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Chapter 3: The Strip Club

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Elysium is Far Away: Pt 2.5

It was late when I finally made it to my mother's house.  My mother was lying on the couch and Nicholas was having dinner in the living room.  He happily chewed on steak and fries.  "Hello, honey." I said and kissed him on his cherub-like cheeks.  I approached the couch where my mother lay.  Patricia's cheeks were swollen from the medication she was taking.  It gave her the appearance of a miserable chipmunk.  "Hi mom. How are you feeling?" I asked even though I didn't want to know the answer. 
"My head. It's been hurting for a week now. It's the plants."  She said.I turned my head and rolled my eyes as to not let her see me.
"What are you talking about?" I asked as I quickly gathered Nicholas's things and put them into his knapsack. 
"The plants.  Jay has been watering them too much and there is mold. I can smell the mold. Its giving me these headaches."
"You should see the doctor.  It's been more like two weeks.  I doubt its mold. I can't smell anything." But I could smell something. It was a rotten smell.  It was a smell of resentment, and disinfectant. 
"No. I am telling you. Its the damn mold!" She exclaimed.  She sounded somewhat hysterical.  "Ever since you bought me that ring, that's when these headaches started."  I gave my mother a hate filled smile. 
"Right mother, I poisoned the ring.  Because I can't stand your complaining anymore! Let's go honey." I put out my arms, but Nicholas would not go to her.  He stood up and walked his plate to the sink. 
"He doesn't love you."
"Don't say that." I warned. I was tired now. That feeling inside me was rising.
"He wants to stay with me. I can take better care of him." She said, almost taunting me. But I had already played this game with her countless times before.
"I've got to go mom.  I'll see you tomorrow, and we will call the doctor."
"Alright dear." I could hear the exhaustion in her voice.  Patricia withdrew any type of attack as quickly as she had summoned it.  She just didn't have the strength to fight her daughter anymore, and she knew it.
As they walked home I took Nicholas's hand, but he quickly withdrew it.  "Mom! someone will see!" He said.  He was embarrassed of my.  It was happening, just as other parents had told me it would.  He was gaining independence, and didn't want to be treated as a baby. But I was not ready let his innocence go. "Mom?" He looked up at me.
"Is Grandma going to die?" He asked the question without fear.  He had been to funerals before for family relatives, but he was still too young to comprehend death. I thought of an easy way to explain it now, but I could not. I could not comprehend death either.
"Well. She could die, but we are going to try and get her better."  It was the only honest answer I could muster. "So what happened in school today?" I asked, and he quickly went into his day as if they had never spoken of what was obvious to both of them. 

The Crocodile and the Lioness

The crocodile sat lazily on the bank. The hard plates on his back worked as solar panels to soak in the sun and distribute heat through his cold blood.  His mouth agape he appeared asleep, yet he was waiting.  He could feel the vibrations of the herd still miles away. He could sense their arrival and in the interim sat patiently scanning the section of his territory.  Last year crocodile was very successful.  He had captured three young buffalo on their desperate path to cross his river. He snapped his jaws in remembrance of the event.  This year the river was unusually low.  The massive heat was intense and had burned out many of the waters that had been overflowing rivers for millions of years.  But crocodile did not know any of this, he just knew that killing would be more difficult because the height of the water was too low for him to ambush his prey. He entered the water and submerged himself exposing only his yellow eyes allowing him to skim the distant horizon.  Getting close to the river bank without being seen was going to be difficult.  He was aware of the arrival of the many other crocodiles that had been forced to leave their own waters that had dried up in the heat.  It was more crowded in his river with many lobbying for a new patch of the water to call their own.  He had to fight off several young hungry neophytes struggling for position.  Position in the territory was crucial for the success in crocodile life.  Crocodile was in the top position. He had been very successful, and success meant he was strong and very big.  Crocodile was over 18 feet in length and weighed a massive 2000 pounds.   Other crocs had to steer free of his territory or risk death or injury.  It was a brutal endeavor of life and death.  With the heat becoming more intense year by year the competition increased for the river crocodiles.  But crocodiles have an amazing advantage over other animals.  They can live off of one meal per year, and when it gets too hot they can dig deep into the mud and sleep in a type of hibernation to stay alive.  If the heat burned up crocodile's river he will be forced to leave this part of the Mara and search for a cool mud hole in which to retreat. 
The herd appeared a large black swarm on the skyline.  The thunderous stampede moved closer to the river. The buffalo had a thirst that drove them in a maddening rush. The lead buffalo could smell the water strongly now.  It picked up the wafting scent of the thick mud and sweet grass that thrived in the water.  It ran faster now in excitement and urgency.  But when the herd approached the water they sensed the danger that lurked just underneath that precious water they had traveled so far for.  They could see the crocodiles skulking around the perimeter of the river bank. The leader brayed in frenzy.  The herd cried in nervous anticipation. The hungry crocs opened their mouths to taste their fear.  The herd had to cross, and they had to drink. Now it was only a waiting game. 
There was another hunter watching the event from a nearby bush.  It was the lioness, scouting the herd, and I was waiting too.  Lioness was involved in a desperate game of cat and mouse.  The heat was almost unbearable to the lioness. She panted heavily staying low to the ground to try and stay cooler.  Many of my companions were made victims from the overwhelming heat.  They became delirious and wandered away from the pride, to be made maddened by the hot sun which eventually killed them.  She was hungry. She had not eaten in many days and had two small cubs that needed her, if she did not eat soon, she would die, and so would her babies.  Their territory was slowly dwindling away by the encroachment of the human.  Many of the local people on the edge of the Mara killed her sisters and cousins for their fur and to make a warrior out of the young men that believed the spirit of the lion will give them success in their own hunts.  The lion territory, once vast and abundant had withered to a small size of 586 sq miles.  The Masai could fit 460 of itself inside of the state of Texas.  It is a small patch of land for animals desperately trying to endure. The lion, whom once roamed the entire lands of Africa. Lioness did not know any of this however, she just knew that she needed a kill for the survival of her pride. So she crouched low, making a high pitched sound to call for her companions; a sound she hoped they would hear.  She knew that if she continued the hunt on her own, her precious kill could be stolen from hyenas.  The hyena can smell a kill from miles away, but the most obvious alarm would be the vultures that had already begun to encircle overhead.  They knew what was coming.  Lioness retreated further back into the thick acacia brush, otherwise the energy she spends on killing will be wasted to another opportunist.  As the sun slowly dropped below the horizon, the time for killing was near. Life and death in an endless struggle to endure.

