Anyways, since that is the case, you guys are now able to enjoy (if you can) the delightful sorrow of my latest writing :) err...my latest...short story XD I hope you enjoy!! Let me know what you think of it in your comments :)
Just One Hour
They told me to go out and enjoy this next hour: use up all my money, go skydiving, or kiss the mayor. They also warned me not to over-exert myself; I could if I wanted to, but then the hour would pass by too fast. I watched their glistening lips solemnly move up and down, working jaw muscles like pistons on oil rigs. The dire circumstance under which I was placed could not be reversed.
I slowly made my way down the porch steps and onto the cold cement. The old basketball hoop on the garage door creaked, beckoning me to shoot something round down its open-ended throat. I turned and began to walk down the street.
I watched my feet move forwards: clack, clack, clack. The soles of my worn black pumps loudly protested each time they hit the ground. I stopped and studied them curiously, then I took them off, placing them beside the old, dilapidated bus stop bench.
The November air swirled around my legs, chilling them. I thought of heading to the lake in the park and wading for a bit, but I couldn’t just yet, I had other places to go.
Up ahead was Bill’s Groceries, just past the residential area that I had meandered into this morning. I figured I’d spend a couple dollars on some candy.
As I opened the door, the scent of greasy food and unwashed bodies assaulted my nose, which I wrinkled up in distaste.
I picked several candies from the shelf and brought them to the till. My mouth watered as I thought of the tastes I would soon enjoy.
“Is that all?” asked the girl behind the desk as she loudly popped her bubblegum. She looked like she should be in school.
“Yes.” I said.
I fished through my purse and handed her a battered five and a couple coins, which she took with smoke-stained fingers, then I left with my purchase.
Now I’m standing outside the grocer. I eat my candy, savouring the taste of sweet and sour blending together in harmony. Across the street, I see a church; its tall steeple pierces the overcast sky like a sword.
My fingers release their death-hold on the leather purse. It slumps to the ground like a dead beast. With my bare feet turned towards the church, I start walking. I don’t bother to look back or think about what I’m doing; I won’t need my purse now. I’ve bought all that money can buy in just one hour: enjoyment.
As I lay my hand upon the worn wooden handle of the church door, I catch sight of my ironman watch. The timer tells me I’ve spent 15 minutes already. Pulling the door open, I go in. Furtively, I glance around. Oh, this isn’t a catholic church, its Baptist. I’m ready to slink back outside and head to my next destination when someone calls out,
“Hello? Can I help you?”
I turn around and see a man in a rumpled white shirt and black pants. The pastor?
“Yes, I was wondering if I could speak to the pastor.” My lips move without my noticing them. I simply stare at his droll appearance: a circus master in funeral clothes.
“That would be me.” He smiles warmly as he closes the distance. I extend my hand and we shake. Too bad he wasn’t a priest.
“Would you like to come to my office? I’ve just made a fresh pot of coffee.” I start at his mention of coffee and furiously shake my head,
“No, no, I won’t be long. I’ve got things to do, but I had a pressing question to ask.” I lie, hoping to cover up my annoyance that he’s a pastor and not a priest.
He nods and sits down on a chair that has been placed against the wall. I stay standing, my fingers fidget with the hem of my skirt.
“So, how can I help you?”
“How do you know if you’re a good person? If you’re going to heaven? And please,” I stumble over the words as I glance at my watch, “try to keep the answer short.”
The pastor looks at me curiously,
“Alright. Essentially, a person can be as good as they want or as bad as they want and they’re still going to go to the same place.”
I inwardly shudder at his implied remark.
“What really counts, when it comes to going to heaven, is your heart. Have you accepted Jesus as your Saviour?”
I bristle at this remark, “I can’t say I ever have.”
“Would you like me to—“
“Pastor, I don’t have much time, but no, I don’t want you to help me.”
He nods respectfully and smoothes his hair,
“All you have to do, if you ever want to be assured of where you’re going, is accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. It’s not hard. It just takes faith.”
I sigh and move towards the door. He gets up and shakes my hand again,
“I’m afraid I don’t have time for faith right now.” I say, absentmindedly.
The pastor looks at me with worry and I can tell he’s assuming the worst.
“Don’t do anything rash,” he says gently, “if you ever need to talk to someone about anything, feel free to come here. That’s why where here. To help people who need it.”
“And I appreciate your help.” I head to the front door.
“Could I offer you some shoes?” he calls after me.
“No. Where I’m going I won’t need shoes.”
I leave the church and stand silently on the curb for several moments, willing my heart to stop racing; with each breath, my throat tightens slightly. Did he guess? Did he know? Surely he must have. Yet he could do nothing about what was going to come now. I could do nothing.
I can’t afford time to be self-conscious. Reaching with my hands, I unfasten my jacket and let slide off my shoulders. It hits the ground, rustling quietly as it embraces the hard sidewalk.
I turn north and start walking to the city hall. When I’m kitty-corner to the hall, I veer west. I stand before the entry gate to the public graveyard, letting my mind wonder, for a split second, whether I was right to come here. Swiping my bangs back from my eyes, I continue forward, berating myself for stopping to think.
