Archive for May, 2014

When I was in High School

It’s funny how high school drama sticks with a person. I graduated high school four years to the day, and yet I can still picture the look on his face when he told me he loved me, and then the look on his face a few weeks later when he said he didn’t. That was junior year.

I suppose we all made mistakes that year – Tina totaled her dad’s car, I slept through a shift of work, and Louise accidentally blabbed about her crush to the whole school. But he – Jeremy – made a the biggest mistake of all. I couldn’t handle all of his lies. “I love you,” he said. He was never an honest guy, but I was blind to a lot of things when I was a junior in high school.

All of these things floated around in the back of my mind everyday. In between my classes and studying and long night shifts, a painful memory or two would invade my day.

But today, I’ve decided, I won’t let it stick with me. I refuse to let this perfectly joyous day be ruined by an fiendish man. And so I strode right up to the grocery story, intent on having a peaceful time of errand running. I grabbed my toothpaste and other odds and ends with a bounce in my step. No painful memories for this girl. Once in line at the check-out, I heard something familiar. The customer in front of me chuckled at something the cashier said. I knew that chuckle.

The customer turned around. I knew that face.

He blinked in shock, and I blinked back. “Hi,” he said.

How could I respond to that in a way that’s not lame?

“How’ve you been, Mia?”

“Fine,” I said whimsically. I had nothing else to say, and I laid my items down on the conveyor belt, hoping that he would leave me be.

“You know, it’s been so long since we talked. I’ve been thinking for a while about writing you a letter.”

“That’s really interesting,” I said. “I’ve never thought of doing the same.” I inwardly cringed. What happened to being cool and collected?

“In that letter I would have apologized.”

Now I looked up.

He grinned, as if something was truly joyful, and I knew he was kidding about the apology part. “I’m sorry that you didn’t understand relationships back then,” he said. “Hope you’re a better person now.” He flashed  me a grin, took his plastic bag, and turned on his heel.

When I a junior in high school, I would have sulked like a dog with it’s tail between his legs, reeling from Jeremy’s tumultuous wake. But now I shrugged.

Like I said, it’s funny how high school drama sticks with you. It’s also funny how people change, or in some cases, how little they change.

Rapid

By Christian Sopkowiak.

It was too late. The river had begun to fill my lungs and I swear I saw the darkness they talk about when you are dying. The unfathomable weight of my drenched clothes began to contribute to my drowning. The lack of oxygen in this prison was becoming unbearable. What sucked most of all, I could not even see the sun.

My entire body was submerged under the tortuous blue of the water. The rapids were destructive that day and of course, I decided to try the canoe today. It was stupid, in hindsight. But, I was drowning, dying, losing, and trying to…

My scalp felt the rays of the sun for a moment and I knew I would have a moment of air. That liberating moment occurred seconds after the sun graced my head. My head bobbed out of the water for about ten seconds.

The heat radiated across my face and I gulped all the air I could. I used all of my strength, my muscle, and my will power for those ten seconds. The rapids tore me back down and I tried to remember the taste of the air.

Immediately, my body jerked towards one side then it ripped towards the other. My head snapped to the left when my body went to the right. The water tore me without thought or reason. One moment I would be towards the shore and the next, I would be drowning in the brunt of the rapids. My head snapped to the left, this time. I knew I would be jerked somewhere next so I put my hands out to try to stop the water from pushing me but that was only my instinct, not my logic. I was under for, well, a few more minutes I suppose before the rapids gave me another moment of air.

I raised my hand out of the water and the rapids decided that meant I got my chance. They ripped me out of the water, for a moment, and I swallowed the air. I gasped, opened my eyes to see boulders everywhere. But, I heavily inhaled that unseen remedy as my head once again enjoyed the sun’s warming rays. I swear, air tastes so damn good when you need it.

Then, I went back. The rapids once again grabbed me and did not let go. This time, I opened my eyes under water to see the damage. The water was moving sideways then upside down then towards me. I also saw my feet, they were dangling, lifeless it seemed. The water had taken them too. The water began rushing towards my pupils so I closed my eyes. That was when I slammed into the boulder.

The rock was sitting the midst of the rapids and my body crashed into it. I grabbed onto the boulder, my ribs felt broken, my legs mangled. I struggled to gasp for air, let alone breath. The water wanted me for itself, it kept trying to tear me from the boulder. I needed air, somewhere, somehow. I swear, the boulder had crunched some of my ribs to bits and my feet were numb. Every breath began to feel like my last as my ribs attacked my skin and my lungs began to give up. So, I climbed up or at least I tried to. The rapids kept coming, trying to pull me down for more. My adrenaline must have been pumping because I did it. I was able to get my eyes above the water and I saw the sun again. In that moment, I wanted to wait there, forever, and look at the pale yellow light above me.

