?

Please vote for the piece you feel is most deserving:

Poll closed Jul 10, 2009.
  1. ChaseRoberts - Being Me; Being Someone Else

    1 vote(s)
    4.8%
  2. dailycrumb - Unsettled (Over Word Limit)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Powere - I Wish I Were Someone Else (Caution: Language) (Under Word Limit)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  4. Hsnodgrass - Someone Else

    1 vote(s)
    4.8%
  5. Leaka - Glass Man

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. Unit 7 - When I Was Younger

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  7. lyethia - Diary entry of patient #08729

    1 vote(s)
    4.8%
  8. Hindumaliman - The Meek

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  9. The Lost Boy - Jealousy (Under Word Limit)

    1 vote(s)
    4.8%
  10. wt6869 - After the Battle

    2 vote(s)
    9.5%
  11. zebra - Why did this happen to me? (Under Word Limit)

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  12. sophie. - I wish I were someone else

    2 vote(s)
    9.5%
  13. The_Dreamer - Contemplation

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  14. J_F - The Old Marian

    1 vote(s)
    4.8%
  15. Northern Phil - A note

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  16. Gamecat - Golden Daze

    3 vote(s)
    14.3%
  17. SpecifyIt - Another life

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  18. Catchlight - The Princess and the Pumpkin Baby

    6 vote(s)
    28.6%
  19. wiggons - Not Right

    2 vote(s)
    9.5%
  20. chirography - Big Brother Jay Bird (Caution: Language)

    1 vote(s)
    4.8%
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  1. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    Voting Short Story Contest (47): I Wish I Were Someone Else

    Discussion in 'Bi-Weekly Short Story Contest Archives' started by Gannon, Jun 29, 2009.

    Voting Short Story Contest (47) Theme: 1st Person Narrative - I Wish I Were Someone Else

    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 10th July 2009 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 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.

    Note: Father Thomas' entry not submitted to voting at member's own request.

    Good luck to everyone.
     
  2. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    ChaseRobert - Being Me; Being Someone Else

    It was May, my favourite time of year, when the cherry blossoms began falling from the trees like pink snowflakes blowing around my face in the cool wind, the sun just the right sort of sun, warm but not scalding. Every day I’d make the same trip through the park, regardless of the weather. Trudging through in the pouring rain, I didn’t mind so much, it was the days of sunshine that bothered me. I know it doesn’t make sense, but May was also my least favourite time of year, because it was when they appeared.

    To explain: my mother was never the sort of mother one would find in the old fashioned books I constantly read, the type of woman who would fuss about not eating dinner, plump and friendly, welcoming guests into the house and running after father. There was no other way to put it- my mother was a bitch. After twenty years of living with her, I’d grown into a strange and bitter creature, loathing myself, but loathing to adhere to anything mother said more, preventing me from making positive steps.

    An example, if you wish. I returned home after a long week of work, where I sat down, tired and hungry. “Gosh,” I’d said. “I’m famished. I haven’t eaten all day.”

    My mother, leaning forwards on her stick thin elbows, her nicotine stained face twisted into a mix of faux pleasantness and cruel enjoyment, looked me up and down. “You could maybe do with stopping eating for a few days,” she said, sucking on her cigarette.

    By this time, I was becoming impervious to my mother’s jibes, but I was still young enough to try and argue back. “That’s called anorexia, mother,” I’d said, flashing her the sort of look that can only come from adults forced back into their teenage years by their parents.

    “Nonsense,” said my mother, stubbing out her cigarette and reaching for another one. “You can’t be anorexic if you’re fat.”

    So back to the warm May days. I so enjoyed walking through that park, but enduring the denizens of waif like figures, dressed to perfection, surrounded by the most handsome and charming of men, all of them frolicking like they had no care in the world… I’d look at them, and desperately wish I was someone else. Someone like them.

    It was towards the end of May, another hot day, where I began to tromp through the park, chips on my shoulder and all, in my usual manner, trying to appear carefree but feeling the weight on my shoulders and round my covered midriff. Sitting on the root of a tree as I walked along was one of the nymph like creatures. She wore a white gypsy skirt and a blue vest top, and her dark hair was so straight it was like a sheet of pure ebony. Her face, so delicate and pixie like, was marred by the salty stain of tears. She sobbed quietly, but her misery attracted my attention. What did she have to cry over?

    “Are you okay?” I stopped and knelt down, every inch of me wishing I could just walk on.

    “No,” she said. “My best friend… she…”
    She broke down into more sobs, and I stretched out my chubby arms and embraced the little twig of a person. “It can’t be that bad?” I said, wondering whether I should pat her on the head- intimacy not being one of my strong points.

    “She took it all from me…” mumbled the girl into my chest. “She stole everything…”

    “Just calm down,” I said, staring at the cherry blossoms falling gently down around us as the wind blew a little. “Take it slowly.”

    The nymph like creature pulled away and lifted her swollen and red eyes towards me. “She said Robin would like me more if I were not so fat,” she was pulling at the grass beneath her. I knew the action well. She felt stupid, ashamed.

    “She told me I’d be beautiful. She promised I would be beautiful, and Robin would fall in love with me.”

    I looked at the misguided girl and realised she couldn’t have been more than fourteen years old. How foolish. Without her even finishing the story, I could tell what had inevitably happened. “Well, clearly neither your so-called friend nor Robin are worth it then,” I said in a snappy manner.

    “But he’s the one.”

    She looked aghast that I had the audacity to suggest otherwise. I stood back up, all patience and compassion lost with her. “Why don’t you go home to your parents? Have a big dinner, play some loud music, and get on with life? You’re only young. You’ve plenty of time left.”

    “You don’t understand,” she said sadly, looking down. “You’re not like me.”

    I felt a stab of pain where my heart should have been, had it not withered and died a long time past. “I’m glad,” I said, turning to leave. “I’d hate to think I would ever starve myself just to fail to get the attention of a bloke.”

    “It’s just so unfair!” she burst into tears again. “I wish I was someone else.”

    I gave up talking, and walked away smugly. Perhaps being me wasn’t so bad after all.
     
  3. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    dailycrumb - Unsettled

    I waved to my house from beside the taxi. So much history was soaked into those walls, three generations of first steps. With all of the other grubby houses down that road ours was the one that stood out. It was it's polished wood walls and tall windows. At night we'd light lanterns and hang them on each side of the front door for all of the neighbourhood to glare at.

    I stared off from the house to see a swing. A thick plank of wood tied by rope to a tall lemon tree. Though all of the lemons were rotten and the tree was not showing any sign of growing any more. This was the (very large) grassy garden. The property was guarded by a tall wooden fence. The garden didnt really have much else than the swing but the mini tree's that multiplied along the fence all the way around were enough enjoyment. We'd run and hide and play various games crawling through the bushes and branches like caves. We'd have to move as fast we could as the giant stomping creature would break through behind us and pull us out.

    The wind suddenly blew sweeping past the bell that hung above the front door. My Grandad always wanted to own a shop, just a little corner shop. His favourite thing was to have garage sales... in the living room. He'd buy stuff just to sell it because of the thrill of being his own boss. He was quite strange like that. But I never minded playing shop with the plastic food and drinks as well as various toys around the house.

    "Where are you heading?" The taxi driver said to my surprise. I had zoned out. The taxi driver didn't realise this was the last time i'd see the house i'd lived in all of my life. "Drive until i tell you to stop."
    And that money metre kept on rising. The pounds even went up when the vehicle was stopped at traffic lights. The taxi pulled into a petrol station and parked by the pumps. "Won't be a minute."
    He walked off into the shop, his figure became blurry through the window and soon disapeared behind shelves of chocolate bars. I stared up at the blinking metre, still rising even as i sat there. that couldn't be right.
    I pushed open the door and stepped out feeling the cold breeze hit my face. It had been ever so warm in the car. As i closed the door behind me i could hear the gossiping radio turn to mumble. I had my backpack with me, all my possessions. I lifted it with my right hand and fitted my arms through. Then i stood up straight breathing in that cold petrol air.

    Why was i leaving my house? The house we'd lived in for so many years? My grandparents, my parents and us? I was leaving because of the dark in the night. Because of the people under the bed. My name is not important, not in the scale of things. My age is as as young as an adult can be to cope with such things.
    "Why are you out of car?" I heard the taxi driver behind me as i stepped closer towards some bush, packed bag on my back. "Hey! You!" His voice eventually faded. His money cares were now nothing to do with me. I had a schedule to keep and if that fat cabbie is going to stop for a bar of chocolate so be it. But i was not going to miss this deadline.

    It was nature from then on, walking on my own. If i were thinking straight at the time i'd have noticed the birds, the sunlight through the trees. The unique colours and lights that shone across the ground at sunny day time. But in my view i only saw red.
    As i walked the trees surrounding me got further away leaving me even more alone. This was until i came across the centre tree. This grew red glowing fruit from bottom to top. A man was leaning across the tree, smoking.
    "Williams! Jonty Williams!" He shouted waving the cigarette with unsettled humour. My wondering face turned to a straight frown as i noticed him. I stopped in place, my mountain boots kicking up a storm of sand.
    "You kept to the time, have you got the DVD?"
    This is of course what happens when you make films all of your life, one of them will make someone angry.
    My documentary had revealed an underground group of blood thirsty murderers. I interviewed a chain of people until they led me to the final place. After staring through a rabbit hole of cobwebs i found what looked to be a giant bomb shelter hidden under the soil of this very park. The reason for murder was not any of a religious nature, not revenge or political. They were cannibals. If it was not for my big mouth my family would not be dead. My camera by my side i captured the extra ordinary footage of the group at work.
    The film was going to be released like any good feature length documentary. A whole bunch of research to fill up the beginning and middle and then a good fulfilling ending. I had studied into this for years until i finally found them and that was my fulfilling ending.

    The one that i hoped would get the authorities attention and make me a well remembered film maker.
    But after releasing information of my film to various commisioners and competitions the word got out and even made the news. The whole country was waiting for the release. This is exactly how sick the world is, they want to see this horrible sight (In it's edited form) on their big screen cinemas. Wide screen bone crunching Documentary action.
    Based on how quickly information spreads due to the popularity of internet and television my Mother was killed on that afternoon.
    It was dark, the crickets sung. She was hanging up the washing and breathing in that fresh air only the night gives. The less you can see, the more you notice based on the human senses.

    Oddly enough it was a microwave to the head. The heavy metal box smashed into the back of her skull and pushed her to the ground. Blood droplets on the grass blades, glass in her skin. They left the bloody microwave lying in the long grass waiting for the mornings eyes. The body was dragged from her legs over the fence and crushed into a garbage bag. This left a shiny red splash along the polished wood. My younger sister was the first to see it. It is difficult to recall.

    I had no idea this was to do with the film at that point. I was still in total shock and straining to understand what was going on. At the same time i tried to ignore everything lost and control myself to look after what i still had. I took care of my sister well, i bought her a small tent to put in my holiday room (I lived up in Cornwall but often came to visit my family a few times a year). She was always in that tent, reading comics and clicking the torch on and off. She was 5 and didn't really understand what was going on. Her shock was that her mother had gone to heaven, but she did not know how or why. Well, no one knew why.
    My grandparents told her that some hooligans had thrown a microwave over the fence in a drunken state. Though i don't think she understood that either.
    My father was away on a skiing trip with work. He was planning to come back this week but ended up breaking his leg. We never found time to tell him about my mother before he disapeared over seas.

    It was another horribly gloomy and claustrophobic morning for me as i wondered down the stairs to answer the piercing phone. I picked it up, it was a woman. She had a calm voice but very quiet. It was like she was trying to avoid me even though she couldn't have been much further away. She was apparently at the skiing lodge asking whether my father contacted us.
    We got no replies from his mobile for a week. We were organising a quiet funeral for my mother. It was generous of the group to leave the garbage bag in the neighbours backyard.

    That was when i got the letter. It slid through the door and patted lightly on the *Welcome to the store* mat below.
    I slowly leant down and picked it up noticing my sketchy name from a far distance.
    "Jonty Williams, film maker.
    I suppose you didn't get our messege. We've been watching you. We expected you to destroy it but you didn't.
    I will meet you at the town centre tommorow at 2 o clock.
    See you then.
    - You can guess."

