Can’t really focus on the stage in front of me. Heads bob to the music in unison and I crane my neck around their movements. Nothing ever seems to stay still enough for me to get a hang on things. They flow through my shaky fingers and glide in the wind away from me. Fed up, I get and shuffle myself out the aisle of bodies.
“Sorry, excuse me, sorry, just trying to get through.” Sweat, popcorn and soda. I get to the walkway and lean against the wall, letting out a sigh of relief. Free from the cage. I can finally breathe now, but then people turn their heads towards me, whispering to their seat partners.
Oh no, oh no, oh no… Just focus on the performance, oh wow pretty colors- oh gosh is that guy coming over he- no he’s going to the bathroom whew. Focus on the performance, wow that was beautiful. How long did they practice for to perfect this? They look amazing. I doubt they think that though, people always think their own work sucks, but this is truly amazing-
“Hey are you okay?”
Oh crap! Just act normal, smile and nod your head. Great, I’m shaking.
“Do you need a seat?”
No, I need you to leave me alone!
The usher puts on his concerned face in dim lighting and I give him a shake of my head.
“I’m fine here.”
Leave. Leave. Leave.
“Okay, if that’s what you want.”
I want to be the only person here watching this performance. I want to be left alone. Is any of this
going to happen? No.
Finally, the performance finishes and I don’t even remember most of it. Great. I head backstage with my sister’s flowers, hugging myself so no one touches me.
Ew. Ew. Ew. Just go through the cracks in the crowd, don’t make eye contact, good, you’re almost there…
“Mari!” I exclaim. She turns around in her ballet outfit, face plastered with every color in the world.
Her eyes are as wide as her pink-lipped smile. She has such nice teeth. Her arms fling up and she runs towards me.
Oh gosh, she’s making a scene. Wait, should I run, should I yell, what do I do, stand here? I take a couple steps forward giving her a genuine smile (Those don’t come often).
I wrap my arms around her and she squeezes me tight.
How long are hugs supposed to last? Oh, she’s letting go, pay attention.
“You were a star up there,” I say.
“Thanks Kay, I’m glad you’re here. It made me feel a little better on stage.”
Really? Dang I must be a great sister.
Afterwards I drive home to our empty, quiet, apartment.
“Home sweet home,” I yell to the air.
Oh gosh, I hope no one heard- whatever this is my sanctuary.
I lock the door and head to the kitchen still thinking about the bits and pieces of the performance I can remember. I grab a couple snacks from my pantry and get comfy on the couch. My phone pings, and I glance at the lit screen: I won’t get home til real late, so don’t stay up – Mari
Eh, probably will anyways. My mouth stretches into a yawn and I decide to head upstairs. I put away the left-over snacks and grab a frozen bottle of water. I cross the living room to the stairs, going two at a time. Once I reach the top a thought escapes me.
Did I lock the door?
I check my memory and don’t see me locking the door.
No, I probably did. I’m just being paranoid.
My feet don’t move though.
Ugh, I’ll check just in case.
I walk back down the stairs to the door. Yup, it’s locked. I run back upstairs, entering my room, and jumping on the bed. I stare at the bare white walls and sigh again. So peaceful and quiet. At least on the outside. My mind is never peaceful and quiet.
It was a feeling like never before. Every day with him was fireworks and excitement. I first met Nathan at a farmer’s market nearby. We both reached for the last orange on the table. It was like sparks went through my body, and when we looked at each other a fire lit in our eyes. That was about four months ago right before school closed. He was a new student and I got to show him around. We’ve been together ever since.
“I’m not going in there Nathan!”
“Oh come on Jaycee, it’ll be okay.” Nathan and I were at the beach chilling in the fall breeze when he suggested going in the water. It was inviting, but I was still scared because I don't know how to swim. My parents have tried teaching me, but after watching a scary movie about a kid drowning in his backyard pool, I swore off swimming.
“I already told you that I can’t swim.” He took my hand.
“I promise I won’t let you drown.” Nathan stuck out his lip and his gorgeous green eyes pleaded with me. I tied back my short hair and sighed.
Maybe it will be okay.
