Out of all in the world, I did not understand the cause of the spectrum of grievous, gnarling feelings simmering inside. My poor precious heart beat painfully fast. No cause could care to explain the strange sensations of pain. Was this what people called anger? Or was this those strange feelings called sadness? Why was I wondering about my feelings here? Why indeed was I here? I came to conclusion that I was here for those feelings.
“Feelings mustn’t get in the way of an avenger,” I mumbled in a bitter tone with a hint of malice.
If I was a rogue I did not know. The words lifted off my tongue in such a simple manner; it felt like the right thing to say. I studied the area around me with a calm complexion. The stench of the slime along the walls, ceiling, and floor stole the freshness of the air that was once native here. Of course, it is native no more. Peeled away was the peach paint on the wall, replaced by burns, red marks, and asbestos. Dust took flight, moving wildly with the silent disturbance of my breath.
I grew to loath the lining of the shelves in this old school library of mine. I remembered nothing, but I felt the presence of a more juvenile self. It must have been late, for I heard a cricket chirp outside the windows that were sealed with wooden planks. The room was dank and damp, yet parts of it were dry. Now, I love its offerings of the oddly placed peace in my heart. Like a drug, I found myself spending time here, but why was I here now?
The blood in my head scurried as feeling of nostalgia arose. However, my amnesia ceased to wear off as I was stuck with blank memories. I trembled in annoyance. It should not be too hard to recall memories that I already had vague remembrance of.
“I would give my memory some time to cooperate,” I thought, trembling. The great, great anxiety was thrashing its way into my dull soul.
My diaphragm spasmed in protest, forcing some blood out of my dehydrated lips. I growled softly in frustration as my throat stung for several seconds. I pressed my parched lips together against the blood. I swallowed some saliva to ease my throat.
“That would do for now,” I thought, solemnly.
Warily, I watched my surroundings for any movements. I closed my eyes for a second and opened them again quick, flushing out the pain. The cut in my eye was not severe. However, I would have no chance to hone my 20/20 vision. Yes, 20/20 vision, another split memory of my life. A load wheeze was followed by cough, the latter stirring up a portion from the layer of dust.
As an old window creaked, I shouted, “Who’s there?!” But nobody answered. I was being overly optimistic. Who would ever come to enjoy my company? Perhaps people would come to visit me in time.
“Due to curiosity of course!” I silently convinced myself with strong conviction.
My able eye wandered the room, stopping at the sight of my abdomen. My single eyebrow twitched at the bronze scent of oxygenated bodily fluids. The hemoglobin-bound iron in the blood has long gone, making my abdomen coated with the color of fresh chocolate. My mouth watered at the scent. I licked at the wound greedily; then I stopped to examine it. The bleeding mostly stopped and I was proud of the patching I prepared on myself. As I said this, I realize I do not remember where the acute wound originated! Strange, I thought: very strange. Fighting my mediocre attempts at food, I decided in vulgar to watch my manners. My stomach would reject my hastily eaten meal soon enough.
For a while, I just sat there and admired the arid air. My throat was dry and hurt with severe pharyngitis. I bore down my teeth into my lip. I always do so in confusion. Then I laughed and laughed. I laughed so loud my body shuddered. The air tightened around my lungs and I laughed even more. Then, I stopped. My heart kept beating. My whole wretched body stung as I tried to lean back on the chair. My wretched heart kept beating and beating. At the moment I did not know what happened, but I do now. An overdose of comedy to the brain, perhaps. It was too exhilarating for me to handle.
I heard rusty bells chime a scratching, raspy, voice as a trickle of wind blew in and knocked the bells into movement. They clinked and clacked together, redirecting my mind to the harmonious sounds they made. They reminded me of the wedding day, that day I sold my soul to the devil. I was thoroughly distracted, hypnotized to the sounds of nature accompanying the rusted bells. The bells of the wedding have rusted. I remembered how I ran away. It reminded me of nature, and its natural cycle of birth, illness, misfortune, and death.
Perhaps it was the faintness of the air or the sudden flow of blood to the brain. I became quite agitated and roused at my sudden feeling of pain. Such tender, delicate, delectable pain it was. My diaphragm spasmed quicker and quicker, until a miniscule voice escaped my mouth, accompanied by nasal fluids. Seconds passed, and nothing dared move at fright of my temper. Suddenly, I felt an ant crawling up my frayed jeans to spy on me. I cursed as I slapped it away, so effortlessly. This brought my attention to the front door. I noticed the details of the carved wood to the upper hinge (which was broken) and the thin layer of dust on it, contrasting the thick layer of dust around it.
The door creaked slowly and I glued my eyes to it. Then, a dark, dull shadow emerged from the door, like a ghost coming to seek my companionship. To my surprise, it spoke.
