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“Heather” by Rebecca Hicks

Heather

Rebecca Hicks

Looking through the miscellaneous sale items, I hide behind a wall of discount toys so that I may continue to watch her. She sweeps through the toy aisle touching and laughing at everything; Mackenzie, her niece, trails behind her with a gleaming smile and rosy cheeks. Erratically, Mackenzie begins pulling on her sleeve with laugher erupting between them as she points to a karaoke machine. Before they even begin to sing, I find myself smiling at her beautiful voice that replays through my mind like a skipping record player.

“I can show you the world

Shining, shimmering, splendid

Tell me, princess, now when did

You last let your heart decide?” Her voice arches over the shelves and deeps into the aisles, pulling people from their mundane actions to investigate the serenity that can blossom when people appreciate their existences.

Gradually, a small crowd of eager children with tired parents gather around her and Mackenzie as they obliviously sing. Children turn away stomping their feet as the static in the microphones grows louder, but what kind of quality can you expect from a discount department store? She remains content though, happy in her moment and unaffected by the opinions of others, it painfully reminds me of us falling in love.

I can’t say how or when we were over, but it wasn’t at the flick of a switch with a definitive date. Instead, it came slowly like the sun sinking into the ocean and the sky being consumed by abysmal blackness. Our finality was complete; when the sky becomes nothingness there is not a switch to restore light. There is only silence and parting boats as two people sail into the sea unknowingly searching for one another.

I have come to accept I am the only one searching though. I have remorsefully accepted that she does not live by the laws of the sun because her existence is so luminescent that the sun’s brightness cannot compare to herself.

The song ends, childish clapping springs from the makeshift audience, and her copper hair cascades over her face as she bows down in a deep blush. Reaching for Mackenzie’s hand, they duck away together and disappear from my sight. Chuckling to myself I feel her addictiveness just as when we first met and I find myself creeping through aisles looking for her. The words sputter through my mind before being consumed by a lazy fog that swirls around my thoughts suffocating them. Leaning against a shelf of discount books with fading words, I close my eyes to imagine her in my life once again. The imagery does not come easy and within the struggle of it I realize my life may be meant to continue with someone else cast in her role.

“I saw you there,” a timid voice whispers from behind me.

Grinning, I turn around and begin pulling books from the shelf. They stack up on the floor beside me, but a window forms in the mass of books. Peeking through it with a dimpled grin, she looks at me with such sincerity in her eyes I forget for a moment she lives only within my memory and not my present.

She reaches through the little window, her fingers brushing against mine. Her smile falters for a moment as I look down, but her façade continues and she is once again rightfully gleaming in delight.

“Come with me,” I drop the words like stones breaking apart the stillness of water.

Gradually, we walk through the various aisles and locked doors until we stand in the warmth of radiant sunlight on the loading balcony. Leaning against the rail, I close my eyes for a second and feel the veins within my heart being pulled to unnatural lengths and I begin to shiver. My heart thumps against my ribs and suddenly I’m afraid it will crack a thin part of bone, but my heart will continue to thump. The thumping will persist, beating against the bone until a shard impales itself into my only connection with life.

“You ok?” She asks while twirling her hair between slender fingers.

I nod my head; positive I can feel a ghost of her running its fingers through my hair as we fall asleep together. Her nails tickle my neck while the whispers something outlandish, the same action she done every day for years until one day her nails were missing and her voice could not whisper, only scream.

“Aw, come on now, don’t be so shy,” she taunts with hypnotizing tones bouncing through her words.

“I loved Heather,” I repeat to myself, unsure if she is even listening to me.

“Heather this, Heather that,” she mocks with acid burning along her throat and corrupting her voice.

I turn around, twisting my hands around the railing until I feel the blood dissipating from my fingers and my knuckles shine white.

“Heather, oh Heather, I wonder where she could be,” her voice relentlessly continues, “I wonder if she’ll ever come back for you.”

