Fruit Barons of the Amazon
David Murdoch crouched low in the sugarcane, regretting many things. The mosquitoes, for one. And the fact that, while the canes provided excellent visual cover for him to cower behind, the mud they grew in was steadily working its way up his boots and threatening to swallow him like a spoon dropped in poorly made custard. What he regretted most profoundly was ever taking Bicksby’s offer. The man could have hired a personal geologist. Instead he had combed through the top universities, pulling strings and testing for chinks in the academic phalanx. And, like the fool he was, Professor Murdoch had let himself be lulled away with promises of ancient temples and words like epeirogenic. He shifted again and swore under his breath as the canes rattled around him. If nothing else about the current disaster was clue enough, the mercenary Bicksby employed as valet should have been screaming red flag enough. But had he listened? Of course not. Which was why, as what sky was visible above began turning a watery grey, Murdoch polished the lenses on his binoculars and peered across the river.
The mercenary-turned-valet in question was nowhere to be seen. That, of course, merely meant that he was doing his job. Part of the dense undergrowth detached itself and loped across the lawn before re-attaching as part of the stunning collection of ferns in the garden. As soon as the motion stopped Victor Ramshorn was once more lost as part of the scenery. He was entirely at ease with this fact, coupled with the twin machetes strapped to his legs and assorted other blades about his person. He glanced toward the enormous hacienda and allowed himself a moment of silent derision. There was Petersen, crouched behind a stunted bush as though it was some legendary cloak of invisibility. For a man who billed himself as practically native to the area and a superb scout, Victor was left wondering what prey would be lethargic enough to fail to avoid the scout’s attentions. Sloths, perhaps. A quick glance across the river was confirming that even the damned geologist had concealed himself with more success. Victor wove through the ferns to the corner of the porch. From there he was afforded a view of the verdant fields that stretched beyond, trees bending under the weight of pendulous fruit. It would be a waste - such a waste, at that! - but a job was a job, and he for one was in no rush to get on his employer’s bad side. He waved Petersen and a half-dozen forms from the surrounding forest followed, crouched low against the possibility of being seen. It was time.
As dawn was bringing glorious color to the sky and the associated wildlife began raucously chorusing its approval the raiding party’s efforts were brought to fruition. As the morning sun was cresting the horizon it was well-known that Lord Percy Umbril would be taking breakfast at his leisure on the expansive porch. It was therefore with the greatest zeal that Victor gave a shrill whistle, and the interlopers released the first barrage. Pink-orange shapes flew through the air and pelted the pale yellow house and its clean white trim, sliding down the windows and obliterating the lordship’s toast entirely. Footmen scattered as a second wave hit, riper than the first, leaving the porch’s occupants splattered with sticky pulp.
“Outrage!” Umbril sputtered, retreating behind the formerly spotless table. “Take care of this, this indignity at once!”
The footmen traded looks, each trying to walk the thin line between not going first and no longer being in Umbril’s well-salaried employment. Finally the smallest caved, helped in no small part by a shove from one of his companions. He stumbled down the steps and tripped into the welcoming embrace of the garden, reappearing dishevelled a moment later. The great man himself, meanwhile, cowered behind the breakfast arrangement. Lulled into complacency by his rival’s apparent acceptance of the latest fig buyout, Umbril had foolishly breakfasted far from any door to safety. Across the river Murdoch scanned the driveway. A flicker of motion caught his eye - there. The laborers - at least those that feared Umbril’s wrath more than the sight of seed-spattered mercenaries launching a frontal assault on the fruit baron’s mansion - were making their way along the drive, careful to avoid the telltale crunch of gravel underfoot. Murdoch pulled the whistle Victor had given him from the depths of a bulging vest pocket and loosed two shrill blasts, one short and one long. The mercenary’s attention snapped to the west, and at a gesture two of the men behind him melted backwards into the rising morning mist. The lackeys on the porch took advantage of the lightening barrage to take cover behind the low stone border, making the dash to the gardener’s shed singly and in pairs. A bird called from the depths of the forest and the laborers found themselves under assault from all sides. They scattered and split, pouring back in the direction they had come, beleaguered by invisible foes.