My feet sink downwards as I cross from the paved path to the grassy arena of tombstones. I used to like graveyards when I was a teen. I’d spend hours imagining who the person, now buried beneath the soft earth, used to be. My friends and I would try our hand at pronouncing the names of immigrants, now resting peacefully. Had any of them gone through what I am going through?
I read a couple names and then I spy a section of newly plowed earth. The deep scent of ground and grass spikes its way up my nose. I read the worn tombstone that sits next to its brand new companion:
April 3rd 2004--November 6th 2006
The sweetest child there ever was and ever will be; we love you Stacy
I touch the letters; November 6th, my own birthday, I realize as I read the date over again. Tears rolled down my face, falling like crystals to the barren earth.
Glancing at the new grave, I skim the first two lines; lines that I’ve read a million times.
March 7th, 1981--September 13st, 2010
I back away from the grave and take off my skirt, throwing it onto the grass. The stark blackness of the material stands out like a sore thumb in the middle of the peaceful meadow of caskets. I’m left with a t-shirt and slip. I must look like some mental case, escaped from the insane asylum. Yet I know that I am perfectly sound in mind. The deceased could make better use of my skirt than I could.
Slowly, I walk away from the graveyard. I’m almost thankful that today is a Monday. Everyone is working, everyone is living, everyone is doing the best they can with the circumstances they’re given.
As I leave the graveyard, I find myself in front of the city hall. For a moment, I wonder if I should go inside and have a quick chat with the mayor of the town. But I don’t want to draw that kind of attention to myself. Besides, I’d end up in a police car before I could even speak to the secretary, considering my appearance. The last place I want to spend my time is in jail.
Pursing my lips, I try to breathe deeply as I glance at my watch: 35 minutes have been spent. What did I do? I bought candy, went to church, and visited the graveyard. That’s good enough, I figure. I can head to my last destination. My favourite destination; the place I always go to on my birthday. The park.
When I get to the park entrance, my mind is besieged by memories. Memories of my first kiss when I was 10; the time when Jacob and I snuck into the woods while my parents set the picnic blanket on the ancient forest floor. We hid behind a tree and kissed. It was awful.
I remember the time when I turned 21 and my boyfriend, Brian, took me to the lake at the center of the park; he opened a can of beer and gave it to me. I laughed, drank it, and threw the trash into the water.
Then there was my wedding ceremony when I was 23. Brian had proposed in the spring and we were married in the fall, on my birthday. The wedding party had paraded through the trees; I felt like a fairy princess.
When I turned 25, Brian took me to the lake again; I had delivered Stacy that spring, our first baby. We celebrated with several friends. I remember I wasn’t happy; Stacy kept crying and my head pounded like the ocean surf.
My 27th birthday was even worse. I didn’t even want to come to the park, but Brian insisted. I didn’t like the water. It was dirty and dangerous. We left in an ambulance, praying with all our might that the doctors would save our drenched baby girl. But they couldn’t. She died in our arms, coughing up water.
I press the memories to the back of my mind, refusing to let the hurt of the past take control. I can see the lake up ahead. It shimmers and glistens like a diamond strategically placed around the neck of a woman.
Before I know it, I’m at the shore, staring into the cold depths. This shore, it carries so many memories, both good and bad.
Suddenly, the weight of what I’m doing and what has been done hits me, like I just ran into a brick wall. I realize that I’m spending my last hour here, where my baby died, where I was married, where I first kissed. I look at my clock, 10 minutes left. Such a short amount of time before I leave this earth. Revenge will be waged against them when I’m gone. At least, I pray it will. There is nothing I can do now. It’s too late.
Brian told me to never get involved with those people; he told me it would cost me dearly in the end. But the glitter of gold was too great; my own greed was too strong. And now I’m paying. When I tried to back out they ensured me that I’d be backing out: never to return. I’d never see my home town again. I’d never see the graves of my family again. I’d never again step inside a church or buy candy from a store.
Only 6 minutes left. I take off what remains of my clothes and step into the frigid water. My legs are already numb from the wind. My feet move me forward, ever deeper, ever onward, to a destiny I do not want.
Is life really worth death? Are all our accomplishments really worth it in the end? I suppose it doesn’t matter now. I have two choices. Poison or water. Which one shall win.
The words of the pastor come seeping, unwanted, into my consciousness. I struggled for air as I remember.
All you have to do, if you ever want to be assured of where you’re going, is accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. It’s not hard. It just takes faith.
Faith. The word rings through my mind like a bell. Do I have faith? I have faith in death, the one thing that I know is certain. My legs suddenly stop moving. The water is just past my chest now. I feel it lapping against my collar bone, hungrily trying to pull me in deeper.
With shame, I retrace my steps, out of the water. I have only one minute left. My throat is tight, maybe from the cold or from the poison.
I don’t want to be found like a lunatic, floating in the lake. I don’t want my name to be in the paper linked with the word “drowned”.
Sitting on the grass, I pull on my clothes: 30 seconds. I feel my mind numb. My throat is so tight I can barely breathe.
“Oh God,” I whisper hoarsely, “wherever you are, whoever you are.” My throat tightens further. The beeper on my timer goes off somewhere, in another world. Shadows begin to seep into my mind. I can’t breathe.
With the air remaining in me, I manage to choke out my last two words: “save me.”
Then the lights fade. Darkness takes over and I am swept out of the world I once knew so well.