The wind felt cold tonight, a rather weird occurrence where it concerned this hell. I tried not to look back. The air was moving quickly, pulling me, preventing my desperate escape. I ran as fast as I could, trying to hold back a stream of tears that would otherwise come back and strike me in my solitude. I ran across the alley; it was extremely dark, and, considering it was well after midnight, not the safest place to be around. Even in the darkness I could see their faces mocking me, tearing through my character and usurping a place in my heart. A place once occupied by cherished memories of her hugging me, gently stroking my hair, lightly kissing my cheek. Every step I took felt like a dagger through me - the pain was so sharp that it had eventually inhibited my sense of touch, and I could no longer feel as every stone corroded my skin.

 

I tried fighting them back, tried to stall these precious memories in a grain of sand, which seemed ready to explode without a moment’s notice. My mind felt somewhat vacant, as if I’d dropped myself somewhere along the road, and now I’d barely noticed. So did my heart.

 

She used to tell me, I remember quite vividly, that if I had no intention of moving on and reaching new, better things, I never would achieve that goal. I remember, not as sharply but still clearly, the warmth and happiness I’d feel when she would hug me out of the blue, the way she’d make my day much better without words, just warmth. I don’t remember her face very well, but every time I hear their laughs, their sadistic undertones and mocking, I wish I could see her smiling face, just to counteract the pain. I hate admitting it, but her scent is all but gone; I still remember how she smelled, but the things I learned from her are gone with the wind.

 

The very thought of collapsing on the road seemed suddenly enticing, and the last thing I remembered, the one thing I can nobly say I felt, was the hard pavement against the right side of my face.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

Silence.

 

I was sitting on the horse, awaiting his next move. I blankly stared at the checkered board, somehow expecting to be finally smothered by the queen. I felt compelled to run, but I could hear no footsteps in this masquerade. I was a mere pawn in the chessboard, something that had been instilled into my very essence. I had no abilities; I couldn’t even hear the crowd.

 

I abhorred decrepit men. As I looked into the endless checkered pattern, I slowly drifted into nonexistence.

 

“But I don’t know how to play,” I pronounced as he slammed the board on the small coffee table. I really didn’t know, nor did I feel obliged by his endless offers to teach me how to do so. He turned around for a fraction of a second, giving me time to rise from my seat and attempt an escape. It never worked; George always got his way, and the norm wouldn’t be broken this time.

 

“Try to run away once again and you get no dinner,” he said plainly, needlessly waiting for my unpronounced response. “Now, don’t glare at me. I know you don’t like living here, but you have to understand she’s not with us anymore; I really don’t know how to make it better. She was my daughter too, you know. I don’t think she’d be very happy seeing both of us sobbing every day … we might as well get used to it.”

 

Grace loved playing chess. Whenever we’d visit George, she would sit down for endless hours on the same coffee table, standing up once in a while to make sure I was okay. Then she would go back, effortlessly balancing the tea cups without wasting a single drop.

 

I really did love her. She knew she was the only woman I’d ever truly love. Sometimes, when we would sit down and talk about a guy I really liked, or how angry I was at someone’s homophobic remarks, I could see a tinge of sadness in her eyes. I knew what it was, but I didn’t know how to fix it. She really did love me as much as I did her, but very few times did she ask about my boyfriend without me commencing the conversation. Occasionally the look in her eye would become melancholy - she would lock herself in her room so I wouldn’t see her crying, beating herself up for not ‘being a good enough mother’ - and that’s when George would come home and play chess with her.

 

“Fine,” I finally said, looking into the endless pattern.

 

I stood up from my seat, at last hearing the overwhelming loudness of it all. There were no pawns on this checkered board, only queens and self-degrating knights. Their faces, their movements even, were the spitting image of perfection. I suddenly felt very self-conscious, forgetting the fact that my mask covered the damaged half of my face. As we walked deeper into the crowd, the song ended, and a slow tempo ballad came on. I became nauseous, my legs turning weak as I remembered the consequences of our last display of affection. I felt a strong vibration on the side of my leg. I kissed him on the cheek and headed towards the boys’ restroom.

