Relax

Day Fifteen: Relax

 

How Savannah got roped into this she will never understand. She is the chicken shit in their friend group, the scaredy cat that can’t watch any type of horror movie without hiding behind her hands for the majority of it. So naturally nobody would expect her to be tagging along to the haunted house that is advertised as “Most terrifying in three counties!”.

But Gwen had begged for her to come, and when Gwen begged Savannah had a hard time turning her down. Especially now that they were going to different schools they didn’t get to see each other as much as they used to. It had been nearly two months since they hung out and the fact that their Fall Breaks fell on the same weekend, it felt meant to be.

Which is how she ended up walking down the cracked sidewalk into the haunted house that looked like it should be condemned rather than used as an attraction for hundreds of people to traipse through on any given night. Savannah clung to Gwen’s arm, squeezing tight and looking every which way while all the other people in their group chatted about how high excited they were.

Gwen reached over and patted her forearm and whispered, “Relax. You know none of this is real in terms of you getting hurt, and we’ll keep you in the middle so you’re less likely to get touched or face the brunt of jump outs.

She narrowed her eyes at her best friend, “I’ll relax when we are on the other side of this shit show and on our way to get pancakes.” That had been Savannah’s one requirement to agreeing to this, that they would end the night at the local dinner to gorge on endless pancakes and milkshakes.

The evil and rudeness that was Gwen just laughed at her, but gave one last sympathetic squeeze of her forearm before dragging her across the threshold of the house.

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Tree

Day Fourteen: Tree

 

 

Being away for seven years Frank had definitely missed the way the air changed when fall finally took over. He hadn’t experienced actual seasons since living in Florida, it’s been all heat, humidity, and rain for in his recent past. So walking among the falling leaves was like a big hug wrapping around him and warming him despite the crisp chill lingering in the air.

A few yards ahead was the old willow tree that he and his best friend growing up, Rosa, used to meet up at when they sneaked out on late nights. It was their middle ground between their houses and it happened to be the first place they met as well. Older kids in the neighborhood had gathered around and were ganging up on Frank when all of a sudden a firecracker of a girl came stomping over yelling at them to buzz off. Rosa grabbed him by the hand and hauled him off to this tree where they sat and talked for hours until her mom came to take her home.

From that day they’d been mostly attached at the hip, best friends thought it all, and frequently meeting up back here when the rest of the world was too loud and overwhelming. Frank hadn’t been back here in seven years but for in his mind when we recalled the wide birth of the tree’s trunk and how the long strands brushed against the grass when the wind picked up.

Rosa was diagnosed with cancer three years ago, gave it a hell of a fight, but had lost her battle last week. It had taken him that long to gather the strength and take the small vile of Rosa’s ashes she had set aside to be spread at the base of the tree. It was important to her that some of her be left here since it was a large part of her childhood and was a place that inspired growth in her.

Pushing past the the curtain of hanging vines Frank felt a sense of peace and calm rush over the anxiety that he had felt pooling in his stomach since he set out for the park. It was like Rosa was already here, making sure he felt safe and comfortable like she always did. Crouching down he sat with his back against his usual spot and fiddled with the small vial in his hand and speaking into the soft wind, “Hi Rosa.”

Scared

Day Thirteen: Scared

 

You ever realize how sometimes being hopeful and being scared are two sides of the same coin? Like one day you can be impossibly hopeful about the future and the next step and even the unknown, and then another day all of those things and more, so much more, can be what make you scared to even get out of bed. Not to mention the fun roller coaster days when you get to experience both emotions before your 24 hours are up.

I’m not sure there is a lesson or an epiphany to be learned from this, but maybe it’s a comfort to know that nothing is limited to just one thing. No one activity, thought, event, or non-corporeal thing exists to be defined by one emotion. The good always comes with some bad, happiness can involve tears, and things that make you scared can also be what brings out hope that tomorrow can be better.

Worried

Day Twelve: Worried

 

The email had landed in her inbox during third period, Sociology, and had made it seem like their phone was burning a hole in their pocket. Alex had heard back from four other schools, two were yes and two were no, but this one was the big one. The school Alex had dreamed of going to since they were a little kid, the school that uncle Kevin had gone to, and the first application Alex had filled out.

And then threw out and refilled out, only to do that process three more times to make sure that they had answered it as perfectly as possible. The schools that had accepted Alex were great and nothing to be thought of as second best or less than, but they just didn’t have the magic.

Multiple times throughout the day Alex had pulled out their phone just to stare at the notification, but the agreement was that they wait until they get home to open any and all, but especially this one, with their mom. So naturally each minute and hour inched by in the slowest speed possible, and focusing on anything but the weight of the phone in Alex’s pocket and the pull in their gut absolutely impractical.

Luckily it was Tuesday so that meant Alex’s mom was off after three twelve hour days in a row. So as soon as school was out they texted their mother to be ready to open the email as soon as Alex flew through the door in ten minutes. And ready she was, when Alex stepped foot inside the house their mother was waiting at the kitchen counter looking just as anxious as they felt.

