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Archive for the ‘Stories and Excerpts’ Category

7:00 pm

The mascara wand runs over my lashes, bending them upwards, giving me the look of a doe-eyed rabbit. I grab my crimson lip-stain, roll it over my lips, smile in the mirror. The corners of my lips don’t pull as far upwards as they used to.

My roommates chatter loudly in the hallway outside my room, calling to me to come and join them.

7:00 pm

The television thunders and roars as Crosby shoots another goal. I crack open my first beer of the night, cheering with the crowd inside the screen. My roommate is curled up with his girlfriend on the other couch. I touch the cold space next to me, taking another swig of my beer.

9:00 pm

My roommates and I dance and bounce to this week’s top 40, the house shaking with our drunken excitement. Glenda pulls me into the bathroom, our arms tangled together in ecstasy.

“Make sure I don’t text him tonight,” she says, handing me her phone. “You gotta make sure!”

I look through her phone, finding her conversations with him. “He’s asking what you’re doing tonight,” I slur, the letters fading in and out of my misty vision.

“No!” she screams, grabbing her phone back as she sits down on the toilet. “Don’t tell him. I don’t want him to come over!” she says.

“God, Glenda, why do we have to pee together,” I leave the bathroom in disgust, pulling my own phone out of my pocket. No new messages.

9:00 pm

The scent of beer hangs like a viscous cloud over the room. The game is almost over and four more friends have joined us for the night out. We cheers to a winning game, grab our coats, and head out for the night’s hunt.

11:00 pm

We finally stumble into the bar, find an open booth, and slide in. Misty eyes of hungry boys graze over our bodies.

My eyes lock with one pair in particular. He smiles coyly, showing a bit of teeth, but not enough to indicate enthusiasm.

I adjust my hair and flutter my eyes in his direction, smiling back.

11:00 pm

            The belle of the ball has just stumbled in, like a straggling deer. Not quite as pretty as her friends, her clothes fit a little too tightly, and she gawks around the room in subtle desperation.

I bare my teeth just a little, careful not to give too much away. She takes the bait.

11:10 pm

Oh man, he’s getting up from his table! He’s walking over here! Play it cool, play it cool, fix my hair, play it cool, pretend not to notice…

11:10 pm

            She nervously twitches and plays with her hair as I walk over to her.

“Hey there,” I smile, pointing at the seat next to her. “Mind if I join?”

“Go ahead!” she smiles a little too widely, shifting over, squishing her friends into the wall as a result. They all snarl and roll their eyes.

 

11:10 pm

            He asks if he can sit down. I pretend not to care, shrugging my shoulders and moving over a bit.

I can feel my friends gawking at us, analyzing our entire interaction.

“So where ya from, cutie?” he asks, leaning in closer.

1:30 am

We awkwardly stumble our way into my bedroom. I’ve got his warm hands in mine, and he wraps them around my waist as soon as we shut my bedroom room.

His fingers are a bit too tight around my waist, as if he’s afraid I’m going to slip out of them.

His warm lips hungrily pull at mine.

1:30 am

She wastes no time in taking me to her bedroom and promptly shutting the door. I quickly wrap my hands around her. I can feel her twisting slightly, so I pull her closer.

I bend down to kiss her, devouring her slowly.

8:00 am

I can hear her snoring peacefully as my eyes flutter open. Her room is a tornado of clothes, hers and mine mixed together.

I can feel her warmth beside me, and I smile. I slowly get up from the bed, throw on my clothes, and gently shut the door behind me.

I let the sunshine wash over my face as I step outside, breathing in the shimmering rays.

8:00 am

I try not to breathe too loudly as I hear him stir beside me. I fake a soft snore, nestling my face further into my pillow. Bruises from the night throb on my breasts and back. He gets up swiftly, puts on his clothes, and leaves the house without so much as a glance behind him.

The sunlight slants in through the blinds of my window. I shrink away from them, checking my phone again. No new messages.

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Once there was a girl with eyes blue like the sky.

When asked where she was from, she began to cry.

Her voice was like honey and she sang to the trees,

she flew through the town like a soft summer’s breeze,

I loved her but one day she just died.

