Transcendent

I grabbed the sleeves of my sweater to pull it tighter around my shivering body. The howling nightmare of a wind was attacking my bare goose bumped legs, blowing my already short skirt up. Desperately I fought with my wardrobe in an useless attempt to keep my dignity. And as I tried to rationalize this fashion disaster, I came to the realization that I couldn’t remember picking this outfit in the first place. Why would I wear this during one of the coldest, windiest months of the year?

 
I lived only a few blocks from my school, SFU High, and had walked this route every day for the past four years. That particular day, however, the walk felt as if I was slowly making my way back from the pits of hell, fighting through a bone chilling purgatory, only to be rewarded with a sense of anxiety upon reaching heaven: my house. It looked perfectly normal, boasting it’s elegance with the white oak paneling that added just the right amount of sophistication. The short but wide set of steps that led to an oversized oak door, whose purpose was to intimidate some yet strike envy and awe in others, complemented the huge bay windows that gave the outsider the perfect view of our perfect family. Yet for some reason, my stomach churned with nerves at the sight of it.

 

Slowly and carefully I examined the stairs as I climbed them. A small trail of dirt lined the edges leading all the way to a little mound by the door. I thought to myself, The gardener must have been here earlier. So I brushed the dirt away with my foot before lifting the panel on the front door and punching in the code to unlock it. I stood in the vast silence of our house, my stomach churning with nerves. I didn’t know why that was, because everything looked exactly like how it was when I left in the morning, but as I soaked in the energy around me, I felt a staleness to the air and knew something wasn’t quite right.

 
“Mom? Dad? Cassie?” I shouted, wondering if maybe they had gotten home before me. The loud ringing of silence was all that pierced my slowly defrosting ears, so I decided to shrug off my insecurities and get to the responsibilities of a high school senior. Climbing the immaculate slightly curved stairs, I made my way to my bedroom, where I sat on my bed, unzipping my backpack. I felt it before I saw it, and jumped back in disgust, watching as dirt poured out of my bag, spilling all over the cream colored carpet. I began shaking it off of me as little pink worms wiggled back into the mound of moist earth that lay slowly consuming my backpack and floor. Dark rotting leaves and grass littered the carpet, and as I looked down to make sure I wasn’t covered in it, I saw the edges of my skirt begin to deteriorate right before my eyes, my sweater began to stain, and my skin turned blue, dirt filling every possible pore.

 

I screamed, shutting my eyes in horror, my hands covering my hears, and before I could even process what was happening, it stopped. Slowly I opened my eyes to scan my room for any evidence to support my terrifying experience. My backpack lay empty on the floor, surrounded by clean, dirt-less carpet. My hands were back to their normal deep color, clutching my practically like-new skirt. Staring at myself in the mirror, I thought, What is going on here?

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After It’s Over

The pew squeaks under me as I fidget with my dress. I’m uncomfortable, sweating, and feel as if the sounds of random coughing and babies crying are slowly crushing me, trying to squeeze me till the truth pops right out of my ruby red face. I don’t know how much longer I can take this. There’s a sudden booming sound of laughter as the dedicated church goers react to the priest’s biblical irony. I almost jump out of my seat, my body is shaking so much from my shallow breathing. My dress feels like the inside of a wet glove, sticky, wrong, frustrating. So I turn around to mark the nearest exit. There by the entrance is the hall containing the restrooms where I’ll make my escape.

Leaning carefully, though the pew still creaks, I whisper to my mom, “I’m going to go to the restroom.” She smiles and nods, totally oblivious because of her infatuation with our new priest, though she continues to claim it’s because of his amazing ability to share the word of God. I silently slide out of the row and flee to the empty restroom. It’s as if, with every step, I am approaching salvation. The bathroom shines bright as a light at the end of a tunnel, calling to me. I hear singing, angels maybe, as I get so close to the door. I’m almost there. Refuge.