Murdoch availed himself of the opportunity to uproot his boots from the gummy morass and slipped to where the canoe lay hidden. He pushed off with barely a splash, fervently praying the sun-shredded mist would hold until he had safely crossed. If a breeze tore the last of his cover away he would be a sitting duck for Umbril’s lackeys. He shuddered again at the remembrance of Bicksby’s instructions that morning.
“Remember,” the baron had said, pipe clacking between his teeth, “Nothing lethal. Lady fortune is fickle, and in a month or two some of you might find yourself in that fop’s livery. I won’t hold it against you, mind - like as not you’ll be mine again by the end of the year. But no maiming, either, for such a lazy good-for-nothings you’re damned expensive to replace out here.”
He treated them to a mirthless grin and stalked off to inspect the fields, leaving Victor to organize and instruct and arm the group. Were he back in London, Murdoch would have thought it a line-up of the police’s usual suspects rather than a selection of Bicksby’s most veteran employees.
Now, paddling as quietly as he could manage, Murdoch wasn’t entirely sure any such demarcation could be made. He had been an idiot of truly magnificent proportions to get involved, particularly having read the papers in the weeks leading up to his voyage. The press left out more than it dared print, which, in consideration of the rags he stooped to in order to find so much as passing mention of the fruit baron, should have been reputation enough. Had he listened to reason? Of course not. He had been half-drunk on promises of research and academic prestige when he should have been wondering why the line of eager applicants was so remarkably lacking. The canoe bumped into the opposite shore, startling Murdoch from his self-recriminations and nearly into the river. A hand appeared from the shadows to haul the canoe halfway onto land, leaving the geologist to stumble forward in desperate hopes of making it to dry land before tipping over. He almost made it when the other hand lifted him by the collar and deposited him on the bank. Bicksby’s minion picked up the paddle and slung the canoe over a shoulder before disappearing into the forest as silently as he had come. Murdoch waited for his heart to slow to a canter before slogging towards the rendez-vous.
The geologist broke cover at a run, dodging between rows of towering plants until at last the mansion was in sight. Victor was where he had promised, orange juice dripping from the twin machetes in his hands. He spun, sending a spray of sticky liquid to join the mud coating the unfortunate scientist.
“See you managed to avoid the opposition,” he grunted, laying into the pile of green-clad fuit at his feet.
“I was informed the alternative might be... unpleasant,” Murdoch agreed.
He hefted one of the freshly skinned papayas experimentally before lobbing it over the roof of the shed. A yelp announced the fruit had found its target, and Victor nodded appreciatively.
“So is this sort of thing a usual request from Bicksby?”
The mercenary glanced over to make sure the question was in earnest. Murdoch didn’t blink.
“You mean ruining his lordship’s breakfast? Or holding the place ransom until he gives in to an exploitative contract letting Bicksby act as middleman for this entire region?”
“We’re holding them captive?” Murdoch squeaked in horror.
“Not technically.” Victor shrugged. “They’re just too afraid of getting a little dirty to move. Mind you I told Bicksby we should just burn the place down, but he’s planning some sort of maneuver with a shell corporation that involves the trees still being present.”
“So then the fruit-flinging is better? Legal?”
“Of course not. We’re destroying his property, eating into his profits” - he punctuated the point with a large bite from hsi latest victim - “and bullying Umbril into signing unfavorable contracts. Give the lawyers a month and the tides’ll turn and we’ll be the ones getting pelted with produce. Most of the men switch sides at least four times a year, only sometimes voluntarily. Half of them would blast everything south of town flatter than a coat of cheap paint if they thought they could get away with it. Bicksby has his choice of volunteers for chores like this, and they both give as good as they get.”
Murdoch threw another papaya, the slick fruit curving shy of its intended target to shatter glasses on the breakfast table. Come to think of it, one of Umbril’s footmen did look familiar, but Murdoch had put it down to the general thuggish resemblance of all the workers. He was pretty sure the specimens in question were no stranger to police inquiries, not that there seemed to be a strong presence of the law in this particular locality. Even had there been, it would no doubt have devolved into another pawn in the fruit barons’ needlessly complex two-man trade war. He grunted and dropped the papaya he was holding, fruit sliding out from between pulp-slicked fingers.