    It had finally dawned on me that I was to blame for my mothers death. Though i stood with the letter shaking in my hand for a very long time. In a slight dramatic act i pressed the letter into my pocket and roamed off to sit down.
    I sat for a very long time.
    I was very scared, i was scared for myself and for my family. I had killed my mother through an act of creativity and popularity.
    I sat down, sinking into the sofa staring at the letter. I subtly noticed the sun disapearing and then rising through the blinds beside me. Soon the letter was soaked with tears.

    "Do you want to buy a pack of strawberries Jonty?" My sister was skipping around the living room in front of me. "We can go down to the local. They have the loveliest strawberries."
    I nodded with a weak smile.

    At the store i saw a whole new light. The world was colourful and bright, it had been so long sat in darkness. There were rings under my eyes as i stumbled after my skipping sister. She roamed the shop for chocolate and drinks, more than asked originally.
    Because i was so tired and lost in thought i ended up buying almost everything she put on the counter.

    The television was on when we got home. It had gotten dark by the time we'd entered the front hall. The light from the TV was blinking in a bright white over the walls.
    "Come on, off to bed." I said finally cheering up a little, nudging my sister up the stairs. As usual she skipped up to the holiday room and leaped into her small triangular tent switching the torch on to read a comic.

    I walked into the dim lit kitchen and poured myself some chocolate milk.
    After feeling the cold milk slide down my throat i relaxed all of my muscles. In my head i was thinking, this, is the time to totally relax. Calm, and think of nothing but happiness.
    This didn't last long when i noticed the time. It was 9 o clock the day after i got the letter.
    "I will meet you at the town centre tommorow at 2 o clock."

    A sudden chill shot through my body.
    I pulled the blanket over me in bed and stared up at the ceiling. The room was pitch black apart from a torchlight dimmed through the tent. It moved from side to side every now and then when she turned a page.

    Luckily my eyes slowly shut.
    Then i heard the scream. It was the high pitched scream of a 5 year old girl in shock. I pulled myself up and turned to the side staring down. The torchlight was stuck on the shocked face of my sister staring. Her pupils had become larger in the darkness, though she did not move, not even a twitch.
    "What is it?" I asked worried. At this point in time i had no memory of any incident with a letter, a murder or even having a career in film making. When awoken from sleep in such a shocking way you think of nothing and rarely pay attention to the thing that woke you up.
    She had stopped screaming but her face was the same.
    I slowly leant over following her point of view. This lead me to look under my bed. Two crumpled up bodies lay motionless, crushed together. Blood puddles expanded out from underneath and onto my sisters hands and knees.
    She lifted her hands slowly in shock and placed them upon her face leaving a blood stain dripping from her cheeks.

    I'd like to say i was a hero and helped my sister avoid eyes of such horror. I'd like to say i picked her up and ran for a rainbow. But i blacked out, an odd natural occurance. I blacked out, picked my sister up and crashed into the living room pushing her beside a chair. I threw my head into the back of the the sofa i'd sat earlier and then lost all will to move. I flopped down and closed my eyes. Tears began to flood.
    My sister saw who it was, our grandparents. She hugged me. The house had more tears than blood that night.

    It was inevitable that my sister would not be there in the morning.
    All was a blur until my eyes focused on the day. I pulled myself up and noticed i was no longer on the sofa but on the floor.
    I had a pain in my stomach. I looked down and noticed a piece of paper sat there, stapled into my skin. I went woozy, i'm sure if this were a cartoon my face would have been bright green. I quickly ripped the paper from my stomach. It bled a bit, but nothing to worry about, especially when i noticed my sister was gone.
    I whaled loudly in distress.
    I held the sheet to my eyes and read in a drunken form.
    "Jonty Williams, Film Maker.
    4 o clock. You know where. Don't tell anyone.
    - Us."

    And that's why i left the house.
    "I waved to my house from beside the taxi. So much history was soaked into those walls"

    *

    "Yes i have the DVD." I said to the man stood by the tall, healthy tree.
    This was one of the people id interviewed a few weeks earlier. Doctor Aran Lemins. Yes that is right, A Doctor. These people of authority i did not expect to be apart of the Cannibal Group. First i contacted a few people that had seen or experienced things relating to my research. These people had put me onto others they had spoken to, those onto others. Soon enough the mark stopped at a few, those in authority, Doctors, Policemen and it is not difficult to pick out The Mayor on the video recording. The video recording of a group of men and women eating at a human leg. The video recording of your local Doctor pouring the blood from a sliced head into a jar for later.

    "I want my sister." I was lost in a dark cloud of anger, hatred and revenge. The man was just smiling, holding his cigarette out.
    "If you don't hand me the DVD her head will be all we leave for you."
    Wrong. I'd done my research. In all of history the underground Cannibal Group had never once eaten a child. As they move along remains are left leaving autopsies the only answer. Though from those a child had never been found. It was something they abided by based on their own children.
    If a Doctor can hide that he is a cannibal from you. Then a mother or father could easily hide it from their families.
    Though the Doctors and Police always blamed the deaths on wild animals. Now we know why.

    "Well i can't stand here all day. I have patients to attent to Mr. Williams." He blew a puff of smoke into the air that faded away in the small wind. The kind of wind that pulls light leaves along the pavement with shifting sounds.
    I felt a tear fall from my eye. I imagined my eyes be bloodshot red from both anger and crying. "Let me see her at least." There was desperation in my voice.

    "Well if you're going to be like that..." Doctor Lemins turned and walked off. "You know where the entrance is."
    I took from this, these words. "You know where we meet, come inside so we can put an end to that."
    It was a death trap, as soon as i'd enter i'd be knifed in the back, cut up by surprise. They'd laugh as my sister watched and cried. This was the sort of people they were. But i needed to see her, i needed to save her.

    If you've ever made a trap by digging a large hole and then covering the top with sticks, leaves and grass to camouflage it you'll know what the entrance looked like. It was basically that but with a stone door instead of sticks.
    From above a person may wipe the leaves away but only find a stone floor, much like a lot of this area. But underneath meet the deadliest group in history.
    Of course i'd been there before, i ruined mine and many other lives by doing it. All i am saying, is it is so very hard to forget.
    When my exploration came to the stone i was, naturally disappointed. But soon i thought beyond the obvious and explored the soil to find the edges of the stone. This is when i put all my strength in and pushed it aside. Below lit a surprising light undergrowth. The ceiling of the large room below was covered in hanging roots which gave it a nice touch. Then i looked down to see various skulls and blood patches and i knew i'd found the place.
    I came back that night and slid the stone ever so slightly away giving the camera it's peak hole. The sounds i heard were enough to make me feel ill let alone the footage.

    They were waiting in the darkness below as i slipped down through the hole. My feet patted on the soil below me and i noticed the sudden darkness below. There were about six of them, standing quite far away from me hidden in the shadows. The only one visible was Dr. Alan Lemins. They continued to stare, i took this as a note to close the stone door above me, so i did. I silently shrieked with how heavy it was, one of my fingers getting slowly crushed. When it was done I pulled my self together and stared.
    Dr. Lemins spoke: "I've asked them not to kill you. Just in case you've hidden it somewhere it can be found."
    I nodded in agreement. In fact, i stupidly had brought the DVD in my back pack. Though they were not to know.
    Dr. Lemins: "Did you like your presents?"
    Suddenly a shock thriller clip show of images stormed past my eyes. The bloody microwave, the crushed up bodies under the bed and the horrible sound of a human being eaten alive among gossiping murderers.
    Dr. Lemins: "Our society is spread over the whole world. There are at least two in every village, ten in every town, 50 in every city."
    "The more you tell me, the more i'm likely to die." I said, shaking.
    "WRONG! Whether you die or not it does not matter. In the end words can be presumed as insanity. You'd end up in an asylum anyway. But footage can not be ignored after a public view."
    Suddenly the cannibals in the shadows started to mumble.
    "WHERE IS MY SISTER?" i shouted angry now. I actually felt like i was bending strong metal with my muscles but i held nothing.
    The next thing i knew i was knocked out.

    When i awoke blurring into shape was a shelf, on the shelf stood jars of blood. This was another soil floor, root ceiling room. Except there was a difference, on one wall of soil and roots were cages. Cages of people. They were screaming, ear piercing screams. Moaning and scratching the metal poles with overgrown fingernails. Their hair was in rough knots and their teeth were missing.
    Though one of them seemed to sidetrack me from the horror more than any other. In the centre of the room was my father, in a cage. He was laying with his back to the bars, blood dripping from his head. At the same time as i watched the red liquid drop from him a droplet dropped from my forehead.
    I tried to wipe my bloody head with a stoke of an arm but my hand would not move. I turned to see both hands were tied up with thick roots to the walls of the room.
    I screamed and shook frantically, my wrists turning red as i struggled. My Father's eyes opened and he stared at me. Both eyes were bloodshot and his arms seemed weak as he put his hand on a front bar.
    I was the only one not in a cage in the room. "Father..." I said.
    Another lightening bolt of memory as I remembered the happier times. My father, the giant stomping creature that broke through the hedge walls of our backyard and i crawled away laughing as a child.
    "Jonty..." He said.
    Dr. Lemins appeared suddenly from the darkness.
    "Yes, we picked him up on a skiing holiday. Neat huh? I told you we have people all over the world. We thought it would be fun if you chose whos life you wanted to save. Your sisters, or your fathers. It's all apart of the game."
    I shook once again in anger. "You make me choose! You'll never get the DVD!"
    Dr. Lemins made a unique hand movement, i could tell he was saying. "Look around you." I dreaded to but eventually did anyway.
    As i expected my bag was gone. they'd stolen it after thumping me to the ground. Now all i was, was a piece on a chess board to them. I didn't have anything they wanted, they just wanted to watch me squirm.

    The Mayor stepped out from the shadows with the shiny DVD in his hand. Dr. Lemins just seemed to watch the Mayor walk agreeing with every notion.
    There was a plastic crunch as my father bit on the DVD. "Eat it all," the Mayor spoke as a leader does. I watched as my father bit down and closed his eyes. The Dvd broke in his mouth. Pieces collapsed onto the soil next to his cage.
    Lemin's picked a slice of disc from the dirt and stuffed it down my fathers throat. I could not watch so closed my eyes.
    "Made a choice yet?" They both stared at me with daunting eyes.

    This was the biggest choice i ever had to make. I talk and listen to peoples conversations on streets, in buses. They're always complaining about missing their soaps, having to eat something they don't particularly like. But have they ever had to choose between the lives of their father and their sister?
    Well... in all honesty. I was going to choose my sister. The hardest part would be having to listen to my father die as a result.
    I remembered my notes, my documentary suddenly. The fact that the Cannibal group don't kill children. They did not know that i knew that. But that did not mean my sister would get away, she may have to live here.

    I realised i had been closing my eyes and thinking whilst the screaming continued. When i opened them the Mayor was offering me a bleeding toe, a knife sticking through the centre. "Care for a bite?"
    My father was weeping in the cage now breathing heavily, trying to stay strong for his son.
    He wimpered as he spoke, "The choice is easy. You know it."
    I was crying, rapids of tears were flowing down my face, "But.."
    He interrupted, "No..."

    I'd made my choice.
    They made me watch my Father die. Long sharp knifes sliced through his arms and legs. They ripped his head off laughing and holding the chunks that fell out. One cannibal was sliding his hands in the blood and rubbing his cheek against the red soil. I remember Lemins sticking the knife into the side of my Fathers forehead and cutting a triangle of flesh away stuck onto the end of the blade. He then placed it onto his tounge and crunched down. Blood splat from their mouthes like juice from an orange. Splatter droplets wallpapered the room and the faces of the caged victims.
    And the cannibals watched me cry. They watched me lose my mind. And they laughed.

    *


    I've given up film making now. And reviewing that horrible experience has once again brought me to a mentally unstable stage.
    My sister was released and so was I.
    She told me her story as well, it was a little bit different than mine.
    "Well the Mayor visited that night. I recognised him off TV and down the town when mummy used to point him out. Anyways he said I needed to get out of the house because he said the house was unsafe. I asked why you was not coming and he said you already had! Anyways i went to the Mayors building and met his wife and children!
    They had so many toys it was like toy heaven! I bet mum will be there now, toy heaven.
    It was really cool. Did you go to the Mayors house as well?"
    I found i agreed with her and went on with life. It seems they really were nicer with children.

