Coming of Age

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Every child in our tribe dreams of the day when they take their test. The Old Ones; our parents, siblings, and family all speak about their test with pride and fearlessness in their eyes. But their words shake from time to time and I am not sure if the other Younglings notice, but I have.

Every child in our tribe dreams of the day when they take their test. But not me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not afraid. Five moons in the jungle while our markings heal will show us our true spirit. The animal who chooses to be our guide will be permanently marked on our chest, over our heart, our spirit center.

Some of them don’t come back, though. The tribe just assumes that they were not strong enough to protect us. To hunt. To battle. But no one goes to look for the bodies and the families just move on without their family. It makes me uneasy to think that… one of those missing… could be me. They would never allow me to skip this. I’m just standing on the edge of something I cannot escape. My family would disown me. Banishment would be my fate… and I would have to face the jungle alone anyway.

Tomorrow. I will rise with the birds and travel to the stream tent. Elders will be there to scar me with markings all over my back and arms with the story of our people. Throughout time, all of our kin have worn the countless tales of battle, harvest, and failings of the tribe. We all wear it proudly. It reminds us to have hope when we hang our heads in shame and to be humble when we stand above others in mastery. Hours will pass before I am ready for the blessing. Chanting through a line of my friends and family as they bless me with tree sap and I stand on the opening into the thicket.

I guess I’m lucky. My friend will be taking the test with me. Rules are, though, we must split up or the gods will frown upon our weakness and send a large animal to devour us both. And I do not wish to test the gods.

My mother is afraid. She tells me of her test and how close she came to death. Sickness from a simple wound and screams of others in the night. Out of a group of twelve, she and one other made it back alive. The others, lost in memory. And that night, she told me that I had an older brother who never made it back to the tribe after his test. It is taboo to speak of the lost but the fear in her eyes told me all I needed to know. I’m her only child now.

And then, the sun rises. Another sleepless night floats through my grasp like smoke. Ravens caw with the purple sky as I open my eyes to what could be my final days. I pay homage to the god of luck, an offering of flowers and bread. With a short bow, I meet my friend and we walk to the stream tent where a dozen Elders meet us. There are two woven chairs for us to remove our tunics and sit.

What started out as a bee-sting feeling soon subsided to numbness for a while. My heart stopped racing so quickly and I began to relax. The methodical tapping of the bamboo into my skin nearly put me to sleep. Pain no longer existed in my body. My eyes turn to my friend, who winces with each needle prick, clenching his hands. I place my palm on his fist and he relaxes.

“Everything will be okay.” I promise. “I will get through this and you will too.”

He smiles and relaxes a little, but I can sense the pain. I wish to a god to take some from him and she grants my kind gesture. A prickling feeling starts in my back, but I see my friend relaxing evermore. I nod in thanks to help him.

Perhaps I am different than the others in my tribe. The Old Ones have told ancient tales of people who connect with gods on a different level, called the Anointed. But the connection with the gods meant that they have weird abilities and can see the world through the gods eyes and feel things through nature. As I begin to wonder, I drift into a dream state and the markings are complete.

My friend and I stand between the stream and the dark trees. We make our way through the line of Old Ones who cover us with protection spells. The hum of chanting is hypnotizing. I don’t even remember falling to my knees, but here I am, crawling through the last few people in line. My mother is standing there with worry on her face, but she allows me to pass and stand at the edge of the thicket. My friend stands in a different direction and we bid each other farewell.

If I turn to look at the tribe, the gods will surely fail me. I must be strong and hold my head high but my knees are shaking as I stand and face the unknown. That was the moment I noticed something in the distance. A light? A figure? It’s moving but I don’t think the others can see it because they say nothing. Are my eyes playing tricks on me? No, because it’s getting brighter. I can feel its energy, pulling me deeper into the jungle as my tribe disappears out of view. Whatever it is, it feels welcoming and maybe a bit familiar.

 

I may come back to this writing prompt and finish it off with another picture. It was fun to write! I hope you enjoy, as always. I apologize for the extended absence but I’m working on some great things upcoming! Stay tuned!!!

 

Here’s one for you!

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(DWI) Driving While Inspired

Years have passed and they are becoming bolder. Doubtful that they’ve realized it yet, but I’ve noticed them. A passing glance. A long stare. They’ve underestimated me… well, all of us. Why they have chosen to follow me? I have some educated guesses, but I do not want to make any conclusion without evidence.

