A Weird One: Strife

So my brother’s visiting me today with his girlfriend. I’m pretty excited ,but at the same time a little stressed out. Making plans suck. I’ve realized too, that I also suck at making plans. There’s too much pressure, you have to get everything right, you’re not only affecting yourself, but are responsible for others… I realize that I don’t want to make plans anymore. Ugh. I blame time for this. If humanity had no notion of time, I bet we’d all be a lot happier. We’d meet up whenever we’d like, there’d be no constraints, everyone would be a lot more easy going…

Although, that would also mean the end of our society as we know it. But on the other bright side, no one would be worried about their age anymore because no one would know how old they were! But, then nothing would ever get done. Okay, maybe it’s just me then. I need to work hard at being better at planning apparently.

Anyhow, I’m posting this week’s writing challenge a little earlier because my brother’s going to be here and so I needed to write the story earlier…etc.

Prompt: Write a 1000 word story about someone who has no self awareness, or, alternatively, someone who has far too much. Include the following words: curve, substitution, relief, sacrifice, strikeout.
Word Limit: 1000

I went over the limit again. But the story would have been weird if I cut anything else out! So I broke the rules.

Word Count: 1,263

 

Strife.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?”

“I hope so…mom.” it was still so weird calling her that. I just wasn’t sure. I wasn’t sure of anything. It has already been thirty days since I woke up perfectly healthy, with no memories except one dominant face that refused to part with me. It was a relief, in a sense, not to be left with completely nothing. At least I have some sort of direction. I knew I needed to find her, and I knew with almost one hundred percent certainty, that she’d be at the high school. My old high school.

“Well, call me when you’re ready to come home, sweetie.”

“Thank you.”

“I…I love you.” I turned to look back at the woman who had been caring for me for the past month and smiled. There was a warm feeling in my chest, but I just couldn’t bring myself to say such words to someone who I still considered a stranger.

Staring at the brick building in front of me did nothing to jog my memory. Long, and uninspiring, a simple rectangular shape crammed with teenagers who knew who I used to be. The wind is warm, as it’s only mid-October, but I barely feel its gentle caress.

I feel strange. Like I’m some sort of apparition, a curve to the natural straight flow of reality. I am a teenager, only sixteen, so I’m supposed to belong here. But I’m almost a fraud, a substitution for someone in the past. I wonder if this is why I don’t feel nervous. There is a twist in my gut, but I think it’s more from anticipation.

The crowd in front of the school doors seems to part for me. It is a sea of navy blue sweaters and gray slacks. I’m the odd one out in a simple white tee-shirt and jeans. I tug my baseball cap a little further down my forehead, and keep my eyes low. Their stares are confusing me. I have to remember that they used to know who I was, but it’s weird.

“Johnny.” A boy my age steps out in front of the crowd, and slightly bars my path.

“Um…hello?” Johnny was the name I was born with.

“What are you doing back here?” I raised my eyebrow, not sure how friendly I was supposed to be with this guy.  He was looking at me with concern, but his words were so curt; they seemed to be edged with a warning.

“I’m sorry. I’m not comfortable with telling you that.” I walked on and tried to pass him, but he quickly grabbed my shoulder, stopping me.

“Seriously Johnny, what are you doing here?” He moved a little closer, invading my personal space. I could smell the pizza he ate for lunch; it was on his breath. My breathing become irregular. No one had been this close to me since my final check up at the hospital when I woke up, and it was unnerving.

“I…I came to get answers.”

“You have to leave, it’s too early. If Tyler were to see you…” This boy was trying to guide me away from the school, back towards the bus stop. I pulled his hand off me and shoved him back.

“Who the hell are you man? What gives you the right to tell me what to do?” I ducked past him and almost ran the last few metres into the school. The kids that were watching, staring, were beginning to whisper now. Some stared with concern; other’s with strange smiles on their faces; like they knew something big was about to happen to me. I didn’t like this. It made me feel like some kind of sacrifice: awaiting an ominous future.

My eyes scanned the interior forum. There were a lot of students, but none with fire for hair, and ice for eyes. My only remaining memory: that of a striking redhead with an unforgettable third eye tattooed under her fringe, prompted me forward, and quickened my pace. Time seemed to fleck away with every pound of my heart. I heard it so clearly.

Then, I thought I saw her. At the other end of the room, passing through a set of doors. I made way across.

“Johnny!” It was that same boy from before. I whipped around to see him weaving his way towards me. Why was he so persistent? We were in a hallway now, and dull, marketed lockers lined the walls. He walked with me.

“Who are you?”I finally asked. Was he a friend?

“I was with you when it happened? You don’t remember… your mom mentioned that you wouldn’t. Shit. Johnny.”He was mumbling, and spilling his words together, so I barely paid attention. I could feel myself getting closer to her; my goal. “It wasn’t really your fault, and most people know that. But… Tyler’s so angry. His sister was one of the kids Ben killed, and he just won’t listen. Johnny, if he finds you…”

“Johnny!” My name again, this time it was yelled with such anger that I flinched. A hand grabbed my shoulder and shoved me through another door.

“I suppose you’re Tyler?” I didn’t mean to sound sarcastic, I just honestly couldn’t find a reason to care why this boy was upset, with who I used to be. It was like I had struck out, and was watching my double take the plate; the life I was living didn’t feel like my own.

“Still such a jackass, you son of a bitch!” Tyler shoved me hard. I gasped when my back hit the bathroom mirror, and heard a little crack. Tyler was large, thickly built with a shock of dark blond hair. He glared at me, sneered at me, his hand shooting out to grab my shirt collar. Before I could blink he had my face against the glass and I saw the white of my skin. “Why couldn’t you lay off him Johnny? It was you who pushed Ben over the edge!”

“Wha…what are you talking about?”

“Shut the fuck up!” he screamed. Through the reflection of the glass I could see the boy who tried to warn me, struggle to get past Tyler’s body double. There was a lot of yelling, then my breath fogged up the mirror and I was forced to focus on Tyler’s angry eyes. He leaned in close. “You should have died instead of her.”

Then he forced my face back, and smashed it against the mirror. Pain. Hot, white, pain.

***

I awoke on the floor, and my face felt sticky. I licked my dry lips and spit out something metallic: my blood, I realize. Still on the cold, dirty floor of the bathroom, I was alone. Or so I thought.

“Jonathan. You came looking for me? You said you’d be happier like this.” Her voice sounded gleeful. The striking redhead lowered herself to sit on her knees; her flowing dress pooled around her, and covered my outstretched arm. She seemed to be almost glowing, her skin ethereal.

“You…” I rasped.

She reached out and touched my forehead, stroking my temple. My vision blurred as memories flooded back. There was a new pain in my heart now, brought on by shame, regret…and a crippling guilt. I wanted to curl up in a ball and cry, but her presence was so magnetic, I felt forced to look at her. The tattoo was morphing, the lines shimmered and changed so a third ice blue eye bore into mine.

“Would you like to go back to sleep, Johnny?”

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7 thoughts on “A Weird One: Strife

  1. Terrific story. Coming out of a coma and getting your memory back a tiny piece at a time has to be positively terrifying. You’ve created such a genuine character here. We can feel his fear, the perhaps misplaced guilt, and share his delusions. Did he literally go back to the high school or is his mind convincing him he has? The desire for answers has to be crippling. Perhaps a bit more time asleep would be less painful for him… Great job!

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