Slip of a hand (a short story)

(So this is a short story that I wrote that I’m actually pretty proud of! Young adult, futuristic, science fiction. Trigger warning: the main theme of the story is suicide so some people may find this difficult to read!)

It should have been me. I know this sounds like the first stage of grief, but I assure you I’m not in denial. I know Kyle died. I know there is no negotiation that I can make with the universe to bring him back.
But I can bargain with the facts.
The fact is that I am scared of death. My first suicide attempt was when I was 11 years old. I’ve had plenty of reality checks to prepare me for this, but I never thought that he’d do it. The jokes about life being shitty that we both made. The way he still put so much effort in things, and only laughed when they didn’t work out. I mean, shit. Years ago, when I told him I liked him, his coming out was an apology. It wasn’t because of who I was, just that I was a girl. He changed. Became such an activist online, giving advice to people who used to be in his situation.
I thought I wouldn’t miss the red flags. I’d read the articles that said that people don’t usually attempt suicide until six months after an onset of suicidal thoughts. What an idiot I was to think that I could recognize when those thoughts started. That he would isolate himself, cry in my arms those few moments when we would see each-other. They never get it right.
Sorry.
I’ve already written him dozens of letters, so I’m all out of memories and metaphors. I’m over it. It’s been almost a year since he died. I’ve been going to therapy and my parents and friends have been crazy supportive. It’s just that the feelings sometimes bubble up, you know? Anyway, it’s almost 5 PM, and it’s a week after my birthday. I have to go pass the time.
.
.
“Hey, mom.”
“Hey, sweetie. You have your experiences piled up for today, don’t you?”
“I thought we had them both at the same time.”
“About that. I’d accidentally assigned it a week earlier, so I actually went through it on Monday, on the bus! Can you believe that I had to walk to work 87 times in between two stops?”
“What happened to the whole “mindfulness” thing?”
“Oh, screw those limitations. I’m not getting any younger. I want to appreciate the good moments, and it’s not the end of the world if I want to skip to them.”
“How is getting to work a good moment?”
“The temperatures get very low in the winter. Go now. It’s almost your time.”

I sit on the white floral sofa, facing the balcony as light is cut by the violet velvet curtains and falls on my body with warmth. Behind me, my mother is making coffee for herself. I turn to the clock and see that there are only a few seconds left before I have to go through every experience I’ve skipped this past year. I’m anxious because I just spoke to my mom, and I can tell she was fretting too. When you go through your time, you fully experience the things you skipped. But when you wake up, although you might have gone through a month’s worth of fast-forwarded time, no time at all will have passed back in everyone else’s world. So you could be in the middle of a burp when you go through hours of boring lectures and simply continue to burp when you’re done. But your memory is all messed up for a while afterwards. It will feel like no time has passed, which is true, and that plenty has passed, which is also true. So it’s good to go through your experiences when you are awake and alert but bored. Not very stimulated. Basically when you’re doing nothing. Theoretically, sleeping is best for these situations, but the transition from dream to past wakes a lot of people up and they develop insomnia for a while. I guess three realities are too much for the human brain.
Anyway, here’s hoping I make it out without too much second-hand embarrassment. Is that word too ironic? Just a-

1. I’m naked and I’m drying my hair.
2. I’m naked and I’m waiting for my skin to absorb body-lotion.
3. I’m waiting for the heater to make the room temperature bearable.
4. I’m putting on clothes. What the fuck? How
5. I’m watching my phone charge. can I be so impatient?
6. I’m waiting to fall asleep.
7. I’m on the school bus. I’m dressed in heavy clothing and the snow outside looks beautiful
8. I just told my dad I’m vegetarian and he is giving me a lecture on protein.
9. I’m giving a class presentation. Nice, I was wondering how that went. Alexis forgot to record me when I told her I’d be skipping because I was anxious.
10. I’m playing monopoly with my sister. Oh my fucking, this game takes hours! Ugh, she can’t even count the money properly. Why did semi-comatose me think that it was a good idea to let her be the banker? This is taking forever. Please end, please end, please end.
11. I’m playing UNO with my sister. Please end, please end, please end.
12. I’m having a panic attack at the school bathroom. Please end, please end, please end.
13. I’m at my desk at home reading a book assigned in English. It’s raining outside. Finally, I begin to hold back a little.
14. I’m babysitting for my neighbor. Fuck, the kid is screaming. I can’t move. I hope he calms down soon. Shit, was that security camera always there? Maybe that’s why she never hired me again. I’m an idiot.
15. I’m waiting at Kyle’s room. Why am I in his room? Oh, he just came out of the bathro-.
16. I’m at a playground with Kyle. The sun is setting. No, it’s rising. And I’m about to gulp down a plastic cup of water. Wait no, that’s vodka. Fuck. That tastes horrible. I hate alcohol. Why am I drinking another one? No, stop!
17. Good thing I don’t drink often. But it was nice that I got to see Kyle again. I miss hearing his voice. Nobody can feel much emotion during flashbacks, but even this watered-down sadness is enough to get me to start crying on my way back from school.
18. I’m in the kitchen, making pasta. I hope I see Kyle again.
19. I’m in my bed, hugging a pillow. I have horrible period cramps. I don’t think I could bear seeing Kyle again.
20. I’m sitting on the toilet and I have diarrhea. Of course there won’t be much Kyle, I loved every moment with him, I wouldn’t skip any.
21. I’m in my bed, under the covers, on my side, staring at the wall. I guess I was waiting to fall asleep. I have to pee. Why didn’t I remind myself that if I had to pee, I could go and do that? I suppose strictly staying in one stop would get me to fall asleep faster, but this is just uncomfortable. And what’s that sound? Like pebbles on my window. I hear something. Is that Kyle? It stopped. Where did he go? Shit, the door. Is it Kyle? I get up from bed and look through the eye-glass.
22. He’s staring straight at me and it looks like he’s been crying. FUCK. He’s wearing a green tee, and his ripped jeans. The clothes he was wearing when they found his body. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck.
He’s banging on the door. “Chart, are you there?” I miss hearing him say my name.
“No.” I reply.
“Don’t fuck around now, Chart.”
“Let me sleep.” Please figure out what’s going on.
“Don’t fuck ar-around.”
He’s slurring his words. Is he drunk? “The only thing I want right now is to go to bed. I wish to spend a lot of time with you, just not right now.” Oh my god.
“So you only want me when I’m happy? When I’m pretending to be okay? You always do this. It’s like I’m a circus animal, but hey, the only payment I get is more fucking pain and isolation. But yeah, I forgot. The animals don’t earn shit. They’re trained to put on a show. Tortured. I guess we have a lot in common.”
“I want you to leave. I do not only want you when you’re unhappy, I just do not want to be with you now.” How did I not wake up from this? Why didn’t I lower my sensitivity, what the fuck is wrong with me? Kyle, please figure this out.
“Fine. You’re an asshole, Chart. Just like my parents. Just like everyone else. If I don’t act all perfect and talk about the things you want me to, then you just ignore me. Like I’m Pavlov’s dog, an experiment. Yeah, chisel me to your liking, as if that will change what I’m made of.” Kyle. Kyle. How could I have shut off the world like that. As if I don’t owe anyone anything. I failed him. “I fucking hate you. Nothing I do ever makes me happy. It’s not even worth trying anymore. I’ll die anyway, so I’ll just make it quicker to skip the drama. Like everyone fucking does. Yesterday, my dad skipped when I started talking. You’re all fucking hypocrites.” Does he know I’m skipping? Why won’t he understand? Why doesn’t this change anything? “At least my death will fill you and everyone with guilt so that’s a couple of people in this world a bit more aware about how huge pieces of shit they are, and that things should change around here.”