 

My pen hovered over the page, sweat beading on my forehead and the nape of my neck. My breathing stuttered and slowed, stuttered and slowed. I closed my eyes to steady myself. Then I began again.

Once there was a girl with eyes blue like the sky.

When asked where she was from, she began to cry.

Her voice was like honey and she sang to the trees,

she flew through the town like a soft summer’s breeze,

I loved her but one day she just died.

One day she just died.

She just died.

Just died.

Died.

 

My head spun as the words filled my eyes; the weight of the black letters sat on my chest like a thousand pounds of cement. I dropped to the floor with a cry of panic.

“Jimmie!” Sheryl’s voice echoed through the hall as she ran into the room. “What’s wrong?” she dropped beside me, rubbing my back as I clutched my head in fear, trying to stop the words from crushing me.

She looked over at the desk, seeing pages and pages of the same poem written over and over again in my hand. She sighed. “Again Jimmie? Geeze, give your hand a break.” The strong scent of marijuana clung to her breasts as she pulled me into them, hugging me tightly. “She’s gone, Jimmie, she’s been gone a whole month. She ain’t ever coming back.”

“She’s dead,” I mumbled.

“By now, probably. Who knows. She probably just went back to wherever the hell she was from.”

I jerked her aside and abruptly stood up, knocking her off balance. She fell flat on her bulbous behind with a thud. “You bitch. Maybe you should just go back to wherever the hell you’re from. Oh yeah, I forgot that they kicked you out of hell. Guess you’re just stuck in this run-down town like the rest of us.”

She stood up, and in one swift movement, swept all of my papers to the ground while spitting in my direction. I remained motionless as she stomped back to the living room, back to her real lover, her bong.

Damn dirty bitch, I thought as I opened my window and looked across the dark sky. How dare she spew that kind of bullshit about my Nina. How dare she. I grabbed the flowers from the vase sitting on my windowsill and crushed them in my fists, the image of Nina’s broken body behind my eyes, lying in a pool of dried blood, a psychopath standing over her with a machete, or a gun, or maybe a kitchen knife. Who knows.

Sheryl crawled into bed beside me around 4 in the morning, her breath rank of alcohol as she whispered into my ear to wake up and fuck her. Like always, it was numb and passionless; a dried up old whore on top of the town recluse, both once again falling prey to the flesh.

She drifted into sleep quickly and easily, unlike me.

At nine in the morning, I woke up, after once again spending most of my sleep dreaming of a barn with Nina’s dead body lumped in the corner. The places my imagination drifted to while unconscious was unnerving.

I sat back down at my desk and began sketching the dreary barn from my nightmares. Its walls were of a dark wood, its floors grey concrete; from the ceiling hung strings of paper. To finish the sketch, I drew Nina, eyes wide and frozen like lakes of ice, hair as dark as ebony, mouth hanging open with dried blood at the corners, hands and feet bound together with coarse rope, as if she were an animal being taken in for slaughter.

I again let out a scream of panic, causing Sheryl to run into the room and hold me again.

“She’s dead!” I screamed, pulling her closer. “She just died!”

After a while, she pulled away and drew my face to hers. “How do you know?” she asked, brows furrowed in bemusement. “Why do you think she’s dead?”

“What?” I mumbled, pulling away.

“That she’s dead? Most just thought she ran away. How come, from the moment you knew she was missing, you thought she was dead?” Her voice was low, careful.

“Because she loved me!” I screamed, once again pushing her aside and stomping to the window. “She told me how much she hated her family! She told me what her father did to her! She told me about all of the times her mother just left her places. Forgot her. And she told me that being with me was the first time she ever felt safe. Safe. Why would she leave safety? Why would she leave? No. No way. She wouldn’t just run away. She would never just run away. She would never just leave me.” I drew in a deep, shaking breath, my vision blurring.

“Nina was just a slut lookin’ for a good time, she didn’t love you,” Sheryl scoffed. “She was using you for a place to crash and someone to keep her warm at night.”