 

I stood in front of the mirror, seeing my appearance perfectly reflect my inner self. As if I’d been revealed upon this wretched day, I felt as if my life was all but half. I’d been called beautiful a plethora of occasions; now however, their words carried no weight when placed against the evidence. I wasn’t only hideous on the inside, but also on the outside. Everything seemed to suddenly come crashing down around me, and all the flustered memories came back in one strong blow.

 

My tan skin provided a perfect contrast to the pearl-white chamber, the cause of my three-month misery. I refused to wear black, to let everybody know of the anguish and desperation I really felt within. Instead, I remained the entire day inside my room, occasionally switching to an equally vacant corner to provide a change of pace.

 

I once read an idiot’s biography, a compilation of what he uselessly thought of life, a recompilation of humanity’s circuitous desires and aspirations. It was a bold statement of the ideals of society, of how the individual denies itself the power to change. At first glance, I really did agree with him. But then again, it wasn’t an autobiography. There ought to be some sort of defamation in that two-hundred page narration, some sort of reality twist that I could grasp and feed my own insecurities upon.

 

I stood up from the colorless corner and approached one of the two lone pieces of furniture still in the room. As I got closer to the bookshelf I could feel my fingers twitch at the thought of finding something to support my misery. I wanted to feel miserable for at least some minutes. I wanted to find an answer to my burning desires, a way out for my unshed tears. Just as I reached for the infamous book, the door opened abruptly, and I stared helplessly as George threw a couple of boxes my way and I placed my outburst in the bottomless cube.

 

I finished placing the last of my books inside the box, and headed towards the door.

 

I felt the knob against my naked skin, withstanding a somewhat ominous chill travel the length of my arm, as the arctic wind of the exterior found an inlet through the metallic handle.  In a moment of doubt, I looked up at the red lettering and took a step backwards. I turned around, but as I saw my semi-covered face I regained courage, believing it somehow provided me with protection from sudden recognition. I slowly opened the door, my ears deafened by the screeching siren attached to the ‘exit’ sign. I stood there, waiting for the door to close. When it finally did, I stood against it, and saw a frantic crowd flee the school gymnasium. 

 

Déjà vu. It wasn’t the same alley, for I’d taken the opposite direction than I did when they were senselessly throwing rocks at me. It felt rather warm this time, and there were lamp posts lining the edges of the alley every five feet. I couldn’t feel my legs, but knew I was running faster with every passing second. There were no windows, only solid gray brick buildings enclosing me, a monotony that didn’t seem to end for the next three minutes. I finally gave up, and stopped at a peculiarly shaped lamp post.

 

It had an oval-shaped bulb on top of it and, unlike the others, the light was green in color. I looked to my right, and saw no end to the lamp post sequence; I looked to my left, and saw green at the horizon. In front of me was a path unlighted and secluded, but for some reason felt much safer than traveling the distance of the other two. I took a step forward, and saw the lights dim with every additional step. Twenty steps into the alley, and there was no light visible from any color of the spectrum. Thirty, forty, sixty, one hundred steps, and finally I could see a division in the path ahead of me.

 

“Come!”

 

I quickly turned, but could only make out what seemed to be a male figure, dressed in all black, and running in the same direction from where I had come. I couldn’t think clearly at the moment, so I followed, until we finally reached the division on the road, where the different-colored lamp posts stood firmly, exactly as I remembered. I turned right, and saw him enter a door on the side of one of the buildings. I couldn’t help thinking that, if I’d gone in the direction of the green lights, I wouldn’t have been lost for so long. I walked towards the door, and stood in shock against an amazing sight. The door was at least fifteen feet tall, red in color, and made from what seemed to be wax. It was carved in the shape of two male bodies, entangled in a seemingly insatiable act, kissing fiercely, with mouths opened wide. I stood there helplessly, until the door finally opened on its own. A wave of heat hit my face as I entered the room, and I saw myself surrounded by red candles.

 

 

*        *        *

 

 

“You can visit him next Thursday,” said the nurse.

 

“Treat him well, please.”

 

George finally left the room, leaving me struggling against these sleeves.

 

My tan skin provided a perfect contrast to the pearl-white chamber. Only this time I was happy.

 


Thanks To Marty, for his amazing input and editing - it has made this piece soooo much better!


 

 

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