“Have they always been sabotaging one another like this?”
The valet treated Murdoch to the sort of look that prompts one to reconsider life choices.
“Has nobody ever told you that asking too many questions is bad for your health? I’m not a bloody history book.”
But he grinned nevertheless and chucked another handful of orange flesh, sweeping Umbril’s wig off his glistening scalp as the magnate sought to determine if it was safe to emerge.
“They were friends at first, way back at the beginning. Then the usual sort of disagreements, Umbril didn’t agree with Bicksby’s business practices, Bicksby took exception to Umbril’s aversion to risk. They agreed to split assets 50-50 and become two separate businessed. Then in the summer of ’27 Umbril’s fiancée broke off the engagement. Umbril blamed Bicksby, and things got ugly.”
“Uglier than stealing entire fields and the associated peasant labor?”
Murdoch slitted the skin on a papaya, attempted to peel it off, and sent the half-flayed result hurtling in the general direction of the house. He wasn’t much good at it, but he had to admit there was something electrifying about being in the middle of the action, fruit raining down on all sides as both parties slowly morphed into pulp-coated monstrosities.
“Ugly as in the governor called in the army to break up the fight and put out the fires. See, it wasn’t just about Umbril’s lady. She had left him because he chews with his mouth open, but the blockhead refused to believe her letter. He insisted Bicksby must have done something to drive away his lady love. Bicksby was never one to walk away from a slight, particularly from his former friend. More than his honor, though, he was personally hurt. He was hoping his friendship with Umbril might... develop.”
“I can see where having that particular aspect of one overlooked might make someone itchy for revenge,” Murdoch agreed.
“So, instead of talking about it, they went to war. Their actions may have been tamed by the army’s intervention, but I can assure you the hatred still burns strong on both sides.”
Murdoch inexpertly dodged an incoming mango.
“Who’s that on the driveway?” he asked, wiping golden juice from his eyes.
Victor glared at the figure approaching the house. Clad in nondescript trousers and a stained shirt, he could easily have belonged to either side.
“Halt! Who goes there?” one of Umbril’s peons called uncertainly from behind the potting shed.
The man hesitated before continuing towards the house. Without seeming to move, Victor popped into a gap in the rows of papaya trees, dripping machete in either hand.
“Declare yourself, or suffer the consequences!” he snarled.
That seemed to do the trick. The interloper froze, hand drifting to a pocket. Distracted by the newcomer, Bicksby’s minions paused their barrage and Umbril’s men perked up in case it was reinforcements.
“Message for a Mr. Umber-something?”
Umbril’s lackeys, hope ruptured like an overinflated cream puff, slouched deeper behind their cover as a fresh hail of papaya pelted down around them.
“No, sir, away! A papaya war is on!” Victor bellowed, whipping a skinned specimen at Lord Umbril with incredible accuracy.
The courier stood in the driveway, staring at the fruit-splattered men like they had all gone mad. Not, Murdoch thought looking around, that he would have come to any other conclusion if he had arrived at the current stage in the proceedings.
“Should be out of papaya fairly soon,” he called cheerfully, launching one with decidedly less success.
It corkscrewed off into the garden well short of its intended target. Already the mountainous stockpile they had skinned in the darkness was well on its way to disappearing entirely despite steady harvesting efforts from several of Bicksby’s lackeys. Murdoch frowned. Surely they had a job title, or at least names. Not that any in Bicksby’s employ found it worth their while to be loose-lipped, but he wondered why he hadn’t thought about it before now.
“What happens when the papayas run out?” he asked Victor, passing a couple particularly fleshy examples.
The mercenary valet released the missiles and reached for another, to find the stack significantly shorter than expected. He spared it no more than a moment’s attention.
“Pineapples next, boys!” he hollered, to groans from the house and general approval from the fields.
