I rubbed the ache in my chest again. My friends barely noticed, they were too busy ordering another round of drinks. They handed me a bright blue shot. I didn’t ask what was in it. It didn’t matter, I wasn’t driving and the goal was to stop thinking and not remember this evening. The plan was to black out the world for a little while and I was well on my way to accomplishing that goal.
Rachel had told me, “I’ll make sure you survive the night, so have fun.” I trusted her. I wouldn’t wake up in an alley or on someone else’s lawn. I would wake up in her bed or on her couch and that was all that mattered right now.
She knew I needed this night out. I needed to forget where I was and what had been happening over the last week. I had tried everything from binge watching mindless television to excessively working to keep myself occupied. Anything to ignore the bruises and the aches that kept appearing all over my body. If I drank until I couldn’t see straight then I could wipe this craziness from me. At least for one night.
“You still here?” I heard Rachel whisper in my ear. She was the only one I had told about what had started happening exactly a week ago.
“Half,” I told her. I reached out a hand for the bright pink drink in her hand. “Need to go over the edge.”
“Any new ones?” she asked.
“No idea, that is the point of this.” I told her. I sucked down the pink concoction. It was sickly sweet but left a burn that I would be feeling for a while. I wondered as I rubbed my chest again if he/she was feeling the same effect. I laughed to myself. After what I had endured this was nothing for them. Hell, they might even be enjoying it.
The world was starting to spin. I I had to hold onto the edges of my seat to keep myself from tipping over and landing on the ground. That is all I would need, a few extra bruises and bumps. I straightened myself and reached out for another drink.
The sun was so bright, like it had been set to blazing. The birds weren’t singing this morning, they were legit screeching at me. And whoever was stomping around the apartment needed to quit before I jumped up and chopped off their feet.
“Glad to see you are still with us,” It was Rachel. Did she have to scream? Couldn’t she just whisper? I waved at her and slid my head under my pillow, trying to muffle some of the chaos around me. The world muted but it was still too loud, I needed everyone to just go silent for a day.
I felt a tug at my pillow. I tried to hold on but she was much stronger then me and at a better angle. She pulled it off and the world came back at me full volume. I tried not to cry.
“Go away,” I whined.
“No,” Rachel was tapping my arm. I pulled up my head, my tangled hair falling into my face and gave her a glare. She was grinning one hand held out with a two pills on her palm. There was a glass of water on the nightstand. “Take these and come into the kitchen with me.”
“Don’t wanna,” I told her.
“Don’t care. I let you have you fun last night. I let you drink yourself into literal darkness. I understood that you needed it for one night. I put you to bed. Now you have to deal with the after affects and I get my turn to help you,” she was still tapping me. “Take them. Now.”
I groaned and sat up. I knew if I didn’t listen she would just get louder and more annoying. The woman wasn’t good with the word no, and either was I. We were probably the two most stubborn people on the planet and if we decided to battle it out we would be here for a while. I really just wanted to sleep and not to argue so I gave in.
I took the pills with the water. It was lukewarm. They went down pretty roughly making me cough.
“Come on,” she threw the covers off my legs. I saw I was still in my clothes from last night.
“What, couldn’t put any pajamas on me?” I teased her.
“You were lucky I got you into that bed. I can only perform so many miracles in a day,” she told me.
“Fair enough,” I stood up and was glad to see the world didn’t sway.
I followed her into the kitchen. On the dining room table there was McDonald’s fries and toast. I laughed to myself. She might be a stubborn bitch sometimes but she did know me well. This was why we were still friends.
I sat down and ate a handful of the fires. My stomach was already feeling calmer.
“So are we going to talk about what is going on? Or am I going to talk while you glare and groan?” she asked.
I held up two fingers. I didn’t feel like talking at the moment. All I wanted right now was food and sleep.
“Fine,” she snapped. She wasn’t even trying to hide her annoyance anymore. “Have you told anyone but me about the bruises? Does anyone else know you’ve been connected?”
I shook my head no, as I licked the salt from my fingers.
“Surprise, surprise. So what are we going to do about it?” she asked.
I shrugged. My head was still pounding and my stomach was just stopping it swaying. I had no plan for any of this and I didn’t want to try to come up with one right now. My body was in revolt and I didn’t need my brain to be freaking out as well. One problem at a time. Once the physical side of me was calm again then maybe I could jump into the emotional hurricane, but not right now.
“No shrugging at me and no more ignoring this. You have been avoiding this for a week. It is killing you. Last night you tried to literally drink it away and that worked so well. You need to go down and register, find him and work from there. You know you only get one connection and if you don’t find him you could lose him. Do you want that?” she asked me.
