My story, entitled Reflection, is 2,600 words. I have my story uploaded in pdf format for easy reading, here: http://justanotherwriter.com/reflection.pdf And here is the copied/pasted version below: --- Reflection If you're already bored, that's a great start. My life is, at this point, more interesting and much more fulfilling than yours. Keep going. Keep going. That's what I tell myself everyday. If I didn't I might not remember to eat or sleep or shower or love my friends. I think I might drop off the surface of the world. Space would trap me in its vacuum and I would wonder what could have been if only I had kept going. Something to think about, I guess. Just numb in the television's glow, one hand buried deep in the cushion. The other holds a remote to show me what else is happening in the world I'm not apart of. They say I should lose weight. These people look better than I do. They want me to be like that. They think I'll actually get up from my couch and make a difference. Support our Troops. Adopt a third-world child. Donate. Donate. Donate. I'm through, I think to myself and walk back to my room. The pillow feels better than any money, better than any sun on my face. I'm probably hungry but I can't tell anymore. Is it the cancer or the lack of nutrition? You could say both. The doctor said this might happen. He said I might fall through depression and if I needed help I could call him. He would call his friend. His friend would call another doctor. They would diagnose my brain and say it not only has a good-sized tumor, but a lack of happiness. I need medication. Up the already-insane-dosage of pills the size of my house and just kill me now. Put the gun to my brain if I could only go out and buy one. I heard there were a lot of crimes committed without licensed guns. All those school shootings are catching on. That's what the news said. Now I'm just a crowded brain full of disease, depression, and news. I know everything now. But I won't in just under a year. Probably before Christmas. I'll die amongst the wrapping paper and pictures of my family that left me. She wasn't happy with what I was doing. What I wasn't doing. I'm a failure of a father. I'm a failure at surviving. But look on the bright side, you can sleep all day, I think to myself. And I sleep like I did the day before. And the day before. And the twenty or so days before. His slitted eyes, greenish-yellow, are staring right at me. I pet him and he's happy, purring away and wanting food. Get up and get to the kitchen, pour him some of the hard stuff and get myself a bowl of cereal. This is bowl number whatever that will be sitting amongst the others for weeks on end, seeping leftovers in my couch. I'll look at it and think I could wash it. I'll really consider it. And change the channel. I got a phone call this morning. The guy said he was a friend of mine. I knew the name then, but it fails me now as I stare at this really delicious dish being made. If I could make that I might. If I also wasn't sitting in my living room. If I wasn't me, I might do a lot of things. Something hits my front door and I go to open it, looking down at the door mat. A newspaper. More news. More money out of my hands. I slide off the rubber band and unravel the word passed down from the guys with jobs. These people see everything. They tell me everything. I can say I care if I were caught up in some conversation. People assume if you know you must care. Another school shooting. Another set of troops dead as if one isn't enough. It must be a group to be considered worthwhile to print. Just wait until the bodies rack up and tell the people when there's a double digit that's worth our precious ink. All those precious resources they die for. Us they die for. What a waste. And another cat burned in a bag just down the street. The guy isn't caught. No one will turn him in because their music tells them not to. What a ****ing waste. And we're killing each other. The world that can't even feel me anymore from all the wars and flooding, it's just not caring anymore. It stopped functioning a long time ago. It gave up and it's sitting here on the stoop with me reading the newspaper that says some thing's wrong. The world is ending and it knows it. I gave a call to my wife who can't remember me. That's right, I think to myself. She left me because I'm a mess of a father. A mess of a husband. If only I could stop the disease in her. Or the war from killing our only son. Now she's crying because she thinks I'm one of those guys that steal your identity. She thinks I'm at the front door with a knife and a fresh fix of meth in my veins. She doesn't even have a clue what she's going through right now. She's actually sitting in the house with her friend that was nice enough to take care of her for me while I sorted things out for a few months. But I won't ever get her back. She only remembers Cheryl, her friend from high school. “Put Cheryl on,” I say. She's crying, saying, “Okay, okay, hold on.” I can hear the phone being passed around, random spikes of static in the receiver. These are the bills that I'm paying for making a call out-of-state. Every second I spend is a dollar out of my one dwindling paycheck. I might have enough for another bowl of cereal this week. “Yeah, what's up?” Cheryl asks. I say the usual, just “thanks” and whatever. You know, I'm real sorry I had to call her though, I miss her. She knows. I know. “Sorry. I'll call next week when things are better.” “Pretend you don't know her next time, okay Sheen? It'd be real nice if I could actually get some sleep sometime.” Just an hour behind and I'm sitting on the porch at five in the morning. “Right,” I say. “Okay, bye.” Whoever said ignorance is bliss must have been ignorant themselves. The sky is clear, better than last week when I stepped out. I finally decided to get the other news I was missing. The stuff I couldn't hear on TV. Words were foreign to me. I couldn't exactly process much at all anymore. Lack of practice. Lack of thought. Abundance of regret. I'm a rotting sloth with bills and mortgage and anger at things around me. If I could change things I might. If I could help people feel differently, I might do something about it. I don't know. If I had the power it might be different. They say I should buy this new computer. High speed. Words I don't know but my son could if he was alive to watch television with me. He might be with his mother right now, taking care of her. Doing what I can't do because I'm too sad to look her in the face. I hate feeling all this love and not feeling it return. I called the people and asked for a computer. They said how much it would cost and it didn't matter. I used what was left to get