?

Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Nov 6, 2011.
  1. AxleMAshcraft - Des, Jae and the Bricks of Metts Country

    1 vote(s)
    11.1%
  2. BillyBob - Smokers Choices

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. PastPresentNFuture - The Price of a Fortune

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Tessie - Crossroads

    3 vote(s)
    33.3%
  5. xDynamiquex - A Deadly Romance

    1 vote(s)
    11.1%
  6. Dude Man - What stayed in Vietnam

    1 vote(s)
    11.1%
  7. Jetshroom - Crossroads

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  8. MarmaladeQueen - The Meeting

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. debasis_da - ron voyage

    1 vote(s)
    11.1%
  10. pk. - Lost

    2 vote(s)
    22.2%
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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Voting Short Story Contest 104: Crossroads

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Oct 26, 2011.

    Voting Short Story Contest (104) Theme: Crossroads

    Thank you for all your entries. The winner will be stickied until the next contest's winner is crowned. No more entries are allowed in this contest.

    Voting will end Sunday 6th November to give you all a chance to read the entries.

    It is possible to vote for yourself, but I would hope in the name of good sportsmanship that you would only do so if you have read all the other stories and given them your honest evaluation. You gain nothing if you base your vote solely on how you feel about the author or whether you have personally invested time and effort in the story. In the end, your conscience is your only judge.

    Any entries under or over the suggested word limit will be flagged as such - they are still entered in to the contest. It is for you to decide whether they are still worthy of your vote.

    Any entry not in accordance with the theme will be dealt with on a case by case basis to determine eligibility. Consider how the author has responded to the theme in making your decision.

    Good luck to everyone
     
  2. Gannon
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    AxleMAshcraft - Des, Jae and the Bricks of Metts Country

    Des was a horribly skinny kid. She was the kid that could blend with just about any group she was dropped into except probably the cheerleaders. The druggies thought she was ok. The nerds thought she was pleasant, the football team thought she was badass. And every day after school she would sit behind the big brick high school of Metts Country. With brown hair that hit her shoulders in awkwardly feathered layers and brown eyes that were a little too big for her face, she was just another kid. And just about every day she wore skinny jeans and an oversized jacket in a dark color: browns, blacks, greys, maybe a dark red to mix things up.
    It was just another everyday. Those everydays were getting colder, but that didn’t change the fact that behind the old brick school house was where Des sat or stood or smoked her cigarettes that she managed to con out of the man at the general store.
    But it was different. But today was different.
    His name was Jae. He was her age, had English with her when she showed up, and thought she was the most stunning person he had ever seen. He was mostly a badass. He wore leather, drank beer and smoked weed. But he didn’t want that to be him. Which in truth, only added to his rebel character. He wanted to be whoever the hell he wanted to be, go wherever the hell he wanted to go. Pave the way for what he wanted, not what they said he should want.
    He walked over, leaning against the wall a few feet from her. The bricks hitting his leather covered elbows. The sun hung low in the sky, trying to swallow the horizon but instead being blocked by a dirty, small town skyline. The cigarette in his mouth echoed hers. He held it in his fingertips for a moment before tossing it to the blacktop and tapping it out with his toe.
    Inside his coat pocket, his fingers tapped on his brass lighter, listening to the silent grinding of his fingernail against the out-printed design. His fingers touched the well known scratch, he knew she would ask if she knew about it—she was curious like that. And he liked her because of that. He could feel his heart beating high in his chest.
    But he wanted to be whoever the hell he wanted to be, go wherever the hell he wanted to go. Pave the way for what he wanted, not for what they said he should want.
    He chose a path. He chose between the old time movie, two gravel roads leading in different directions decision.
    Turning, he took a few steps, the leather of his old, dirty boots hit the brick wall, his hands touched her face, and his lips locked with hers.
    And in the little world behind the brick building of the Metts Country high school, something happened. Something happened in a world where romance doesn’t exist, where love couldn’t exist and where impulsiveness shouldn’t—she kissed him back.
     
  3. Gannon
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    BillyBob - Smokers Choices

    A worker sat at one of the benches laid out for staff behind the factory. He was the first to finish his lunch and had come out to enjoy the sun. He took out a piece of nicotine gum and sat chewing.
    Another worker came out and joined him on the bench. The new man took a small spray bottle out of his pocket.
    ''What's that you got there?'' asked the man chewing.
    ''Oh this'' he showed him the bottle ''This is that new nicotine breath spray, oh aye its the latest thing, soaks right into your mouth, y'get more of a direct hit than y'do with the gum you know!''
    ''Oh really''
    ''Yeah, straight into your system, its scientifically proven. Its great stuff, you should get some.''
    Just then another worker came out and sat on the bench. He reached into his pocket and took out a box a pills.
    ''What are those for?'' asked the man with the bottle.
    ''Ahh its to help me stop smoking'' said the new man.
    ''What are they, nicotine pills?'' asked the chewing man.
    ''Oh you not seen these then? they're brand new, picked em up from the pharmacy this morning'' he popped one out of its foil case and showed them.
    ''So what are they? pills?''
    ''No these are better than that, they've just come out over here these have, all the celebrity's are usein um, these are those brand new nicotine suppositories''
    ''Suppositories?'' said the man with the spray bottle ''Do'ey work?''
    ''Oh yeah!'' he said and pulled a little tube of liquid of his pocket ''They give you this little tube of stuff ere look, you d'squirt a bit on the thing look'' he put the tube down and loosened his belt ''make sure he's nice and covered then...'' he put his hand down the back of his trousers ''see what they reckon is nicotine is absorbed faster through the lining of your bowels'' he brought his arm back and fastened his trousers ''I sharn't be getting the urge to smoke for the rest of the day now!''
    Another worker came to join the three men outside, he was holding a clear bag full of clear liquid attached to two long thin tubes.
    ''What the hells that thing you got there'' said the man with the suppositories
    ''What this?'' said the new man ''This is the latest thing to help you stop smoking, that's pure liquid nicotine in there, there's no other treatment like this around'' They all stared at his bag. ''This is what they're using in Hollywood, this is what Madonna used to quit smoking''
    ''So what?, do you drink it?'' said the man with the spray bottle catching hold of a tube ''are these the straws then''
    ''EY'' said the man with the bag, pulling the tube away ''That's not a straw. This is the newest thing pal, fresh out of Hollywood, this is one of those new nicotine enemas.''
    ''An enema?'' said the man chewing gum ''What's one of those?''
    ''Here stand up, there y'are hold the bag, ill show you how it works. Hold it up high now, above your shoulder, that's it.'' He pointed to the shortest tube coming from the top of the bag. ''This one here is to let the air in so it emptys and ill show you what you do with this one.'' He showed them the longer tube attached to the bottom of the bag. ''You get this little tub of jelly comes with it you see, you have to make sure there's plenty on the end of the tube.'' The end was slightly pointed, it shone in the sun. ''Then its just a case of...''
    This man did not need to loosen his belt. ''Can you see how its emptying?'' He stood bent over, with his hands on his knees, taking deep breaths. ''That's a full days worth of nicotine there, I wont need this again until tomorrow now.'' The bag was almost empty.
    Another worker came out to the bench and surveyed his work collogues
    One was stood holding a bag above his shoulder and chewing gum. One was coughing violently after just spraying something into his mouth. One was fidgeting in his seat, shifting his weight from one bum cheek to the other, and the last man was fishing a tube out from the back of his trousers.
    The new man sat at the free space on the bench and took out a packet of cigarettes. He lit one.
    ''You wouldn't happen to have a spare fag would you?'' asked the man chewing gum.
    ''I thought y'was quitting?'' he replied.
    ''I know but one won't harm... I've gone three days without now''
    ''Aye well give us one aswell then'' said the man with the bottle.
    ''Aye go on me too then'' said the man with the suppositories
    ''Well if you're all having one then I might aswell join in'' said the man with the enema.
    The man with the cigarettes sighed.
     
