After a long school day, my braids surrendered. The red ribbons holding them had been set free somewhere behind me on the sidewalk having blown off with the November wind, seeking a new destination.
Camouflaged into a mixture of dead dead leaves, trapped under an azalea bush, the springtime raker would never know they were once mine, that they had a purpose, and that they didn't mean to let go.
It was all my fault.
There was no way I could push the loose hair from my eyes with each gust because my hands were full. The clock hour had just been turned back the week before allowing the sun to fight against my stride ending the guarantee I would make it home before dark.
With one more block to go, the shadows were gone as the switch from day to night threateningly reached down choking me, before his hands ever wrapped around my neck.
It wasn't even a quiet street. One after the next on their way home from work, the headlights from the cars scorched against my back till I purred like a cozy kitten. How could I know they were just mocking me?
Two times he beeped his horn as he slowly pulled up along the side of me, a short and friendly signal I should stop and he threw the passenger door open so quickly I imagined he was driving from that side.
"Uncle Ray." I said, dropping my things, ducking down in the wind to say, "Hi," and he said, "Get in," and I said, "That's okay it's only one more block," and that's when he snatched me up with his octopus arms pulling me in like a skilled magician.
"Wait! My things are on the sidewalk."
With that said my free hands pushed my hair aside enabling me to look out the window barely able to see the outline of my possession shrinking all too fast. Turning abruptly in the direction of my Uncle Ray with outrage it was only then that I realized,
"Wait! I whaled louder. "You are not my Uncle Ray! Let me out! Let me out!"
The last thing I remember before I blacked out was the smell of canned fish, the kind with the bones, mixed with stale beer and cigarettes wafting out of his mouth as he whispered,
"Call me Uncle Ray."
And I couldn't, wouldn't, because then I would have to admit what was about to happen was most definitely all my fault.
Two hours of torture
Have you ever been slide whipped before? It's an excruciating experience, trying to stay focused, to numb the pain as it enters the mind then leaves effortlessly. I honestly believe it never enters the mind, for the true torture is not the experience of getting whipped, and trying to attempt to look like I am fully engaged, but the torture is being trapped in a room with all your colleagues, listening to a presentation that will be obsolete in a month when I could be home with my family.
It's somewhat similar to when one of your friends calls you to complain about something that you really don't want to talk about so you put the phone down and listen to the mumbled talk coming from the phone and you just pick it up every now and again and acknowledge them with,
"Yeah, okay, uh huh..."
Slide whipping is a terrible punishment especially when it's done by a nerd who assumes you know what they are talking about. They rarely, if ever, put any pictures that correlate with the slides because they didn't feel like it and perceived the information the only relavant thing that needs to be conveyed (even though no one in this room cares about the information).
We are all only here because this damn meeting is mandatory. Why does someone need 50 slides if we only need to know maybe three sentences from your entire presentation? We are only nodding in protest; with glazed over eyes that have been suffering as we ponder,
"WTF does that graphic have to do with your slide? Is it a molecule? a flow chart? Or did your kid just upload some virus to your computer while you were home schooling."
Look man, I already forgot what you were talking about before, during and after your long drawn out presentation that you gave to us in a language that only you understand. Look around the room! Poor Bob is making love to his donut, Ed hasn't made it back from the bathroom (because his zipper got stuck again), and Sharon is on level 57 of tetrus...
Me, I'm on an island somewhere, with a drink in my hand and feet in crystal clear ocean blue water. Uh oh, I think Shane is about to ask me a question, I better plot my escape to the restroom...
Concentrate I tell myself focus on your surroundings.
What can you hear? The constant sound of the car engine , the gears shifting, the wheels rolling over the road, the suspension bouncing. The distant rumble of a train, the honk of fellow cars . The beating of my own heart. What can you feel? The tight rub of rough rope around my wrists ,the texture of carpet in the trunk of the car, the throbbing of my head as the effects of the chloroform wore off, unadulterated fear and pure despair. What can I smell? The oily odour of car parts, the sharp funk of my own sweat, the sickly metallic twinge of my own blood dripping down my forehead.
What can I see? Nothing but the inky blackness of the blindfold.