“What I want right now is a shower and then a nap,” I told her. “Thanks for the breakfast,” I picked up my keys and shoes. I gave her a one armed hug and headed toward the door. I was not going to argue with her when I felt like my head was going to split open.
I heard a muffled, “Dammit,” follow me out the door as I left to go home.
Did I really need a headache and nausea on top of everything else I had to deal with? Did she not understand the concept of being connected? What she did I felt, and vice versa. Then again I couldn’t really blame her; if this was my pay back I could deal with it.
I hissed as I laid a washcloth to my newest cut on my upper arm. It was angry red with dried blood around the edges. After a moment I pulled back the cloth and saw that much of the blood was gone. I laid a bandage over it and wrung out the cloth. I laid it over the edge of the sink and looked at myself in the mirror.
My face looked perfect. There wasn’t a cut or bruise to be seen. From just my face you would think I was happy and safe. When I met people I gave them a big and genuine smile. My voice was alway happy and pleasing. You would have no idea that from the neck down my body was a disaster.
If you saw my chest and upper legs, my shoulders and arms you would see how I really was. I kept that smile on my face to hide what was under my clothes. I had to hide it all. I couldn’t let anyone know. If they knew they would take her away and put her somewhere I couldn’t get to. They would treat me like a victim, reassuring me over and over again that it wasn’t my fault. I would get hugs and tears, pats on the backs and offers for condolences. None of which would heal the bruises, broken ribs or cuts. None of which could turn back time and keep her from losing control that one night that set flipped the switch. None of those words were going to help me fix her.
They wouldn’t understand. I didn’t stay out of fear of her. Could she kill me if she wanted to? Most likely. I have about fifty pounds on her, as well as much more muscle, but she was smart and cunning. She knew how to use what was closest, she knew how to keep me down and she knew that the last thing I would do was hurt her. She could get out of control but she was always able to pull back before she did any major damage. For her to survive, I needed to survive and she knew that.
No one else would understand and I couldn’t have her branded as evil or cruel. She was just sick and I was the only who could help her. I had a price to pay for being beside her but I knew what I was doing. I had everything under control until this damn connection came into play.
Now, not only did I have Susan and her breakdowns to deal with, but I had my supposed “soulmate’s” poor choices kicking me when I was down. I am getting pummeled from both sides and I clutched onto the sink and wondered how long I could keep this mask plastered on my face.
I expected the knock to come hours earlier. It was almost six when I heard the soft knock on the door. I didn’t act surprised when I opened it to find Rachel on the other side.
“You’re late,” I told her as way of greeting.
“Excuse me?” she looked confused.
“I expected you to come bug me about this hours ago,” I told her.
“I had to get something,” she came inside without invitation. I noticed the papers in her hands now.
“Oh, come on,” I whined. “Did you really go and get them? Can’t you just leave this all alone?”
“You wake up each morning with a new bruise or cut. You are my best friend, and not only do I not want to see you being hurt but someone else is obviously being destroyed as well. Do you want to lose your soulmate and end up being lonely forever? Do you want to have their possible death on your hands?” She turned and headed to the living room when I didn’t say anything.
“What are we supposed to do exactly?” Again I wasn’t in the mood to go into a stubbornness battle with her. Being used as a punching bag was getting old I did have to admit. I never actually felt the impacts, just the after effects. They came in slowly but it was definitely getting old. I was out of ideas of how to deal with this. So I guess I could listen to whatever mad idea Rachel had come up with.
“You know the basics. Every new child is injected with this serum at birth and after 23 you can become connected. One day you wake up physically feeling whatever your intended soulmate feels. They stub a toe and a few minutes later you toe is killing you. First it is just physical but it evolves to an emotional connection after a while,” She was sitting with her back against my arm chair.
I nodded. You learned about the whole process in middle school. It was all complete bullshit but I knew how the idea worked.
“Now you can go to City Hall to have them help you find your soulmate if you want. You register, they use their database and some magic I don’t understand, to find whoever it is. You find them, you both seal the connection and then you run off and live happily ever after,” she was fanning out the papers in her hands.
I sighed and waved her on. “Get on with it. I know this and I am bored.”
“Now what they never told us in school was two things. Number one, is you can actually disconnect from someone if you so desire. If you want to be alone or hate people or whatever you can disconnect and then you are free. But you can’t ever be connected again,” she looked up at me.
“Knew that. I was told that a while ago, don’t remember by who. But yeah I knew all that,” She looked a bit shocked but nodded and continued on.