    So i bought a house by the lake for us with some spare money. But soon enough i did have that mental breakdown that is expected from something like that.
    I am now in a Mental Asylum. Just like that Doctor said. Getting over it. But thing i will never be able to get over. Is the fact that those ****** are still out there... killing in the dark.

    My sister sends letters. I am very old now, big grey beard and still that ounce of sanity to write my story down here.
    She's married now, got a son. They all live in the house by the lake and hopefully i'll be able to move back soon and be apart of the family as much as mine were apart of mine.

    This whole experience shocked me to the bone. I have never escaped from the claws of the memories. My sister did actually think the grandparents under the bed was a nightmare. Though when she grew to the age of sixteen I told her that part of the story. She still has a lot of questions she will want answered when i return.
    But i will never be comfortable for long term. The moment i see a speck that reminds me of the past i end up back in here. One blood droplet, even a piece of meat. I once woke up back here after looking at a microwave.
    I do wish i were someone else.
    My mind will never become stable. I wish i could see through the eyes of the man before all of this.
     
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    Power - I wish I were someone else

    I wish i were someone else. Anyone. The mirror i stand in front of laughs at me. Scruffy haired, lopsided, my bright jacket and worn t-shirt hide my boney ribs and brittle arms. The scar peeking from behind my split ends makes me look twice as bad.

    I turn away. The bare change that my oppressors call a wage crashes against the far wall. The lamp to my left careers into the wardrobe, my hand starts to bleed. The inquisitive calls fall on deaf ears.

    "Hey, what was that?....Oi!....."

    I ignore them, they ignore me. I could have just fell and cracked my head for all she knows, but she needn't come and check, eh?

    I lock the door anyway, it makes me feel safe. From the outside world, the place i hate. I take the box out my back pocket and proceed to remove each of the 7 remaining cigarettes.

    Snap. ****ing money. Snap. This ****ing jacket. Snap. ****ing tears. Snap. The ****ing point of it all? Snap. ****ing people.

    Thats 5 of 'em. What about the other 2 you ask? you know what? I'm gonna put them both in my mouth at the same time, cos im feeling crazy! The flame flickers off as i inhale the pointless, foul tasting death of tobacco and the other chemicals designed to kill slowly, but certainly not peacefully.

    Anyone else.

    ..........
    ..........
    .........

    Im still going through the motions, its been along time since i experienced the sound of my own laughter. Im even cut off from these guys, way to within myself to merit a conversation.

    The endless, mind-numbing routine of grabbing the bin, wheeling the bin, hooking it up and slinging back in the vicinity where i found it, then repeat.
    I wish i could i say that i would go back to school and improve my grades, but i don't kid myself with the the beauty that is hindsight, and i certainly don't think that i would try harder, i would have worked that out after my first fail, or maybe my second, but i didn't.

    I wish i were someone else, anyone else.
     
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    Hsnodgrass - Someone Else

    December 24th, 1944
    Dear Journal,

    It’s too damn cold. Day in and day out, we sit in these cramped foxholes waiting. Fritz rains artillery. We wait. We freeze. More artillery. We help the wounded, bury the dead. We starve. We wait more. We freeze more.

    Word is that we’ve been surrounded. When Captain told us, one of the other guys shouted ‘We’re always surrounded, we’re Airborne!’ We all laughed. Laughing seems to be in short supply, along with just about everything else.

    After Holland, we were convinced we had seen the worst. I was in Son when the bridge blew charging a machinegun emplacement. I dug in at Best and weathered wave after wave of Kraut counter-attack. I lost good friends liberating Eindhoven and opening Hell’s Highway. Holland was nothing compared to Bastogne. This place is Hell itself frozen over.

    Christmas is tomorrow. The guys and I jokingly wrote letters addressed to Santa Claus asking for ammunition and heavy coats. We doubt he will come through.

    I could hear the fighting today. Thirty minutes on, thirty off. Rumor is tomorrow the big attack is coming. You can’t always trust rumors though.

    I went to see a medic today. Apparently I have “trench-foot” which is why both my feet have bad blisters. The doc said I was lucky that I didn’t get frostbite because he would have to amputate. I told the doctor to take them anyways. He laughed. I was being serious.

    I really have nothing to complain about. Everyday there are more and more killed and wounded. Yesterday, I saw a guy smoking a cigarette on a stretcher. I went up to bum one from him and he obliged. He was missing both of his legs.

    I talked with him for a while. Nice guy from Wyoming, married with a kid. He’s never met the kid. His wife was pregnant when he got drafted. He gets to see his son for the first time and he was very excited. He was also a bit distraught because a piece of shrapnel was lodged in his scrotum requiring delicate surgery to remove it. Even if the surgery goes successfully there is the chance he will be sterile. He didn’t mention anything else worrying him.

    I find it strange how few atrocities you have to witness before they just don’t affect you anymore. Seeing stumps of limbs, dismembered heads, scarred faces, burnt bodies just looks like meat to me. Nobody cries over steaks in a butchers store and nobody here cries over mutilation on a battlefield.

    The men do cry, though. You never cry over your buddy having a basketball size hole in his chest. You cry when you remember your buddy saying he wanted to propose to his girlfriend when he gets back. You cry when somebody tells you a joke your buddy used to laugh at. You don’t cry often, but you do cry.

    I can’t wait to get back home. Bastogne is nothing like Texas. There’s no wide open range. Everything is too cramped here. The towns are small and close together. The forests are dense. I just want to be back on the ranch. Anywhere in the states would be good. Hell, I’d even take England or France.

    When I got wounded in Normandy they offered me a chance to go home. ‘It almost hit your spine, you don’t have to stay.’ I told them to get f***ed. I was excited; fired up and bloodthirsty. The only bad thing about being shot, at the time, was missing the real action. I took it late on D-Day and was laid up all through Carentan and Cherbourg. Hell, by the time I recovered most of the other guys had two purple hearts.

    Now I realize my stupidity. Everyday my back aches. I can’t sit in the fox hole without my legs going numb. I’m not sure if it’s from the wound or from the cold, but it doesn’t really matter. I wish I were someone else in some different time, where there wasn’t a war. My wishes don’t mean squat, though. We better win this goddamn war. Things better improve after this is over. All of this better not become pointless.

    Sincerely,

    Cpl. Jonathan Hill, 502nd PIR, 101st Airborne Division, U. S. Army

    P.S. – I figure since this is the first entry and on the first page, this is a good place for this. If I am killed or if this gets lost, send it to my family. They would really appreciate it. Thanks.
     
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    Leaka - Glass Man

    I wish sometimes that I was a different person. I at times wish that I were not simply just the glass man. Easily written and my most inner thoughts always revealed. I wish that I was simply rock man full of confidence and cannot be seen. Or even shadow because at least then I could mask my thoughts as if they were the same as everyone. Being the only glass man in this world of rocks, shadows, tress, and other worldly objects makes me feel lonely. It's like whatever “God” made me decided it would be the greatest trick of all to make me easy to read. To make me the mirror everyone uses to fix their rocky makeup or to even project their own opinions into my translucent whole. To be this glass man means I'm brittle and strong. It means I can take a few blows and crack, but one hard one and I can shatter. I don't see the purpose of being the only translucent body. I read a book called Heart of the Glass, some other glass man defied the odds and became a counselor. The book tells me to be glass means I understand the world much better since I reflect everything about people. I can reveal to people their inner most feelings and inner most tragedies. I once went to see this glass man, but his glass was not as pure as mine. Where I was a clear non color, he was a pure black glass corrupted and tainted by reflecting to much.

    So yet again I see no purpose of being something that can reflect people if you'll become tainted yourself. I guess you could say as glass I have low self esteem, I could say as glass I have no confidence in the fact that I won't be shattered again. I tend to hide my glass exterior by walking out unexposed. I wear big coats, hats, gloves, and scarfs. Only to hide that I am not glass. I pretend to be who I am not because I wish that I was someone else in the first place. I pretend to be a rock, sometimes coloring myself gray. It's the only way people have confidence that I can do my job. I read a lot about all these glass people committing suicide because they cannot commit to this life of hiding and shame. I find it so shameful that I was made glass. I do not understand my creator nor do I understand myself. Because I can only reflect others and not myself. When covered up I reflect no one and therefore do not appear as glass.

    My life is pretty miserable other then supporting myself with a job I do not go out to parties. No one invites glass anyway. They tend to ruin the party with feelings of the people at the party. The glass tends to be neglected because no one wants to be told what they are and who they feel. And even though I am glass, I can sometimes reflect misconception and feed negativity into someone's mind. Therefore I'm not well liked at parties. I tend to hold parties within myself. If I had feelings I would feel, if I had the time to go out I would, and if I met a lady she would look like. But that gets boring and I tend to turn on the telly and watch the darn news.
    I cannot stop being glass. I was just born this way, but I am tired of it. And my wish of being someone new will never happen. Nor will my wish of being just a rock man will happen. I contemplated all of this to follow the steps of changing behavior. The first step pre-contemplation, contemplation, plan, action, and maintenance. None I can do so I stand on the roof like all glass before me and stare at the ground. This is my action and this is my maintenance. I wish I were a rock, I wish I were confident, I wish I could speak my mind. And yet I am glass, all I can do is shatter. And this is all the thoughts of my life now on the street. My glistening shards everywhere. And no one screams and no one cares.
    Just look at the pretty glass on the street and let me pick it up. I'll put it in my home only because it's there to look pretty.
    People like the sound of shattering glass. Cause they know they aren't the glass man.
     
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    Unit7 - When I was younger

    When I was younger, I would go to the roofs of the hospital-turned-orphanage and gaze into the horizon. I could see the city from here, all of its dazzling lights, the busy streets, the abandoned school yard. Up here I considered everything, and everyone, my domain. My Kingdom. I knew this was only child's play, I knew this was just make believe. That is, I used to know this. As I grew older, and I saw others being aged out of the system and being thrown into the world, the line between reality and fantasy blurred dangerously.

    Some would later claim that, I was merely acting out. I was just a kid, I didn't know any better. I always knew better though. In my boredom I would read anything that I got my hands on. Some of it fascinated me, while others bored me. But I read them, and I learned. When my limited library grew boring, I turned to TV and movies. I devoured these as well. Some people will claim that TV and movies warped my fragile mind. They will use me as an example why violence and sex should be banned from movies and TV. Neither of these did anything to me, maybe they inspired a few ideas. Regardless, what I have done, what I am still going to do, was going to happen with or without the TV.

    When I was younger, looking at my kingdom, I would sometimes wonder about my parents. What cruel beasts they must have been, to leave me here. Didn't they love me? What could I have done to displease them so much? I used to pretend they were bank robbers on the run. I used to pretend they were some obscure cult leaders or maybe they formed some Organization For Evil Doers. I sometimes wished they would come to this stupid place, kick down the doors, and fire away until they found their lost heir. The person to carry on their evil legacy. I suppose all orphaned kids have such fantasies. It only seems natural.

    When I grew bored of looking at the distant city I turned to my fellow orphaned comrades. They looked similar to me. They had two hands, two feet, one head. The only physical thing was skin tone, but who cared about that? We all looked similar, we were all physically similar from what I could tell. Yet our minds were drastically different. While little Susie was playing with her dolls, and Mike was playing army men, I was thinking different ways to annoy and anger the staff. While watching Saturday Cartoons, I was picturing how something Daffy Duck did would look in real life.

    With everything else in my life, these foolish fantasies of a child, grew boring. So I spent more and more time looking at my Kingdom. Except I was no longer looking at my kingdom, but a city. The new hospital was not where my injured soldiers were treated, but people with actually medical problems were sent. The school yard that served as my training ground, became a place for mindless children to play. The sports shop that once housed my soldiers equipment, now sold baseball and football gear. What happened to the rocket launchers and RPGs and machine guns? In the drug store, biological weapons and poisons were once made. Now they filled prescriptions. My Kingdom was crumbling, and I stood on the roof helpless. Place after place, person after person, my Kingdom was taken away. I was left with a city I no longer recognized.

    When I became older, I often reflect back on those innocent days. It scares me to think how evil I was. What I had longed for, what I wanted my parents capable of. As I grew older, I grew out of this. I never found out who my parents were, I was never adopted and I simply aged out of the system. Congratulations, you can now buy your own smokes and porn magazines, but you can't live here anymore.