Pulling in a deep breath I turn to face her malicious smile, “Heather is here, Heather is standing before me in flesh and blood and only is she missing in words. Heather is the essence of your existence and never will you be able to escape her, but I pray continuously and exclusively that she can escape you. “

“My name is Casandra. I am Casandra!” She blares with scratchy words and puffy eyes.

“I know, Heather.” I reply deadly.

Heather roughly grabs Mackenzie’s arm, pulling her along while they storm through the door. I watch them leave for a moment, consumed in her determination to be someone other than herself. I lie awake many nights wondering what led her to this ultimate downfall. We were living together, blissfully content in our own existence and engagement when one day I awoke to discover we were no longer engaged.

We may never be whole again and we may never reunite, but until she finds safety within her own existence I will continue to watch her because while she may act as someone else, that is still Heather’s body and I owe it to her to preserve it.

© 2015 Rebecca Hicks

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“The Bathroom Stall” by Rockin’ Writers

The Bathroom Stall

Rockin’ Writers

I sit in on the toilet seat of my high school’s bathroom, the door locked after receiving the news during class that I have detention. Rain patters on the tin roof erupts my thoughts, as they get louder along with the thunder. The weather matches this oh-so-perfect-day. The graffiti on the back of the stall door dare me to stare at them. It says “Eleanor is a hore” along with many other writings of “fuck you.” I agree, bathroom stall, my only fucking friend, which is so freaking stupid, I’m so luxurious that my best friend is a fucking bathroom stall. Wow. New progress for me.

I lean against the cool stone wall and tuck my chin to my knees, my bones shaking like an earthquake because I’m still a little bit dizzy from that vodka I sneaked in and drank during History II, which luckily I didn’t get caught because Mr. Mongoma is the most oblivious teacher ever and too dedicated to the idea of Natizis which results in the Boringest History Class In History, so it doesn’t really matter any way if I take just a little sip to calm my nerves. Now I have a slight head ache and a something exciting buzzing in my chest, like I have something trapped inside me.

I’m hoping that is the reason why I’m in for detention, but I know it’s not, and it’s not even my freaking fault. I’d rather it’d be my fault for breaking the rules of alcohol on campus rather than I being the accused for what happened, and it not even being true. The lies are deep in the soles of my finger tips, trying to scratch their way out with the dirt from my backyard’s garden (which only has weeds but Dad says I have to pick anyway, but he’s always a little high, so it doesn’t matter if he seems crazy to other people, because it will always be normal to me), trying to get chipped away, but I have to keep the lie, or else my life will be even more worse, because how worse can it get? Always more, freaking always. In my life, nothing can’t turn out worse.

My scruffy bangs are in my eyes again, burning their blue Oceanside. I shake them out of my eyes so I can close them and try to focus on the silence in the bathroom rather than the loud gossipy voices, high pitched and laughing, chattering so much it reminds me of when you speed up the music and sounds like screeching eagles on a record player and put it on the wrong record size. It sounds like time will never slow down. Every time I hear a high-pitched voice, or footsteps coming closer, my stomach squeezes until I think I’m going to throw up and I push my head harder against the wall even though it makes my head hurt worse.

If feels weird to have my eyes itch so regularly now from my night shifts at the cheap no-one-ever-goes-to-except-loosers (drop out seniors) and old grandmas discount department store. I get minimum wage, which fits me and I’m okay with because I’m sure it’s going to go out of business soon, and Marlin, the retired but-works-part-time at the department store because she’s always bored at home, has no grand kids, lives in a quiet house, and has to go over to her daughter’s house every weekend to help her because she has a disability and can’t pay all her bills. So, some people have it worse than me, and because of that possibility, which is always stained in my mind like the permanent black rings in my coffee mug I always take with me on Tuesdays, the one day every week I go to work from 4-close, which is 11:59 every Tuesday only because Marlin and I can’t work the day shifts.