“Number two, is that if you suspect abuse of your soulmate, whether from someone else or themselves, you have a legal obligation to report it,” She informed me.
“Okay but what if you aren’t sure there is abuse?” I asked her.
“You look like an abstract painting. I saw your back last night. It is a patch work of blue and purple. I think that qualifies.”
“No, it actually doesn’t,” I didn’t look down at her paper, which I was sure had a plan to fight me with. “We do not know the source of this. We could bring down cops and state officials onto someone who just can’t walk over a flat surface. Now is that fair?”
“Someone is abusing your connection!” Rachel snapped. “How can you not care? Even if you take out the connection part, do you not care about someone getting hurt!?”
“A. Do not try to label me some cold hearted bitch you doesn’t care. You know better then that. B. We don’t know anything. Maybe they are a cage fighter and lose a lot? Or maybe they are a thrill seeker and fall down hills all the time? We do not know anything for sure,” I told her.
She took a deep breath trying to calm herself. “Fine,” she pointed down at the papers. “Here are all the papers you need to have them find the person. Fill them out and find them. See for yourself what is going on. I knew you wouldn’t do this the easy way. So here,” she stood up. “I just hope you aren’t too late and I hope it doesn’t end up kill you in the process.” She turned and headed out, the door slamming behind her.
Susan was just finishing up putting the lid on her coffee when I came into the kitchen. She gave my a sad smile.
“How are you?” she asked quietly. I could hear the guilt in her voice. It was almost a permanent part of her personality these days.
“I’ve been better and I have been worse,” I told her. It was my usual response to the daily question.
“I’m so sorry,” she came over and wrapped her arms around my waist and kissed my cheek. I let her sink into my chest, “I’m trying,”
I winced at the pain in my head. She pulled back her eyes swimming with tears, fear evident on her face. Worried that even something this simple was hurting me.
“No, it wasn’t you,” I reassured her. “It’s my head.”
“You have a headache?” she asked gently. She walked to the counter and got me two aspirin and filled a glass of water. I took the pills with a grateful smile and swallowed them down.
“I have to get to work,” she squeezed my hand, her eyes begging me to understand and to not give up on her for just a little big longer. I nodded and watched her leave the house.
Once I was positive the car was long gone I got my own keys. I needed to get City Hall. I needed to break this connection. I knew what the decision meant. I knew that this was the end of my possible soulmate, the end of the possibility of having a perfect life handed to me on a platter. I didn’t have the time or energy to think about all I was giving up by breaking this connection. Did I believe in this concept? I didn’t know and I didn’t have the luxury to research or think it through. Susan needed me and right now that was all that mattered.
City Hall was packed today. I glanced down at my watch, it was one. Of course it was packed, it was lunch hour. Everyone here had a finite amount of time to iron out whatever drama they were dealing with and get back to the office in time to have a bite or two of their sandwich. This was going to be even more of a headache then I previously thought.
I almost left and headed back to my apartment but I remembered the anger on Rachel’s face and her accusation. It only took me about ten minutes after Rachel left to realize how much of a point she had. Yeah, whoever was my supposed soulmate was not someone I knew personally and I didn’t know what his problem was but I did know that whatever was happening was seriously starting to hurt me. After she left I got up, gathered together the papers and filled them out. They were pretty basic and were not asking me for too many details but as I was filling them out I hit my side on the counter and nearly broke down into tears. I didn’t do pain well and I needed to end this horrible ordeal and quickly.
So here I was off to see if I could find this person and figure out what was going on. I could sever the connection fully and be completely done with this forever but there was this little voice that was whispering to me. It wanted to know what was going on. So more out of curiosity than anything else I was here.
My goal was to turn the papers in, get the address and name and go find this person. I would figure out if they were just some clumsy idiot who couldn’t walk straight or if they actually needed some type of help. What I would end up doing from there I have no idea. I would pass that threshold when I got to it, right now I needed to find the main office first.
I found the elevators and hit the button. A second later the elevator arrived.
“Hold the doors, please,” I heard a man’s voice call just as the doors started to close .I held the button even though I couldn’t see who the owner of the voice was. A few seconds later a tall, brown haired stranger entered, glanced at the buttons and waited to ride the car up to the right floor.
I was only a few inches shorter then the man but the way he held himself made him seem feet not inches taller then me. I stopped leaning back on the wall and stood up straighter. He didn’t look at me or say a word. His eyes stayed trained on the numbers as the floors slid by.
We got to the fifteenth floor, the doors opened and he exited first. I followed. We both walked straight down the hall. He was quick, knew where he was going. He turned right at the last door on the end, he reached out and grabbed the door knob; as he did his arm swung out and his sleeve slid up just a few inches. I saw for half a second a bruise ring on his wrist.
