_[[Author's note: This is what I wrote for National Novel Writing Month of November, 2011. This is a contest where one tries to write a 50,000 word novel in the single month of November. This is mostly a quantity, not quality contest, so this definitely needs quite a bit of revising, which I am posting here. Keep in mind that I am continually revising this, if you see a mistake, PLEASE do not hesitate to notify me about it in the comments at the bottom of the page!]].
My legs took off as if they had their own minds and their own goals. It was as if they were one step ahead of me. I could not comprehend what had just happened. My thoughts flashed through the situation in slow motion, but it still seemed too fast. What is wrong with me? The words repeated over and over in my thoughts, suffocating my mind. What is wrong with me?
The night called to me, yet it was chasing me. It was leading me somehow toward my destruction, yet away from my destruction. My life is over. I cannot be as I have been, everything will be different. Everything. What have I done?
What have I done?
Pain stabbed into my palms as I protected myself from the pavement. My legs had given out, deciding to suddenly stop. It was only reflex that protected me. My hands became shields. The pavement, the enemy. There was a lump in my throat; I could not swallow without introducing the menacing pain to this new area. What is wrong with me? The words received wordless answer. The pain traveled deeper inside me until I could no longer understand how it could exist. It was everywhere and nowhere at the same moment. The pain… It became a part of me, welled up inside me as the drops fell down, sliding along my skin and to the dark pavement.
This cannot happen. I cannot let the pain take control. I am stronger than this. I will not be defeated. The pavement is not my enemy. I am.
My bruising shields rose to my face. Trying to remove the evidence. To hide the symbol of surrender. I
cannot show it because I am strong. Strong yet, I am a coward. My hands would not leave. They lingered, pressed upon my face, hiding from myself, hiding from the world.
Footsteps. It became obvious to me that I was not alone. ‘Coward.’ Whoever is there is thinking this towards me. I am a weakling. I opened my eyes and stared through the cracks in my shields at the blurry shoes in front of me. Go away, I thought. Go away, I know what I am already. The shoes did not leave. The pain subsided slightly as curiosity slowly interfered. My hands wiped the moisture away, revealing a street-lamp-lit view of a male figure. What do you want? My eyes asked him. I tried to be angry, but I could feel my face slipping away, curtains pulled slowly to reveal how weak I really was. I looked away from him, acting even more as a coward, showing that I could not even hide my cowardice behind anger. I stared at the ground, but my vision was still on his face. I now realized his expression. He looked concerned. He was not accusing. I am going about this all wrong. But I cannot look again. No, my fear is too strong. What have I done? What is wrong with me? How could I have…?
My eyes squeezed shut but the scene did not go away. The dark kitchen. Only the open refrigerator, shedding light on the puddle on the floor. The puddle of…
I became aware of the temperature change. It was cold everywhere except on my right side. My eyes opened to find the pavement in front of me empty. He was sitting next to me. What for? I then heard the laughter coming from across the street. They were pointing. Their fingers like arrows, pinpointing me with their weapons of tease. Joy at my expense. I glared at
them. Now furious. Fire boiled within me and there was no pain. It engulfed my every being, my every sense. Except for the sense of temperature as I thought back to the one sitting next to me. I turned to look at him, my face still angry, and was shocked that he had no part in the hilarity of my situation. He only sat. He thinks he can some how help me. But he cannot. I can’t even help myself, what can this stranger hope to possibly achieve?
He saw my anger, and was taken aback. Receding as he knew that what he was doing was not right for the situation. That’s right, I thought. Go away now, and leave me be! He did not. He changed tactics. Instead of merely being in my presence, he spoke. He spoke to me, like he could erase anything that happened. But he can’t. No one can.
“How are your hands?”
Such a stupid simple question. What does he hope to achieve? How is this supposed to relieve me? But it did. I was stuck thinking about this plain question instead of the memories. I brought my hands out to look at them. They were puffy and swollen with pain. Red blotches showed skin penetration, but not deep enough for blood flow. They stung. I could almost see them throbbing with the pain.
The pain that spread from physical my physical body deep into my spirit.
“It hurts…” I muttered, more to myself than him. In fact, I didn’t even realize I had said the words aloud, though they happened to answer his previous question.
“Do you need anything?”
Concern once again. There was confusion. How can I stay angry? How can I focus when he is trying to
help me? I closed my eyes in my frustration with my mind. Why am I so confused? Because what he is doing is out of the ordinary. But what I am doing is out of the ordinary as well. That’s why those idiots are laughing at me. I looked at them again. They’ve cracked another joke and burst out laughing again. The fire lit up inside me again as I strung my gaze upon them, wrapped them up into its ferocity. One of them caught sight and actually jumped. I have the power, the control. You cannot defeat me. My eyes, they told him that I knew his every move, every thought. He should fear me. I am a killer.