“Fine but you cannot, and I repeat cannot let go of me or else.” He smiled.
“Deal.” We waded into the freezing water and I squeezed his hand. Luckily I was wearing shorts and a tank top.
“I’ve got you,” He assured me. Nathan showed me a few moves and techniques like the doggy paddle. I still wasn’t ready though. He held me up bridal style, telling me to stretch out my legs and arms. Nathan's hands held onto my waist and I calmed a little. I smiled and closed my eyes, listening to the sound of waves and seagulls overhead. The sun warms my skin, as the goosebumps recede.
His hands slowly slipped from my waist and I panicked, reaching for him.
“Nathan! Nathan!” Water escaped into my nose and I started choking.
“Jaycee I’ve got you, stop moving!” I halted my movements and he took me out the water. As I laid in his arms exasperated, he laughed while I stood there bent over; coughing my lungs out.
“What’s so funny, I almost died!” Nathan kissed me on my cheek.
“You should have seen your face.” I stood up shakily and picked up our towel to dry off.
“I would like to go home now and take a hot shower.” As we held hands, we walked to the parking lot, climbed into his truck, and drove to my house. The thing is, we never made it there. It was so quick and unexpected that I hadn't fully realized it until I woke up.
We were at a red light waiting for it to turn green. As soon as it did, we took off not noticing the other car coming from Nathan’s side. The impact hit us hard. I felt my body hit the door and then into Nathan. My head hit the glove compartment and everything went black.
A humming sound woke me up and my eyes were blurry.
“She’s waking up,” a male voice said. Turning my head, I saw my parents standing in front of me crying.
“Mom, Dad? Where am I?” My mom clutches my hand.
“You were in a car accident, and now you’re in the hospital.”
“Car acci- wait where’s Nathan!” I scrambled to sit up and a terrible pain shot up in my arm.
“Jaycee take it easy, you shouldn’t move a lot.” There was so much worry in their eyes; I could tell that there was something wrong.
“Where’s Nathan is he alright?” They look at each other.
“I’m sorry, Nathan didn’t make it.” There was no greater pain I’ve ever felt, than what I was feeling now. Tears pooled out my eyes and I screamed.
“No! He can’t be!” My parents embraced me and I just couldn’t believe it.
That brings me to where I am now at his funeral. I am trying my hardest to keep it together but it’s very difficult. Standing in front of his coffin now, I realize something.
“Before you died, I planned on telling you this but wasn’t sure that you felt the same. Now I wish I did.” I touch his cold face.
“I, I love you Nathan.” A few tears dropped on him but I didn’t care. He was my first love, and I’ll never forget him. We shared so many beautiful memories together than made me feel grateful for
“Who do you think I am,” she hisses. “Huh, what you see when you look at me?” My childhood friend, Shelly stares back at me with tears streaming down her face.
"I see a sad girl who has yet to find a friend to tell her the truth," I say fiercely, "I see a sad girl who has yet to find someone to tell her what she’s doing wrong. I see a sad girl who has yet to find who she's looking for. When I look at you I see heartbreak." I whisper my voice breaking. This is not the Shelly I once knew. We have been friends since kindergarten when I spilled grape juice on my shirt and she lent me her jacket. Fast forward ten years, Shelly has found a group of friends to hang out with. It's not that I'm jealous of her being with them, it's what they do. Delilah and her posse are troublemakers wreaking havoc in our small town. Everyone knows to stay away from them, but for some reason Shelly wanted to join their group.
“Well I’m sorry that I can’t be Miss Perfect like you,” she says walking away.
“You don’t need to be perfect! Hanging around with Delilah and her gang isn't helping you. Stealing and beating up innocent people, Shelly that's not you,” I say, going after her. The wind whips through our hair.
“Well maybe that Shelly is gone, Meghan.” She runs off and I’m there standing on the sidewalk as drops of rain fall from the dark clouds.
"She's in there somewhere, and I intend on finding her!" I scream after her. She's running away from her problems. This is not the way to live.
It's been 3 days since that fight. I decide to call her sister Maya and see if she's okay.
"Hey, its Meghan, I’m looking for Shelly." I settle in the couch in our living room. There’s a pause.
