SPOKEN WORDS

These words
I am speaking
are ringing
with echoes down the hall.

Old and familiar
but still distant.
The sound is empty
and hollow.
And how I’ve felt about them
for so long.

I repeat,
regurgitate,
and mime.
It’s an act
for those around me,
to help strengthen their beliefs
and answer the uncertainties of mine.

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The Seven: Before the Fall – 1

” Sarah?”

A pause.

“Sarah? Are you even listening to me?”

Sarah closed her locker door, revealing April’s wide-eyed, upturned expression. She leaned her head back onto the thin, grey metal door behind her. “Did you hear what I said?”

Sarah sighed and gave her friend a weak smile. “Yes, loud and clear.”

April puckered her lips. “Well being loud is one of my best traits.”

They laughed.

“But seriously,” April snapped back into her direct tone. “The party starts at eight. And everyone is going to be there. Everyone,” she tilted her head down as if to whisper, “including you know who.”

Sarah snorted. “How do you even know that?”

April tossed back her long, black hair over her shoulder. “I have sources. You know this.”

“God, April. Sally doesn’t know anything. That girl can’t tell you what she ate for breakfast – if she remembered to even eat it. She’d feed anyone a story so long as it kept you listening to her.”

April rolled her eyes and tossed her hair to the other side. “Well” she said, holding on the ell, “just let me know alright. I know Sally can be-” she paused, “-a little flimsy on her information, but I think she is right on this one.”

They started walking down the hall. The crowd getting sparse as the class bell loomed.

Sarah bit her lip. If he was going to be there, then she should be there. But if he wasn’t, it was just going to be another typical high-school party with lots of drinking. And lots of gossip.

“Okay,” she said quietly before they entered the science room.

April let out a squeal. “I’ll pick you up at nine on the corner. Lights out as usual.”

SUMMER BREEZE

Can you feel
the summer breeze
that’s sweeping in?

Bringing with it
the sweet aroma
of warm evenings
spent under the sky.
Glasses of wine
lounged with friends
at your side.
Conversations free and fleeting
laughter and the subtle beating
of hearts.

Stars blink
and the moon shines.
Comfortable in their light
the night spans into forever.
And you never ask why
but you bathe in it
and love every second.

RESPECT MY MIND

There is pain in my skull
from all the pressure inside.
It’s pounding bone
and trying to bust through
my eyes.

But I am here
sitting and wondering
how it got to be.
How it became
such agony.

Stretched thin
is my patience.
Boiling
is my blood.
Bedlam
is the logic.
Thoughts
like sludge.

Thought I truly try to succeed,
I feel like
every question you frame
is a trap.
and – GOD –
I am getting tired
of the act.

Petty, cyclic, futile,
and worth no one’s time.
Can I ask you just for once
to be an adult
and respect my mind?

The Seven: Chapter One

The clouds break apart high in the sky, leaving frayed edges and trails of white behind them. A warm, red hue blankets the bottom rolls, reflecting the evening’s sun as it begins to dip beyond the horizon.

Sarah looked at the black illumination of the city’s skyline. Ribbons of towers and spires were like mountain’s themselves, like some kind of testament to the power of man over that of the Earth.

Her feet dangled off the side of the cliff while she sat. Hard, rust colored rocks surrounded her, no bigger than couch. A playfield of boulders, as some her friends had called it. But at the edge of the playfield was Marooner’s Cliff. A devastating – or beautiful – three hundred feet drop down into forest below. The lodgepole pines outstretched from the base with their slim trunks trying to meet the edge but falling still over two hundred feet short.

The sky began to take on the nature of fire, orange and yellow streaks slit across the view in front of her. Would this be her last sunset?

Andrew had found a space next to her. He had been noticeably quiet for a while now. She assumed he was giving her some space – a chance to think. Everything had happened so fast. It was all supposed to be a joke, a hoax. None of it was supposed to be real.

He stirred, moving to get up. “Sarah?” he asked, his voice small.

Sarah didn’t respond. She still didn’t feel ready.

He cleared his throat. “Sarah?” he asked again.

She turned her head steadily, meeting his eyes. “We can’t wait any longer. If we don’t do it soon, the sun will have set and then….then…” he shook his head. He looked down and traced his boot on the dusty ground, pebbles scratching the surface as he moved. “We would let them down,” he added.

“I know.” Sarah stood, taking in a long breathe. Her heart was beginning to race again. Could she really be doing this?

“Here –,“ Andrew fumbled with his pack and handed her a small container. The clear liquid sloshed around. “It’s pure, I promise. Picked it up on my way over.”

Sarah nodded; she would never doubt Andrew. He was someone to bet your life on.

“And yourself?”

He pulled another container out. “Covered. I think I’ll just leave my bag here.” He tossed it over one of the rocks to the other side. “I don’t think it would be a good idea to take it with me anyhow. You might want to empty your pockets, too. Anything to weigh you down a little less.”

“Right.” Sarah managed a small smile. Her heart began to feel like it was moving its way up her chest as nerves began unraveling all over her. With shaking hands, she pulled out her cellphone and wallet, tossing them down on the ledge. What would her mother think when they found them?

A pang hit her hard in the stomach. Her mother. Did she say goodbye?

“Ready then?” Andrew asked. He was trying to be brave, but his pallor had gone pale amidst his red-freckles. Poor Andrew, Sarah thought. She was the reason he was here today.

With as much stillness as she could muster, she popped open the lid and drank the liquid in one breathe. It was cold and hinted of metal. She supposed as any water kept in a copper basin would be.

Taking Andrew’s hands in hers they repeated those three sentences. Only twenty words. She had counted them repeatedly.

They both turned to the edge of the cliff and released hands. Taking in the world around her a last time, she stepped out.

Her body felt like a cloud as she fell – weightless and free.

 

GOLD

The curves and the lines.
The shapes
that your body takes.

Poised and perfected.
Long hours spent focused
has been found effective

During the pursuit of glory,
passion and beauty unfolds,
and you discover
that there is more to this
than just winning gold.

SMILE

Just smile. Behave, politely. A nod of the head. Of course and absolutely.

I could keep myself like this for hours. Happy energy flooding the space around me. Everyone loves it. Look at them, smiling back.

That’s what we need. The strange, false comfort that everything is alright. All your worries, those little life stressors, they are nothing compared to what you feel right now.

At least, that is what they keep telling themselves.

Each of those bobbing heads leaving the conference are held high, eyes pointed to the doors. The next hours are an exciting, blank space waiting to be filled with conversations about projected expectations and dreams.

I am just like them. In some ways. Polishing my exterior while burying who I really am. What I really feel.

Sad.

That’s a better word for summing my day. What I think of my expectations and dreams.

Hopeless.

And that is the word for describing what is perceivably been my entire adulthood. A constant pull into a shapeless darkness that shrouds all of my thoughts and tinges them with despair and angst.

I can’t seem to get away from it. I try to push it out, telling myself I’m better. But it always comes back. Stronger even, as if toys with my own weakness.

So, I let it remain.

And it grows. Consumes, really. But I don’t have anything left. Just an appearance that lies for me. It does a great job, like I said, everyone smiles back.

They don’t know what lies beneath the mask. They don’t need to. And, perhaps more to the truth, they don’t want to.

Those are the types of questions they never ask.

***

Don’t be afraid to ask the uncomfortable questions. If you (or someone you know) are depressed, know that there is always someone there to help.