seemed appropriate. When they were finally released, it
was pitch-black outside.
The two made their way to the Ebon Hawk, wrapped in heavy robes, which they
had purchased to keep out the cold that threatened to creep across their bodies. There at
the foot of the ship stood HK.
"Statement: Some meat-bags tried to enter the ship while you were out, master.
Delighted Inquiry: Requesting permission to track down and destroy?" said the droid.
"I'm sorry, but not this time," Revan replied, "but don't worry, you'll get to
eliminate plenty of meat-bags when we get where we're going."
Inside the ship, she found T3-M4 as she expected, performing routine
maintenance on the ship and doing upgrades. Once she had the coordinates entered, she
finally realized how tired she actually was. She would have to wait until she was alone
again before she could truly rest, but she felt safe with HK-47 watching over her as she
slept. She had built him after all.
So now here she lay, with this Falleen man so close to her. He was asking her to
abandon the mission as she had originally seen it. They would still seek out the True
Sith, but instead of destroying them, she would join them and eventually lead them in
their galactic conquest. Revan's choice was terribly difficult, and she didn't make it right
away. She let Desric stay with her for the rest of the night. The fate of the entire galaxy
was worth betraying Carth for just one night wasn't it? They weren't actually together
anyway, she had cut that relationship off when she left him behind on Telos. Still, when
Desric was finally asleep in her arms, it was relationships such as the one she had had
with Carth, and her connections to people like Canderous and Mission, that led her to
her decision. Fate had drawn together her ragtag crew, and they had saved the Republic
for a reason. Under the reign of the Sith, many of her friends would be enslaved,
whether it be literally or enslaved to positions in an evil military. She would keep the
galaxy safe for them. Without much more thought Revan summoned a Shikkar to her
hand which she placed neatly in her lover's skull.
To Have Loved And Lost
I was on top of the world. It was my senior year in high-school and I was living
the dream. I was a popular guy with lots of friends and personally, I thought, a good
personality. I was in a band that was the premier band in the area, we had gigs throughout
the district, and we were hoping to land a record deal. I was in the top twenty percent of
my class in grades, even with the rigorous classes I was taking. This last point was on
large account because of my genius girlfriend, Alexis. She was one of the top students at
our school and happened to be a great teacher. She had helped me pass classes with
flying colors that I would not have been able to get higher than a C without her. Another
perk was that she was more popular than me and was one of the most beautiful girls in
school. This opinion was shared by many other students, students that I fended off with
all the ferocity I could manage. She was mine and I loved her. The two of us had been
going out for as long as I could remember, for as long as I cared to remember and our
relationship seemed to get stronger every week; we were inseparable. Everyone who saw
us told us how perfect we seemed to be together, how we were just right for each other. I
listened to these comments and felt a pride that I could not compare to anything else,
because I believed from the bottom of my heart these comments were true and to hear
these statements from other people gave me butterflies.
I had an AP Calculus test on Monday and I was determined not to fail it, even
though my teacher seemed to just sit there and talk all class, not teaching anything.
Thankfully, I was going over Alexis' house that night to help me understand what we
were learning. She had been acting a little weird lately, like saying she couldn't hang out
certain nights because she had stuff to do, which she never did because she loved to
spend time with me, or smiling way too much like she was trying to hide something. I
didn't think much of it, though. She was always a little moody when she had a lot of tests
coming up (she had three the next day). I drove over to her house in my baby, my `99
Firebird, and parked on the street in front of her house. I went up to the door and did my
customary knock to let her parents and her know I was there and let myself in. I walked
down the hallway into her kitchen and found her mother cooking something that smelled
delicious in the pot. I smiled and said, "Why Mrs. Wyeth, That smells absolutely
delicious! You should consider opening up a restaurant and selling whatever you‘re
She jumped and turned in one motion and gasped. Once she saw it was me she
relaxed and admitted, "I bought the mixture. All I had to do was add water, but thank you
anyway. Did you just come in? I didn't even hear your knock!" I smiled and told her that I
had knocked and that she must be getting too old to hear well enough and she should
consider getting hearing aids. She scowled, but before she could say anything Alexis
walked into the room in a cute top and skin tight jeans with holes in various places. It was
her traditional style and I loved it.
"He obviously didn't mean that, Mom. You know how Emmit is, always kidding
around!" She grabbed my hand and pulled me out of the kitchen and down into the
basement where we always studied. "Why do you always have to antagonize her? You
know she doesn't like people commenting about her age."
I turned to her and smiled, and she smiled back, if a little hesitantly, and we
turned to the task at hand. She explained the mathematical theories and equations to me,
and I helped her study for her AP US history essay by quizzing her with facts about
Andrew Jackson and the National Bank. She was very fidgety and did not seem happy at
all. She was tense and avoided the subject of our date that Saturday, which I kept trying
to bring up because I had no idea where we were going. I brought it up for probably the
fourth time and she didn't even respond. She just kept her head down and wrote the
answer to the calculus problem we were doing. I couldn't take it anymore, "What's
wrong? You've been mopey for days and now you won't even talk to me." She looked up
at me started to tear up. "No, don't cry. I'm sorry. I'll stop. Please don't cry."
I tried to go in for a hug but she pushed me away, looked me straight in the eye
and said, "Emmit, I think I want to break up," and that is when my world fell apart.
I barely remember the rest of that night, Alexis said something about how she had
met another guy and how we just weren't for each other and that we both knew it was
going to come eventually. I had not known this, so I hopped up, shoved all my stuff in
my school bag, and stormed out. I ran up the stairs and before her mother could even ask
what was wrong, I was out the door and peeling out of her street. The night air was cool.
Winter was starting to wrestle control away from autumn. What was I going to do?
Where was I going to go? I couldn't go home. My parents would just make the pain
worse by asking questions and showing concern. No, I needed a quiet secluded place
where I could sort things out in my mind, somewhere I could cool down. I chose a place
on Main Street that my band had played at a few times called Rocco's Coffee House. It
was a popular coffee place for teens and had plenty of dark corners where I could sit and
think calmly. I walked in and grimaced as I realized the band that most closely rivaled
ours was playing. It had been a competition for years between our band and theirs to see
who could get the biggest gigs or turn the most rotten place into a jumpin' party. I found a
place to sit and ordered a black coffee. I didn't really like black but the occasion called for
it in my mind. I sat there with my coffee, eyeing my greatest enemy, Joe Pascher, singing
a piece from Sublime and I had to admit to myself that he and his band were pretty good.
If only Joe was a better guitarist, they would have probably been better than us. All of a
sudden I saw a shape form out of the dimly lit gloom. My best friend and wing man,
Chris Talarsky, the drummer for our band, materialized and sat down in the booth next to
me. We both looked at each other, then at the band, and shook our heads. "Joe needs to
get better at guitar. His singing is fabulous, but his guitar playing leaves a lot to be
desired," Echoing my thoughts only seconds before.
I nodded. We had both had this conversation before, and it always ended up with both of
us saying that we were much better than them, and I was just not in the mood. He looked
at me, concerned with my lack of response. "What's wrong? You love baggin' on Joe.
He's like your biggest enemy!" he said.
I just looked at him, my face full of sadness and said, "Alexis broke up with me.
She met another guy, and she broke up with me." He looked away, then back at me. It
was a subtle movement, only a fraction of a second, but I knew. Before he even let out a
surprised exclamation, I interrupted and muttered my voice a quiet crescendo into a yell,
"You knew, didn't you? You knew it was coming and you just let me fall, let me
experience the feeling of my heart being ripped out of my chest." I stood up my face
flushed with blood and yelled, "You son of a bitch, you knew!" The band screeched to a
halt and I stormed out of that coffee house and ran to my car, with Chris right behind me.
"I didn't know. I heard rumor, rumors from kids who knew other kids who knew
other kids. I didn't even think anything of it. I also didn't want you to have second
thoughts about Alexis because you two seemed perfect together. Look, she's an idiot and
she doesn't know what she's losing. You can still make her see that. Don't do this, man. I
didn't cause it, so don't blame me. Please, stop."
I stopped and pivoted on my foot so that I was facing Chris. "Look, I am sorry
that I flipped at you. I just have a lot on my mind right now obviously. So... what is this
about making Alexis realize I'm not worth losing?"
He looked at me and smiled, "I can't believe you haven't thought of this yet. It's
simple. Just make her jealous. Go out with some other girl to make Alexis realize what
That was when I stopped feeling the empty feeling in my chest and it was
replaced with rage, a desire for revenge. I had never felt that kind of anger before. It filled
up my hollow chest and threatened to over flow it. I had no feelings other than anger, for
that was all that was left of me, anger and sadness, and I wasn't going to let my sadness
take over. The next day we got to planning. Chris picked out a few girls that were open
for business that I could manipulate to go out with me within the next week. I didn't even
look at whom he picked. I told him to pick someone for me. He ended up choosing a girl
that had been in most of my classes since seventh grade but I had never talked to. I
wouldn't even have recognized her if she didn't sit next to me in AP Calculus. She walked
by me in the hallway a lot, and from then on I made sure I said hi to her. Also, in
Calculus I asked her for help on problems that I didn't understand. I laid on that Emmit
charm that Alexis had originally fallen for. After a few days and as I thought about the
irony of the whole situation, I asked if the girl, whose name was Christina, if she was
doing anything this Friday night because there was a hockey game and I didn't really
want to go alone. ―Why don't you go with Alexis? I don't want her to get mad at me for
going with her boyfriend." I told her the sad story of how she had broken up with me and
I needed company. I personally thought I put on a brilliant show, one that anyone could
be proud of. She looked at me a few seconds, and then muttered, "I'm so sorry. I know
how you feel. My boyfriend broke up with me last month and it was a tough time, but I
got through it, and if I can, then you can. And sure, I'll go to the hockey game with you,
but just to keep you company, not as a date." I couldn‘t help but smile at my success.
"Sure. That's what I meant; I just need some company. Right now I'm not looking
for a relationship, so I'll pick you up around six-thirty?" I asked.
"Sounds good to me. I'll see you tomorrow then." She smiled as the bell rang and
walked out, and as she walked away I noticed how good she looked, but I didn't dwell on
it. I made sure for the rest of the day that when I saw Alexis, I was with Christina, acting
happy, like I was not affected by our break up. She kept looking at us every time we
passed her. What could she be thinking? My plan couldn't be working this fast, could it?
My mind explored the possibilities; we could be back together by tomorrow night if
everything went as smoothly as it had been going. I just had to get Christina to like me so
we could get closer and make Alexis so jealous that she would totally regret leaving me,
and the hockey game was the perfect place to lay on the charm.
The buzzer went off and Christina and I cheered our heads off. Austin Norlay,
who had just scored for our school to win the game, skated up to the student section
where all of the kids hung out and pumped his fist. It was a good time that night,
especially because Christina was with me. I had picked her up, and we had immediately
clicked, talking about various things, but I was very hesitant to talk about the whole
Alexis situation at first. But eventually she persisted and I started telling her some details
about what I had been thinking lately. The whole time she put in encouraging comments,
and by the end of it I was spilling my guts out. I felt so comfortable around her,
something I hadn't truly felt with Alexis ever. Alexis had never been the listener; she had
always done the talking, explaining every little happening in her life, and though I never
minded, it was a good feeling to finally let it all out. Throughout the hockey game we
talked and laughed, and we learned a lot about each other. I tried to keep my mind
focused on my goal. Alexis was sitting two rows behind us, and I knew her eyes were
riveted upon us, burning in jealousy. This satisfied me, but the more time I spent with
Christina, the less time I had to act and the more time I could just be myself. The best
part was that she opened up with me a little too and explained about her relationship.
They had not fought or anything, but her boyfriend had moved to France and he just
decided they were too far away to have a relationship, so he broke up with her, which
crushed her. But she didn't seem affected by it that much; she just told it like it was,
which impressed me. After Austin scored the goal, we cheered and booed the other team.
I hugged Christina and we amassed ourselves in the herd that was exiting the building. I
saw an opening through the crowd and tried to grab her hand to pull her through; she
immediately pulled her hand away. "I don't know if that is such a good idea. I said I
wasn't going to be your date," she said, seeming unsure of how she really felt.
"Sure...sure, I didn't mean anything by it I swear!" I stammered back at her trying
to explain myself.
She looked at me, smiled, and then blushed, her face becoming pink with
embarrassment. "I'm sorry for misinterpreting that. I don't know, I've been on edge lately.
I just need to relax"
"Well, there is a party at this kid‘s house that I heard of. We could go if you want
to, hang out some more, if you're not tired of me yet." I smiled convincingly.
"Sounds lovely. You can be my date" She smiled that shy smile again. "Sorry
again, I feel bad now.‖
"Don't. It's ok." I took her hand and expertly led her through the crowd and to my
car. We drove to the kid's house and found a wild party going on. A bunch of people had
brought huge speakers and were blasting loud music and there was as close to a mosh pit
as you could get in a residential house. Drinks were passed around, which were a normal
occurrence at these parties, but were apparently not a normal occurrence in Christina's
life. She seemed very uncomfortable and refused to have a drink at all, and because she
didn't have one drink, neither did I. After a time I was sure that she was not having fun,
so I asked if she wanted to leave.
"Only if you want to, I don't want to ruin your fun," she replied.
I looked at her and said, "Let's go. I'm sorry we came here. I don't usually come
to these, anyway. I just wanted to see what it was like and spend more time with you." I
smiled, she smiled, she took my hand, and we left the party. We ended up deciding it was
best if I just brought her home. She gave me directions to her house and I drove until she
told me to stop. I walked her to her door and we said our goodbyes, and as I was about to
turn and leave she grabbed me and kissed me on my cheek. A chill went through my
whole body as she turned around and walked inside, not looking back once. I left that
house a happier man than I had been in what felt like a really long time but was really
only a week.
Time flew by and Christina and I seemed to grow closer with every day that
passed. After about a week, we were hanging out at a burger stand eating lunch and
Christina went to the bathroom to wash up. Chris came in right after she left, saw me, and
sat down in Christina's spot. "How's the plan coming? Or have you forgotten it?" He
cracked a smile and winked at me‖
"I haven't forgotten. I'm just enjoying my time with Christina at the moment," I
"You have definitely forgotten. Just remember that if you make Alexis jealous
enough, I think she will come back to you, especially if the rumors are true and she broke
up with her new boyfriend." He smiled and winked again, and all I could do was pretend
"Yeah, I know. I've heard the rumors to, but..." I refrained from saying what I was
"Why don't you come to Vanessa's party tomorrow night, you know, Alexis'
friend? Everyone is gonna be there including her, It's gonna be a good time."
"Or I could just make her more jealous. That sounds like a good idea too.
Whatever, I'll come, at least just to chill."
He got up and left to go order, and as he was walking away, Christina came back
but didn't sit down, and she was looking pissed. "How was your conversation with
Chris?" At that moment I realized she had heard everything and all I could do was stare at
her in disbelief. I stuttered and stammered and all that came out was, "Look, it started out
that way, but it's not that way now. It was just to get even with her, that's all."
"That's all, that‘s all?! Every moment we've had together has been a lie!" She
hissed at me.
"No, that's not true! I...‖
"Get out of my face you pig‖ and before any more coherent words came out, she
was out the door. Gone.
I called her for the rest of the day, and all of the next day, I sent her texts, and I
even went to her house and knocked, but no one answered. I felt a guilt that I had never
felt before. It made me feel terrible. I needed someone to talk to and the only person I
could was the person I needed to talk about and she hated me. She did send one response
to my texts and it gave me no comfort. Please stop bothering me, I want no part of you
anymore, stay away from me, and never talk to me again, if you have any decency just
leave me alone. I didn't know what to do. I was lost. I felt I needed time to think about
how I was going to live without Christina. I had to forget her, at least for the night, and
Vanessa's party was just the thing to help me achieve that goal.
I showed up that night in my Firebird at Vanessa's house when the party was just
getting into full swing, ready to try and forget the past couple weeks. I walked in and
was surprised to see flashing lights. At first I thought they were police cars, but someone
had brought a few strobe lights which made the room seem like an old motion picture. I
picked up two full cups and drained them all. I danced a little to the blaring music and
drank a lot, trying my best not to think of Christina, but to no avail. I finally grabbed
another and sat down on a couch off to the side where not many people were and thought
about my terrible situation. As I sat there I noticed a form coming out of the shadows. At
first I thought it was Chris coming to sit with me through the shadows, but it was Alexis.
She sat next to me and started talking to me. I'm not sure what she said, but after about a
minute she looked at me and went in to kiss me. I to return that kiss when a crystal clear
image of Christina burned through the haze and I stopped. "I can't do this," I said.
She opened her eyes and looked at me. "What‘s the matter? Wasn't your whole
plan to make me jealous so you could get me back?"
I looked at her and stammered, "Well, Yeah. Chris... no wait... I don't know. I
just know I don't want to be with you anymore." I got up and stumbled over, my mind
cloudy, but I heard Alexis let out a cry of sadness as I walked away. I left that house and
got into my car and drove away.
As I drove, the road faded in and out of my vision. I kept thinking about Christina
and Alexis. I drove fast; it didn't matter. I thought of Alexis and how well my plan had
worked. I had her in my grasp and I had let her slip through my fingers. I thought about
Christina. I wondered what she was doing at that moment, if she was thinking about me
as much as I was thinking about to her; maybe she would forgive me, I was thought about
driving to her house right now. But I knew what would happen if I did that. I was so
engrossed in my thoughts within my blurry mind that I didn't even notice the headlights
in my face until I heard the blaring of the other car's horn. I jumped into action and turned
the wheel as far around as possible. My Firebird swerved around the oncoming car,
missing it by mere feet. I had swerved off of the road and into a field and that is where I
sat, my chest heaving. The oncoming car became receding car, its headlight slowly fading
into the cool night. I turned off the car, alive and intact, but still empty.
Amanda Dieter 12/9/09
Short story Zervanos
The cool air chilled Maggie‘s body as she sat on the picnic table cuddled in her
boyfriend‘s arms. The leaves on the trees were beginning to grow back and that was is
the first nice day after the freezing winter they just had. Maggie‘s face was pressed up
against Michael‘s cheek and his arms held her tight. Maggie, a senior at Madison High
School, thought Michael was the one for her. They planned to go to college together and
get married. Maggie gazed into his eyes and kissed his warn, soft lips. Michael told
Maggie every little detail that happened in his life, but Maggie wasn‘t so open. Michael
thought he knew everything about her and she convinced him he did but he didn‘t. No
She looked at Michael and said, ―You don‘t know how excited I am to get out of
my house and go to Richman University with you.‖
Maggie worked at the town library ever since she was in ninth grade. She only
made minimal wage but over the years the money started accumulating to a large sum.
She was a straight A student and tried to study as much as she possibly could. She wasn‘t
the type of kid to go to parties on weekends and drink or do different types of drugs. In
fact, she never touched the stuff, not even to try it. Michael wouldn‘t let her anyway; he
was against that type of lifestyle. On weekends, Maggie would go to the movies or a
friend‘s house. Since her and Michael started dating Maggie really did manage her time
with friends well and lost quite a few. She didn‘t care though, she was in love and that
was the best feeling ever.
Maggie looked down at her watch. It was five thirty. She was supposed to be
home at five. She jumped up in a panic and hopped in Michael‘s car. He never
understood why she was so worried when she was late but thought that she hated going
against her father‘s words. They approached the house and she gave him a peck on the
cheek and thanked him for taking her home. As he pulled away Maggie walked up to the
front door and stood there for a little. She didn‘t know what to expect when she walked in
and was very nervous.
Maggie entered the house and immediately her dad stares at her as says, ―Where
were you?‖ She didn‘t want to tell him she was with Michael because he tells her that she
spends too much time with him and that they are probably doing inappropriate things. ―I
was at the Library.‖ He stumbled over to her because her. As he came closer to her she
could smell the whisky and cigars on him.
―Are you lying to me girl?‖ he said.
―No, no I had to help out a little longer today because we got some new books in
that they wanted me to put away before I left for the evening.‖ she said.
He knew she was lying or in his case didn‘t care. He grabbed her by her long
curly brown hair and threw her to the ground. He kicked her hard in the ribs two times
and walked away. Maggie got up in pain and ran to her room. She fell to her bed in tears.
She learned that if she screamed or cried while her dad was doing these terrible things to
her, her father would only make it more painful and do these things harder and longer.
After some time, she sat at her desk to work on some homework.
Looking at the picture of her beautiful mother, she couldn‘t help but be mad at
her. Her mother died when Maggie was only ten years old, in a car accident. The police
told Maggie and her father they think it might have been a suicide. But Maggie never
believed that, how could her mother abandon her like that with her father. It was
definitely an accident. When she starred into her mother‘s eyes in the picture she thought
back to when she was there. They played games together and she would always help
Maggie with her homework. It was their time together to hang out and talk about
anything that was on Maggie‘s mind that she wanted to tell her mom about. Maybe this is
why Maggie loved doing homework so much and was always studying, or maybe she
does it because it is some time away from her father, she didn‘t know and she didn‘t think
about it. When Maggie was born her father left her mom because it was too much to
handle and too much responsibility. Then when Maggie was three her mother remarried
Bill who she also called dad. They never got along well and when he moved into their
house he started to take control over everyone. The night Maggie‘s mom got in the
accident Bill called her screaming at her telling her that he knew she was cheating on him
and when she got home she was going to get it. He was always mean to Maggie‘s mom
and beat her. When she got this phone call she was terrified to go home. Next thing you
know the cops are on the phone asking Bill to meet them at the scene.