“Shut up!” My voice tore through the room, piercing Sheryl in a way that made her tremble. I shoved her against the wall, my nose pressing against hers, my breath heaving in through my mouth. Her eyes glinted with flashes of panic, but she stood her ground all the same. “You,” I whispered against her wrinkled face, with foundation cracking off of her skin and her eyes lined with black like a raccoon. “are the slut. You, are the whore. You are the dirt underneath my stinkin’ shoes, and you deserve nothing. Get the fuck out of my face before I kill you.”

I expected her to scream, or cry, or kick me. I expected her to start trembling like I was. But Sheryl, for all of her faults, was not one to show weakness. She just stood there, cracked a grim smile, and shook her head. “You got issues, Jimmie, and clearly you got some things to remember. Nina was a slut, she probably just got murdered by one of her dealers that she owed hundreds or thousands to. Get over it. Get over that slut.” With that she left the room, slamming the door to the bedroom and not coming back out. That was one of the things I loved about her, she never showed fear or vulnerability.

I started laughing. Laughing so hard that my stomach hurt. Laughing so hard that I fell to the ground and couldn’t breathe. Laughing so hard that I didn’t even hear Ralph knocking on the door, or walking into the house, or standing over me with a puzzled expression on his face.

“Shit!” I yelped when I saw him. “How long have you been fucking standing there?”

“Just a few minutes. What’s so fuckin’ funny?” he asked in his high-pitched, whiny voice.

“I saw your face, that’s what.” I stood up and sat back down at my desk. “Where’s mom?” I asked. “Been tryin’ to get a hold of her for days. Dad keeps sayin’ she’s at Bingo. Can’t be at Bingo all the time.”

“Bingo is code for Aunt Sally’s. Mom and Dad have been fightin’ like crazy. They should just get divorced already.”

“Fightin’? ‘Bout what?”

“You, mostly. How you’re a neurotic basket case who can’t get over a girl that left you.”

“Didn’t leave me, Ralph. She died,” I murmured, my energy levels falling below the line of normal.

“What’s this?” he asked, picking up my sketch.

“The barn I keep dreaming about. It’s the one I keep imagining Nina’s corpse rotting in.”

“Shit man, looks like Aunt Sally’s barn at her old farm. Remember? She used to rent it out for parties and wedding receptions all the time since it was so beautiful, that’s why it had those paper streamers hangin’ from the ceiling always. We used to play there as kids.”

“What?” I asked, trying to recall this barn. “Can’t remember it.”

“No, I swear. Looks exactly like it. You’re probably just unconsciously recalling it, Jimmie. Don’t worry, Nina will come back. She ain’t dead. She probably just needed a break, like Sheryl needed from me,” he said in tones of hopefulness.

I bit my lip, looking up at him apologetically.

“Anyway, just wanted to see that you were okay, man,” he patted me on the back, squeezing my shoulder. “I’ll see ya later, okay brother?”

“Yeah man, I’ll see ya,” I said, walking him to the front door and closing it behind him.

I walked back over to the bedroom and began pounding on the door. “Jesus Sheryl, you still haven’t told Ralph you’ve been staying here? If it comes from me, he’ll have my balls. You gotta tell him.”

Only silence came from the other side of the door. I opened it, stepped inside. The room was freezing cold. The window had been thrown open, and Sheryl, gone. “Shit,” I muttered under my breath, realizing that she had run away. “Gotta find her before she does something stupid.”

I ran outside, shouting her name. I went up and down the block, nothing. I went over to her sister’s house. Her sister was just as lazy as Sheryl, sat on her ass all day and collected disability checks for an ailment she was cured of years ago. “Where’s Sheryl, Dolly?” I asked her. “She ran away, again. I gotta find her before she tries to hitch a ride to California and ends up in Mexico.”

Dolly laughed, a throaty guffaw that made my dinner from the night before stir in my stomach. “Good old Sheryl. Every time she’s upset, tries to go down to the Golden state in hopes of marryin’ Clooney. I think all that blow really scrambled up those brain cells of hers, if she had any to start with.”

“So you don’t know where she is?” I sighed.

“I might. She might be visiting cousin Susie. Just got married to some Chuck or other, probably went to hit her new husband up for cash.”

“Got an address?”

She scribbled it down on a receipt from the Beer Store and handed it to me. “Now you be good to my sister, you hear? She ain’t no trash that you can be throwing around.”

