Six Sentence Story: The Stories of Pain

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We have all met Pain.
It comes to all of us, wearing different disguises.
Sometimes it is hidden in heartbreak, disappointment, abandonment, loneliness.
It can also come abruptly, underneath the mask of loss.
Or it can sneak inside our minds in form of fear; common fears and unusual phobias.
And sometimes, just sometimes, it is the pain of sharp teeth and claws of a monster tearing your body apart.


Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

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Quote for Thought: Life goes on

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“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.”

Robert Frost

Life can’t really be explained and it has no rules, even when certain magazines claim there are. It is as diverse as the people living it. But we all know one thing for sure – life can be hard. It doesn’t ask for our opinion, it just goes on, whether you had the time and strength to keep up or not. You will get sad, disappointed, let down, insecure, anxious, stressed, and hurt. But there will be times you’ll simply feel good about yourself. You will look back on your past sorrow and feel no pain at all.

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not even trying to be inspirational. If you’re sad, be sad. Cry. Hit your pillow. And I admit that sometimes there will be things in your life that you will never be able to remember without evoking some old feelings. Time doesn’t always heal all of our wounds, but it teaches us to live with them. Then, you will remember something, or someone, and still feel a little bit of that past hurt. But you will also know that you have survived it. You will say to yourself: “I feel much better now.” You will know: “My life is better today.” And it will give you strength to go on.

Mother and Daughter (Celestine’s perspective)

“This is your new room”, he said, but it doesn’t feel like it. To me, the bed I’ve slept in is strange and undoubtedly his.

I don’t know what made me fall for that man. He kidnapped me. But somehow, he persuaded me it was for my own good.

“I loved your mother”, he said. “You look just like her.”

I saw my mother’s pictures, but I never thought we looked similar. We both had green eyes, but my skin is darker, more like father’s. Her hair was brown, like melted milk chocolate, while mine is almost black. My nose is a bit too wide. Her nose was perfect and her lips full. Still, Eric claims we look almost the same.

As I grew up, the figure of my mother was an omnipresence, almost a deity. She died in an unfortunate accident in a toy factory when I was only two. Sadly, I can’t say that I remember her. I don’t know what her voice sounded like or how she moved. I don’t know how it felt when she held me. All I know is what my father told me. And to him, she was perfect.

I wanted to be like her, but I doubted I ever could. My father described my mother as a graceful lady. I, on the other hand, had his temper and his rash nature. I always made decisions too quickly, which meant I made a lot of mistakes. I wasn’t the best student and I didn’t have many friends. Sometimes, I was proud of it. Proud of my strong opinions, proud that I never took anybody’s shit, even if it meant acting not-so-lady-like. Still, any comparison with my mother flattered me more than it should have.

Was it the reason I fell so quickly for Eric Leigh? Maybe it was part of it. I felt such a strong attraction towards him, an attraction so illogical that I was willing to accept any possible explanation and at the same time I believed none of them.

“You hate injustice just as I do, and you hate the elite”, Eric said and he was right. “Your mother felt the same way, but they convinced her that she was wrong. They dragged her into the world she never wanted to be a part of!”

Since Eric Leigh appeared in our lives, or better to say re-appeared, I’ve learned new things about my mother. I realized she was human after all. She had a friend who wanted to change the world, two years younger Eric who loved her with all his heart. My father told me the story because he wanted me to be prepared for what was coming. He also said that my mother never loved Eric back. He was like a younger brother to her. My mother was supposed to marry Maximillian Reming, my father’s opponent in many things, even in love. Eric said she never wanted to marry Maximillian, but she couldn’t refuse. Nobody could refuse a Reming. And then, just before the wedding, she fell in love with my father. Maximillan never forgave them. In the end, he caused the fire in the factory, the fire that killed my mother. He had his horrible revenge.

Eric, however, had a different story to tell. He said that my mother and him were the closest two people that ever existed.

“Of course your father thinks she never loved me. He doesn’t know what true love is! They all played tricks on her, they trapped her into their elitist, corrupt world!”

In the end, I told him he was right. I told him I hated elitism as much as he did.