They fear me. All of them were staring at me now. A few were smiling nervously as if it were some sort of joke. Time went by as I continued to glare. I knew this had only lasted a few seconds, but time seemed so slow that I could think through everything they were feeling with time to spare. They nervously exchanged glances while I did not falter. Then, just as they were about to leave, I stood. My eyes moved elsewhere deliberately to confuse them. I turned to head down the sidewalk again, and then remembered the male teen was still there, sitting on the curb, looking up at me in thought. He had a question. I refused to answer it. No, I need nothing, no one except for myself. My eyes spoke again. I looked away and walked past him in quick long strides, making my anger apparent.
I need no one.
My anger heated my body so the cold breeze from my fast pace did not bother me in the slightest. It’s not anger at them. It’s anger at myself for letting myself
become so weak. But I welcome my anger, for it fuels my power. I am strong in my rage. Or is this just another way to hide my fear? A rush of fear ran through me for a second, but I immediately replaced it with my anger once again. No, I will not slip back. I must think this through without fear guiding me. I prefer my fuel instead. Fuel to keep thinking through what I had done without breaking down.
It isn’t much, when you think about the whole picture. The entire world makes it seem like nothing. But someone somewhere will have full effect of my deed. Am I sorry? Am I not? I don’t know what to feel, but confusion. Everything in me says it is bad, but at the same time I feel it was right. But why did I run? I am weak. I cannot face what I do not understand. I am hiding again and again.
I sighed loudly while I walked. My pace slowed. The anger is running out. There’s only so much energy my body is willing to expend to create my power. I do not need it now, now that I’m alone. There was a bench ahead. With my energy levels lowering, my body will soon begin to pester me about rest. I sat down and locked my eyes onto the trashcan across the street. There was nothing particularly interesting about it. It was just something to stare at while the thoughts ran through my head.
I pulled my legs up and wrapped my arms around them in a sort of hug. Comforting myself with myself. Perhaps I do need someone. I need myself.
It was quiet for a while. My mind was slowing itself down, demanding a break. Stare at the trashcan. The trashcan. Nothing exists except for the trashcan. And footsteps. No, just the trashcan. Nothing exists except… footsteps? I became aware of the same teen, my age,
standing next to the bench, just in my peripheral vision. I could not see his expression and did not intend to look. The trashcan is more important. Do not think. Do not think.
“What’s you’re name?”
“Ember.” I replied without thinking. No! Why did I say that? I’m thinking now. I felt my face contort into displeasure at my outburst.
“Mind if I sit?”
His voice was quiet, soft. Cautious. Does he fear me as well? Was my anger enough to stab him with fear? But not enough to keep him away? He should fear me. I need to be feared. Everyone should stay away. Those boys in the group… if I had not left, would I have ruined them? Would their lives be completely in my control if I had lost control of myself?
I realized this boy was waiting for an invitation. My eyes broke away from the trashcan as I looked him over.
Black sneakers, blue jeans, a black unbuttoned button-down shirt and a green T-shirt. His hair was dark brown, spreading out messily on his head, his eyes hazel. I didn’t want to speak, so I just nodded without removing my gaze from his eyes.
He sat down, with the same tactic, staring at me. But his expression was thoughtful, while mine was blank but penetrating. Somehow, I could not get through to him. My eyes, they had no effect on him, except to make him curious. This was not my intent. Why does he not react? I’ll try something else then.
“What’s you’re name?” I said, attempting a new approach to receive a reaction.
“Tristen.” His reply was simple and immediate. I thought back to my long silences. He is patient. Patience is a strength. I looked away from his eyes, suddenly feeling uncomfortable, and I returned their attention to the trashcan across the street. In patience, he can learn to understand, learn to see things that others cannot. He can set goals and achieve them without diversion. His mind is set… on what? My mind, it runs everywhere. To the recent events, to my life before, to what my life will be, to control, to power, to pain, to him. He is important now because of what he is doing. But why? He… he’s more powerful than I am. He knows I am weak, he is preying on me. But I have no energy to be angry. I want to be, but I cannot. I feel calm, yet my thoughts are frantic. What does he want? He didn’t answered my questioning eyes, which I knew that he read.