23. I’m going back to bed. No, no, no, no.
24. I’m at the school bathroom, crying after I heard about Kyle. This can’t be happening.
25. I’m texting my mom to come pick me up. The tranquility of flashbacks has me calmer now.
26. Kyle’s mom is talking to me about not blaming myself. How we cannot hold ourselves responsible for the pain someone else had been going through. She’s crying. Before this, I’d been blaming myself for not being there.
27. I’m lying in bed the next day. I’d been there.
28. I’m still lying in bed. Is it weird that I blame myself less now than when I didn’t know I could have maybe saved him?
29. I’m at the gym, doing cardio.
30. I’m at my sister’s birthday party.
31. I’m trying to fall asleep.
32. I’m at Kyle’s funeral.
33. I’m in chemistry class.
34. I’m in physics class
35. I’m trying to fall asleep.
36. I’m at the gym, doing cardio.
37. I’m trying to fall asleep.
38. I’m in my school’s therapist office.
39. I’m on a family trip to the woods.
40. I’m in biology class.
41. I’m in math class.
42. I’m having a panic attack in my room.
43. I’m having a panic attack in my sister’s room.
44. I’m in homeroom. I guess it’s better that I’ve crammed my trauma in these moments of lowered senses. I couldn’t have gotten over his death, if I’d been awake.
45. I’m putting everything in my room that remind me of him in a brown box. He wouldn’t have died if I’d been awake.
46. I’m cleaning the dishes. He would have died in some other way if I’d been awake.
47. I’m brushing my teeth. He was in full control of what he did. He had the most power over his own decisions.
48. I’m combing my hair. Even if I did contribute to his suicide, then it was only by a small amount.
49. I’m taking a math quiz. But my action helped me. And that’s what’s important. He’s not here anymore, and the only person in pain that I should concern myself with, is me.
50. I’m arranging my books alphabetically. He would want me to get better. Even if he said the opposite, he would.
51. I’m making pasta. I think this was recent.
52. I’m getting groceries.
53. I’m making my bed.
54. I’m taking a shower.
55. I’m eating alone.
56. I’m waiting for my nail polish to dry. I still have that color on, so I’m getting close.
57. I’m waiting to fall asleep.
58. I’m calculating my GPA.

“- few more seconds.” I spill, and drop to the floor. Kyle. My head makes a loud thud, and the tears are warm on my face. I killed him. My legs keep shaking, and my shoulders feel like they will erupt out of my skin any moment. I deserve more than guilt. I hear my mom calling out my name, and then her calling someone with her phone.
Two women in white uniforms carry me into the back of a van. They inject something that calms me down. It feels similar to the flashbacks. My eyelids turn heavy, and all the stressful thoughts leave me at once. Sentences trail off and I know that I will not wake up this calmly. I know that I will have to go through Kyle all over again. My thoughts during the flashbacks will come back to me. I will feel like myself again. I will be mature and know that it was not my fault. It will be a while until I get there. Then, it goes black.
.
I wake up in the hospital, and Kyle’s mom is standing over me.
“Don’t be startled. I just got here. And be quiet, your mom just barely fell asleep. She’s in the other compartment.”
“O-okay.”
“Your mom told me it had something to do with Kyle.” Her eyes tear up. “I’d like to know.”
I stare at her, numbly. I will help her, but not at my expense. I intend to tell her everything. I set the time 5 minutes from now.
And she does the same.

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Millennials (a short story)

1.

Ah, another marvelous day at Oakland high school. Oh look, there go my oh-so-peachy friends.

“Yo homo mexicano!” yelled John.

Beautiful.

Just lovely.

I adore this place.

Uuuuuugh, YUCK! Well, I can’t complain. I’ve switched through what’s practically every high school in the city and I’ve yet to be pleased. I can’t help but wonder that perhaps the problem lies not in the schools. Or, better yet, I could blame the school system. Our educational system is truly a mess though. I’m “L” and this is my story. It’s not as much of a story as it is a weird-ass day. But aye! here it goes.

“Homo mexicano” That’s my nickname. It’s unusual because I’m neither Mexican nor gay. I’m struggling with identity as is every other teen, but my struggle is also in the realms of gender and sexuality. Thus, it’s a blatant fight. As for the Mexican story, it’s quite racist. Our town is white and in Europe! But the story behind the nickname lies in the fact that there was some ”difficulty” bringing me into this state when I was born. Thus, the image of illegal immigrant was created and our racist town tagged “Mexican” to it. It’s just another wartime story. Sometimes I feel like I should’ve stayed a wartime story. I feel like the image people would create of that meek child born into a developing country who died too soon to see it rise (?) would exceed who I turned out to be as a suicidal teen. But aye, here I am.