I mean, I can connect to Marlin, because she’s a nice lady and would be a great grandmother, even if she might be a little shadowy to some people on the streets, but she means well, and works hard for her small pay check at the end of every week. She actually works all week, but only one night shift, which is on Tuesday because of me. Tonight Marlin’s not going to be there (so I’ll be a loner, and bored, because no one freaking comes to a discount department store at 11:59 P.M. On a school/work night, especially on Tuesdays) because she recently got news that something happened to her disabled 40-year old daughter and she has no idea what, so it’s an emergency. So I’m just going to be sitting on the counter in the darkness of the small, weird, smells-like-leaking-rain-and-mold-and-random-grandmother’s acne soap, which doesn’t even work because have you noticed? Grandmas don’t really need acne soap. I’ll just put m ear buds in and listen to The Beatles sing about the sun and continue reading Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass.

The first time I discovered the “inner true poet in me” and decided to become one, was when I read Walt Whitman. He’s my dream hero to words. Some people have special tree houses, or man caves, or closets, or secret rooms or some “special quiet place” to go to when they are emotionally corrupted, but my special place, isn’t so much a place, but creating them with my own imaginary mind. I’m not saying I’m a freak that’s seventeen year old, a teenage girl in high school that still has an imaginary friend and creates imaginary places, because I’m fucking insane, I’m saying my special go-to-place are words. I’m a poet by heart, but mostly hand, so it’s my mind and hand that connects the telephone line to the pen tat makes it real. When I was six, I wrote my first poem because my class was learning how to write poetry, and I fell in love with it, so I told my shitty parents that I was going to become a poet and they shitted all my dreams and imaginary unicorn bullshit back at me and ruined everything.

“Who do you think you are, Bree? You’re never going to become successful at anything, so why the hell do you want to write for a living? You need a job that will get you rich, like us, honey.” Yeah, Mom, you’re both fucking drunks for a living and don’t even pay your bills, so how can you say I’m freaking not going to be successful when you don’t even know what the word means? Any way, when their words finally stomped me out, I quit trying until in high school, we had the assignment to write a poem and so of course I did and mine turned out so good, my English teacher pulled me aside and asked if I’d written more. I told her I kept some in this one journal I always keep with me in my back pocket with a sharp old-point black pen and so I agreed to show them tot her. Later, she asked me if I wanted to get published in the school newspaper, and I told her no, because I didn’t want anyone else to read my words again, and tell me how I couldn’t succeed and I was silly, just like my parents did. She told me I could go anonymous, and finally, after a month with nagging, I agreed.

They were instantly everywhere at school, and the poems became written by the mysterious anonymous famous writer, who is like a celebrity in secret at our school. The greatest thing is that I’ve been able to keep it up, and it gets better and better and no one would ever guess it be me, especially because I’m short, easily over-seen, invisibly normal with a gray sweatshirt, skinny, avoiding eyes, and long fingers with dull finger nail tips. My bangs hide my face well. Everything about me is a closed door, except when I write, which breaks everything inside me into something I could never even be able to describe in my poems except it makes me feel infinitely larger, stronger and definitely full of light, like even if no one is watching, I’ll always be a glowing light for everyone to find if they get lost.

But here I am, sitting here wailing away at how shitty my boring life is. I guess that’s how things role. I get detention because I was seen drunk in some club, singing bad karaoke and almost puking my guts out. I figure it was Michelle Taylor who ratted me out. The one with the long blonde hair, dark get-lost-in beautiful eyes, that smile that rips guys hearts out right with one handful of a twisted mouth and teeth. The girl who just happens to be my ex’s girlfriend. I remember that night all too clearly even though I was a drunken coward, and even though now I’m scared that I’m turning into my parents.

I was sitting at the bar, drinking some scotch, (I knew the guy who owned the place. It was right next door to the discount department store.) after my shift was done, and of course he walked in, Michelle tucked under his arm and in his hands, their mouths intertwined as if time didn’t even exist and… gosh what a bitch time is.