I try to memorize the turns and stops. I count time hoping for an indication of a destination. We are definitely on a highway and judging by the length of time so far I’m guessing we’ve already left the state.
I’ve never known such abject fear. It has stunted all my faculties but I force myself to think. A buried memory is desperately trying to surface, creeping into my mind like a teenager late to a movie. A way out, it’s telling me.
The lights. A vague memory of smashing tail lights. I fumble around urgently in the dark. I have no idea when we’ll stop and what will happen when the journey ends.
I feel out the left tail light just near my head. I’ve found it! Now I’m searching and panicking, in my limited tied up capacity for a tool of some kind. I find one! A wrench possibly.
I’m unable to grasp it properly but I wield it nonetheless.
I’m hitting. I’m smashing. I'm punching. I’m forcing my bleeding hand through a 5-inch gap . I’m waving madly hoping a car behind spots the anomaly.
And like the glorious sound of an angelic symphony I hear the miraculous sound of a siren.
My life was drawing dull... so I decided to visit him again.
My heart was tugging me in one direction, but my brain was warning me better of it. Nevertheless, I found myself upon the doorstep, of 221b Baker Street fumbling about with the ruffles of my dress.
I heard his voice within. It was so tempting... so soothing... so enticing...
I was curious to discover details of such an interesting conversation. I figured he wasn’t alone. Surely Dr. Watson was in there with him, but I supposed that certainly wouldn’t be a problem. I rose my fist to knock upon the door, but my breath got caught in my throat and I lowered my hand again.
Why was my heart beating so fast?
Why was I so nervous?
I took a deep breath and raised my fist once more, but, the door suddenly flung open before I could knock. I expected to see the kindly Ms. Hudson. Instead, I found myself staring directly into the piercing gaze of Mr. Sherlock Holmes himself. His brow was drawn up tightly under the rim of his deerstalker hat, his thin lips were pursed in deep thought, and his long fingers were settled upon the breast of his frock coat. For a moment, I said absolutely nothing. We stared at each other for what seemed like an eternity before Dr. Watson shuffled out onto the step beside us. My eyes dashed over him, quickly observing his curious eyes seated right below his bowler hat, his warm figure wrapped in a neat little black suit, and his welcoming smile that appeared right under his mustache.
“Why, hello,” the doctor said, finally breaking the silence, “Who is your dainty young friend, Holmes?”
“Oh,” Sherlock sighed dismissively, “She would like to come along and follow us on one of our singular adventures.”
“She would?” Dr. Watson asked in surprise.
“I WOULD?” I sputtered involuntarily.
“Of course you would,” Mr. Holmes smirked mischievously.
“How do you know?” I retorted, “What if I called because I had a case of my own for you to solve?”
“You, milady, are not immune to my immense powers of deduction,” he sneered, turning on his heels and starting down the walk,
Dr. Watson raised his eyebrows and swiftly nodded at me before scurrying after his companion. The pair headed off down the street, leaving me standing on the step. Only Watson briefly glanced back at me as he scampered along. Sherlock, however, strode forward in a lanky yet dignified and determined way- indubitably a man with his mind made up. After blinking a few times, my legs finally regained consciousness and carried me down the way behind them.
Before long, I was in their company, going off down an unknown street in London with a medical man and an intellectual lunatic to who knows where. As the autumn sun vanished beneath the heavy fog, so did my self-control. I was under the curious hypnosis of Mr. Sherlock Holmes, and there was no going back.
it started from hollowness
where my heart should’ve been
three years ago you
abducted what was left of me
taken back by your eyes
black glass, the color of
an hour before dawn
and vinyls played out hymns
crept into my veins, bloomed
like the guitar you’d strung
against my waist, so deep
your nails painted scars on me
so soft, the music almost sings
the name you carved into my skin
a sunset of broken dreams
you intoxicated me without
even touching my scars.
four summers later, i was gone
I abducted myself, or maybe love did.
But if free will of humans is true,
I'd have chased you to hell; to the ends; to off-grid,
Without ever you having a clue
How, or how much, my thoughts longed for your touch,
Or how greatly my heart wanted you.