My story does not matter. How I grew up is irrelevant. What matters is the present, the now. At least, that’s what I believe. I flew threw the ranks of my brethren because of my mentality. Hundreds, no… thousands of contracts completed by my hands. Dozens of new bloods, trained by my sweat. My initiates are the elite, nothing less. But through my skill, I have alarmed the enemy. Not just the victims of contracts, you see… but the ultimate enemy. The Reformers.

I shudder at the name. Fear? No, it isn’t fear. It’s the chill of excitement. The very same spine-tingling feeling that scatters up my back before the plunge. They have attempted to end us for a century, at least. But we have persevered and become stronger. Secret wars are fought behind the everyday humdrum that the general public seems so intoxicated by. Monotony is not in our nature as assassins, and they are definitely not in the nature of the Reformers.

Understand, we are the silent justice that keeps the tethers of society from fraying. Mysterious circumstances surrounding a death? Us. A famous criminal goes missing? Us. We are like a shadow, existing in the space between reality and fantasy.

But unlike a hundred or so years ago, when my ancestors created this force, there was little stopping them from achieving their tasks. DNA testing was non-existent. Social Media was not even a concept. The only thing that went ‘viral’ was actual viruses. They could kill with discretion and ease. Now, we must be more calculated, more careful, and more intelligent about our contracts. To me, those who are a part of the revolution now are much more skilled than those who came before us.

It was only natural for The Reformers to target us. Only because I am such a high-ranking member of my kin that I am their first prey. I have been underestimated all of my life, why stop now? I laugh at the thought of their plans, continuously foiled by my skill. Bodies discovered months after they dare to delve too close to me. Some, I let be. But when they risk contact with me, I must finish the job. Each one is the same, dumb and slow. It is not even fun anymore.

I admire the one who has been following me for the last seven days, three hours, and twenty seven minutes. Much bolder than the others, but louder than most. I’m toying with him, you see. I’m interested to see what he does. How does he go about killing his target? Perhaps I could learn a thing or two about their secret society.

This man is my age, but half the skill. And that is being generous. It was on my drive to work today that I finally met the boy. His hands shook, as he tried to conceal it. I notice everything. I always have and always will.

He sat up from the back seat, no telling how long he had been laying there. I could hear him breathing – mouth breather. Noted.

“If you want my opinion.” Pretty sure the poor boy jumped out of his skin when I spoke. “You should not enter my car until right before I close the door. That way you aren’t waiting all night.”

“I-I-I’m here to-” he stammered.

“Kill me,” I laughed. “Good luck with that. I doubt you’d be more successful than the ones before you. I’m sure you know about them?”

“No…”

“Oh boy,” I sighed. “They’re withholding information from you. What a shame… You were dead before you stepped in here. I see you don’t even have a weapon. Must’ve forgotten it, have you?”

He stopped, patted his pockets frantically, and then his face drained of all color. I tisked him.

“Not a very good Reformer, are you? Not that it matters. No one knows your name.”

We were at our destination by that point. The boy believed that I was going somewhere else, but I wanted to show him something. Bumpy, gravel roads were waiting us. The pasture smelled of death. I pulled out my handgun and pointed to the door and instructed him to get out. Know that my gun is only for show – I like to be much more… personal, but he didn’t know that.

“Where are we?” he gasped as the fog cleared somewhat and the bodies came into view.

“A recent site of our war,” I explained. “The war that has been for nothing. Only death pervades the years. Still, we fight.”

“I don’t understand -”

“Look kid,” I said. “I don’t want to kill you. You have done nothing wrong except choose the wrong side. History never remembers the losers.”

“How do you know we won’t win?”

“Because I know the skill of the Reformers, and the skill of my own people. They feed you lies about us and then expect you to be able to take one of us down. How do you hunt without knowing your prey?”

Again, he could not find an answer. I just nodded. My thoughts of murder started to arise. Adding him to the pile of bodies was one option, but turning him against The Reformers seemed more provocative.

“I’m going to do something that I have never before done.” I could see the lump in his throat when he swallowed. “I’m going to give you a choice.”

 

These are the things I no longer wish to understand.

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These are the things I no longer wish to understand.