He went into the room. I stopped and pulled out my own right sleeve and looked down at the bruise there. I shook my head, it was nothing. I pushed it from my mind and headed into the office.
The office was half filled. On the counter there was a ticket dispenser. I took a number, 37. They were on 31.
I glanced around and saw two seats. One in the far corner and one beside the mystery man from the elevator. I took the seat beside him.
I didn’t say anything. Just sat and crossed my legs. I made sure to act like I had no idea who he was. I watched the people around me. Two individuals stood at the counter, having a muffled conversation. While others were sitting bent over clipboards filling out some sheets, that were probably similar to the ones clutched in my hands.
Some people looked excited. They were here to get that coveted name and address. Maybe within the next hour they would be face to face with their soulmate. A soulmate supposedly found by some highly scientific process that one could even begin to explain to me. They would meet and would assume they were in love. From that very moment on they would start forcing all their actions to work with this person because they were their soulmate, so of course whatever they were doing was right. That annoying laugh you could barely tolerate was suddenly cute because they were the “one.” Need to change your style to make them happy? Sure that was fine because they are the love of your life so it was right. All those things you normally would run from screaming were suddenly bearable and perfect because they had to be. It was all ridiculous.
Others looked more sane. They were here to disconnect and get control back for themselves. They would choose who they loved, not some process that no one actually understood. Like me they didn’t automatically assume that this soulmate was their chosen one and that they would be perfectly happy after they met. They decided to think with their own brains and not their hearts. Smart people.
“Ouch,” I screeched, hand going instantly to my side where the ache came from, just as the man beside me hissed and clutched his side in the exact same spot.
I looked over and caught his eyes, they were wide in shock and fear. He quickly turned away trying to pretend nothing happened. He folded his arms across his chest causing the side of his shirt to rise a few inches. I saw the finger shaped bruise on his hip.
I pulled up my shirt and saw the exact same bruise.
“You,” I hissed at him. He rose to his feet and began to rush away, not saying a word.
“Oh no,” I said to myself. He was my man and he wasn’t getting away from me that easily. I followed behind him, keeping to his heels until he was out of the office. Once we were both clear of the door I grabbed his wrist and felt an ache go up my arm.
“Where the fuck do you think you are going?” I snapped.
He finally stopped to look at me.
“You talk?” I asked.
“My name is Zack. I’m sorry,” he said.
“Not what I was looking for but name is Samantha. Now what is going on with you?” I asked. I was not in the mood to have a long conversation full of introductions and small talk.
“Nothing. I’m sorry you are affected but it’s personal,” he said. “Let me go back in and break the connection and it will all stop.” He turned to walk around me.
I should have just let him go but something stopped me. I grabbed his arm again. Again the bruise there throbbed.
“Not until I get an answer. What is with the new coloring?” I asked. I pulled back my sleeves to show my black and blue arms. “I look like a modern art paining. Explain.”
“I can’t. I am sorry. Just let me go fix this,” he told me.
“Are you being abused?” I asked plainly. This man wasn’t going to spill his secrets to me at the moment. The only way I was going to get any type of answer was if I somehow guessed it.
“It is not that simple. She is sick. She needs me. I just have to deal,” is all he said. “Can I go in now? Please?” I let him walk in the door.
They were on number 35. I was next. I didn’t retake my seat. I just stood on the wall, anxiously waiting for the woman ahead of me to finish. Samantha didn’t follow me inside. I don’t know what to make of her. She was pretty but blunt. She didn’t have stars in her eye unlike so many did when they were connected. She seemed closer to Earth. If I didn’t have Susan would we get along? Could she possibly be the one?
I hit my head back against the wall. None of that mattered anymore. Maybe in another timeline we would be connected and fall into each others arms. We would be perfect but that wasn’t here and now. Now I had to break this so my decision stopped hurting her.
“36?” they called. I walked up to the window.
“How can we help you today?” “I need to be disconnected,” I told the lady. Her eyes instantly lost their sparkle.
“Would you like to speak to someone first? Would you like a pamphlet on the process? How long have you been connected? Have you considered every single possibility?” she asked one question after another. I was prepared for this. They wanted to make sure you completely understood what you were doing.
“I know it all. Just please let me disconnect,” in the end it was my choice and my choice only.
“Sure,” she held out a clipboard with two sheets on it. “Fill out both and bring them back here.” she sounded as if she was helping me bury someone.
“Thanks,” I turned and found the first open seat.
I was half way down the first page when someone sat down beside me.
