AmberWolf • upvoted 28 items 1 year ago
It's A Horrible LifeWhen I approach you in the park, you look pretty down-and-out. Clothes disheveled, eyes bloodshot, nose running. The holidays can be hard on people. I sit next to you on the bench, the smell of your binge-drinking invading my nostrils. "How're you doing, friend?" I ask gently. "Not so good," you reply. "I got fired from my job. Can you believe that? Fired so close to Christmas. My girlfriend keeps saying we're going to get evicted if I don't find something soon. Doesn't she think I know that? I reached out to my friends but none of them will help me because I've asked so many times before. You know, sometimes I think everyone would be better off if I was never born." You look shocked, as if you can’t believe you unloaded so much on a total stranger. I'm familiar with this effect I have on people. "Now, I'm sure that's not true," I say. "Listen, you might not believe this, but I'm an angel sent from Heaven to watch over people like you. Why don't I show you what it would be like if you were never born? Then you can see how much everyone needs you." You sniffle. "Okay." I produce a tiny bell from my pocket and ring it. Suddenly, we're in front of a magnificent mansion. "Where are we?" you ask. "I took you to your girlfriend. Let's see how sad she is without you." We peek in the window at the impressive interior with expensive furnishings. Your girlfriend is at the dinner table with an exceedingly handsome man, holding his hand. She laughs at something he says and strokes the hair of a beautiful child sitting next to her. "But... she's better off without me!" you exclaim, horrified. "Oh, I'm so sorry," I say. "Let's try someone else." I ring my bell and we're at your parents' house. A young man who bears a resemblance to you walks outside. "Is that... my brother? But it can't be. He died years ago." "If I had to guess," I offer. "He may be alive because you weren’t around to influence him to drive so fast." I watch your face as your parents come out of the house, smiling and hugging your brother in a way they never hugged you. "Oh God," you say. "Take me back. Please. I can't stand another second here." I ring the bell and we're back in a world that you know is worse because of your existence. You run away and I wonder how you're going to do it: pills, a gun, or maybe jumping off a tall bridge. I know you won't be able to live with what I've shown you; no one has ever been able to. None of it was real, of course. But you think it is. And that's enough. I remove my hat to give my horns some air and keep walking, looking for the next poor soul depressed during this fine holiday season.
Julia Was A Clever GirlJulia knew she was smart. She was one of those clever children, the kind of child who figures out early on that parents aren’t all-powerful and all-knowing. The first time she realized this was when she got scared. There had been a noise in her room, coming from under her bed, or from the closet. Julia ran down the hall, crying, “Mommy! Daddy!” “What’s wrong, honey?” “I huh-heard a m-monster,” Julia glubbed. She expected them to comfort her, or roll their eyes, or get annoyed. Instead, they jumped up immediately and raced to her bedroom, where they checked under the bed, inspected the closet, and tested the window lock. They poked, prodded, and scoured every inch. Julia caught on quickly. She knew what they were doing. By taking her fears seriously, they were showing their little girl that she was safe and loved. They had probably read about it in some book. But the lesson Julia learned was that she had power. Thereafter, waking her parents became a nightly event. Julia would scream and cry, they would rush to her bedroom, and Julia would hide her grin behind tears. But not once did they ever complain. One night she could stand it no longer, and she burst out laughing when Daddy fell down while examining the light fixture, as if a monster could fit up there. “What’s so funny?” he asked, rubbing his backside. “You,” Julia smirked. “You always believe me.” Daddy wasn’t angry. He just looked at Mommy. “Once,” he said quietly, “just once, we didn’t believe your brother.” And Julia, an only child, did not sleep well that night.
The Sound Of SilenceAfter lifetime of being deaf, my best friend just received cochlear implants. When he woke up from the surgery, we all stood around him. His wife was the first one to say anything. He heard her voice and at once began to cry. We all took turns speaking, letting him hear our voices and our names, and with each word we said, he became more emotional. When we were all finished, silence hung in the room. He looked up at me and asked what that sound was. It took me a moment to understand what he was hearing, and when I understood, I told him he was hearing silence. He shook his head. “This isn’t silence,” he said slowly, hearing his own voice for the first time. “I’ve been hearing silence all my life, and this is different.” A sound came from just outside the hospital room, and he perked up immediately. “Isn’t that silence?” We all exchanged looks of trepidation around the room before I spoke. “No,” I said slowly. “That was the sound of someone screaming.”