    As video games became more and more popular and there was this game I grew in love with. It was a First Person Shooter, always had been my favorite genre. The plot was simple, you were this super spy out to take down a evil empire before the world is completely theres. I must have beaten the game a dozen times, each time I found something new. It was only last play through though that it dawned on me.

    When I was little, looking out on my kingdom, this is what I wanted to become. I wanted to become the evil emperor of the world. I never touched the game again. I still own it, and sometimes when I am bored I put it into the machine. I never press the power button though. We just... sit there.

    When I was little I had wished I was someone else. Now? I think I want to be me.
     
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    lyethia - Dreams: Diary entry of patient #08729

    Diary entry of patient #08729 [323]

    When they look into the mirror, they see constancy. Their faces, flesh and blood, never shift from their preordained molds. They change only in age, in deepening wrinkles and sallow cheeks. In yellow skin and missing hair.

    My face is made of flowers today. There is a dandelion for my eye, a single claret rose for my forehead, a violet for my cheek. Between the flowers is a gap so dark, my eyes feel empty just looking at it; the dandelion shrivels and droops.

    I am tired of this form already. If only my subconscious, interlaced with the dead fingers of disease--I can see them hovering over my head--were more creative. I concentrate: the rose becomes blue. So much for variety.

    In the days before my reflection became an object of uncertainty, I looked and looked for hours at my sister, my mother, my father. Paragons, they were, and my childish heart grew small from longing. And so I tried to make myself strange. I attempted to distinguish myself, to gather an atmosphere of deviance about me as I would the folds of a heavy cloak. And my methods worked: people soon saw me not as someone’s daughter, someone’s sister, but as my own being.

    Last summer I discovered a new talent, one that none of them had. I could hear voices. Voices that spoke only to ME, which told me what went on in their lives. They told me of the plots that my family created against me, and how they sought to estrange me. I discovered my relatives' secret lives, and I orchestrated their thoughts with my mind. Not one could escape me.

    But now, the mouse that lives inside my heart turns its appetite to other crevices. I would leave behind my childish dreams, their callow existences. I am grandiose. I alter; they grow old. I need to become bigger, grander. I need to find new forms. I need to become something else.
     
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    Hindumaliman - The Meek

    You know that pot of coffee you find every morning, its awaiting steam begging for your attention. You never do know who made it, but they made it just right. Or how about the paper ball you threw that you were sure just barely missed the waste basket. You look away at one quick distraction and look back to find it carefully placed inside. I imagine you take these as granted and never fret over them. Never tossing and turning in your sleep wondering who did those things to convenience your life, those little acts of charity.

    I’m used to such disregard. A chain of thankless tasks takes up my life. I wake up early to clean the local park, pick up litter along the highways, and to perform other unnoticed cleansings. I just want to help out the community, no thanks necessary. Then it’s on to little office chores. Filling an empty pencil basket, picking up a lost file and locating its respecting bin. Later on, I hang in the backdrop for friends, giving them the much needed support in their pursuits of love and lust. They take me because they know I’ll never leave the booth, a quiet little base camp sipping his Appletini. It’s sad, but as The Meek I am forbidden to seek social leisure.

    Yes that’s me, the quiet schemer, the silent inspiration, the speechless matchmaker. All titles bestowed onto me, by myself of course, had anyone taken the time or interest to attach such labels of affection to me than I would have known my life’s mission was failed. For you see, as The Meek, and I’m quite sure there’s only one of me though I’m not to boast of this, I must refrain from certain social practices to obtain my just inheritance.

    It is said in the Bible, “The Meek shall inherit the earth” and so it has been the goal of my existence, my Holy Grail if you will, to be that Meek. It was hard going, I’m not bad looking and temptation did manage to creep to my doorstep quite a few times with feminine appeal and lusty charm. I held and in my older age enjoy a certain natural aloofness from the rest of humanity. I became surer and surer that my goal could be reached.

    Then, on the day that marked the 82nd anniversary of my birth. I, surrounded by my fellow retirees, none of whom I had the pleasure or calling friend, saw the greatest present of all descended from the heavens. At last my life: friendless, thankless, and filled with the inner turmoil known only to those who could simply not accept any advice from the outside world, stood before the God which had promised my eternal reward.

    As he looked down to us, I looked at the tear-stained faces of the joyful masses and soon their shouts of wonder, soon organized to hymns and prayer. I stood, as my character demanded, in the background, humming off a few hymns and praying, silently.

    Then at last, God spoke. His voice held an unearthly quality, which made some uneasy at first, but the beauty of his words and the comfort of his warm presences soon quieted all disconcertion.

    “I have come to bring you all to my kingdom.”

    Worry began to fill my thought, replacing those mumbling prayers with pleading thoughts. What of the inheritance I deserve? Though after mulling around for a moment, smiling at the masses who smiled back without any conflicting thought, God finally announced what I had been waiting to hear.

    “I have also come to bear gifts to my greatest disciples. Now which of you holds the most faith?”

    For a moment the crowd was silent, save for a few despairing whispers. Who could have such gall, to announce themselves greatest of the faithful? I was as shocked as the others, as one of the retirees who lived in my home began hobbling to the Holy Master of the World. Without thinking I moved to stop him, but when thought returned I bit my lip at the last moment to bring quick silence to my utterance. I should be glad of that, because all became clear soon.

    “God…oh my God, my Glorious God it’s you!” the man cried, I did not know his name, we had exchanged hellos at breakfast and g’nights every evening, but if he ever revealed his name in those exchanges it’s been lost to me. I did know one thing about him though; he was as blind as a bat.

    God smiled at the man who cried to him and leaning close he began to whisper to the man. We all stood by, some taking in the glory of the moment as they held extreme happiness for the lucky elder, others were simply infuriated that it was not they to be chosen, and still others like me who awaited their own reward.

    After the man walked away, his youthful vigor returned and his blinking eyes taking in the majesty of a world lost to him, I turned back to God and watched as he readied himself for another announcement, I could feel it. This was it!

    “Now…which one of you is The Meek?” He asked, his tender eyes scanning the crowd for any which might match the description. As he did this one young man cried out, “I’m meek!” God laughed as did many others at the boy who looked around confusedly, wondering why he didn’t receive a gift.

    I waited, in hellish silence before the Lord of Heaven above. I couldn’t make the mistake that boy made. No, I would keep quiet as The Meek would and should. I waited; sweat dripping of my hands into salted pools formed below. Finally I saw God look directly at me, his all seeing eyes penetrating my very soul. I awaited his joyous announcement that The Meek had been found and then to be given my rightful prize amid cheers and adoration of my fellow believers, but God moved on.

    I watched in agony as he scanned on and after a moment finally chuckled and declared,
    “I guess will never find him.”

    The entire world laughed at the poor joke that I had become. As they marched in cheerful droves up the glorious shimmering staircase that lead to unending beauty of the heavens, unworthy of words meager description, I sat…and I waited.

    It took seven days to at last empty the world of God’s image. After those days I still sat. It took me quite awhile, but I admit I did finally catch on and looking around I realized that the staircase had melded away, never to return and I was left. I inherited the earth. What a hollow victory. After a whole life believing my just desserts would be sweetest, I came to realize something else instead. Bitterness, fermented by loneliness unsurpassed. I say with the finality of a man left by God, I wish I were not The Meek.
     
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    The Lost Boy - Jealously

    Jealously isn't always such a horrible thing. In my opinion at least. It's not a monster like everyone makes it out to be. It can be a monster, but regular jealously isn't. I think jealously is a normal part of life because, let's face it, everyone wants to be someone else.

    No one is perfect, but as humans, we all want to be perfect. We all want to change something about ourselves. The easiest way is to look at someone and want to aspire to their level of whatever we want. Everyone is jealous of someone, whether they know who or not.

    Take this classroom right now. Everyone here wishes they were someone else. My teacher is a great example. He wishes he were someone more successful. He's jealous of everyone who's more successful than him. He wants to be them.

    The people around me are all different, but they all have had the same, universal thought. The girl in front of me is popular. She has a lot of friends, is rich and despite popular belief, she's actually quite smart. However, she wishes she were someone more artistic. She's jealous of everyone who has the single talent she desires.

    The guy to my left is a loner. He dislikes society and conformists and everything else about the world. The guy who hates everything, wants one thing. He wishes he were someone with loving parents. He blames the world for corrupting his parents. He's jealous of everyone who's happy because of their parents.

    My friend to my right wishes he were anyone but himself. He was raised in a devout Catholic home. He is the embodiment of Church teachings and is happy to serve God. However, he's jealous of every who didn't go through his raising. He wants to feel our type of freedom, but he doesn't even have those urges.

    There's no one behind me, but if there were, they'd wish they were someone else too.

    That brings us to me. I wish I were some specific. The girl I love already loves someone else. I wish I were her boyfriend. I want to be the one who was brave enough to ask her out, who was funny enough to make her laugh, who was charming enough to get a kiss from her. I'm jealous of him.

    By the end of class, my holy friend turns to me.

    " You were zoned out the whole class. You okay?"

    I replied with a single thought. A thought that has run through the mind of every person whose ever lived.

    " I wish I were someone else."
     
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    wt6869 - After the Battle

    I stagger into my tent, exhausted, dropping my sword to the ground. There will be time to sharpen it later, and, in truth, I'm glad to be rid of the hideous thing. The cruel steel has had it’s fill and it thirsts no more today. For now, I must tend to matters of more concern. The wound in my leg might be small but it will need to be cleaned if I am to avoid the rot. And I'll be damned if I'll let the surgeons at it. Those hacks will want to take my body off at the neck. Always wanting to lop off a body part with those rusty knives that they call tools, they are.

    The battle has ended, the crash of metal and the pounding hooves gone, replaced by the more sinister sounds and smells that remind us that it isn't distant enough. Men screaming from the ministrations of the physicians or moaning their slow death on the battlefield. The smells are worse still, and I will give you the courtesy of not providing detail. But if any man says that the sound of battle is sword on shield, then it must be said, that man has never been in battle. If ever a sound could be attributed to war, then it would surely be that of feasting crows.

    Before this day, I would have told you that I wanted the glory that battle provided. Proving I was brave enough to face and conquer my enemies while fighting to protect my way of life and that of my family.

    I know now that I was living a dream. I swung that sword, not for any way of life. I swung it because I wanted to live and others were trying to kill me. I took men's lives this day to save myself and those of the friends that I've made in this army. The protection of my family is an after thought. After the battle, when I'm alone with only my visions of blood and pain and death.

    There is only pain for the dying, and the dead have only that glory which the living provide them. I doubt they would think it enough. But we tell these stories and give the dead their honor, not for the dead, but for those still living. It is for the ones that must face the battle ahead that we talk of the glory of battle, for those men still have need of their courage.

    In a short while, I will walk out to the small group of men whom I command, and I will laud the deeds of our fallen brothers. I will speak to them of the gallantry with which these men fought, tell the living that the lives lost bought another day of freedom for those we cherish.

    And when my half-truths are over, I will return to my tent in solitude. I will wish that I was still a youth, brandishing a tree branch instead of this wicked instrument of pain. Sparring with the butterflies and insects of a peaceful field. Dreaming of the noble honor of battle, not regretting the price I paid to have it.
     
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    zebra - Why did this happen to me?