“We will change the world! I will be the king of the new city of Cyron, and I wish for you to be my queen!”

I didn’t notice how ironic it was for someone to claim he hated elitism and then to call himself a king. My thoughts were fleeting, my mind dizzy from all that was said. He kissed me and I kissed him back. Now, I know it was a bad idea. I know the one he wants is my mother and I’m quite certain he’s crazy. But what if he can really change the world?

I decide to go for a walk around the house. Eric even has a swimming pool. I still don’t know how he managed to get such a wonderful house.

I get dressed clumsily and leave the room. I close the door behind me and as I turn around, two blue eyes greet me coldly.

“Theo?! What are you doing here?”

I’m almost certain I’m hallucinating.

“Well, I know what you are doing. Sleeping with Eric Leigh.”

“I don’t understand… Why are you here?” I ignored the deprecatory tone of his voice.

“It’s none of your business. But I thought I should warn you, for old times’ sake.”

Old times. A horrible expression to describe what we had. Even now, I tremble as I try to look at him. I thought it was all behind me, but now I just want him to hold me and to tell me everything’s going to be fine. I made a horrible mistake, Theo, another horrible mistake! Once, you told me you loved my quirky, irrational behaviour. You told me it was great that we were opposites and that you wouldn’t want me to change. And now? Have you changed your mind? Were my flaws too much for you after all?

“Eric Leigh is dangerous”, he said instead. “And do you really want him to kill your father in the end?”

I felt like crying. No, not now. I almost never cry and this is a horrible moment to start. I had so many questions, and so many apologies, but Theo turned and left.

What have I done?


P.S. Here are the links if you want to read the previous stories about the characters from the same world, the city of Cyron:

  1. Alexandra
  2. Theo

Blue and Red

Her days were blue
A colour not of sadness
But of naivety and calm.

His nature was red
The shade of passion
And hidden rage
Born from burning pain.

Together they were purple
A colour of magic
Illusion and trickery.

But blue can’t give to red
The peace of mind it needs
And red can never love blue.
Purple is inconsistent.

What they needed
Was a peaceful valley of green
Tranquil and warm.

But red kept the yellow to himself
All its golden glory
And the light it possessed
Because he had so little.

When red left
Her blue turned grey
Changed, colourless, but free.

Blue couldn’t find green
But grey did
And even with a touch of greyness
The green was green still.


*My little play on colour-mixing and colour symbolism. 

Killed by the Past

Dahlia proudly held the envelope in her hands, feeling the folded paper underneath her fingertips. A then she drew it out, led by turmoil of emotions, as if she still didn’t believe the clearly written words it carried.

It’s so dramatic to receive a letter! As if she were in a book, or somewhere in time when everything was slow and uncertain, and the answers had to be waited for. She would’ve been excited even if she’d received the answer electronically, but it seemed more fateful to open the white envelope quickly but with shaky hands, to tear it impatiently but wanting to postpone the ultimate truth. Because what if the answer was unpleasant?

She had already read the letter several times, but each time she drew it out of its paper home she felt uneasy. And now she once again made sure that everything she dreamed of had become reality. She got the promotion she’d always wanted! What more could she ask for?!

Everything happened just two days before her high school reunion. It took a lot of effort for the reunion to be organized and it even seemed for a while that former classmates would not see each other again. There were always those who disagreed with all of the suggestions, and Dahlia noticed that they sometimes did it only to spite people they didn’t like. The long ago started feuds were still alive in those vile minds, even though they probably didn’t even remember what caused them. That was one of the reasons why Dahlia didn’t even want to see her classmates again. Most of them never paid any attention to her. They didn’t want to get to know her, so she never tried to get to know them. And those were the good ones. There were also those who didn’t respond to her standoffishness with disregard. Some found it funny…

But it was different now. She became a somebody, and as she’d heard (and it’s so easy to find out anything about anyone today), those most conceited and mean weren’t even close to her now. She would show up with her head held up high and the painful past she had to share with them would finally disperse.

***

Lucius was shocked. Is it possible that she’s asking him to do something like that? He was looking into the eyes of Victoria Preaterita, his beautiful, but cruel mistress.