Maggie heard a loud crash and remembered her father. She locked her door and
went back to her homework. Later in the night she didn‘t hear any movement anymore
and decided it was safe to go downstairs to the kitchen to make herself dinner. When she
tiptoed down the steps she noticed her dad was passed out on the couch. She made a ham
and cheese sandwich and went back up to her room to eat it and go to sleep.
The next morning Maggie woke up for school and when she reaches the bottom of
the stairs she approached her father. He was smiling at her and asked her if she had
everything she needed for school. She smiled back and said yes and waited outside for
Michael to pick her up for school. She got into Michaels car and kissed him. They talked
all the way to school, but Maggie never brought up what happened last night. In biology
class, Maggie was partners with a new girl in school. They had to finish the model of an
animal cell they started in class. Susie, the new girl, asked for her house number so she
could call and set up a time to meet up and finish the cell diagram. Nervously Maggie
tells her that the phone lines were all down in her neighborhood and they can just stay
Lunch was Maggie‘s favorite period of the day because she got to see Michael.
Michael saw a bruise on Maggie‘s arm and asked her about it. She said she slipped in the
shower last night. Michael started asking Maggie if she wanted to hang out at her house
that night and she made up another excuse. He looked at her funny and asked why he can
never go to her house. She got angry and told him that she was busy and walked away.
After school she sat at her desk in her room and thought for a while. She realized
that she needed to tell her boyfriend what has been going on for so many years behind
closed doors. Maggie called Michael on the phone and asked if he could meet her in the
park to talk. Maggie never let him in her house because she was nervous how her dad
would act around him and she didn‘t want him to feel bad for her because she didn‘t feel
bad for herself. She told Michael about how her dad was an alcoholic and hit her
sometimes. Michael was disgusted. How could she let him do this to her and how could
she not have told him. He realized now he really didn‘t know everything about her. This
girl he loved and told everything to was someone he really didn‘t know. He knew that it
was really hard for Maggie to tell him this because her words were shaking and she broke
down in tears. Michael knew she needed him to comfort her and be there for her because
this was so hard for her to tell him and has never told anyone ever before. Michael
wanted to kill her dad, Maggie was the nicest girl he knew and did so well in school, how
could he hit her? Maggie made him promise not to tell anyone and not do anything about
it. Michael has only seen Maggie‘s father once and that was when he was yelling out the
front door to her when Michael was picking her up for school one morning. Michael, as
hard as it was for him, promised.
They finished their conversation and went their separate ways. When Maggie
walked into her house sad but a little relieved that she finally told Michael her father was
drunk. He grabbed her by the hair and started yelling at her for not cleaning the kitchen
after he made dinner. He started hitting her harder then ever before and she was
screaming at the top of her lungs. Later that night she called Michael and told him she
was going to school early the next day and didn‘t need a ride.
The next day at lunch Maggie met Michael. She had bruises all over her arms and
a black eye. As soon as Michael saw her he knew exactly what happened. Michael
started freaking out and told her she needed to call the cops or he would. She explained to
him that she didn‘t want to do that because she wouldn‘t have anywhere to live and all
the money she had been saving up for college would have to go to food and motels. She
reminded him that graduation was only two months away and she just needed to make it
till then in that house. She told him she would sleep at a friend‘s house for a while until
things cooled down and she wouldn‘t have to deal with her father anymore.
She kept to her word and stayed at her friend Jeanie‘s house for a week. While
there, she remembered what it was like to have a mother and people that care about her.
She didn‘t want to over stay her welcome so she went back home on a Sunday night. Her
father was passed out on the couch and she went right up to bed. No more beatings
occurred after. Maggie and Michael‘s relationship had never been so strong.
It was June fourth and Maggie stood in her room with a white graduation gown
and her white oversized cap with the blue and gold tassel. She was so proud of herself,
finishing top of her class and accepted to the college she always dreamed of going to.
After the ceremony her and Michael were going to stay the summer at the house on the
beach Michael‘s parents got for them as a gift. In the corner of the mirror was the picture
of her mother. She was beautiful and she missed her more then anything in the whole
world. She started talking to the picture.
―I wish you were here to see how good I have done on my own. Top of the class
and going to the college of my dreams. You would be so proud of me. If only you didn‘t
get in the accident that night. You would be with me right now. I wish you never married
Bill, Mom! He is terrible. But I am not complaining, I‘m so strong now and can‘t wait to
get out of her. I found the perfect boy that cares so much about me and I want to spend
the rest of my life with.‖
Her phone rang and it was Michael. He was outside waiting to take her to the
She finished, ―I love you Mom.‖
A couple hours later Michael dropped Maggie off at her house so she could pack
her stuff up and they could go to the beach house. Maggie knew this was finally her
chance to be free from her dad. Michael drove away and she heard some commotion
inside the house. She was in too good of a mood to worry about it and walked in. Her
father was drunk and throwing plates and furniture around the house. She had never seen
him like this before. On the floor were empty bottles of his favorite whisky. She knew
this was bad. She ran up to her room with out saying anything to her father. Michael
would be there in an hour to pick her back up. She started packing a couple bags with the
clothes she wanted to bring along with her. Next thing she knew the door swung open
and her dad was standing there in his boxers. She froze and her dad locked the door. He
grabbed her and threw her on the bed. She was screaming, he has never been this violent
with her before. He put all his weight on top of Maggie and she couldn‘t move. She
looked into his eyes and he didn‘t look like he was all there. He was scary and he started
undressing her. She felt as though no one could hear her scream and he was too heavy
there was no way to get out from under him. Tears were flooding Maggie‘s face and she
felt a sudden pain. He wouldn‘t stop and there was nothing she could do. He raped her.
After what seemed like hours, but was really only a few minutes, she managed to
hit him and roll out from underneath him. She darted for the front door but was stopped
because her dad grabbed her by her hair. Maggie struggled and tried as hard as she could
to get out of his grip. They tripped and rolled down the stairs and when they reached the
bottom Maggie‘s dad was hurt and laid there. Maggie got up and ran to the kitchen. She
opened a drawer and grabbed a sharp butcher knife. Her dad got up and started screaming
her name. Her father ran after her and pushed her into the wall. The knife fell to the floor.
The Unforgiving Elements
Pat Flannigan rose quietly from the bed as not to wake his sleeping wife. He kept
the lights off. He liked it better that way, getting ready in the dark. The time was 4:45. He
barely even had any light in the shower. It made him feel like part of an elite group; the
kind of people who beat the sun up. He took pride in getting up, getting to the boat and
getting work started early. No one else showed up for another two hours- Bucky, the deck
boss and Pat‘s best friend. Then came Jorge and finally Pauley. This year, Paul brought
his younger brother Pete. Everyone came earlier today; the day was filled with work to be
done on the Sea Lady.
Tomorrow morning the crew was scheduled to depart for Opilia Crab season. The
Sea Lady was one of about 20-something crab boats in the Alaskan waters. They all
would be leaving tomorrow for the Bearing Sea for the week- long season. All across the
sea ships would be dropping large crab pots, returning later to pick them up, hopefully
brimming with crab. For some, it could be a reality. Others wouldn‘t be so lucky.
Pat‘s job today was work on the engines. The water pump had been acting up
again, and the last thing he wanted was engines overheating and the boat being dead out
on the unforgiving waters. The job was simple enough for Pat, just time consuming. He
had to run lines from new water pump to each of the three 500 horsepower Detroit Diesel
engines. Engines and crabbing were two things Pat knew very well. He had grown up on
this boat. His father had owned this boat before him and taught him everything there
was to know. After his father passed away six years ago, he naturally took the helm. Now
he was the youngest captain on the water at 30, but he had more experience than some of
the other captains on the water. This boat was one of the most important things to him,
beside his wife and soon-to-be baby boy. He tried to split the time between them equally,
but as the season came closer, it was getting harder to be fair. The boat needed prepping.
Tonight he got home at 11 o‘clock. Denise was already sleeping. He lowered himself
stealthily into bed. She turned to him and opened her eyes. Damn.
―Sorry I woke you.‖
―That‘s okay. I had just gotten to sleep anyway. You‘re home late.‖
―I know. I‘m sorry. It‘ll be over tomorrow though.‖
―What do you mean?‖
―I‘m not going out there. Not with a baby about to be here. I talked to Buck. He‘s
gonna be captaining.
―No. You have to go. You haven‘t missed a trip in five years. Besides we need the
money with this baby.‖
―I can‘t do it. What if I miss him? I can‘t.‖
―You have to. And that‘s final.‖
―I‘m not sure.‖
―It‘s not your decision. We need the money, so you are going.‖ He kissed her and
curled up beside her.
The lines were thrown as the Sea Lady‘s engines roared awake. She backed
slowly out of her slip before doing an about face and heading out of the port. Darkness
covered the departure. It was 4:30 in the morning. The crew let out a collective sigh as
the lights from land began to shrink and the black waters started to surround them. Bucky
was in the wheelhouse, like always. It wasn‘t yet time to start preparing the pots.
―It‘s been five years since my first trip, and it never fails to give me a weird
feeling.‖ Pat gave him a look as if to say, ―continue‖ ―The biggest ship on the water…‖
Pat cut him off.
―Come on now, don‘t start with that bullshit. No one had ever seen swells that
big. I don‘t care if you had the Queen Mary II you were going down.‖ He paused. ―Buck,
we‘ve been together for all five of those years. Has anything ever gone wrong?‖
―I know, I‘m just saying‖
―Yeah, yeah. Now get your ass down to the deck. We‘re forty miles out.‖
The deckboss emerged from the cabin. He took a minute to get accustomed to the cold. It
was snowing hard, but surprisingly the wind had died. Out on the water, it was rare to
find wind below 30 miles per hour. ―A good omen‖ Buck said to himself. Halfway down
the ladder he could see the ―Man Overboard‖ trick coming together. It was a joke done
every time there was a greenhorn on the trip. Pauley was already strapped up in the
harness and all the hands were on the deck.
―Hey Pete, can you give me a hand with…‖ Pauley feigned falling back over the
rail, just disappearing from view.
―Man Overboard!‖ the whole crew yelled. Even Buck joined in, trying to hide his
smile. Pete lunged forward to find his brother suspended and laughing uncontrollably.
When the crew saw this everyone broke out in laughter. Jorge even fell to the ground.
With an extended series of profanities and an assault of Pauley, order was restored and
the crew began to string pots.
Denise shot up from her sleep. She felt like she had been stabbed in the stomach.
She yelled out in pain. She swore she had never been in as much pain. She was running
the scenario through in her head. Then just as soon as it started, it was over. She had no
more pain. False alarm.
Pat pulled back on the throttle and the Sea Lady slowed to an idle.
―I figure we drop at least 20 here.‖
―You think 20?‖ Buck asked.
―Yeah. This spot‘s always hit for me. Come on, let‘s get it started.‖ With that, Pat
reached into the compartment and pulled out a bottle of Everclear. He grabbed the
microphone. ―This is your captian speaking. I need all hands on deck, now.‖ Everyone
got a laugh out of this; things were never this formal on the Sea Lady. Pat came to find
the crew standing in a circle next to a suspended pot. ―Glasses?‖ Pat asked. Jorge brought
out five glasses and presented one to each. ―Gentleman,‖ Pat spoke as he pored, ―let‘s be
safe out there.‖ He soaked a rag and stuck it into the bottle. ―But most of all, let‘s make a
shit- ton of money.‖ The five threw back the shot and amongst the spitting and coughing
that ensued, Buck lit the rag as Pat chucked the bottle at the pot hanging just off the deck.
The crew yelled in excitement as the pot was engulfed in flames.
―Drop that shit!‖ Jorge yelled, grinning from ear to ear.
Paul slammed down the lever releasing the pot. Waiting a few seconds, Pete threw out
the buoy with their boat number. The season had begun. Then began the two- week long
work schedule- six hours on, two hours off. When Pat needed sleep, Buck would come
and captain the ship. Though rest was heavily emphasized on the Sea Lady, there was no
amount of sleep available to replace the mental and physical exhaustion put on by the
season. By the third day, all the crew would be running on empty, zombies of men acting
on pure instinct and experience. There was no thought; it was all action and reaction. Pot
after pot; it became a routine. When working tired, cold, and delirious, repetition is the
safest way to work. Pat walked up the ladder to the wheelhouse pausing to admire an
orange sky. The sunset made him think of Denise. He wanted to be home. A cold gust to
his face brought him back to the moment. Hmm, wind‟s started he thought and with a
deep sigh, opened the door and took his seat.
● ● ●
Pat watched as the last pot of the string was dropped. ―Hey I need everyone up
here while we have this break,‖ he said into the microphone. He waited patiently in his
chair as his crew shuffled into the cabin. ―There‘s a storm coming.‖ They looked
―Uhh Pat, there‘s always a storm goin on out here,‖ Buck joked.
―Yeah, so when I take the time to tell you about one, it must be pretty serious. It‘s
a big one and it‘s coming pretty close to where we‘ll be. Now, I want you to make the
call. We can go home now. We‘ve done pretty well so far. Or we can go for some more. I
hear the storm‘s big, but I don‘t know how big.‖
The guys looked around at each other. Jorge spoke up.
―Aw, you know us Pat, lets go get some fuckin crab!‖
The door swung open and a cold gust of wind slapped Pat in the back of the head,
startling him. He had spaced out, daydreaming about going home and just sleeping. He
glanced at the clock. 2 P.M.
―You see this, right?‖ Buck sounded concerned. Pat turned around to see him
pointing back out the door to what looked like the Armageddon.
―Shit‖ was all Pat could say. He had in fact seen it, and the speed at which the
storm was moving scared the hell out of him. ―That‘s alright. All our pots are in; our
tanks are almost full, anyway. There‘s no problem in ending a little early. We‘ll go to
Briscoe Bay. That‘s closer.‖
―What are you thinking, Pat?‖
―I know you. You look panicked as hell.‖
―Yeah, well do you see this? This storm is huge. It‘ll probably bring swells the
size of skyscrapers.‖ A wave rocked the boat as if to verify his point. ―Alright, go down
there and tell them we‘re done and to get some sleep.
Denise shot awake with a pain in her stomach. She double over with pain, letting
out a yell. She rolled out of bed, to the phone, and called an ambulance. Her mind reeled.
She tried to remember what to do in this situation. Breathing she thought. In through the
nose. Out through the mouth. That didn‘t help. It still felt like her insides were rioting and
trying to turn her body inside out. She yelled profanities about and to her unborn child,
vowing to never again be pregnant. She tossed, turned, and writhed in pain, only being
able to breath between contractions. Finally, after what seemed like three and a half
hours, the ambulance finally arrived and carted her off to the hospital.
The weather had gone from regular Alaskan terrible to movie- quality terrible. It
was four o‘clock in the afternoon, but it looked more like midnight. The boat was being
tossed around the waves like a toy. There was no out running it. He tried gunning it to
Briscoe only 25 miles east, but the storm caught him. Wave after wave crashed against
the front the Sea Lady. The waves were giving her a pounding. They had already ripped
off one of the anchors and had bend part of the rain.
―This fuckin‘ storm‘s gonna rip her in half,‖ Pat said through gritted teeth. He was
hard at work. There was a technique to piloting through waves of this magnitude. He
remembered his dad telling him; ―Never let a wave hit you on the side; that‘ll flip the
boat. You can take them head on either; you‘ll plow right into the wave.‖ He flung his
arms around like a madman: turning to the right, now left. Coming off the throttle, then
pushing it forward.
―Three hundred yards, two o‘clock.‖ Buck was spotting waves with binoculars
and calling them out to.
―Yeah, I see it.‖ A wave hit so hard it nearly tossed him out of his seat.
―One hundred yards. It‘s a big one.‖
―Give me a sec‖
―You need to turn right. Now!‖
―Hold on! SHIT!‖
―Give me a big push.‖ She pushed while screaming at the top of her lungs. She
had been in labor forever. She wanted to yell at the doctor. She didn‘t even know his but
she hated him. How could he talk so calmly when she was in so much pain? Her head
dropped back to the bed. This push was unsuccessful. She looked at the clock in her
room- 4:30. She had been in labor for over two hours. She sighed and prepared for
―Mayday. Mayday. Mayday. This is the Sea Lady, boat 5391A. We‘re taking on
water and listing heavily to the port side. We‘re gonna suit up and hop into the
lifeboats.‖ Pat dropped the microphone and grabbed the cold-water suit Buck was
―Is the crew suited up?‖
―Yeah. And the boats are inflated. We‘re ready to go, Pat.‖
―Alright, let‘s get the hell to those boats.‖ The two ran out the door, trying to keep
their balance on the tilted deck. The wind felt as if it were going to pick them up and
blow them away. The rain gusting on their faces felt more like shards of glass. Buck
slipped and fell on the icy steps splitting his head above his eye. Pat helped him up and
down the steps. The crew was yelling to them to hurry. The boat was turning more and
more on to its side. The deck was now a slide. The two lost their footing. Buck managed
to grab hold of the railing. He watched in horror as his best friend slid first into the
sorting table before ricocheting to a crab pot. His limp body fell into the water. Buck
measured up his slid as to not hit anything and let go. The sheer temperature of the water
paralyzed him. He couldn‘t move think or barely breathe. When he came to his senses
after a few seconds he swam to an unresponsive Pat and pulled his friend to the lifeboat
full of the yelling crew. Buck checked his pulse. He tried to use his watch to chech his
pulse speed but it had just broken- stopped at 4:45. It didn‘t matter anyway, he never did
find a pulse.
One more big push and it was all over. A screaming baby came out and Denise
had forgotten all the pain. She couldn‘t help but disagree with all the other mothers.
When babies first come out covered in all sorts of things, they are in no way cute. After
he had been cleaned up and the cord had been cut, the doctors brought Patrick Neal
Flannigan Jr. to his mother.
―Congratulations Mrs. Flannigan. 8 pounds, 7 ounces. Born at 4:45. She was
overcome with happiness, but couldn‘t help but wish Pat were there.
The Coast Guard helicopter was there in surprising time. Buck was the last to be
lifted up. When he reached the top, he and the Coast Guard diver looked down at Pat‘s
body tied to the now nearly submerged Sea Lady.
―He stays.‖ Buck screamed over the engines. The diver gave him a look. ―It‘s
what he would have wanted‖
Denise woke the next morning in a good mood. Minutes later her nurse walked in.
―Mrs. Flannigan, you have a visitor.‖
―Who is it?‖ Buck appeared in the door way. He looked extremely tired. ―You
guys are back early! Where‘s Pat?‖
―Denise,‖ He struggled to find words. ―there was a problem and Pat
didn‘t uhh…‖ He couldn‘t bring himself to finish his sentence. He didn‘t have to. She
knew what he was trying to say. She pulled the covers over her face cried.
Shawn Gartland Mr. Zervanos
Creative Writing Short Story
The Life of a Junkie: A Connor Smith Story
My name is Connor Smith, I am 23 years old and live in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Throughout high school I excelled at sports, playing varsity for baseball, football, and
wrestling. My senior year I was getting looked at by any college you could imagine.
Notre Dame wanted me to play football, North Carolina offered me a baseball
scholarship, and Duke had their eyes on me for wrestling. My dad was a big supporter for
my sports and always allowed me to do what I wanted to do, he never pushed me; he just
was a regular fan. My mom did the dirty work, got my clothes cleaned, made sure I was
up in time for my practices. My parents were big parts of my early childhood through my
teen years. WE had a happy family, ad we rarely fought. That all changed my senior year
in high school. That was the year I gave into peer pressure.
Throughout my highs school life I was pressured into trying things that really didn‘t have
any benefits for my well being and success at life. I was offered the usual join or beer, but
I stood strong and didn‘t give in. Until senior year, all these top not schools wanted me to
come to them, and I had all my credits, so I figured, why not have a little fun why I can.
Nothing would happen I had the world ahead of me. I thought I knew it all, but in reality
I never had a clue.
Which brings us to present day: I live alone in a shitty ass apartment, and I am addicted
to heroin and opiates. I don‘t talk to my parents much, mostly because of guilt, all they
wanted was the best for me, and I ruined my life in literally 12 months. I never attended a
college, I lost interest in my sports I played, and I changed my friends. I just was a
completely different person. When you look into my eyes you don‘t see Connor Smith.,
you see a junkie, and when you look into my eyes there is an emptiness about them. The
only time when my eyes are filled with life is when I take that needle and inject that
syringe. It is an unreal feeling, like the only way I could describe it is if you experienced
this action. Sadly, it only took one time to get me hooked; now I‘m stealing, doing odd
jobs, and literally doing anything to get my hands on my drug. Do I want to change? Yes.
Can I change? Most likely not. It is not up to me anymore. The drugs has taken over my
body, and now I use it just so I can get through the days of being on this earth.
Sometimes I think suicide could be the answer. I mean, if I‘m dead, I won‘t be
disappointing my parents anymore than I have. I won‘t bring pain to my family members,
and I won‘t sit here for the next ten years and just deteriorate. The only thing that has
kept suicide out of the picture is my little brother. My little brother is a sophomore in
high school and he reminds me so much of myself. It is enjoyable to be around him,
because I think to myself that is how I used to be. He excels at sports and is a good kid.