“Yeah screw you, Dolly,” I bolted from the rank smelling house before she had a chance to throw something at me.

It took me a half hour, but I finally made it to Chuck and cousin Susie’s. They lived on a small farm just outside the town, quaint little place that seemed so familiar. I stopped and observed the area before approaching the house. The fields were a yellowish colour, seemed like no one had taken care of the place in a while. No crops were really growing, just a small forest in the distance, lined with thick evergreens. I spotted a small barn amidst the field, dark and gloomy like the one from my nightmares. I looked at the house. Then back at the barn. Back at the egg-shell coloured house of my Aunt Sally’s that we used to visit all the time as kids. Woman died of a heart attack; bank must have reclaimed her place and sold it. That was the barn Ralph was going on about.

I spotted Sheryl through the window of the small house, laughing with her cousin in the kitchen. Curiosity filled me, and I began creeping over to the barn.

A memory hit me like a bullet through my brain, instant and painless, but shot me dead. “No,” I whispered, quickening my pace. Once at the gate of the barn, I ran my hand up the door frame, analyzing its rotting wood, my body becoming sweaty very quickly. “No…” I continued.

As I entered the barn, the bullet somehow embedded itself further into my brain, causing more memories to sputter out like a leak from a pipe. “No!” I screamed as my legs became numb and I fell to my knees.

There, in the corner of the run-down, rotting barn, lay Nina’s decomposing body. The smell overwhelmed me but I continued to crawl towards her corpse.

“Nina!” I cried, crawling still, the smell burning my eyes. I reached her body and swept her up in my arms, holding her as I gasped for air. “Why’d you try to leave? Why’d you try to run away from me?” Her ice cold eyes looked up at me, the blue now forever frozen.

Beside Nina lay the machete I had used to murder her, covered in dried blood.

The barn grew cold as my memories continued to flood back, and I continued to gasp, haunted by the screams of my dead girlfriend.

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Ch. 1

Once an unmitigated member of the heavenly skies, I am now bound to the Earth as if my wings are anchored to the molten rivers of the Earth’s core.

There is but one other who has fallen as low as I, but his name must not be spoken.

This all began when I fell to the ground in quiet solitude, flung from the clouds of Paradise into the dark back alley of a Toronto based Burger King. I lay covered in rain and dirt, and closed my eyes against the tsunami of despair filling my lungs. The blackness beneath my lids gave me hope that this might all be a nightmare, that I would open my eyes to the vast warmth of God’s abode.

God turned out to be a shrivelled up homeless cat sitting on my chest, attempting to chew my grime covered wings. I threw the cat off of my body with a shriek and pushed myself against the wall.

The rain pelted against the dumpster beside me as I looked up into the ever-pour. Blackness engulfed the skies as coarse thunder filled my keen ears. The zigzag of the downtown traffic filled my peripherals.

I looked down at my hands. Pale, translucent hands. Made for the clear skies, but shrivelling in the rain.

I sat in silence for a few moments, contemplating my next move. I decided to first get out of the rain. I pushed myself up onto my feet and walked out into the street. The passers-by all gawked and stared, craning their heads to get a glimpse of me.

It was then that I realized how cold, and exposed, my breasts were. He could’ve at least given me clothes before hurling me into the depths of the Fallen world.

I sighed and pushed my way through the crowd, as people shrieked at my wings or shouted at me to take off my stupid costume and find some real clothes. I shoved my way into the Burger King, dripping wet, butt naked, with a set of wings tucked against my back. They were now only visible from behind.

The folks at Burger King stopped eating to stare at me. I rolled my eyes and walked up to the counter.

“I need some clothes, please,” I said, staring into the eyes of this freckled faced elf boy who was trying his best to look me in the eyes.

“I- I’m sorry, miss, but we sell food here, not clothes,” he stuttered.

“Excuse me!” shouted a stout man as he stalked up to me with eyes pulled into slits. “If you do not leave this establishment right now, I will call the police!”

“Just try it and see, you lump,” I spat.

“Hey, hey, here, I’ve got a jacket you can borrow,” said another man, walking up behind me and handing me a jacket.

“Thank you,” I smiled, pulling it on. It fell to my knees, covering up almost everything, and had soft fur lining the hood and insides.

