Bear Xing

My senior year in high school was a time of great awakening for me. More than ever, I was certain that I was destined to become a Great American Author if not The Greatest and sincerely believed it was only a matter of time until my star would rise. Of course, all this certainty also meant that I could be a real arrogant prick when it came to my skill as a writer. I believed I was better than most everyone, certainly better than any of my lowly teenage peers.

However, this inflated ego of mine would soon begin to depressurize as the realities of life began to knock me down, one deflating peg at a time.

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The Squirrel

For several minutes, Valerie stared at the light from her bedroom window, watching the light through the blinds stretching across the ceiling. She was trying to remember which direction the window faced, trying to remember which way the sun rose and which way it fell. Her bedside clock read five past seven in static red digits.

The house was mostly silent, only the quiet pathetic whimpering of Charlene from beneath the foot of the bed. Valerie stirred and the dog stirred. Valerie sat up and the grey head of the husky popped up to turn an apprehensive blue eye toward her.

“What day is it?” Valerie asked out loud to no one. Charlene stood up tall, head tilting as she attempted to process the question posed. “Ma?” Her voice echoed through the room and down the short hall.

No response. No movement or noise. The air conditioner kicked on softly with a click. The house was empty. It was seven in the evening. Her bedroom window faced the west, faced the cow pasture, faced the marsh. She remembered that her mother was probably at work, night shift at the bakery. She’d be gone, thankfully, until morning.

How long was I asleep?

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Damp Soil

There’s a place
At the edge of a clearing
Where the ground is never dry
And you still exist
For me

When the moon would begin to wax
We would sit on silver-capped grass
Conspiring through the night
Of great aspirations
Of us

Here the soil resonates
With echoes
Spoken incantations unfurling that which
We have hidden from ourselves
Here we will be together

Descent

There is solace in gripping with claws outstretched at the smooth slippery walls of the pit

Bottom will not slow up will not approach any slower

But the act of defiance in the face of that inevitable god

Is sometimes enough

Only there is no victory in combating what has been declared

No honor in exertion put forth in the name of shapeless ego

If the fall is all there is

If the constants of the universe at large will remain entirely unscathed regardless

Then the downward pitch is all that there is

And the diver alone can give it form, can give it beauty

After Party

A forever tunnel stretched bending and swirling, a gateway to the infinite tilt of galaxies exponentially expanding further and further. I moved at light-speed. The cold of space smacking against my face, my wide open eyeballs, freezing everything solid and stiff. And then, propulsion failing, the universe began a slow collapse. It was a thing of beauty, the few visible lights stretching into ribbons curling and forming ethereal figures. Hard uneven ground met me fast, copper and spit pooling behind my teeth.

The fall sobered me somewhat, enough that I could stand with a passable percentage of unsteadiness. Without thought, I ran without any reasonable conscious command from memory. At some point, time travel had been activated. Point A had been Terry Messer’s living room, Point B had been the bottle of ten-year-old scotch Terry had busted out. Dale and Brent were there too, distant faces beneath ripples now, only open laughing mouths and loud voices. Points C, D, and E had all been lost to the ebb and flow of amber liquor.

There had been a reason for this flight into the cold December night. There was a reason for the heavy cutting stitch in my side – tender to the touch. Batman T-shirt torn at the collar, torn at the back, sub-zero atmosphere clutching at my bare skin. A dog barked, echoing far enough to engulf the near pitch-black street. The nearest streetlight might as well have been the closest star.

It may have been the echo of my own footsteps, may have been the throbbing within my head tinged with rapid loss of body heat and general paranoia, but it seemed that someone was behind me in perfect lockstep clomping against the frozen street. I couldn’t slow though, couldn’t turn around, it was struggle enough to keep my eyes open and forward against the cold. It was enough of a struggle to simply keep the world steady upon a horizontal axis.

I thought, stupidly perhaps, that if I could only reach that distant streetlight, if I could reach it’s safety, everything would be alright. I thought I would wake up. I thought that something would emerge from the shadows to usher me away from all that was evil.

I begin to enter into phases of microsleep while still running upright, sight and mind blinking in and out of the real world. I can see the fear in Terry’s eyes as he lay panting on the living room carpet, hear incessant howls of pain from the closed-off bathroom, feel broken glass and liquid scattered across the otherwise clean beige tile of the kitchen floor. Need to stay awake, I fight the gripping blackness against the edges of my vision, biting through my own tongue, fresh pain, fresh metal. But even with my eyes open wide, there still remains something slithering and dark hanging about my peripherals. No matter how hard I bite down, no matter if I bite it clean off, the lingering shadow darker than the night does not dissipate.

A wail rises through the cold, whether it is human or mechanical I can’t tell. Blue and red lights flash against the faces of the houses as I realize that my legs will no longer work beneath me. I stand swaying, drained, numb.

It’s then that I recall the shape of something tall standing at the end of Terry’s hallway, only a shade darker than the lightless room at the hall’s end. I remember coming out of the bathroom, flesh warm with drink, and feeling an overwhelming sensation of weight upon my entire being, a magnetic force reaching out to grab my gaze. I stood there staring into that glorious abyss of a hallway for a long time, several minutes or maybe an hour. So long enough that eventually Dale yelled for me, asking if I fell in. After that…

“Get on the ground!”

There’s a bright light in my face. A man shouts as I hold my hands up to shield against the too bright light. In the glare, I can see my skin covered with the stains of human spillage. More shouting, empty threats. The light is too bright, the blues and reds swirling too fast. The shape is there to lend me comfort though. It is invisible to those who do not love it as I do. It grants me the power to move, beckons me to walk forward. It fills me with the knowledge that there is nothing to fear from the lights, nothing to fear from men.