“How sick?” the familiar voice asked. It was softer then her accusing one from the hallway.
“It is complicated,” I told her not taking my eyes off the paper.
“Well, in my experience things that are complicated are easier to deal with, with two people. Alone it can look like a mountain to tackle but with a friend maybe it is only a hill.” she said. She put her hand on my paper and I had to stop and listen to her. “This concept is all bullshit, I know that. I don’t know you and I don’t understand your problem but I know the effects of it; at least physically. I can only imagine the emotional trauma. You can’t do this alone. Now I am not saying I want to end up being carted off into the sunset with you but you are going to need some help, a friend. So put down the pen and come get a cup of coffee with me. You can explain some of it and I can make my decision from there . If it is too much for me to even think about I will walk away and you can finish filling these out. But maybe, just maybe I can help you in some fashion. Maybe I can be a friend,” she save me a small grin.
I should have politely told her no and finished my task. This was my problem and pulling in a complete stranger was cruel and potentially dangerous. Then again I was so tired. This process was starting to get exhausting. It might be nice to have a shoulder to lean on and an ear to talk to.
“One cup,” I told her. I put the board and pen on the chair. She led the way out the door. As I left I could have sworn I saw a smile thrown my way by the receptionist.
A/N: Todays prompt was free write for at least 400 words and the twist was to write something you think is too silly or have been hesitant to write about. I choose to do actually just type up the story without handwriting it first, something I never do and I kinda see why. Stuff comes out too disjointed I think.
I leaned up against the window and looked at the dark shelves. Jackson said the book was on the back shelf near the top. He said, that it was hidden in a secret compartment that you had to pull out the right combination of other books to find. But it was there.
I jiggled the handle of the door. Of course it was locked. It was midnight, no book store was open at midnight. I looked around me, trying to see if anyone was watching. The streets were empty. Then again if I was seen breaking in, no one would question me. The bad guys were the good guys here. They would give me respect, think I might be able to pull some strings and get them out of trouble. I didn’t want that. I didn’t want to be a villain.
So I made sure no one saw as I broke the little glass window above the knob. I carefully slid my hand inside, avoiding the shards of glass and twisted the lock. Once it was open, I pulled out my hand and opened the door. I slinked inside and ducked down. Praying no one saw me.
Once I was sure that I was safe I straightend up and ran into the shelves space. I carefully picked my way through the rows, making sure not to knock anything over or trip on the carpet. Once I was in the very back of the store, I looked around until I found the shelf that Jackson had mentioned. Right at the back in the corner.
I went over and began to pull the books off the shelf in the order he told me, I was just about to pull the last one when I felt a small hand on my back. I dropped the books and froze. Who was it? Was it the owner? Were they going to start questioning me now? Were they going to try to make me a friend of theirs to be used later? I didn’t say anything, I just waited anxiously for the person who was touching me to speak.
“I see we have found our way here finally,” the voice was soft and slow. It was female and I felt like something was inching up and down my spine. I knew what I was going to see when I turned around.
I spun and there before me stood HER. She was dressed in a long black dress, with a dark green outline. Her black hair laid over her back, straight and out of the way. She had on red lipstick and a cruel smile that I could just make out through the shadows. She gestured to a chair beside me. I sat down, knowing that if I didn’t do it voluntarily she was going to make me do it anyway.
I still didn’t speak. I waited for her to curse me, hurt me or try to make me one of her.
“So what took you so long?” she asked. She was trying to sound sweet and kind but the words just weren’t work. There was too much poison in her veins for any kindness to be able to live.
“I don’t understand,” I said. The words were truthful, I had no idea what she wanted from me.
“I have been at this for many years my dear boy. And you are the first to come looking for the book. Many speak of it, many say they have read it and many make up descriptions and stories to prove that they have read it But you are the first to actually come looking for it. Why? She was sitting in her own chair. Arms crossed, studying me.
“Because they all say that in it the hero wins. I have to see if it is true,” I told her. I knew lying was pointless she would see right through each and every word.
“So? What if the hero does win? What does that matter?” she asked me.
“It matters to me. The heroes don’t win anymore. Every story end with the ‘villian’ wining, the one who causes all the pain and hurt. It sucks and I am tired of that world. I wanted to see if another world was possible,” I felt my voice getting smaller and smaller. I felt like a toddler, waiting for my parents to tell me to stop being silly and grow up.
She smiled, a smile that crinkled her eyes and made me squirm. It was one of pride. “Good.” she stood. “Finally we have found you.”
“What now?” I felt like I had whiplash. I was scared and now I was confused and a bit intrigued.
“I have been waiting for you.”
