Dead Man Walking
When he arched an eyebrow, he created fear in anyone who was near. It wasn’t that his appearance was frightening in and of itself but if you scrambled all his features together, the picture he presented was intimidating. Cloudy blue eyes seemed to hide devious thoughts as he peered out of the side of his face, so no one could be sure if he was looking directly at them. He had a long, deep scar running down his cheekbone, giving the impression that he had lost a violent confrontation. His nose looked like it had fallen off the side of a mountain since it was splayed to one side. A ruddy, weathered face gave the impression that he had lived a hard life. When he walked into a store, everyone stopped and stared, pretending they weren’t looking, sheltered behind their sunglasses, thinking he didn’t see them. But make no mistake! He was very aware of every movement and every thought as he kept his barrier around him. No one could ever sneak up behind him because he had been well trained as a member of the Delta Force years back. He knew how to walk stealthily, had been well versed in intelligence work, had been overseas several times and knew how to kill. But now, his brain was fried and he existed mainly on the streets.
People walking by him on the sidewalks averted their eyes and pretended they didn’t see him. Occasionally, a stray dog would lift his leg and urinate on his ragged form. He hardly noticed as he focused on the anger bubbling inside him. “I served my country, no one cares, I’m thrown away in the gutter, there are spies all around me, those voices keep talking to me, talking, talking. I can’t sleep, I’m cold, I’m hungry, I see the black all around me, everyone’s dead, I can see the veins in my legs, the bright light hurts my eyes!” On and on, he ranted and raved, never making much sense, but the pain festered on, burning his guts. He never seemed to notice that his pungent smell was overwhelming as he picked his blistered feet and then wound dirty rags around them. “I have to walk and find it! I know it’s somewhere! Can’t stop, can’t stop, can’t stop! They took it! I know they did! They’ll be sorry!” He was a broken record that couldn’t stop revolving but no one was willing to take the time to help him.
Every day, he stopped at the Salvation Army to gulp down his one meal of the day, dribbling it down the side of his face and wiping it with his filthy fingers. Sometimes, he would snatch extra food off the plates of others sitting near him, causing them to avoid him. The operator of the food kitchen would take pity on him, once in a while, slipping him an extra sandwich which he crammed into his pocket on top of the sandwich he had been given the other day. He wouldn’t eat it because it had poison in it. Maybe he’d feed it to the dog that used his leg as a fire hydrant. Yeah, that would serve him right. “Dead dog, dead dog, dead dog!”
“I’m dead myself!”
The Monster Under the Bed
He was the one who shattered the dreams of kids. The hidden criminal who stole the gleeful smiles and the sparkling eyes of every single culprit. He took the unperturbed conscience of the innocent world, the luminescent light that roamed every corner, and twisted the faultless universe into an underworld of warfare and crime.
Or so that’s what they thought.
Looks are deceiving. Everyone is beautiful. We are not skin-deep, is all the inequitable world could say. But their trivial remarks would bend into a shining orb that mirrored their hypocrisy and prejudice. They would mend their unjust affairs and throw their remorseless lies on the gentle monster of the unseen world.
For all they had ever known, he was always there. The tender giant that slept under the beds of little children.
He was a lost shadow, only a whisper to what he beheld and truly was. A placid friend at heart, only to be ripped into the realms of a vicious monster. Candidly, he was an adrift beast of pure intention, searching for a friend with an open mind and a spiraling character.
And so he rested beneath the rickety mattresses of young kids, knowing that the newly born souls were genuine and true.
But he was wrong.
Around the world, society slowly tore the friendly beast into a devil of cruel works and wicked majesty. They would make kids of young and old inculcate their nefarious stories of the evil monster that cleverly hid under their beds. Movies, books, sayings… they were all present to dethrone the provision of a compassionate beast.
So youthful children began closing their closets and putting glistening lamps beneath their sleeping kingdoms. They started telling others of the savage giant and began believing the perverse deceits of the world.
And so the cycle commenced. Future generations were exposed to the darkening light and the devious acts of the murderous monster.
The world became worse and worse until not even people of the same blood could trust each other… they became more sadistic, more cold-blooded, more inhuman.
It was simple. A plan so astute, so clever, that no genius could stop the world-wide domination of the competent lies.
The world would persist in their wrongful discriminations -- mounding up accusations, falsehoods, and untruths -- until the count was so many that the kind beast was a demon, possessor of subtle assassination.
For now, he would stay as the monster underneath the bed.