    I watch as he walks out the door, only looking back in disgust. As if I did this to myself. Warm tears streaming down my cheeks, I scream at him: "You think it's my fault don't you? It's not!"
    But he just shakes his head and silently closes the door.
    I sink to my knees, red faced and sobbing. Why did this happen to me?
    I scream out again, no words; only a painful shriek like that of a dying animal.
    I open the door and run down the stairs and throw myself at him. He looks scared like I'm dangerous now.
    "How can you leave me like this? I love you!" I cry.
    He takes hold of my shoulders and shakes. I force myself to stop convulsing with greif and try to look at him, read his emotions.
    "How?" I whisper and choke on the heartache in my throat.
    When he doesn't answer I collapse into him and he holds me for a moment and I think that maybe he'll regret leaving. But then he pushes me off, only watching as I fall to my knees. He grabs my elbow and yanks me up.
    "Im sorry," He says, holding onto my elbow for a moment before dropping it and walking away.
    I'd like to say that I didn't run back to my apartment, lock myself in it for 2 weeks... but I can't. I slept a lot. I cried a lot. I ate a lot of chinese.
    No one ever called. No one ever wondered where I was.
    When I did finally come out, I walked the 3 miles to his apartment and stood outside of it with my forehead resting against the cold door. I could hear the TV on so I knew he was home. I finally got the nerve to knock. He looked like someone had just punched him in the stomach when he saw it was me.
    "Hi," I said.
    "This isn't a good time..." he said and I'm sure he could see the hurt on my face.
    "Why? Can we just talk?"
    "No... I mean... not now," he looked panicked. I tried to peek through the door.
    "Who is it?" a woman's voice asked.
    "Who's that?"
    "No one. This is a bad time... maybe..." He was trying to get me to leave without being rude so I took it upon myself. I turned and walked away and he shut the door.
    Then, I turned around and pressed my ear against the door.
    "Who was that, baby?" the woman said.
    "Just an old friend. We don't talk anymore, though. She got raped, I guess.. but she kinda brought it upon herself"
     
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    sophie. - I wish I were someone else

    Right now, I really do wish I were someone else. Someone with an inkling of sense would be a nice change! I’m loafing here in a stuffy exam room feeling trapped; I’m obsessively watching the clock hands. Have been watching for what seems like much longer than a half-hour. The hands won’t oblige me; they refuse to spin. Time is teasing me, hanging in the air sticky as pre-war treacle. It’s almost as heavy as the guilt lying in the pit of my stomach. This lead weight pulls me down to Earth, turning my body against me in a choking wave of sickness.

    Brilliant, well now I’ve properly mucked up my life. Melodrama doesn’t help, but there you go. What a bloody fool. If I had worked harder, perhaps I wouldn’t be in this mess, unable even to UNDERSTAND the paper questions in front of me, let alone answer them. It’s my own fault entirely, I suppose. I can’t write a word more and what I have spewed out so far is utter drivel. An hour’s worth of metaphorical flailing – a fat lot of good to anyone!
    A pass for me is as likely as green jam becoming popular. I thought I didn’t care, but that’s a stupid thing to say. “I don’t care” – it’s almost always a lie from what I’ve seen. We all care. It’s surely the essence of being human: to care, no matter if it’s about a friend’s trouble, or a bad meal, or a bloody awful exam paper....

    I stare around the room once more, careful not to attract the attention of the invigilator. Silly bleating sheep of a woman. “No communication!” You’d think she was in charge of the whole British Army, standing there in her slippers with a glare fixed on her face. I shake my head slowly, feel more useless than ever. I’m only being sour towards her because of my own mess. If I fail my exams—-and I’m sure I have—-what will I do? The University next year? No chance.

    I’ll just stay known as Marjorie’s girl, the one who thought she was bright enough—-joined the Grammar School and all—-but ended up working back in her Mum's dress shop. I can picture it now, my own private hell flickering in front of my eyes, the picture patchy like the one on Aunt Sue’s television screen. There’ll be the weeks of sickly platitudes from the neighbours – “terrible shame dear, but never mind, there’s always the shop, isn’t there?” There’s always the shop, yes. That wretched shop that’s as much as a sibling to me, a superior one to me to boot.

    I’ll be stuck in a torturous rut from then onwards. Simpering at the customers, endless twirls of the tape-measure, me as my mother’s shadow standing there with a false, fixed smile. Dressing the mannequins in the monthly fashions, feeling like one myself. Window dressing. Running a shop, well that’s something I definitely don’t care for.

    Enough of that-—my private misery is a waste of time—-someone’s hammering on the window – Miss Adams. The invigilator’s face! Disturbances are to exams as heresy is to religion. God, she’s coming in. Must be serious. The other girls are looking up too, eyes practically popping out. Claire looks as wretched as I feel. Do us a favour, Miss Adams, and slip us some answers....
    “The paper’s to be cancelled!” Oh pray God I heard correctly! Tell me she’s not playing a horrible joke--No, she looks too puffed up in self-importance for that. A toad with a juicy fly.
    “What on Earth do you mean? They’re nearly finished-” protests the bleating invigilator. Oh shut up, you horrid woman, I need this to be true!
    “It’s all a terrific mistake; we were only just told-—this paper’s meant for the other Sixth to do—-there was a typing error at the Head Office-” Miss Adams is ruby-red in her excitement, she can hardly spit the words out...Bless her, Lord, forget I ever said she looks like a fish. Or a toad, come to that. If this is what prayer brings I shall be devout from today onwards.

    “Well, if you are entirely sure...this is most irregular....Girls, you are on NO account to talk!” We don’t need to, our faces speak for themselves. It must be true, never mind the sputtering outrage of Madame Pedant-in-Chief at the front. Old Miss Adams is snatching up the useless papers almost protectively, muttering anxiously about disturbance and wasting time. As long as I can go home with the knowledge of a re-take she can waste as much time as she wants. Ye gods, the doors are creaking open. Let there be light, indeed!

    “You may go, girls—-your exam is to be rescheduled—-we shall arrange it all for next week.” Her words are music to my ears. The stone of guilt rolls off my belly, and I feel weightless, floating, delicate as a dandelion seed despite my dowdy school uniform.
    The wavering image of Mother’s dress shop dissolves from my mind and I’m able to walk out with my head held high. Perhaps I do have a chance after all.
     
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    The_Dreamer - Contemplation

    I drive my van into my usual parking spot at a major supercenter. Now, I have a full view of the doors that lead in to and out of the store. Every time that I have had a bad day, I bring myself here, to my favorite spot, to think about the hardships of life. I like sitting here observing the lives of the shoppers as they emerge from the building. I will sit here until I no longer wish that I were someone else.

    My husband slaves at the factory, fourteen hours a day, just to make ends meet. Unknown to him, I have lost my job today due to cutbacks. I dread telling him this information, because I know that he will only take it upon himself to work even more overtime hours in order to compensate for my loss of income. I know that he already feels as though he does not have a life outside of work, and I am afraid that this information will push him past his limits. It is times like these that I wish that I were someone else; I do not want to be the one to break the news and cause him even more mental anguish.

    The supercenter doors open and there is an older couple emerging with a cart full of goodies. At first, I think that the man seems to be feeling his age as he is pushing the cart extremely slow and with quite a bit of effort, but then I notice that the woman has her hand on the cart, trying to keep her balance as she is limping somewhat. She could have hip problems, or maybe even arthritis has seeped into her bones.

    They seem to be talking and smiling to one another, as their mouths are moving, but I am too far away to hear what they are saying. Even though I wish it, I cannot read lips. At their age, they seem to be quite content with life. The man walks the same pace as the woman, so that she will not have to struggle. The contents of their cart consist of filled shopping bags, a huge bag of dog food, and a couple of cases of quart canning jars that are on the bottom rack of the cart. I watch them move out of my view and wonder what sort of vehicle they drive.

    I can actually tell a lot about how a person lives or behaves due to the contents of shopping carts. I can tell that this couple may have a garden of some type, and it is now time for them to start canning the goodies that they have gathered out of this garden. I can imagine that the man is the one who does the gardening. The woman does not appear, health wise, to be able to do it, so she probably fixes his lunch, brings him drinks, or calls him to supper. They must have a big dog, or maybe a couple of dogs with the quantity of dog food that they purchased, and now I am thinking that they probably drive a pick-up truck as most of the older people in my area who garden usually own one.

    My husband owns a pickup truck. I can remember the day that he purchased it. We were happy back then. We had all of our bills paid up and had some extra money. He deserved a good safe vehicle in order to travel the distance to work and back, so I was all for getting another vehicle. The moment we saw that small truck on the sales lot, I knew he was destined to get it. It was a club cab and it was perfect. We brought it home that day, and it has been a very dependable truck after all of these years.

    Thinking of the good old days makes me smile. I wish things could be easy again. My husband and I have our difficulties. We are struggling to put food on the table, let alone keeping our bills caught up. We need money very much and losing my job today was probably the worst thing that could have happened to us. When they called me to the office to tell me the bad news, I felt so lost and alone in this cruel world. The hands of fate seemed to always knock on my door.

    There, to my left, are two teenage boys goofing off and playing around with a shopping cart. One of the boys is sitting inside of the shopping cart on his knees, while the other is pushing it full speed and then jumps on the bottom rail to ride on the cart also. They are riding around in the parking lot at such a fast speed, that if they have an accident, someone will definitely get hurt. The boy in the cart has his arms stretched out at his sides, and the wind, from going so fast, is blowing across his face and hair as if he is flying. I watch them for a while with my heart thudding in fear, afraid that they would hit a pothole and then they would both go flying toward the black pavement. I wish that I were that boy who was flying, because I want to feel young and carefree again.

    I remember being young and carefree. My husband and I grew up on the same street and we were always best friends. It just felt natural for us to marry when we got of age. He worked at a grocery store back then, and even though his pay was very low, we survived. We always did things together. We went fishing all night until we were sure that there were not any more fish to catch. He drove his pickup truck up on the mountain and we watched the stars move slowly across the sky, and then we wished upon each shooting star that streaked across the darkness. We were the only couple in the theater actually watching the movie, while others made out. Yes, those were the memories that always bring a smile to my face.

    Screaming and crying draws my attention back to the front doors to a mother dragging a child away from the store. The little girl appears to be around four or five years old. The girl is struggling and wriggling to jerk out of the mommy’s hand. The mommy, who is trying her best to keep her cool, picks up the girl and is now carrying her in the direction of where her vehicle must be. The child is screaming so loud that I can actually hear her words through the glass of my windows. She is crying because the mommy would not buy her a toy. Even though the mommy is holding the girl tightly, the child is still fighting her by kicking, hitting, and screaming even louder.

    I empathize with the mommy. I had the same problem when my children were younger. Being broke after my children were born, meant that we could only buy the necessities and not much else. Small children do not understand this, so if they want something, then they think that we, the parents, are being mean to them by not letting them have it. They do not understand that it hurts us just as much as it hurts them when we have to deny them anything.

    In order to pack out any of my screaming children, I have had to leave filled carts in the middle of the store a number of times. I would pack the offending child, with the other two children in tow, straight out to the vehicle and buckle them all into their seat belts. Then, I would take my place behind the wheel and drive home. Silent tears streamed down my face, while I wished to be someone else, someone that had the means to buy her children a toy, or a piece of chocolate.

    My children are old enough to realize what the world is all about now. I can go into any store with all three of my children, and they will not ask for anything unless I let them know ahead of time that there is extra money. Secretly, there have been many times that I have been all day without food, in order to buy them a snack on my way home from work to reward them for good behavior.

    I notice that there is a young couple coming out of the doors now. The young man is pushing an overfilled cart, while the woman is walking right beside him and has her arm around him. I can tell that they are in love by the way they keep looking at each other as they talk. I see a broom, a mop, a microwave, a vacuum cleaner, and a lamp among the other household items in the cart. They seem to be planning a life together. I wish that I were one of them; starting a new life with all sorts of possibilities.

    I can remember when my husband and I rented that very first apartment right before we were to be married. We shopped, at this very supercenter, for our new household goods. As I think back, I can still feel the excitement of being able to choose my very own garbage can, dishes, and other whatnots. The assortment of colors and sizes to make choices overwhelmed me, but with my husband’s help, we did a very good job of choosing what we needed.

    Breaking away from thought, I have come to the realization that my husband and I will overcome any obstacle that life decides to throw at us. My job loss will have tough consequences, and deep down in my heart I know that together, we will survive. We always have, and we always will.

    Understanding life once again, I start my van, and pull out of the parking lot. I turn the wheel and steer into the direction of my home. My home (constructed out of family, hard work, and a massive amount of love) is where I belong. It is not necessarily that I want to be someone else; it is just that I want to be a better me, in this wonderful world of chaos.
     
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    J_F - The Old Marian

    He wheels me down the aisle between the pews as the heads of the churchgoers turn toward me like canoe paddles. After bringing my chair to a halt near a clump of other kids who gather around the pastor, He pats me on the shoulder like the transparent sleaze-ball He is and returns to sit with my mother while I’m stuck here. It’s awkward. One boy stares at my wheels and his head tilts up to my face with a dog-like expression. I hate that they brought me to this place. But He likes church, and my mother insisted that we try to do our best to make Him feel like we love him. I wish He would take a rain-check and wait until I’m eighteen and at university to coddle my mother into pretending He loves her.