I turned to look back at him, to ask him with my eyes once again, but he was looking at the trashcan. I wanted to yell at him, feeling possessive over the simple object that my eyes have claimed. But I did not. My anger was only in my head, but on the outside I felt calm. I stared back at the trashcan. Calmness. Now I should think to what I had done. That horrible deed, that I keep denying from my memory. I keep trying to forget that I had done it only to realize… what have I done?
“What have you done?”
My heartbeat quickened in fear. That’s right, fear. This boy, this man… he knows… He knows what I have done, he can see it. He’s found the answer already and wants me to admit it to affirm that he has control over me. I will not give it to him. No, this is my mind, and I will not allow him to invade.
So what do I say? What do I do? The fear builds up and I can’t fight it down. What have I done? What does he think? Perhaps he isn’t trying to affirm control, but merely asking through curiosity. But now, what should I tell him? The truth? He cannot accept the truth.
But what am I afraid of?
My mind formed the words to say, but my mouth would not say them. No, I will say nothing, pretend he never asked the question. It does not exist. It doesn’t.
I sighed as my body calmed down. I do not believe it does not exist for it keeps running through my head. What have I done? Better yet, what is wrong with me? My original question forms and I realize this is why I fear the answer of his question. Something must be wrong with me after what I have done.
It had been a few minutes and he was still expecting an answer. I will play this little game, I will not give him anything. We’ll see how long his patience holds out. I can set my mind too, and mine is set on refusal to submit to his powers. I am just as powerful as he.
The trashcan. This is all that exists…
A few more minuets passed, and there was still silence. My heart started beating faster as I thought of the time slipping by without a word between us. What is he thinking? How long will he wait? Is he planning my defeat? Is he looking at me or the trashcan? My eyes twitched slightly because I wanted to see, but I won’t. No, I will not. I will sit here all night if I have to, but I will not say
“I killed someone.”
It was a whisper. Who said it? Was it me? My muscles tensed, my fingers closed tightly into fists, my breath held, my eyes widened, my heart beat ever faster
as I realized it was. It was me, I answered the question. I submitted. I….
I stood up, and walked… to the trashcan across the street. Then I walked to the bench next to it, and sat on that instead, ignoring this man… Tristen. He does not exist. I hugged my legs close to me and rocked back and forth in a rhythmic motion. No… I didn’t say it. I didn’t. I couldn’t. I wouldn't.
I took a peek at Tristen. But he didn’t have a look of triumph. He didn’t cheer or smile or laugh. He didn’t tease or point or yell or cry out my defeat. He looked at me with that same concern that he presented me before. He wants me to accept his concern. Not as an act of power over me, but as a gift. A gift.
I’ve never been given a gift. Not after the conversations. No gifts after the words changed my life.
I looked quickly away from Tristen, but again, I took another peek back at him. My eyes searched for a way to accept the gift. My mind searched for a reason not to. Caution became my ally. Mindlessness my enemy. I needed to think. Or am I thinking too much?
It’s a gift. Gifts should be taken with caution, but not with too much thought, or the gift will be worthless. I sense no trap, perhaps…
I blinked. His eyes were focused on me still, inquisitive, asking me, if I accept.
My face turned into fear slightly, telling him my thoughts. I am afraid of a trap, though I see none. His eyes tell me he means well. I feel I should trust them. He can help.
I looked away. He can help. I told myself over and over, until I really believed it.
I looked back at him. Yes, my eyes say. Please…
He got up, knowing my acceptance, and walked toward me slowly. He doesn’t want to frighten me. He’s trying to help me. See how hard he tries. No one ever tries to help me… He stopped in front of me, eyes still asking if it is all right. I awaited his next move, which was a hand out toward me. Open. Palm up. I stared at it. My head tilted very slightly and my hand twitched to touch it. Accept it. He wants to help you.
My hand moved suddenly towards his and grasped it tightly. My fear poured into my hand and through to his. He knows my fear, I can see that he feels how scared I am, how weak. How sad I feel at my weakness. How powerless I am. I reassure myself that this is not a trap because if it is, then I am dead.
He knew what I needed. That time that he asked me was just to show that he wanted to help. I had but to accept, and now that I have, he is giving me more. How much will I be willing to accept before I feel too degraded to accept any more? As I took his hand and stood up uneasily, he offered me a place to stay. I kept wondering how he could be so calm knowing that I had killed someone. The world would kill me if they knew. He is not a part of this world. I am not a part of this world either. So what world am I a part of? Where do I belong? Inside, I belong inside myself. But that is only fear driving me away. I refuse to hide. Am I strong enough to resist the temptation?
His hand guided me toward his place of safety. Would it be safe to me? A stranger… how long should I
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