Murder. The ease, for some people, to pull the trigger of a gun at an innocent victim. Sometimes, it’s worse. A cold expression on the face of a serial killer when recounting the grotesque details of each murder as if they were simply a tick-mark in a notebook. A simple disregard for a life.

Genocide. Manifest Destiny by a god or gods that deemed one people superior over others. Still, their god is ‘merciful’ they say. This imaginary being is somehow all good, but allows, nay, encourages the massacring over the earth. Sentient beings, slaying one another in the name of religion, politics, and misunderstandings.

Hatred. Assumptions made from doctored ‘research’. Opinions now held to the same standards as facts. Riots to preserve the ideology over science at the risk of violence. Petty differences blown out of proportion from the very same lack of knowledge that begets their ignorance in the first place. Encouragement from power to cause harm to others who do not conform to their beliefs. Fear of speaking out against the tightly-held beliefs of those in power for fear of harm or death.

Willful Ignorance. The cognizant choice to ignore facts, research, and data at the expense of challenging an ideology. Strong-held ‘beliefs’ that are so integrated into our being that our personality seems threatened if we simply adjust to new ideas. The personal attacks that some feel when presented with said facts and the verbal, sometimes physical, abuse that ensues. 

Silence. Stemming from fear, self-blame, victim-shaming – the eerie stillness that exists after abuse. Whether, physical, sexual, verbal, or psychological. Societal expectations for different sexes, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Words unspoken when dealing with mental health issues. Noiseless tears until they end by the smoking barrel of a gun or an empty bottle of pills. One less voice to speak.

Mental Health. Taboo thoughts directed at 1 in 4 people who will suffer in their lifetime. Comments that either fall on deaf ears, or exacerbate the problem. Victims believing that they are truly alone because of these remarks. Insurance companies only covering 12 visits to a professional therapist a year, if any at all. High costs of an hour of healing. Bankruptcy just to survive another day.

 

But… there is hope. In the vast darkness of the universe, stars dot the shroud of black. If we do not fall into the cycle of negativity, we can rise above these things and promote the good in the world.

These are the things I now understand. A perspective placed in my mind that I would not have conceived if not for the evil.

Charity. Whether food, money, or a smile. Those who give themselves entirely for no reward. Desirable reincarnation, eternal salvation, or simply to be good. Whatever the reason, it will not overshadow the selfless intent.

Life. Sentience. All beings, not just humans share this balanced globe. Each soul, a beauty in and of itself. Equilibrium between each delicate interaction of living beings. As an insect touches a flower, the mutual understanding and respect bring fruitful existence to them both. Although the plant remains in one spot, the insect is nourished and can spread the flower’s seeds throughout. A woman feeds her baby and continues her kin’s existence. Beautiful in different ways.

Knowledge. Although some may see this as a fault, I believe that knowledge is power. In the face of all this hatred and willful ignorance, facts will prevail. However, they are not spread as readily as misinformation, but evermore pertinent to us. For those who seek out the truth, take heart and do not fear revolt. Change is bubbling to the surface.

 

There is so much that we take for granted because we spend so much time focusing on the negativity fed to us from various outlets. Secretly, we may crave the bad as it makes our own lives seem less chaotic. Without the darkness, we could never see and appreciate the light. Stay positive, everything changes and nothing is in your control. 🙂

Writing Toothless 9/10/2018

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July 17, 2018 – 2:34AM

Why are there no 24 hour dentists? If I had the schooling, I would open up one. But people’s teeth… ew… but the blood… well, that’s my forte.

Can you guess what I do for a living? I bet you can’t. You probably can’t even guess how old I am just by looking at me. I get compliments all the time. Me and my friend both do. Lysanna and I go to the pubs at night and get hit on the entire time. Most of these guys would not be hitting on us if they knew how old we really were.

Have you guessed it yet? Unfortunately, my secrets will remain forever here, in my diary. How I desperately want to tell those around me what I truly am. The legends are true! Scream it from the top of my apartment building. We’re real! We exist! Please don’t be afraid… or maybe they should. Not all of us are good. Hell, I don’t even know whether I would consider myself an angel among men, as they say.

Okay, if you haven’t figured it out yet, then you really must be stupid. I’m a vampire. Yes, I know that we aren’t supposed to be real. We are. I am. There are quite a few of us, but you would never know just by looking at us. Paleness, sure. I get crap all the time from people about ‘getting sun’. Like, DO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT WOULD DO!? A small mushroom cloud would form over the ashy remains of my body. And I’m 976 by the way, but I look like I’m 18, maybe 20. Getting alcohol is practically impossible sometimes. Providing a birth certificate or Social Security number isn’t going to happen. My birth certificate would give me away. They would laugh. I ended up getting a fake ID to fix that problem.

