I’d never realised how difficult it would be to live in cold weather.
Our small hamlet in South Florida hadn’t seen snow in the past 20 years, and I’ve been alive for only 14.
I don’t own a coat; I’ve never found use for one. So here I am now, trudging my way to the Goodwill bin outside the church at the opposite end of village from me; and as I walk, I wonder whether it will be thirst, starvation or the cold which will get to me first.
My feet stumble on the rocky sidewalk; I throw out my hands just before the curb hits my head. Lady Tyche didn’t seem to favour me as much as the rest of her children, those who lived in their warm, comfortable, cosy houses, those who wouldn’t glance twice at a teenager struggling to find a place to sleep, and perhaps get some food.
The world is pretty messed up.
At least there’s one living being that cares for me.
And there he is now, wagging his tail, one of his hind legs permanently bent back by a major fracture. His coat looks rugged, he has cuts all across his body and his bones are clearly visible from malnutrition.
I kneel down and call him, and he comes barking joyfully and clambers on to me, licking my face with great vigour.
I know I have to get up, but his body is warm, and pressed against mine and for a second, just for a second, the world seems a little less harsh.
We have a sort of special bond; after all, we were both dealt similar cards in life.
But eventually, I do get up, and he follows me, limping, towards the edge of town, where the sun lays, hanging just above the horizon, coating everything in a golden haze, leading many to falsely assume that everything’s okay, we’re gonna be fine, etc, etc.
Nobody knows the truth until it hits you in the face.
We walk down the now muddy path anyways, our views glamoured by the joy of being together. We could be a stock picture, a boy and his dog silhouetted against the setting sun, a picture of happiness.
If only they knew the truth.
There are less and less people on the street now; they are going home before the daylight ends, before the dark and mysterious night takes over.
But in the same night people fear, I find solitude and peace.
Finally, and it had to happen, my legs can’t take it anymore. I collapse in a heap just as the first stars start to twinkle in the sky. My furry companion lies down beside me, both of us shivering from the cold.
I wrap my arms around him in a hug, and close my eyes. If I have to go down eventually, this is a good way as any. Above us, the moon rises, huge against the meagre stars, and shines upon the world.
The night has come.
A Shot At Life.
11:00 PM, Svalbard, Norway
One thing is for certain; Svalbard is extreme.
But I shouldn’t be surprised; after all it lies between Europe and the North pole.
But that not - so - surprising fact didn’t make my insane dare any saner. In fact, I could bet I’m not sane either.
I won’t tell you who gave me the dare, or who I am, for there is a reward in my name and therefore you shall seek me.
I am in Svalbard because of the legend; the one that is whispered among every resident here; every alchemist’s desire; the sorcerer’s stone that lies in the middle of this cold, dreary land.
I have travelled across many lands; escaped from the very clutches of the police, killed more than a few to get here.
And yet as I stand here, clutching the ruby red stone in my hand, I wonder whether it would be better to live forever a life of crime, or to escape the wretched thing this very instant?
Even as I ponder this, I feel my finger twitching at the trigger of the gun pointed to my head.
Above them, the yellow light flickered.
Seven figures sat hunched around a wooden table, the dim yellowness of the light bringing out the mahogany streaks in the table.
All of them sat silently, six of them children, one a hooded figure in black.
On the table lay a hard, black, metallic object, as silent as a killer, waiting to be put to use.
The man in black picked up the revolver, put a single bullet into the barrel and spun it. Without a word, he handed it to the young boy on his left.
The boy took the revolver, his hands trembling, and brought it to his head. He shut his eyes and squeezed the trigger.
The Russian roulette had begun.
A story, in a new style
She stood on the edge of the cliff, looking at the fireflies flashing their lights, like small matches burning off their tips, in their small lives waiting for the end.
The moon moved behind a cloud.
She stood, wind blowing in gusts, swirling dust around her feet.
A hand grips her shoulder. Her back stiffens. Fear seizes her body. Darkness closes in on her.