My parents don‘t let me come by and see him too much, they know what goes on most of
the time. They‘re not oblivious. They know if I come by to see him I‘ll be high off my
ass, and they won‘t tolerate that for my brother. It hurts when I hear that, and it brings
anger. But the anger is built up because of the guilt. I know I‘ve done this to myself and
my parents have a right to do what they have to do to ensure my brother‘s success.
So you know my life story up till now. Pretty shitty if you ask me, but even a shitty life
can have its great moments. And right now is a great moment. Feeling the needle
puncture the skin is a rush after you get used to it, and when you start pushing the syringe
into your blood stream, that is a feeling like none other. The effect almost hits you
instantly, and you‘re on your ass within minutes. Everything becomes so intense and you
feel great, and you have the mindset that you can do anything in the world. I pop another
needle this time it puts me out like a light. Drug overdoses are common with heroin, but
if I happen to overdose my feeling is, oh well. At least I didn‘t die a painful death. I wake
up to the sound of my roommate‘s alarm clock. It‘s now 3:30 in the afternoon. I ask my
roommate, ―How long have I been out?‖
―Almost six hours, you fuck head, almost had to call the god damn cops because of your
―My bad, Lenny, I‘m good now, so shut up.‖
―Don‘t ask me for my supply anymore if you‘re going to be a little bitch about it.‖
―What are you talking about, Lenny. This is my goddamn apartment. If it wasn‘t for me,
you‘d be out on the streets.‖
―There you go again. You‘re such a cheap bastard when it comes to money, you know, I
give you half the rent every month, just because your parents signed for the apartment
doesn‘t mean it‘s yours.‖
―Well Lenny, legally it does, so try and pull that shit and I‘ll kick your ass out. I don‘t
feel like dealing with this right now. I‘ll be back later.‖
―Where you going?‖
―Out! Don‘t follow me.‖
―Ok, tough guy, don‘t ask for any when you get back. It‘ll all be gone probably.‖
I slammed the door and walked out of the apartment still high on heroin. I was flustered,
and disgusted with Lenny. Who does he think he is anyway? I put that apartment over his
head. Won‘t even share his dope with me, asshole. For some odd reason, I did a double
take with the statement I just made, and really thought about what I thought was fair. Did
I really deserve some dope because I was sheltering another human? What made me
entitled to that? I didn‘t pay for it. Then I started to think even more; I wondered where
my little brother is? Or how were my parents doing? Then I just had an uncharacterisitic
urge to go to my parents‘ house. I thought to myself, will they even let me inside? Will
they let me see my little brother? After a few minutes I decided give it a shot and see
what happens. On my way over to my parents house, the mix of anxiety and the high
created an adrenaline rush that almost caused me to crash a couple of times. I pulled
outside of my parents‘ house; my mind put up childhood memories when I looked out my
car window. I shut my eyes and let my mind take over. It felt like a dream and I was back
to how I used to be, and I was sitting with my family at dinner, I was dreaming, my
mother started to call to me at the dinner, ―Connor, Connor.‖ The Connors became louder
and louder until I opened my eyes, and there was my mother standing outside my car in
20 degree weather.
―Connor, what are you doing here? You know you‘re not supposed to be here.‖
―I know, mom. I just wanted to see him.‖
―Oh, Connor, you know your father would never allow it. Go home before this
turns into an issue.‖
―Mom, I just want to see my fucking kid brother. Why is that so god damn
difficult for you to understand? Why can‘t I?‖
―Watch your god damn mouth. We didn‘t do this, Connor, this was you. This was
you and your idiot junkie roommate.‖
―You guys won‘t even give me a chance, just shut me out, and you‘ll never let me
see Jason. All I want is five minutes just to say hi.‖
―Get out of here, Connor, now, before I have to get your father.‖
I rolled up my window furiously. My mother started to walk back inside; I sped
off leaving tire marks outside my parents‘ house. ―Fuck them; I don‘t need anything from
this family. They don‘t know what I go through every single day. All I want is to be part
of my family again and they won‘t even let me have that, so fuck this.‖
I drove around for an hour, no destination, just thinking about life, thinking about
my mom and dad, but mostly my little brother. I passed a sign reading, Thank you for
visiting Colorado Springs. I should have turned around right then and there, but for some
reason I kept my foot on the gas pedal and just drove, drove until the night. Forty miles
later I found myself at a roadside gas station trying to find a fix. I stood there for 45
minutes, in twenty-degree weather. Snow started to fall, and the Rocky Mountains were
in the distance. Covered with snow, the mountains were picture perfect, and at that
moment in time I was happy to be sober again. I hadn‘t had this feeling since my senior
year of high school. This was the first time in a while that I wasn‘t craving drugs. I sat
there and decided right then and there that I would no longer be a fuck up. It may sound
really harsh, but there is no other way to describe what I have become. I got back into my
car and drove another fifty-mile to the rehab center called Changing Lives. It sounds a
little cliché, but these people were there for one reason and one reason only, to help
addicts like myself get back to living sober lives.
I walked into the rehab center, not knowing anyone or anything about the place. I
walked up to the front desk and very quietly spoke to the receptionist.
―HI, my name‘s Connor Smith, I am here seeking help for an addiction.‖
―Hi, Connor, my name is Shelly Bond. I‘m sure everyone is going to be happy to
hear that you‘re here. Just write down your information and we‘ll set you up in detox and
get you a room.‖
―All right thank you, Shelly. Should I sit down right here and fill out the paper
―Yes, that will be fine…You said your name was Connor, right?‖
―All right I‘ll be back in one second with the president of Changing Lives; he‘ll
give you a briefing on what we will be doing to ensure that you walk out of here with no
dependency on drugs whatsoever.‖ I sat there as Shelly left the room and though about
the final words she said to me that I would walk out of here not relying on drugs. It was
hard right now to believe that could ever happen. But the more I thought about it, the
more I became attracted to the idea; the motivation kept building as I sat there. The
motivation became more intense and I almost felt…well, high, I guess you could say. But
it was an awesome feeling, like I was rebuilding my life, and I was filled with excitement
which I hadn‘t had for such a long time. Shelly walked back up and she introduced me to
Nicholas Fraknov. He introduced himself to me.
―Hi, Connor, my name is Nicholas. I am ecstatic that you have chosen us to help
turn your life around.‖
―Hi, Nicholas, so am I it is time to straighten my life out and cut the bull shit out.‖
―Well, we are here to help you but three quick rules, obviously drug free zone. Be
respectful to the workers here. They‘re here to help you, so respect is key. Finally, we
allow family visitation, but we must know all information on how they are related and if
they are a cause of concern.‖
―Ok, that‘s fair enough. I‘m sure I‘ll be able to follow three simple rules.‖
―Good to hear, Connor. Would you like to fill out the family forms now, or would
you rather do it when you get all settled in?‖
―That‘s not a problem. Don‘t worry about the forms. It‘s just me who is here, no
They supplied me with a room and key; I unpacked later that night and sat on my
bed, phone right next to me. I never forgot the number, but for some reason I had a tough
time dialing it. Five minutes passed and I decided it is time for bed; tomorrow is another
day and tomorrow is a day of healing, for me. Not my family. I lay in my bed, looked at
the phone one more time, and shut my eyes and turned the lights off. I was out like a
One Hundred Years
I‟m not particularly happy with where I‟ve ended up. I love my wife, my three
children, and our home. I hate my job, and the fact that I live way too close to all of my
family. They‟re constantly calling to check up on me, asking how the kids and I are
doing, and if I want to come over for dinner sometime. The sound of the phone ringing
makes me cringe. If I don‟t answer the house phone, they find another way to reach me. I
miss the days when cell phones and email didn‟t exist.
During high school I loved being able to go out and not have a cell phone for my
mom to call and nag me. “Be home by one” was all she had to say. I could‟ve stayed out
all night if I wanted to, really. She was asleep by the time I got home anyway. But I
respect my mom. I probably let her down more times than I wanted to. I could‟ve tried
harder in school, prepared a little better for the SAT, but the days of Huntsville High are
behind me. It seems like one hundred years have passed since playing ball out back with
the guys, since those endless nights I spent sneaking out with my high school
sweethearts. That took up a majority of my time, the sneaking out I mean. I remember
going to the overlook, sipping on a beer with my arm around Jenny‟s soft shoulders.
Jenny was my favorite. She cared about me, where I was going in life. She‟d yell at me
when I refused to come to her study groups or take a few SAT prep classes. If I was in a
bad mood, all she had to do was laugh and I‟d be set free from my anger. Her laugh drove
me crazy. It made me smile, it turned me on, and it reminded me that there were a few
lucky people in the world who were truly happy.
On prom night I asked Jenny to marry me, jokingly of course, at least I think I
was joking. I just wanted to see what she would say. She knew I was kidding when I
asked her. “Hell, no,” she said through her captivating laugh. I remember seeing her in
her prom dress that night and picturing her in a white princess dress. She was a princess
to me after all. As she walked downstairs to meet me at her front door, I saw her walking
down the aisle. That night when we were alone in the hotel room, I imagined it was our
I knew I really would marry her someday, although I had my doubts when June
came. On the night of graduation Jenny had a party. We wanted to escape the party for a
little and went up to her room. We shared a few heavenly kisses, and we talked. We
talked for what seemed like days. We talked about our future and whether or not it would
be together. Jenny was going to school in Michigan while I was staying in Ohio, only
about an hour from where we lived.
“I don‟t know. What do you think we should do?” Jenny asked with a worried
look on her face.
“I think that I love you and you love me. I don‟t want thinking about being apart
to pull us apart.”
“Yeah,” I said, reassuring myself, “and if anything does happen between us, part
of me will always love you.”
Jenny smiled, then kissed me. We kissed until we were the only party guests
My wife and I don't kiss. Kissing is intimate. It allows two souls to intertwine.
Love collides when lips run into each other, when it means something at least. I haven't
felt that feeling since high school, the feeling of love colliding. The world froze around
Jenny and me when we used to kiss. My wife and I haven't kissed since we were in the
delivery room with our youngest daughter. She's four now.
The first few weeks were hard; the first few months were even harder. I was used
to talking to and seeing Jenny everyday. But she had a lot of early classes, and I had a lot
of late ones. We tried our hardest to make time for each other, well, at least I did. Jenny
always seemed to be busy, or tired, or something. Sometimes she forgot to say I love you
before she hung up the phone; that‟s when I knew things were bad. She always said I love
you, no matter how long it was going to be until we saw each other again.
“Forget about it, man,” my roommate, Rick, told me. “She probably has another
guy up there in Michigan anyway.”
“Gee thanks,” I said, annoyed.
“No problem, man.” Rick was a product of his time: a true full-time stoner. He
thought adding the word “man” to every sentence made him that much more of a hippie. I
could never be a hippie. I never liked the stuff anyway, weed, I mean.
One day my wife caught me smoking, weed, I mean. I figured it'd help pass the
time a little faster, maybe help me relax a little. Maybe help me forget. She could smell it
coming up from the front porch through the bedroom window. She opened the window
and stuck her head out. She asked what I was doing.
"Nothing," I said. I hated myself for saying that. That was my chance to get more than
an occasional hello simply because our kids were in the room. It was my chance to start a
conversation, even if it was a fight. Maybe she would have walked down to the porch and
Instead she just looked at me. I knew she recognized the smell, we both grew up in the
70's; but she wanted nothing to do with it, or me. Her gaze was one of worry; but she just
closed the window and went on with her cleaning. That was my first and only time
We both came home Thanksgiving weekend. It was our first time seeing each
other since we left for college. I got home first since I was only an hour away. I couldn‟t
wait to pick Jenny up from the bus station. It was difficult to concentrate all day.
When two o‟ clock finally came around, my stomach immediately started doing
back flips. I quickly drove to the bus station in order to make it in time for Jenny‟s two-
When she stepped down from the bus, her smile was beaming. So was mine.
“Charlie!” she screamed. She ran over and held me close; I thought she would never let
go. I became engulfed in the smell of her perfume. She sprayed a sweatshirt of mine with
it so I could remember her scent, but it was nice to actually smell it on her.
We stayed together that whole weekend. We were separated for about two hours
total. She went to hang out with her friends and I went to see mine, but other than that,
and when we slept, we were with each other all day and night. Our families even had
It was hard when it came time to go back to school. Jenny cried the whole drive to
the bus station. I almost cried, but instead I only allowed my eyes to glaze over with
tears. Watching her get onto the bus was when I lost it. Tears began to stream down my
face as I waved goodbye to Jenny. I held it together better than she did; she was
That night I drove back to school. I couldn‟t wait to get there so I could call
Jenny. When I called, her roommate said she was out. I told Jenny before she left I‟d be
calling that night; I guess she must‟ve been doing something important. When she called
me back the next morning she sounded rushed, like she didn‟t want to talk or didn„t have
time to. I told her it was fine, she could go. I didn‟t mean it.
When we came home for winter break, Jenny did not step off of the bus with a
beaming smile. Her eyes no longer sparkled. Instead, they looked like a cold, dark stone.
She kind of looked guilty, like she didn‟t want to look me in the eye. She still ran over
and hugged me, just as she had in the past, but she didn‟t hold on as long. I tried to hold
on tight, but she pulled away. When I finally let her go, I noticed that her eyes looked
swollen. “What‟s wrong?” I asked worriedly, but she could only cry hysterically in
“I kind of did something bad, really bad, Charlie,” she said through tears.
My mouth went dry. Only the worst came to mind, of course. I could only
imagine what she did with him. I couldn‟t even say anything.
“I‟m so sorry. I love you, really, I do. I just, I‟m not in love with you anymore.
Please, don‟t hate me.”
She went on to tell me she came home to spend Christmas with her parents and
didn‟t want to see me. She said it would make things easier for me. It would make it
easier to get over her. I watched the tears roll down her face, expecting them to turn red
as my heart bled. She told me she met someone and she thought he might be “the one.”
Barely five months into school and some guy already fooled her into loving him.
I stayed in all weekend. When Christmas day came the following week, I didn‟t
even have gifts to give to my family members. I felt like such an ass hole as I opened my
gifts from everyone else, but no one else cared. They could tell something was wrong.
My mom had been asking me every day what was wrong. She reassured me I could talk
to her about anything, but it was too painful to talk about. I literally felt sick, like at any
moment my insides would come spewing from my mouth. I couldn‟t eat; I couldn‟t sleep;
I couldn‟t even think straight. I thought about Jenny twenty-four hours a day. I thought
about Jenny's hair, Jenny's smell, Jenny's laugh. My head was filled with an endless
amount of apostrophes.
By New Year‟s Eve I received no acknowledgment from Jenny. No "I'm sorry I
didn't mean it", no "Please come back to me." I knew she screwed up, and I thought she
did too. I thought she realized she gave up her first love, a lot of firsts she‟d never be able
to get back. I was wrong. I went over to her best friend's house to figure out what was
going on between Jenny and me; she said all she knew was Jenny had gone back to
school the previous night. She wanted to go to some new year‟s party at her school. I was
livid. Jenny always said your new year‟s kiss should be with someone special, someone
you truly believe you belong with, because the events of New Year‟s Eve usually foretell
the rest of your year. She went back to school to kiss him. Jenny really didn‟t want me
anymore, so that night was when I did it.
I slammed the door in fury when I got home.
“Charlie? Is that you?” my mother said as she came out of the kitchen. “Quit
slamming that door! Dinner will be ready soon, so you should go wash up,” she said as
she glared at me.
I knew she could see on my face that something was wrong. I ran upstairs, closed
the bathroom door behind me, and locked it. I turned the faucet and watched as the tub
filled up with cold water. I didn‟t care what the temperature was. Once it was filled
halfway, I got in. I lay there and waited for the water to reach my nose. When it did, I
went under. I closed my eyes and tried to think of something peaceful. I thought of Jenny
and me on an island in the Pacific. We were on our honeymoon, lying on the beach,
underneath the stars, but that barely helped. I never want to experience the feeling of my
lungs begging for air again. My mother was calling me for dinner, but of course, I
couldn‟t hear her. Eventually I drifted away completely; I was on the island with Jenny
and that‟s all that mattered. My mother kept calling. She came upstairs to get me and saw
a puddle of water outside the bathroom door. I forgot to turn the water off. She screamed
my name as she pounded on the door. My dad came and kicked the door down. He
quickly got me out of the tub as my mom called 911.
I remember hearing the ambulance sirens blaring louder than ever as I came to. I
could feel a bone from my ribcage piercing my chest. It hurt like hell.
"Watch out!" I heard someone in the passenger seat yell as the car swerved. I
heard them mention a deer darting by. I had two near-death experiences in one night. I
imagined my parents driving in the car behind us, my mom sobbing, my dad gripping the
steering wheel tightly as the ambulance in front of him seemed as if it was going to finish
the job I started. I just lay in disbelief, looking up at the bright ambulance lights. I tried to
take my own life. How could I have thought that was the way out?
The next morning, I woke to the florescent hospital lights. The rest of the previous
night was a blur. I looked around the room to find Jenny standing at the end of my bed.
She smiled a weak smile and walked over to the side of the bed. “I‟m here,” she said as
she grabbed my hand.
I'm not particularly happy with where I've ended up. Even though I ended up
sleeping next to Jenny every night for the past ten years, with three gorgeous daughters,
who have her laugh, sleeping soundly down the hall, I feel like I forced her to be here.
When I had asked her to marry me two years after the night at the hospital, she was
hesitant, I could tell. At first she looked as if she felt sick; but then she forced a smile to
her face and quietly said yes. I knew she didn‟t want to, but I was selfish.
What I did that night did get me what I wanted, my Jenny; but this is not the way I
wanted it. We were happy in high school. Now, she‟s miserable and I pretend I‟m
absolutely and completely oblivious as to how she feels. I pretend I don‟t notice how she
really only talks to me when the kids are around. I pretend I don‟t notice the fact that she
sleeps on her side, facing away from me, so when she wakes up in the morning she
doesn‟t have to see my face, the face that forced her into this unwanted life. I forced her
to come running to the hospital that night. And now, ten years later, she's still afraid to
Ayoung Kim Yuri‘s Memories
The poor old lady was begging on the streets. I saw her everyday on my way to
my grandson‘s house. I visited my grandson almost every day. He had just turned two
and was the light of my life. It was a cold wintry day and the only thing the old lady had
in her possession was a raggedy, old blanket and a hat. The lady looked my age, but she
looked very sick.
One night on my way back from my grandson‘s house, I saw the old lady
again. I would have just dropped some change in her hat and walked my way but that
night was blistering cold; I decided to take the bus. She sat right behind the bus stop on
her little blanket; I decided to say, ―Hello.‖
She looked up with her eyes wide open and said quietly, ―Hello.‖
I smiled back.
When I was about eight years old, I didn‘t even put my school bag down when I
came home; instead, I went straight to my backyard and played with my dog. School was
such a drag. As I walked past the dog house I saw Mr. Lee. He was one of our neighbors.
He waved to me to come over, so I ran towards him.
―Give these to your mother,‖ he said. ―These tomatoes were grown from my very
―Thanks, Mr. Lee!‖ I grabbed the red plump tomatoes, held them in my hat that
read ―Pyongyang Elementary‖ and ran into the house. I threw my bag in my room and I
gave the tomatoes to my mom.
―Mr. Lee told me to give you these,‖ I told my mom.
―Aw, how sweet of him. Did you say ‗thank you‘?‖ Mom asked.
―Yeah, I‘m going outside to play with Beaura,‖ I hollered as I was putting my
―Just be back before it gets dark!‖ Mom yelled back, hoping I had heard her.
I yelled back, "Okay," hoping the same as I ran towards my best friend‘s house,
which was just down the street.
I've known Beaura ever since I can remember. Her house was my second home.
So that day when I entered her house and she had all these boxes piled up, I thought
something was up. I asked her if she was moving, but her mom replied no. I was really
curious to why they had all those boxes. I asked Beaura when her mom wasn't there and
she shrugged her shoulders. So after playing house, with our paper dolls, it was
dinnertime before we knew it. I ran back to my house leaving all of my dolls at Beaura's
"I'm gonna come back here tomorrow anyways, so why bring them home?" I
thought to myself.
Dinner was delicious as usual. My mom was such a good cook. She liked
vegetables, so she made a ton of side dishes with cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, etc . . . I saw
that the tomatoes Mr. Lee gave me got on the dinner table, which sort of made me proud
since I gave them to mom.
"It's coming," Dad said quietly to Mom at the dinner table. They were practically
whispering; I didn't know what they were talking about, but by the looks on my parents'
faces, I knew it was one of those "adult talks" and I shouldn't be nosy about it.
"But how do you know?" Mom said softly as if we were playing hide and seek.
"Beaura's house already started packing," Dad replied. I looked up from my plate
when I heard Beaura's name.
"Oh yeah, I saw it too! They had all these boxes piled up everywhere, but when I
asked her if she was moving, her mom told me no," I interrupted audibly.
"Okay, sweetie, I'm sure everything's fine," Dad said.
I went back to swirling around the potatoes on my plate.
* * * * * * * * * * * *
"What's a war?" I asked Beaura.