Argh, maybe I should just tell you stories of the war that my relatives have told me. They’d probably be more interesting than my life. On that note, I should also advise you to be less faggot-y and more into sports multiple times a day. There you have it: The instruction manual I got when I arrived in this world. But the war is over and neither I nor my country has recovered. Not that either of us had any decent state to compare our downfall to. But aye! here we are, both of us complaining more than ever.

You know, every stage of my life is just me realizing there’s some aspect of it that I’ve been ignoring for too long. After a while I stopped caring. I guess death is one of those things. I don’t particularly enjoy life. I’m disconnected, and nothing stimulates me anymore. Maybe I should scratch “anymore”. I’m not sure I ever enjoyed anything. Was I born a hollow, emotionless victim? Meh, but I’ve put off so many things and suicide is one of them. I won’t kill myself. It’s too much work, too much drama, it’s too much of a decision I have to make. I’m not sure who I am, what I feel or what I want, what don’t I like about the life I live or the person I wake up to be. I feel like rushing into suicide would not be ideal. Plus I’m scared of heights and to get to the highest point in town you have to pay a fee. It’s not even that high. Kids could see my dead body and it would screw them up. I could use the fee money for tits instead. Oh, by the way, I’m also transgender. Trans and mad at the world and saving up 1$ by not killing myself. I should write a book. Aye!

Back to the real world. First period. Teacher’s absent and nobody pays attention to the substitute. Ever. I wonder what goes on in the sub’s mind. And did I really just say that, “real world”? Who’s to say what’s real and what’s not. Sure, you occupy a spot in space and time but add one of those extra space dimensions we’ve curled up and BOOM! All you’ve ever known just expanded. Your AP classes and volunteer work no longer impress colleges or inflate your ego. I’m sure sports would be sufficient though, everyone treats it like so. Wow, I’m immature. Wow, I have a lot of grudges. Aye, I guess.

I used to be that kid, though. I used to take pride in getting straight As and being social too. I was always slightly odd and spent too much time on Nintendo and Minecraft. God, I loved Pokemon. I still do. But my androgynous pre-puberty phase passed and I could no longer excuse my behavior. I was in changing rooms with testosterone-fueled pricks picking away at my feminine traits. I was in bathrooms with myself doing the same, one cut for each insecurity. I’ve thrown away my razor though. I don’t self-harm anymore, but I’ve ample reason to. I can wear short sleeves now, although I never do. I have disgusting, twig, dysphoria-inducing arms and they’ve recently started to grow hair. But aye, long sleeves and fingerless gloves hide that from my predator of a brain. I look emo now (and I kind of am). Aye, it’s better to be perceived as emo rather than dysphoric. At least emo is a phase. If I pass the other thing then people wouldn’t be so happy with the outcome. I feel like if I did that then I’d finally be connected to the world. But everyone who lives here says it sucks, so good thing I only minimally-exist. I’m like a part-time human. Aye!

Now that I think about it, I had potential to be a fully-functioning human. Everyone praised my intelligence. Ironically, I was the only kid in class in first grade to not be able to count to twenty. But that’s only because nineteen and eighteen are so similarly pronounced that I couldn’t tell the difference. I had a lisp. That’s over although I still can’t pronounce “rr”. And it’s a rather common letter in Albanian. Especially in the dialect spoken in my town. Wow I hate this town. I romanticized the shitty out of it as a 7 year old. I felt guilty about being socially inept or anxious? I’d ask a random teenage girl what time it was to convince myself I’m not awkward or anxious. I can definitely communicate. There’d always be plenty of them around and they’d find me adorable and bestow heaps of attention. Plenty of them still find me adorable at 16, the ones that aren’t into guys with big biceps of course. Too bad I’m the one into guys with biceps. I have a girlfriend though? I’m also sometimes attracted to girls. If I hadn’t slept on this, I’d google it and obsess. I’m happy in this relationship though. I always google my life problems, or at least used to when I gave a shit. Things like “How to make friends” or “How to not be gay”. Both only worked to an extent.

Enough monologue, back to Oakland High. I walk into class and manage to avoid eye contact with anyone. I sit at my assigned spot which happens to be near the door. In an ephemeral break from untangling my earbuds, I accidentally look up and see Sam. I think she’s been staring at me for a few seconds.

“Hiiiii!” she says with a wide smile.

“Oh hey! How was your weekend?” I ask

“Good. It’s not like I did much, I just got to sleep a lot.”

“Still better than school. I can never be productive on the weekend, not even complete enjoyable tasks like watching a movie. I don’t get it”

“Same. Last night I fell asleep watching a TV show with my laptop on my, well, lap.”

Leon jumps into the scene and calls her out.

“Sorry, bye!” she says

“Bye”

I’m slightly relieved. I ran out of things to say the minute our eyes met and I couldn’t continue chatting for any longer. Sometimes I feel like I should lower my IQ around certain people to be able to communicate with them. Sorry Sam, I don’t relate to you.

But Sam is beautiful. I sometimes wish I was her. She’s not entirely hollow. She doodles at the back of her notebook. I saw her doing it once, polychromatic pens forming futuristic figures on white paper. Once she talked about how in 6th grade she never took off her uniform, even at home. I was baffled. Sam always looks her best and our uniform is hideous. She says she just didn’t take care of herself but now she does. She also mentioned something about most people still being in that 6th grade level of self-care. I feel like that deserves applause. It must’ve required some introspection to change this about herself. She’s gained my respect. I asked her what she wants to study in college, however she wasn’t entirely sure. But Sam said something about her Dad possibly moving to New York so she could study there. Don’t colleges in the U.S. require international students to pay more than twice the normal amount? That blonde idol with an iris of clover, be damned! My content would be immeasurable if I walked my path in her shoes. Who would’ve guessed this, of all things, is what the awkward silent boy is thinking. Maybe the heard of males who lock me in the bathroom during P.E. can tell. I am restricted access to the changing room by them because I am apparently female and cannot enter. Ugh, I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish; I wish.