    But no, we have to do this, she says, because it’s the Christmas season and that’s when people give. A thorn-crowned man nailed to a few wooden planks means I have to make my mother’s boyfriend feel loved? A perfect example of how I wish I was the original, able-bodied Marian, because then I could get the six-foot-one respect that I deserve. Yet I’ve been stuck in this chair since the car accident, and I’ll be here for the rest of my life.

    “I’d like to welcome two new members of the congregation,” the pastor says. “Joyce Fern and her daughter Marian, who Brother Allan has brought to our church to share God’s grace with us this Christmas season.”

    A wrinkled crease of a smile forms in the corner of my mouth as I receive yet again a bounty of stares. Most are pitiful, some curious, but they all make my fingers twitch and I want to just go home. My mother knows I've hated public places since the accident, and she never forced me to haul my puppet-self into any situations like this. It’s all His doing. He never acknowledges me unless in the presence of my mother, and I know He’s got his nose in some dirt. More specifically, plants – weed. I smell it on Him when I wheel by Him every night when my mother’s in bed and he’s listlessly munching on our chips in front of the TV. And I’ve seen packets of rolling papers left on the coffee table, as if He’s taunting us that he can get away with it.

    The pastor continues to drone about the Romans and how they slapped a cross on Jesus’ back and made him walk a few miles. I guess he’d have had an advantage in a wheel chair, because then they’d just give him the pitiful nod and carry it for him. Now the pastor is lending a lighted match to a blue candle.

    “What does this candle represent?” he asks the children.

    “Promise!” they quip in chorus.

    “That’s right! God made a promise to all his flock to watch over them and protect them.”

    He fits the lighted stick of wax into a holder and places it on a small table, which is littered with other sticks of wax that apparently seal some connection between us and god. I’m sure He pretends to buy all this, to remedy my mother’s dissonance. She smelled the weed on Him a few days ago, too, and I know He must have webbed a pretty elaborate fib because I turn around and I see her hand slip into his. Maybe I should remind them that this is God’s house, and that’s totally unacceptable. That would be precious.

    I should say something, to somebody. But who would listen to little lame-legs in the wheel chair? The pastor is still talking about promise to the children, but then he dismisses them and begins to address to the adults, pacing along his stage like a stand-up comedian. After the kids rush back to their parents I wheel to the back of the church, those heads turning again, and I find a spot on the outside of an empty pew and root myself there for the next… well, I’m not sure how much longer this church thing is going to drag out, but I don’t want to see Him. Not now, not ever again. Is the pastor still talking about promise? I don’t blame the old man at the next pew for dozing off.

    I want to ask – no, I want to tell the pastor how god’s promise sort of missed a few people. How I was promised to go the junior-high basketball regional finals, but instead I got a drunken titanic of an SUV collide into the iceberg of our Chevy with my mother and I inside. The titanic should have crumbled, yet the iceberg did. Is that part of god's promise?

    During the service I miss about twelve opportunities to tell the pastor my story as he fills the church with superstitious smog, then everyone stands up and sings "The Doxology" and the service ends.

    “Did you like it, hunny?” My mother asks, Him still holding her hand.

    “No, I really just want to go home," I mumble. She looks at Him with sighing eyes and he nods.

    “We’ll get you home, kiddo,” He tells me.

    Kiddo. I want to twist His scrawny body like a wash cloth and ring out all His blood and entrails. But first, I want to tell Him to leave us alone and to stop taking advantage of my mom. To stop coming over and taking our food, going out on my mom’s pay check and, for all I know, keeping His drugs in our house. Yet as long as He’s wheeling me into His truck and driving my mother and I home, it simply won’t happen.

    I’m not the old Marian.
     
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    Northern Phil - A note

    To whom it may concern.

    Whenever I look at the world I often wonder why I can't do more. I often wish I was a hero from a movie flying in to save the damsel in distress. I would have my enemies, every hero does, but I would vanquish them and save the people from destruction. I wouldn't care for admiration or money, I would be happy saving people from evil as long as I knew that when I went home I would have someone who genuinely loved me.

    Men can't fly, I know that and I accept it, it's ridiculous to think that someone can have superpowers and fire lasers from their eyes or freeze their enemies with icy breath. I would have settled for an ordinary life, one where I could have at least done something worthwhile. Even if I could have a job where I could make some decent money then I would be happy, she would be happy as well. Yes, that's all I really wish for, I wish I was a man who could have made my lady happy.

    It was a miserable tale really, I went to University when I was nineteen and it was there that I met my lady. She was perfect, she was funny, sassy and beautiful. We indulged in the student life a little too much, we stayed up all night drinking and watching awful horror films, we missed classes and lectures and two years later we both failed to graduate. The only difference between us is that she had her beauty and when a successful lawyer came calling she abandoned me. After she left I felt it all disappear, the zest for life that we had both enjoyed. I felt worthless and it was in those dark months that things went bad, I lost my job and my home and I was forced to live on the streets.

    A couple of years later I saw her, she pulled up into the high street in her BMW, she took my breath away. I tried to talk to her, she didn't even say anything, she walked right past me without even giving me a second glance. She had changed, my lady was now obsessed by money and material objects. After all I am a tramp, I'm not worthy of anybody's love, never mind a common courtesy.

    My life has been brought to it's miserable end prematuraly. After realishing that there was no hope for me I decided to end it, I haven't eaten in several days and I'm extremely thirsty. Unfortunatly I'm too much of a coward otherwise I would have slashed my wrists and been done with it. No, I feel that going this way is the best way, I must feel pain, I must be allowed to reflect on all my mistakes. I realished quite early on that the love of a good woman can get you through the darkest of times, as I don't have that then I must move on from this world.

    All I wish is that in the next life I am someone else, someone who can love and be loved.

    Yours Faithfully,

    Allen Nesbit.
     
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    Gamecat - Golden Daze

    It's hard to say exactly when this story begins. It's not like there's a clear point at which the threads of this tale begin and a section that follows on neatly called “THE END”. But for the sake of the anecdote we'll say that it began one day in my final year of school.

    I transferred to St Joseph's after experiencing problems at Banbury High School, if you ask me I'll tell you I had issues along the lines of Holden Caulfield, too many phonies, but my teachers would say that I was a lazy pupil who had no respect for their authority. Banbury High was a breeding ground for the future bankers and politicians of this world; it was a factory line that turned out a constant supply of grey suited people to fill the grey suited requirements of the city. Of course not everyone fitted into my overly Orwellian picture, but that doesn't matter.

    What matters is that I left Banbury High for St Joseph's where I found a group of friends who accepted me at face value. I didn't have to act in a certain way to gain grace, there were no turns of phrase that needed mimicking for acceptance, no music that I had to listen to in order to gain credibility; in short there was none of the bourgeoisie bull**** that determined your place in the pecking order at Banbury High.

    Sure there were initiations, little rituals that needed to be observed, but these were small sacrifices to make for the security of fitting in.

    That was how we met. The four of us.

    There was me. The middle class misfit. A socialist who had just escaped from a school full of capitalists.

    There was Dave. He was “the cool one”. His older brother had tattoos and bought us beer and cigarettes. Dave had the gift of the gab and enough stones to actually chat up the girls instead of just getting embarrassed like the rest of us. Rumour had it that he had lost his virginity when he was fourteen to Danny Smith's mum. He was our ring leader I guess, he always had an idea of what to do or where to go, even if it was just throwing stones at the windows of the local church.

    There was Scott. An outsider like me. He'd moved down from “oop north” with his family and didn't quite fit in. His accent and mannerisms made him a target for ridicule from the other kids. Dave took pity on him one day when he was taking a pasting from some of the other boys and stepped in on his side, Scott never left the protection of Dave's side after that.

    And finally there was Phil, he was always very quiet but he'd stand up for you in a fight without a seconds thought. No doubt about it, if you wanted someone at your back, you wanted Phil.

    School didn't hold much promise for us. Education was for those who intended to seek a living within the machine of society and we were clearly outsiders, even the school's career adviser was at a loss to place us and merely suggested we get used to the idea of working in factories. School for us was just a place to meet up, a place where we could join our friends and decide what that day was going to hold. Sometimes that involved going to lessons, but mostly it involved skiving off and finding something more interesting.

    It was on one of those days that we'll pretend this story begins.

    The sun was breaking the temperature records for the year and it was obviously far too hot to be bothering with school. We turned up for the morning register and as we sat and answered to our names we whispered conspiratorially to one another, it didn't take much persuasion for us all to decide on skipping school that day. With a grin to each other we walked through the door of our form room like the rest of the sheep, but then headed right instead of left. As everyone else wandered down the paving slab path that lead to the boredom of English lessons, we charged over the concrete of the tennis courts and slipped through the chink in the fence into the woods. Dave called out “teacher!” and we increased our pace. I doubt there actually was a teacher in pursuit but the thought of being chased caused us all to start laughing as we weaved in and out of the shaded trees. It turned the experience into a game of hide and seek where the consequence of being caught would be detention and a letter home to your parents but the prize of remaining hidden was a glorious day of your own choosing.

    The woods ran down a slight hill and at the bottom we emerged into a brightly sunlit field of corn which made us take exaggerated strides in order to keep up our pace. We high stepped to the centre and then followed Dave's lead by diving to the ground like we were prisoners of war escaping from a Nazi internment camp. Lying low in the corn, peering through the stems, we whispered to each other.

    “I can't see him. Are you sure you spotted a teacher.” I said to Dave.

    “Course I'm sure, it was Shepard,” he replied.

    “What were that?” Scott whispered urgently, a note of panic rising in his voice.

    “It was a pigeon you daft ****,” the laughter in Dave's voice was pitched just right, enough to ease Scott's tension but not enough to make him feel stupid.

    “He's gone,” Phil said in his usual terse manner.

    We got to our feet and beat the dried dirt from our uniforms, grinning at each other and feeling proud of our daring escape. As we stood in that field with the sun slowly warming our shoulders and the breeze making waves in the corn we each felt like the masters of our own destiny. We each felt like we could choose whatever fate we wanted and we could achieve it.

    “Come on then.” Said Dave and lead the way towards the other side of the field.

    By following the slope of the gentle hill down through the corn we made our way towards one of our favourite spots. A crater had been formed on the edge of the woods that bordered the farmers land. From one of the high trees someone had hung a thick piece of rope with a large knotted end, the knot was just the right size to sit on as you threw yourself out over the crater and watched as the world fell away, then for one moment you were suspended high above the ground before gravity inevitably dragged you back down to earth.

    As we neared the shelter of the woods Dave passed the cigarettes around and we each took one. These days I’m not sure if any of us actually enjoyed them, but it was another of those little rituals that helped to bond us together.

    Dave sparked first as always then offered me his clipper.

    “Nice one,” I said as I accepted the lighter and held the flame to the end of my smoke, inhaling softly to as not to upset my young and delicate lungs. I smiled and pretended that it made me feel relaxed, “first fag of the day is always the best.”

    “Right enough,” said Scott as he took the lighter from me.

    Last to light up was Phil, saying nothing as usual.

    It was as we approached the rope swing, treading lightly between trees and making jokes that we heard voices. Dropping instinctively into silence we each crouched and attempted to figure out where they were coming from.

    They were too far away to make out any individual words but it quickly became apparent that they weren’t adult voices.

    “They’re over by the swing,” whispered Dave and then started to make his way stealthily towards the edge of the crater from where we might be able to get a glimpse of these invaders into our world.

    We each edged on behind him, casting glances at each other as we attempted to figure out what we were going to do.

    From the bushes we could look down into the crater and see that over on the other side our beloved rope swing was being held in the hands of a couple boys around the same age as us, the uniforms they wore made it clear that they were from Banbury High.

    “Fookin ell mate, int that your old school?” whispered Scott.

    “Yeah, and I’ll tell you what,” I said, “I even recognise them. The little fat one is Billy, the other one’s called Simon. They’re wankers.”

    I knew them both from the previous years I had spent at Banbury High. They’d both taken considerable effort over the years to make me wish I was someone else. Whenever I was in danger of being accepted by one of the groups one of these two would stick his oar in and ridicule me. My friends had heard me talk of these two on many occasions.