I swung away from them, trying to disguise myself among the others sitting at the bar, but of course she say me. Her eyes transformed into a nice little glare, one that I didn’t give back (sometimes, I’m a freaking dumb ass) and she stirred him over to the bar, and with a little persuasiveness of her large cleavage, they got drinks. I prepared and waited for what was to come next, but all she said to me was “Hello, Bree.” I smiled shyly back and then turned to stare at the almost-empty-bottle of scotch.

I had a thing for alcohol, not because I’m a drunk, but it mends the pain. Sometimes it even helps the physical pain, when the bruises turn eggplant purple and even when it’s summer I wear sleeves. There’s always cuts, too. I don’t like the bruises, but I know I have to get used to the pain, so I cut along my wrists so I can still wear short sleeved shirts because I have thick bracelets on.

I didn’t say anything to her for a while until the doors swung open and the cool air blew in, the rain filling the bar with the aroma of it.

The truth was, I was at the bar so I didn’t have to go home and hear my parents argue. That day was the anniversary of Mom’s first baby’s death, when she had fallen from a balcony railing three hundred feet high. Whenever I imagine it, I don’t think of it as a tall building, or a railing that was a little too loose and a baby girl falling, and not being able to learn how to fly, instead I think of her falling with her eyes closed, and floating, but I know it never worked that way, because death isn’t that easily not scary. I know she didn’t scream because she didn’t know how to, and probably didn’t even know what was happening at six months.

I knew they’d be past out, or drunk, and I didn’t want to have to be the one to hear their mourns and help them to bed, because it hurts to see your parents falling apart, instead of being strong and helping you. And I don’t stay away because they’re depressed, because I know that’s stupid, because that’s what Emma did, my 32-year-old-rich sister, who lives in New York and drinks champagne every Friday because she has work parties at her mansion or whatever and sleeps probably with a different guy every week even though she kisses her beloved “soul mate” husband, Kevin in her above-knee dresses left them, left me, so I am the only one that can support them. It’s the only reason why I work at the discount department store: so I my parents can be happy and see me successful; so I can pay the bills; feed us; and so I can save up to go to college and major in English to become a famous poet and write poems for the New York Times and write to inspire people, and succeed. Even tough I know I will never able to save up enough money with paying the bills, but I still work any way, for a dream that’s not even going to come true. It feels better trying to work for something knowing you won’t be able to work for it, than not trying to reach for your dream at all.

Yeah, so that was when my parents came into the bar, half drunk and the other half high, swallowing in slurs of laughter and words. My tumbling fingers fled straight through me, continuing to dig their fingernails into my guts. In that moment I wanted to scream, as they turned and waved, slurring my name. Their laughter shrilled me up into pieces, my breathing became short and erupted. I watched Michelle in the corner of my eyes, her face coming up into a smirk. I finally formed the words,

“You can tell any other rumor about me, except for about my parents being drunk. Please?” Her eyes stared mischievously at me, and finally she gave me a nod.

I ran out of the bar, still lightly buzzed, my parents and ex and my ex’s girlfriend and everyone laughing at me, as I got to my car and drove home, even though I knew it was illegal, I didn’t care.

Michelle kept her promise, but it didn’t make It much better that she had told the principle that I’d driven to school drunk. Now, as I sit here, reading the back of the stall door as if it were a newspaper, fucking this and fucking that, just like the black-sharpie graffiti said to.

I know going to college (especially now with my thirteenth detention this year) is just a dream I’m chasing. But I can’t help but keep going and working that crappy night-shift and the even sitter discount department store, waiting to become someone famous, someone that I’m not nor that ‘ll ever be.

I pull my hair up into a bun and pull out a black sharpie pen. I write, “Fuck the broken happiness.” I cap the pen, feeling pretty satisfied. There, I wrote something and no one can write in the same damn spot that I wrote there.

Someone knocks on the stall door, and I suddenly jump.

“Hello? Is someone in there?” I barely smile before I unlock the door and walk past the girl staring at me as I whisper, “I want to get better.”

© 2015 Haven & Coral Worley