  4. Gannon
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    PastPresentNFuture - The Price of a Fortune

    October 1, 1899
    It was the final place I would ever see in life. I was in the city of Paris in the palatial new hotel called the Ritz. My final home was a gigantic suite, a mystically perfect Parisian apartment handcrafted by truly aesthetic people. You would consider it a temporary home for a decadent traveller who found solace in its rich white marble, heavenly bed, and sublime French artwork. But no, these sumptuous surroundings did little to mitigate my horror at what I had done due to my lack of Providence; breaking every rule of a God I had denied for almost all my life. I cursed the vast wealth given to me by the cosmos, manifested in the haughty way I honed my craft. I gave virtual idolatry to my creation.
    I was a truly ancient man. I was born at the dawn of the century on a snowy day on December 22, 1804. In two months time, I would reach the ripe old age of ninety five. Now that I had been in this suite for a week, I realized how much blood was on my hands. I was the heir of a weapons-manufacturing empire dating back about a thousand years to the weaponsmiths of the Byzantine Empire. We manufactured all types of weapons. Under the Byzantines, we made beautiful swords, deadly arrows, and menacing axes. My family became incredibly wealthy working for the empire and we basked in the splendour of medieval Constantinople. In 1453, the Ottomans realized the quality of our arms and hired us after defeating the Byzantines, allowing us to keep our vast treasury. In keeping with changing times, my forefathers crafted weapons of black powder, guns, and cannons. As the generations went on and the Ottomans grew weak, my family and their vast following of cronies decided to migrate to Paris whilst under the reign of the Sun King, Louis the Fourteenth. We arrived in France in 1683 and the Sun King, also impressed by our supreme craftsmanship, even allowed my great grandfather to dine with him many times.
    Eventually we found our way to the New World, helping the British fight the new insurgents. When the British lost, George Washington - by our family’s double-edged luck - spared us as well, again marvelling at our creations. I was born almost thirty years after the American Revolution and, to my shame, designed weapons for the American Civil War; this time on the side of the North.
    I have lived most of my life drowned in wealth and luxury. It is only now, staying in what shall be my deathbed that I realize what I have done. My family and I amassed an incredibly vast fortune over our reign as weapons-dukes. But for every dollar we earned, one person died in our hands, however indirectly. Even if it was for the greater good, I have realized something during my heavenly incarceration: I was a failed human being. Why did I make a fortune this way? I should have turned my interests elsewhere. Would it have been that hard to transform a weapons-manufacturer into a mining company perhaps? Maybe I should have been a Catholic or a Christian like some of my wayward ancestors who somehow managed to do what they did. I, for one, would have realized the error of my ways in reading that ancient book, the Bible. As I write this, and as the new century comes, only one thing is certain: I am truly ready for Purgatory and, perhaps, Hell.
     
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    Tessie - Crossroads

    When I see that particular face, it could just as easily blend with the countless others I meet each day. Customers are customers; you are obligated to treat them well, and they are not necessarily obliged to thank you for it. Over time, however, you start to become familiar with a precious few, and those few, if you are lucky, leave a permanent impression.

    A grocery store is a dull and insignificant place to meet a familiar neighbor let alone a stranger, especially in the sleepy, Irish town I call home. But then there are those types that you cannot brush aside like the casual customer or simply ignore in the crowding of the evening time rush. And those faces, those memorable personalities, I've come to know with a kind regard.

    Milly is probably in her mid-fifties. She has this fashion statement for pink flamingo lipstick, but her short, mouse brown hair is mostly left untouched when she walks through the soft swish of the parting doors into the air-conditioned store. She liked me the moment she first saw me and always has the kindest things to comment me on. I was delighted to see her again just the other day after not having shared a single conversation in months.

    “Hi, Milly, how are you?” I said with my usual smile.

    “Oh, girls! Hey, it's great to see ya.” She looked at me and my sister as we stood there, grocery baskets in our folded arms. “Your hair is gorgeous. I bet you send up a wish for the children when you do locks of love.”

    My sis answered that we had never given to Locks of Love before. That we've gotten our hair trimmed from time to time, but never of a length quite long enough to form a wig.

    “You see, we're really attached to it.” I replied, half-laughing. “No pun intended.”

    Milly paused for a second, taking in the answers that had been simultaneously said, because my identical twin and I have that habit. Then a broad smile slowly uncurled across her face. I noticed her lipstick was unusually vivid that morning.

    “I see what you're saying. That's very clever.” She laughed, “Oh, you two are cute.” She winked and then we parted, saying good-bye.

    Loretta, on the other hand, is in her late sixties, elegantly tall, and crowned with curly, pure-white hair. She has an ever present twinkle in her eyes, which can sometimes be mistaken for the wearied wrinkles of age. But in her thin face, I always find the kindest docility. Even if she hasn't had a particularly nice day, you would never have known it. Only by her shortness of conversation do you become aware of something amiss.