"It's when bad people come and try to take away our homes," she answered. "At
least that's what my mom said," she added.
"Why would they want to take our homes? Don't they have their own?" I still
didn't understand, and Beaura just shrugged.
It was just another day at school, and then I came home to find boxes piled up at
my house. Mom didn't explain much in detail. She just told us that we're going to move to
Busan, down south. I wanted to pack all of my favorite dolls, but Mom had already
packed a bag for me. She had packed a couple of pairs of underwear, socks, a pair of
pants, two shirts, and a jacket. That was it. Mom told me I wasn't gonna be needing all of
my dolls in Busan. At the time I assumed that was where Beaura and her family would
be moving to also; later I realized Beaura wasn‘t coming with us. The last time I saw
Beaura was the day I saw the boxes piled up at my house. When I heard that we were
moving, I ran to Beaura's house as fast as I could. It wasn't good news or bad news. I just
needed to tell her we were both moving to Busan, that was all. We both had no idea that
was going to be our last goodbye to each other. I told her I would see her the next day. I
even left my dolls at her house as I did always.
When we arrived at the Pyongyang train station, it was early in the morning, still
dewy and a little chilly. But the more people came into the station, the less I felt the cool
morning breeze. I felt like I was suffocating. There were no longer lines at the train
station. Just mobs. I held onto my dad's arm so tightly, so I wouldn't be swept away. The
train was horrific. I've never been so tightly packed with so many people. I thought they
were all going to Busan. We all looked like a flock of sheep trying to escape from
―Dad, look, don‘t we look like a flock of sheep or something?‖ I giggled.
―What do you mean?‖ He looked around.
―I don‘t know. We just look like a bunch of animals trying to escape a
slaughterhouse or something, don‘t you think? Ha-ha,‖ I laughed.
―Yuri, make sure you don‘t let go of my hand,‖ he replied.
I thought that was kind of funny, but Dad just smirked. Everyone in the train
station seemed so tense, including Mom and Dad.
Because we had to move to Busan, my parents had quit their job. They got a new
one but it didn‘t seem as good as the one they had in the north. They were working longer
hours. I never visited their work place, but they smelled like sweat and looked dirty when
they came home from work. Also, our house in Busan was much smaller. We didn‘t have
the big yard anymore or friendly neighbors who gave me tomatoes that they grew in their
own garden. Dad told me I could go back to school when he found a better job. My
brother and I just stayed home and sometimes helped Mom with her new job. She sold
tomatoes now on a nearby street in our new neighborhood. I didn‘t mind not going to
school, but I definitely missed my friends. A couple of months later, Mom wasn't selling
tomatoes anymore. I was glad because then my brother and I didn't need to help her out
all the time. She found a different job at a factory. She told us she liked working in a
factory. She worked so many hours that she was never home. My parents constantly told
us we are lucky to be living in Busan and that things had gotten bad up in Pyongyang.
They always talked about how it was so hard to get a job now-a-days.
Ever since the move, I hadn‘t been able to go back to school. My family just
wasn't wealthy enough. Mom and Dad worked much more, but seemed to be getting less
money. For the first time, we didn't have enough food for the whole family. My mom
would always say she was not hungry when she hadn‘t eaten the whole day. I saw my
parents grow old and weary day by day. They seemed exhausted every day. I told myself
that when I turned eighteen years old, I was going to go back to my old house. I wanted
to see Beaura, Mr. Lee, and all of my school friends. But even after my twentieth
birthday, I never had the chance to go back. I settled here permanently when I got
married and raised all of my children in Busan.
I was on my way back from my grandson‘s house.
―Hello!‖ I said.
―Hello,‖ the old lady looked up and replied quietly.
―Excuse me, where did you get that hat?‖ I asked pointing at the hat that was
always on the ground flipped upside down for change. She must have been freezing,
since she was wearing it that night.
―It‘s from when I was young,‖ she spoke, ―I used to attend this school.‖
It was very worn out but I could still make out the words, ―Pyongyang
Elementary‖. I was shaking but not because I was cold; I held her thin, gray hands,
helped her get up and invited her over to my house for the night. From the moment I saw
the hat, I saw Beaura‘s face in the old lady just exactly how I remembered it.
It was late August, and summer was coming to an end. I would be entering my freshmen
year of high school, while my older sister Rachel would be attending her first college
classes at community college. I laughed at the fact that my sister was going to community
college because it had such a bad reputation of being your 13th grade of high school, but
Rachel was creative and a genius (at least I liked to think). Ray and I were enjoying the
last weeks of summer by the hopping in the pool at our close friend‘s house. We did
everything together even though there was a four year age difference. We even worked
together at a community park just a couple minutes from our house. It had weekend
concerts of impersonators, funny and entertaining acts, and during the winter the hills
were great for sledding. Rachel and I were put at the top of a hill where everyone entered
to go to seating. We were put in a medium size trailer where we were suppose to make
smoothies and iced coffees. The trailer was called the "Buzz.‖ It was like a small cafe on
wheels where a 14 year old and 18 year old were in charge of everything. It was mean but
we couldn't help but criticize or make a smart comment about every person who walked
by or actually came to get a cup of coffee. It was like sitting on the board walk and
watching people for hours except this time we were in a trailer. We would laugh a lot and
get yelled at by our boss.
For the most part business was slow and half of the candy bars we sold there were eaten
and washed down with smoothies by us. One time there was a tribute to the Beatles
playing that night and "twist and shout" came on. No one was in sight because everyone
was dancing near the stage so Rachel and I noticed the coast was clear and we started
twisting and shouting in the "Buzz.‖After that concert we got suspended from work for a
week because we were shaking the whole trailer and everyone could see us dancing on
the counters. It was totally worth all punishments. Only a couple weeks after that Black
Thorn, a very popular band from Ireland came to play at the local park and people from
all over came to watch the show. It was the biggest crowd I had ever seen at the park.
Lines were piling up and my sister really had to go to the bathroom but there was no time
for breaks. We were both sweating and rushing to blend smoothies and make coffee. It
was very stressful and overwhelming. I started to make five strawberry smoothies. After
preparing them I poured them into the plastic cups. All I needed was to put the caps on
but when I tried too the caps wouldn't stay on. I called for my sister to help but she
ignored me and went on with her own work. I yelled for her again and was totally
oblivious as to how much pressure I was putting on the plastic cup. Before I knew it the
smoothie cup went flying in the air and landed smack dab on my head. Rachel turned
around, took one look at me and busted out laughing. She was grabbing onto her pants
trying to fight back from peeing her pants but it was too late. After that we were
unemployed for the rest of the summer.
Rachel and I both started school on the same day and it was a dread for both of us. I woke
her up extra early that morning so she could iron my hair to get it as straight as a needle,
and the night before I had laid out all my new outfits for the entire week. I was nervous to
enter high school because my sister hated it so much but then again we were two
completely different people. I didn't want to look lame showing up to school on the bus
so Rachel drove me on her way to classes. The first couple weeks went by quickly for the
both of us, Rachel and her best friend Vicky, who I absolutely hated would come home
about a half hour after me and we would walk to the ―Mixx‖ and pick up hoagies and
slushies. On our way home we would usually stop at the video store and buy TV episodes
that didn't come on our twenty channels TV. Rachel liked her classes. She said they were
easy for her and interesting, but she said friends were hard to come across because people
would go to classes and bolt right after. One day Rachel ran into her friend Lauren from
grade school whom I remember. I also remembered liking her because she had a horse
and when I was about 6 or so I got to ride it. After that I wanted a horse but never got
one. Rachel and Lauren were friends all throughout elementary and middle school.
Lauren matured way before Rachel or any other fourteen- year old and was getting
Rachel and herself into a lot of trouble. When they started high school together they had a
close group of four or five girls but the numbers went down. My sister's close friend
Eileen committed suicide right before middle school graduation. Kira who was the older
sister of one of my best friends lost her other sister to cancer and was too depressed to
return to school after two deaths and Lauren started doing drugs and her parents sent her
to a boarding school. Only three girls were left and my sister was one of them but the two
made friends and Rachel got left behind. I think Rachel hated high school so much
because she got left behind. I was only in middle school but I remember wondering why I
would go out on weekends and she wouldn't. I thought it was wrong and wondered why
her best friends were my mom, dad, and me. I was stupid. She always looked unsatisfied
but behind her crooked smile she glowed with bravery, strength, and radiant beauty.
Things had changed after high school. Lauren and Rachel started hanging out a lot more
and Ray even took the time out to go to Laurens AA meetings for support, (predictable).
Only two months into school and I was already re-using outfits for a third time. I made
my way up the wooden steps that I had jumped down and climbed up over a million
times in my life. I barged through Ray's door, no knock necessary. When I walked in she
was stacking big brown boxes. I walked over to her closet which didn't surprise her
because half her clothes were nestled in my dresser. I asked what she was doing and she
told me "Laurens asked me to move in with her in an apartment just five minutes
away!!!‖ I laughed; there was no way in hell she would move out. Everyone knew Rachel
and I got homesick in a second and couldn't be apart for more than three days tops. But
something was wrong with the expression on her face, excitement. She looked like a free
women or something. I couldn't believe it and even more then that what my parents were
thinking. My mom wasn't thrilled but was excited for Rachel and so was my dad. I didn't
understand why she was moving out I thought we would move out together when I got to
college and get our own apartment. That was the plan. Then reality kicked in after a
couple of minutes and I thought to myself there was no way she would be able to pay for
rent every month. Rachel had just recently gotten a job at a preschool because she
eventually wanted to teach. Rachel loved kids, but at her job she was only making nine
dollars an hour or maybe even less. I brought the fact up that she would run out of money
in a month. She smiled and said ―Lauren‘s parents offered to pay for my rent for a year
since they want her living with a stable roommate and someone who wouldn‘t get her in
I was out of ideas that would reassure me she wasn't moving. I didn't want to
make her feel bad or try to alter her decision because she hadn't been this happy in
awhile. Like any other sister I helped her pack her room up into boxes. At night I would
lie in my bed and cry every night and till she moved in and after that I slept in her bed for
a week. Rachel left on her birthday and you could tell by the smile on her face that she
couldn't have asked for anything else. My parents, Vicky, and I came to the apartment to
see it for the first time. We brought strawberry short cake her favorite and decorations for
the apartment. When I saw the "apartment building" it didn't look anything like what I
was expecting. It literally was a three minute drive away and it was a Victorian house that
was huge. To get to Ray's floor you had to climb two flights of steps; both floor smelled
of strong curry, Mrs. Kim's cat (neighbor), and Dusty Bumbles (Lauren‘s cat) ran around
the steps chasing pieces of crumbled paper. I think Rachel could tell that I missed her a
lot because I squeezed her to death when she opened the door. The apartment was small,
one bedroom, one bathroom, two small closets, a small lounge room, and the hallway was
the kitchen. There were only so many places you could go and after an hour the
apartment got crowded and it was time for everyone to go. Rachel said I could spend the
night and I liked the idea of that.
School sucked, it was horrible but every day I would wait for the bell to ring in
my last period class and then I would ride the bus to my sister place. We would eat a late
lunch and then both walk to work since we worked on the same street. After awhile
things weren‘t so bad. I got to sleep at Rachel‘s all the time so that meant staying up all
night or going to college parties with her. I would have friends over with no parental
supervision. My sister would let my boyfriend Beau come over and we would live on the
couch for a couple days, and Rachel even gave me a key! Ray told me not to abuse her
being so lenient and I didn‘t. It was already warm again and school was almost over for
the both of us. Since school work was light Ray and I would go to the park across the
street from her apartment and just sit there and talk; it was one of my favorite things to
do. Time had passed, a whole year almost. Another school year was approaching already
and Rachel told me things would be changing soon during one of our little talks. She said
they would be changing in a good way but I had no idea what she was talking about; I
was too busy putting on tanning lotion. It was the last day of school and instead of going
to Rachel‘s after I went to my friend Lindsay‘s house for her birthday party. I slept over
that night and the next morning Rachel came to get me. Instead of driving to her place
like usual we went home. I ran to my bathroom when were home to get all the chlorine
out of my hair from swimming the other night but when I got to the bathroom something
looked different. Clutter. All of Rachel‘s stuff was in my clean bathroom. I went to her
room, she was smiling on her bed, and she looked at me and said ―I‘m back.‖ Shit.
Chris Mullen 140 7/4/11
LSD and The Fall of Man
The courtroom was dark and humid as everyone sat on edge during the court case
of Gerry vs The Farmers. This court case was the result of Gerry supposedly selling LSD
to some of the Farmers children and they then drowned themselves when seeing their
reflection in a pond and tried to save their reflections. It was considered a morally
objectionable problem what Gerry was accused of seeing as Gerry was a good and well
respected person of the community. He had never really done anything wrong but this
court case showed otherwise. He used to tutor these kids on whatever they were learning
in school and that is when they said he was selling them the LSD. The evidence was
shown to the courtroom in picture form, even though there was no drugs found. First they
had a doctor, Mr. Gram, come in and explain the effects of LSD on the system and they
brought in some of Albert Hoffman‘s research and showed that LSD was a drug that
―made you trip like no other.‖ The doctor talked about how you should never use this
substance or else you will have a ―bicycle day‖ like Hoffman did.
The judge thought about this all and gave a few querying looks around the room
to see how people were reacting to these accusations. Gerry had always been a nice man
to him and even when his wife left him Gerry used to come over all the time and talk to
him and make sure he was all right. This didn‘t seem like the Gerry he knew and cared
about. Could he really have a secret life of crime? It seemed rather preposterous to Judge
Woodcock, but either way, he was forced to look past their relationship and to hold the
law above all else. He had sworn an oath to be just and fair, and if he were to break this,
he could be fired or some scum bag drug dealer could get away with an even worse crime
because they could bring this case up. He was at a crossroad but he had to do this seeing
as he was the only judge in for the next 100 miles around, and nobody knew of their
Gerry couldn‘t believe this was happening. His life was being turned upside down
in the matter of a week. First, the police raided his house looking for drugs but only
found him reading his bible in the living room. The police took everything off his shelves
and threw it on the ground, even his grandmother‘s urn… Gerry couldn‘t take it and
that‘s when he tried to attack one of the officers but was instantly restrained. As he stood
there he had to watch in shame as none of police officers cared as they walked over all
that remains of beloved grandmother. About 10 minutes passed and Gerry was just sitting
in the corner handcuffed because they didn‘t want me to try anything ―funny,‖ as they put
it, but still he had an officer standing over him. They told him that he had to stay and
watch seeing as they were executing a warrant. As a few police officers walked out of the
door a forensics person came in and started testing the ashes for drug contents by putting
some in a vile of solution and checking it. This got Gerry off my rocker. He started to get
up, but was punched in the stomach and forced down to the ground by the guarding
officer and a close by officer. The forensics expert shook his head, apologized, and left
feeling sorry for Gerry. The search came up with nothing, not even a bottle of aspirin.
All they got was his big jar of Tums. And that‘s when he was served with a subpoena for
Judge Woodcock had a hard time deliberating but the police had samples of the
LSD from the children‘s stash and said, though there was no trace of it in Gerry‘s house,
they had material witnesses saying they saw Gerry sell the drug to the Farmers children
and it wasn‘t just one person. It was five different people who had a very valuable
reputation in the town, and they could not just be dismissed. They also had pictures of the
kids with Gerry, and you could tell that their relationship was a rather close one. There
were also some poor quality photos of Gerry receiving money from the kids.
When that information came onto the screen, Gerry flipped out and tried to stand
up but he was handcuffed to the desk, and an officer applied pressure to his shoulders
forcing him to slouch.
―They borrowed lunch money! That‘s it!‖ Gerry cried in vain. No one would
listen; they only shook their heads and felt sympathetic toward the Farmers who were
now crying for loosing their children. The father tried to calm the mother down but her
sobs were just too loud and dragged out. The father then winked at Gerry. Or at least
that‘s what he thought because the father then turned away real fast and wiped a single
Those S.O.B.s…, Gerry thought. I didn‘t do this!
No matter, the evidence was compelling enough, as well as the testimony‘s and so
it came to judgment. The deliberation took roughly half an hour, though it felt an eon to
Gerry as he sat there listening to the tick tock of the clock, seeing the flickering of a
broken light above him, and tasting the sweat that fell from his brow. Judge Woodcock
came out with a sad look on his face and sat down with a plop as if he was Atlas and the
weight of the world was weighing him down.
―Ahem. In the, uhh, case of Gerry Vs The Farmers,‖ The judge said, ― I find the
defendant guilty.‖ The courtroom burst into applause as the were pleased with this
judgement. ―Order in the court I SAID, ORDER!‖
―I truly am sorry, Gerry. You were a great man to me‖, and he whisked himself
away into his dark chambers, with nothing but despair left behind. As they walked Gerry
out of the courtroom and onto the jail bus, someone yelled, ―BURN IN HELL,
ASSHOLE!‖, and that‘s when it started. All the mean things people wanted to say started
flowing out. ―Kid killer‖ was a popular one
When he got to jail everyone already knew what he did, and he got severely
beaten for it. In a way, they said, it was his punishment tenfold, like he deserved. Even
the wife beaters were allowed to join in. That‘s how low they placed him.
Gerry knows that he has to join a gang or be someone‘s bitch for the rest of his
sentence and he could not live with that. When he took a look around the jail he could see
that there are a couple of different gangs, like the Hello Kitty‘s, the El Chupacabras,
Towelies, and many more.
Gerry decides to take the safe bet and just join the El Chupacabras. He climbed
his way up to C block, getting stares from some inmates while others licked there lips.
―Fags‖ Gerry said to himself quietly so as not to be heard.
Gerry slowly shuffled into a dimly lit cell with a rusty door, and puffs of smoke
billowing out of it. This is Bar-B-Q‘s crib. He is here for arson, hence the ironic
nickname of Bar-B-Q. Gerry knows this is going to be a bad decision, but it had to
happen. He walked into that cell and told Bar-B-Q just what he wanted.
In one breath Gerry said, ―Hello, Mr. Bar-B-Q, I was just wondering if I could
join your gang. I have no one else that will protect me and I don‘t want to be raped
because that will hurt and I like not being someone‘s bitch, so would it be at all possible
if I could join your gang, sir?‖
Bar-B-Q looked up, blew a thick cloud of smoke into Gerry‘s face, and laughed.
―All you crackers are the same.‖
Gerry was taken aback by this. What the heck was going on?
―Aight, look, man. No more of that ‗sir‘ shit ok? That‘s number one,‖ Bar-B-Q
said, and Gerry nodded. ―Ok, now, you‘re gonno have to ask the boss, but I can tell he
has a soft spot for white people ‗cuz they‘re so soft.‖
―So a little background on the boss. He‘s never getting out, so he lives by the
rules of no regrets, what‘s his is his, and don‘t touch it. That includes his Xbox 360, and
yes we smuggled one of them into the jail. He got into jail by cracking a man‘s skull with
his bare hands and drinking his blood.‖
Bar-B-Q paused and stared at the scared little Gerry, then started cracking up
laughing. ―You white people will believe anything! Ha ha. Nah, that last part was a lie,‖
but with a serious face he said, ―The first part was true.‖
―Aight, let‘s take a walk outside and I will show you around the place,‖ Bar-B-Q
They walked out of the smoky cell and into the burning light. Gerry‘s lungs
thanked him for getting him out of that den of smoke.
―Aight, man,‖ Bar-B-Q said, ―down there is our training center,‖ while pointing
down at a weight bench and some other machines.
―As a gang we expect you to stay in shape so we want to see you bulk up and
gain some muscle on them chubby rolls,‖ he said as he poked Gerry in his soft tummy
and added, ―We also want you to start running laps around the gym. You have to have
lung power to be able to work out, and you have to work out to get stronger, as well as
stay in tip top shape above the Hello Kitty‘s.‖
Gerry just nodded along as he was ridiculed about his weight, but that was fine
because Gerry didn‘t want to be raped.
―Okay, so now that we‘re clear on that, go back to your bunk and hit the hay. We
will have two gang members at your door so no one will mess with you, and everyone
will know you‘re with us."
Gerry woke the next morning with a fright. Someone‘s hand was over his mouth,
and another one was over his eyes. Gerry tried to scream and fight, but it was of no use.
He couldn‘t pull the hands off, but luckily they let him breathe through his nose.
―Yo, cracker, cool it. You want to get yourself killed for yellin‘ in the middle of
the god dam night?‖ a voice said.
Gerry started to calm down but was still on edge. He sort of recognized the voice,
then calmed even more. It was Bar-B-Q. Gerry slowly reached up and took Bar-B-Q‘s
hands off his face and wondered what the hell was going on.
―Aight, man, here‘s the breakdown. I talked to the boss. You‘re almost in the
gang but…,‖ Bar-B-Q‘s voice trailed off.
―But what, dude? I don‘t want to be anyone‘s special friend! Just tell me what I
have to do!‖ Gerry slowly started to raise his voice and received a punch in the face for
it. Bar-B-Q‘s punch was like the crack of a whip; it was lightening fast and hurt like hell.
―Sorry about that, Gerry, but you need to shut the hell up. You‘re getting way too
loud for your own good,‖ Bar-B-Q said.
Gerry got upset at first and had a burst of rage, during which he hopped up off the
bed quick as a jackrabbit and punched Bar-B-Q right in the ear.