It is thought that the more people the merrier, as to more minds build a stronger and more intelligent world. But unlike the floating phrases softly sewn into the wind, the world strained of this wisdom would transform their initial refined ideals into a dark and dastardly universe.
And it would stay like this for some time.
Even though the powerful remembrance of goodness was once alive, the world would never learn from their ignorant mistakes... Their lies once truths...
because they were too afraid to realize that the monsters were in them all along.
He is a love child in the truest sense of the word. Born in love, born for love, and love will be the death of him. He is slender-limbed, pale and tender all over as if untouched by the sun or anything else that may leave a mark on his baby soft flesh. His hair is fine milkweed fluff, always the target of loving caresses or sweet kisses from his adoring mother. He is hugged, carried, coddled, and spoiled, effortlessly charming every soul he encounters. His grins and giggles are irresistible, and he is showered with gifts and treats to keep him in the innocence of pure joy. The world falls in love with him, and he falls in love with it in return, ignorant of the torment love will bring him.
He is moved by his senses. He groans in ecstasy as he crushes sweet summer berries against his tongue or licks melted milk chocolate from his fingers. He is hypnotized by the scents of spring blossoms, campfires, even the subtle ghost of first snow carried on a frigid breeze. He stares, agape, at anything beautiful, whether an intricate piece of art, a blazing sunset, or his mother as she brushes her long hair. He will let his eyelids fall and lie back on the floor wherever he is, paralyzed in the strains of a magnificent symphony or mellifluous voice. Anything soft to the touch arrests him, and he nuzzles a sleepy kitten, a handful of rose petals, or a freshly washed blanket against his cheek. He inhales glory, and exhales joy. The whole world has him in a thrall.
Blissfully blind, he opens himself to anyone, through a rosy lens seeing in them the same beauty and purity that possesses him. He does not see the sadness and dread in the eyes of those who know how completely the world spoils perfection, and how temporary are the richest beauties. He smiles and opens his arms to all, not knowing that when he grows older and loves whoever will have him with all of his might, holding nothing back from those with whom he shares pleasure, he will receive pain, judgement, and emptiness in return. He does not realize that while he cherishes beauty, caressing it with tender, pink fingertips or holding it delicately upon his tongue, others consume and devour, spoil and destroy all that is lovely.
He laughs freely, not knowing that there are bloody wars being waged over matters he will always be too innocent to understand, that he will have to take up arms against others, to cause pain and accept death when he was built only for love.
He sleeps deeply and easily, having only sweet dreams as real worries have not yet tainted his soft, safe existence.
And as he dreams, his mother lies awake weeping for her child, who should never have been born to this world. She knew when he was only a twitch in her belly that a child of love can never grow up, but can only be destroyed.
Absentee parents, contracted a disease that one sh'ant not speak of a loud. That sunny-bright smile that sets skin on fire, flames licking those wounds that physically cannot close. Solace eyes, ocean-sky blue. Halo-Ring blonde; angel face.
Little Golden Boy, seventeen-- not too young. Not too young to speak for his high school class. Not too young to tame the hottest heads. Prone for victory; prepared for perfection. That body, perfection, one that makes ladies swoon. One that draws in demons from those shadows: that smile is contagious.
Destined child, ready for greatness. Attending Oxford in the Fall; early graduate. Parents should be proud if they were there beside him. Golden Boy hates drinking for he sees it too often. Can't handle the stress that can come from a beer in hand. Poor child.
Beautiful child. Doesn't mind being touched when near those men with vodka shots; snuggling into their chests last at night. Down those alleyways, late night excursions. Deep kisses and throaty gasps out from our successful golden boy.
Sweet, sweet, sensitive kid. Beloved by his classmates, his teachers, his community. Everyone knew that he was going places far from that tiny town he was secluded to. No one knew about the drugs. No one knew about the abuse. The anger. The sorrow. Tiny, weakling Golden Boy. Afraid that his secrets would be out there.
He wanted it. Those touches he was missing. Those hugs and kisses that his family forgot to give. Challenging those situations that should have been so, terribly wrong. Little Golden Boy, so ready to be a man.
The drugs weren't so hard to get to. Long sleeves go far in that small down up North. The snowfall; that's what he recalled so vividly. Down that rabbit hole, akin to Alice he was. In his own, stimulated Wonderland, engulfed by those cannibus that eat away at that taste people love to lap up with tongues and off fingers. That Golden Boy, so delicate, so docile, so strung.