The Scissors

     There is no love inside this home.  Love was a foreign idea that she would ponder in her drawings when she was not allowed to go outside, with little pink and red hearts floating on the page. She sits in her room quietly while angry shouts bounce through the hallway and pass through the small space at the base of her door. Today she is not allowed to go outside and play with her friends.  She is playing with her dolls when it starts.  No matter how tightly she shuts that door, the shouts still flood in.  Accusations, sneers, and cruel anger have her retreat further away from the compressed pine wood door.  The cacophony of their passion abruptly invades her ears and she now fears the possibility of it approaching her bedroom.  Many times before, she had become a victim of the violence that they put upon her shoulders because they would never find the satisfaction of a resolution; a flood of violence would rush into her room to execute swift vengeance. She twitches from the memory of that one morning she was left broken and trembling in a heap in the corner of her room to ponder her wrong doings.  She looks around her room, a small cluttered place with one window on the second floor of an apartment building.  Stuffed animals and plastic toys lined the blank white walls. Something catches her attention and the argument becomes muffled in her ears.  It is a pair of scissors on the top of her dusty toy piano sitting neatly adjacent to the plastic Jesus figurine her grandmother had given to her when she was a baby.  The metal gleams from the dusty light that comes through the faded curtains in the window.  On her knees, she crawls to the piano taking care to not make a sound.  She lifts the scissors feeling the weight, heavy in her small hand.  The loops where the fingers go in are far larger than her own.  The orange plastic remind her of a toy; something trivial that she could amuse herself with.  The argument has become louder and louder, a crescendo of bitter resentment clouding her judgment.  She opens the scissors to inspect the sharp blade on the inside edge.  It fascinates her.  The thin fine edge of the blade seems so simple and clean. The slicing comes quickly before she even notices she has done it; three little cuts on her forearm.  The little cuts that make everything else that seem wrong disappear.  She watches the thick blood trickle down like red tears.  The pain has hurt her but she finds in that pain a rush of warm excitement; like being punched in the stomach with a hot water bottle.  The pain turns to warmth. All her anxiety, fears and sorrow flee from her body.  With all of the inexperience of a misunderstood youth, she wonders in that moment if this is what love feels like.

By Tara M.