They don’t tease me that much. Well, I’m not sure. One time, my cousin brought me some volcanic stones at school. They were inside an intricate wooden box. I hid it under my desk but the guys found it and started throwing it around. In all seriousness, you’re all 16 or 17, what’s wrong with you? Sam told them it was hers and got it back for me. I felt grateful but weak. It’s my first year at this school and this started at day one. I left school early with Sam and her friend that day and the guys chanted my name from the classroom windows. Why do I attract so much attention? Plus they pronounced my name wrong. Kim (Sam’s friend) says it’s because they’re medieval idiots. They’re not used to seeing a guy “like me” who hangs out with girls. I abhor the statement “like me”. I understand, I’m perceived as different. Actually, I don’t. I do not understand why I’m different and I may never understand. I don’t get what you mean what you say people “like me”. My dad uses that. My brother uses that. Everyone at school considers me to be “like them”. I’m sick of it. I can’t keep blaming it on being transgender. But aye, maybe I’ll get a decent TOEFL score and after I’m educated and living abroad I will, well, live.

Seriously, all my problems derive from penises in one way or another. Male figures in my family and males at school deflate my ego, taking blows at my confidence through testosterone-fueled projections of insecurity. There’s also my own penis which is a problem. I never tried to cut it off as a kid, which I hear plenty of people did. In my country, we call that circumcision. I don’t even have a problem with my penis. It’s the rest of my body and the social, gender-perception of me as male that I don’t like.

School isn’t an entire disaster though. There are a few people in my class whom I can communicate with without any internal bleeding. I get along better with the terrorist at my school than my classmates. Oh, by the way, a school shooting is happening as we speak. Yeah, I skipped that part. Let me describe it quickly. My mom gives private English lessons, which are needed where I’m from. It’s because the school system doesn’t have a decent curriculum for foreign languages. It’s a small town (and the capital) so most teenagers know who she is. The IT guy at my school was her student and he knows both of us. Long story short, he had an epiphany of repressed religious stances and went berserk. It’s a common thing here. People are fully convinced of the existence of a “God”, yet religious devotion is an aberration.  Most don’t do anything about the fact that (to them) a giant, all-knowing superior creature is watching over them and will decide whether they burn in eternal flame or their soul enters a state of permanent bliss on the clouds or in the streams and gulfs of eternity, whatever you picture Heaven to be. They simply throw apathy at their convictions.  I find it comical, an almost admirable trait of self-manipulation. They don’t have a particular problem with firing disapproval at people of the lgbtq+ label.  Or anything they’re uncomfortable with. Necessity is the mother of all invention and discomfort is the mother of spasmodic intervention. Apathy and ignorance go hand in hand in these people. Those two aid in the fairly easy task that has become manipulating them into guilt. The guilt of not doing enough for “God”. Honestly, I would have fallen for it too. I’m atheist, but if I believed that a (wo)man was watching over me and knew of my every action, word, and thought, I would be scared too. My country is actually in the top ranks of producing ISIS soldiers. So, this newly religious guy showed up to school just as he did any other day. He is lanky, with a slightly tan complexion and a stubble which he seemed to be grooming into a contemporary fad of facial hair style. Oh, how we misjudged that hipster beard.

I’m in class and a group of three male students can be seen from the open door, moving to and fro in front of the staircase. My class is in the third floor, and beside my own 11th grade all middle school classes are held at this floor. I avert my eyes, yet whenever I turn my head they are there. When this period ends, it’s gym class. I start taking my things so I can change in the bathroom. I never go to the locker rooms for the same reasons that when I leave to change in the bathroom, hollers of “pu**y” follow me. I have my bag in hand as I close the classroom door behind me and the three guys appear. Middle-school kids begin to gather around.

“Aye, the guy who screws Satan!” says the main guy. He’s pale with many red spots over his face.

“That’s me” I say as I try to make my way past the crowd. They stare but none physically touch me. One of them flips me off. He makes sure I see him. I flipped them off a couple of times last week when they followed me and it seems I’ve damaged their poor, poor egos.

“If I were your dad, I’d beat you every day. Every morning. With a stick!” he seemed to spit every word.

“I can tell you have some family problems there.”

“My dad doesn’t beat me because I’m not a faggot.”

I could see that genuine dialogue wasn’t an option with these people. They asked if I was a faggot because the devil entered me. I said yes. I lowered my IQ to communicate with him.

“Effing bring that stick here and do it. I’m here every morning, go ahead. Do it.” I stared at him right in the eye.

“Your mom’s a whore.” he yelled out.

“I’ll screw your dad!” I calmly stated then started pacing towards the bathroom. The IT guy blocked my path. He was carrying a CPU. I said hi and he waved back, then moved away. He was indifferent to the crowd, obviously aware and simply jaded. When I walked out, with my black sweatpants and grey blouse on whose sleeves I’d torn holes in to fit my thumbs, I had my jeans in hand. I had to return them to my locker which was inside the classroom. All the middle school kids where either in class or at this activity downstairs. Girls change at the locker room downstairs. Guys change in our class. I walked in and lowered my head, covering some of my face with my curly hair to avoid meeting the eyes of any guy in our class. As soon as I started to bend to my ground-level locker however, I heard the door slam shut. I assumed it’d be John or some other guy in class but it wasn’t. It was the IT guy. He had a rifle in hand and a sports bag full of different tools and metals at his feet. I also saw rope and handcuffs peering out of the zipper. He motioned that I move away from the lockers which lined along the wall. I paced past them, the blackboard, the teachers desk at the corner ,and the desks 90 degrees from there. That wall was completely covered in windows of similar rectangular shapes. I went to a desk and simply stood on two feet by it, with about ten other guys from class there. I didn’t know any of them well. They were staring at me, but I didn’t pay any attention. My gaze was fixed on the man with the rifle.