“Because the stories are dying. They need to be saved. They can’t continue to live as they are. The villains can not always win while also the heroes can not alway lose. These stories,” she waved at the shelves. “Are old and worn out. It is the same tale over and over again. I am dying because of them. I need you to set things right again,” She moved to the shadows.
I waited, still trying to figure out what exactly was going on. Set things right? What things? Her world that she ruled? Why? Or was it more she needed me to save her. Should I do that?Should I run? Or will she just catch me.
“Here,” she handed me a pen and paper.
“Okay…,” I took them, no idea what I am supposed to do with them.
“Write the new stories. Make this world live again. Show the people that villains can be good and evil, same goes for heroes. Make the sidekicks rule the world while the main character fade into the background. Make a story that no one can understand, but is still intriquing. Write life for me,” she came over and kissed my head. “Thank you for my dear for being the only one to come looking for a new ending.”
A/N: Day 17 prompt was to write about a fear or something you are scared of. The twist was to write in a different style then what you are used to. I tried to write in a stream of consciousness type way as well as keeping it personal.
I parked the car and glanced at the clock on my dashboard. There was fifteen minutes left until the meeting was supposed to begin. I stared at the little white glowing numbers trying to get my brain to stop racing.
What would they think when I walked in that door? If I went in too early then I would have to interact with someone, maybe? Or I could end up sitting alone, waiting desperately for the meeting to start so I could stop feeling like a three-eyed alien. I bet I am the youngest one there tonight. They are all going to wonder what I am doing there. I am too young to know anything about this. Why is she even here? Does she even know what to do? What has she written that is worthwhile? She isn’t old enough to have anything worthwhile. She has nothing published, why even bother listening to her?
“Dammit, that is enough,” I snapped at myself. I had to stop this incessant sound track that was trying to take over my mind. That damn little voice is always trying to make itself the only thing I hear. I need to stop it in its tracks or else I will never get out of this seat. If I was going to go through with this and meet my goal tonight, I had to not let my habits take over. I needed to completely ease my mind and go in there and see what happens.
It was eight minutes to seven. It was time to leave my car. I opened the door, stopping the song mid sentence. I gathered myself together. I had to stop trying to think of what could happen in this meeting. Right now even trying to think positively was dangerous, my mind would run away from me and that was not acceptable. I just need to go in there with a blank slate.
I knew that I was also battling the side of me that wanted to get into my car and turn around and go home. I could easily open that door back up and drive until I was in my parking lot. Go up to my apartment, curl up on my couch with my purring cat and just be safe. Home was safe, here was potentially dangerous. But here was also an opportunity I could not pass up. I had to show myself and what I could do other people. I can’t be successful hiding behind a closed door, it just wasn’t possible.
I walked up the street, continuously telling myself to remain calm and stop obsessing. I need to put a smile on my face and straighten my back. I have to be open to what is going to happen next; not on guard. I need try to show every who I am. Not show them that scared child that hides in the corner that keeps trying to come out. Yes, I am quiet but I do have a voice and when I use it, it echoes loud and proud.
The meeting starts quickly. I barely have time to take in everyone that surrounds me. I am asked to read first. I read with my eyes never leaving the small black letters before me. All my energy is concentrated on not stumbling over my words and making myself sound like an idiot. I want them to hear the story with the emotion that I intended for it. They need to hear the story without my nervous voice coming through. All my energy goes into reading what I wrote so they can get escape just like I did while writing it.
The critiques are few but good. They are not harsh or angry. They are helpful and are given as opinions not commands or demands. I accept them without saying much in return. I don’t know what to say, still afraid that the wrong words may leave my mouth. I don’t want to sound arrogant or upset or too nonchalant. So I don’t say much but a few “thank you’s” and “I understands.”
The spotlight leaves me and I feel myself relax. My shoulders are no longer taut and my hand has gone down to only slightly trembling. Now it is time for me to listen and add my voice in when necessary.
But as is my habit my voice remains inside me. Look we are talking about blogging, I should open my mouth. I should tell them what I know, how I blog and why I like where I post my pieces. The woman wants the advice, why can’t I give it? Why can’t I just tell them what I know? Why is my opinion not worth as much? At least in my eyes. Because they may ask too many questions and I may run out of answers. Maybe they will think I am being too haughty, or maybe I’ll say something that they will all stare at me for. Am I even blogging the right way?
“Enough!” I silently chide myself. I can’t do that. I can’t let the obsessing over what may happen keep me from finding out what will happen. I have always hid away in this tiny comfort zone, always keeping myself scrunched up in here. This spot is safe and warm and nothing can hurt me here. But also nothing can help me here either. There is nothing left inside this little circle of mine, but old words and dried up thoughts and dreams. It isn’t pleasant in here. But I live here.