"Shelly is not here," she murmurs. There's something wrong with her voice.
"Well, where is she?"
There's another pause before Maya says, "She's dead." There’s a silence, as I take in, what Maya just
said. My mom passes by holding a basket of laundry not noticing the blankness covering my face.
Dead? As in not living?
I should have called her before. I'm too late. I feel like my heart just broke. My mind stops. I can’t breathe. I drop the phone and fall onto the ground, my living room becoming a blur. Realization dawns on me. She's gone…
The green branches of the trees clash noisily together. I rest my elbow on the small triangular opening of this 60 foot tower, my evil mother put me in since I was twelve. I never knew why, she just told me I had to stay here forever. Now I’m twenty years old, and bored to death.
“Help! Someone please, I’m trapped in this disgusting, cold, and dark tower!" She visits me every morning and brings little food that never satisfies me. Along with the it, she comes with a comb and brush to maintain the waterfall of hair on my head. It takes hours I can guess, just to wash it with the buckets of water I am provided with. Imagine wearing the same thing over and over again. It's horrific! Sighing, I wait for my knight in shining armor to rescue me. The pink and purple dress swish just above my ankles, as I rub my feet together in annoyance.
Suddenly in the distance, I hear something pounding against the ground in a hurry.
“Here I am, my princess!” I lean over the window to see Prince Christoph with his beach tan and sparkling brown eyes, getting off his white horse and coming towards me.
“Oh no, you don’t! I am going to save my princess!” Prince Julian, his green eyed twin brother, was now getting off his brown horse and coming towards me.
There are two princes fighting to save me. I wonder who is going to get here first.
Smirking, I watch the two guys race to rescue me. They are both trying to climb the wall at the same time which proves difficult. Prince Christoph is mischievous, handsomely daring, and a ladies’ man. He charms every woman’s heart with just a smile; or so the magazines mother lets me have, say.
“You don’t belong here Julian. She does not want you, wart face!” Prince Christoph says, pushing him to the ground.
Prince Julian on the other hand, is a bit of a, oh how do you say this? A bit of an airhead when it comes to socializing, a nerd when it comes math and science. The man is brilliant, but also stupid.
Prince Julian quickly gets up and head butts Prince Christoph, saying, “You don’t deserve her, you uh, rat!” He falls to the ground and does not get up. Prince Julian stands over his brother for a few seconds, realizing what he has just done. A small smile creeps up his face, and with a fist in the air, he exclaims, “Finally, I've beat my brother!”
“Adanya, Adanya, lay down your hair.” Prince Julian says smiling up at me.
I roll my eyes feeling the annoyance boiling. I yell down, “Lest I remind you, that this is not a Rapunzel story, it’s an Adanya story! If you’re going to save me, get your metal behind up this tower.”
“Oh r-right I’m s-sorry,” he stammers, climbing up into the tower. I hop onto his skinny back, and he carries me back down to safety.
“Thank you, Prince Julian. That was a courageous and noble thing to do,” I say sincerely.
“I’d do anything for you, Princess Adanya.” And with that, we rode off into the sunset, and lived happily ever after. Well, I lived happily ever after, in our (my) huge mansion with six horses and all the food and fashion I can ever ask for. Prince Julian on the other hand, not so much. He had to put up with this diva.
Three months later
I admire the gorgeous figure situated in the mirror on a pink cushion. Brown hair flows in waves, resting by her ankles, complimenting the creamy chocolate complexion, in a red satin night gown. Sharp but knowing hazel eyes pry behind a crinkled button nose.
“I am cursed with beauty and charm. Something people wish they could acquire.” The room behind me (though not as pleasing) is lightly decorated, a white marble bathroom, with golden streaks along the walls. Dimmed lights above the mirror give it an ominous feel. My favorite part other than the mirror, are the golden rods and knobs. They just make everything look... special. The bedroom though, is simple with a huge bed in the middle and multiple paintings decorating the walls. Sadly my “special” moment is ruined when a certain someone comes in yelling like a madman.
“I've done it; I think I've finally done it!” Taking a deep breath, I swivel around and stand.