    One of the very first occasions I talked with her, I was working on the express lane, not a very enjoyable position, but since I was a fairly new employee, I felt obligated to chat with customers.

    Loretta put her groceries on the belt and I rang them through with an unhappy quickness.

    “And how are you today?” I greeted dryly, not really pointing the question to anyone.

    “I'm doing alright.” she answered. “I just was visiting some friends in the hospital, and tomorrow will be my turn for chemotherapy.” She made a short laugh, adding, “You know, every person I know has cancer? Every single one.” Her face made a sort of futile grin as if it was a fortune to be sharing the same plight as her friends. She then named a laundry list of close friends and the specific disease plaguing each.

    I paused to stare at her. I had never heard such indifference. I didn't know whether she had said that aloud to, in a way, reserve herself to a contentment with her disease or just to brag, to share a conversation with another person.

    But my shocked silence was only a few moments, because I knew exactly how to recover myself. “I'm so sorry to hear that.” I said gently. “But you know, it's not always terminal. My mother is a survivor. She was diagnosed when she was twenty and that was thirty-three years ago.” I offered a reassuring, if not timid, grin. It was all I felt comfortable to do.

    “Oh, no, they all have it bad. The doctors have said so.” she replied matter of factly.

    I quickly placed the full grocery bags into her cart and handed her the change. With a professional “Have a nice day, ma'am” I watched her walk out the exit and breathed a sigh of relief. I hoped that I wouldn't have to meet her again. But I did. And as usual, I treated her with the reserved greeting I gave to every customer. Internally, though, I hoped I wouldn't have to talk too much.

    “How are you?” I greeted, not making eye contact.

    “I'm well. A little tired, but I wanted to get the yogurt that was on sale. I like that brand.” She pointed, and I saw the little cups of Greek yogurt among the other items in her carriage.

    “I like those, too. Pineapple is my favorite flavor.”

    I saw her dark, cheerful eyes glance away, past the register lanes to the windows and the vast parking lot beyond. I looked too. The heat was shimmering above the labyrinth of cars, vans, and humvees. The scorching, orange sun had already cleared any possibility of cloud cover earlier that day.

    “It's so hot out. Unbearable,”she said with emphasis.

    “I know. They're saying this heat wave is going to be a record.”

    “I like coming down here because it's always cool. I also just like to walk around and look at things.”

    I grinned. “It is cool. I'm just glad I don't have to bring in carriages today.”

    She chuckled. “Good for you. Let the boys do that.”

    Our conversation ended, and I felt happy that I had gotten to know a little more about her. It was some weeks later that I talked to her again, and I was surprised at how different she behaved.

    I was on Service Desk duty. I had been promoted and was liking the fact that I was meeting an entirely new group of customers. Then, as I stood there, patiently waiting for the next customer, didn't she look my way and begin to walk over. She called out my name and asked how I was doing.

    Bev, the seventy-two year old bookkeeper, stepped behind me, lowly muttering. “I can't stand this lady. She's a pain in the ass.”

    “I'm doing good, how about you?” I answered, ignoring Bev's remark. Bev's been with the store for nearly twenty-five years. Of course she has a short fuse. Only years of experience could make her the rough and tough character that she is, and when it comes to dealing with certain customers, you never know what' will come out of her mouth next.

    “I'm alright.” Loretta replied. She then produced a folded paper from her pocketbook. “I need to make some copies, hon.” She approached the copier, but paused and glanced back at me. She seemed to be choosing the right words to say. “But I don't know --”

    I instantly took the hint. “Do you need help?” Bev gave me a look, then rolled her eyes.

    “Well, I just need one copy, hon.”

    “Wait a sec', I'll be right out.”

    She smiled. “You're so sweet, thank you.”

    I hurried out of the Service Desk area as Bev busied herself with other customers. Taking the original from Loretta, I opened the copier and placed the sheet on the glass. “How many do you want?” I asked, hovering a finger over the array of buttons, ready to make as many as she desired.

    She seemed to need to think about it. She tapped her chin absently. “Well, I want one set, but the other is for my landlord.” To my disbelief, she took out a few more sheets from her pocketbook and handed them to me. “You know, he's been putting me off and putting me off.” she began with a stern, yet joking manner. “I told him I needed him to do this and do that in my apartment, and, finally, yesterday he told me to write down a list. So I thought really hard and wrote everything that needs to be done.”

    I couldn't help but laugh as I surveyed the handwritten, seven-page list. “Really? Good then! He should have known you were serious about needing some help. Serves him right.”

    She chuckled and smiled as I made the copies. Then she paid for them and thanked me again. After that, I saw her in the store many times, and I actually looked forward to talking to her. She was one of the very few highlights of my boring day.

    So, it was no wonder that when I saw her two weeks ago that she called me directly to her as if to carry on a past conversation about some tasty product or some new, interesting aspect of her life.

    “Hi, Loretta, how are you?”

    “Oh, hon,” she said warmly. “You're such a sweet girl.” She then surprised me by opening her arms and embracing me. I was a little rigid at first. Startled, really. I didn't think I had deserved such attention. When she let go, she said how much she really liked coming down to the store. “It gives me something to do.” she smiled again.

    Besides Loretta, Rose is another constant patron of the Service Desk. Bev doesn't like her, which, from the kind of complaints Rose talks about – petty things, such as the fresh Raspberries not being from California -- I can understand the sentiment. Of Asian descent, a disgruntled coworker once told me she had called our home a “back-water town” as she went on to complain her children had brought her here and abandoned her. This statement alone gave me an inkling of her nature, and her fashionable apparel is another. Even though she waits every month for her social security checks, you would never know by the way she regales herself. Every time I'm on the Desk, she makes a personal visit to tell me how much her newest brand-name pocketbook cost her.

    “Forty dollars!” she exclaimed, holding the tan, alligator-skin purse to my view. There is no trace of her background in her accent, so I think she is a natural citizen. “And this coat was sixty. It was originally so-and-so much but there was a sale, so I told myself I just had to have it.” She made a slow turn. “Isn't it gorgeous?”

    I looked at the red, leopard-cuffed jacket. Well, it wasn't to my liking, but I lied to her. “It is. That is such a deal.” I chuckled.

