Some nights I wake and everything is just as it was the night before and I’m still okay. Some nights I wake and it’s there. It’s never stopped; not even after all of these years. Decades. I wonder how many people grow up to find that they’re still surrounded by every single one of their same high school friends even twenty years later? It’s probably not a lot.
We look the same and we always have but we couldn’t be more different from each other. I think that’s the best place to start with this. Some identical twins have a lot in common. They like the same foods, the same things on television, some even spend their entire lives dressing in the same clothes, but we were never those girls. For as long as I remember, it’s been hard for even our own parents to tell us apart were it not for our very different personalities. Our own mother can’t tell the difference between our voices over the phone to this day. We even have the same laugh, but after that we diverge. I’m extroverted and would much rather be outdoors than inside where she is bookish and reserved. As far as personality traits go, Lily and I have always shared very few.
Then that tall thing in the darkness interlaced its fingers and flexed them until its joints snapped as loud as firecrackers. It proceeded to crack the others in its overly-articulated fingers one by one. Shadows cast by an unknown source of light on the far wall seemed to show those hands like the legs of an impossible boney spider wrapping itself delightfully around a fly caught in its web. My feet were gritty and frozen. That’s how I found out it had taken my shoes.
Part I “The day I first saw you, I knew that my life was forever changed. It was love at first sight. Life was always so hard before that, and in that moment that I first saw your face, I knew that things were about to be different. It’s hard to explain. If I didn’t know you as well as I do now, I would never have admitted it at the time. It was like magnetism. I was drawn to you.”
I used to think reality was made up of choices. A hundred little choices made every day in a row, strung up like a necklace of pearls. You probably think reality is something like this too, each thing that you do could go a hundred different ways, and the only way it goes is the way that you choose for it to go…but that’s not how it works at all. That’s not how anything works. Reality is manipulative, just like people are and it’s manipulating all of us. It’s even manipulating you. You might not think so. Choices are only binary. Yes or no. True or false. There’s no great big gray areas like they tell you.
“Daddy come get me.” It’s four words a parent never wants to hear. I’ve always been worried about these calls. Being her father never gets easier. I don’t even ask her what is wrong. I don’t need to because she’ll tell me what happened when I get there. “Are you someplace safe right now, baby?” “I don’t know. Please hurry.” She might be crying, it sounds like. She gets upset a lot. Most teenagers do… But she almost never cries. “Hide. And keep your phone on okay? I’m coming now, I’ll call you when I’m close.” I say. I take off my apron as a dozen burgers sizzle on the flattop grill in protest, I take off my stupid paper hat too and look around the kitchen. Jimmy is the only one back here with me. He’s slow. He can’t manage the rush alone. Glancing next to me, I can see Read More …
There’s a Raffle that’s been going on in my town ever since I was a little boy. They started doing it in the 90’s. People seemed to have a lot of opinions about it. Everyone’s always said it was stupid and they hated it. I think some of those people are lying. People say we should get rid of The Raffle but they never do anything to actually change it. It’s all a bunch of talk and no action. The Raffle’s been going on so long I was numb to it for a long time but I’m starting to feel some way about it again. I started to read between the lines and understand what was actually happening in our city. If you live here too, just be glad you haven’t won yet.
“Let us pray.” “Heavenly father, we are the family of Holy Cross. Bless us and guide us as we pray together in our church. Teach us wisdom and give strength to our community. Keep our family safe and our moral compasses true. We ask this in your name. Amen.” The congregants voices rise in unison to echo off the rafters of the old wooden building off north Main, just outside of town square. “You may be seated.” Pastor Thomas, with his palms up, extended, directs them. His wife Gwen mounts the steps to the podium.
“Hello, my class is taking a field-trip and I’m selling magazine subs—” I slammed the door in his tiny, stupid face. He might have been eight-years-old, and my reaction might have been cruel, but the kid’s gotta learn the world is a harsh place sometime in his life. Why not now?
This all began when I was a kid — back when I used to think that the Moon followed me. I’d watch it pass through the clouds as my mother drove her aging sedan down the dark highways, always keeping pace with her erratic turns and speed changes … never falling behind. I’d watch it through the rear window, bouncing from treetop to treetop in time with my bounces in the backseat. Tagging along as the car leapt potholes and divots on the midnight country roads where we sent gravel and dust billowing out behind us.