Relief is brief because as soon as I open the heavy wood door I walk straight into a wall of bleach and shit. It’s so strong it makes the air feel heavy and causes my movements to drag, like I’m walking in slow motion. But this will have to do. It’s better than drowning on a pew next to hundreds of people who can’t save me. A drop of sweat goes down my neck reminding me why I’m here. So I pull myself through the thick bleach-shit air to the sink and turn on the cold water. The cold crisp water momentarily clears my head dragging my anxiety, my fear, and maybe even some of the guilt down the drain. Then I look up to see the face in the mirror, wet and dripping, and I scream in surprise.

“Who is that?” Her eyes are deep and black, lines and dark circles giving away way too much. Her face is pale, especially when compared to her normal deep honey complextion. Her lips tight and straight are not what most recognize. This person is not me. Could not be me. My eyes always shown bright with excitement not clouded with fear. My face was always radiant with happiness not drained from guilt. My lips were always loose and smiling not tight with silence.

“Why?” I asked aloud to the girl, but she only repeated it back to me. “Why?”

“Why did you let this happen?” Still she refused to answer me. All she could do was respond with mockery, her echo loud with frustration.

“How could you?” I scream, slamming my fists against the sink and letting the wave of grief hit me as her echo came screaming back at me. Salty tears dripped from my eyes into the sink and all I could think was it couldn’t have been my fault. It was her’s! The bright eyed me would have never let that happen. It had to be her fault.

The old oak door creaks slowly as a flustered young woman bustles three children into the bathroom. When our eyes meet she stops for a moment, almost as if she’s surprised then saddened to see me, my eyes red and cheeks flushed, staring right through her. And though it feels like she’s going to say something, I quickly pull myself together with a bright smile and wave to the children before dodging out the almost closed door.

Mass is done when I return from the bathroom to find no one has missed me. My mom is busy talking to other well dressed Sunday lovers. So I walk slowly to the car to wait for her to finish and take me to have brunch at my favorite pancake place.

“Hey, wait up!” the sound of him calling out to me makes me pause, wondering if it is about to happen again. Suddenly it’s dark and I hear boys laughing.
Laughing loudly, obnoxiously, eternally, mocking my pain. Why are they laughing? I keep asking myself why are they laughing? This isn’t funny. Don’t they hear me screaming? Stop laughing! Stop it! “Stop it!” my hands shoot up to my ears to try in desperation to stop the laughing.

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For Justice

“I don’t know what the fuck happened, all I know is that I ran,” he spat angrily, throwing his hands in the air. There was a deep scowl across his face that complimented the attitude in his voice as he leaned back as far as he could. His arms were crossed and his gaze was now elsewhere, a clear sign he had cut himself off from this conversation. The longer he looked away the softer his expression became, sort of like he was escaping to a better place.

“Stop giving me those stupid answers. I’m not here to feel sorry for you. I’m here to represent your side of the story,” she snapped. She stood up and placed both hands on the smooth tin table so she could lean intimidatingly closer to him as she continued, “Now, I need every fucking detail. What did you do?”

The boy had stopped listening to her a while ago and was now lost in his thoughts. He didn’t like her that much, In fact, he found her to be incredibly demanding and stuck up. She never smiled, was always badgering him about answering her stupid questions, and she wore her hair in such a tight ass bun every single day. He looked at her and thought,“Maybe she never smiles because her bun is too fucking tight.”

He watched her take her seat exasperated but determined since she insisted on repeating herself, “What happened?”

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Just Go For It

She smiles at me, sweet and innocent, but I know this look, I know what is coming. “You know,” she continues to smile, truly believing in her cause, “I should have married your brother.” The pang that always left me stunned shoots through my stomach. “Honey,” She looks out the window at my sister-in-law pilling her kids into their minivan. My brother is smiling at his youngest, his crow’s feet adding to his timeless look. “Don’t you want to know why?”

“Not really…” is what I saw say. “No, but I should have married Alice from high school.” is what I wish I could say, but I can’t. I doesn’t feel good for me like it does for her to say the hurtful, dreadful, unfortunate truth.

“Why?” I croak out, doing my best to act disinterested.

“Well, there are so many reasons. He’s well off, has a flawless face of a midwestern hero… and damn is he fine.”

I don’t understand her obsession with him. I am him, we are brothers, physically incredibly similar. So what is it?

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