    She smiled mystically, her dark-brown eyes magnified by her large-framed glasses, which were reminiscent of an outdated style. I think she's about her early fifties. Although somewhat forgetful to pay for her lottery tickets when we're too busy chatting, she has a sharp wit and an even sharper vanity.

    “Do you like the color of my hair?” she asked me one morning. “I had it dyed, but I think it looks too red. I hate it.”

    I leaned over for a closer look. “No, it doesn't look that red. I like it actually. It looks like you.”

    “Well, the girl at the salon was new, so I think she wasn't as experienced. Next time I'll just get it a little darker.”

    Still, another time, I was a startled by her inclining her head towards me sharply. “I think I'm going a little bald.” she announced.

    I refused to admit such a thing. “No, you're not.” I replied, trying to laugh as if she had told a joke.

    “But look.” She pointed urgently. “Doesn't it look patchy in the back?”

    If someone had looked at her hair, they wouldn't have thought that, but upon being told it was, one could see a small space in the natural flow of her very short hair.

    “No. Not at all.” I said.

    “Really?” She then shrugged and said, “Well, good then. That's one less thing to worry about. I suppose worrying has led to some of it being gone.” She rolled her eyes and cracked a grin.

    And another time, I learned about how lonely she was. I had checked her tickets for her in the machine, but no winners had been yielded.

    “I really should stop spending so much.” she said with an air that told me the exact opposite. “It's getting difficult to win.”

    “Well, you never know.” I kindly insisted.

    “Have there been any large winners lately?”

    “Not that I know of.”

    A coworker named Chris came up to the Desk to join the conversation. She overheard Rose say, “You know, I need to find someone with a lot of money. Then I could buy all the tickets I wanted. I just love to scratch.”

    “So you don't have a husband, dear?” Chris is fifty-five and one of the sweetest persons at the store. Every sentence addressed to a customer ends in “dear” or “my friend.”

    “No, my husband's been dead twelve years.” Rose answered. “I need someone who's. . . How do they say it? . . . Who's one foot in the grave and one foot out.” She laughed deviously.

    Chris chuckled. “There you go! Sounds like a plan to me.”

    I laughed haplessly at both of them.

    And, finally, there's good old George. In his seventies with broad, thick shoulders and a hefty body height, he comes into the store daily. Everyone knows him by name. He was the townie fire chief for eighteen years, and he showed me his badge once with the utmost pride. Sometimes we see his blue Blazer come rambling into the parking lot, and sometimes he is wearing a WWII vet cap, while others, in regular garb and suspenders.

    Some years ago, when I was not an employee, he cornered my mother and I in the parking lot as we were going to do some shopping. He went on for twenty minutes as my mother and I quietly listened. Of course he asked how we were doing and my mother in turned asked him.

    A sadness then came over his big, gray eyes like a thunderstorm rolling over a bright afternoon. “I'm doing alright. You know my wife, God rest her soul, has been gone eight years.”

    “I know,” my my mother said softly. “But you'll see her again, you will.”

    “I miss her a lot, though.” he sighed.

    To change the subject my mother purposely pointed to his cap. “You were in WWII? My father was in WWII. He was a military man all his life.”

    This caused George to go into a ramble of past battles, close buddies, and the like. He talked with such ease and politeness, we hardly had the heart to tell him we really had to be going. Shopping needed to be done.

    When the conversation was through, he smiled and kindly said good-bye.

    Once working inside the store, however, I learned more about him. Coming upon the twelve year mark of his wife's death, I learned from him myself that he couldn't afford a caretaker anymore, although he lived alone.

    One day I relieved Bev for her lunch break, and not much later George came through the doors. He saw me at the Desk and walked over, saying, “Now, I haven't gotten some tickets in a long time. But I really want to win.”

    He handed me a couple bills, and I got him some tickets. He scratched excitedly, but then made a disappointed noise. “Oh, dear. No winners.” He threw them into the garbage and looked at me again. “I really shouldn't be doing this, but. . .” He handed me two dollars and pointed to a certain ticket. I got it for him and silently prayed that he would win something. I hated to disappoint.

    “Is this a winner?” he asked, smiling.

    “Yes. I promise.”

    He scratched it, and then said, “Oh-ho, look, I won! I won ten dollars!”

    I bent over to look and exclaimed, “Yes, you did! Congratulations.”

    He smiled and smiled. “Wow, I haven't won that much in a long time. Oh, I want to make a copy of it.”

    I chuckled to myself and, inwardly, was glad Bev wasn't there to talk him out of it. I gave him the ten dollars cash and then made the copy. George looked at the black and white copy with the happiest expression for minutes. He slowly walked away, and I said a quick good-bye, since I was then busy with customers.

    From across the way, though, I heard him telling everyone in the store he had won ten dollars. His joy could hardly be contained.

    And now as I come closer to the one year mark since taking the job, I think about these people. It's taken me a full year to get to know them, and still another will pass before I know them more. Yet I realize that even though my job is boring, and one I won't keep for very long, it a sort of theoretical crossroad. We're all going in the same direction in life, but our paths have met, and I treasure the thought that I just might have made a small difference in theirs.
     
  6. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    xDynamiquex - A Deadly Romance

    Now they were both dead; they had been lovers in life but are now probably enemies in the afterlife. ‘I can’t believe what happened’ I sobbed, lungs heaving, trying to breathe, and standing in the sheriff’s office. It had never meant to get so serious.

    I met Johnny in the hock-shop, a frequent haunt of his. He was wearing a Stetson, laughing with the bartender and downed a tumbler in one. He shook his jet black tousled hair afterwards and wiped the foam off his face with his sleeve. His piercing blue eyes met mine.

    ‘Hey there missy’ he said smirking, ‘Fancy something?’ I took him up on his offer because how often do you get a free drink? We chatted for hours, entertained by each other, not needing anyone else.

    Suddenly it was dark and home was a long way away. I stood up but sat down again swiftly after the world had ‘swam’ for a few seconds.

    Johnny came to the rescue and suggested a nearby hotel. Taking my arm and supporting me with his strong shoulders, we stumbled and giggled into the night.

    We fell through the door, startling several chippies who flashed Johnny their best seductive smiles. Something stirred inside of me; I felt protective over him, like he was all mine.

    Propping him against a wall, I booked a room at the desk. Twirling the keys around my finger, I led Johnny by the collar of his shirt to our room. Happily, it happened to be closest possible one on the ground floor.