“Let me guess, you have successfully completed yet another scientific experiment,” I say bored.
“Why don't you sound excited?” He finally calms down as I push past him to the bedroom.
“Julian,” I say cautiously.
“Yes, my dear?” He stares confusingly at me, his arms defeated by his side. The dirtied lab coat is stained with the chemical of the day, as he likes to say.
“How long have we been together?” I hated using the word ugh married. It curdles my blood just thinking about it.
“Uh, three months, why?” The sweat forming on his forehead shines in the lights.
“Julian darling, have I ever, even once, been interested in any of your experiments?” I don't give him time to answer as I continue, my voice rising. “Do you really think I care about Sodium Chloride mixed with Phosphate or the fact that you know fifty-two numbers of Pi by heart?” The knife of my words cut through him, crushing his heart. “No, I do not care, okay? So stop involving me in your stupid lab experiments.”
“But you're my wi-”
“Hold it right there,” I hold up a finger. “I only...married you because you saved me from my prison. Not because I actually have some kind of feelings for you, Julian. If you didn't know that before, let it be known now.” I turn my heel and leave him in my dust. The plush bed calls out to me, and I reply by jumping under the soft, white covers.
“Your brother would have been a better match,” I mutter.
The man went into the house and cooked himself some macaroni. But the macaroni contained something he would never imagine.
Phil Satcher was a lonely man. He had no friends, family, or even acquaintances. His house was small, three bedrooms, and a gift from his deceased grandparents. Life was pretty boring for Phil. At work, he sat in his bland cubicle with piles of loose papers strewn across his desk. Conversations were brief and not amusing. One thing though, his boss liked him.
“Phil, you’re here earlier than usual!” Mr. Don Michaels, the CEO of Craft Store, storms down the gray carpeted floor, pass decorated cubicles, to Phil. He pushes his chair back, standing slowly.
“Yes, I wanted to finish the proposal as soon as possible,” he says in monotone. Mr. Michael nods, placing a finger on his chin.
“Phil, you are a hard worker, you know that? You come in, get your job done, and make this company richer! I want to promote you to Assistant Director.” Mr. Michael smiles very wide, baring yellowed teeth. Phil is shocked, the whites of his eyes showing prominently.
“Wow, this is an honor,” Phil mutters. Going to the grocery store after work, Phil develops a pep in his step. He smiles at the employees walking around, saying hi to fellow customers. He picks up a couple boxes of macaroni, a bottle of red wine, and two Congrats balloons. Home is no longer a bore, to Phil. He cooks up some Mac n’ Cheese, opens the red wine, and dines by himself. A sliver of cheese dribbles down his chin, the hot deliciousness melting his heart and mind.
Phyllis Sather was a lively woman. She had so many friends and family, and a couple acquaintances. Her house was large, with six bedrooms, a lease put in by Uncle Mark. Life was pretty exciting for Phyllis. At work, she sat in her picture filled office, with a neat stack of folders on her desk. Conversations were long and amusing. One thing though, her boss hated her.
“Phyllis, you’re late again!” Ms. Cami Maguire, CEO of Hardware Heaven, strolls down the auburn carpeted floor, pass bland cubicles, to Phyllis. She pushes her chair back, standing hastily.
“Ugh! The proposal is not due until four,” she says loudly. Ms. Maguire shakes her head, placing her hands on her hips.
“Phyllis, you are a negligent worker, you know that? You come in, sit around, and make this company poorer! I want you out of here, you’re fired!” Ms. Maguire exclaims, baring her small white teeth. Phyllis saw this coming a mile away, a sigh escaping.
“I hate you too,” she murmurs as Ms. Maguire exits. Going to the grocery store after work, Phyllis develops a hitch to her gait. She frowns at the employees sulking around, saying mean things under her breath to fellow customers. She picks up a box of macaroni, two bottles of red wine, and a feel better balloon. Home is no longer fun to Phyllis, even with her sister Sarah, coming over. She cooks a box of Mac n’ cheese, opens both bottles, and dines with her. A drool of cheese slips down her chin, the lukewarm stickiness crushing her heart and mind.