    I could smell the pay back in the air.

    With a small grin to me Dave started to edge back the way we had come, we all knew what the plan would be. A quick circle back and then come up behind them.

    We waited until Simon had swung out over the crater before we stepped out of the undergrowth and edged Billy in. By the time Simon had completed his arch and swung back to land on the launching spot we had them hemmed in.

    “Hello you two, remember me?” I asked through gritted teeth.

    It was obvious they did but neither of them spoke a word, the panicked look on their faces and the furtive glances for an escape route also made it clear they knew what was coming.

    Dave made a quick grab for Simon and had him held firmly by his blazer before he could even react. I knew Dave would go for the bigger of the two so I grabbed hold of fat little Billy.

    “What’s the matter? No smart little words now? No clever little comments?” I was enjoying this too much. I could feel adrenalin flushed through my system and the heat rising into my neck but there was no way I was going to back off now. Not as the memories of countless humiliations stung me and certainly not in front of the gang.

    “Come on. Leave us alone,” cried Simon and received a punch in his jaw from Dave for his rash outburst.

    The next thing I knew Phil had grabbed Billy from behind him and forced his arms around his back. Scott was urging me on, fanning the hot fires of revenge that now burnt deep within me. Without mercy or apology I lashed into Billy’s unprotected stomach like a little thug, the air came rushing out of his lungs and he tried to collapse to the floor but he was held tight.

    “Not so ****ing clever now are you?” shouted Dave as he unleashed a volley of his own. I heard a sickening snapping noise and saw blood burst from Simon’s nose. It arched through the air and slapped across my cheek.

    That was when I started to realise what was going on. I noticed for the first time our pack mentality and a sudden burst of empathy made me realise just how frightened both these boys were. The school bullies who had made my life so wretched were now stood before me, their faces ashen with fear, their legs trembling and their fate resting within my hands. It made me feel sick.

    I wanted to say something then, to move away from this charged situation, but I couldn’t. I was part of the pack and fear of them caused me to hold my tongue. To separate yourself from the pack is to invite it’s anger down on you as well.

    Then Scott, eager not to be left out, attacked Simon as well and landed yet another punch on his already punished nose. Blinded by the pain and blood Simon staggered back, lost his footing on the root of a tree and fell head first over the edge of the crater.

    There was a moment when I nearly caught hold of my erstwhile tormentor’s hand and prevented him from falling but shock and fear stilled my hand and I could only watch as he over balanced, arms whirling about in a crazy windmill, and fell backwards.

    Over the years since I’ve read many novels that claim it’s moments like this that slow down, that time seems to stretch out into eternity and you can watch as events unfold in slow motion. I can tell you that’s bollocks. Simon fell down that slope with the speed of a freight train and when he slammed into the rock at the bottom, his neck snapping and twisting through ninety degrees, it had all taken place in under one second.

    My whole world shifted on that second. In less time than it takes to extinguish a cigarette we had extinguished a life.

    Phil was still behind Billy, forcing his captive to watch in horror as his friend was slaughtered. Phil’s next move shocked me to the bone and made me realise exactly how little I knew him. With a violent shove forward he launched Billy after his friend. Phil’s cold laughter filled my ears and forced my stomach to empty itself.

    Billy’s life was saved by the corpse of Simon which he crashed into with a sickened crunching noise; bones in both bodies were broken but only one screamed out in pain.

    As Billy’s screams echoed around the wood and we slowly realised the enormity of what we had done six lives were irrevocably altered: One lost forever, one driven insane by the horror of what it had lived through and four now condemned to lives in juvenile detention centres and memories of what they had caused.

    Each time I pick over the painful scab of that memory I wish I had been someone else on that day. Someone who could have held back and not wished for revenge. Someone who’s sense of justice was tempered with a sense of mercy. Someone who would not have held back their hand when it was so desperately needed.
     
  18. Gannon
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    Gannon Contributing Member Contributor

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    SpecifyIt - Another life

    I stare into the twinkling beacons above. This is the time I like best; no interruptions, no talk, nothing but endless peace and tranquility. The best time for reflection. I relax in my garden, my weight supported by the relatively soft green quilt of grass below. As I repose, the one question persists in pacing up and down the labyrinth that is my mind. Why am I here? The sole spotlight in my life. I ponder the purpose of my existence, hoping that one day, my true destiny will be unlocked. How I envy those stars, I tell myself. Allowed to shine their own way, unrestricted by the rules, laws and expectations of life. Pure and free.

    I am forced to live in a world that I do not want. I am forced to live in a prison of fleshy torment and restraint. My soul cries inside, as the barbed entanglements of my life embed themselves into my worldly existence and keep me subdued. How I wish I was something else. How I wish I was a star.

    My mind wanders off into the darkness above. I feel my soul lift off. I am faster than a rocket, lighter than helium and represent freedom to the utmost degree. I stare down as my former confinement fades away into nothing. I float across the endless fields of eternity, traveling to new worlds and diverse places. Nothing can stop me now, nothing can take me back. Then bam! The hard realization smashes me direct in the face. I. Fell. Asleep.

    "Taylor!" I hear my mother, calling me into my 'home'.

    Jumping to my feet, I walk over to the doorway and push it open. I walk into the portal of deeper entrapment. I look around my living room. I see many of the distractions, constraints and time wasting objects. I stare at the clock, sighing at the passing seconds; further time stuck here, in this blasted place! Complete and utter despair.

    "Taylor, have you done your homework?" she asks me.

    I look into her dull blue eyes and see the result of a life time of this disappointment.

    "No, mum. I'll do it later." I reply, hoping she'll give up prematurely.

    "Don't you think you should do it now? You have lots of things.." I stop listening.

    The typical drab talks about what I 'should' do. As if you would know.

    "I'VE HAD ENOUGH!" the screams echo inside the halls of my consciousness.

    That's it! I'm going tonight. I grab what little money I have, I pick up my keys and exit the house. As I run to my car, I see groups of people drinking cheap alcohol on the pavements; yet another consequence. My eyes hastily search the tiny car park for the bright yellow beetle.
    "There's ma' beauty." I say to myself, with a wide grid slapped across my face. I frantically open the door, climb inside and start the ignition to my new life. As I switch on the high beams, I glance around at the ruins of my former life.

    "I may not be able to be a star, but I can give it a damn good try!" I shout, hitting the accelerator full force.
     
  19. Gannon
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    Catchlight - The Princess and the Pumpkin Baby

    It was hot the day I helped my Dad harvest the Butternut Pumpkins. I got prickled all over from the vines and wicked sunburned too. I spent hours hunched over, slowly broiling, while I carried the little oval Pumpkins to the crate on the back of Dad’s Massey Ferguson Tractor. My body was working hard, but my mind was drifting off into imaginary games.

    To most people they were Pumpkin vines with huge leaves and long stems covered in grabby, scratchy little hairs. But I knew they were really thorn bushes trying to capture the Princess and trap her forever. The Princess had to use her secateurs to cut those thorny vines and fling them over her shoulder.

    “Penny,” said the King, “Don’t do that, you’ll kill them and they’ve got another harvest in them yet.”

    “But they’re trying to catch me. They’re going to drag me into the forest and trap me,” I said.

    “We don’t have a forest, we’ve got apple trees.”

    “Dad, you’re ruining it,” I said.

    “You’ve had too much sun; you’re as red as a beetroot. Go inside and tell your brother he’s got to help for awhile.”
    I didn’t need to be told twice. I dropped my secateurs on the crate and headed back to the house, the muddy clumps on my gumboots growing as I walked. It was a pretty big paddock, nearly five acres of black dense soil and I was at exactly the wrong end of it.

    There were dragons hiding in the Poplar trees that flanked the field. If I’d still had my secateurs, I could have sent them packing, but as it was, I was pretty vulnerable.

    “Clear off you ugly sods. I’ve got a magic sword."

    The Dragons could see I was lying and they started gathering up their iridescent wings to pounce on me. I’d be a good lunch, I’d been pre-cooked.

    My only option was to run for my life. The ground was tricky, my gumboots were too big and slapped against my calves as I ran. I pondered not believing in Dragons as I panted my way towards the gate. I almost made it out of the paddock before one of those evil Pumpkin vines wrapped around my foot. I face planted so hard that one of my gumboots came flying over my head, raining mud as it went.

    I thought about crying, but I was too far from anyone to be heard, so I just got up and shook off the dirt instead. My gumboot had flown miles, well a couple of feet anyway. I got up and trudged over to get it.

    As I bent to pick it up, I saw something. It was a baby Butternut Pumpkin, hiding from the Dragons beneath a Pumpkin leaf. What a precious little creature it was. I sank to my knees and collected the baby into my hands. It looked so frightened. It had a little head, a chubby bottom and a beak for a nose made out of its prickly Pumpkin stem.

    “Don’t worry; I’ve looked after all kinds of baby animals before.”

    I cradled it carefully in one arm while I put my mud covered foot back inside my gumboot. I carried my precious cargo towards my house and safety. I had to take care; the world was a cruel place where Pumpkins were concerned. They sometimes got eaten, not by me though, I hated Pumpkin.

    We passed the horse paddock but I didn’t have time to waste talking to them today. They followed as I walked along the fence line, wondering why I wasn’t stopping to tell stories and feed them apples.

    “Sorry, I’ve got a very important job to do.”

    I passed the hens as they foraged around the big implement shed. They ran up to me, expecting me to feed them as usual.

    “No hens! It’s not food, it’s a baby.”

    Hens, they were clueless.

    I could see Crustabread’s pigsty. His breakfast was still sitting in the big white bucket by his gate. I’d been about to feed him when I’d seen Dad starting the tractor and had run off to help him instead. Crustabread would be starving and even madder than usual. He was a wild pig that one of Dad’s mates had brought home for me when he was a baby. They’d killed his Mother when they were hunting. He was small, hairy and mean, but I loved him. He wasn’t going to get eaten; Dad said he’d taste awful, which was lucky for Crustabread. On a farm, it paid to taste bad.

    As I walked up to his sty, Crustabread jumped up at the gate, squealing and carrying on like crazy. I carefully rested the little Pumpkin baby on the gate post while I bent down to pick up the bucket. When I stood up, the baby was gone.

    “Crustabread, you better not have!”

    I slid the bolt across and raced inside.

    I found myself in the middle of a hostage situation. My precious baby was in the jaws of the greediest piglet I’d seen in all my six months of pig rearing experience. I tried the calm approach, slurping carefully through the mud, asking Crustabread very nicely to drop the baby. But he just stood staring at me, jaws clamped around the baby’s chubby bottom, ready to bite down at any second.

    I considered running at him, but I thought the better of it. I’d tried catching Crustabread lots of times before and it had never ended well. I shuddered at the memory of the time he got in the big glasshouse. It hardly seemed fair that I was the one who got the spanking, I only ate one tomato, it was Crustabread who ate the rest. If anyone deserved a spank it was him.

    I had an idea.

    One careful step at a time, I walked backwards toward the gate and reached for the bucket full of pig breakfast. Crustabread saw it immediately, dropped the innocent baby in the sticky mud and charged towards me. It was too late to throw the food from the gate and run like I usually did. I closed my eyes and felt myself soaring through the air, landing with a squelch, flat on my back.

    When I opened my eyes, Crustabread’s face was inches from mine, picking up apple peels and bits of bread off my chest where they’d fallen in the collision.

    “Ugh,” I said.
    “Ugh,” said the pig.

    Crustabread was a quick and very tickly eater. He was done in no time and I was able to scramble to my feet and rescue the baby before he remembered it. I made a dash for the gate and slammed it behind me.

    “Oh little baby, I hope you’re okay?”

    I cradled the poor, muddy little creature in my arms. It only had a couple of small dents from Crustabread’s teeth. All things considered, it had come off a lot better than I had. Mum was right, kids were a strain.

    I dragged my muddy self the rest of the way to the house and kicked off my boots on the veranda. Mum met me just inside the front door, with one of those expressions that you know is going to end in “bath.”
    Sure enough, I was pushed down the hall towards the bathroom.

    “And don’t you come out until you’re clean,” Mum said.

    My new baby needed a bath too, so I figured we might as well share. I was careful not to get the water too hot; it wouldn’t do to cook him. By the time I was finished, we were both rosy and clean. Parts of me were a lot rosier than others, though, and I cringed as I dried myself off with a towel. Once I was dressed, I carried my baby to the kitchen to meet my Mum.