Elysium is Far Away: Pt 1.1

 It lingered in the darkness perched on a park bench waiting for its prey.  She did not notice it watching her from across the bustling street.  Almost invisible in the darkness it could have never been recognizable, and she was rushing home from an exhausting day at work. Dark alleyways exposed themselves, with wet dimly lit entranceways daring one to enter. The warmth of the street lights illuminated the sidewalks with a false promise of safety. It followed her closely, ensconced in the shadows going unnoticed by the lives rushing past.  it quickly jumped into the darkness of the alleyway, and disappeared.
She passed a store with a window full of televisions, each broadcasting cnn in unison the current war in Iraq.  She paused to see the images of a young boy being carried into a hospital with a missing leg and a woman screaming behind him. She shivered and hurried on. Something that slept under her skin awoke inside of her.  A sudden awareness now enhanced her senses. Sounds were sharper, and her skin acutely felt the cold breeze swiftly pass through her woolen pea coat. She had the eerie feeling that she was being watched, but as she looked around she saw nothing out of order.  She couldn't shake the feeling. every once in a while she looked behind her to see nothing.    The night air was heavy; crushing her heightened senses.  She checked behind her again but saw nothing there.  She did not know why she felt so paranoid. She had been living in this small city for a year and she never had any problems.  She crossed the street to take a shortcut through a well lit tunnel to the park.  A breeze blew across her neck like a cold whisper that seemed to speak an indistinct word and brought a tingle down her spine.  She checked once again to make sure she wasn't being followed and confirmed there was no one there.  A couple walked a few steps in front of her, their arms draped lazily across each other. They cooed softly with each other, laughing at their private jokes. The sounds of their soft laughter echoed through the tunnel.  It gave Rachael no comfort to see them however; the feeling that she was being followed seemed to loom in the shadow of her mind.  The echo of her footsteps seemed to taunt her. She quickened her pace and passed the couple.
      The normal and comforting city noises drifted in the air. But those sounds were muffled and overtaken by something like a vast nothingness that screamed through in her mind and struck a sudden fear into her heart. She didn't know where it had come from, but she was suddenly in an unexplained terror.   This new feeling of creeping dread fell over her. A strange wet smacking sound struck the ground very close behind her. She did not look back this time.  She panicked and frantically ran as fast as she could out of the tunnel and past the park.  The park she had traveled a thousand times before, but this time was different.  It was barely dusk, yet even her shadow had suddenly taken an ominous shape.  A recollection flashed through her thoughts that she had the feeling before; maybe it had always been there; lurking and waiting like her shadow, tracing her every step. She was close to her home, but not close enough, she ran across the grassy commons to the bustling street and past a group standing in front of a nightclub. One of the men whistled at her as she sprinted across the pavement. Another couple blocked her path as they attempted to hail a cab. She stumbled, but quickly caught her fall with a long stride that dazed her.  She stepped into the first open door she saw.  The warmth of bright lights and the smell of collective perfumed bodies flooded her senses.  Her foolish anxiety was instantly forgotten as she was consumed by the element around her.  The unexplained terror dissipated as she finally felt she was safe.

Rachael's earliest memory is at age four.  On a warm summer morning, she sat on a worn sofa watching cartoons. She had carefully adjusted the volume to the television so that she would not awake mother's boyfriend Paul. Paul would get very angry if she woke him. She softly sang the theme song to captain kangaroo, and stood up to dance along with the program.  She remembers the book of matches on the glass coffee table, and the pace of her heart pounding faster when she considers her curiosity to touch them. Mother had warned her to never touch Paul's matches or cigarettes.  Rachael does not recall why she had decided to picked up the matches that morning. She had the fear of fire through her mother’s warnings of danger.  She gingerly opened the cardboard flap to see three match sticks inside.  The sulphur smelled good to her. She had seen Paul use the matches to smoke cigarettes that make her stomach feel queasy. She fumbled with the matches in an attempt to scratch the sulphur against the flint.  Her awkward movement inadvertently hit the flint in such a way that the match exploded into flame.  Rachael panicked and dropped the matches when she saw the small explosion in her tiny hand. The enflamed book landed on her favorite white and pink shirt with baby ostrich birds printed on the front.  She yelped in pain as the matches bore a hole through the shirt and onto her delicate skin. The flame extinguished, but not in time to save her favorite shirt, or  from the inevitable punishment.
            Rachael hid the shirt under her twin sized bed, but her mother found it the next day.  For some reason her mother Andrea thought Rachael had intentionally created the fire. Rachael tried to explain the accident, but it did not matter.  She would be whipped by Paul's belt for her mistake.  Sometimes she winces when she recalls the metal buckle scourging her skin. She begged for it to stop that day, screaming after her mother.  But her mother turned her back and walked out of the room leaving her alone with Paul to do what ever punishment he felt was deserved.  The blinding pain was not the part that hurt the most.  The feeling that her mother had rejected her, that she was ashamed of her young daughter, hurt worse then the stripes on her backside.  The sting on her back she still bore in her heart.  That day and the many that followed was cemented in her memory, and it was something she had wished she could forget. 

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Previous Posts
Chapter 3: The ***** Club, posted October 31st, 2012, 1 comment
Elysium is Far Away: Pt 2.5, posted October 31st, 2012
The Crocodile and the Lioness, posted October 31st, 2012
The Scissors, posted October 27th, 2012
Elysium is Far Away: Pt 1.1, posted October 26th, 2012

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