Not many friends, our Golden Boy has. Classmates, acquaintances. Two parents, mom and dad. Both work, government jobs. Dad used to serve, a good twelve years. Support the family. The wife. The "son." Or daughter, from how he acts behind closed doors. Shameful boy. Disappointing boy.
Those who know him the best are hooked on the way he throws his head back and moans names that isn't there's. They don't care. They just like how lithe he is and the things he can do on his knees. A sinner on his back, eyes up through the ceiling on a Heaven he knows he'll never have the courage to go. The way he works on his hands and knees, bucking backwards against thrusts. Hair pulling. Shoulder biting.
"More, more, more--"
Quiet Golden Boy. Doesn't make daddy proud. Too queer for his tastes. Hooking in bad men. Father doesn't know the extents his son goes for fulfillment when he doesn't give it to him. He just wants to see his father smile. He just wants to make his father laugh. Maybe then things could be different. Apologetic Golden Boy. False-Promise Golden Boy.
"I'll do better."
You might have heard of her, probably not by this name. She's been known by a lot of names:
The Beautiful One
There is more to her than a name. Much, much more.
So, so, powerful. She never had a chance to be young. One moment, her parents guarded her, keeping the sorrow of the terrible revolution taking place in her homeland from reaching her. The next...they were dead. And she was forced to grow up to assume their position. She had a twin brother, Viceroy. But he dealt with his sorrow, and his responsibility, differently than she did, taking to the network of tunnels underneath the city, leaving her alone to care for their younger sister Firefly.
She has a beautiful face, with its dark brown skin and eyes that are the color of burning embers. Long, silky black hair falls down her back in a straight waterfall, four orange streaks contrasting strikingly. She holds herself with dignity, her face an impassive piece of stone. She has never had time to cry.
Beautiful viceroy wings fold at from her back when she wishes to feel elegant, or beautiful, or show just who she is...or maybe just to get away from everything around her. She once used to hate those wings...they reminded her of the monarch wings her twin brother possesses.
She comes from an ancient race, one that has had a powerful protector for all these many centuries, The Darkness. And since her father died, and Viceroy has left, this is her void to fill. As well as the position of the Supreme Judge of the Thirteen. She carries it well. You would never know the sorrow and the pain that is hidden under that blank face. The only emotion many see is the anger burning in those eyes...
There isn't anyone beside Firefly who is close to her. The powers she possesses, the positions she fills--it makes her alien to everyone else, even her own people.
When people think of Monarch, all they see is those burning eyes, the perfect face, and the silence. But Monarch knows there is so much more, and she is dying to show her true self to someone. Someone who understands.
She has waited a while for that person, one hundred years, almost, though she still looks like a teenager. She knows she'll have to wait a little longer, too, but she's patient.
She knows that it'll be worth it in the end.
Or so she hopes.
She's lonely. Even surrounded by people like she is, she is so alone. But it's not like she's made an effort. She just waits.
She's not completely unhappy. She enjoys taking place of her messenger, who delivers her court edicts in her place to prevent her assassination. She also enjoys serving justice as the mysterious Darkness who hides behind the hood of a cloak but has unheard of powers. It's like she can become someone else. But there's always a relief--and a dull pain--when she is just simply Monarch.
© Copyright 2017 Abigail Burchwell
There is no character here
How rude. The title clearly stated that there is no character to be found here, yet you came here looking for one. Do you expect to find one here? Do you think I would lie in my title? How rude.
As you are still reading, I suppose I should at least tell you something, right? I suppose I could tell you now about little big John. Make no mistake: he is no character. Not at all. In fact, he is never seen. Or heard. Or spoken to. He is pretty much ignored by everyone, and he ignores everyone too. See? He is no character, he hardly even exists. Try making a plot or writing about events involving little big John, it won't work. Because he is NOT a character.
If you are wondering why he is called little big John, it's because he used to be called John, back when he still was a character. Which he isn't anymore. Big refers to his size. Little refers to how little of a character he is. Because he isn't one at all.
Isn't this fun? I must write about a character, which I'm not. You think you are reading about a character, which you're not. I hope you're not angry with me right now, after all, you can stop reading any second. I'm not the one wasting your time, you are.
So you are still here? I guess you are just intrigued by my non-character little big John. Or maybe you want to know where this is going? If the latter is correct, stop reading. This isn't going anywhere anyway. Or do you think I'll make a character of little big John yet? You might get disappointed.