“I’ll help you outside,” said the boy, gesturing towards the door.

I gave the stout man another glare before following the boy out into the rain.

“Sorry, I didn’t want things to get ugly in there,” the man said, rubbing his thumb to his scruffy chin.

“That’s alright, thank you for the jacket,” I said, pulling it tighter around me.

“Yeah, about that, are you… alright? Can I help you get somewhere, or find someone?” His eyes flashed with curiosity.

I sighed. “No, I just need to find a place that will give me clothes.”

“Here, there’s a salvation army right down the street who can probably help you out, let me take you, it’ll be on me,” he guided me down the busy sidewalk into a small store lit by soft yellow lights and cluttered with boxes of clothing.

The man walked up to the counter and handed the woman behind the counter a bill. He walked back to me with a small smile.

“You can go ahead and pick out an outfit for yourself,” he said, rubbing his face again. “Including a jacket… since I’ll be needing mine back, unfortunately.”

“Alright,” I said, pulling out a sheer blouse from a basket and holding it against the light for inspection. “These aren’t very good quality,” I mumbled.

“Yes, well,” he shrugged.

“It’ll do,” I huffed, pulling an outfit together and handing the man his jacket back. I began to pull on my new clothes in the middle of the store, much to everyone’s shock and dismay. I looked down at my new tank top, jeans and button-down lumberjack shirt. The man handed me a bright red jacket from a hanger in the corner.

It had no fur.

“Well,” he said, pulling on his jacket, “I hope you find your way okay, but I’ll have to be going. Also, you have wings taped to your back, just so you know…”

As he ran his hand through his copper hair, I suddenly remembered who this man was.

“Alastair!” I shouted, pointing at him. “Oh wow, you’ve grown up!”

He looked incredulously at me. “I- I’m sorry? How do you know my name?”

“How’s Shima?” I asked excitedly.

His face coloured with bewilderment.

“Are you two married yet?”

He blinked rapidly and took a step back. “Um, actually, she dumped me a couple of weeks ago, but… who are you?”

My face dropped as confusion and agony filled my insides, and my world began to flood with the ice-cold despair I had been holding back inside my lungs.

~~Ch. 2 to come

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She waited ‘till the hallways were dark, the adults were asleep, and silence was the only noise before slipping on her shoes and tip-toeing out her bedroom door.

Her parents’ bedroom door hung open slightly as she made her way past it. She bit her lip and edged down the long, spiral staircase. She felt like it was a labyrinth of steps, leading her away from him.

Finally, she made it to the main floor and looked around. The cats were asleep on the couch, and the silvery moonlight cascaded through the tall living room windows and glistened against the hard wood floors.
She crept along to the front entrance.

She could feel the wood frame of the house breathing under her; contracting, and expanding, as she placed her hand atop the door handle.

She held her breathe as she unlocked the door and slowly pulled it open.

The streetlights began streaming in as she pulled the door open farther, and farther.

She padded through the doorway, and froze on the front porch.

A cat meowed from behind her.

She slowly turned around to see Mr. Quibble sitting in the glow of the streetlight, licking his small paw.

She took a deep breath and waved her hand in a desperate attempt to shoo the kitty away.

The cat meowed once more, then made its way back to the couch.

She breathed a sigh of relief before slowly pulling the door shut.

She made her way down the porch steps and down the stone path leading away from her house. Then, as soon as her house was out of sight, she sprinted down the suburban street toward her forest of dreams.

When she got to the street corner across from the woods, she pulled the note from her pocket, and re-read it for the fiftieth time that night.

Dear Alice,

Please forgive me for not coming for you sooner.
I hope you don’t resent me for leaving.
Some people were after me, from whom I had to get away.
But things are calming down now, and I feel that we should meet again under the moonlight.
I have a car and some cash. It’s enough to start our lives anew.
Please meet me at the place that I have shown only to you.

Yours,
Xayn.

She breathed in the scent of his cologne that still lingered within the paper. His small, cursive writing sang to her from the page. She knew she had no choice.

The night owls hooted ominously as she glanced over her shoulder.
The street behind her lay empty.

She swiftly crossed the street and disappeared into the forest.