    Once inside (with the door firmly locked) Johnny had finally realised where we were. Without looking for a bed, he picked me up and laid me gently on the sofa. He ripped off his shirt and kissed me lovingly.

    Needless to say, one thing had led to another ever since I laid eyes on him. We made love like tomorrow would never come; I will always remember those few moments as what they were. Two people coming together; forgetting the world.

    We heard a commotion coming from the foyer; we thought nothing of it until bullets flew through the door, causing both of us to dive on the floor for cover.

    A woman entered, beside herself with anger, screaming at Johnny who was rapidly getting dressed while holding up his Stetson for protection.

    The woman grinned maniacally, ‘He didn’t mention me? Oh well, I’m Frankie, there, I’ve introduced myself ’

    Her face dropped; ‘So now you can say goodbye’. ‘W..w..wait!’ He stammered.‘I didn’t wait long enough did I?’and with that she shot him in the chest, killing him with one bullet.

    She hadn’t noticed me retreat behind the curtain in her frenzied state of mind. She dragged him out of the room and, as I heard later, buried him herself in the graveyard.
    Within 24 hours she had been caught thanks to my vivid memory of her face formed in that terrifying ordeal.
    She was locked in the isolation cell of the local jail. She was tried for murder and was found guilty.

    Her little sister came to visit; Frankie told her that she did it because she believed that all men are brutes behind their charm. She was sentenced for execution in the electric chair.

    I don’t know why I watched it. I had already witnessed one tragic death. I guess I had morbid curiosity. Would she suffer? Part of me wanted her to, more of me wanted to turn back the clock and spare both her and Johnny.

    The switch was going to be pulled in a few moments; she sat calmly with her hands in her lap. Sweat was running down her hair, but she did not shed a tear.

    Then it happened, electricity coursing through her. When it stopped, her body was limp in the chair. She didn’t look evil; she didn’t look like a murderer, she didn’t have any identity at all.

    It was just a human body; pale and still.

    I have gone over the whole thing in my head countless times since. Was I the reason for all this? Why did Johnny betray Frankie’s trust? Should I have not followed him to the hotel? Or did he make the decision for both of us? Leading me into the dark; literally and emotionally. I guess that Frankie must have been a very hard person to live with, certainly wouldn’t have let them be apart.

    I believe that Johnny wanted a chance at freedom; and I will be eternally glad that I granted him that wish.

    This is fan-fiction of the poem Frankie and Johnny, I really wanted to explore the role of poor oblivious Nelly Bly.
     
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    Dude Man - "What stayed in Vietnam"

    It was a hot July day, very hot, so hot Allen had to come in from his usual yard work to quench his parched throat. The kind of day that made him remember Vietnam. This was one of those days that triggered the memories. The kind of memories that one never forgets. The kind of memories that awakes one in the night trembling in a cold sweat. The kind of memories that stay with someone for the rest of their natural life. These are the memories that eat away at a man’s soul. These are the memories that haunt men. These are the memories that call into question our conscience. These memories must end. And there, so still, yet so vibrant, so insignificant, yet so monumental, so meaningless, yet so powerful it sat. The same machine that, in essence but not in reality, had caused these terrible soul rotting memories. It was so very long ago that Allen had used one, but he remembers it so well. So well he could almost feel it. The gun still lay on the table, Allen still staring at it, and time still passing. Tick tick tick went the clock. It was nearly 2:23pm and Allen had a very important decision to make, one that would not have entered his mind unless things would have gone differently that day. This memory was one that could not be erased; there was no white out for this stain. He could not fathom how he did what he did, the look in their eyes made it all worse. But that was long ago and this is now and the decision loomed like a gray cloud. Time was wasting and Allen still had to decide. What was he going to do? Linda, his wife was coming home soon, this was his chance. He knew that he had this one opportunity to end the memories, to end the very painful and troubling memories. Tick tick tick, the clocked now showed 2:25pm, he had to make a decision quick. To live or to die, that was the question at its simplest form. Could he bear to live with his memories and persevere through the pain, through the nightmares, through the regret? He wished he could’ve done things differently that day, he really did. He wished he never had been to My Lai. He wished his superiors didn’t have the iron fist to force him to do those things. He wished it wasn’t him there that day. But that was then and this is now and the decision loomed still. Tick tick tick, it was time, Allen was sweating and he slowly picked up the gun, trembling he cocked the trigger back arming the thirty eight caliber round, leaving himself in the balance between life and death. It was now 2:27, Linda was set to be home at 2:45 so he had time to contemplate his decision. Tick tick tick, the clock still persistently ticking, unaffected by emotions and the regrets of days gone by. This was it, now the memories would be gone and he could finally rest in peace. He held the gun to his head and was ready to squeeze the trigger when suddenly the back door slammed. Allen was scared shitless, almost causing him to squeeze the trigger on accident. It was Linda and his daughter Sarah, home early from shopping. They looked at him and he looked back at them. It was at this moment that he realized that he wanted to live. It was at this moment that Allen realized it was not about what has happened in his life, or the fact that it was right or wrong, but only the fact that it does not have to happen again. The fact that that was then and this is now. The fact that he had the power to shape the future, the very power he had to take life could be used now to enrich it. He realized at this point that life is more than our mistakes, rather it is our charity, our good works that make us, us. So what if the past was our low point, now we have the chance to make the future our high point. Allen has the power to write the next page in his novel, the next page that turns his book from a piece of kindling into a piece of art. The next page that will make Allen’s story the one he had always wished he could write, but never felt like he could. “Jesus Christ Allen!” screamed Linda as she dropped the groceries all over the floor, Sarah screamed. Stuttering Allen said “ N, No, No it’s not what it looks like! It’s all okay really, really! And at this moment he believed it was.
     
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    Jetshroom - Crossroads

    The crunch of gravel bit sharply into the night.
    The rusted blade of the shovel bit into the earth once more. Leather gloves creaked against the handle as a lone figure worked. He paused in his work, staring warily at the wagon, it’s canvas hiding what lay within.
    The lamplight fluttered, disturbed by an icy breeze, jolting him out of his reverie. He hastened. He had been assured of his safety, but fortune favoured the cautious. Caution here could save his life.
    The night’s exertion had tired him but it was desperation that kept him digging. He knew he could never look at the night the same way again. The horse shuffled and he started. He paused once again, assessing his work. Four feet, not deep enough.
    He glanced back at the wagon. He needed to hurry. There was no telling what could happen if the nun had been wrong.
    The nun. Faith hadn’t saved her.
    With that much blood lost, there was nothing that could have saved her.