I knew I might end up broken, without crutch,
When I gave all my treasures away.
But it mattered not what others told me I'd rue,
As long as with you I could stay.
It was that damn look, all sweet and puppy dog eyes and brimming with all that goddamn possibility.
Because it’s that pull, isn’t it? That tiny voice in the back of our heads whispering maybe...
The curls were what cinched it for me. Dark brown curls over eyes the color of freshly brewed coffee and a boyish grin to match.
I relented. After all, we’re only young once, right? Might as well have a little fun. I smile back. I nod at the bartender who pushed a shot of limoncello towards me courtesy of the dark handsome stranger sat beside me. “Alright, fine, one drink.” I turned towards him. “What’s your name again?”
I raised my eyebrows. “That is a made up name if I ever heard one.”
He laughed. An easy laugh of a boy who has never had anything truly bad happen in his life. “It’s not! But let’s get to the more interesting part. What’s your name?”
I briefly considered giving a fake name, but decided against it. Maybe it was the limoncello in my veins. “Bethany.”
“Nice to meet you, Bethany.” Theodore’s voice was soft, pleasant. “You make it a habit to visit hole in the wall bars in the middle of the day?”
“That sounds accusatory.”
“I’m just truly curious.”
“What are you doing here on a Tuesday afternoon?” I shot back.
“Well... I impulsively quit my job.”
I cocked an eyebrow, amused. “You’re kidding.”
“No, I really did.” He ran his hands through his hair. A nervous habit? It was kind of adorable. “I was just sitting there, thinking, what am I doing? This is not what I want to do. Life is too short! And then I just packed my stuff, told my asshole boss I quit, and I left.”
“I think I should be the one buying you drinks.” I said, shaking my head. This guy was proving to be more interesting than I expected.
“Have you heard of the five second rule?” He asked.
“Um is that about eating something that you dropped on the floor?”
He burst out laughing. “Okay, no. It’s a way of living. It’s the idea that after you decide on doing something, you count to five and you have to act on it in five seconds so you don’t change your mind and chicken out.”
I nodded. “Ok, I get it. Like once I decide I’m going to exercise, I give myself five seconds to get out of bed? That kind of thing?”
“Exactly. Except I kind of do it for everything.”
“Like quitting your job.”
I furrow my eyebrows, unconvinced. “I don’t know, sounds kinda extreme to me.”
“Not really, it’s very freeing. You should try it sometime.”
“Let me guess, you’re single, and your parents are loaded. They can spot you cash anytime you need so you don’t have to worry about a paycheck. Am I warm?”
Theodore looked momentarily offended but then smiled as if to concede I was right. “I feel attacked.”
I laughed. “It’s okay, Theodore. I still like you.”
One. Two. Three. Four. Five.
I held the syringe containing Versed and Ketamine tightly in my right hand. I didn’t know what I was waiting for. Theodore was the perfect mark. Loaded parents. Single. No kids.
It should have been easy-peasy. A hug in front of my apartment after he agrees to walk me home. A push on the syringe. Goodnight, see you later, and I’ve got a million dollars payday in ransom by end of the week, tops.
But I couldn’t do it.
I’m not normally this soft, but there’s just something about his puppy dog eyes and the way he runs his hand through his curls like he was doing now.
Oh god damn it. Never fall for your mark. That’s gotta be the number one rule in this business. But here I was, syringe in hand, duct tape and nylon zip ties in my purse, a soundproof room ready in my apartment, and Theodore was still wide awake and smiling in front of me at my apartment door.
I must have been standing there for too long. Longer than five seconds, that’s for sure. How does Theodore live his life like this? I give him my best innocent schoolgirl smile. “Want to come in for a cup of coffee?”
His smile widened as he nodded and I led him in.
I was going to have a tough decision tonight. Maybe I won’t do it. Maybe this time it would be different.
School Night Abduction
I don’t know why aliens took me or why I was all tied up. I mostly don’t know because they talk funny like my cat that got eaten. They only talk to me a little in English. They told me that I was a fine specimen. I don’t know what that is, but maybe they were trying to say space man. I made sure they knew I wasn’t a spaceman because my mommy said that I gotta grow up first. They only told me “We know you’re not a spaceman, Earthboy we have been tracking you.”