The small suburban neighbourhood was once again as still as the night itself.

Once in the forest, the streetlights were blocked out by the copious amount of thick trees surrounding her. The moonlight barely shimmered through the branches.

The autumn leaves made soft, crunching noises under her feet as she warily took her steps through the forest.

Behind her she heard rustling.

She gasped and whipped her head around to see a bird jump from the branches nearby and take flight into the starry sky.

She exhaled with relief and refocused back on her path.

The smell of autumn in the air took her back to their first encounter.

He had snuck up on her as she sat on the forest floor, writing furiously in her journal about something her parents had done.

She had gasped and jumped up when she heard his footsteps crunching the crisp leaves on the ground.

She had been angry and had wanted to hit him with her journal when the root of the tree trunk had caught on her foot, and she had fallen into his wirey arms.

She remembered the first look into his eyes.

It was like taking a bath in a waterfall of deep grey. She had melted into wherever his eyes had taken her.

The loud hoot of an owl brought her out of her reverie.

She was wading deep into the forest now, far away from her suburban bubble.

Her hands grazed over the mossy trees as she went deeper still, in search of the large rock upon which they had spent many hours.

The frigid air cut across her face, her nose numb from the bitter chill.

She stumbled through some large tree roots, but caught herself before she could fall to the floor.

She took a deep breath and steadied herself before carrying on.

The moonlight was fading more and more as she retreated deeper into the forest.

It seemed the farther she went, the thicker the leaves and branches were getting.

The path ahead of her was nearly pitch black.

She stopped for a moment, and huddled against a large tree. She leaned close and squatted down as shivers ran up her spine.

Her teeth chattered as the wind blew through her hair.

Several minutes passed before she mustered up the will power to keep trudging through the woods.

She pulled her legs through the roots and the leaves; she pushed forward even when they coiled around her legs and threatened to pull her down into the darkness.

It seemed that the moonlight was all but faded, and that the forest was an abyss of perpetual darkness when she bumped into something hard. She had noticed that the trees were beginning to thin, and that she had entered a small clearing. She ran her hands over the large mass in front of her.

It was their rock.

She had made it; she had found their rock.

A large smile broke across her face as she jumped atop the rock. She laid her head down and huddled in on herself, waiting for the wind to subside.

Waiting for her lover.

She wrapped her arms around herself in an attempt to warm up.

The moonlight faded into the darkness as she fell into a slumber.

She remained alone on that rock, in her forest of dreams.

She was huddled against herself when daylight broke across the horizon, and slowly shimmered in, through the branches of the trees.

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I was too much of a dreamer, my aunt had always told me. My head was always up in the clouds somewhere and I had better come down quickly if I were to amount to anything.

Her fist came down hard on the kitchen table one morning at breakfast. “That’s it, girl. Your mother didn’t leave this world for you so you could lie around all day and stay in your little fantasy dream bubble.” she spat at me as I shoved a forkful of pancake into my mouth. I stared raptly at my plate as she spoke. “She was stabbed to death in the middle of a forest, trying to protect you. Did you know that, girl? Huh? Did you?”

I clutched my fork tightly in my hand and did all I could not to stab her in the face with it. “Yes, I did.” I hissed quietly. “And my name is not girl, auntie. It’s Angel. My name is Angel.”

My aunt gasped. “How dare you take that tone with me, girl? How dare you?” she bellowed furiously in her husky voice. “I take you in, I give you food, I put clothes on your back, and you have the AUDACITY TO TALK TO ME LIKE THAT?” she leaned forward over the table and was right up in my face. I flinched back and looked away. “You look at me when I talk to you, girl! You look at me!” she grabbed my chin with her fat little fingers and squeezed it hard as she turned my head to face her. Breathing heavily, she slapped me across the face. The pain cut through me as sharp as a scalpel and knocked me off my chair.

I took my face in my hands and started to cry, still lying on the floor. I could hear her above me.

“And after school I want to hear that you’ve done something. Volunteer get a job join a club I don’t care, just do something with your miserable life.” she muttered as she retreated into the living room.

I lay there for a few more minutes, waiting to hear the door open with a groan then quietly click shut, indicating that she had left for work at the restaurant. She was a waitress.

