"You screwed it up."
The voice comes out of nowhere, loud enough to rattle the windows.
Shit. I've been outed.
As in shine-your-light-on-me-Miss-Liberty-outed.
As in all-eyes-on-me-outed.
(more) As in oh-fuck-what-now-outed.
"You can't just thrust yourself in willy-nilly and expect results."
Each word is another bullet shattering my spine leaving me paralyzed.
I find myself face-down on an unfamiliar carpet in my own living room. One sharp spiked heel presses against my spine somewhere between my 4th and 5th vertebra.
I bite my lip to keep silent.
"No pain no gain chica," she howls gleefully as she drags me across the floor by my hair.
"Rug-burn is what separates the men from the boys. Now get in position and give me 20."
Her lovely manicured hand comes down and slaps me once, twice, three times across my bottom.
"You can't even make yourself say 'ass' you whining little fool."
As she says this I squirm in embarrassment knowing she's right.
Her leather-clad foot stomps down barely missing my right hand as I push myself away from her backing myself up against the full-length mirror at the end of the hallway.
"You know what they say about fools and mirrors," she sneers,"look at yourself. You disgust me with your half-hearted efforts."
"Hey, this wasn't my idea."
I try to reason with her.
"What is this,the blame-game? Nothings gonna turn out right if you don't start taking some responsibility. When did you become so complacent?"
A layer of frost formed over my entire body at her words.
"Truth hurts, don't it chica?"
Her voice is like stale smoke.
I find it hard to catch my breath as her words began to swirl around me tornado-like.
"Bad enough you've bored me for so long, now you're going for the masses?"
I hate when she's right.
There was no justifying her actions and, in her mind, absolutely no reason to try. What was love if not irrational? If not spontaneous and without restraint?
How was it that those putting themselves on the front lines, the men and women risking everything for the sake of(more) those they held dear, could be bound and trialled as traitors whilst the cowards who stood to one side were worshipped as heroes? Survivors? Anyone could survive, hide, watch as those less fortunate served as a distraction to sustain their own lives but one had to wonder just how many could truly live with themselves afterwards?
At least they'd done something. They'd tried to help, unconventional as their methods may have been, and should that mean that they too would join the ranks of the fallen so be it. If just one life was saved, one family reunited or one iota of faith restored than they could happily lay their own lives down in return.
That was love.
Having witnessed the devastation of war, the despair and desperation of a people divided, the warriors of the waking world considered themselves blessed to be amongst the few to see clearly - even if only for a short time.
In the afterlife they knew they would be comforted by the deeds done, the objectives accomplished and the lives they had saved. All they could do was pray that it hadn't been in vain. They could pray that their lives would be remembered not as those of traitors, not of reckless activists or hostile guerrilla forces, but instead as those of human beings faced with implausible odds and impossible choices.
That's what it had all come down to in the end. Choices. Though their choices had cost them their lives they could leave at peace.(less)
"The way I see it, you've got to have a real good reason not to run," Darla said, then raised her old coffee mug to her lips, "almost cold, still drinkable."
"Well, I don't know about you, but running is so tiring for me. I mean think of(more) all the back and forth, all of the up and down and around and around that you have to do in order to really lose your breath. And isn't that what running's all about?" Chris said. She liked to eat all of the foam from her cappuccino, every last cloudy bit, and the spoon always missed little bits here and there, so she used her finger as a squegee around the rim of the cup.
"I don't know what you are talking about but we're out of tea cookies," Pam said. She was looking at Lester, who was fist deep in a cookie jar.
"What?" he said, "I'm stuck."
"Since when?" Darla said. "You'd stick yourself in a cookie jar just so you could spend some extra time with the cookies. I know you, Lester. Too well."
The ladies laughed.
"Can't run now," Darla scoffed.
"Even if he could, do you really think he'd get very far? Darla would just have to open a window and set a pie in it and he'd be back like he was never gone."
"It's stuck stuck. I'm serious. My hand is swelling up and there's no way I'll get out of here without breaking the jar."
"That sounds about right," Darla said. "Fat hands know their limits."
"Hey! I'd appreciate some help over here."
Lester waved his cookie jar fist in the air. "I'm serious. This isn't funny."
The ladies were laughing, but out of respect for dear Lester, they smirked behind their hands.