“Harry?” croaked a feminine voice. “Are you there? Harry?”
At first, I ignored the shrill reverberation of the girl’s voice. Yes, I recognized that vocal tone. It still sounded like a young bride’s voice to me. However, the vocalization suddenly hit me like the aching sound of nails on a chalkboard. A flash of memories buried themselves into the grey matter of my brain, the college dorm, the dates, the kiss, the wedding, her proclamation of pregnancy, her miscarriage, her new pregnancy, and lastly, my runaway. This defiling woman stirred up many troubles in my life.
In a violent rash tone quite unlike me, I suddenly screamed, “Go away!” For a while, silence filled the room. However, after several moments, I looked up into a smiling face. It was the face of that girl; that flawed human who clawed her way into my life and ruined it. I once thought she was a celestial beauty, but my perception has improved past these nostalgic moments and I now see the horrible mess she truly is.
“Honey, you belong back in the hospital!” the wrinkled facial monstrosity said to me.
At that point, some thoughts went through my head. What had happened at the wedding? What had really happened to me? Perhaps, if I was less self-aware, she would not have shocked me as much, but she truly did. While my attention drifted back to the physical world, I noticed she was bandaging my abdomen. With an impulse, I shot my leg up to meet her stomach and kicked her across the floor.
“Harry! Why would you,” choked the girl. She was on the floor now, stunned.
She just lay down on the floor, helplessly clutching her stomach. Her eyes were red with concern and fright. I loved nothing but the fright buried deep in her eyes. She was the reason for all my suffering. I escaped again and she continued to come haunt me. If I had to stop her from getting any closer, I had to get closer myself.
“It’s because I don’t want you to see me like this anymore.” I lied calmly.
I took several strides toward the feeble girl, who was now in fetal position. I stopped right in front of her. Lunging my arm at her, I bid her a quick passing into the next world. It only took her one shriek and several tears before she was gone. She was indeed, lifeless now. Perhaps I was a little rash on that woman, but it was a tad too late now to regret. I finally carried out my revenge. My thoughts drifted back to the wedding day, a thought that I struggled so hard to forget.
“She deserves a hasty death,” I thought.
I decided to move her body into the janitorial closet. Carefully, I opened up the door and shoved the body in. I was certainly drained of my energy now. Limply, I sat on a nearby chair, folded my arms across my wound, and closed my eyes to catch a breath. Then, I slowly drifted into the open-armed grasp of slumber. I would have further plans later.
“Sheila, where is mother?” Harold finally asked.
“I don’t know, Harold!” Sheila murmured, lifting her head from the magazine, which has been open on the same page for the longest time. Her mind seemed to be somewhere else, and her face was buried with worries that even Harold had noticed.
It had been ten hours since their mother left their humble little home on Hornitz Street. Now, the sun was setting with no sign of their mother’s return. Harold had become a pest in those ten hours. They were both scared, as each rustling sound of the trees defiled their imagination. Their mother hardly ever left without telling them where she would go, but when she did, it was always an emergency. She was a nurse at the local hospital, so most of the emergencies were work related. In fact, all of them were work related, except for this one. Sheila was quite stunned to see their mother leave home in the dreariness of the darkness this morning. When Sheila questioned her, the initial response she earned was that there was an emergency. Further questioning led to the discovery that their mother found their father. Harold did not know this. Sheila was not prepared to inform her little brother of their mother’s discovery yet. How could she, if she could not even speak about him without rage?!
“What is taking her so long!” thought Sheila.
“Hey, Harold! I think I’m going to go look for mom!” yelled Sheila.
“Okay Sis!” mumbled Harold, trying to stay calm.
Sheila put on her sneakers and headed out the door. First, she looked around the hospital. Their mother was not there. The colleagues claimed that she had come in for only a few minutes and soon left. Sheila started to panic. Her mother had never missed a working day unless she was sick.
However, one of her mother’s colleagues choked out, “She was mumbling something about Harry.”
This time, Sheila was truly puzzled. She could not recall anyone name “Harry” within her memories. Slowly tilting her head back toward the exhausted colleague, the idea hit her in the head. Harry was the name of the man whom mom couldn’t talk about! Harry was the name of her dad.
Sheila ran outside in confusion and searched randomly around the streets. Most of the streets in the neighborhood were bare and empty in this late-afternoon portion of the day. Children were busy finishing homework and most adults were either still at work or stuck on the crowded subways underneath her. It was then when she heard a masculine scream coming from the abandoned school down the street where they lived; the same old school her mom and dad had graduated from; the one that was shut down due to burns, red marks, and asbestos. Charcoal and other strange substances that blackened its “brick and wooden exterior” shrouded the school.