A simple push.
A dark figure falling into the gorge.
Then the fireflies gather around, and all is silent again.
Present knowledge is wholly based on past knowledge.
This reminds of a quote from Great Expectations:
“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”
Every action leads to another.
Every bit of knowledge leads you to obtain more.
I wake up and stare at the blank wall in front of me. I hate it. I hate the pristine white sheets, the perfectly arranged cushions on the armchair beside my bed. Unusual decorations for a teenager’s room. Even if I am in an hospital, I do deserve some colour, a picture on the wall perhaps.
Now I know I am kidding myself. I want glass, a piece of metal, anything really, to break the bars on my window, to shatter the lock on my door.
She’s back now. The lady, with another blank white uniform to go with her blank expression. She comes here every morning. And evening. She always carries a tray with some tablets for me. As if I need it.
I swallow today’s tablets without a sound. I don’t protest too much; some of those drugs give me a nice, cloudy feeling and I fall asleep easily after that.
I don’t know exactly why I’m here. The doctor says it will come back to me, that I’m probably too shocked to remember what I did.
But by the judgemental looks of my classmates and former friends when they come for a ‘visit’, I know it must be pretty bad.
But I know I’m not crazy. I always have reason for what I do. It was for revenge.
Amongst the haze in my mind, a memory struggles its way to the top; it’s a documentary, set in a hospital not unlike mine. They show a person bitten by a poisonous snake, and the doctor says:
“In cases like these, we administer a serum known as antivenom; the venom from another snake cancels out the poison of this one and the person has a chance of surviving.”
Two wrongs do make a right.
I settle back comfortably in my bed, convinced I have done nothing wrong, and allow my barely conscious mind to drift into a restless repose.
Life as she knew it. (repost)
A flurry of emotions.
A storm wrecked her, turning her vision upside down.
The end of life as she knew it.
The unsung songs, the unfelt joys, the incomplete dances.
The unfinished trial.
Anger raged through her.
Fear ruled over her body.
Sadness seemed to consume her.
Pain threatened to overwhelm her.
Grief, like none she had known before, took over her in a wave of despair.
All these emotions, some she never knew she had, took over her body, exploiting her, reigning supreme.
And they tormented her over and over, as she looked down into the unopened eyes of her unborn baby.
The first thing that caught my eye were the pills.
They lay on my bedside table, along with a half drunk glass of water which had a whitish tinge to it.
Probably drugged, I thought drowsily.
As I start to sit up, I notice other things- the vast number of people in white uniforms, the eerie silence accompanied with distant cries, the giant window near my bed.
Pulling myself up, I look out the window.
There’s a driveway- a narrow one, filled with gravel. Big black doors, and walls topped with barbed wire. A kitten, barely a couple of weeks old, mewed in the garden. The garden wasn’t bad. Well kept, with some slides and a single swing. A little girl wanders around, glancing at everything as though they were items on display.
The last thing that caught my attention- and took my breath away- was that this was not my house!
Struggling, I stand up, only to be pulled down immediately by cuffs that shackle my feet. The chains rattle loudly, causing a nurse to look up and run towards me.
As she approaches, I pull the quilt over my head. I don’t want to talk, especially now, especially to her. Out of the torn patch in my blanket, I see her coming towards me. She looks like... like a doctor. But hospitals don’t shackle people up, do they?
Looking out of the torn area, a bronze plaque catches my eye. It has some mumbo-jumbo nonsense, proclaiming this hospital as ‘one of the finest mental institutions in the state’.
The doctor in white comes and talks to me in soothing tones. I tune her out. I’m great at that. Everybody says so.
Humming softly, I look out the window again, at the little girl who bears so much resemblance to me swinging on the lone swing.
I don’t actually know why I like this one, it’s just so powerful.
“I hate knowing I would go a hundred miles for someone who probably wouldn’t even walk down the road for me.”
And a poem:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;
If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!