“When darkness comes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel”
And suddenly the election of Donald Trump makes sense to me. The night he was elected I was so horrified, although I am as anti drug as one might be, I took an unprescribed xanax, not caring if the little blue oval pill would kill me. And for three and a half years, each and every day, I have tried like hell to come to terms with not just his election, but more so, a reconciliation in my mind over the thought process possessed by those who voted for him. It was Hillary that called his supporters The Deplorables, not me, and I still believe her use of that phrase might have been one of the biggest political blunders of all time. Is Donald Trump a racist? Is every person that voted for Donald Trump racist? Does every racist consider themselves as racist? No one knows what is in another’s heart, but we can make educated assumptions by examining an individual’s past behavior.
I was born and raised in NY. As you know, so was Donald Trump. He was always all about promoting himself, so if you lived in NY, it was impossible not to know who he was. From the get go, I viewed him as obnoxious, narcissistic, misogynistic, materialistic, and considered him suspiciously racially biased when I found out Fred and Donald Trump were sued for real estate discrimination in the 70′s. He was not someone I would want to associate with. Then I read he spent $85,000 on local ads condeming a group of teens who became collectively known as The Central Park Five, headlined “BRING BACK THE DEATH PENALTY. BRING BACK THE POLICE”, two weeks after the crime was committed. At the time I read between the lines. It seemed to me he was convicting these kids in an attempt to garnish support in the court of public opinion, before their due process. They were all found guilty, and in the end, they were all exonerated after spending many years in jail. The taste in my mouth for him went from bad to worse and that trend continued especially in reading about his business practices, his bankruptcies and the icing on the cake for me was his phoney birtherism attack on Barack Obama.
Before the election I assumed incorrectly that someone with his character would be elevated to the highest office in the world. But now it all makes sense when I see where we are now. Donald Trump has drawn a line in the sand creating two different Americas. Those for him. And those against him. How so? By condemning Colin Kaepernick and calling people who kneel for racial justice, sons of bithches, by putting children in cages, by calling African countries shit hole countries, by calling himself the Law and Order President, by saying “There were very fine people on both sides,” by banning Muslims from entering the country, by embracing police brutality on live tv in front of law enforcement officials at a ceremony on long island on July 28, 2017. Apparently Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s killer made a deadly move right from that play book, and the list goes on and on. And then yesterday in the rose garden, he actually invoked George Floyd’s name saying “It’s a good day for him,” with reference to our economic numbers. I think even my eight year old grandson would understand that statement is moronic and compassionless. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!
How can we know exactly what effect Donald Trump has had on current events? We can’t but, what we do know, what is happening today is happening under his watch, and although he is not a buck stops here kind of guy, ultimately as president he is responsible for the state of the union.
Finally, once and for all, largely or partly, aided and abetted by Donald Trump and his minions, our country is facing the ugly stain of racism that has been a source of injustice in our country for 400 years.
So thank you Donald Trump. I can finally say I see the good that can come from your presidency. Not the good in you, not in spite of you, but to some degree, because of you, on your watch, racial justice is upon the horizon.
To the seventh(?) grader who wore an Attack On Titan survey corps cosply jacket to school every day,
It took a few years, but thanks for the show recommendation. When I was searching for new anime to watch, your glorious beige coat with that winged symbol reminded me of a series that had shaped many of my classmates back in middle school. Having been wary of blood and gore, I used to avoid shows like AOT, but finally decided to tackle it a few months ago. Since then, I've been shocked by how a twelve-year-old such as yourself could have emotionally carried yourself through homework while watching that (and playing DDLC and FNAF, and reading Creepypastas and SCP foundation, and listening to "emo" music and Hamilton-), but here we are. While the posts that you and your fellow fans tricked me into believing that Eren x Levi was a canon ship and not weird in any way (until I found the fifteen-year age difference...), you introduced me to an interesting anime that remains in my top five.
Props to you wearing that jacket and screaming about titans in the hallways, something that I myself will only have the dignity to mentally experience in high school. Had you not done so, I would be rewatching FMA: Brotherhood for the tenth time as we speak (a good choice, but new experiences are better). As I write this, I'm listening to the second season's opening and nervously wondering what will be in store for the fourth.