She took small humble steps toward the large complex, and looked up at the chimney that still churned out various chemicals now and then. The Health Department still had not tampered with the building, except for putting barricades around its entrance. Slowly, she opened the dusty door, and started walking up the cracked staircase. She searched each deserted classroom and made her way to the third floor. Then, she heard a scream from the library.
Curiously, she took a few steps toward the library, swerving around debris.
“Anybody here?” She cautiously inquired in a small whispering voice.
Yearning for a response of some sort, her ears finally received some vocalization.
I was breathing heavily as my only working eye focused on the girl in front of me. She was hazy and barely visible. I was able to kill her. I was able to send her into the next life already. She couldn’t be standing in front of me now! Who was she?
I was breathing faster and faster. My head was very light. I rubbed my eyes furiously. Then, I saw a female shadow moving slowly. I recognized her. She crept closer and closer to me, gripping a scissor. The same scissor I just plunged into another body’s back. Losing balance, she dropped it. I slowly tried to tilt my head to look at her. She dropped to her knees. I seized my opportunity. I did it! I killed her. She was crying, crying for her life. A faint sound invaded the other distortions of my ear. I saw that the girl’s daughter was also crying for her life. With these satisfied sights, I took one final deep breath and closed my eyes for a rest.
Maria was crying. She had to do it; she had to kill her husband, or he would have killed their daughter. Back in College, Harry was a very charming young man. While he was courting her, he gradually fell into depression. He started LSD when she was pregnant. Or so she thought! Her memories of him were fragile, shallow, thin and blurred out with a lifetime of pains. He was insane. Nevertheless, she loved him. She married him, bore his children, and took care of him; even while he slowly lived the hallucinations of the opposite. When she was abused, he would believe he was being abused. Everything was the opposite to him. That was probably why he ran away when Sheila was born.
She had not heard about the drug addict for several years, until recently. A patient sent to the hospital where she worked turned out to be Harry, her ex-husband. Two days ago, he stabbed himself with a pocketknife straight into his abdomen. He immediately fainted believing that he was stabbed by her, the pacifist, Maria. She pleaded with the head nurse and requested to take care of him. The next day, he ran away cursing when he saw her face. She merely cried. As these nostalgiac thoughts ran through her head, more and more tears dropped down her face. She knew where he would go. He would go back to the school library, the same library where he started finding the artificial comfort of LSDs.
Immediately taken back by what she did, Maria frantically spoke.
“Can you hear me, Harry? I am so sorry!”
The memories of their shared life flashed before her eyes. It was a memory account, said to only happen to those facing death. It was true, she was facing death, and a large portion of her heart that belonged to that man would die, bringing painful recoil to the once stable condition of the hidden feelings.
“Mom?” she heard a barely audible whimper from a girl behind her.
“Was that dad?” the girl continued sobbing while asking her mother timidly.
“Yes it was.” Maria choked out. What else could she have said?
A moment of silence passed while they both thought of the man, a husband to one girl and a father to the other. Sheila never knew that. Maria hoped she would never have to tell her the truth. Sheila saw the scene unfurled. She just found out that her real father, whom she shared her blood and bones with, was a cold-blooded murderer.
“He was a really nice man in college. It was during my pregnancy when he started LSD. ” Maria exclaimed.
“He was a really nice man.” Maria assured herself.
“This man is not my father, nor your husband. Come on, let’s leave now.” I heard one voice whisper to the other.
The Medusa was walking away now. I was frozen as stone. I shivered with strange feelings of cool, damp, wetness on my left chest. The blade dodged my left lung by the circumference of the tip of a needle. The bloody scissor did not sever any nerves or veins. Somehow, the heart that it searched to pierce was not there. To speak the truth, I was a little disappointed. Thereafter, I was left alone in the world; alone with nobody to feel guilt for; nobody to have any emotions for. I was left with a splendid blessing knowing that my status as part of their family was taken away from me just now. Strangely, I felt relieved!
The words “This man is not my father” echoed in my ears. I respect her opinion, and I believe so too. Right after they left, I bandaged the wound. The air was the faint scent of Maria’s hair. A very disgusting, revolting smell that hurt my nostrils and spun my head used to exude from that hair. While the room was the same, the whole climate of the room has changed. Perhaps it was the status of my body, suffering from two stabs to the nerves near my lung, in addition to my abdomen wound from before. Each drop of blood that rolled off my body dripped onto the floor with a soft splash.
My wounds were newly bandaged and my body ached and bled from head to toe. It was just a minor setback for a whole new life to come. Larger and larger pains circled through my body. They made my wounds burn with a lust to kill me. A wheezing noise choked out of my stomach and fresh blood sprayed from the opening. I would have to rest here for several days, but when I recover, I could walk the Earth once more. I am a monster; I would better walk the wicked Earth like one.