This disoriented Bar-B-Q and made him woozy but there was no way he would
lose to this kid. Bar-B-Q got up and started to hop around like a pro boxer and threw a
couple jabs, of witch they all landed with a successful crack.
"You gotta' quit with this nut shit right now Gerry. Its gonna end badly for you,
Gerry. I can tell you that much right now," Bar-B-Q taunted.
Bar-B-Q was obviously getting tired of Gerry‘s antics and that‘s when he punched
him in the heart, stunning Gerry, and put him in the guillotine choke. Gerry could hardly
breathe and everything was getting slightly black, and he could feel his body go soft.
Gerry saw flakes of light fly past me as he tried to catch his breath.
―Sorry, Gerry, but it was for the best,‖ Bar-B-Q said while looking down. ―As I
said, you gotta quit with that nut shit. We can‘t be fighting, dude.‖
Gerry nodded and asked why Bar-B-Q was in his room at ‗god dam‘ 12 o‘clock.
Bar-B-Q slowly explained that he had talked to Taco, the boss, and they agreed on the
terms of his initiation requirements. He was to kill a member of the Hello Kitty with two
items. One being a sock and the other being and pair of D size battery because of the
density, as well as the fact that its easy to obtain. Gerry understood but he didn‘t want to
take a man‘s life, but it was kill a man or get butt raped. Safe to say Gerry picked kill a
man. He was to sneak into cell block D and kill this pussy.
When Gerry asked who this man he was to kill was, he was told the story of how
this man came to be in the jail. So the mans‘ name was Kelly and he was a low-ranking
member in the Hello Kitty‘s. He had to die to send a message to the Hello Kitty‘s and
have them stay out of C block because it was the el Chupacabras‘ turf and they were
getting way to close. This Kelly guy would have to pay the ultimate price, and he was a
major hot head anyway. The reason he was in jail was because he used to work for a low
end on the food chain gang that did some of the uppers‘ torture. He used to tear people
limb from limb, but one undercover cop (a former mossad agent) who was taught to get
used to the normal ways of torture didn‘t break when they needed information out of him,
he tried alternative methods. The man kept making fun on his girly name and asked if he
was a fairy. This is when Kelly lost it and told the man to shut up or he would shove his
foot so far up the mans ass that he would choke on it. Of course the man continued to
make fun of him and didn‘t care because his life was already going to be lost. Due to
consequences he did in fact face that punishment and die from pain, and fright in the
process. The undercover cop had a tracking chip in him that lead them right to these poor
excuses for men where they were arrested and sent to jail.
Gerry put the weapon over his shoulder and snuck down the block past the crack heads
and the dealers. He was a man on the mission and didn‘t really wish to kill this man of
whom he did not know but he must for obvious reasons. When he got to the cell he could
see a sliver of light, light up Kelly's face but Kelly did not move or react to anything. He
just lay there sleeping. Gerry panicked and wanted to fall back to his bunk and just shut
the world out, but he knew that wasn't an option. This man was obviously guilty of a
crime and it was time to pass judgment. With one mighty hand he raised the sock and
thrust it down like a mace onto Kelly‘s chest. Gerry heard the grind of bones and the
shatter of others, but there was no reaction from Kelly. Gerry reached out and grabbed
Kelly's hand and froze. Kelly‘s hand was cold, and he had no pulse. Gerry dropped the
hand letting it hit with a thud and ran out of there. He had to leave this place and just get
out of there.
A couple days passed and the news of Kelly being dead spread. His gang was
very proud of him for doing this and he was admitted into the gang without any query.
After all the news was spread, his cellmate came to him and said they must perform a Ku
on the boss. The cellmate explained how Taco had became soft and was more lenient
with other gangs in their territories, and everyone was sick of it. So no one got in trouble,
he explained the plan. They were going to have him benching more than he should be
trying and ―spot him‖ but not really help. When the boss started to struggle, they were to
push down on the bar, making it fall down on his neck and mangle his windpipe. Later on
that day everything went according to their plan, and they were left with no boss. Bar-B-
Q gladly steped up to his position and for the next several days the walls of the jail were
bathed in blood as hit after hit occured. Other gangs had three alternatives, join them, get
off their turf, or die.
A couple days later 2 guards came to his cell and said that there was a mix up and
a second court case. He told his gang but they thought that he was flipping on them or
something. Bar-B-Q‘s words still rung out on his way to court, ―Remember, we aren‘t a
part of this, aight?‖
The courtroom they went to didn‘t look like a normal courtroom. The place was
very well lit, everyone was dressed properly, and there was not even a spec of dust in
sight. They went through the proceedings, they questioned him like usual and the court
went down the same path as before. The evidence was overwhelming but they had no
solid witnesses. For some reason he was proven not guilty. He was so excited that he
didn‘t even care why he was not convicted again with that same evidence and all, but that
didn‘t matter. He didn‘t have to worry about any of that. He was free!
When he got back to the jail and told the gang the good news they were happy for
him but they smelled something fishy going on, especially when he explained the details
of how the cases were the same but with different verdicts. No matter, they were happy
for him, but they explained that he had to still be part of the gang on the outside because
that‘s how it worked. Gerry could really care less, seeing as the gang was his only family
now, and his hometown would definitely not want anything to do with him.
That night the guards came again and this time they brought him to the infirmary
where they told him to rest and they would get him in the morning. Gerry thought
nothing of it. They probably just had to make sure I was healthy and didn‘t have any
crazy diseases or anything. Gerry chuckled to himself and was excited and could barely
sleep, but he managed a power nap. When he woke up, he had a few wires coming out of
him. The doctor explained it was to check his blood and he believed the doctor. That was
his downfall. Gerry started to get blurry vision, and fell woozy. He tried to pull out the
wires but his hand couldn‘t grab them. In the end he was never really acquitted of the
crimes, but the judge had secretly declared him guilty. They wanted his removal from
society to be kept a secret. The judge declared it more ―morally acceptable‖ to give him
his death sentence while he was content in life. Gerry‘s last words faded into the room as
his last breath faded away, ―Asshole…‖
January 6, 2010
Billy is moving along with a green backpack through the broken fence to get
into the forest. He knows that no one will see him because since that day, people do
not let their children nor even themselves get near this place. It is getting brighter
and colder. He is still asking himself why he is in here right now, why his heart is
beating and why he feels so lonely. He is walking slowly into the forest; the air of the
early morning makes him frustrated that another day is coming. The red sunshine is
barely going through each the crevices between leaves to reach the ground, which is
still wet with the dew of last night. The twittering of birds on the cedar branches
blends with the leaves fluttering along with his steps. They seem like they are trying
to prevent him from taking another step into the forest. Sometimes, he turns around
and looks for something, the image of which does not even appear to his eyes. He is
rather waiting for some unexpected things. Billy stops by the river, takes the
newspaper out of his pocket, and the quarter falls out with it. He does not even
bother to pick it up. He turns to page twenty, which has a picture of where he is
sitting. Billy takes out a piece of bread, throws it into his mouth, and falls back onto
the cold stone. He opens the green backpack, takes out the gun and flips it around
several times to check if everything is okay with this new gun he just bought
yesterday then puts it in the pocket inside of the furry jacket. The day seems like it
is going faster here than in the outside world; the sun is dropping down to the back
of the hill. His gloomy shadow is floating on the surface of the river. Everything has
been fine until now, but he keeps checking from time to time for something that he
not sure, or maybe it is just a habit he has after National Guard training camp. The
throat is still sore from the fluid last week. He knew it gets dark faster in here
because of the layers of branches, but he did not know it is that fast. His steps
approach the hill, where the caves located. It is kind of familiar because he has been
here before several times in the morning with other guards, who are working with
him in the forest. The sound of the crickets, frog, owls, the cold of the night air, and
the darkness makes him freezing cold, but he tries to keeps himself calm by
collecting some dried branch has fallen and hold it tight in his right hand like a
A crack or maybe a step of some giant thing is getting closer or maybe
further away. Suddenly, a crack of the huge branch is falling down immediately
destroys the quietness of the April night and violently shakes the ground like an
earthquake. It destroys the balance of the ground and the balance of Billy's heart
and mind for a while. It signals the beginning of an adventure of death and mystery.
“Whuy!” He hears a whistle but he is not sure whether it is a whistle or the
sound of the wind blowing through the crevices of rocks and mountains, not one but
a bunch of them. Billy stops and keeps spinning around to looks and stares, his
hands are holding the backpack handles and pulls them forward. Stronger than ever,
the feeling of danger grows bigger and bigger in him. Bill starts to step backward
unconsciously and his face is pale in the darkness like a dull light. His lips almost
disappear. A pair of wild yellow eyes are looking at him. Within a second, a white leg
appears on the other end of the path and gradually the whole body.
" A wolf! No, a bear wolf," Billy whispers in a hoarse voice.
The wolf has been staring at him for a while with foam dropping from its mouth,
which is opening to reveal long fangs. Billy drops the gun down in the ground while
getting it out of his pocket. He knees down to pick it up while staring at the white,
giant wolf. Within seconds, it runs forward and jumps on him like it is catching a
rabbit and getting ready to have a meal. Bill closes his eyes and covers them with
one arm, and folds his body in half on the ground. The wolf misses his body but
Billy's sleeve has been torn off. He immediately slides forward and shoots the wolf in
the leg and starts running to no where without noticing that he has left the
backpack. The angry roar of the wolf shakes the air; it chases him and catches him
by the right leg. Seconds later, the wolf spits Billy's shoes out and continues to follow
him, biting him in the leg. Billy scream and turns back, shoots the bear wolf right in
the forehead. He sees blood and the monster falls down. Blood comes out of his leg,
blending with the blood from the wolf's forehead. His horrified and bloodless face is
looking at the world if falling down next to him through a layer of dusts.
Minutes later, he feels burning on his cheeks and wants to vomit. He uses
his weakened arms to open the wolf's mouth while its body is still warm and
movable. The foam disgusts him. The fangs have created a deep hole in his leg. Billy
uses his left hand to lift it up above the ground about one knuckle's distance then
crawl out to the river like a wounded snake. The blood draws a line on the dried
leaves that come and go, swirling in the wind. He drops his leg down into the cold,
gloomy water, stirring up the reflection of moonlight, trees and vampires are flying
around. Although a little blood is coming out, it is not much worse than before. The
cold spreads from one leg onto the other, up to his stomach, through the entire body
and then into his organs and heart. He is afraid of the blood, that another wolf might
appear, or maybe something else, in this dark place. Billy lies down on the cold
pebbles, until the fear releases his heart and his brain can work again. His tired body
scrolls to the right side and lifts himself up on the right elbow. He takes out the knife
that has been stuck under his belt when he first became a guard here and uses it to
cut the bottom of his shirt off and covering his wound with it. The wind blows
through the hole on his Levis, which are wet with blood making him feel colder.
Billy falls back after the third attempt to stand up. A firm, dried branch of a
tree becomes his third leg for the journey. The right leg does not hurt anymore but
just freezes like an ice cube for a while, making it more difficult for him to walk. He
remembers the backpack and wants to go get it but the image of the wolf scares him
a little. He feels anxious.
"Tommy, this was how you got killed. Isn't it?" He looks up to the sky too
see where Tommy is, but the quiet stars do not give him any answer. That night
comes back in his memory.
"This is the third case since the month started."
He tossed the newspaper onto desk where Tommy was sitting. The breeze of
April night made them a little chilly. Tommy stood up, shaking his shoulder, both
hands in pockets. He stooped downward and looked at the local newspaper, which
was lying on the verge of the table with "The Third Murder" written at the top. The
picture of the forest and a tiger made him feel interested. That was where he and
Billy had been working for five years.
"Ah! I read it. A woman got killed after she sneaked in to do something. The
police assumed that she has been murdered by some monster." Tommy turned
around and looked out behind the iron door, which led into the forest. The pat on his
shoulder brought him out of his thoughts.
"Who do you think killed those people, Bill?"
"I have no idea, a tiger or a wolf or maybe someone..."
Tommy looked up at him in amazement " Do...you really think so?"
"I don't know, I guess." Tommy looked away and started looking out of the
window, but this time, it was not the forest. He was seeing, not the iron gate, but
some place in the world that was really far away or maybe did not even exist.
“Why did you go by yourself into this dangerous place, Tommy? I have told
you to wait for me. I’ll find out who it is, the murderer!”
Billy barely walks again, not on the path but under the shadow of the tree and
branches and darkness, and he follows the moonlight in the middle of the night. He
is trying to convince himself that there are no more beasts in the forest. His right
hand leans from tree to tree push himself forward while another one is holding the
wounded leg. He uses his right palm leans to push himself forward form tree to
tree while using the other one to hold his wounded leg. Billy slowly approaches the
wolf and hears a strange sound right beside his ears, which makes him feel
disgusted and scared. He turns sideways, where a green snake is staring at him with
its tongue pointing out like a thin piece of paper. He pushes himself away and starts
running without turning ahead and looking. Snakes are the animals that he hates the
most and that are the scariest to him in this world since he was a little kid. A root of
a cedar tree appears on the ground and hooks his feet; he falls down like trying to
catch a frog.
Billy's head seems like it is spinning around and his chest wants to explode.
Coughing from the cold air and falling down on the ground can kill him anytime. He
stands up and continues walking, ignoring the pain of the wounded leg, the painful
chest, and everything. The horror on his face makes him look like a beast that is
being tortured with hunger, resentment, and anger. Putting the backpack on
shoulder, he does not even bother to look at the dead, cold wolf and continue
forward to the caves.
The dark stone is cold as he touches the opening of the cave, spreading cold
through him. The water dripping from the top makes a unique sound shattering the
silence of the night and stirring in him an uneasy feeling, whether of safety or
danger, he is not sure. Too tired after everything that has happened, Billy walks
slowly into the cave with the flashlight on. He tosses the cane toward the wall and
finds a hollow place inside that seems invisible to the outside world. Billy drops the
backpack down and then he jumps on it with out stretched arms and legs. The pain
and sorrow seem to be frozen by the coldness of rock and air. His eyes close
gradually, the eyes lashes touching each other slightly and finally stopping like a
butterfly trying to stand on a leaf. He falls asleep.
"Where the hell ya going?" A voice of a middle-aged man echoes in his mind,
and he is not sure whether it is a dream or a reality.
"Yo! Idiots! This way. Stupids," Billy feels dizzy and groans unconsciously. His
cheeks are burning for no reason, and his nose is getting redder, making him look
like a miserable and grudging clown. His red eyes open slowly waking his sleepy
brain and body. The voices and sounds from further away are approaching the cave.
He realizes they are the sounds of people talking or maybe yelling at each other.
"Where is it?" the man asks.
“The police officers were investigating me so I could hardly contact them."
"Stupid, all of you." The man around forty to forty-five slaps a fourteen year-
old boy on the cheek. He falls down and says nothing. He drops his head down and
stands in silence. The man kicks the paper box into a wall, then puts his face close to
the boys and starts telling them something in a grumbling and threatening voice. He
has tattoos that stretch out the length of both arms and long scars on the left arm,
and actually, exactly everywhere on his firm and muscled body. He has fierce eye
browns, lips and ears. In the pocket of his black pants is something with shape of a
number seven. His hand holds the old, small, leather suitcase with the number
combination on top and his legs keep moving back and forth like waiting for
Billy can see well through the crevice of the huge stone naturally placed on
top one another, which tall enough to cover a six foot long body lying on the back.
Billy is looking at every action of each one of them, especially the scarred man. Not
just because he acts ruthlessly, barbarically and speaks with obscene language, but
also because each line on his face reminds Billy of an abominable feeling he had
shortly before. Billy recalls something that is really familiar to him, those eyes, that
nose, that mouth and face. That is a really familiar face that he has seen somewhere
After a while of the heavy, silent air weighing on each of them, a young man
runs into the cave and whispers into the scarred man's ear. The whistle created from
his mouth makes the other curious of what is going on, Billy molded. He slides
forward a little, the tiny little rock falling slightly on top of the huge stone, that he is
hiding behind. It makes a sound just like a click. Seconds later, the rock falls down,
straight onto his head. Billy turns his up and stares at the rock, which is dropping
down like a drop of water. He sinks his head down and covers his ears with the
shoulders, eyes closing tightly and hands covering his mouth, preventing a groan
from escaping out after getting hit by the rock somewhere in the back of the head or
His heart starts jumping with the beats of fear and the sound of the rock
dropping on the ground. Without moving or shifting for a few minutes, Billy figures
out that he is safe under the blade of the death hammer. The rustic sound pulls him
out of the cowardly behavior. He sits back, still, and continues to look through the
crevice of the stone. They are slowly stepping out of the cave, led by the scarred
man. He also notices that it is all black outside. There are no stars or moon to see
through the mouth of the cave, and fog is spreading out on the land of two hundred
Five minutes later, it is ten after twelve. Billy takes out the stack of local
newspapers; some of them are spotted and yellow. He opens each of them and turns
to the last page, where it always posts the picture of temporarily famous people with
some events or reasons. First, second,...seventh,...twelveth, Febuary 2005, Forrest
McAndrew, drug dealer has been hunted by the FBI for three years.
"Yes, that face, those eyes, those scars," he whispers in a hoarse voice,
amazed and terrified.
"Damn it! This little rabbit's been listening the whole time," a familiar voice
says, startling Bill. A strong hand takes the newspaper out of his hand and a muscled
body starts to laugh like a mental case, a frightful laugh, like Dracula's. While he is
still trying to figure out what is going on, Billy is lifted up by the furious force of a
monster or maybe a giant. He tries to keep his lips from shaking, standing on one
leg and looking at the man with unflinching eyes like those of the dead wolf that he
had seen earlier.
"What is that on your leg, bud? Wonder why the wolf gets full with just a leg
for dinner. A new character for an adventurous game?" His hilarious voice makes
Billy shudder. The newspaper is crumpling in Forrest's firm fist created by four
"Tell me what you have heard!"
Two minutes of silence pass. "Are you deaf?" They stare at each other for a
while. Forrest throws Billy against the wall. Billy falls back, leaning against the stone,
and slides down onto the ground. Forrest signals the boys to hold him up against the
wall like a flopping fish ignoring the fact that Billy's face is turning pale like a sheet of
tissue. His head drops down like a withering flower. His face is turning red like it is
going to explode without saying a word.
"Jeez! Ya hear me?" The side of Billy's head stumbles into the rock, the blood
splashing onto the faces of boys, who are holding him up right now. The barrel slaps
him in the cheek making him freezing from the inside out. It then forces his face to
turn toward the middle and eyes look forward to Forrest's face.
"Ah. A familiar face. Ferguson's roommate?"
Billy flings his face up. "That's Tommy's last name. What did you do to him?"
”I don't know, just about what I'm going to do to you right now."
”Why did you kill him? He is just a guard working in the forest. He doesn’t
”Boys. This innocent man don’t know nothing... Yeah, I don’t know why I
killed him. His foolish action killed him. Poor little friend. Don't be upset. You won’t
be alone. I'll find you a place next to Tommy's grave." All of them start to giggle.
"Shut the hell up." Billy looks at him, resentment torching in his eyes. "You
think a criminal like you can live forever like this. If you don't get caught, you'll die
with the drugs soon."
”Damn it, don't ever talk to me with that voice." Forrest punches him in the
face continuously until Billy falls down like a breaking branch and then turns around.
“Catch yourself some breath before you go to hell. By the way, Ferguson helped us a
lot. He was one of our buddies. Ya think he was really just a regular forest guard and
don’t know anything like you? He lied to you. But, he wanted to give himself to the
police after living with you for few a years. How stupid is that ?" Forrest says in a
Suddenly, Forrest turns his back and tells Billy, “Let’s play a game. It's been a
long time already. If you win, your life is safe. But if I win, you know what will
happen." He starts to laugh like a crazy. The boys hook Billy's arm up and slowly pull
his heavy, wounded body out to the mouth of the cave and let him stand up.
"Stand up! Stand up like a man and run like a dog to find your safety. Go!"
Forrest is yelling while holding his gun up into the ready position. Billy starts running
slowly, trying to put his wounded leg to normal again. He falls down, then stands up
and continues to run. His jaw is clenched, trying to drive the pain away. He falls
down again. His left knee is touching his right ankle. His hand is leaning against the
ground. This time, he hears the sound of the gun firing. He feels the wind of the
bullet by his face. He smells death. Billy stands up for the fourth time and starts to
run again but suddenly stops in the middle of the path. In front of him is the
waterfall. The stones blocking the way of the fast-running water splash the water
everywhere. Behind him is the old forest, the sound of men yelling, and the bullets
screaming. Something punches into the back of his right knee, knocking Billy over as
he falls with the falling water like a monster is waiting to swallow him.
by Steve Schultz
The sun shown down on the cracked black ribbon of road in front of him as his truck
rolled down old route 127, Death Valley Road. Both windows of the old Ford were down.