“Now listen to me. This right here” he said and pointed to a black box that upon later inspection, turned out to be a CPU “is a bomb.” He opened it and we saw the stereotypical red and blue cables. I personally wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a regular CPU and this “bomb”, but I did not intend to cast doubt.  “I’m going to set this so that it explodes if anyone opens this door. Do not leave!” he fiddled around and carried that CPU outside, closing the door behind him. I sighed, and then moved to the middle of class. I approached the door when John said in a stuttering voice:

“What are you doing, L?” he said it as if he was genuinely curious aside from scared.

“Just putting my jeans in my locker.” He looked at me like he did everytime before he made some snarky comment. It seems that look only meant confusion. They all got together in a circle and discussed what they should do. It was more of them yelling at each-other for every lethal suggestion. I opened the window and stuck out my legs. I had my poetry book and ballpoint pen in my hands. My eyes and pen followed every verse, tagging any worthy line or title with a star or heart, circle or square. About half an hour later, I almost fell. The sound of a megaphone startled me. It was screeching that drowned the silence and everything else. The words spoken seemed to be drowned by the volume into ravings which no one could understand. It seemed to come from the school’s entrance outside. It was a pavement-looking rectangle in front of it, seemingly 10 x 20 meters with the surrounding and front area being grass and parking. The IT guy stood with a megaphone in one hand and to his mouth, and a laptop in his other. He directed that gibberish noise to the crowd of people he had lined up at the fence. There was no use in the sound-enhancing instrument seeing as how all the students and faculty were on their knees and a meter away. I saw most of my teacher and most, if not all, female students in class. Luna, a girl whom I got along well with, had her gaze fixed upon me.  I winced and ran away from the window and fell on my back. I saw in a reflection that the man had turned to look. That was a close call. I leaned against the wall under the window and closed it halfway to see what the man was doing. I scouted for his rifle. It was at his feet. I hadn’t noticed it earlier. Maybe he placed it there in these few minutes.

“What freaking bomb? I’ll bet you it’s a trick!” yelled out one guy with a cap and vest. It was Ronny. You could’ve used the word “bluff”, you know. That’d be a perfect, dictionary example of a word usage.

“Go ahead. Turn that knob, you idiot” said John. And though his words suggested he did, his penetrating gaze implied the complete opposite. You could tell from “idiot”. Ronny could tell.

“Why don’t ya do it?” answered Ronny, flustered and matter-of-factly.

I got up, and started walking towards them. This was but a detour; however, as I passed them and headed for the door. I wobbled and shook and when I was a few feet away from the door, they leaned in bug-eyed and exclaimed: “NO, NO ,NO!”

By  the time my hand met the knob, I was already pulled behind by Ronny and thrown to the lockers. All of them were hollering at this point. I felt weak on the floor and felt like passing out, when a top locker fell on my foot. They gathered around me but kept talking to each other. They repeated the same words so no real progress was being made. I got up. They stopped talking.

“At least now we can all agree that we’re scared.”

It was hard to read them. Especially the ones who were wearing sunglasses…indoors. I meant to join in on the discussion but it would not work. I decided to go back under the window. About two poems later, Ron kneeled down and asked me:

“What do you plan to do?”

“I haven’t actual-“ Just then an explosion interrupted our conversation. A massive burst of flame emerged into sight at the window. I went to look and spotted everyone in their previous seats, yet the huge trash bins were toppled and in flames. The IT guy looked up and saw me.

“Time for the final decision” he muttered, and I only understood by reading his lips.

He started running towards the building entrance. He skipped steps and broke windows and paced with adrenaline. I could hear him. He was on the first floor, then the second, then the third.

 

 

 

 

2.

I felt a wave of panic seize my limbs like gelatinous thread, somewhere between an animation tank and a marionette.

I’ve been reading too many poems. Stop rhyming.

I’ll return to meter with proper timing.

“Ron, arrange the desks in a straight horizontal line to these two windows. Now.”

Everyone shushed and did this one task. Are you all called Ron now?

Oh, and in those earlier verses, I missed a syllable.

And my fist missed Veton’s face when I lunged forward after shoving the door at him.

I just remembered his name. Veton.

Argh, the eloquence of thoughts right before you passed out. I’ll feel that in the afterlife.

3.

The first thing I see is that the desks are arranged as I ordered.

That’s the positive.

The negative?

The corner of the class is void of anything but the floor, the walls and the guys in class, cowering and huddled.

Veton is on the first row of desks, by the open window, firing what I’m only hoping is a warning shot.

“Stay down!” Another warning shot.

Veton turns around and smiles. He has a gap between his two teeth.

“Finally able to respond?”

“Huh?” I say.

“You’ve been half sleeping for two hours. No one’s dared to call the police yet. What a horrible idea to build a school in the middle of nowhere.”

One of the guys from the group starts walking towards the door. I glance at it and see that it’s open. Veton’s just about to look that way and notice him, but I wiggle around.

“Oh, no. Don’t even think about escaping. Those ropes are tight. Very tight.”

I start thrashing about some more, and yell at the top of my lungs. Veton lunges at me, and this whole time, the crawling idiot doesn’t fucking run for the door. He hits me in the stomach, but his hand dents the blackboard behind me more than me. He has a thing for warning shots.

“Oh, it’s useless.” He says and wraps his hand around my neck. I feel my vision blur as I gasp for air. “See you in a while.” He says and I pass out again.

4.

Things are pretty much the same after I regain consciousness. I’m getting really tired of blacking out. Veton has resumed his position atop the desks, looking out the window but he’s in his socks – dark grey – and none of the guys are inside. What happened?

I try to lean against the blackboard. This guy is practically crucifying me. That’s why I’m blacking out. My muscles are sore and I feel my torso almost ripping apart. I’m barely an inch above the ground so I tip-toe into survival.

That’s when I notice the trail of blood up to his black boots cradled beneath the desk he’s standing on top of.

That’s when he notices me.

“Your friends really are retarded.” he says.