I live in this zone because I am terrified. Terrified that when I venture out, putting my toe over the line, that the world will come crashing down on me. Like everyone is a dragon waiting for me to cross that boundary and they will swoop down and consume me. They will throw negative thought after negative thought at me. Or I will make a bad impression and they will never forget it. Or I won’t make an impression and I will cease to exist to them. I will remain invisible as always. That is what is outside that comfort zone, at least in my head.
I tried for years to deal on my own. I would jump over the line and then slink back in because it was all too much. My imagination would take off creating all these horrendous scenarios and I would just curl up into a ball and refuse to move. If I didn’t move then those scenarios were dead in the water. It wasn’t working.
So I made a decision, I needed to find someone to help me. My family is great but they don’t understand. I needed someone who could try to give me tips and advice and ways to work with the fear. I found a therapist to talk to and quickly realized that I knew what I was doing was absurd.
No, people weren’t going to attack me as soon as I opened my mouth. And if they did, I didn’t need them. Yes, this introduction or that interaction might go wrong but I can walk away. I can walk away and my life is not over. The chances of that one person having a hugely detrimental effect on my life from this point onwards because of one dumb thing I said is very very small. I know all this, I know I am being too hard on myself. I know I am obsessing and I need to stop. Now I am learning how to do just that.
This was a big step for me. Not only did I actually walk into this meeting but I shared apart of myself with them. Did they get the best impression of me? No, they saw the quiet woman who is still living mostly in shadows but the important thing is they saw me. I let them see me and next time I will let them see a bit more.
I will never be the one who can go around a room and chat with everyone that is there. I will never be the one to jump at the chance to talk to a stranger. But I am slowly learning to not fear those unknowns. Yes, it can go bad and Yes, it can go well. But I will never know until I actually try.
Next time I will offer my opinion on a subject, even just a few words. It will be one more step forward. And for now on, forward is the only direction I am going to bother trying to go in
A/N: Day 16 ( I did day 15 but again it wasn’t publishable) prompt was the write about a place of lost and found, and the twist was the complete the 3 part series. The idea here was to reflect on the concept of lost and found and see where it takes you. (the other two parts in this are Indestructible, and Indestructible team). I wanted to take this last part and reflect from the daughters POV.
I threw my bag onto the ground beside the closet door. I collapsed onto my butt onto the ground and yanked off my work shoes, letting my feet breathe. My cat came over and curled up into my lap, purring contently. I scratched him behind his ears and closed my eyes, only intending to rest them.
I had no intention of drifting off to sleep, but the day had been a long one. Full of complaints and running in circles. My body needed a few minutes to rejuvenate itself, so I drifted off.
I found myself with my feet dangling from a cloud watching the world below me. I liked it up here, it was comforting. I felt safe up here. Up here I could watch events unfold without being apart of them, without having to make the tough decisions and suffer the consequences. Up here what happened down on the ground couldn’t hurt me, at least not at the moment. I couldn’t lose anyone or anything up here.
I felt the cloud sink down a few inches as someone joined me. I grinned over at the tall lanky man who had sat down beside me. He just smiled back at me, watching the cars zoom through the streets and the people run to make appointments. We watched life move forward for a few moments.
“I like it up here,” I said, swinging my feet. “No worries, no stress, just pure bliss.”
“Yeah, it is nice,” his hand squeezed my shoulder. “But not your place, at least not right now.”
I sighed. I knew he was right. I wasn’t done following my life path. There was still miles upon miles of unexplored territory waiting for me to discover. Dark holes, corners and dirt paths that had never seen a living soul. They were all waiting for me to come crashing through them, smile on my face as I opened their ways up to the world.
“Kinda sucks down there,” I told him, letting my carefree smile sink away. “I mean my life start out pretty shitty and ever since then every time I take a leap forward, life punches me back until I’m only inches away from where I started. I’m tired of being on the end of that fist,” I told him.
“I know and I’m so sorry for that. But unfortunately this was the hand you were dealt. Look at your mother, she lost everything yet found a way to push herself up from her knees and knock that fist away from her. She raised her own hands and began to fight back. She matched the world blow for blow. Now it is your turn,” He pointed at the ground. “Each person down there will most likely lose what they wanted most. They will then find something new, the choice becomes about what you do with that find. Do you push it aside because it isn’t what you initially wanted? Or do you pick it up, look at it from all angles and see the beauty that stands before you?” I could feel his eyes staring into the side of my face.