I snorted as I thought, well, it’s not like she amounted to much, either. But if I ever said that out loud I’d be decapitated and left out in the sun to boil and fester. If I ever raised my voice at her she’d stab me in the face, leave me for dead, then make me clean up my own blood.

I slowly pushed myself off the floor and hopped up the stairs to my closet of a room. I packed my books into my tattered backpack and swung it over my shoulders. I went into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. I was wearing a black dress, with a sweater overtop, and black and white stockings underneath. My long black wavy hair was a shock around my face because I looked paler than usual and had dark circles under my eyes.

I hadn’t slept very well the night before because my aunt had been telling me about how great my mother was and what a disappointment I turned out to be. I spent most of the night crying.

I stepped outside into the misty October morning and breathed in the scent of a cloudy day. The sky was an ominous gray and the wind felt pleasant as it blew on my face. I walked down the porch steps and up the sidewalk and away from the red brick house; with its chipped walls and the peeling paint, with the roof that was close to breaking in; and all its other splendours.

I stared up into the cloud covered sky and sighed; wishing life could just stay as peaceful as this moment all the time.

I rushed to my homeroom class because I was running late. The bell rang two seconds after I sat down in my seat and I breathed a sigh of relief. My homeroom teacher was a tyrant who was the male equivalent of my aunt. He also believed that I would amount to nothing.

“Alright class! Pop quiz on yesterday’s lesson.” he said, pulling a stack of papers out from inside his desk.

“What?” I whispered to myself. I let my head fall into my arms on my desk and let out a sigh. I didn’t understand a single thing we did yesterday, I thought.

It’s not as if I didn’t try. I always tried; always. But I was never good at anything. I just couldn’t wrap my head around anything.

He had our quizzes marked by the end of the class and he handed them back. I got 4 out of twenty.

He shook his head reprovingly as he handed me my quiz. “I’m going to have to call your aunt tonight, Angel. You have less than a sixty in this class right now, and half the semester has already gone.”

“But..but I can bring it up, I swear I can. I just have to get everything sorted out and I’ll be fine. You don’t need to bother my aunt with this, right, right?” I asked urgently.

He shook his head. “I think she should be aware of your current situation.” he said firmly and moved on to the next person.

I wanted to call him back. Wanted to tell him what an uproar this one little phone call would cause at my house. But I couldn’t. If I ever talked to him with even a little bit of defiance, he’d have me kicked out of this school.

I let my head fall into my arms again and groaned. I wanted to scream. I wanted to just scream my head off and not care about the repercussions of that liberating yet Earth-shattering scream. But I couldn’t. I knew I couldn’t.

I got home around seven; I spent my afternoon in the library, trying to put off coming home to a fuming aunt. But my pockets were empty and my stomach was grumbling…so…I had no choice.

“ANGEEEEEEEEEEEEL!” she roared as the door shut behind me with an almost inaudible click.

I tentatively stepped into the living room. She was sitting in her torn up recliner, glaring at me, her face twisted with rage. “You want to explain to me why you’re failing English class?” she yelled in a tone so full of rage it struck fear somewhere deep inside me.

I took a trembling step back. “I’m not…I’m not failing.” I muttered, looking at my shoes.

“I can’t hear you girl, SPEAK UP!” she bellowed, pushing roughly off of her chair and standing in front of me with her hands curled into fists.

I stared at those fists with the same fear that my mother must’ve stared at her murderer’s knife with.

My terrified gaze slowly went to her face and I took another trembling step back. “I’m sorry,” I said, my words coming out in a sob. “I’ll do better. I swear I will. Just please, please listen, I will I swear.” I sniffled and started to cry.

“That’s all you’re good for, isn’t it? Crying? It’s the only thing you know how to do!” she spat in my face and pushed me.

I hit the wall with a thud and fell to the floor. I quickly scrambled to my feet and ran for the door. I yanked it open and ran out as fast as I could.

On my way out I tripped over the porch steps. I fell over the five large concrete steps and crashed onto the stone pathway. From there I tumbled into unconsciousness…

I opened my eyes to find that the sky was blocked out by trees. Lush green trees that went on and on as far as the eye can see. The sun behind those trees made the dark green of the leaves glow with a mellow phosphorescence that made me think of hot summer days laying under the sun with a cool refreshing glass of lemonade that had the power to make you feel like if the world ended just then, with you melting under the sun and drinking an ice cold glass of lemonade, that would just be okay.