Sitting down Alex pulled the phone from their pocket and laid it between the both of them, swiping their code and unlocking access then bringing up the email disguised as the elephant in the room. Their fingers hovered over the tab, shaking ever so slightly, but at the steady, calm hand of their mother on Alex’s other hand they found the courage to top down.

For a brief moment Alex swore the concept of reading escaped them, it all looked like symbols and foreign script. But after a deep breath they regained focus and words started to line up, and the first word that jumped out at them was ‘pleased’ which was followed by “to let you know you’ve been accepted…”

A shaky breath feel out from Alex and an elated scream from their mother followed by crushing hugs and jumping around. For months Alex had been fretting and living with a consistent dread to know the answer to this giant question in their life. But now that they had their answer, Alex felt light and validated and it was hard to remember what they were worried about.

 

Transport

Day Eleven: Transport

 

When Dan was a young kid he never thought or dreamed he would make his living as a transport driver. It at least wasn’t a typical one adults ever mentioned or made to seem like a real thing, but through the weird obstacle course that had been his life he had picked up part time job delivering medical supplies in college. He had finished school and gotten his business degree, but he found he liked the job, at least more than he did the idea of job hunting for a new one in a field full of hungry college graduates.

Reaching out through contacts he found a full time job hauling merchandise for chain department stores across country. It meant not really having a home since he took almost every route he could to build up a good money reserve, but he didn’t really mind it too much. The truck the company gave him had a small cot for sleeping it, but they also offered to pay for motels and it was a unique way to live for a few years.

He saw more of the country than he had ever imagined he would, particularly before he was 30 years old. In fact by the time he was 25 he had only five states to mark off before he could say that he had been to all 50. It was an adventure to roll through cities big and small and experience all the different kinds of ways people lived their lives. There was always something new he could learn from a new stop and even returning ones as well.

Nearly everyone in his life assumed that his job was lonely but he never found it to be that way. Of course for a while he didn’t have too many deep relationships that he didn’t make before graduating college since he was constantly bouncing from place to place, but the longer he stayed on the road and made his way back to frequent stops he became familiar with locals. From the managers and works at the places he brought merchandise to the people who ran motels and diners, he kept in touch with a slew of them even when he hadn’t been through their homes in months.

But after ten years of barely any vacations or breaks Dan was ready to slow down a little. So he backed off on taking as many jobs and routes and tried to find a place to call “home” and stay there at least two to three days a week. He still enjoyed that act of the job, but he knew the pace was getting to be exhausting and he liked the idea of a base to return to from time to time.

Picking a small town in Arkansas was not expected or planned but as he was coming to this decision he was put on a job that had him stop in Conway and from the moment he pulled in it just felt right. Once the choice was made and an apartment was found Dan took his first two week vacation and marked Hawaii off his list finally.

Again he never would have picked this life for himself as a young boy, but he had come to learn that often times you need things that didn’t exist or occur to you to make life worthwhile.

Jump

Day Ten: Jump

 

The afternoon rush had finally settled down and Ellie was put on wipe down duty, which was nowhere near her favorite task but it beat doing dishes so she took the wet towel her supervisor James gave her and started in the front window seats.

Outside the square was still busy with people on their way back to work after lunch and those who were lucky enough to have actual free time in the middle day. Given the recent drop in temperature most people were wearing heavier jackets and scarves were wrapped around the necks of multiple people, their tails blowing in the slight breeze behind them.

Inside the shop however the heat from the coffee machines was bouncing off the walls of the small space and after just a tables Ellie could feel droplets of sweat beginning to pool at the base of her neck. Looking across the shop she spotted the couple the whole staff had dubbed “The Smiths” for how perfectly average and normal they appeared.

For as long as Ellie had been working at The Buzzed these two had came into the shop every other day in the late afternoon and had a couple of plain black coffee each. They sat for hours at a time and just talked. Nobody could figure out if they were actually a couple or friends or colleagues, and each staff member had their own theories on the matter.

Personally she thought they had to be a couple that had been together a long time, maybe they weren’t married or just chose not to wear rings. But they were too familiar with each other, knew how the other was going to react, it was like they were completely in sync with each other. It was the kind of relationship she hoped to have someday. To be so comfortable with another person that they don’t question things, to be able to almost never tire of spending time with them without wanting to jump out of your own skin.

And she liked to think that in that someday when she found her person they would spend their afternoons in quiet little coffee shops.

Broken

Day Nine: Broken

 

Is there such a thing as an unbroken person? We all are broken in some fashion or by some standard, whether it’s our own, others, or societies. There is no escaping judgement or ridicule in this world, and by nature that creates the toxicity in which  we hold up this impossible ideal of perfect and whole. We strive for something that we already know is unattainable and false by nature just to avoid being labeled as other. We all have our reasons for believing we are broken but I think if we could just all acknowledge the fact we all do think that way we might possibly become whole in completely different way.

 

-x-

Author’s Note: Today was more of a struggle than most days have been so far. I don’t know if it is Monday doing it’s Monday thing or the slight insomnia I had last night leaving me way tired and my brain feeling broken (*snort*) but I saw today’s prompt word and it just came out as a stream of consciousness “answer” of sorts. I don’t hate it, but I know it’s short so it feels not complete in a way. However what matters is the effort and the commitment right? :)