this. What else would I do? Buy more news? More cereal? One week and it's here. I make it a project to plug things in, sitting in the middle of my living room with papers here and there, boxes stuffed in corners, and I get it turned on. Install, install, install. Download, download; three hours left and I'm up and ready. “Thanks,” I say to the guy on the phone who couldn't stand helping this jackass who couldn't get his Internet running. Whatever happened to me being the smart one? When I had my office job, my nice desk, I was wanted. People listened. I was helpful, successful, happy, and still had a life. And things seem great. I can spend hours on this thing and I don't have to go anywhere else. I got my cereal, got this guy coming to my door every week. I got packages coming, mail stuffing my inbox so I got something to do every minute. No more boredom. I can ignore what's really happening out there or inside here, deep in my head that's ready to burst. I got my phone on my computer, forums with people to talk to, games I can play for hours on end with other people that shoot at me, screaming I'm cheating, yelling that I'm beating them. Feels good. I got enemies. Someone who can feel something for me, at least remember who I am. Unlike everything I don't want to remember. I wish I was this person I was online. It's more fun. More fake. And I don't care. Pokey, frit frat, mr pizza; just point-click and type and these are my friends. They don't need to know anything about me. They can't see my face. And all we have are words between us. Maybe it was bad when I threw my monitor to the floor. I was seething with anger and I wanted to hit something. I wanted to be angry at everything I lived in for the last several months, the stuff I ignored. And I hated that guy for saying those things to me. He didn't know. He doesn't know anything about me and yet he can say I'm pathetic. He can mock me for playing X hours, doing whatever while he goes to work, kisses his wife, tells his kids things that will help them live longer. But he doesn't know. He doesn't feel what I feel! He can't possibly tell me when I'm crying, here with nothing to love, that he's better than me. He can't say those things behind a screen that's just a ****ing mask for him to hide behind. He wouldn't say those things to my face if I challenged him to. He might say sorry. He might do so many things and I might hit him. I might do whatever I can to get it through his head he is a horrible person. I might make him live in my shoes, make him breathe my air, think with my brain that just can't handle anything anymore. I might make him never rest and wish I could just fall asleep for more than two hours. I can't quit staring at that blank ceiling and wonder what life might be like if I was somebody else. If I wasn't me I might be happy. And I have to accept his life, I thought. I have to see him for what he really is and know that I'm better. We can't see what the other person is seeing. We can't ever really mean what we say because we just don't know anything. I know news. I know numbers. But I don't know. And I've come to accept it, I guess. Mornings aren't much easier. It's still hard to sleep. I still get angry. I still miss my wife. I want my son back. I want to hate the people, the president, anyone who isn't me and can't experience what I've been through. I want to commit suicide, but I don't know what will happen if I do. I don't have a God to talk to. I don't have a reason for why we are here. I don't have anything beyond this and it's all I have. I don't wanna waste it. I don't want to become just another product of industrialization or commercialism, or these people that hide behind masks and drop others in this self-demoralizing caste system. I don't have a tier or a disorder I belong to. I'm myself. I'm lonely. I'm upset. I'm generic. Just a repeat of someone else who has experienced this. But now it's my turn and I have to accept it. People live. We suffer. We make life the best we can. And it's killing me. Knock, knock. The door makes a sound, or maybe it's someone on the other side. Is someone there? Just a friend, they answer. Okay, so I open it and find myself staring at some little kid with a box of cookies. She's crying so bad the tears are washing over the dark blush of her cheeks; she's choking on her own snot. I had a kid once, I thought. “What's the matter, kid?” She's bubbling at the lips, trying to tell me what matters so damn much to her. She thinks she understands pain. She thinks she knows that it's like to lose something. Obviously she's lost . . . I just know it from the sick, sad little look in her eyes, the way she's trembling and looking to some stranger for help. When you're desperate, you'll do anything. “Come on,” I said, “it's okay. Say it.” Words have lost me since I lost my son. Since my wife lost her mind. I don't know the right thing to say, I don't know if I make any sense anymore, but this little girl needed something. Maybe I could help, I mean, I didn't have anything better to do. The glow of the TV was there, waiting to tell me things. “Come on,” I said, “you can say it.” She's crying about her mom she says. She thinks shes dead and she doesn't know what to do. How could a little kid know these things? How could she even understand what death really was? “Sure, come on, show me.” I take her hand and have her lead me, I don't know if it's a good idea, but what else can I do? Just because the world shut it's opportunities in my face long ago, doesn't mean I can do the same. I wish I could. Looking at her mom, I wish I couldn't care. I wish I didn't feel anything looking at her face twisted like that, staring up at her daughter with some little words to say. Underneath the car, she was saying thing we couldn't hear. The horn was too loud. The girl was too loud. My head was so muddled with the TV talking over it all, and I couldn't think. Why was I here, and what was that? “Get out of the street,” I said. I shoved the girl aside, and ran before the other car hit and spun away. They were rounding a corner just as I saw them, in time to shake the tears right out of this girl. This little girl staring at her bloody mess of a mom. Is it wrong to look? Is it wrong to feel curious? To look for parts dismembered or see if she was really dead? Am I wrong to feel things we can't say aloud? And of all the mistakes humans make, can't they see a wreck and break? Is it so hard just to tap your foot on the pedal that doesn't send you flying towards me? Did I have a chance to think before the second one hit, before my head broke, before the girl screamed, before I rolled under, before I got here looking up . . . looking down? Was it worth it?