One day, Sheila would find out the truth; the cold truth about me and, more importantly, about her mother, the murderer of her own father. Then, she would rush to me with open arms. I would look forward to that day. It would be absolutely wondrous to feel her death with my bare hands. My clasp on the knife would be tight, but not too tight. My steps to her would be soft, but not too soft. I would set small faults simply to install pain into the monster, Maria.
I hesitated now as I listened to my fantasies. Was it really what I will do?
I might have brought this conflict too far. However, the homo-sapien race has no use for people with feelings. Feelings make people weak, so those with feelings must cease to exist. Feelings are a disease, only to be shunned out with external help. Sheila and her mother, those were a strange pair. They should have never resuscitated me. I have no feelings. I have no grudges. I have no envies, and I have no wishes. I excluded all happiness and sorrow from my body. I would never possess a single miserable portion of the wicked and wild curse known as “feelings”!
Or so I convinced myself.
I am a monster; I would better walk the wicked Earth like one. Carefully, I moved my elbow to the window ledge and tore off a dusty wooden plank from the window. I looked at the near-nighttime setting, with crickets chirping and the sun diving down the horizon. Slowly, I looked down and saw a sight that chilled me to the bone. The smell of Maria’s hairs lingered inside the room far too long. Now I know why. They had never left the library like I thought they had. They had not abandoned me like they said they would. Suddenly, before I could plot my next move to end my suffering, I saw a little boy making his way into the school. I needed desperately to find a place to conceal my body and my soul.
“Mom! Where were you mom? I was wondering where you were!” a boy ran to his mom shouting from the far corner of the room.
“Sheila and I missed you so much!” he exclaimed.
Slowly, he drew himself to the knowledge that his mom was upset. Curious, he poked her in the stomach softly. Suddenly, she broke down, tears forming their way down her face. She ran back into the library quickly.
My eyes looked like they were piercing his soul. It was like looking into a future version of Harry, I figured. The hair, it was exactly the same. It was colored auburn and unkept. The ears, they were the same. They were well rounded out, thin, and fit cozily under the hairs.
Then there were my eyes. Harold saw them as very different eyes. Sure, they were the same grassy green color of his own, but the killer intent radiating from my eyes apparently frightened Harold. There were blood splotches covering portions of my face. And under all of the terrors in my face, Harold must have found a wicked mouth. My lips twisted in a curl that could barely be read as a smile.
With my heart beating wild, I was too eager to take a quick glance at the boy. In truth, I am not insane. You may hear mad men say this all their life, but I really am quite sane. That woman ruined my life. She killed my best friend, who was my brother and the only family I had as orphan. Perhaps you could say I was struck by the bow of vengeance, or I succumbed to the devil’s intentions.
That woman was a godsend at first. The wedding was exquisite. The marriage was exhilarating. Each detail buried itself into my brain as a fragment of my lost happiness.
I remembered how the tables were lined in white linen. Each man and woman in the room was mingling, socializing, or flirting with one or the other. I was sitting in the front row, proud and happy for Harry. The bride and my best friend walked down the hall. Softly, wet droplets rolled down my cheek. They were extremely happy tears. Throughout the wedding I sobbed. I thought of the times when I helped Harry pick out the roses and the tuxedo. Maria could have been a multipersonalitied idiot and he would not have cared. Coincidentally, it turned out she possible was. Maria slightly disturbed me, but Harry didn’t care. Therefore, I did not really mind, as long as my brother was happy. All I cared was that Harry and I finally had a family that we never had growing up.
It was June 6, 1999 when I left my home to wish Harry and Maria a happy 6th anniversary, bring them a baby gift as well. When I got there, my eyes were greeted with a warm yet painful sight. Harry was on the floor at the mercy of an enraged, maniacal, pregnant Maria.
Harry looked at me, pleading for revenge. His eyes spoke to me without words. His tears, still warm, dripped on my hands covering the wound where blood was gorging out. I frantically struggled to stop the bleeding, but Harry took his final breath after uttering the murder’s name to my ears. In the passing years, I hid away from Maria. Her attempts to kill me had been played poorly by her twin personalities. She would one day pay for the costly crimes she committed. Her body was in denial, but her soul was heavy with guilt.
Just one more push would send her out of the broken window to land three floors down on the street. Alas, I couldn’t. I couldn’t do it. My part was done, my life was done.
Revenge wouldn’t be struck.
Suddenly, I saw the silhouette of a woman gripping a blunt object. With a maniacal cry, the woman screeched,
“Do die, Jeremy! Go die… and meet Harry!”
Finally, I would get to meet my brother again. In the background, I heard Maria rehearsing the lines she would tell the police and burn into her memory. Eagerly, I tried to open my ears as hard as I could, so I could hear those faint, rusted bells chiming one more time, just one more time!
Age 13, Grade 8
Junior High School 157 Stephen A. Halsey