Image

Beyond the Bridge

A fictional story based on the picture prompt

 

By: Rebecca Taylor

 

                As children living in a small town, it was always a treat when our parents rented a cottage and we got to go swimming and canoeing in the river. We often canoed under the bridge but our trip to Gold’s Lake meant that we didn’t cross over the bridge by car. My sister and I used to play games of what was beyond the bridge – was it a giant city or a magic village, maybe there was royalty that lived there in a castle, or a gold refinery or…and the list went on. Now, that I’m an adult and I had a chance to get out and see for myself what was beyond the bridge, it makes me kind of sad because while there is a city, there isn’t really anything that unique about it, unless you think that the house down the street from where I live is special in its fluorescent pink paint with the bright yellow trim. Being in the city is like being in most places, there are people, some are nicer than others, there are coffee shops and restaurants, some I’d rather eat at than others, there are office politics and ladders to try and climb to get better opportunities. There are places of truth and justice, of good and evil, of right and wrong, but this is life and I am happy making my place in it, even if being beyond the bridge didn’t hold the same allure as it did when I was a child. And, the most amazing thing might still be on this new side of the bridge, a wonderful man who I recently met and who has asked me out on a date, this evening. I’m getting ready and am hoping to not be too nervous but whatever happens, I’ll know that I took a chance just like I did in coming to work on this side. I know too that if ever I want my small town life back all I have to do is get in my car and make the drive back across the bridge. Knowing it can go both ways is a very freeing experience. 

Adventure Awaits

“You know you want to come along.”

I rolled over in my bed and glared at the window. I saw the Tim’s lean frame through the window and was pretty sure I could make out a grin on his face. I also knew that if he was here, I was going to leave with him. The thing to know about Tim is that he always wears the most beautiful jeans from Buckle and that he is quite manipulative.

“I’m sleeping, go away,” I said in a mock-sleepy voice. I had hardly slept the last few nights. If anything besides manipulative, Tim was predictable. I could see his restless heart probably better than he could and knew he was about done with this place.

See this here is how it happened. We got recruited right out of high school. They bring in kids from all over the U.S. They train us and then send us out into the world to do quests or some crap. They didn’t really give us much detail but we are trained in most of the same stuff that the army is trained in along with professional business-speak and such. I could work in an office or be an assassin. The missions vary but this is a private company owned by some crazy old man who seems to want to control the world. It is all a little odd but we get paid really well and right out of high school, I wasn’t ready for the ramen college life and so I took up their offer.

“Don’t make me come in there,” Tim said, starting to hoist himself up through the window.

I went the two steps it took to cross my cabin and opened the door in a resigned manner. Tim often came to visit me. He was my closest friend here and we were probably the closest friends out of the group. But we didn’t really hang out with the same people when we did group activities, didn’t quite attract the same person, I guess. My friends were lamer and I knew it.

He walked in and sat down at my reading chair. I hated when people sat in my reading chair but his jeans were pretty damn nice today and I could see that even through the darkness. I decided to let the chair thing slide, like I usually did with him.

“Why don’t you want to go?” He asked me, putting his “I’m all ears” face on.

I climbed back into my bed. No sense in wasting the warmth of my comforter.

“I’m sorry, what?” I asked. He rolled his eyes. I always used that line when I really did want to talk about something but was being a pest about it.

“I’m waiting.” He told me, getting comfortable in his chair. I put the pillow over my head. He and a few of his friends had decided they wanted to go out and see the world and find a quest of their own because we had been here longer than any of the other training groups and we still hadn’t been assigned a place to go. We wondered why they hadn’t sent us out but all they would tell us was to be patient. It was odd that we hadn’t been sent away to a job and we were getting impatient.

He gave it about thirty seconds and then got up and I assumed started walking to the door. I heard his hand grab the knob and I peeked out from under the pillow.

“Wait.” I told him.

He came back and this time sat down on the bed next to me and looked down at me.

“So? Care to enlighten me?”

“Ugh. I’ve already close to killed my parents by going here versus being the good kid and going to college. If this falls through they’ll do that annoying parent thing where they are all disappointed.”

“That’s not the real issue though, is it?” He said, scrunching up his eyebrows.

“I mean…” I braced myself for this explanation. I was glad he wasn’t the type to laugh. “I think your friends are cool and whatnot. However, I just don’t think this will be a good fit. Like they think I’m cool ‘cause I’m friends with you but I’ll be the odd one out. I know this sounds lame but I feel like it’ll be uncomfortable.”

As usual he didn’t laugh. He pondered the room for a moment. I waited in my somewhat patient manner and tried not to move around too much. I was restless.