    It had been the nun's fault, she had chosen to leave the safety of the church that night.
    He remembered the nun's eyes, staring desperately into his own, the last spark of life ebbing away.

    He looked over at the cart again. He was sure he'd done everything right. After tonight, his task would be finished. Nobody would know. The shovel was biting into clay with each thrust now. Almost at six feet. Not much longer now.

    He had been hunting for almost a month. Only at night. Remaining carefully hidden. The villagers were terrified. A stranger in town, he'd sought sanctuary in the church. Sanctuary had been granted without question, without hesitation. They had known the danger that faced them. She had known the danger.

    The nun had only been thinking of the villagers though never of herself. She had protected them, laying down her life to spare them. They'd never know. All evidence would be buried tonight. Six feet down. Under the crossroads. It wouldn't take long for the dirt to become hard packed once more. Most travellers wouldn't even notice.

    The crossroads were the last step. The final assurance.

    Six feet. He threw the shovel up out of the grave. After climbing out after it, he approached the wagon. The smell was still overpowering. Eyes watering, he threw back the canvass, exposing the large pine box. Carefully, quietly, he checked the nails. They still held the lid firm. There must be no chance of ever opening it again.

    The nun's death hadn't been in vain. The book had been right where she said. Long neglected, it had been locked in the church basement. Believed to be nothing more than a flight of fancy, written by some long forgotten priest. The nun had obviously read it. She'd known exactly what stalked the night. But she'd come and found him anyway. Her last act. A noble sacrifice to save the village.

    It had worked. Reading the book gave him all the information he'd needed. He couldn't rely on it all to be true, so he'd taken every measure. The box was stuffed with garlic. Adorned with crusifixes. The beast's head had been removed. A slice of lemon placed inside its mouth. A stake of holly through its heart. Fangs smashed for good measure. The box had been treated so that it would not rot and now, he was burying it. That was the last step outlined in the book. "...to be buried underneath a crossroads. The largest symbol of our faith. A great cross."
    In situations like this, you couldn't always count on the information being accurate. According to the book, the stake should have been enough. But in this case, caution was paramount.

    Eyes watering from the stench of garlic and wood resin, he dragged the box from the cart. Now was when the noise would be greatest. The thud as it hit the ground echoed into the night. Gravel crunched as he dragged it to the hole. Unceremoniously, he shoved it in. A mix of dirt and gravel cascaded into the hole with it. Once more he picked up the shovel and began the task of filling the grave.

    By the time he finished, the sky was growing lighter. Morning was approaching. His task complete, he looked east. The glow of the sun on the horizon seemed brighter than it ever had, more optimistic. Wiping sweat and dust from his face, he climbed up into the wagon and set off. He didn't look back. There was no need. The village was now safe.

    As long as some fool didn't dig it back up...
     
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    MarmaladeQueen - The Meeting

    “……Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
    I took the one less traveled by,
    And that has made all the difference.”

    Steve let the silence settle again in the room before sitting back down.

    Marion was seated almost opposite him, simply dressed, as ever, in muted colours, her posture upright, her cool grey eyes wide open. She had always had extraordinary courage and stoicism, and now faced this death unflinchingly.

    In the middle, where normally there would be a vase of flowers on a table and a copy the Bible, was Richard’s coffin. Cardboard. Unadorned. Someone – Marion herself perhaps – had picked a simple bunch of snowdrops and laid them on top of the coffin.

    “It is what he’d have wanted,” said Marion, when they’d discussed the arrangements. The cardboard coffin, the woodland burial, and they all knew it to be so. Richard was a man who lived with great openness and simplicity. He shared himself fully with whoever he met.

    “He believed in the Creed you know,” Marion had said. “He believed in the Trinity, and in Heaven. In those last moments, he would have known he was standing on the threshold of Heaven. And that I would, in time, join him there.”

    It seemed to Steve the years had flown by so fast since they had all sat in this same room at Marion and Richard’s wedding. Marion in a simple, understated dress. Cream linen on a hot summer’s day, with the Meeting Room windows open and the sound of the traffic and the birds outside. Richard standing beside her, holding her hand and looking slightly awkward in a jacket and tie, as they exchanged their vows.

    On that occasion, the wedding, there had been a cascade of flowers covering the table.

    “Only garden flowers,” Marion had stipulated, always wanting simplicity. And people had brought in what they had in bloom, a mismatch of colours and shapes which somehow developed their own unity, turning into something very beautiful, expressing the love and support of the whole community in a way that florists’ bouquets could never have done.

    But of course it was years ago. Marion and Richard had been married for over thirty years, and in that time this room had seen many marriages and funerals, and many babes in arms grow into strong, vibrant adults. Not for Marion and Richard, though. They had never been blessed with a baby, and Marion faced this also with her habitual stoicism.

    Richard had always chosen the less travelled road. He had turned his back on his family’s money, the legacy of honourable toil coupled with shrewd business acumen by his Quaker forebears, and had instead chosen to commit himself and his life, literally as it turned out, to improving the well-being of life’s outcasts, the spiritually dispossessed, the criminals and the drug addicts, the homeless and the desperate. He worked wherever the need was. Prisons, community centres, the inner city and the outer wastelands.

    For most of his career Richard had been viewed with suspicion and he was overlooked again and again for promotion, because he didn’t toe the line.

    “Look at the evidence,” he’d say, when challenged as to his methods. It wasn’t until much later that he was recognised for his pioneering work, but when they courted him with prizes and awards he brushed them aside, through a lifetime’s practice of humility rather than through petulance as a lesser man might have done.

    Steve first knew Marion though the choir they both sang at. She had not been long in the UK, and her slightly stiff manner was off-putting to many. She came of Scottish Presbyterian stock, via couple of generations in what used to be the Colonies.

    “Ramrod straight back,” was how someone described Marion but with time she thawed out and found with Richard she could laugh and cry and love in a way that was both new and refreshing to her, and over the years Steve watched from afar as Marion and Richard forged a union which was as strong as any that Steve had seen. Steve wished them well whilst quietly grieving.

