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Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Maybe...

           He was trying to hide in the hood of his sweatshirt. He pulled the sides down over his face as he walked, his eyes staring at the ground to avoid meeting the hostile glares that trailed after him. If only he could be invisible, maybe then those stares wouldn't bother him so much. Maybe then they couldn't pierce his fragile exterior.  But it wasn’t only just the looks; it was never just the looks. There were also words, wielded like sharp swords, threatening to cleave him in two.

            Whispered accusations floated all around him, invading the cocoon he’d created inside the cloth. Desperately, like a child grasping the sticky end of chewed up sucker stick, he clung to himself, to his sanity. Whore. Bitch. Brother. He heard as he passed. Did you hear? He was with her you know. The mouths spat the sounds like nails into a too soft board, ripping into his flesh leaving bloody little holes behind. His life was slowly seeping away with every thoughtless utterance and they didn’t even seem to notice.

            The long hall stretched out before him like the fiery walls of hell. His destination sat like black hole at the end, threatening to suck the air from his lungs. He continued forward, wading through pockets of thick, cloying perfume. Leering faces painted like clowns leered at him as he passed.

          Maybe he should just end this now. Why suffer through another day among these empty hateful shells who just didn’t understand? Maybe...

         The hushed voices continued to slap him in the face as he tried to sink deeper into himself. He quickened his steps and sunk deeper into the cocoon of his hoodie. The evil stares just continued to bore holes through his clothes. He felt vulnerable and exposed as he finally entered the black hole.

            Reaching his destination offered no relief. Feet snaked out from underneath desks, trying to trip him as he passed. Avoiding them caused him to trip and stumble up the isle, garnering high pitched squeals of laughter and more cutting whispers. The words sunk into his skin, penetrated his soul and shattered his already flimsy heart. What is the point? He thought, falling into his usual seat at the back.

            He slouched deeper into his chair, curving his back in a painful arch to avoid notice. If he could just hide, then everything would be all right. If he could just disappear, then so would the pain. If he could just be someone else, then maybe his heart wouldn’t be a shriveled up, blackened useless thing inside his chest. Maybe…

            A hand slapped the table top in front of him with a loud crack. A sneering face leaned over him, sour breath washing over his nose. He held back a gag and buried his face in the cave of his arms. Just go away. Please God, go away.

            “You are such a loser. You are nothing.” The pimply face growled over him. He didn’t understand why.  He never understood why.  Maybe he deserved this. Maybe he wasn’t worth anything and they all knew it. Maybe…

            He thought he was good, caring and compassionate. His empathy knew no bounds and he’d even secretly shed tears when that same sneering face had lost his mother last year. And yet, here the face stood, degrading him and treating him like less than shit. The sour breath was just another thing pushing him further towards the brink of nothing, closer to the maybe…

            He’s right you know. The pit of self loathing disgust whispered to him. You are nothing. You never will be. End this now and everything stops; the pain, the hate, the overwhelming sorrow. Everything will be better if you just…give…up…it coaxed in that gentle, sickly sweet voice. Maybe…

            The day passed with excruciating slowness. Every tick of the clock sounded in his head like a grenade blast, ripping apart his brain until he felt he could no longer stand it. By the time the final shrill bell rang, signaling his release from this prison of hate and shame, his skin was crawling.

He ran for the exit as fast as he could. The heavy bag on his back threatened to pull him back into the sea of swarming, hateful faces like an anchor but he refused to stop. Run. Run. Run. His heart beat wildly. Escape. Escape. Escape. His mind screamed. Maybe… Whispered his despair; and he paused for a moment. Maybe…

The door to his room slammed against the wall as he flung it open. He tugged desperately on the box beneath his bed for several minutes, struggling frantically to wrench it free. It was like the furniture could hear his soul screaming and was frantically trying to tell him NO! 
  
 Finally, the bed frame released the corner it had been stubbornly clinging to and the box shot forward into his hands.  A sliver of doubt wormed its way into his heart. Are you sure about this? it asked. He swatted the question away and flipped open the latches of the box. A loud click echoed through the room.

Carefully, he pushed the lid up and peered into the case. The metallic surface of the barrel gleamed at him from the velvety interior. The pungent scent of gun oil wafted out, assaulting his nose. He placed his large hand against the cool, hard wood of the stock. Maybe…the gentle voice coaxed. Maybe… he thought, running his hand along the smooth surface, tracing the trigger with a fingertip.

Suddenly, the front door banged open with a crash and a loud voice called out to him. He quickly withdrew his hand and slammed the box shut, shoving it roughly beneath the bed.

His heart raced and his hands shook as he raked them through his sweaty hair. He sat on the bed just seconds before his bedroom door cracked open. A smiling face greeted him through the crack, beaming love in his direction like a beacon of hope. Maybe…the voice hissed. Shut up! He snapped back.

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