“Do I really have to…?” he stammered.

“Lucius”, Victoria smiled. “Don’t you remember I saved you once?”

“Of course I remember”, Lucius didn’t want to disappoint or offend his mistress with his reluctance.

“And considering you’re just a slave, aren’t you doing quite well here? Don’t you enjoy the privileges other slaves can’t even dream of? Thanks to me, you have a lot more then destiny intended for you.”

“You are right”, Lucius looked at the floor in shame.

“That’s why now, when I’m asking you to do me a single favour, I expect you to say yes, no questions asked”, Victoria was still smiling, which made Lucius feel more at ease.

“I’ll do it, if it’s really necessary…”

“Kill, Lucius, kill. There’s no other way.”

***

Dahlia was observing all the people she used to spend most of her time with, and she couldn’t make herself feel any connection or closeness. But she didn’t feel fear now, when she knew she could run away as soon as she wanted to. She walked among them as a successful woman who was nothing like the girl they could insult and humiliate.

And then, Aldo approached her, almost completely unchanged. His face was just a little bit sharper and more serious than in high school. As though she was dragged back in time, she felt herself tremble.

“Dahlia! I’ve never seen you after the graduation”, he greeted her cheerfully.

“Yes, that’s true…” Dahlia looked him straight into the eyes, insecure but determined not to look away and run off.

“You haven’t changed a lot. And if you did, I have to say it’s for the better”, he was looking at her without shame, as if they were old friends and he never did her wrong.

“I’ve always known what I wanted, and it came true. Maybe that’s why I look different”, she replied with a smile.

“That’s great!” he said. “When I think about it, you do look much more confident. That’s nice to see. Opposed to the princess over there…”

Aldo looked at the once most beautiful girl in the school. Patricia wasn’t as attractive now. She seemed messy and tired, and the saddest part was that she lost all of her assertiveness. Dahlia had overheard somewhere that Patricia had gotten married only a few months after she had finished high school, and the marriage had ended badly. Dahlia didn’t know exactly what happened, but she knew that Patricia takes care of her son alone, changing one uninviting job after the other.

“You shouldn’t be laughing at someone’s misfortune”, frowned Dahlia, and Aldo noticed that her words alluded to an old, unresolved injustice.

“That’s nice of you. Defending her like that, even though it was her who started… I’m not trying justify myself, I’m equally guilty”, Aldo seemed sincere, but Dahlia knew how well he can play a fitting role.

One day, Aldo and several people he hung out with decided to play a little trick on Dahlia. Even though she didn’t believe him in the beginning, he managed to persuade her that he liked her and that he wanted to meet her alone, far away from their caustic classmates. Dahlia liked Aldo, but she couldn’t even admit it to herself. He was one of them, the people who seemed to be from a completely different universe. Maybe that was the reason she fell se easily into the trap. She waited and waited… And then he finally showed up. But not alone.

“She’s so stupid!” laughed Patricia. “Did you really think someone would ever even look at you?”

An old joke, seen so many times before, and she fell for it. Patricia was right, she was stupid.

“I’m sorry, what we did was awful”, Aldo’s apology snapped Dahlia from her thoughts.

“It was a long time ago”, she smiled, but she felt the old wounds awaken and make her shiver from the cold feeling of dread.

“We should meet once”, he said with ease. “Perhaps even tonight.”

He had the same boyish smile as before.

***

Lucius still couldn’t come to terms with what was asked of him. He’d never refused to do something for Victoria. He owed her too much. When he first saw her, he was so scared and weak, and then she changed everything.

Lucius was a child of an ordinary man who was driven away to the battlefield. He didn’t know much about his father, he only remembered him as a tired, quiet man who looked much older than he really was. Lucius didn’t even know the name of the land he lived in before the Roman soldiers enslaved him and sold him to an aristocratic family. Shortly afterwards, he was taken to a square to be sold again. The family didn’t need him. Blinded by the sun, he couldn’t even discern the faces of the people around him. In the painfully zealous sunlight, he saw his father’s figure, hunched and broken. He couldn’t save his himself, and he couldn’t save his son.