    “Oh, does Dad want that for dinner?” Mum asked.
    My mouth dropped in horror. Did anyone think of anything other than their stomach around here?

    “No. It’s not a Pumpkin, it’s a baby. I found it under a leaf when I fell over ‘cos Dragons were chasing me. Seriously. Look at my back, I’m burned and everything. Someone left this poor baby just laying there, probably a Queen or something, like that mean one in Snow White.”

    “Penny, it’s a Pumpkin.”

    “You’re so rude Mum.”
    Mum rolled her eyes at me. I’d saved more baby rabbits and possums than any other kid around, but this was the first time she’d seen me try to save food.

    “Fine, it’s a baby. What’s its name?”

    I thought about it for a minute. I’d named Crustabread after my favourite cartoon giant and used up every other character name I knew on all the other farm animals. I was completely out of new ideas.

    “He’s, um, his name is… Mr Pumpkin.” I said.
    It was my worst name ever, but it stuck.

    I made Mr Pumpkin a bed in the shoe box where I usually kept my plastic farm animals. It was summer; they didn’t need a house. I ‘borrowed’ a couple of pillow cases from the hall cupboard and made a little bed in the shoe box for Mr Pumpkin. He was much easier to carry around that way and he looked much less edible. Just in case, I got my big brother Jim to write on the box in vivid marker,

    'I am not food,' it read.

    “I think he needs some eyes.” Jim said.
    Jim was older than me and really good at drawing, so I trusted his opinion.

    “Can you give him eyes and a mouth, but you have to be careful, okay?”
    Jim was great, he had imagination too. He told awesome stories and he was always happy to come and hunt dragons with me.

    He very carefully drew two eyes, just by Mr Pumpkin’s stemmy nose. They were just little black circles but they did the trick. Jim added another little black circle under the nose, for the mouth.

    “He looks real surprised.” I said.

    “He’s just got his first ever mouth, of course he’s surprised.”
    He made a good point. Like I said, Jim knew stuff.

    Lucky for me, Butternut Pumpkins last ages. Mr Pumpkin and I had some great times together that summer. When I hitched the cart that I made from a nail box and pram wheels to my pet sheep Arthur, Mr Pumpkin came along for the ride. It was always quite a ride; there wasn’t any suspension for one thing. Until Mr Pumpkin came along, Sam the Spaniel had ridden on my lap in the cart, but there was no room now. I don’t think Sam minded.

    We had a few more Dragon encounters that summer, but I wasn’t scared if I was with Arthur. He was named after a great king who certainly wasn’t scared of Dragons. You couldn’t steer Arthur, or stop him. Once I got him hitched to the cart and climbed in, Arthur would charge off in whatever direction he was pointing. That’s why I always pointed him towards the orchard instead of the house, so we wouldn’t end up dodging cars on the main road. That’s also why I never got to drive my Arthur cart to school, which was a shame because it would have been the best show and tell ever. Plus it would have saved a lot of walking.

    I introduced Mr Pumpkin to the horses, they thought he was pretty boring and didn’t want much to do with him aside from a quick sniff. I avoided Abba the goat though. She could eat anything; I knew it for a fact because she ate one of my Trixie Belden books. That goat was not to be trusted.


    Like summer holidays, Butternut Pumpkins don’t last forever. Mr Pumpkin had done pretty well; it was a good three weeks before his bottom began to wrinkle and his face puckered up. I’d done my very best to protect him and he was dying anyway.

    “It’s not your fault, Penny,” Mum said, “Pumpkins have much shorter lives than us, like Butterflies, and he’s lived to be a very old man, thanks to you.”
    It wasn’t much comfort but I was glad I’d saved him from being eaten.

    I wasn’t ready to let go yet though. I still tucked him into his shoebox bed at night and cuddled him under the blankets. A day or so after he’d first begun to pucker, he started to sag. Worse still, he wet the bed.

    “Okay Penny, that’s enough, if you leave it any longer, he’ll explode all over your sheets.” Mum said.
    I wasn’t sure if I thought that would be really gross, or really cool. Still, Mum was right; it was all over for Mr Pumpkin. His forehead had drooped so far that it was obscuring his eyes completely.


    “He’s dead.” I told Jim.

    “I can see that, Midget. Let’s go bury him eh?” Jim said.
    He took Dad’s spade with the red handle and we walked out to the garden.

    “Where do you think would be a good spot?” Jim asked.

    “Under the Gooseberry bush, I reckon.”

    Mum had told me once that you found babies under Gooseberry bushes, and Mr Pumpkin had been a baby. Jim dug the grave for me. It was really deep and nice and square. Jim always did things the right way.

    I gave Mr Pumpkin one last kiss; I had to be really careful because he was very squidgy. Jim solemnly took the box from my hands and laid it in the hole that he had dug.

    “Mr Pumpkin was a very good Pumpkin,” I said. “He wasn’t scared of Dragons or riding in my Arthur cart. If he’d gone to school, he would have clobbered Lindsey Marshall for me, probably. I hope he goes to a Heaven where there aren’t any pigs.”

    You couldn’t try to save as many baby birds as I had without learning how to deliver a good eulogy.

    “The End,” I said.
    “Amen,” said Jim.
    “Oh yeah. Amen.”

    Jim filled in the grave carefully and I put a brick right beside it, so I’d know where Mr Pumpkin was. I would never have another pet Pumpkin; I’d learned the hard way how those little suckers will break your heart.

    A couple of months after we had buried him, it turned out that Mr Pumpkin must have been a girl, because he had babies. At first lots of little green sprouts appeared under the Gooseberry bush, and before long they’d spread all over the place. We ended up with dozens and dozens of baby Butternuts. Mum was right about babies under the Gooseberry bush after all. I didn’t make friends with any of them though; it didn’t pay to make friends with stuff your Mum was going to cook.
     
  20. Gannon
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    wiggons - Not Right

    I burst out laughing. I laugh hysterically at the person before me.
    Look at how big their nose is! Ridiculous! And their lips! What’s going on with them? They look like fish lips! Unbelievable!
    And their eyes. Are they looking at me, or the person behind me? Who knows! I definitely don’t.
    This person is so unbelievably ugly I can’t help but laugh at them.

    Tears pour from my eyes as I laugh, disbelieving in just how ugly this person is, just how unlucky they must be. I throw out my arms to support myself, knees weak from the laughter.
    I grip the bathroom sink tightly, peering at the hideous face looking back at me, watching him as his knees become weak as he too laughs, as he too grips a sink to support himself. We can’t help but laugh at what we are seeing, laugh at how similar we are.

    He too loathes what he is seeing.

    His face changes frighteningly quick, now contorted in anger and self loathing, staring at me with eyes of hate, tears streaking down his face.
    We are very similar, and we hate each other. He snarls at me
    ‘You will never be good enough’ he sneers ‘You don’t deserve her’
    I pull my head away, knowing he is right, knowing he cannot lie, not to me.

    I look back, hating all the more what he is, hating what I see
    ‘You never even tried’ I snarled at him ‘You didn’t even bother’
    He stares at me silently. Like him, I can’t lie. Not to him.

    For a long time, we stare each other down, neither willing to say more.
    The more I look at him, the more I hate him, the more I want him gone, the more I wish he was different. I don’t want him around.

    I strike at him, fist flying to him. He doesn’t try to dodge it, doesn’t try to block. He just throws a fist back at me, trying to fight me off, his face contorted in hate. Our fists collide, glass shattering, clattering to the sink, piercing into my hand. He disappears from my vision.

    As I pull my hand away, blood dripping off, my anger fades, replaced by hopelessness. My shoulders slump, arms hanging uselessly by my sides. He was right, and so was I, as we are one and the same. I start to laugh again, face changing suddenly.

    He was right. And so was I. Again my laughter rings out as I realise something. He was just a mirror. As I laugh, an odd thought comes to me, that I know isn’t right, but I wish were true.
    Maybe if I buy a new mirror he’ll be someone else?
     
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    chirography - Big Brother Jay Bird

    I’d made my bed for sure now. Buttered my toast on both sides real good as Pa would have said. Big man Sully was lyin on the floor, dead as a doornail, and there wasn’t nothin I could do to change it. Sure, I could bury him, and I plan on doin just that, but there’s still no changin the fact that he stopped breathing and it was my fault. Ain’t no changin the fact that I’m goin to the big house either. Sheriff Denver ain’t no fool, and he’ll find his man.


    Nobodies ever looking to become no jail bird, eatin grits and wearin black and white stripes all day, but what could I do. When I think about seein fat Sully there doin the dirty deed to my little jay, I could kill him all over again. Him puffin on top my little sissy, her cries for help muffled by his pudgy hands, gives me the shakes like a fever.

    Home from a hard day at the dairy, my back hurtin, our free milk in a pale under my arm, I had heard a strange sound like a squeakin. Takin the stairs two at a time in my haste to check on Bee, somethin came over me like the devil himself when my eyes realized what they was seein.

    “Sully!” I had yelled, pullin him by the flabs of his skin from out between my sissy’s thin legs.

    I swear the strength of God almighty helped me heft his weight clear out of the bedroom in one try. Shovin him hard down the stairs, and watchin as he crashed through the railing, was'nt enough punishment for my likin. I saw red splatter on the floor as he hit the bottom, but he lay on his back a wheezin and a coughin, still alive as the day was long. Grabbin onto the iron cookin ladle, heaviest one I could find, I whacked him until my arm couldn’t whack that marshmallow belly no more.

    Bee had cried and clung to me after, and I remember sayin as how she was gonna get blood on her pretty new dress. She’d said that she wasnt gonna wear it no more any how even if it was clean. Mr. Sully had liked her dress and she was showin it to him when he’d asked her upstairs. Like the little innocent jay baby she was, she had followed him on up only minutes before I had come home. I’d whacked him again just then, even though I knew him dead.

    “Well, you in hell now Sully toad,” I was still figurin on how I was gonna get a bull cow like him down the porch and to the garden when Bee came in wringin her small hands,

    “You gonna let yourself get caught then?” she asked, watching me start to squeaze the body out of the narrow door.

    “What choice we have? Sheriff’s a bloodhound and he’s gonna come sniffin for his good pal Sully here. I’m no wily murderer Bee, he’ll find me out.” I grunted with the strain,

    “I don’t wanna be no Charlies kid, Mac.” she cried, tears forming in her eyes.

    “Its better than bein a beddin lady, child.”

    “Charlie kids don’t always get away from bein beddin ladies,” she argued.

    I put my hands on my hips “They don’t?” She shook her head eyes down “Who told you that Bee?” I asked.

    “Charlise, she said that she’ll be a beddin lady in another year or two seein as how pretty she is an all.”

    My body froze when I heard this, my heart pumping my ears red. Miss Charlie was suppose to be given them kids without a Pa or Ma a real home, never knew she was sellin them girls bodies.

    All alone we were, just me and the little jay here at the house. With me gone she would become a Charlie kid for sure.

    Always livin one meal to the next, my job at the dairy payin nothing but for the roof over our head, but at least I knew I’d kept my promise to Pa to take care of my little sister Bee. This town was full of bad men. Men who had worked Pa into an early grave. I would be damned if I was gonna let her work underneath those nasty soft bellied toads for her meals. Damned!

    Pushing the body fast down the porch stairs and stuffin it into the cellar, I made up my mind. No sense in buryin him now. Marching up the stairs and grabbing a bag to pack, I began stuffin clothes into it.

    The little jay had changed outa her dress and wandered into the bedroom staring at my pack,

    “What are we gonna do, Mac?” she asked, voice trembling.

    Standing up straight, pack in hand, I smiled, “I tell you what we doin Bee. We’re gonna leave this place and never come back. We’re gonna be somebody else for a change. Your brother ain't gonna be no jail bird and you wont be no beddin lady” grabbing her by the hand, I shouldered my bag and we walked out of that house.

    Over that bloody floor, leaving the front door wide, we left that rickety shack of a place.

    Milk pale in hand for dinner, we headed down the road that led out of town. I looked down at my jay bird,

    “How’d you like that sissy, bein someone else?” I asked.

    “Mac” she sighed, her feet skipping a little “that sounds real nice.”
     
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