“Hey sweetie. What’s your name?” someone asked me.

I blinked twice and pushed myself onto my elbows. I was lying in a clearing in the middle of a forest. The thing that talked seemed to be a flower. Standing up on its roots, it was a glistening red flower that was smiling pleasantly at me.

“Angel. My name is Angel.”

The flower laughed. “No it isn’t.” It said with another chuckle. “Not anymore it isn’t.” Then suddenly the ruby red flower started to sprout thorns from its stem and the deep red boiled and shuddered until it turned black. “Not if I say it isn’t.”

I watched with my eyes wide open as it started to make its way toward me.

“And you’ll do what I say, won’t you, girl?” it asked me in a vicious tone. The middle of the flower opened with a terrible ripping sound, revealing long, sharp pointy teeth. “Answer me, girl!” it hissed as it came closer to me.

I started to back away from it, still on my elbows as I hitched in breath to let out a scream. But I couldn’t. Nothing came out of my mouth.

“What do you think you’re trying to do? You want to scream? Did I give you permission to scream? Huh, girl? Tell me, answer me!”

Tears rolled down my cheeks as the scream that was building up inside of me burned. I clutched my throat and started to cough. There was a terrible, bitter taste in my mouth, and then there was blood. There was a lot of blood, and it was all coming out of my mouth.

I was still clutching my throat as my shoulders heaved, and I coughed up some more blood. Then I started to sob. I was sobbing, then coughing. Sobbing, coughing. Sobbing…blood…coughing…the edges of my vision were going black. I looked around me for someone…for something even, to maybe help me, but there was nothing. Even the mutated flower had disappeared. And then, finally, just as the bloody grass was fading into a dull gray, and the lush green trees around me were starting to disappear, the scream that was burning my throat shot out of me like a rocket launch. It was so loud and so raw that it burned my throat even more and I could feel my whole body just going numb because it was in so much pain, but, I didn’t care. I wanted to scream. I needed to scream. That’s all I had ever wanted, that’s all I had ever needed…and as my scream started to die out, I closed my eyes. I was lying on the grass now, in my own blood. There was so much I was almost swimming in it.

But still I smiled. Because I was free. I had been set free. I smiled through my pain; I smiled still as haziness took over my mind…as I slowly drifted into the unknown…as the pain slowly subsided and I felt nothing. I saw nothing. I heard nothing. There was nothing else in the world but me.

And then there was a hand. A hand that was covered in blood. It was reaching out for me. My mind struggled to understand what was going on, and then it did. I had to take it; all I had to do was take the hand. The bloody hand. And so I did. I reached out also, and the bloody hand gripped my hand with a reassuring firmness. Together at last.

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Lily held the deep crimson ribbon in her hand, staring down at it as if it were poisonous. These images, that she saw going through her head, she couldn’t understand them. But she knew they were horrific. Claustrophobic, is what these images made her feel. The sense of being trapped somewhere, inside something, with no way out. She clutched the ribbon tightly in her hand and leaned against the side of the small stone bridge. She looked beyond the shimmering river below her and off into the fading orange sunset. The sky was a deep orange, with hints of violet and gray mixed in. The crisp autumn wind was blowing her hair in her face and causing the back of her beige jacket to flap around. Then she looked down into the river, where she could see round rocks obstructing the path of the water; the flow being interrupted caused the water to splash around the rocks. And she slowly unclenched her hand, and let the deep crimson ribbon fall into the water. The ribbon floated down to the river, and stayed afloat on the surface of the water. It was carried downstream for quite a distance; and then, suddenly, so suddenly that anyone who might’ve seen the ribbon would’ve assumed that it had simply vanished; the ribbon was pulled into the water, as if a rock had fallen on it and caused it to sink. But Lily saw none of this. The ribbon was long gone as she still gazed, quite pensively, at the sunset.

This is an excerpt from a story I am writing. Comments and criticisms are welcome and would be greatly appreciated!!

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