Thanks once again for the tears,
- a stan of a ton of dead(?) characters
Who or What Would I Be?
I have been asked that many times and often I say, “I have no clue.”
But now, with this challenge, one I have thought over the last three days, I have come up with a small montage of who/what I would be. See, I like choices. If one doesn’t work out, I have alternatives to work from.
A Butterfly. They evolve like a mystery, and become a thing of colored beauty. They harm no one and fly where they will. They are comforting, peaceful, and graceful.
FDR: Franklin Delano Roosevelt. I often wondered what it would be like in his shoes when he made the announcement that, “December 7, 1941, is a day that will live in infamy.” Immense pressure under daunting times. And on top of that, his daily struggles with Polio, at a time when there was no cure. Would I, could I, face such challenges so daring as he did, and still manage to come out on top. Could I have done what he did at a time when this country needed a strong leader and pull us out of a Depression? Hard questions, but he did that. I would like to say I could as well, but times today are far different from then.
A Scribe: This is rather a thought I have had for years, but to be a scribe during the years of Christ, and follow him, record his words and deeds. For me, that would be fulfilling. And I would want to ask Christ just one question: Did you know what would happen when you were a child?
My Mother: Strange perhaps, to want to be a woman, but she had an indomitable spirit, gumption and drive. She never saw any obstacle she couldn’t get past and she worked hard all her life. From the coal mines in Western, PA., to a riveter during WWII, to being a waitress for 35 years, as well as raising me (which was never an easy thing for her).
She instilled motivation, logic and drive in me, and my father, of which, if she hadn’t, he would have never lasted 40 years working for one company. She was tough but she had heart.
The only other person I would want to be is ... me. I have had my share of ups and downs. Quit school at 16. Entered the Marines at 17, saw a war, traveled the world, and the states here, fell in and out of love too many times to count but was really in love-love, twice. The second one, I married. As time moved on, she died and I went through some changes, but we all do, don’t we? My life has seen me as a teacher, a Chef, a salesman, and now, a hopeful writer. Retired and enjoying life. Yes, I’ll just be me. No one else has the memories I do.
If ignorance is bliss, you must be the happiest person on earth. Your ambitious attitude and closed mind have to be how you earned yourself a cult following, and the privileges you were born with will be more than enough for you to surpass me.
I admit that you have a nice smile that would look better as a geniune grin than as a judging sneer. You have a strong voice that easily drowns out your opponent's arguments, and are tall enough to look down on anyone who disagrees with you in the slightest manner. If my interests lied in brute force and contact sports, I would be impressed with your groundbreaking achievements for our insignificant high school's teams. If your definition of perfect remains a straight, Christian white man with blond hair and blue eyes, then you are just that.
In a way, you humble me. You remind me of who I want to wrong, whose views are obselete in this day and age, and whose job would be better suited for someone else. When you tell me to do more research, I am inspired by spite to write entire essays to appease your blind opinions. When you insult my interests, I make sure to talk more about my newest favorite "gay cartoon" or "feminist book". When you told me to follow your religion, I went on a spiritual journey to discover that I am not atheist, but agnostic instead. When you reminded me that I would never reach your same math level, I reminded you that I would be able to skip a class next year. When you start to compare me to others in the class, I make sure to individualize myself further and call you by the wrong names. You should be grateful that you look like a Jake or a Trevor and not your own misspelled name.
We may never find common ground, but that doesn't mean that we don't learn things from each other. Since my own facts outnumber yours greatly, I'll just go over what you've shown me: Reddit (I downloaded it then promptly deleted), Kaitlin Bennett and Ben Shapiro (really scary but funny social experiments), and our school's newly-formed debate club (hated it!).
With truth comes anger
Two decades. That is twenty years. TWENTY YEARS! I am trying to understand why for four of those years you lied to me. You made me believe that he was the issue. Do you know how hurtful that is? Granted, I didn't really perfer him to begin with, but that is beside the point.