“What if what I find requires too much work? What I lost was whole and complete and now I have only pieces surrounding me. What do I do with them?” I asked him, my voice almost a whisper. For some reason I felt ashamed admitting this out loud.
“Then you begin to put the puzzle together. You could just leave the pieces in a tangled mess and mourn what you have lost but what do you end up getting from that? Nothing, but a faint and painful memory. Take those pieces and start building the outline. Trust me when I say the picture you are creating is going to be stunning,” he shoulder bumped me, making me laugh.
“Good to hear. It is just going to be so tough,” I said, looking over at him.
“Yep, it will be. But use your mother as your example. Lean on the shoulders you need to lean on. Rage and break things when necessary. Break down into life crushing sobs when you feel like there is no way out of where you are at the moment. But when you get to the end, and you will reach that point eventually, stand up proud of what you’ve done. One of your first lessons in life was how to find inner strength to keep yourself moving. It lives like a fire inside of you, always burning. Sometimes it is only an ember but it is always alive. Use it and take on that world down there,” He leaned forward and kissed my forehead. “And as always I’ll be right beside you.”
“Thanks,” I said. He stood up and waved good bye as the cloud began to sink closer and closer to the Earth. A moment later my eyes opened and I was on the floor of my apartment, my cat curled into my side.
I sat up and stretched out the knots in my shoulders and back. Just like my mother I had a fight on my hands, one that was going to try to break me with everything that it had. But she was able to rise above her loss and in turn found an indestructible strength inside of her. A strength she passed onto to her family. It was an essence that we all had that could never be dampened. Now it was my turn to find my own indestructible strength and take on this rough yet beautiful world.
A/N: Todays prompt was to write about something that was found. The twist was to make it the second part of the three part series. So part one of this is from Day 4- Indestructible.
Right now she sat at the dining room table, piles upon piles of pictures before her. She was attempting to find the right ones to put out for her daughter’s high school graduation party. There was just so many different ones and she never had organized them. There was a pile with half Halloween and half Christmas. The vacation pictures had school pictures mixed into them. For many it would seem like a daunting and maybe even aggravating task. For her though it was a great way to examine the past.
The pile in her hand was from her second wedding. She let a smile take over her face. She laughed at some of the pictures. She stopped at a picture on the altar. There she stood in her wedding dress beside her new husband. Her three year old beautiful flower girl daughter stood at her feet, smiling shyly, half turned into her mothers legs. Her husband held their couple month old son, who was grinning an adorable baby grin. Here stood what she thought she could never truly have, happiness.
Smiles and true laughter were not something she thought she was ever going to be able to have again after that terrible night. For her she thought life was always going to involve her faking smiles, always trying too hard to not let them slip into a frown. She thought her laughter would always sound hallow and sad. Since that night eighteen years ago she hadn’t thought that true happiness ever could be hers again. When he had collapsed in that bathroom never to open his eyes or speak to her again she had thought that was it for her. The picture perfect family life with the loving husband and grinning children was torn away from her.
She had made the decision to live for her daughter. She knew she had to keep moving forward for the little girl. She had been determined to hold on tight to that child to make sure that she never got hurt again by this world. Eighteen years later and that little girl was graduating high school and heading off to college. She was beautiful, well behaved and smart (13 out of 300+ in her school).
On that night she had thought that it was going to be just the two of them against the world. Never did she think she would fall in love again and have that family she had once dreamed about half of her life.
That mother and daughter team was stronger then she could ever have hoped but it wasn’t just the two of them anymore. Now it was a family of five against the world. She had a husband who had walked into her life and had accepted what he had found with open arms. He had held out a hand for the two of them to take, and they had been holding on ever since. She had two sons as well. Two more children that she loved with all her heart, a heart she didn’t think could heal from that punch eighteen years ago.
She took a deep breath and wiped a tear from her eye. Just when she had believed that the universe had discarded her she was guided down a new path to a life. She had found a new way to define happiness and family.
As she watched her children come home from one of the last days of school for the year she tried to picture the family she had originally planned to have. She could see them still, but they were a vague outline, a ghost of a memory.
She would never forget him and the life they had planned before; a two child family in a tudor style home. She would never forget his tall lanky form and ridiculously huge coke bottle glasses. He would always have a place in her heart and her memories but she had found a way to move on. She gave each of her children a hug hello, though the middle son tried to wiggle out of her grasp.
Yes, that night a comet had cracked up the Earth and tragedy had cracked open her heart. But just like that crack in the ground she was healing, it was a slow process that would last her whole life but with these four people beside her she knew she would be okay no matter what the world threw at her. Because together they were an indestructible team.