But there was a silver lining for Lucius. He was bought by Julius, a proud man with upright posture and head held up high – Victoria Praeterita’s husband. Victoria loved the boy as soon as she saw him, and she accepted him as if her own. She and Julius had two sons, both younger than Julius, but already rather separated from their mother. They had to become like their father, sleek and powerful, and they couldn’t spend their time in their mother’s arms. Victoria probably found their replacement in Lucius. He didn’t mind. He got the affection, and a little bit of love, and that was more than he could ask for.

“What’s your name?” Victoria asked him, and he just kept looking at her, confused. Slaves didn’t have names. “Well, you need a name. How did your father call you?”

Lucius couldn’t remember his father calling him. He was ashamed that he couldn’t answer the genteel lady’s questions.

“You are the light of my life, and I shall give you a name. Lucius. My bright Lucius”, Victoria smiled at her own wit.

And that was how a slave became a personal servant to his mistress, and thus received many privileges. If Victoria wanted him to kill someone, could he refuse? Absolutely not. She knows what she’s doing, and he should never doubt her.

***

The street was neither empty nor cold, summer was in full swing and everybody saw the evening hours as the opportunity to finally leave the safety of their air-conditioned homes. Still, Dahlia was shaking.

She was meeting Aldo. She had about an hour to gather her thoughts about what happened that afternoon. He insisted they meet the same evening. But why? What changed?

Dahlia should believe his honesty. More than anything, she wanted to be sure that she made the impression of a changed person, a more successful and interesting one. Wasn’t that who she was now? Better, stronger, more attractive?

The feelings she thought were long forgotten started to haunt her again. Disappointment and pain. Aldo’s laughter. Patricia’s mockery.

What if they were doing it again? What if this is just another cruel game? She wasn’t vain enough to believe in Aldo’s compliments. She wasn’t sure she’d truly changed. And she didn’t want to suffer again, to be back in her old skin, this time even more insecure, completely broken. Can a person really change? And, more importantly, can a person ever escape the ailments from the past?

Dahlia didn’t have the courage to answer that question, not yet. She turned around and ran back home. She felt the tears well in her eyes. She threw her bag on the floor and crushed on the couch. And then she saw him.

First, she only saw the dusty sandals and dirty feet. And then, she raised her eyes to see an armed man dressed in a Roman tunic.

Lucius came to carry out his task and without a second though he drew a knife on his victim.

Quote for Thought: Just Kids by Patti Smith

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…you could feel a vibration in the air, a sense of hastening. It had started with the moon, inaccessible poem that it was. Now men had walked upon it, rubber treads on a pearl of the gods. Perhaps it was an awareness of time passing, the last summer of the decade. Sometimes I just wanted to raise my hands and stop. But stop what? Maybe just growing up.

I’ve recently finished Just Kids by Patti Smith, a memoir about her youth and life with Robert Mapplethorpe. This book made me smile, but it mostly made me cry. I usually experience my emotions inwardly, but this time I actually cried. It’s a book about two people about my age, even younger, and what they have gone through in their search for artistic life is both sad and admirable. I can’t imagine experiencing everything that they did, and compared to theirs my life’s been quite easy. Still, I could understand them and sympathise with their story and emotional turmoils. Certain aspects of the story reflected some of the things I’ve been through, however far-fetched that might sound. Some doubts and questions they had are the same as those that I’ve often asked myself. It’s interesting to enter the mind of someone so different from you and still find traces of yourself. The experiences may be world apart, but emotions are always similar.

Obviously, it’s a book about art and artists. But even more so, it’s a book about life itself, about growing up, being happy and being hurt, about personal growth and maturing which never stops and can never be completed. It’s about finding yourself. It’s also about the ever-changing concepts of love and friendship which escape any definition. Life is complex and erratic, and this books portrays it beautifully. Life can get scary, and growing-up may seem unachievable or even unwelcome. At this point in my life, I realize that being an adult just means pretending to be one (and I admit I’m not good at it). No one truly grows up. It’ a process without end.

Everything distracted me, but most of all myself.

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