I once thought we would be the best of friends and now as the words strafe from my fingers I wonder if I could see through the truth again. I am angry, I am furious and not with myself. How was I to know you were hurting when you didn't tell me for FOUR YEARS? I thought I did something wrong before I went on deployment and came back and you still refused to talk to me. You left me wondering what I had done to find out that you held onto this anger for FOUR YEARS!
Look we all have anxiety, but at what point do you give up and let the anxiety stop you from being honest? That isn't healthy, that is actually really bad! I don't like confrontation either and I was trying to find the way to tell you. Good thing I have a good relationship with your mom and I hate loose ends. Would you have said anything or just let this mysterious feud boil over until we never spoke again? I think you would have chosen the latter.
Yeah, the military changed me. It has made me see that confrontation sucks, but it needs to happen. It has made me really become passionate in some ways, I want my voice heard; but that doesn't mean I meant to silence yours. Gosh darn I can't remember what I did yesterday let alone four years ago. I am sorry for what I said, but you should have told me then! WE WERE FREAKING BEST FRIENDS! WE COULD HAVE WORKED THROUGH IT THOGETHER!
I am hurt becauese, for the first time in my life I see one of my friends as a coward. I hate the word, I hate it and I see it. You chose to use your anxiety as a scapegoat instead of talking and I am hurt. You didn't see that our friendship of sixteen years at the time meant anything. I was there for you when the attacks started, I would check in every day or as much as I could. And I come back from a life changing experience and you don't tell me I am different, in your opinion a bad way. How the crap was I going to change then? Did you think it would eventually get better? When there is a break in a pipe line you don't just watch it grow as it creates more problems, you fix it then or when you get the chance. You don't wait four years when the mess is now out of control because at that rate the damage is done.
You said we don't have a lot in common anymore, I disagree. You said we are adults so it's harder to hang out, I disagree. You insulted me by not valuing our friendship and make me now question if it is worth staying friends.
Just because I am angry now doesn't mean I hate you. I accept your changes do you accept mine? Can you let go of four years of built up anger and anxiety toward me? You were used to that, it was your new normal. Can you accept my apology for my unknown actions and consequences? Because I am having trouble accepting what you told me; give me time and I will. I never hated you for stopping our friendship and avoiding me, yeah it annoyed me because it felt like I was putting in effort to talk not knowing there was a giant wall.
But how was I to see that our friendship bond was broken when you kept yours hidden in the shadows?
“What is it?” His voice was heavy like a rain storm, reminding her off raindrops pouring off the edge of the eaves. As the moon high in the sky, it’s light cast shadows on his face, making his eyes glow an ominous green as he awaited her answer.
She looked around the empty street, unsure of how to say what she needed to. Tiny pellets of rain dropped around them, landing in the already-existing puddles that dotted the cobblestone sidewalk.
“You’re still upset,” she stated, voice ringing through the empty darkness.
The corners of his mouth pulled down into a frown. “So what?”
“You’ve never stayed mad for this long,” she explained. “And I’m starting to think that it’s something bigger than me messing up.”
“You’ve never fought for me.” The words were like thunder amidst the storm clouds and as lightning flashed across the blackened sky, she felt the guilt stab through her heart. “Not once. In the past 904 years, I’ve fought for you and for myself and you didn’t even care. But Hayden—you willingly put your position and possibly your life on the line for him. Should I not be upset?”
She couldn’t speak. She didn’t want to. The words that sprung to the tip of her tongue burned and she knew they would come out sharper than she intended. Instead, she hung her head, momentarily mesmerized by the pattern of falling rain.
“I’m sorry.” The words escaped her mouth before she realized she was saying. “I—I really am.”
“Sorry?” He sneered. “Sorry? That doesn’t make it go away.”
“Then what do you want me to do?” she yelled, voice cracking. She hated when that happened and as the whole in her chest grew, she realized how weak she actually was. So weak in fact, that she couldn’t fight for what she wanted to keep safe. “I couldn’t. I couldn’t fight for you.”
“Why? Was it really that hard to do?”