The driver window by choice and the passenger window because someone had thought it
would be funny to try out their window punch on it. The ash tray overflowed onto the
burnt spot on the floor where there had been carpet. Butch had no shirt on. It must have
been at least a hundred degrees, maybe more. It was only eight o‟clock and the sun
looked very high in the sky. He had been driving all night. He couldn't remember where
he had been and had no idea where he was going. He grabbed his pack of Marlboro Reds
off of the dash above the gas gauge and pulled out a cigarette. Cigarettes were about all
he had left in that damn truck. He had eaten all of the food and now all that was left with
was the pack of reds on the dash, the carton in the back and a gallon of water. He threw
the pack back on the dash and shoved in the cigarette lighter, one of the few things that
still worked on the damn truck. He stuck the unlit cigarette behind his ear and stuck his
arm out the window. The hot air passed over his arm and the sand in the air tried to tear at
his thick leathery flesh. The cigarette lighter shot out and he caught it with his other hand,
something he had become very proficient at. He lit his cigarette and took a long drag. For
that second he was relaxed and okay, but the moment was short lived. He noticed a light
flashing on the dash board. Fuel light. "Great," he thought. It didn't even matter that there
wasn't a gas station for a hundred miles because he only had ten dollars to his name
anyway. Out in this godforsaken place any gas station around was charging about four
fifty a gallon. "Two more gallons," he thought, "that would get me real far." He reached
up and grabbed his old tattered map out of the visor and found where he was. Only
another four hundred miles to nowhere.
He didn't make it four hundred miles. He probably didn't even make it another ten
miles before the engine started to sputter, sputter, cough and then it was done. The dash
lit up like a Christmas tree and the truck was dead. Five years, two hundred thousand
miles and now his truck was done. He let go of the steering wheel, put his seat back, put
his feet up on the dash, and caught the cigarette lighter. He lit another cigarette. The truck
started to roll off of the road and then into the loose sand. About five feet later it came to
a stop in its final resting place. He didn‟t have enough money to get it towed anyway. He
grabbed his pack out of the back and shoved his carton of cigarettes in it. He took his
gallon of water and used an old strap to sling it across his shoulder. He took off the
license plate and shoved it in his pack among his few personal belongings. Then he wrote
on the hood with a can of spray paint he had been saving for the occasion, "runs great
free to good home." He threw down the can and started off in the direction he had been
drivingand then he remembered the picture he had left in the glove compartment. He ran
back and grabbed it. It was an old picture, the corners curled up and yellowed. It was a
dance picture. It showed him in his dad's black suit with the beautiful girl he loved so
much but didn't know how to tell her. She was wearing a long black gown and had her
hair up like a princess. He liked her hair down but she said she would never have it down
for a dance because it made her too hot. He missed her so much, but couldn't bear to
think about it because the pain was too great. He gently placed the picture in his back
pocket next to his empty wallet and he headed down the God forsaken road he was on, to
the final destination only God was aware of.
He didn't walk for long before he saw a building off in the distance. It seemed like it
was only about a mile away, but the desert is very deceiving. In reality it was more like
ten miles. It was an old weathered building. It had sand blown up against the side like
some kind of hot snow drift. It resembled a barn. The sides were made of tall timbers that
went from the ground to the eves of the roof. On the front were two giant steel doors
above which was written "Devils House number 32." He kept walking past the big steel
doors to the other side of the building and there was a door with a light bulb dangling
from a broken light fixture above it. Butch walked up to the door and knocked very hard.
He didn't do it with much hope. As far as he was concerned, the building was probably
abandoned. About five minutes later, just as he was about to walk away, the door flew
open and thick smoke poured out. When the smoke cleared, Butch could see the man who
had caused this elaborate entrance. There in the doorway stood a tall man with untied
army boots, oil stained work pants and a work shirt. His belt was black and the buckle
looked as though it had been through World War Three. He had a long handlebar
mustache and was sucking on a thick cigar. “What the hell do you want ?” asked this odd
man. Butch didn't know how to reply, so he just held out his water bottle. “This ain‟t no
charity,” the man replied to this and Butch turned to walk away. “Wait,” said the man.
"What is that tattoo on your arm all about?" The man was referring to the tattoo on
Butch's tricep. It was of a flaming nautical star; under the star in a banner was written,
“I'm a fire fighter back east.”
“ Well, why didn't you say so?” the man said as he stepped aside out of the doorway.
“A brother is always welcome.”
Butch walked into the dimly lit room and was immediately struck with the strong odor
of cigar smoke and diesel fuel. The room he was in was very small and sparsely
furnished. Directly across from him was a desk with a mountain of papers on it. To his
left was a couch with its stuffing coming out of many bursts in its seems. Across from the
couch was an old TV sitting on top of a wooden crate. On the wall to his right was a large
banner that read, "Fire Rescue 32 Proudly Serving for One Hundred Years." The large
man closed the door behind him and walked over to shake Butch's hand. “The name is
Merl,” the man said. “Welcome to the most god forsaken fire company in the world, Fire
Rescue Station 32. Make yourself at home while I do some paper work and then I'll show
you around. “
Butch sat on the couch and watched as Merl worked. He sat down in the large rolling
chair by the desk and took the phone into his big worn hands. After many phone calls and
much screaming, Merl managed to achieve whatever he was up to and he called for
Butch. “Let's go for the tour, shall we?” Butch followed Merl through the door next to the
desk into a long hallway with a galley kitchen to the left side. At the end of the hall was a
door. They walked through the door and Merl turned to Butch before he turned on the
lights. “Now for what you really wanted to see.” Merl flipped on the lights and it looked
as though they had just walked into a Cadillac show room. The floor glistened under the
halogen lights high above the ground. In the very back of the bay was the biggest lift
Butch had ever seen. Behind the lift on the back wall of the bay were Snap-On tool chests
taller than he was. Up in a loft above what must be storage looked like Pep Boys with
every part you could imagine. Then up front by the bay doors was a row of fifteen gear
lockers, but that was just the building. The rigs were beautiful. There were three of them.
The first was a Freight Liner walk-in rescue. It was blood red and had the company's gold
leafed shield on the door. It had huge stacks on both sides, and air brushed on the side
was an angel prying open the gates of Hell with a Hurst Tool to rescue the most beautiful
and innocent child you have ever seen. Next to the rescue was a brand new Pierce
Quantum Pumper, and next to that was a thirteen hundred gallon Peter Built tanker.
“They are beautiful,” Butch said with a bit of surprise in his voice.
“We don‟t get very much money,” Merl said, “but the money we do get goes right to
the rigs. Let's go eat." Butch followed Merl out of the bay and sneaked one more look at
the beautiful rescue before closing the door.
"I hope you like chicken and spaghetti", said Merl as he placed a plate of it in front of
Butch, "because that is about all we eat around here."
"That‟s fine," Butch said. "Thank you very much." Merl sat next to him after refilling
his Big Gulp.
"So, Butch, how long have you been in this for?"
" Four years," Butch replied.
"You going to be in this area very long."
" I don't know," Butch replied. "I think I'm just passing through."
"You have a place to stay while you pass?" asked Merl.
"No, sir,". Butch replied, "I haven't figured that one out yet."
" Well, here you go, boy, after we eat I'll get you some gear show you where the bunks
are and you'll stay here. What do you think?" Butch could see it in Merl's eyes that this
wouldn't only help him but would help Merl to.
"Ok," Butch replied, "thank you."
"Ok, then, perfect, so what kind of company were you at wherever you came from?"
" I was at a heavy rescue and truck company, company 93."
"Perfect," said Merl, "absolutely perfect. Finish eating and we'll get you all set up."
After dinner Merl took Butch to the storage room which actually doubled as the bunk
room. He fitted Butch with an old pair of front bib bunkers and a beaten up old jacket that
had the two written on the back with sharpie because the one that had been sewn on had
fallen off. The boots weren't too bad though, old leathers, very comfortable surprisingly.
Merl pushed a helmet into Butch's arms and led him to the last locker in the row of
fifteen. "That‟s you," he said as he ripped the old name tag off of the locker. "Welcome to
Rescue 32. The bathrooms out back, and there is food in the kitchen. I'm going to go to
pass out on the couch. Make yourself at home."
Butch thanked Merl as Merl walked out of the engine bay back towards the living
room. Wow, Butch thought. He sat and pondered for a minute and then he walked into
the rescue to start getting to know his new rigs. All of the tools on the inside were
beautiful. There were three Scott packs mounted in a bench seat along the driver side.
Directly across from that were all the hand tools you would ever need and two long air
reels. From the outside there were six rescue tools, two on the front bumper, two on each
side, and all of them preconnected. Beautiful, he thought, just beautiful. He walked over
to the engine and it was exactly like his own he had come to know. 2250 pump ground
ladders, combie tool, two inch, and inch and three quarter attack line. The only difference
was that there was no five inch in the hose bed, just more attack line. You could get some
distance with that, he thought as the idea of being almost a thousand feet into a fire
terrorized his thoughts. He walked back into the bunk room, kicked off his boots, and put
his belt on the top bunk. He took off his shirt, folded it up, and placed it next to his belt.
The bed was surprisingly soft as he laid on it and beat the old pillow into shape beneath
his head. He took the picture out of his pocket and stuffed it into the bottom of the bunk
above him. The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes were her beautiful eyes. The
urge to tell her how he felt ripped at his heart stronger than usual as he drifted off to
He woke up to the blaring of the house alarm; the room was flooded with red light. He
jumped out of bed and ran for the door holding his pants as he went because his belt was
still on the bunk above him. Merl was already suited up and had the rescue running. He
yelled something but Butch couldn't hear him over the roar of the engine. He jumped into
his bunkers, threw on his hood and jacket, and grabbed his helmet as he ran to the front of
the truck. The radio in Merl's hand was blaring as everyone keyed up their response. The
sky off to the left was full of a blue cloud of dust. The first truck to pull up was a beat up
dodge with three more hot on its tail. A huge man jumped out, his gear already on. He
yelled for Butch to follow him as he jumped up into the tanker. Butch grabbed the handle
on the side of the huge door and threw himself up into the cab. This huge man had the rig
moving before Butch even had the chance to shut the door.
"I'm Pig," yelled the man over the roar of the enormous diesel. "Who in the Hell are
"Butch. I'm just passing through," Butch replied.
Pig took his hand off of the chain of the air horn he had been pulling and he shook
Butch's hand. "We are going to the reservoir to fill up the tank. I hope you got your shit
together because this one is going to be crazy. The reservoir is ten miles away and then
we have to turn and burn to get to the fire. We are the only company within twenty miles
of the scene and the engine only has 800 gallons on it. This is going to be freakin nuts,
God help us."
"What's the call?" Butch asked.
"Some freakin military base is on fire, the offices, I think, but if the fire gets to the
munitions, well, game over."
Butch held on for dear life as Pig pushed the tanker to its limits, driving at a sustained
eighty miles an hour over partially paved roads. You could see the trailer swing out every
time the road got uneven to a particular side, and then Pig, like some kind of crazed
fighter pilot, would swing the wheel and bring the ass end back in line. It only took a
little over ten minutes to get to the reservoir where they were met by a crew of men with
a fire pump on the back of a flat bed. Pig backed up to the reservoir and yelled for Butch
to go help with the pump. The pump truck said pump task force 57 on it and was manned
by a three man crew, two of which were trying to start the pump while the other was
hooking up to the dry hydrant at the reservoir. One of the men with the pump yelled for
Butch to open the intake on top of the tank. Butch climbed up onto the tanker and
muscled open the intake. Pig threw a rope up to him. "Pull up the five inch", Pig yelled,
"then hook it up, and give a thumbs up when your ready for water." Right as Butch got
the line hooked in he heard the pump roar to life. He gave the thumbs up and then heard
the rush of water coming through the hose and the air rushing out of the relief valve on
the tank. After fifteen minutes they were off and rolling again. "Key up the radio," Pig
said. Put us responding.
Butch keyed up the radio. "Tanker 32 responding."
"Tanker 32 23:22," dispatch responded.
"How far to the scene, Pig?"
Two miles out they could see the glow of the fire in the sky. The radio had been going
crazy the whole gut wrenching ride. The call had already been put at five alarms. Two
alarms were on scene, two were responding, and the fifth was on second tap. Pig backed
up to engine 32-2 and they pulled a pony line to the discharge on the back. The tank
would only last for a few minutes and then Pig would be off to fetch another tank full.
Pig told Butch to report to command and thanked him for his help. Merl was in
Butch got on the radio "Tanker 32 to 329."
" 329, go ahead."
" Spare firefighter on scene."
" 329, get a pack off 32-2 and report to side A for RIT standby."
" Copy that." Butch ran to engine 32-2 and grabbed a pack. It felt heavy on his tired
shoulders; he pulled the straps tight, grabbed an iron set and ran for his assignment.
It was a pretty pathetic RIT team for the size of the fire. Only himself and three other
guys. Butch desperately wished that there were more than one RIT team. He knew that if
something went wrong and they had to go in it would take an act of God to effect a
rescue. His fears were soon realized. The mayday scream over the radio would have
curdled anybody's blood." Mayday, Mayday, Mayday interior attack crew to command.
We encountered an interior collapse and can not get out. We are on the A, B corner.
Repeat structural collapse, we can't get out. Mayday,Mayday, Mayday."
Then the radio went silent and Butch could hear the familiar and terrifying sound off
pass devices going of from inside the building. "Pack up," said the lieutenant in charge
of the RIT team. "We're going in." Butch and another fire fighter grabbed the line,
clicked in their regulators and started working their way into the building. It was so hot
inside. The fire was rolling across the ceiling and out the door. The plastic room numbers
were dripping hot plastic down the walls as they started to melt. Then they saw where the
fire fighters were held up. The rooof had collapsed in on the hallway. They must have
been in some kind of void space inside the wreckage. The lieutenant in charge of the
team radioed command to evacuate the building and suggested moving to defensive
tactics. He then took the line from Butch and told Butch since he was the smallest on the
team that he was going in.
There was a small gap between a desk and the rest of the building. Butch squeezed
through and found the three fire fighters. One he showed the gap and allowed him to
walk out. The other two could not move themselves. One had a crushed leg and the other
was unconscious. He checked their breathing and radioed that he was going to breach the
wall. He unmarried his married set and took the battle worn axe into his hands, said a
prayer for strength, and swung the axe at the remaining drywall. The building wasn't very
thick, but it was metal on the outside. That was the hard part to cut through. He made a
little hole with the adz of his haligan bar and then pounded his axe down with the butt
end of the haligan bar. At this point he was way below half, but there was no way he was
stopping now that he was alomost there. As his one quarter alarm went off he broke the
metal flap out. He grabbed the first fire fighter and handed him off to the guys outside.
The wreckage started to slump and creak as he went back for the last man; then he saw
the last truss that had been holding up everything above him start to bend. He gathered all
his strength and, in a running throw, threw the last victim out of the building right as it
Everything was a blur. His head hurt like it had never hurt before. He couldn't really
feel anything, but he had a sensation of being pulled and then being touched by lots of
little ice cubes. Then he was rolling and he could vaguely hear voices. What they were
saying he did not know. Butch knew he was messed up when he heard the roar of a
helicopter off in the distance. The lights were so bright; everything was so loud and then
It was chaos as they pulled Butch out of the building. Merl had already called a
helicopter for the injured firefighters that Butch had rescued. A huey from the other side
of the base, which was only about two miles away, took about ten seconds to get there.
When Merl saw Butch he grabbed his hand and yelled for the helicopter to roll out. He
didn't even let them load the others. Butch had to leave right then right there.
At about five o‟clock the next night the fire was finally out. It had gone all the way to
eight alarms. Merl handed off the command of clean up to the second due company's
chief and took his crew home. It was a somber evening. They had only known Butch a
day but he was their brother already. That‟s the way fire fighting is. It doesn‟t matter how
long someone is with you. When you have been on that truck with a person, from that
day on, they are your brother. Merl went into Butch's bunk to look for a phone number of
someone he could call, and he found the picture of Butch and that beautiful girl lying on
After gently going through the few things Butch had, the only thing Merl had that
connected Butch to another person was the picture he had found on the bed. He took the
picture with him out to the living room and showed it to Pig.
"What do you think, Pig? Think you can get anything from that."
Pig reached into his shirt pocket and put on his glasses, "Oh, I don‟t know," replied
Pig." I sent Tony and Earl to the hospital to sit with Butch. They should be there before
midnight. This girl sure is beautiful and Butch looks a lot better, too. He must have lost
at least one hundred pounds since he left wherever it is he came from. Wait, what‟s that
say on the banner in the very back corner of the picture top left?"
Pig handed the picture to Merl and he rolled back the curled up edge of the picture.
"West Town High. Ok. Well, now we know what high school he went to. Now what state
was he from, Merl thought. He had said that he was from back east. If only Merl could
think of what fire company he had said he had been a part of, then maybe he could find
this high school and find this girl. It was a long shot, but it was worth a try. He poured
himself a cup of coffee and tried to think of what company Butch had said he ran with
Truck 93, that‟s it, Truck 93. Merl picked up the phone and started making phone calls.
He had to figure out where this place was, and he just might be able to get it
Merl was on the phone half the night, but by morning he had it. Butch was from West
Grove, PA. He got the number and on a long shot called the school. The secretary was
not very helpful, but after explaining that he was looking for this girl because a boy
named Butch had gotten hurt and she was the only one connected to him, the secretary
gave the phone to the principal. The principle found the picture in the year book from the
year before, and he put Merl on hold while he called Jazmine out of class.
"Hello, who is this?"
Merl hesitated for a second before he responded because he wasn‟t sure how she
would respond when she heard the news that Butch had gotten hurt.
Merl heard again through the receiver, "Hello,"and he replied, "My name is Merl and I
am the chief of Rescue 32 in Nevada."
"Ok," Jazmine said, "what does that have to do with me?"
"Do you know a man named Butch?" The phone went silent for a second,
"I knew something was wrong," Jazmine said.” What happened to Butch?"
"There was a fire last night and three firefighters were trapped. Butch went in to rescue
them, and he got them all out but the building collapsed as he was getting out."
"Now, we got him out, but he is in a hospital in LA in critical condition. We are ready
to fly you and Butch's parents out if you can get to the airport."
" I'll leave right now Jazmine replied, "what air line"
Ten hours later a plane landed at LAX carrying Butch's two terrified parents and
Jazmine. They were met by Pig and two other fire fighters who led them to the squad.
They drove to the hospital lights and sirens and were there in about ten minutes, when
they got there, the scene was dismal. Butch had been in a coma for the last forty-eight
hours. He had burns over sixty percent of his body and looked like some kind of robotic
mummy with all the wires and bandages that were on him. His mother started to cry and
had to leave the room. Butch had been totally unresponsive to the two fire fighters who
had been staying with him and talking to him every time the doctors would let people see
him. Jazmine walked up to the bed and Merl slid a chair up behind her. She sat down and
took Butch's hand. Butch's father awkwardly walked up to the head of the bed and
whispered to Butch's bandaged head. "Hey, buddy," he said, "you're ok." Butch's father
didn't stay long. It was all too much for him. He said he was leaving to get a cup of
coffee, but Jazmine could see the tears starting to well up in the corners of his eyes as he
left the room. Jazmine looked down at Butch's hand. It was probably about the only
thing that wasn't bandaged or under blankets on his whole body. The doctor said
something about having to keep him in blankets because he was so burned his body
couldn't keep itself warm. She stroked his hand and thought of all the things they had
done, all the dances and crazy midnight rides. She thought about the time she wrecked
her dirt bike and he came running to her side. He had taken her hand and said "Don‟t
worry, I'm here. I won't leave you." That day stuck in her head clear as glass. She
squeezed his hand "I'm here and I'm not letting go," she whispered in his ear.
She laid her head down on his chest and started to cry when she heard his labored
breathing. Then she felt pressure on her hand. Butch was squeezing her hand. "Shhh, she
heard him whisper, "don‟t cry." Jazmine stood up and moved her ear closer to his mouth
so she could hear him talk. No one else was in the room. The two fire fighters had left her
alone while they went to get her something to eat. "Why did you have to leave?" she said,
"If you hadn't left. If you had just stayed."
"Shh," she heard him whisper again "I had to go, so I could come back, so I could tell
you, I love you, Jazmine. I always have and never knew how to tell you."
"I love you too Butch," Jazmine replied, "more than you will ever know. You rest now.
I've got you and I'm not going anywhere."
MUSIC SAVED THE WORLD
―It isn't finished‖, they kept telling him. Did he believe it? To an
insignificant extent, yes. It wouldn‘t stop him. Tonight, room M76 was all his.
Professor Gale was a confused mind to say the least. The large body of
people around the world who had heard of him and his achievements would
consider him a genius. In several publications he was compared to the minds of
Einstein and Stephen King, even Aristotle. He was a man able to create
technology capable of saving the world. However, those who worked with him
had different opinions. Although it was true that Professor Gale was a man full of
knowledge to a point far beyond the IQ of any man on Earth, he had his flaws. His
home, to start off with was his personal lab. With more money in his organization
than half of the country combined, he chose to spend every night sleeping not on a
king-sized bed in a mansion by the beach with a beautiful woman by his side. But
alone, on a moss green, well-padded couch in the corner of his lab, which
happened to be a large room about one hundred feet long and wide. A keyboard
and computers toward the center. A gigantic light bending teleframe on the wall,
one of his own creations, but basically a TV. And a refrigerator next to the couch.