They said something to each other and all laughed. I hate when people don’t tell me jokes cuz I like to laugh too. So I asked what the joke was, and they said, “You look tasty.” I didn’t know how that was a joke, though, so I only giggled a little like I do when daddy says a dad joke. They seemed to like that I laughed, so they untied me.
They told me to dance because they were “making special notes.” I told them I needed music to dance “silly gooses.” They wanted to know why I called them gooses, and I smacked my hand to my forehead. I keep forgetting it’s geese not gooses. Mommy told me I sound silly when I call them gooses.
Mommy isn’t going to like that I’m up late on a school night. She told me that I’d be “as tired as a bear after hibernation” if I didn’t get my sleep on school nights. I ain’t never seen a bear in person before, but when I asked if theyre real tired after hibernation, she said “Yes indeed they are. And grumpy too.” I don’t know how she knows this cuz I don’t think she’s seen a bear after hibernation, but I believe my mommy.
I tell the aliens that my mommy said I gotta go to bed early on school nights. I also asked them if they could drop me off at home because I didn’t think my mommy would be able to pick me up cuz she was in “an important conference” she said.
They didn’t want to take me home at first and I told them I had fun playing with them too, but mommy was gonna be mad at me if I wasn’t in bed by 8:00. I think they thought mommy was gonna be mad at them too, so they said that they’d take me home.
They said they’d get an adult next time, so they weren’t so annoying, but I think they were just angry that I couldn’t stay and play. “Good choice,” I told them, “Adults don’t have to be in bed at a certain time because they’re grown ups.”
I ’membered later that they would also be tired in the morning cuz they gotta get up early for work, but it was too late to tell them because I was already in bed, and mommy was telling me goodnight.
Can’t think of a title
Mentally drained, mindlessly walking along the empty road when in an instant everything turn blank.
He came effortlessly.
My thoughts on abductions, as little as they existed in my mind were always tainted by bitter fear. All sorts of negative connotations led me to believe that stealing, ripping away ones freedom and decision making process was one the cruelest acts forced upon another. The mere image of being caged in at the hands of someone was unfathomable until I revisited my former years and realised I had in fact experienced a situation resembling an abduction before.
When I turned seventeen I opened my eyes after blowing out the candles at 16:19pm and expected the world to glow in a pinkish tint of opportunity and confidence. One year older, one year wiser, one year closer to wreak havoc on structures designed to hold me back from thinking for myself disguised by the usual trope of safekeeping. Of course the following days I learned that a specific time coinciding with my birth wouldn’t change my mindset let alone view on life but hope boomed through every corridor that my enthusiastic feet and naive heart accompanied it. But as all things have an end the freedom pulsating through my veins left one night almost as fast as the candles extinguished by the air inside my lungs on the bitter sweet birthday cake. The threat came late at night silently creeping up on me. The darkness seemed so loud I didn’t realise I let someone in on accident nor how close he was. He snapped my neck so fast away from what felt real that my face held a permanent state of emptiness. Then he threw me into a cell that looked just like my room but colder. My sketchbooks sat right were I left them on my desk and my old brushes still had my name engraved but as I tried to guide them across the blank canvas my hand felt heavy. My guitar still hung above my book shelve but every strum sounded out of tune as if i'd just forgotten how to play my favourite melody. I moved to open my door and to my surprise the absence of a lock was as clear as the absence of warmth in this imitation of a home. As I walked out realisation hit that I had never left. My parents still sat in the living room sipping on a chilled glass of white wine discussing my aunts generous gift of baked goods she brought over just hours earlier.
He came so effortlessly. Taking my freedom without taking anything at all. As if I signed away my choices and happily obliged when he told me to stay in bed for days or when he told me not to eat or when he told me I did not need to shower or take care of myself, no one would see me anyways.
But anytime I did unwillingly see myself all I saw was him. My abducter.
Keeping me hostage in a body once so full of life and hope for a future that after this night seemed like a distant dream a child would elaborte on when asking what they’d want to be when they grew up.
Funny thing how growing up was the furthest from a dream at the mere age of seventeen.