“Yes, yes it is!” Her hands clenched into fists by her side. “Because I didn’t have the right to fight for you!”
Once again, silence took over and they stood there, amidst the falling rain, eye to eye—soul to soul.
“I’m a murderer—a mistake—a rebel,” she muttered. “I’ve been labeled a million things and some of them I’m not afraid to claim but I’ve never once been called your Protector. Ever. That’s not my right—I’m not strong enough to be there for you and I didn’t think you wanted someone like me fighting for you.”
“Someone like you?” he echoed. “I stayed here, by your side, at this stupid house for nine hundred years because I wanted to be by your side. All I wanted was for you to stand up for me.”
It was just two words and it seemed so simple to say but as they hung in the air like mist, Seneca realized how painful it was for her to say them.
He didn’t speak but instead he turned and headed for the front stairs, a few stray raindrops pelting into his skin. He stopped, hand on the doorknob and looked back at her.
“It doesn’t matter anymore,” he muttered before disappearing into the house.
The rain trickled down Artemis’s cheeks, like the tears she wished she could cry. Like the blood that had drained from Seneca’s throat. Like the heavens above were pouring down upon her, weeping their sorrows.
Her fingers trembled as she slicked back the wet hair that had fallen in her eyes. She had failed him. Seneca had stayed by her side for 904 years. 10,848 months. 47,137 weeks. 329,960 days. And every single one of those days, she had failed him.
She couldn’t breathe.
As she clawed at the collar of her shirt, she gasped for air. Her chest was constricted and her throat was shut and no matter how hard she tried, it was to no avail.
A strangling sound escaped her throat as she managed to bring in a little air but it burned as it filled her lungs. Tears cascaded down her face, stinging her face and leaving a gaping hole in her chest. Pain launched out from her chest, across her shoulders and down her arms, making her curl up.
Each attempt to scream for help came out as a soundless choke, barely audible over the sound of the creaking floorboards beneath her bed. She couldn’t breathe and her vision was starting to blur from lack of air. The tears weren’t helping any either but no matter how many times she wiped them away, they came back.
Her hands shook as she gripped the headboard and squeezed her eyes shut.
Breathe. She begged herself silently. Please.
Despite the words that were now echoing through her head like gunshots, the shaking got worse as did the itching sensation that ran up and down her arms. Her nails dug into her skin, piercing and ripping as she tried to get rid of the pins and needles that resided there.
Screams echoed through the air and the feeling of the cold metal in her hand made her skin crawl. Although the fire was far behind them, she could still see the smoke rising in the darkened sky, hiding the full moon from view.
Panic washed over her like a wave, making her freeze. She stared ahead, trying to focus on one thing, to calm her mind down but her gaze landed on the painting by the window, its flames reaching up to the dark sky as it crackled brightly.
She looked up from the sword in her hand to meet Seneca’s eyes which were livid with fear. As he reached out to hold her bleeding hand, she pulled back, his fingers barely brushing against her tingling skin. Blood dripped from her palm from where her grip had shifted on the handle of the sword and the blade had sliced through her skin. It burned but she welcomed the pain.
Dread hit next and it felt like she had been slammed against a cement wall. The little bit of air that had made its way into her lungs was now gone, disintegrating faster than her breathe on a cold evening. A choked cough escaped her lips and as she made herself focus even harder on the picture, her lungs slowly opened and expanded with oxygen.
Maddox dropped to his knees before her and his black eyes found hers. She could see the reflection of the stars in his pupils and although it was chillingly beautiful, it sent a shiver up her spine.
“He’ll die just like this. I swear—.” He choked on the blood that bubbled up the back of his throat as he went limp.
The pins and needles slowly resided and her muscles relaxed. Her skin burned from where she had scratched at it and although the cold air made it sting, it felt better than it had before.
The shaking was the last thing to go and as she sat there, numb, she could only stare at the one thing that had calmed her down. She was afraid that the moment she looked away, it would all start again and this time, Seneca wouldn’t come to her side.