The life story of Professor Gale was one of great achievements yet of seemingly
unreasonable sadness. Benjamin Gale was born a creative genius. He grew up in a
fair-sized home with enough artistic mediums provided for him to build his
creative future. As a toddler, just old enough to start having conscious ideas his
parents allowed him to scribble his ideas out on paper with crayons. His drawings
were simple, and never anything serious, but intuitive alternate ways to
accomplish every day tasks. Soon, around the age of twelve his focus on
inventions turned toward music and sound. And In 2432, when he was only 15
years old, he invented a way to modify the sound of certain instruments by
focusing concentrated wavelengths of infrared and ultraviolet light into those of
the sound to create majestic, extended reverberating tones like nothing anyone had
heard before. As he grew up his creations began to revolve more around helping
the planet. He built a high powered ocean water filter that would allow people to
drink from the sea. He created a necklace that could reduce the amount of
pollution people breathe in. He even created a pulsing, spherical device that could
naturally make you feel full just from holding it. Gale‘s achievements, although
doing wonders for the planet, meant nothing to him. He had a goal. And as he
grew older the need to complete it became stronger. At this point, at age 58, he
had a single desire and the rest was worthless.
The bright, warm-sounding ambience once again filled the room and
surrounded his head, softly bringing him into consciousness. He scratched his
head and walked to the sink, filled a glass with water, and downed it, that and a
smaller glass of white wine. He slipped on his professional white lab coat and
walked out of his lab into the white, oxygen pumped hallway that connected his
lab to the rest of the factory. He appreciated the privacy. The large doors
automatically opened to his presence, and he emerged into the massive room
known as the central rotunda of the building. Cheery greetings came from the left
and right and all around, no different than the alarm clock that woke him every
morning. "Good morning to you, too". He crossed through the walkway into the
main lobby and into the elevator, setting course for the bottom third floor where he
would meet the new client, another balding man who wanted a handshake and a
piece of his mind. And there he was now, a bit fatter than the rest of them with a
chapping young gentleman by his side wearing a toothy and enthusiastic smile.
"Mr. Gale, great to finally meet you!" he said in a hoarse voice. His neck bounced
up and down as he talked. "As with you Mr. Tucker". They shook hands firmly
and quickly. "My nephew and I have got a plan. We want a way to get our ideas
out, and what better marketing technique is there than to put them in the hands of
the most intelligent man on the planet?" So the conversation went, Gale near his
highest level of boredom. They worked out a small deal and Mr. Tucker was sent
to the business office to talk finances. This was Gale‘s life.
The day‘s business meeting being over, he had nothing specific to do. His daily
life was actually very dull for a man with so much money. Ruling over his steel
castle day after day, no queen by his side, the only real-feeling company he was
given was that of his few closer employees and an occasional visit from one of his
close friends and colleagues from college. Today he had contact with none of
them. He walked around the lab peering over shoulders here and there, watching
the progress of certain projects as they slowly unfolded into something of use. To
be honest, if asked, he couldn't have named all of the projects being constructed at
his lab. He had lost track a long time ago once his employees learned from his
skills and began working on projects of their own. Some would probably consider
the whole establishment highly unorganized, but to Gale this freedom was a good
thing. It allowed the hard-working employees to experiment on their own, get their
own ideas out, and as long as Gale could put his label on it and keep a flow of
profits, everyone was happy. However, recently, only one project was lingering in
his mind, and he couldn't get it out. About a decade ago, in his late 40's, Gale
became very bored of playing music and having the notes simply fly past his head.
Having a great love for piano since the age of six, Gale wanted more than to hear
the music. He wanted to be able to see, feel, hear, and taste the music, to ride the
notes along their smooth, jazzy ascent from the keys. Music had always done so
much for him, from a few early years of small profit back in his twenties, to the
great relaxation benefits it provided him on a lot of stressful work days. He wanted
to experience music on a much greater level. So on a night following a very
stressful day, Gale had an idea. After vaporizing some marijuana to relieve himself
of stress, he sat down at his keyboard, set his connected laptop to record as usual,
and began to play. Letting his mind wander as he played, the song came out a
collage of emotions, heavy synths one second and a light, flowing piano riff the
next. It was amazing, something completely new. And as he played the song, he
visualized himself inside of it, a place always changing with lights and colors that
seem to bounce around and into you, An environment that knew not the word
stress, where the purpose and existence of all things was happiness. At some point
during the night he fell asleep, and upon listening to the seven minute recording
the following morning, the visuals came back, the happiness, the lights and the
colors. He felt the song plant the landscape in his head. And immediately,
Professor began the plans for the Mindboard, a device that would ultimately read
the wild, subconcious thoughts in your mind as you play a song and use the
neurons in your brain to actually put you into a visualization of them, playing with
all senses and emotions. After sharing the idea with his employees, the name was
changed to Musical Instinct Neurone Director and the top technicians were put to
work on the M.I.N.D. Ten years later the operation was still under construction
and still hovering at the top of Gale‘s list of concerns.
The day was going by and Gale was only growing more bored with himself. He
had played keyboard, checked on the progress of a few employee projects, and had
a business meeting. But for a usual fifteen hour work day, those activities only
filled about a third of it. So far, the rest of his time was spent eating breakfast and
lunch, and doodling small ideas and abstract pictures. Now he needed to see it,.
just another peek. He walked down to the musical research wing, trying not to let
his anxiety show. An elevator trip and a long hallway later, he arrived at the
platform where his favorite music technician was posted. "Professor Gale! Haven't
seen you all day. What have you been up to?" said Rob in his usual peppy tone.
"Oh this and that. Business meeting in the morning and a couple of doodles
after that..." He paused with his hand curled under his chin. "Look... Do you think,
it would be possible for me--" But he was cut off midway through.
"Professor," Rob started sharply, "with the utmost respect, I cannot allow
you to see the M.I.N.D. right now." Gale gave up his posture and let his head
down. "You need to understand, the way that you've been acting around it is
concerning me and all of the other employees. Looking at it again will just
reinforce your need to have it completed. In the end, that won't help anybody."
The professor sighed. ―Is there any idea of a date?
"All I can say is that we're working on it. Shouldn't be more than a half a
Gale nodded. "All right, then" he said as he faked a satisfied smile. "I'll be
on my way."
"Take it easy, professor. Make yourself some of the tea we picked up."
"Sure, why not?" he said as he left the room. He left just as anxious as he
One cup of tea and two hours of television later, Gale heard the hour tone
through his earpiece, one hour until power down. He finished his bag of spiced pea
crisps and walked out the door of his office to take a last walk around the facility
and approve the final shutdown. He hadn't yet reached the visual technology wing
before he found Professor Emerson stopped in his path. "Gale. How you feeling
big guy?" He said with a faint smile. "Ah, Emerson. Just fine, thank you." He
placed his hands behind his back and his feet together in a strong and confident
manner. "However, I must be on my way. I'm going for one more lap around the
building before final shutdown. Keepin' the old bones in shape," he said with a
grin and proceeded to return to his regular posture when Emerson placed his hand
on Gale‘s shoulder. "Actually Gale I've been meaning to talk with you about a
very important matter."
Gale really didn't like Emerson's company. Although Emerson was only
seventeen years younger than himself, making him fourty-one, he looked and
acted a fresh thirty. And although both Emerson and Gale both knew that Gale
was the genius of the two, Emerson always had a way of acting like he knew
everything in the universe. Nonetheless, he was the most efficient and highest
ranking of the music and sound technicians and over the years had been a large
contribution to project M.I.N.D. "Go on," said Gale. The two walked on and
discussed the important matter.
"Gale I'm going to be frank. It seems that as time goes on and the M.I.N.D.
remains unfinished, you've become more restless about it's completion." Gale kept
staring down the hall in front of them and Professor Emerson continued. "Now, as
you know, there are only a few short months until your creation will be ready, and
we are all very excited to bring it to life and give you the experience of a lifetime.
But we technicians have reason to fear you won't be able to wait."
Gale laughed and spoke up. "Emerson, we both know that the only way to
get into room M76 is with a techie password and a key, two things that I don't
have for a good reason."
"Yes, but you are the great Professor Gale. If you wanted in that room, you could
find a way in in a heartbeat."
Gale laughed. "And that's why I keep you in charge. You know how to
think with some sense in your head." "Gale, this is no laughing matter. You can't
enter that room. With the connections and brain pattern exporters still being
tweaked, there‘s no telling what could happen if one were to connect it to their
head." He paused and glanced over at Gale, who still had his head facing forward.
"I‘m talking death." Another pause. "Or at least permanent brain damage."
Gale stopped walking and Emerson followed suit. "Point taken, Emerson.
As much as I appreciate your concern, you can tell everyone their professor is
safe. Now, I'm going to finish my walk and I would appreciate if I could finish it
alone. Goodnight, Emerson." Gale walked on, leaving Emerson standing in the
middle of the hall, slowly shaking his head.
Gale finished his walk around the building, cutting it short to make up for the
time lost in conversation. Feeling a bit less tense, but at the same time bothered, he
entered the central rotunda where employees were stationed around their assigned
machines and computers, waiting out the last five minutes until the shutdown
would be initiated and they'd be on their way back home. Gale waved goodnight to
everyone in the rotunda as everyone else was in his assigned room or lab, waiting
for Gale‘s voice over the intercom. Gale then walked into his own private lab and
through a door that led to his central control and mapping room. He turned on the
speaker. "Let the final shutdown begin," said Gale into the microphone. Within a
minute he began to watch as the large panel of circular red lights in front of him,
signifying the different machines in the different rooms, faded out one by one and
the rest shut off rapidly and randomly like popping popcorn, an entertaining
process. When the last red dot on his panel shut off, he turned the microphone
back on and wished everyone a good night. He then swiveled his chair to the left
and watched the small blue dots fade as each and every employee, technician, and
custodian left the building. Privacy was an essential matter at Gale‘s laboratory
Gale left the small control room and lay back on his plain green couch. He
looked out the overhead window. The moon was bright but shadowy, as thin
clouds ran across its face. He was bored. He thought of all of the events that had
bothered him that day. Normally, he was smart enough to know that if he didn't
think of insignificant nuisances here and there, they wouldn't bother him so much.
But today was different. So much had happened. Or was it so little? He wasn't sure
what to think. With the M.I.N.D. so close to completion, his anxiety made
everything hard to make sense of. However, the thought of everyone in his lab
fearing for him really stuck out amongst his failing clarity. Fearing for his sanity.
How dare they? He was THE Professor Gale, the man whose ideas and music
made life easier and more enjoyable for most of the planet, the man who ran the
world‘s most quickly profiting company in a single building. If only the damn
M.I.N.D. could be finished. His thoughts wandered in circles. Eventually he got
off of the couch and sat down at his keyboard. Should he smoke? "Not tonight," he
said to himself and he freed the thought from his head. He began to play, starting
with some of his old material, and then letting his fingers wander along the keys
until he found a respectable melody. At that point he would continue to repeat it
and replay it over and over with small changes each time until it reached a stage of
beauty worthy of Gale‘s attention. The song would begin, as his fingertips would
run frantically but gracefully among the tall city of black and white buildings, each
with their own unique tone and pitch created when leapt upon. The song would go
on a good few minutes until Gale was satisfied with himself, and then a serene
silence would fill the room and allow Gale‘s conscious thoughts to return to his
head. At this point in the process, he would get up from the piano and go to sleep.
Tonight was different. Gale couldn't find a suitable melody. His fingers had
wandered the keys for about five minutes now and hadn't picked up a thing. "What
is wrong?" he pondered. But then he thought it out and realized the answer was
simple. "No artist can work with such stress on the mind." So he decided it would
be best to go to sleep.
Professor Gale's head shot up and he found himself breathing heavily. He
looked up at the ceiling and the projected clock read 2:30 AM. Gale looked
around. He was very confused. Quickly he got out of bed and entered his control
room where he opened a small drawer and pulled out a joint. He turned on some
lights and walked down the hallway. He arrived at room M76. Professor Gale took
out the skeleton keycard that he had designed, secretly of course, and pulled
opened the door to where his invention awaited him.
He walked in and hit the power switch in the room, turning on lights in every
corner of the room, lights that flashed from every strange rectangular device that
had been stacked, one on top of the other. However with the first step he took into
the room he heard a faint beep. He looked around behind him and then on the floor
and realized the horror of what had just happened. He tripped the laser. That
bastard Emerson must have placed it. There it was, bolted in to the side of the door
frame was a small box with hole for emitting the beam and perfectly aligned with
it on the opposite side of the door was the receiver box. Considering the beep was
almost silent, it must be an alarm. ―They‘re on their was right now‖ he thought. He
could either leave and admit to entering, but showing self-control or he could get
caught red-handed. Would there even be consequences? Would they even matter?
He sat down on the chair placed in front of the keyboard, convincing himself it
was just to take a moment to think. Quickly his eyes wandered the room. Rolling
their gaze over every brilliant and foreign piece of technology in the room. His
decision was made. If he would be caught, he might as well get something out of
it. Gale strapped himself into the helmet and checked the screen in front of him to
make sure it was all set up correctly. The bright green and purple keys were just as
he imagined them. He took a deep breath in an attempt to slightly calm himself,
but his excitement was overpowering. Slowly, his hands and fingers trembling, he
placed his right hand on middle C. He thought so hard about playing the key that it
hurt, until all at once, like a man injecting himself with a poison-filled needle, he
firmly pressed down on the key. Invasion like a nail into a plank, everything
around him shone a magnificent, sparkling blue as the note quickly inflated in his
head. The edges of the room, the piano, the keys, and his fingers, seemed to glow
an eclipsing white that only grew in brightness as he subconsciously held the note.
Upon releasing the key, the blue overtone faded and everything seemed to return
to its normal color, except with a more eye-grabbing contrast. Also, his face and
body felt just a slight bit lighter and he felt so relaxed. He would have taken the
time to mentally soak up his own satisfaction toward the device he had designed
that he knew, for now, was a success, but he needed it again. Without hesitation he
brought down his fingers upon the whole C Major Chord. BOOM. His mind burst
into a sphere of white and cyan lights, engulfing him in their icy warm presence,
reflecting a sound of clarity and consciousness into every pore of his mind. It was
a sound so familiar, yet so foreign all at once. His fingers lifted and the sphere
cracked into a white sparkling powder that filled the room with a scent of rich
mint and vanilla. In a couple of seconds Gale began to have control over his
thoughts. The time was right. He took a moment to recall the melody that he had
played those many years ago. He tried to play it, but it didn‘t come out right. The
Gale heard a noise. Almost like a low bass drum thumping quickly. The sound got
closer and more clearly and he realized exactly what it was. Gale suddenly wasn‘t
alone. ―No… Why now?‖ Gale couldn‘t leave now. It wasn‘t fair. This was the
moment his life needed. It all came down to this. Frustrated and eager to get his
song right, he pulled the joint from his pocket and wasted no time smoking it right
in the M.I.N.D. room. He then played the song. The song connected itself to all
electronic sources and then a radio emergency tower, broadcasting Gale‘s
Mindchild straight into the subconscious thought of everyone in the city, then
everyone in the world. Then Gale looked up at the moon and the moon looked
back at him. The moon‘s eyes widened and burst into a blaze of silver, clearly
visible from miles and miles away where Gale stood, even though he felt only a
few feet separated. The thin clouds blocking it turned a hot magenta and shattered
into sparkling drops of fire. The moon then gazed away and watery, wavy rays of
blue and yellow moonlight fluttered down onto the homes and faces of every
creature it could see, Gale's song gently swirling through their subconscious
minds. The prowling soldiers, crawling awake through the night, received Gale‘s
gift, falling to their knees and dropping all tools of destruction. Peace had
infiltrated the head and wrapped its licorice roots around every inch of what they
thought they knew was reality.
The next morning, all people in the world woke up, all remembering the same
exact dream, a dream where there was no war, no hate, and no violence, and
everyone worked with eachother to help one another out. Everyone woke to that
dream except Professor Gale. He did not wake up at all. And the news was
everywhere, actors and politicians coming in to local news stations to talk about
how they felt about the dream and how they remembered the song and the effect it
had on them. The link was then made between Gale‘s death and the dream that
was reported. Five years later the M.I.N.D. was completed, approved, and
distributed amongst the public. People were happy and music had saved the world.
You Just Fall into Love
It is so beautiful up here. I don't know why I don't come up here more often. All I
hear are the branches and leaves crunching under the wheels. Watching all the beautiful
trees that are now different shades of red, orange, and yellow just fly by. The forest floor
painted with the leaves makes it the most beautiful sight to see. I move through the trail‟s
twists and turns with ease for I know them well. I would always walk and ride them with
my dad when I was little. The only thing that has changed is the new greenery that has
grown since the last time I was here, which was about five years ago. It is mid-afternoon
on a nice cool fall day. I don't know how long I've been biking, but I am really deep in
the forest. Just being out here you don't think of anything. It is just peaceful. Feeling this
freedom, nothing can hold me back. I don't have to worry about drama or the stress. It is
just me and the trail. School and life has just been piling up and this is exactly what I
need. Just need to get away from it all. School has been so hard, with all of these
midterms and stupid teachers. I can just let my mind go and not think about anything. I
wonder if that big oak tree that we used as a bridge is still there. It's only been a couple
of years, and I didn't grow much since then, and it could hold my weight fine back then.
I'll be fine.
What happened? Where am I? God, it's cold. I try to prop myself and as I do a jolt
of pain shoots up my arm. I fall back to the ground and look at my arm. It is bleeding and
doesn't look like it is turned the right way. I quickly look down at my legs; I try to wiggle
my toes. I can feel them but I feel a bolt of pain go up my left leg. I focus on my leg and
see that it is also bleeding but there is also something white. As I realize what it is I turn
over and throw up. I fall back on the ground, breathing heavily and think. What the hell
am I going to do? No one is going to find me, and it will get dark soon. I cringe as
another wave of pain floods my body. Lying on the ground, I look up to the cliff where I
was once biking. There are rotted bits of wood surrounding me and the tree that I once
walked across was now split in half with a billion pieces on the ground. I… I have to call
someone. I look over to see where my bike landed. It is a couple of feet away and I see
that the pack on the back of it has ripped off and is now further away than the bike is.
Awesome, just freaking fabu...ughhh. Once more the pain comes back, except it is more
intense this time. I close my eyes and try to block out the pain.
I knelt there, perfectly still. The sun was just coming up over the horizon. We
must have been there for four hours at least. I didn't really know; the only thing I did
know was that it was cold, my arms were tired and I really had to pee.
"Hold 'er steady dere, lad" is what I heard over my shoulder.
It was my day to shine; the last time my dad took me out I didn't do so well. It was
actually a day just like this, but today would be different.
"There, right there, do you see it? Line 'er up," my dad continued with his back-seat
There he was. The ten-point buck that we had been waiting for all morning. The
one that got away. I focused through the scope and took aim. I could see where I had shot
him last time, grazing right past his shoulder blade, the scar there to mock me. I aimed for
that very same spot. I was going to shoot this deer and the memory of my failure. It was
going to happen. Today was my day!
"Come on, son."
I steadied my aim and pulled the trigger.
We drove all the way back to the house; neither of us said anything. Father had
his rifle across his lap and his face was like stone. We got back to the house and he
headed towards the shed. I walked up the stairs of the porch and tossed my muddy boots
next to the door. I shut the door behind me and stomped up the stairs. I slammed my
bedroom door behind me, making the pictures on the shelf on my wall shake. I walked
over to my bed and fell down face first into my blanket.
"You missed it again, didn't you?" The voice came from my window.
I jolted out of my bed and tried to stand to face the unknown voice from my
window. My foot hooked onto my backpack and I fell onto my floor with a loud thud. I
wrestled the strap and looked up the see who my visitor was.
There she was, a vision of beauty sitting on my windowsill. Her long blond hair,
framed her beautiful face. Her gorgeous smile lit up the room. And those wonderful green
eyes -- I could get lost in them for eternity.
"You are such a goofball! I mean, I know that this morning probably didn't go so
well, but you don't have to be a scaredy-cat!" she said and then laughed with that perfect
laugh of hers.
"Shut up! I thought you were at work this morning."
"Nope, I got the day off. Didn't really feel like going and the boss owed me some
favors, so…," she said, smiling, filling the room with her beauty. She hopped off of the
sill and walked over to me. She leaned in; her soft lips touched mine and pulled away.
She walked over and sat in my desk chair.
"So, this morning didn't go very well?"
"I don't want to talk about it." I turned away from her and crossed my arms.
"Oh, that bad, huh?" I could tell without even looking at her that she had a smirk
on her face as she said it. She thought that we men took hunting too seriously and that it
was silly that we did it for sport.
"You don't have to make fun of me, I'm gonna get hell from Pop later."
"Oh, don't worry. His bark is worse than his bite. You just have to bark back
"Well then, hey, why don't you come and bark at him at dinner and see how that
goes?" I said as I spun around to look at her.
"Why, thank you for inviting me to dinner, and I would love to join your
wonderful dinner conversations. Oh, and by the way, your mom and dad love me!" She
said these words with a triumphant look on her face. "See you tonight!" She walked over
to my window and stepped out of it to climb down the latticework on the side of the
My head hurts. Where am I? I am so dizzy. I open my eyes to see the same scene
of what happened minutes before. I see that I lost blood when I was out. That's why I feel
dizzy. The sun is starting to fall and my situation is just getting worse. I need someone to
"HELP! SOMEONE! ANYONE! CAN ANYONE HEAR ME?!?"