He looked back at me, “I see what you mean. But let me tell you, you don’t give yourself enough credit. People like you a lot more than you know.”

I couldn’t look at him. I had always been awful with compliments.

“Okay, lets go,” I said and then didn’t move. “Its just kinda warm here and out there, not so much.” I gestured to the outdoors.

Tim looked peered down at me and I felt like he was trying to decide something. I looked away for a moment and next thing I knew his face was inches from mine and he kissed me.

“I’m pretty warm, too. Grab your stuff.”

“Okay.” I smiled because I knew this would be my greatest adventure yet. He started to get up and I said, “Hold on.” I sat up and grabbed his shirt and kissed him again.

He pulled back and looked at me with a smile, “Quit distracting me and get your stuff. I’ve gotta wake the others.”

He walked out, his Buckle jeans still as nice as ever, and I started packing.

It was time to move.

 

 

 

Waiting

 

Twelve days. It’s been twelve days since I’d seen Jared. I didn’t want to worry. To follow after him even though he told me to stay, to constantly look towards the bridge he crossed over, hoping to see him racing back over to me. I didn’t want him to think I didn’t trust in his strength, his intellect. Him. So I waited, just like he said.

But it’s been twelve days. Nearly Twelve whole days.  287 hours, 47 minutes and 32 seconds.

I dug the heels of my bare feet into the ground, barely wincing as the rocks scrapped at my skin. It gave me something to focus on, something other than the lack of his presence beside me. I’m not clingy, I swear. I just didn’t realize how nice it was to have someone around, other than me, Lucy and Kay. And how worried I’d be when he was gone.

“Still waiting?” Kay leaned over my shoulder, pressing a cool hand to the back of my neck. His fingers were wet, as if he dipped them in the river. He must’ve been trying to catch fish with his bare hands again.

“Yeah,” I said. Read more…

Burning Bridges

“You can’t uncross your bridges.”

“I know,” I said.

We sat on the edge of the river, hanging our legs over the edge of the concrete bank. The water glittered a few feet below us.

“So what are you going to do?” Walter asked. He was always so pragmatic.

I looked at him. He’d just found out my deepest secret, the secret that I wasn’t who I said I was, that I had a shady past, and yet he seemed as calm as ever. “Aren’t you even curious?” I asked.

He shrugged and looked at me with those loving brown eyes. When I met him two years ago I had an inkling that we’d become best friends. I was right. “Your past is your past, Emily,” he replied. “If you want to tell me, I’ll listen, but I won’t ask.”

I grinned a little. “It’s Avery. My name’s Avery.” I paused for second. Of course Walter wouldn’t ask about my past, he was too gentlemanly for that, but he still deserved to know. “I witnessed a murder a few years ago. Back when I was a part of a gang.”

He tried to hide his shock, but he’s not that good at pretending.

I chuckled. “Yes, I was part of a gang. I was a newbie, and not comfortable with making hits or really hurting people. I saw something I wasn’t supposed to, they knew that I saw, and I freaked. I ran. I had my name changed. Dyed my hair red – did you know I’m a natural blonde? – and cut my hair short like this. Oh yeah, I got glasses, too. Since I ran I thought it was going to be okay.”

“You never went to the police?”

I shook my head. ” If I did that, I knew the word would get out eventually that I was the snitch, and I didn’t want that. I wanted to live.”

I was silent, and he stared straight ahead, thinking. The whole conversation had started with me telling Walter that my past had caught up with me. My old gang had found me. I saw a couple of them outside my house this morning, and another one while I got my groceries at the General Store. I thought that I was safe here.

He looked at me now. “Back to the original question. What are we going to do?”

“You said ‘we.'”

“I did,” he said, and I managed a tiny grin. “We could go to the police now.”

“But they’d ask why I didn’t go to them before.” All of the accumulated worry from the past couple years swam around in my mind.

“You have nothing to hide.”

“But they’ll be suspicious.”

“Avery, you didn’t do it. You were in the wrong place at the wrong time.” He looked straight into my eyes as he said it. “I’ll go with you to the police station. Tell them what you know, and you can be put in real protective custody, and the real murderers will go away for good.”

I looked out at the river, wishing it would wash away all of my worries. “I thought I’d never have to deal with this. I thought I’d burned my bridges when I ran here.”

“We can’t burn our bridges. Well, we can try, but there are always ashes. There are always the parts and the memories that we can’t hide from. The only thing we can do is acknowledge that bridges cannot be uncrossed and keep walking.”

I nodded. At least I wouldn’t be walking alone.

Bridges

Bridge

Writing Prompt: Sometimes bridges are crossed, never to be un-crossed.

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