Little big John used to be a character once, actually. But he isn't anymore. Now he just lingers in the streets, crowded with characters. Each character has his or her own story, but not Little Big John. Nobody ever writes about him, nobody ever reads about him. He is just a nobody, a non-character. Everyone always ignores him anyway, it would make for a boring plot.
Little big John also smells horrible, by the way. And he looks dirty. And he's only clothed in rags. He has no home either.
Little big John lost his job as a character. Some writer once made him, and erased him from the story the day after. Now Little big John is homeless, he has no story and no family. He can see all the characters passing by, from Harry Potter to Legolas, he has seen them all. But neither Tolkien or Rowling ever mentioned him. And that is because he is a non-character.
He was never given any thoughts, or emotions. Even I am not entirely sure how he looks. The dirtiness, the smell and the rags? I just made that up. That's how I see a person that has no story for his own. All I know for sure is that he is Little big John. And that he is NOT a character. It's curious, how meaningless little big John is to this world. It's curious how everyone seems to be a character in some great storyline, but not him.
A stranger once came to him, and handed him a story. And little big John started reading. He read about some character. And for the very first time, little big John felt like he was in it, in the story. Little big John was reading to make him forget that he was not in some major plotline. To make him forget about not being a character.
Little big John now saw the reason people read novels, stories or even poetry. It was just so people would forget all about the boring real world, in which nobody ever is an important character. That was the moment that little big John realized that he wasn't alone. A lot of people read books, right? Did they all feel like little big John? Did they all feel like their lives were meaningless in some way? None of the characters he saw in the crowded streets felt they were characters themselves, did they? Why would they read books if everyone was living exciting stories anyway?
That was the moment he realized that the main character in the stranger's story, the fellow called Little big John, that was him. And all of the readers that came here to find some character, they were all little big John. All looking for an escape, for meaning in life. But sometimes it's enough to realise that you're not alone. Everyone is looking for meaning, for identity, for character. All the time.
By the way, there is still no character here.
What to call this person? Was it he, she, they, it? Or maybe it was a combination of all of them. Some days, he felt more like a man, and he lusted for women, feeling the testosterone beating against his skull. Others she felt quite feminine, trying on fancy dresses in the back of failing costume shops and feeling stirrings of longing in her heart whenever anyone walked by pushing a stroller.
Alex was what non- medical specialists called a hermaphrodite, with both sets of parts underneath a deliberately androgynous exterior, short but stylish brown hair, multiple but artistic piercings, and beautiful and mysterious tattoos, each of which meant something, but only to Alex. Alex was perfectly fine remaining an unknown, a blank box, a non-binary person. Alex knew that society expected one to choose, but Alex didn't want to. Why should they? It was more fun to see where the day took you, to decide what you wanted to wear and who you wanted to be at any given moment.
Alex's job working the stockroom at a big box store gave Alex the freedom to choose, as no one ever needed to see them. Unfortunately, the boss wasn't too flexible about gender, so Alex had to tell people he was a man and stick to it most of the time. It was unfortunate, but if you wanted a job, this was the kind of compromise you had to make.
Alex was a free spirit, sexually, spiritually, emotionally, but felt stifled at work. The one thing Alex hated above all else was falsehood, whether it was false charm, false hair or outright lies, but right now, it seemed like every day was a lie, each one building on the next, the weight of it slowly crushing out all breath until it felt like Alex was going to die.
Sometimes she wanted to get long plastic fingernails or bright red lipstick, but that would be too much for her boss, so, she let a fun experience, a small but significant piece of expression, pass her by, and he remained the same.
Alex had seen what happened to people like them. Alex had heard nightmare stories of people being attacked on the streets, because a straight man had hit on them and they were biologically male, or they had just come out of a drag bar, or just because they wanted to use the bathroom they felt they had a right to use. That wasn't going to be Alex. They still had dreams. Alex wanted to be a musician, to sing and play guitar like an angel, to make tears stream down the faces of their audience because the song struck a place inside them and vibrated like a tuning fork.
How was that going to happen? Alex had no money and a broken guitar, but those were both excuses, really. Alex could have found a way, but the fact of the matter was, Alex was just too scared. A person can build something up so much in their head that they become as paralyzed as if a bullet had struck their spines. How Alex was going to get past it, Alex didn't know. It just seemed too hard.
The Most Miserable Man on Earth
Thomas Kline was a man of few words and even fewer qualities.
He was average in just about every quality. Height, weight, looks, athletic qualities, IQ. To be frank, Thomas would do wonders for being an extra on film sets, because there wasn't a single portion of him that set him apart from the rest of the world.