    It was a union of opposites, Richard and Marion, a casual observer might have thought. Marion spent her days in beauty and loveliness, plucking harp strings to create heart-stoppingly ethereal music. Richard spent his days on the dark side, in a raw graffiti-strewn world of stained concrete. But those close to them knew that both Richard and Marion, in their own way, were seeking the sublime

    Marion had a beautiful voice, a clear soprano that soared into the high notes with the ease of an eagle gliding high above the world of mere groundlings. What quirky sense of humour did a deity have to give the voice of an angel to this dour puritan, Steve used to wonder.

    Richard had always taken risks in his work and in his life.

    “Health and safety?” he used to scoff. “If I cannot stand before another human being, if I cannot trust that there is that of God in him that will meet with that there is of God in me then it will be time for me to give up my work.”

    It was hard to imagine that Richard would ever stop. He was due, quite soon, to retire. But even if he were to swap his salary for a pension, they knew that he would not stop doing the work he had felt called to do for many years. He would keep going as a prison visitor, as a volunteer with the homeless, with the mentally ill, and he would keep believing in the inner good in all men and women whilst using his skills as a clinical psychologist to help wherever he could. They expected, his friends and family, that only old age and physical frailty would stop him.

    But they were wrong.

    “He probably never even saw the knife,” the Detective Inspector had said at the inquest. “It was pulled so fast. A moment when he had glanced away, when he dropped his guard.”

    But they all knew that Richard was never on his guard. Not in the way that was meant.

    “He lost consciousness very quickly.”

    “Was he able to say anything?” the coroner had asked.

    No-one had been there. Just Richard and a guy known only as Spike to the inmates. Drugs. Psychosis. Knife crime. And now murder. Life.

    By the time the prison officers had noticed there was a problem Richard was dead. But they couldn’t accept that and said to themselves he was unconscious. 999. The ambulance came quickly but he was nonetheless dead.

    Steve glanced, surreptitiously, at the clock. Their usual circle was substantially augmented by Richard’s many friends, contacts and colleagues, who sat awkwardly in the silence, trying not to fidget or cough. The warden had put more chairs out in anticipation, but then there had been more and more people that had arrived, and the warden and Elders kept bringing more chairs in until they ran out. Then the regulars, the community of Friends who had sustained both Richard and Marion, gave up their seats and stood against the walls. To stand for Richard for an hour was an honour, not a hardship.

    At just gone half past the hour, one of the colleagues stood up. Awkward. A slight shuffling and a clearing of his throat. A prepared speech, that was what Steve expected. He’d been at many such Meetings over the years. Weddings. Funerals. The outsiders trying so hard to respect the silence. Wanting to contribute.

    The silence waited.

    “I don’t have a prepared speech,” the man said. They always started that way.

    “I don’t have the words to express what I want to say. Richard. I was a rookie screw when I first met him. He was…. different. He wasn’t popular with the screws. They said he was soft. He had this thing…. this idea…..that there was good in everyone. In the murderers, the rapists, the paedophiles. We worked alongside each other, Richard and I, on and off, for twenty years. It took him most of those years to even start to teach me the difference between being soft and being gentle.”

    He carried on standing, this big hulk of a prison officer. He was too choked, Steve realised, to speak. And yet still he stood, as if he had more to say.

    The Meeting wrapped itself around this man, this tough from Richard’s other world. Steve had seen that before. There was a unity that welled up out of the silence, embracing, comforting, encouraging.

    “He was,” the man’s voice cracked, “he was the greatest human being I ever met.”

    There was this stirring, this unseen spirit that moved across the room like a wave, before the silence settled around them again.

    Steve looked down to avoid Marion's eyes. Thirty years. Not once had he let either Marion or Richard know. He had been too shy, all those years ago. She had sat over to the right, in the choir, amongst the sopranos. He, over to the left, was a rich baritone. A group of them, Marion, Steve and a dozen others would go to the pub after rehearsals. She would only ever have an orange juice. Teetotal. It came with the territory of her puritanical upbringing. Steve, with his half pint of bitter, felt somewhat decadent.

    He adored Marion, but only ever from afar. He’d wondered how you ask someone out on a date. There seemed to be no way that didn’t risk crushing rejection. He spent every idle moment thinking about her. She had straight brown hair cut in an uncompromising bob. Some would have called her plain. Her features were symmetrical enough, her nose long and straight, a well-defined bone structure, but her expression was serious, almost disapproving. To Steve she was beautiful.

    In the end he’d plucked up the courage. Asked her out. A play that was on. And to his surprise and delight she had accepted. He hadn’t thought through too clearly what would happen after the play. Maybe a drink in the pub next door and then he’d walk her home. Her flat was only ten minutes from the theatre. But there, coincidentally, in the interval bar, was Richard. They embraced, Richard and Steve, old friends delighted by an unexpected meeting. And then the introductions. Richard, Marion. Marion, Richard.

    And so from that meeting their lives grew together. Richard and Marion. Marion and Richard. Slowly at first and then all of a sudden with lightening speed. Steve remembered their Meeting for Clearness, in this very room, a few weeks before the wedding itself. That had been the crossroads. If he was ever to declare his love, that was his last chance and it had passed a lifetime ago. Marion and Richard had gone one way. He, Steve, had hesistated and eventually taken another. Moving on had been hard. He had tried and failed to fall in love with other girls, and so in the end he had made peace with his own solitude.

    Almost at the very end of the meeting, Marion stood up. Thirty years had softened her accent but not eliminated it entirely.

    She held in her hand a piece of paper, although she didn’t once glance down at it, and spoke the words from memory.

    “Do not stand at my grave and weep.
    I am not there I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow
    I am the diamond glints on snow.
    I am the sunlight on ripened grain
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circled flight
    I am the soft stars that shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry.
    I am not there, I did not die.”

    And Steve, looking at Marion, knew then for sure that he had done the right thing, all those years back, keeping his silence.
     
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    debasis_da - ron voyage

    We aren’t late today, shouted Bonny! Look, she is just right there.

    Looking at the girl coming towards them, Ron hides the can of the beer he was holding and keeps on looking at the girl.

    As usual Paroma walked away on her daily route and when she reached towards the end of the public foot over bridge, she looked back .Ron was still hiding his beer can and looking through her.
    Dude, will you ever speak to her? Asked Bonny.

    Bastard you know I am married and look at her, she is a teenager. Said Ron

    But look at her, she is madly in love with you, can’t you see? Bonny said sipping his beer.