I Begged You“Please, I am literally begging you,” I say, but the executioner only sighs and gives me a truly sorrowful look as he slides the IV into my arm. The chaplain sits beside me. “Once he pushes the button, the drugs will be administered in quick succession. Unconsciousness will occur in roughly thirty seconds, and death soon after that,” he explains, even though I have heard it so many times before already. “Any final words?” “Just, again, I beg you not to do this,” I say. The chaplain nods sadly, sorrowful that I do not face my executioner with a clean conscience. That’s the thing, though. I haven’t murdered anyone. It’s been this way my entire life. I don’t know why, but whenever I would accidentally hurt myself, others near me would receive the wound. I once got a paper cut in class that caused the three people around me to bleed from their fingers. In high school, I was in a car accident, and even though my side of the car was hit, my girlfriend developed a broken leg. I’m always very careful. I take care of myself, trying to stay in the very best of health. But when I was mugged by that trio and he shot me in the face, their faces exploded, not mine. And when the cops came, they found me kneeling beside their bodies, trying to figure out what to do and stupidly holding their gun. Around thirty seconds after the execution started, I see both the executioner and chaplain fall to the floor with a hard thump. “I begged you,” I repeat sadly.
A Deal With The DevilThe deal was simple; we’d get to ask him a couple of questions and he got to ask us a couple of questions. A bit odd if you ask me. What could The Devil possibly want to know from us? I couldn’t tell you. “Is heaven real?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied, his voice like dying embers in a fireplace, “and so is hell.” “Who goes to heaven?” “Whoever God wants there.” “I’m afraid that’s much too vague for us.” “What’s that like?” he asked, his eyes perking up. “I’m sorry?” “What’s it like to be afraid?” A bit confused, I tried my best to describe the feeling of fear. My explanation was a bit clumsy but he appeared to be satisfied with it. “Why’d you want to know that?” I asked. “Because when God made me, he didn’t give me the ability to feel fear. I can’t feel lots of things.” “What can you feel?” “Pain.” I got us back on track. “Can you elaborate on your answer from before? About heaven?” “Of course. Heaven is open to all of God’s creations, whatever they do.” I breathed a sigh of relief. When I was called in, the people in charge told me that my primary objective was to secure information on how humanity could get to heaven. With that sorted, anything else I gathered was a bonus. “Are you going to heaven too? Since you were created by God,” I asked. “I could, but I won’t,” he replied. “Why?” “Because I committed the most egregious sin. I did something only God was supposed to do.” “What’s that?” “I tried to create angels. They didn’t work out. My angels were made in my image, so I guess I’m to blame. All they do is cause suffering and destruction, so God said they had to go to hell, to suffer for an eternity” “You mean the demons?” “Yes, I guess I do. I couldn’t go to heaven, not while my creations were suffering. So I decided that when the time came, I would travel to hell and suffer with them.” “Why?” “Because I love them.” I checked my watch, “Time's almost up.” “Yes it is.” he replied. “I have to go back and get debriefed.” I said, preparing to leave the facility. “They’ll be ecstatic when they get the good news.” “And what might that be?” “That no matter what we do, we’re going to heaven.” “But you're not, or anyone else for that matter.” “But,” I said, my voice wavering, “You said…” “Yes, I know what I said my child. But you're not one of God's creations,” he said with a tone I would mistake for sadness if I didn’t know better, “You’re one of mine.”
I Hate It When My Brother Charlie Has To Go AwayI hate it when my brother Charlie has to go away. My parents constantly try to explain to me how sick he is. That I am lucky for having a brain where all the chemicals flow properly to their destinations like undammed rivers. When I complain about how bored I am without a little brother to play with, they try to make me feel bad by pointing out that his boredom likely far surpasses mine, considering his confine to a dark room in an institution. I always beg for them to give him one last chance. Of course, they did at first. Charlie has been back home several times, each shorter in duration than the last. Every time without fail, it all starts again. The neighbourhood cats with gouged out eyes showing up in his toy chest, my dad's razors found dropped on the baby slide in the park across the street, mom's vitamins replaced by bits of dishwasher tablets. My parents are hesitant now, using "last chances" sparingly. They say his disorder makes him charming, makes it easy for him to fake normalcy, and to trick the doctors who care for him into thinking he is ready for rehabilitation. That I will just have to put up with my boredom if it means staying safe from him. I hate it when Charlie has to go away. It makes me have to pretend to be good until he is back.
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