Each morning, Mr. Kline awakens to his alarm clock, utterly alone and utterly miserable. He wears the same black slacks and brown dress shoes everyday, something that his ex wife would scold him on.
"They clash," she would say, but he never did mind. He only cared for his comfort, which was why he was alone now.
His commute to and from work was the bane of his existence. Bumper to bumper he would stare to the sea of red lights before him, wishing he was anywhere else but where he sat, but everyone who knew him could never see him leaving his dead end job, and the thought of Thomas going on a vacation sounded more like the punchline to a joke rather than reality.
He always arrived to the office 15 minutes before the clock would start, his father setting the tone for his work ethic in his youth. 'Early is on time, on time is late, and late is unacceptable!'
Setting foot into the office building he would B line right for his cubicle, giving a nod of acknowledgement to his coworkers, exchanging morning greetings and small talk. The reason why he hated Mondays wasn't because he had to return to his desk, it was because he would have to hear about everyone else's weekend.
"Oh my little boy, Jimmy, he made it onto little league!"
"-And then my wife has the nerve to invite our neighbors over to the cook out! They still owe us for ruining our law mower!"
"Haha, yeah, It was a good weekend for me. Nailed some broad Friday night. She was something else but not girlfriend material if you know what I mean, Tommy."
Thomas loathed Mondays almost as much as the job he had, or the car he drove, or the place he lived. There wasn't much on this earth that was spared of Thomas's judgment.
Save for June Weathers.
He wouldn't say that he loved her, no, that was a bit much, but he knew he didn't hate her, and that was more than the rest of his peers could say for themselves.
He sat adjacent from her, and where his corner of the world was bland and plain, hers was bright and pure. The only decor he had in his space was memos for work, where June had every inch of her cube covered with photos or catchy quotes, a Mickey Mouse bobble head next to her mouse.
She looked his way and smiled, giving a silent wave. Thomas swore he felt his heart flutter and he returned the same.
He prepared to ask a question that had been tearing at him for weeks when his least favorite person in the office hovered over her.
"Hey, you know last Friday was kinda fun, we should do that again sometime.."
Thomas swiveled back to face his monitor, swearing something underneath his breath.
He hated this place more than he could care to tell.
Serenity From The Opsona Journey Series
A deep sorrow beat in my chest instead of the steady thump of my heart, each beat set in a rhythm that drove the sadness deeper until there was nothing left but agony. This feeling would become a part of me, but I would never be able to fully adjust to it. Nothing could rival this emotion as I stared out over the Tentusa Valley. It wasn’t the same anymore. It would never be the same, nor would I.
The first moment I stood at the top of the valley with my master by my side seemed like a life-time ago, a violent storm welcoming us from the grand lake. Subtle winds that would soon turn brutal lashing at my long raven locks, and cooling my unnatural olive complexion for a vampire. But that's not really what I was, vampire was an easy way to classify me and now I knew the truth off it as I stood there once again. A gentle breeze a phantom reminder of that day when I approached the Tentusa Valley as a loyal warrior to my Lord. A Vamdire General ready to serve her master, and now I look upon the land like I should. A heart-broken goddess that has fallen from the heavenly planes. A warrior defeated after a life-time of battle.
Tears filled the corners of my eyes and spilled over into endless silent streams, when was the last time I cried in sorrow like this?
When had tears fallen so freely from my eyes because I lost something I couldn’t protect?
These tears were different than the ones I shed in anger or pain, and they seemed more unending like the emotional agony that was steeling my breath. A part of me was missing, I felt incomplete and empty…bottomlessly empty.
The gentle breeze that welcomed me at the beginning of this journey into the valley now greeted me once again. No longer powerful and gusting from the storm I brought down upon it, but weaker and solemn. Mimicking my silent pain and whispering a soft apology. The land was weeping too and suddenly I could remember the last time heartache stilled me like this.
I was twelve and my whole world had been taken away, stolen by Vondorian and his twisted world. As a prisoner of the vampires I gazed out of my tower cell into the darkening night. Black hills of deep green stretched on for miles until meeting an ominous forest. Mountains formed on every boarder enclosing the vampire cities and keeping them shadowed in twilight.
Even in all my sorrow and despair I stood silent as I stared out into the awe inspiring terrain. I had never seen a more darkly stunning place, a wonder trapped in the depravity of darkness and I would never see anything that could match it. A twilighted beauty hidden in shadow and I grew to love it. The sorrow fading from my young heart as the years turned into decades, and then I no longer thought about the family Vondorian murdered. I didn’t have a feeling left for them. Even now as I looked over where they once lived not a twinge of emotion sparked in my chest, but this new loss was not the same. Time couldn’t heal this, and I didn’t want it to.