My voice is hoarse and it hurts my head to yell. Using all of my air to yell does
not help my dizzy feeling. I rest for a little to make my head stop pounding. I try again
"HELP! HELP ME!"
There is no sound other than the wind in the trees. When I first got there this
afternoon there were other people that I saw at the beginning of the trail. They have to be
coming soon; they just have to be.
I lie here, in silence, hearing only my groans of pain and the leaves in the trees. I
start to close my eyes again and I hear a sound, different from the other sounds that I
have been hearing. It sounds like a woman, talking in the distance.
"Help, can you hear me? Anyone." I have no strength to yell now, I am just so
"Hello?" I hear the voice come nearer and it starts to fade away.
"No, please come back... please..."
The voices fade away and my heart falls down into my shoes. There is no hope.
They will never find me down here. That's it; it's over. I close my eyes as a tear falls
down my face and I pass out again.
We were in love, and nothing could change that. We would go everywhere
together, hand in hand. And when I wasn't with her, I would think about her every second
of the day. I would call her and if she was busy leave cute messages on her phone. I told
her everyday, "I love you." And she would say it back too. During winter break of our
senior year, we were sitting on my couch in my living room watching a movie. My
parents had meetings and they wouldn't be home until late. I lit a fire in the fireplace and
we snuggled on the couch to watch a movie. We would pause it every once in a while to
go get popcorn or a drink, but it was a nice night. To make it the best yet, I sat her down
on the couch and pulled out a box. I opened it and she saw the necklace that I had gotten
her. A gold heart with two red gem stones in it. She beamed at me and jumped into my
arms. I told her that the gem stones represented us and our one love for each other. Then I
told her that this was a promise that I would always love her forever and that is if she
accepted it she would promise me that she would love me forever. She moved her hair
out of the way so I could put the necklace on for her. We were so in love.
Things were the same from then on. It seemed like nothing else interesting
happened. Graduation came around and right on that day she admitted to me that she was
"That's okay. I could come for a visit."
"But you can't. You'll be moving from here to Virginia, and I'm going to medical
school up in New Hampshire. I mean, it was fine when we were both here in our little
town of Washingtonville, PA."
"Well, there is always the phon... wait. Are you saying what I think you are
"I don't want to hold you back. We should try seeing other people for a while. It is
better this way. Trust me. I will always love you."
She kissed me on the check and walked away.
I wake up again to see that it is almost dark now. My vision is blurry and I am so
dizzy right now. I have no hope; no one will find me. I can't take it any more. I yell out at
loud as I can with all my might, "HELP!" My head feels like it is being pounded by a
hammer. I listen with all my might. I hear the wind but I hear something else too.
"I think it came from over here,” a voice from above says.
It can't be. My mind is playing tricks on me. I've lost too much blood.
"Look, it looks like something crashed through those bushes over there." It sounds
like it is getting closer. Is this really true? "Come on, it's over here."
A beam of light shines above my head and then in my face. "Oh my God, Gerald!
Call 911! Kid, kid, you‟re gonna be okay! Hello?" I sigh a slight sigh of relief and close
I didn‟t do anything for days. I had felt as if I had died. She said it was for the
better but I missed her so much. She had to too. She couldn‟t not miss me too. We would
talk on the phone and text each other every once in a while, but I never told her what I
really wanted to say. That this was a stupid idea, and we should be together. Then one
day that we were chatting online she told me that she had a date that night and that she
had to go. She logged off and I started at those words on the screen. I sleep the whole day
the next day and ignored her texts and calls. The communication between us ended that
night. I just couldn‟t bare it. I would have to forget about her and move on. So, I hung out
with my guys and went on a few days, but none of them were like her. None of them
would ever be like her. I have always had a piece of me missing ever since that night.
It is so bright in this room. My eyes are shut, but it is so bright. Ugh, my head
hurts. I open my eyes and look around. I am lying in a bed in a hospital room. My dad is
sitting over in the chair in the corner staring at me.
"You're awake." His voice is hushed but happy.
"Yeah, what happened?"
"You don't remember."
I look away and think, "I remember I, I was biking, and I fell. And then they
"Yes, the Borkowskis just left twenty minutes ago. They came to visit you. Your
face is pretty scraped up. I had to look close to see that it was you."
"What day is it?"
"Tuesday. You have been out since Sunday when they found you. You lost a lot
"Oh man. Ugh, I'm so hungry."
"I'll go down to the cafe and get you something."
He stands up and walks out of the room. I look up at the ceiling now bored with
no one to talk to. I look back over at the door and see a nurse walk in.
"Oh, you‟re awake."
"Yeah, and my leg hurts like hell." My attention now focuses on my leg. She
walks over and checks my chart.
"You are ready for some more meds." I watch her walk over to a cabinet on the
other side of the room and grab a needle; she walks back over to my IV and leans over it
to add in the medicine. As she leans a necklace falls out of her scrubs, a gold heart with
two red gem stones in it. It can't be.
"Your surgeries went great and you are going to be fine."
"I'll be able to walk again?" No, I'm being stupid; lots of people could have that
necklace. I search her scrubs for a name tag, but there is not one there.
"Yes, with some physical therapy, you will be able to do everything that you have
been doing. The worse part of all of this is just going to be the physical therapist. He's no
walk in the park, but don't worry about it. His bark is much worse than his bite."
"You just have to bark back sometimes." I looked up at her and waited.
“Exactly, I haven‟t heard that in a while.” She looks at me with a perplexing face.
She walks back to the end of my bed and picks up my chart.
“Charlie Barnet? Like, we dated in high school Charlie Barnet?”
“If you are the Rachel Mello that I dated in high school, then yes. Yes I am.” I
gave her an awkward smile.
“Wow, I haven‟t seen you in such a long time. You look… like crap.” She laughs.
“Thanks, you look so great. So you got out of nursing school.”
“Yeah, I decided that I missed this place to much, so after I graduated I came back
here to work at this hospital.
“That‟s great. So, you got a boyfriend now?”
“What? Oh, no. I did go on a couple of dates but I never found the right guy.”
There is an awkward silence where we just look at each other.
“Do you think after I get out of here, you would like to go to dinner?”
“I would love to.” She smiles and walks over and sits on the side of my
Love and Death
The rain kept falling down. It was raining in December, a heavy rain that had
bulky hail mixed with it. The fast and steady droplets fell and made massive splashes on
the ground. The ice crystals started to collect together to form large snowflakes. Snow
and freezing rain fell down from dawn till dusk. This weather was completely different
from the warm showers of summer. Jang always loved this kind of weather. It was quiet
steady kind of sound that could have lulled him back to sleep. The heavy storms of winter
kept him sleeping for a long time in silence while he sat in the back of a truck. The back
of the truck was filled with his family‘s furniture and luggage like a gigantic pyramid.
The truck stopped. Jang‘s family had arrived at the outskirts of town; the truck driver told
his mother that the truck couldn‘t go any further because the truck would tear down the
banner that panned the width of the street. His mother grimaced at a banner
congratulating a local boy for winning a scholarship to Seoul University. She raised
herself by lifting her body from her younger son‘s shoulders, and ripped the banner in
half. As she finished ripping the last banner, she spotted the outraged young girl, who
bicycled furiously toward the truck, only to wind up swerving into the ditch instead. She
was covered in mud. The girl kept calling them ―robbers‖ and threatened to report the
vandalism. It was her brother‘s banner that they ruined! What did they have against her
brother? They were just a poor family who wanted to start their new life in Pusan.
Jang was a stony, silent type who showed no outward emotion. He unconsciously
rubbed his eyes and awaked in the back of the truck. He lifted the young girl up from the
ditch and offered to fix the banner. He told his family to go on without him, and the truck
disappeared into the distance. The girl was still fuming, so she rejected his offer and
rashly shoved him into the ditch, although she regretted it immediately. She quickly ran
away, leaving him into the ditch. Her name was Yoon. She was the daughter of the last
doctor of Oriental medicine, which was the most famous family in Seo-gu.
However, the next time she came to see the banner, she saw with happy surprise that
the banner had been mended and rehung.
Jang finally arrived in the small town, Seo-gu, in Pusan. The place where they lived,
Seo-gu, was near the largest seaport in Korea, which was strange to him. They had found
an old miniature house with water dripping inside through the roof. He quickly taped up
the hole in the roof and unpacked their luggage from the truck. It was their new home.
Jang had been thinking about the old place where he lived. The place was filled with
dreadful memories and his memories were like separate pieces of a puzzle. He wasn‘t
sure how many times he‘d moved into different towns. The place where he truly
belonged and the place where his father was forgotten…
Jang always wanted to ask him when he was going to see him face to face.
"Why did you abandon me?‖ he shouted to himself hoarse. He remembered the day
he lost his father. He couldn‘t forget the face of his father. His father‘s eye was in full of
sorrow, rage, and pain. Jang did not understand his father, and he never would.
Jang was a smart kid with a good heart, but his biggest problem was his temper.
He always restrained himself admirably, but when he was pushed beyond his patience,
his temper flared frighteningly. He normally kept his emotions in check; he felt the
absence of his father, and his father was the important person to him.
Jang‘s mother, Yuri, was prostitute, who chose to return to her hometown, Pusan.
She was an irresponsible woman. Jang hated her actions; she was a big flirt, and always
tried to keep smiling around guys. He didn‘t like the way she dressed and served every
strange man. Jang absolutely refused to let her work a bar, even though it would bring in
more money. She promised him that she would open a restaurant in Pusan and stopped
working the bar.
Eventually, Jang found out his mother lied to him and opened a new tea room in
the middle of town. She dressed as a tea maid and decided to open the tea room for
business. It was an old-fashioned tea room from the 1970s. Being a tea maid wasn‘t quite
taboo, but it was lower class and embarrassing, especially because of the sickeningly
obsequious way Jang‘s mother acted toward the customers. She flattered many
customers, typically men and she accepted their comments with a tense smile. Jang
couldn‘t stand to see her debase herself and hated that she broke the promise to set up a
restaurant. But his mother contended that running a tearoom was already a business. Jang
couldn‘t stop her decision.
Mr. Woo, Yuri‘s landlord, was a wicked man in the village, who had just arrived
at the tearoom in the morning.
―Can you clean my boots for me, Yuri? I stood in the mud today,‖ said Mr. Woo.
―Clean your own boots. My mother is not a cleaner,‖ Jang angrily replied. Yuri
quickly held Jang‘s fist and pushed him back to avoid his anger. To keep Mr. Woo
pacified Yuri sweet-talked to him, while Jang kept his temper in check for her sake.
―Who is this? Is that your son, Yuri? Come here, boy,‖ said Mr. Woo with anger.
―I understand that you're angry. I'm very sorry about that. Do you want some
coffee, Mr. Woo?‖ Yuri just smiled to avoid the fights. Mr. Woo tapped a cigarette from
the pack and lit it.
―I will just get over it this time. But I‘m warning you, kid! Yuri, I‘ll be right
back!‖ Then he quickly went back to his car and drove away.
―Why did you make a fist again? Are you going to make trouble again? Are you
going to punch someone? Do you want to be expelled from high school again like last
times?‖ she taunted him. Jang‘s life was difficult, as he got into fights and he had to
watch other people who tried to rush and push his mother around, and yet he couldn‘t do
anything to stop it…
Jang reported to the main office at school, where he saw Mr. Kim sitting in the
chair and waiting for him.
―My name is Jang. It‘s nice to meet you,‖ he introduced himself as Mr. Kim
quickly read his resume.
"You quit school voluntarily two times, and were expelled from school for one
year. How can you transfer to five different schools in six months?‖ Mr. Kim shouted,
staring at the profile. "Why do I always receive students who have some kind of trouble?
God! Our midterm test score class average is going to get worse!" He was in a stew about
Jang‘s school profile. But he didn‘t even dare to read the rest of his profile. "Answer my
question! A. You got into fights B. You didn‘t do well in school. C. You made too
much trouble. What was it?" said Mr. Kim. Jang looked up at him and didn't say
anything. ―Answer me! Did you hit someone?" Mr. Kim shouted.
Jang nodded slowly, and Mr. Kim looked at him, more disappointed. Jang had
been forced to drop out of his last school for hitting someone. Miss Yoon entered into the
guidance office and asked him for document reports that he needed to submit to the
principal‘s office by today. Mr. Kim was fully stressed about the document, he wasn't
quite sure what he was reading; it was completely written in English.
"Damn it! I have to look up every word in the dictionary to figure out what this
paper says!" That really ticked him off.
Jang slowly, grabbed the paper and said, "Despite a forty six percent jumps in the
average cost, the local state and federal government funded research yielding the
following data. The percentage of high school students that graduated was actually
dropped, decreasing in seventy three percent to sixty one percent."
Mr. Kim felt so bad that he misunderstood Jang that he quickly sent him to his
class as Mr. Kim‘s face turned red. Mr. Kim read his profile with amazement. ―He
received the top score in the test, received the honor roll every year, and received the best
grades in every school!‖ Mr. Kim shouted. Every teacher was astonished to discover that
Jang was at the top of his class and was smart as a whip. Jang walked into the classroom,
and made up his mind as he introduced himself to the other students.
"I will not use my fist to punch someone. I will be strong and not be humiliated
by another person. I must be intelligent to be alive, so I can meet my dad," he told
himself. His passion already burned as he thought about his father, that someday he
would meet him face to face so his father could be proud of his son. Then he would not
be treated as the son of prostitute, but a person who could hold his head up high…
One night at the tearoom, the landlord, Mr. Woo was all drunk and belligerent.
Yuri, Jang‘s mother, tried to keep him happy, but his nasty temper was difficult to
manage. Mr. Woo mentioned how his mother was heartbroken and used that as an excuse
to behave badly. Mr. Woo untied Yuri‘s top and Jang started to get aggressive as he saw
his mother screaming, and finally Jang couldn‘t hold back anymore. He stepped in
angrily. Jang was pretty strong for his age, and he was fired by indignation and shame, so
he was well on his way to choking the life out of the landlord. Yuri saw that things were
about to get out of hand, so she pleaded with her son to stop. Perhaps she was afraid that
he would get himself into trouble, but Jang felt betrayed by his mother when she bit
Jang‘s hand to get him to let go. Yoon was standing outside and observe the scene. She
couldn‘t help feeling for Jang and looked at him tearfully when he burst out of the doors
feeling frustrated and hurt. She already agreed that there was nothing wrong with using
violence against that nasty Mr. Woo. Jang and Yoon walked together over the hill.
―Do you know me?‖ Jang said with a broken heart.
―Um… Yes, I know you,‖ Yoon answered.
―You are telling me that we are meant to be with each other?‖ Jang said with
his usual stoicism whether or not she really thought she was meant to be with him, as she
insisted. Suddenly, he swooped in and held her face close to his, as though for a kiss, and
stopped just inches from her face. Then, just as abruptly, he let go of her hand and
―See?‖ he said with a blank face. Jang felt nothing, so she was wrong. ―We‘re
not made for each other. We‘re nothing to each other, and will never be anything in the
future. I‘m telling you to get out of my business and get lost!‖ Jang said with distaste on
his face. But this encounter had the opposite effect on Yoon; observing his weakness
stirred her sympathies, and this event had one further effect.
―I cannot stand it anymore!‖ she exclaimed, overwhelmed by an eruption of
With brash fearlessness, Yoon painted a drawing on Mr. Woo‘s car that contained
the words, ‗You are a son of a bitch!‘ When Mr. Woo saw the graffiti, he nearly had an
aneurysm from his anger. Yoon started to pelt him with eggs and mud, cursing him for
tormenting the lives of those weaker than him. Mr. Woo made a beeline to the tearoom
and accused Yuri of putting paintings on the car. He believed that Yuri planned all this.
Everyone in the village was fairly confused, but Jang heard him cursing about the girl,
and he knew who did it. It was Yoon. Jang quickly ran into Yoon by the bridge. She had
many bruises on her face.
―Why did you do it?‖ Jang said, upset clear on his face.
―Because I know you couldn‘t. Everybody in town knows Mr. Woo is a horrible
man. You know it too, but you can‘t do anything,‖ Yoon answered. Her immediate
concern was for him, and she worriedly told him to pretend not to know her, so he
wouldn‘t suffer for her actions. When Mr. Woo found them, she urged Jang to run off
and insisted that she acted entirely alone. Jang took her advice and walked away coldly,
leaving Yoon to deal with the man. Mr. Woo struck her in the face.
Unfazed, Yoon screamed at him, ―Hit me again! Hit me again!‖
He punched her again, sending her tumbling to the ground. And if there was
anything Jang couldn‘t stand to witness, it was a man beating on a woman. He clenched
his fist and turned back and took over the fight. Like before, Jang was stronger and had
the man in a stranglehold. His grip was so frightening that Yoon grew scared that Jang
would kill the man and begged him to stop. Her actions had no effect, and Mr. Woo
flailed about. In the struggle, Mr. Woo grasped the pendant dangling from Jang‘s neck,
and it went flying into the water below. He saw the pendant drop into the water, and he
stopped fighting. The pendant was his most treasured item, and he stared in horror at the
water. Yuri furiously asked her son why he did it. He couldn‘t pay attention to what she
said. All he cared about was the pendant.
―I lost it. I lost my father. I lost the pendant that I received from my father,‖ Jang
―Is that stupid pendant the issue? Your life might be ruined, and you‘re worried
about that stupid pendant?!‖ Yuri retorted. She couldn‘t believe it.
―I lost my father! We lost my father!‖ Jang burst out. ―I lost him!‖ That just
made her angrier.
―Give it up, you punk! Your father doesn‘t even know you!‖ Overcome with
emotion, Jang screamed furiously, sobbing. She said scornfully that he was studying so
hard so he could grow up well and find his father, but he wouldn‘t even know him if he
ran into him on the street.
As a result, Mr. Woo kicked Yuri out and the family would have to move.
Furthermore, Jang‘s fate was undecided, as he might face criminal charges.
Yoon‘s father, Han, come to the police station to tell Yuri that everything had
been settled. He used his request to get Jang‘s charges dropped, and Han would help take
over the lease so that she didn‘t have to move. Yoon continued to feel awful for Jang,
when she saw Jang jump off the bridge into the water. He was searching for the lost
pendant for three days. Yoon knew what the pendant meant to Jang, so she dove for the
pendant repeatedly over two weeks.
Yoon was on the way home after school, and she saw Yuri trying to fix her high
heel in the middle of the street. Yuri was struggling with a damaged high heel; Yoon
offered to fix it for her. Unfortunately, Yoon broke one of the high heels and had to offer
her own sneaker in exchange and stumbled away in the broken heels. Jang told his
mother to give Yoon‘s sneaker back. Yuri frowned, so he took off his own shoes and
gave them to her, then caught up to Yoon as she tottered along. Without even saying a
word, Jang returned her sneaker, picked up the heels, and walked off calmly. Yoon was
stunned at first and then touched to see Jang barefoot as he walked away. Yoon finally
had a crush on him.
Life continued, school went on, and Yoon continued diving for the pendant.
―But now… now, my heart thumps even if I just hear his footsteps. When I open
my books, I keep seeing his face so I can‘t study. I wasn‘t even thinking of it… I‘d
forgotten it all…‖ Yoon told herself, sobbing her love for Jang. Yong, her brother, saw
Yoon crying, and listened as she revealed to him. Yong was warm and comforting, and
gently chided her for not being honest and telling him how she felt. But she felt guilty
about his father‘s pendant; she couldn‘t approach Jang until she found his pendant. Her
brother agreed, the pendant did make things complicated. He decided to help her — if he
found the pendant, she had to tell Jang how she felt. She protested that she had looked for
two months, but he promised that he was a great diver.
He urged her to find Jang right away while he retrieved the pendant. With a
warm smile, he entered the water, and Yoon headed off… but when she looked back,
something felt wrong. Fear dawned on her face as she wondered why her brother was
taking so long. Her instinct was right.
Yong was drowned in the water and found dead by heart attack. Her brother
Yong was everything to her family, hope, pride, the reason of living. At the hospital,
Yoon‘s mother collapsed in the floor, sobbing hysterically. Out of her mind with grief,
she said, ―Take Yoon instead!‖ So when Yoon went to the river, wearing her mourning
white, she was not only feeling grief at losing her beloved brother but also guilt that she
was the wrong child to still be living. When she spotted the pendant near the shore, she
felt heartbroken. Jang came upon her as she trudged home. Even though Jang had done
nothing wrong, finding his pendant was a cruel moment for Yoon — what a poor
exchange for her brother‘s life. Yoon started to walk away, but Jang grabbed her.
―I like you. Like you like me, I like you too,‖ Jang blurted out. But Yoon coldly
told him that it was not true.
―I‘ve never liked you once,‖ said Yoon.
―Don‘t lie to me!‖ he urged, wanting her to tell the truth.
―It‘s not a lie. I hate guys like you the most — mean, selfish, and rude! Your
mother is a tearoom madam who flirts with every man! My mother told me that people
should play with their own kind. That‘s why I don‘t belong around people like you. I
shouldn‘t even associate with someone like you. I must have been really crazy,‖ Yoon
shouted. She left his family in Pusan, left out letters. Both started to voyage through life,
which is ardent, painful, and rough. Their love had been broken with memories of pain.