Why should he in the first place? It wasn’t his job to take care of her and be there to comfort her every time she had a panic attack yet he always did—even like the first night when she had doubled over, unable to breathe after what she had done.
But as she grasped the sweat and tear soaked sheets in her hands, she wished that he was there, comforting her like he always had.
A knock sounded from the other side of her bedroom door, causing her to sit up slowly and take a deep breath before carefully sliding off the bed. She grabbed her robe from the back of the chair by the vanity and swung it over her shoulders, hiding the holes she had torn moments earlier.
As she opened the door, she could sense the grey cloud that hung over the house and the panic that radiated from the person on the other side. She opened it the whole way and came face to face with Seneca.
A single tear slid down his face and she instinctively reached up to wipe it away but as she touched his face, she pulled back. His skin burned as if it was on fire and as she let her hand drop, he grabbed her wrist and held on.
“Artemis.” His voice cracked with pain. “Maddox—.”
He didn’t need to finish. She knew what he was trying to say and as she saw the blood that seeped through his shirt at an ever-quickening pace, her heart lurched.
“I’m dying.” His eyes met hers only this time they lacked the normal shimmer of green that had always made her smile. Instead, they were matte—dim and withering.
THANK YOU SO MUCH!!!!!!
OMG! 100+ Followers. I am speechless. Thank you all for so much support. Though I am not very active on Prose I am so overbrimming with happiness.
So maybe I will be doing a few changes. First I have made a new profile picture. Secondly, I will try my best to socialize more in this community and try to be consistent.
Also, I am thinking to thank all my friends who have supported me... So Let's start...
(PLEASE DON'T MIND THE ORDER)
1.Tushar: OF COURSE! DO I NEED TO TELL YOU HOW MUCH SUPPORTIVE AND ENCOURAGING YOU ARE!!!! You have always been really very sweet and such a good friend. I am literally crying because you are my backbone. (I tried my maximum to write a better scientific word but you know XD)May you achieve all your dreams very soon. <3
2. Mishthi: you ARE SO SWEET JUST LIKE YOU NAME. You are my best friend. God! you have supported me a lot. I love talking to you. After talking to you I feel so relieved... I can't express how sweet you are...Maybe I will get diabetes because of your sweetness <3
3. Poetri: You are really very kind and helpful. All your poems are amazing and you are a source of inspiration for me. <3
4. FoxLilly106: Honestly, you are the reason I am on Prose. I have never seen someone so polite like you. You are like my younger sister. God bless you.
5. Ernaline: THANK YOU SO MUCH for all the support. You're a very active member of the community. It is wonderful having you in the community.
6.DylanRiley: You are very sweet and encouraging. Your poems are so skin-deep, that I don't have words...And we think similarly! I love your passion to do what you want to.
I am sorry if I missed out anyone. I would definitely love to connect with you... Once again THANKS ALOT!!!!
There is no competition,
Out classed in every way,
You see what I bring
And definitely see what
"Competition" wont look me in the eyes
Avert you gaze,
Because you know you lack.....
You are no competition......
will anyone remember me after I die?
Will anyone remember me after I die?
You remember someone who forgives, but I didn't
Someone who cared, but I didn't.
You remember someone who is kind, but I was wasn't.
Someone who is best, but I wasn't.
Will you remember me after I die?
a girl who didn't forgive easily, care much, wasn't kind, was not the best but best.
Will you ever excavate my heart and find the actual feelings I felt?
Will anyone remember me after I die?
I wasn't generous, I was selfish
I didn't love everyone, I did hate.
I had cuts, which didn't heal,
I had grudges, that didn't conceal.
Will YOU remember me after I die?
The cute girl with a magical smile,
who WROTE day and night to survive.
The bright eyes in which lied your paradise.
Will you remember my Silver Bali?
which shined in your darkness.
Will you remember me after I die?
Will you find the unknown me?
Will you get your eyes wet by thinking of me?
Will you discover the unseen me?
Will the world remember me after I die?
whose work is all that she owned.
maybe you will find me in my work, immortal.
WILL THE WORLD REMEMBER ME AFTER I DIE?
a common girl with uncommon dreams.