I never wanted rid of this sorrow. I never wanted this feeling to fade. No matter how painful it was I could never let go... I would never let go of... him, my mate. His crest seared into my flesh where we sealed our nefarious souls together. What started as an alliance of necessity grew deeper even at my denial, but now he's gone and I can deny it no longer. Our bond... I was his mysterious raven beauty, and he my powerful demon warrior.
I would hold onto the memory of him and the agony it brought until my last breath. Which I hoped would be soon, if death would finally show me mercy.
© J.N. Sheats
Excerpt from The Opsona Journey Series
“Who are you?” the man asked of the woman standing in front of the office building, looking up as if it were a dragon to be slain.
Julia is not ‘stunningly’ beautiful as most heroines tend to be. Neither is she ‘striking’, unless of course she happens to be striking you. No, Julia is none of that. She’s ‘odd’, not falling into any category or stereotype. With her round white face, pink-purple lipstick, and dead black hair, you might start with ‘punk’. However, the pink button-down shirt that might almost pass for traditional—but not really—screws that perception up pretty well, although the strangely patterned and oddly colored over-sized scarf flung over it might make you pause again. No. ‘Punk’ doesn’t fit yet.
The ragged, torn, and apparently dirty jeans doesn’t bring you back to ‘punk’. Now it’s more like ‘unkempt’. But, not really. The cowboy boots? Well, aside from the fact that they match her hair, your brain might start to frazzle in its attempt to make any sense out of this. Her ‘just a little plump’ body does stretch the denim a little, but ‘it works’, she likes to say. Looking at the 26-year-old woman, you might disagree with that assessment, but on closer examination of the interplay of textures and colors and patterns, you might nod your head and think that maybe it does work.
Julia sees her body as a different kind of rack, something that just holds her art, her clothes. Okay, you think, maybe she’s a designer, or maybe she got lucky that day.
Many people give up trying to understand and classify her right about now—usually about ten seconds into the first encounter—and that’s just fine with Julia. Who she is, is known to, and understood by, her and her alone. Again, that’s fine: people may not like what they find if they start to probe too far; there are things that people simply should not know. They will find out eventually, but not at this point.
If people get beyond the initial failure to classify her, the next thing they notice is the eyes: deep, dark, crazy green, set in her face like outlined emeralds painted on a china plate. But, on closer examination, there is something else, something like a beam that emanates from them: a tractor beam, hard to pull away from. If you stay too long, you’ll see an intensity that is frightening, unless it isn’t frightening, unless you want to be pulled in; unless you need what her eyes promise; unless you are short on what she seems long on. The more you need, the closer you get. Very few people get that far: fear starts right about halfway—or desire, and that’s the critical difference. The ones that venture farther expect reward for their courage. Some may get what they expect. Most won’t.
If people looked even farther inside those eyes, they would see a fire, a burning intelligence and… is it anger? Drive? Ambition? Then they ask: ‘where did this strange young woman come from’?
The answer could be: ‘around the enemies, over the bad guys, through the obstacles’. Or just: ‘from nothing to something’. Or maybe a better question is: ‘Where is she going?’
Julia started with nothing but the belief that creating fashions for Barbie dolls would lead to a life of creating fashions for models. In high school, when other kids said mean things, Julia instead heard praise from a man on stage in a spotlight. When other kids pointed and laughed at her mismatched clothes, Julia saw an elegant woman pointing and shouting ‘this is the future of fashion!’ When kids made fun of her tossed-together outfits with no labels, Julia saw a model gracefully sliding down the runway to applause; the neon sign above the runway carried her name on it.
She looked at the rear-view mirror of her life and never saw the poor girl, or the struggling seamstress, or the tired young woman showing her designs to yet another buyer. But Julia could clearly see the man who crushed her father and tried to crush her spirit. And she could plainly see the executive who said she was a genius; the one that believed in her as much as she did in herself. All of these conflicting/harmonious threads were woven into the fabric that made up who she was, a fabric whose patterns and colors and cuts were as unique as the woman herself.
She turned and looked at, no, into, the man who asked the question: ‘Who are you?’
“I am Julia, sir.”
(Julia is the main character in a new novel by Timothy Freriks, due out in fall, 2017)