“Not a word I’d use. But they’re definitely something.”

“Don’t worry, I only grazed one of them with a bullet and had to return to my post. Don’t want anyone calling the police.”

“Ah.”

“How are you so unshaken?”

“Denial. How are you so terrorist-y?”

“I’M NOT A TERRORIST!” he shouts and fires a shot into the thin line unifying the open window and the one above. The higher one cracks and crashes into the ground bellow. Unified grasps can be heard from bellow. He’s breathing heavily and staring right at me. I refrain from mentioning he also seems in denial. I sometimes like my life.

Someone once told me that the reason people change their minds about suicide after they jump is because of the fight-or-flight response. I try to act against my senses. What else can I do?

“You also s-“ I swallow. Why can’t I say it?

“Huh?”

“Why haven’t you killed me?”

“I have reasons.”

“Why?”

“I don’t want to.”

I deposit this in my mind. I’m sure it means something, but I don’t know what.

Recap.

IT guy turns into bat-shit crazy religious terrorist.

Why?

He feels guilty?

Why?

He hasn’t been religious enough?

No.

….he’s masturbated?

OH

I think of something. I lower my head and wait for him to go to the window. I have a plan.

5.

I must’ve let my feet hover because I apparently blacked out again.

Fucking superfluous.

Here’s a good thing. He’s back at his station.

I don’t even move my feet. I let the pain flow me and stab me like an ocean of ice needles, afraid to make the slightest sound. I notice a travelling pain shooting up my wrist but staying there, and when I turn to look, the rope’s leaving me.

I’ll have to be careful. I slowly adjust my wrist around the rope and my left hand is almost free when Veton breathes loudly. I grasp the rope and lower my head. I look at him through my hair and see that he’s adjusting his jean pocket. He turns back around and I proceed to remove the other rope. My legs aren’t much of an effort, and before long I’ve already rushed at the genesis of the horizontal row.

I’m at the beginning of the horizontal row and at the end of it is Veton. Veton with his back turned. Veton standing in front of an empty space where two windows used to be. The sky is blue, as blue as October allows, but the heat is defying standards. Veton’s taken off his yellow and beige shirt and has a white undershirt on. It looks weird to see someone in a class room in socks and khakis and an undershirt, but so is a terrorist with a rifle.

I crouch and clench my fists. I’m wearing converse and can only hope I can run quickly enough. It’s now or never. If he notices me now, it’ll be all over. And if I wait, he will notice me gone.

I’m staring at his back, but I’m not getting any closer. I can’t run. I see the trail of blood and am stuck in place for some reason. Of course I know why I’m stuck.

I can’t do this.

Veton starts to turn around.

Fuck yes, I can.

I’m running and it’s like I’m going the speed of light, the entire world zooming in and out and suddenly I’ve clutched him and we’re both almost out the window, a wind’s push away from the third story fall.

He clutches me more strongly than I’ve him, and starts reeling me back in. He’s struggling, but winning.

Time for my plan.

I look at Veton straight in the eye and launch at him. He stops me before I can hit his head with my head, but that’s not my plan.

I stick out my tongue and it’s in his mouth, pulling his two front teeth towards me.

I’m still doing it, and everything’s a blur.

I feel the cold air envelop my tongue and now there’s no force keeping me up and I’m falling and when I open my eyes, Veton’s further and further away.

I hear people crying out from bellow and Veton screaming just as loudly. I knew it.

Veton’s gay.

I’m blown back by a wave of a sheer intangible force which in a second takes the form of an explosion. Red and black and bright orange clouds rushing out and consuming me into a whirling.

Wow, not a warning shot this time.

I think I’m passing out again.

As for Veton, if he wasn’t a sinner before, he is now.

And besides,

this isn’t such a bad way to go.

Living in equinox

This is the tale of an ordinary person with extraordinary powers. By ordinary person, I do not mean a gallant and innocent hero-to-be, who by destiny stumbled upon the spotlight of having superpowers. By ordinary person, I mean the simplest and most unappealing human who had the fate of an extravagant gift, which to them proved all but superfluous.

14:28

17.06.2015

Thursday.

There hasn’t been a checkpoint to be reached for months now. I haven’t felt the aura of an object in over fifty years. Both my powers and will are running scarce, and I am not sure which is rendering the other into submission and plunging. I’m not sure I’d even recognize an aura anymore. Would it blend in with my other senses, which are weakened and rendered ineffective by old age? I haven’t felt radiance in over fifty years damn it, fifty years. I’ve gone through my life guided by this compass, never took a step down a road whose aura I didn’t feel, never preached a word whose uproar I didn’t foretell. It’s pathetic really. This power, this gift. It’s supposed to be an aid to one seeking pleasure, but the only things I’ve been led to are amounts of money. What’s that supposed to mean? I never though much of this. I wish I had. I guess the quote “Ignorance is bliss” doesn’t apply when the universe revolves around what you feel and what you know.

My name is T. and I have a gift. Or had a gift. I cannot tell if it is I or my gift that is waning. Irrelevant. The way it works, or worked is this: Whenever I am about to take a step towards my future, am in a metaphorical fork so to speak, I can predict the possible outcomes. The descriptions auguring my options present themselves to me as epiphanies of information. It’s not a human sense because of that, because of the way I experience it. It’s simply information which is ingrained in my mind and one cannot tell what knowledge existed before and what knowledge begot. Senses are linked to perception, but that’s not what this is.