    Why you assume.She stares at me because may be she finds me familiar. Ron quipped.

    If you were familiar to her, why wouldn’t she come to you and speak? Every time when we are here and she happens to pass-by, she would give you a look like she has found her lost love. I know it man. You should try to speak to her at least once, Bonny said.

    Hahaha, you sound like an agony uncle Bonny, we all look at people, everyone does. There is nothing wrong it. Ron said.

    That was the last evening on March 20th 2011 when Ron and Bonny had beer together sitting on the bridge. Ron had to go to Bangalore next evening and when he came back to mumbai after four months, Bonny was off to US for his MS studies. Bonny had written something like that on face book, Ron remembered. These last few months have been pretty hectic for Ron with foreign counter parts coming in for some local bank acquisition deals.


    Today Ron had little work at office and decided to go home early. Annie had called during lunch to tell him that she would come home late since she has some business meetings to finish off. It was a usual Friday evening and it took about an hour to reach Matunga from cuffe parade. Yes, that’s where Ron’s office is. Ron works for HSBC Bank as a senior business strategist.

    Too young to work at that level, as many would wonder, but Ron was always focused as to what he wants to do and how. He completed his Chartered Accountancy along with his TYbcom and after a yearlong internship at his uncles CA firm, he landed at this HSBC job. And there has been no looking back since then.

    When Ron reached home, his mom was busy with some guests from her social circle. Ron changed his clothes and decided to go out for a walk. He was in his t shirt and trade mark 3/4th shorts. He felt like going to the planet m and listen to some good music. No, he thought. Instead he bought a beer can and made his way towards the foot over bridge.

    It was hardly 7 o clocks in the evening. The sun was just going down and Ron was lost in his thoughts holding the beer can standing on the foot over bridge. He kept on looking at the buildings meanglessly like a lost ship and there was hardly anyone passing by on the bridge.
    Ron didnt realize it was almost an hour that he was standing there. He was done with his beer.But he didn’t feel like going back home.

    Suddenly, he could feel a hand on his shoulder. It was paroma.
     
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    pk. - Lost

    She swept her hair away from her pale face and the mint-chilled wind held it there. She timidly placed her feet upon the marble floors, as if walking through non-existent puddles. She paced slowly, without direction, whilst brushing past faceless strangers, who, peering through the opaque brightly-lit shop fronts, like starved hawks, glanced enthusiastically at the costly glittering ornaments. But her attention remained elsewhere; it lay deeply within herself, far away.

    The people cluttered together, shoulder to shoulder, along the dull mosaic walls; pushing through the maze-like, character-less architecture, all wearing extravagant garb of varying colour - a kaleidoscope of movement in an otherwise dull city landscape. This place, this city, which was once so full of excitement and love had now become depressing for her, like a Winter which had selfishly extended itself for an entire year.

    Unlike the stores, her treasures remained hidden, filled with rich antiques, unavailable for sale. They hadn't any price tag to indicate their worth, or she couldn't see them, or she couldn't find a clerk to ask of their value. Instead she labeled them accordingly - as nothing, as worthless.

    Beneath the loud, seemingly endless unpleasant din of the ambient city, a subtle, pleasant sound caught her attention. She followed it nearer; it held a peaceful alluring quality, which almost forcefully made her stumble upon it. She sat on the fountain's weathered edge, where the water seemed compelled to lay against. The thoughts in her mind troubled her furthermore; her back hunched forward with her head drooped beneath her knees. The earth's gravity, that invisible force, so often overlooked, seemed to push her weak body toward the ground.

    It was there, that a nearby busker played a familiar song; it reached back into her subconscious and dragged back memories of her lover. She arose, as if neglecting her role within a play, and ran off the set. The people, who, before, were so obviously present, became non-existent as she rushed past without difficulty to the nearest bus stop.

    As if by fate, the bus she had wished to embark upon arrived almost instantaneously, the 195, the one which would take her to the city park; far away, dark, lit politely by rare lampposts scattered here-and-there. She had become accustomed to human behaviour and neglected to hide her tears when approaching the bus driver. The exchange of money took place thoughtlessly, like when you first open your eyes in the morning. She stumbled through the dull aisle, half-hoping people wouldn't notice, half-hoping that people would reach out, as she sat at the back of the bus.

    The ten minute trip felt like seconds as she dragged her feet to the nearest bench. The moon was full and bright, it gave life to the roses, which were lined in tasteful fashion all around the park. It was quiet, the occasional night bird would chirp in the tree above and the loud, boorish sounds of human activity were completely non-existent. She placed her hands, shamefully, to cover her long face, as tears peered through the gaps in her fingers and gently escaped, running down her arms and onto her crumpled dress. The shadow of a tree, illuminated from the lamppost above, left a wonderful bed sheet-like pattern all about her feet.

    She glanced at the centre of the park, where an exquisite old tree stood. Night instantly became day, as her memories came flooding back - of sitting beneath with her lover, of the many days spent laughing, of telling stories of their own childhood, of complaining about who had better taste in music.

    A sudden large, arrogant cloud obscured the moonlight, and in that brief moment she glanced at her hand and noticed the ring which she had been given. The importance it once seemed to have had now vanished, as her last teardrop hit the leafy, cold pavement.

    It was at this time that the clouds in the near distance grew imposingly more abundant, and soon they began to produce raindrops, which, at first were few, but steadily grew to many. She raised her heavy head from her hands and noticed in the far distance a light at the edge of a pier.

    She rose quickly from the bench which she was fixated upon and ran hurriedly towards the light, neglecting the piercing cold of the rain, which, with the wind, made her bones ache. Her thoughts, dark and unpleasant raced around in a cyclic manner, like the stubborn, immature brain so often tends to do in frantic situations.

    When she reached a few steps away from the light she loosened the ring from her finger and walked purposefully along the heavily soaked wooden planks which kept her inches from the water's surface. When she reached the edge, she looked to the star-filled sky, smiled and proceeded to throw the ring into the vast darkness.

    Afterwards, she turned to leave, to return home, however, before taking her second step, something deep within her clenched her soft heart and she bowed to this unknown power.

    She quickly turned back around and stood at the edge of the pier; her face expressionless, she placed one foot forward, paused briefly, and gently slipped into the bitterly cold river....and all that was left was complete, beautiful, silence...
     
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