I’m not alone in this. I’m the only one who can sense auras. I’m also not the only person to know about auras. I used to know this old man. He was the one who told me I had powers, and my life was never the same after meeting him. Many and many decades ago, when I was a child everyday was the same. My bus left at 8, I woke up at 7. I was a youngster in elementary with 6 years to my age, 5 dollars to my pocket, 4 letters in my memory and 3 notebooks in my backpack, 2 pencils and my grade 1 book in hand. I had zero friends and thus always had the school bus window seat to myself. I’d see caramel shops with their display of pastel pink and blue cotton candy and utility poles as foreground to fleecy clouds which were my only sight on the way to school. Sometime in the spring, I had overslept and missed my bus. I was walking to school, running actually, when I felt a tight grip around my left ankle. It took all my might to avoid falling and when I saw that an old, wrinkly human hand was fixed to my foot, I shrieked. I screamed and squirmed, trying to kick that old man away from me. I turned away to see if anyway was on their way to help me but I was visually and auditorily invisible. When I grew aware of the futility of my actions, I turned around to only be met by the apathetic eyes of the man upon which I grew aware of a bigger picture. He closed his eyes and in a raspy voice he began to talk. Now, I don’t remember exactly what he said to me (reminder: I was 7 at the time), but he told me that I was special, that I had a gift and that I would never have a wish unfulfilled in my life. Though I was running late that day and he spoke for an hour, I arrived to school just in time.

My next encounter with someone who knew of auras wasn’t until I was 34. Until that day, I’d lived feigning retirement. Life was presented to me as an easy ride and I appreciated its lack of anxiety-inducing events. Most of my time went into simply following this scheme, having all and none of the power at the same time. I learned more of my power in an alleyway. I saw a man whose mind seemed to be going to and fro, and legs seemed to follow. Perhaps it was something in his eyes which told me, and something in my eyes which told him that we both shared this. Like blocks of granite which have been chiseled and dented by the events of life, we still had that minute space inside us which was never altered or exposed. Even if it was one particle, the sculptor never got to it. Though we weren’t the same shape or size anymore, the small marbles inside us were identical and acted as our compass. And somehow, we’d been led to each-other. Though he was equally surprised and mesmerized as I was to find another spiritual kindred, his interest was as ephemeral as his decision-making process. Perhaps I was an aura to him. Maybe I was a negative outcome. That is now irrelevant. Thought we did not speak much, he’s changed my life profoundly since we met. He taught me that our gift is not the search of money or need. It is of pleasure. He was a vigilante who loved secrets. He’d use his power to decide what to say in conversation to obtain sub rosa information. He liked adventure. He would yank locations, times, and names out of people whose auras radiated and they would all lead to some mystery being solved. He actually wrote all about it in a novel, which was categorized under fiction. I read it twice, but I couldn’t find anything about myself in it.

I haven’t made a penny since I met him. Technically, a week after I met him. That was when I won the lottery. It wasn’t hard to figure this out after that encounter.

I’ve always been a reckless child. Not in the sense of a brat, just apathetic. To a point, self-destructive. At some point in my childhood, I’d adopted a habit of never caring about my future beyond the four weeks before me. 30 days in advance, my whole life through. This was ingrained in my powers. The only outcomes I’d ever see had an expiration date, but also a validity of only thirty days. I couldn’t work hard and secure my living. I’d always spend all the money I’d get at most a month after I’d found it.

But then I won the lottery. From the circumstances entailing it, I seemed to have done that by pure chance. Though I know it was not because my power, this gift must have at least lowered the chances of it happening. Somehow I felt as if this was as likely as something such as quantum tunneling. Its probability most likely had more zeros behind the comma than my winnings ever would. More than I could spend in a month even. And I’m not sure if its because of the lottery or this half-assed epiphany of self-discovery which was followed by no endeavor of improvement or change whatsoever. For that reason I’ve saving and spending wisely. Until I came home last week and found out I’d been robbed. They left nothing behind.

I’ve been walking about town, clinging to my clutch and limping over the dusty boulevards and alleyways. I’m passing bridges that I’ve ran across and forks I’ve divided and conquered. I’m that seven year old kid again, walking down the path to school on a Saturday when there are no classes to be held but I have nothing to do. I’m kicking pebbles and witnessing bookshops and candy shops, and though I can’t afford anything inside, I’m already spoiled with nostalgia. There are no clouds in sight and though the sky is a monotonous blue, I feel it is overcast in dust and claustrophobia. Almost a heat wave. “Maybe its just my brittle body” I think when I see children running and playing tag with blouses and sweatshirts on. I walk all the way to my old school, past it, through an alley, down to the main road, and all the way to the new part of town. This is related to my later life of weekly lottery and horse-riding betting, sports bars and gamblers shoving me into alleyways, trying to yank out my secrets in desperation. I kick a pebble with my shoe, a different one from before. I keep this up and at some point, my attention is fully focused on the pebble. I kick it a second time, and a third, and by the fourth time my foot meets it, I’m too quick and too rough as it flies off and ricochets to a park-like area I do not recognize. It falls in between some shrub and I freeze in place. At a moment, my head tilts back and I rub my eyes and do everything I can to get my mind to start fathoming those eruptions into thoughts and my heart to quit pacing. But it is to no avail. There’s an aura in that shrub. I follow it and as I open the shrub, I’m distracted by a pigeon which suddenly launches over my shoulder. I turn to its location of flight and see an old people’s home. I don’t remember that. I quickly lower my gaze to the pebble radiating but it’s no longer there. The pebble is, but there is no aura. My mind, still overrun into haywire, outdoes the number assigned to my age and links it all together. Is this what was supposed to happen? I pace towards the old people’s home and by the sixth or seventh step, as soon as I leave the edge of the park area and approach the gate, I stumble. My clutch all but digs into my hip and I cry in pain. A bodyguard from the building runs towards me, positioning himself under my arm and carries me inside that building, my legs dragging along a waiting room and into a room labeled “STAFF ONLY” at the door.

“Betty, page the nurse over here.” the man calling is tall and well-built, but with soft features and big eyes. I can’t tell his age.

“Right away.” said Betty in a military voice, a dark-skinned short woman of about 30.

“I’m fine.” I say to the bodyguard. I see the name on his ID card”…Jim.”

“Please wait.” he says in a protocol, yet worried voice.

“I’m fine” I repeat, but then the nurse appears, blonde and middle-age, to whom I simply echo: “I am fine.”

“Is he a resident?” she asks Tim.

“Not sure. Found him collapsed on the sidewalk. Never seen him before.”

The nurse nods and pulls out a paper and pen which she  straightens on her thigh.

“Do you know where you are?”she asks me.

“It’s an old people’s home.” I answer, but she only follows this statement with silence. “The park is across it. A new one. I’ve never seen either of these two before. ”

“Sounds like Alzheimer’s.” says the guard to the woman in a whisper. I pretend not to hear.

“Where do you live?” asked the nurse.

“In the suburb.”

Again, silence.

“I haven’t come to this part of town…this town even, in decades. ”

“Ehem, okay.” she says and gets up to fill in some papers which seem to come out of nowhere. I start to feel a strange clenching in my jaw and stomach which evolve into pain and spread to my left arm and neck, juggling focus on discomfort or stinging agony. I try to get up, and as Betty leaps to hold me down, a shriek fills the room. It’s someone from the waiting room. Everyone rushes there. The door closes behind the nurse who is the last to leave. Silence. I almost feel too anxious to get up and leave simply because of the notability of my steps in this deafening stillness. Almost. I slip out through the back door, which for some reason has multiple entrances and exits for employees.

I’m back where I first fell but I’m significantly slower than last time. I still feel the pain in those areas and have started to break into a cold sweat. My vision is blurry but I swear I see an aura in that very same shrub and I will get there. It proves to be the most challenging pace in my life of apathy, but the clearest of all. There is an aura, and there is a stone. But it is a different rock from before and an aura I’ve never witnessed. I pick it up with my throbbing arm, in denial of the semi-paralyzing agony, and underneath it is a glowing neon wallet. Now that’s an aura I recognize. I open the wallet, and in it see an ID card and some money. I’m disappointed that I still only value money, even at this time. It’s not even enough to afford this month’s rent. Not even close, it’s precisely half the amount I need. There’s only 175 $

I’m walking home and almost reach the end of the old part of town. I’ve been too distracted by the terrible pain in my neck to notice the advertiser outside the mini-casino who has been eyeing me and trying to get my attention for some time. He almost grows agitated and changes his tone of voice but that’s when I turn around. I stare him down, and he nervously smiles as he blabbers on about his offer. I keep staring. There’s no mistaking it. He’s got an aura. I start approaching him and try to make out what he’s saying. He keeps paraphrasing and adding “Double Or Nothing” to his voice, his intonation even drills that form of capitalization to my thoughts. I’m falling apart in every aspect possible, so I might as well. I give him all I have and his aura forms a number. 350 $. I actually feel glad. The salesman has a look of surprise and runs to hug me in celebration, as my vision darkens and the pain has erupted in my heart and rendered my paralyzed. I doubt that the reason of his bolt to me is celebration.

16:43

17.06.2015

Thursday.

911 has been notified of a fallen elder. They seem to have left the local nursing home and collapsed at the edge of town. They had their ID in their wallet, thus police were able to identify them and set up a proper funeral. Even after identifying them, police found no relatives or acquaintances. The casualty had no money in account but the sum of cash in their belonging was sufficient to pay for funeral costs. In other news-

That is all. An ordinary person with extraordinary powers. Everyone can relate to the person that a protagonist is before gaining power. It is after tagging a supernatural identity that they have a profound sense of justice, bravery, and romantic vulnerability hidden all along. Some people are ordinary and others are all but ordinary. Make most of what you have. Maybe there’s a you in a parallel universe who wishes they had something which you have so that their lives would change. You have a gift. Make yourself proud. Fulfill your self’s dreams of existential additions. Time doesn’t wear out gifts and swing you back into equinox. You do.

Twenty-three quarters

She now lives in a small, lonely cottage at a prairie’s edge, encompassed by a single tree with a single apple shadowing a a single pond. Melancholy and acrimony are shooed away from her mind of apathy and ennui. Today, as most days, her silvery hair matches the memories she has of her career in film. The stills and rolling clips of her young figure in black and white screens in all its angelic glory. She’d remember her golden hair of golder days, diamond necklaces whose importance nor fondness of, she never comprehended. She’d remember the way life was a movie and she always knew her lines. She’d remember how life presented itself in fur coats and manager advice, free drinks at the bar and contracts to be signed. Her fingers knitted away as her memories did the same, linking events with places and names with faces. She pondered, whatever happened to them? As she exhaled her memory of all that used to be, the last thread in her kit was woven into a silky, feathery manner into a dress, which looked more like a scarecrows half-knitted robe than a dress but it had a certain appeal. Her sickness did not allow her to finish her work. The sickly hands of an elderly woman were eluded by the dress as it was clutched and taken away by the wind. Manipulated by the breezy seasonal thief, the dress would follow the path of intertwining with the evanescence of the dandelions, dancing with them in the wind. The ivory, threadbare dress and its silky straws of snowy faults and pasty florets would flow into the bowl of the surrounding fields, tagging kindling-to-be and blades of wet grass with each zephyr: a kairos. The chimney puffed about as the pendulum struck at the passing quarter. Twenty-third of the day. At the crystal-clear water in the pond which reflected the viridescent of the tree overlooking it. And today, more and more with each passing day, a shadowed sphere of edible velvet was hanging upon it. The apple was being tickled by the gusts of wind to the extent of it engaging in a pendulum swing in perfect sync with the clock at the cottage. But as the quarter lay still and not a minute go by, the apple was clutched by gravity falling into the shallow water below. It made no sound and barely a ripple. As it spun upon it’s back like a roll of film, its tip touched the dirt below as if being pulled down. Half of it remained above water, seemingly afloat. All an illusion as it sunk in the dirt and time began to eat away its color. It eventually rotted away, robbed of its velvet soul as the wind chilled its shadowed surface. Meanwhile, an ephemera of an angered gust of wind grasped the robe and it flied around the prairie. It made a full cycle but it came to an end as the wind calmed down and the dress kissed the water. It enveloped the apple, burying it away from the world. The pond, now barely visible, seemed like a puddle of deaf dirt and water of apathy. The wind ceased and all went still. The chimney puffed away until the logs blackened and disappeared as the pendulum struck again. Twenty-four. Again, twenty-five. Again, twenty-six. Again, twenty-seven. Again