So back to my current issue. As I’m sure you know, vampires drink blood and sometimes that comes from animals, other times, humans. Lysanna and I try really hard not to drink human blood. Too fatty. But sometimes people who know what I am are willing to give a donation.

One of the people that donates regularly didn’t show up one day. Texted me and said that he had a family emergency. Well I was already feeling lethargic by that point, so I was desperate. Another vampire told me, once, that drinking Cranberry juice was supposed to hold us over for a few extra hours until we could feed. Problem was, they didn’t specify how much to drink. Second problem was, I was hungry as hell.

I stockpiled on gallons and gallons of juice until Lysanna could get home from her job at the mortuary with some animal blood for me. It was about 10PM by the time I got home with it all. Drank all of it within the next few hours. My stomach never hurt so much… good thing I’m immortal.

Apparently my teeth aren’t though. Cavity. A huge one right on one of my canines. GREAT!!! It hurts like no other pain I’ve experienced and I almost forgot what pain feels like. Because I am a ‘night owl’ and not by choice, Lysanna suggested that she pull out my tooth with pliers. Screw that! But it hurts so bad.

And that, diary, is how I am pretty much the only vampire I know that has a one-puncture-wound bite. For the record, Cranberry Juice doesn’t do anything and I won’t make that mistake twice. I was stupid for thinking that it would and I guess I deserve what I got. Anyway, Lysanna is almost home and it’s time to go out on the town again! I’m going to tell people I got into a bar fight and lost my tooth that way. Think anyone will believe me???

 

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For National Suicide Prevention Week

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What a perfect writing prompt for the upcoming Suicide Prevention Week! September 9th through the 15th is quickly approaching, so I wanted to do something in regards to that.

 

***WARNING: THIS POST TALKS ABOUT VERY PERSONAL SUBJECTS (DEPRESSION AND SUICIDE. PLEASE DO NOT READ IF THIS MAKES YOU UNCOMFORTABLE***

 

This is my story. I’m sure that my outcome is not typical, simply based on the speed of recovery. However, my hope is that I inspire someone who may be struggling with Depression or suicidal ideology to seek help. That has always been my goal – increasing awareness of Mental Health issues as well as speak out for those who do not feel capable of doing it themselves.

I am a survivor. For a good 10 years of my life, I suffered from Mild to Moderate Depression. However, because I did not know that the feeling of worthlessness was abnormal, I did not know that I needed help. Perhaps it was the fact that I was only Mild-Moderate and I was able to semi-function that I did not say anything to anyone. Maybe it was just the Depression itself that kept me from asking for help. Whatever the reason, I suffered for years.

While I don’t think that it had anything to do with my parents’ divorce, I believe that the resulting lifestyle from that sparked it. Even they will admit that the divorce was not an easy one. Also, I was bullied relentlessly in school, especially high school. Long story short, I did not have a ‘safe place’ for me to de-stress. I felt a sense of toxicity in the two places in which I spent most of my time – work and home.

Suicidal ideology transformed into a few attempts in my teenage years. Up until recently (almost ten years after I finally got help), I did not feel comfortable discussing the fact that I was very close to ending it all. I was in a very dark place and I wondered whether it would be better if I no longer existed. It wasn’t like I had many friends. Part of me was even under the impression that my ‘friends’ were only using me or that they pretended to like me. I believed that everyone was talking about me behind my back.

In high school, I had three rumors going around about me at one time. 1. That I was pregnant. 2. That I self-harmed. And 3. That I was a Satan worshiper. Being that I was in a private school, the third one ostracized me further. I was the ‘Goth’ kid in a place where everyone was preppy. Truly, I felt alone. None of these rumors were true, but people would come up to me and ask to see my arms to make sure I wasn’t cutting. It was embarrassing and demeaning. The school knew about it and did nothing.

My grades began to suffer tremendously. I never felt motivated to do homework or even to show up to class. Each year, I stayed home more than the allotted days and would walk through the halls at work like a zombie when I was present in school. Sophomore and early Junior year was when I made attempts at my own life. Luckily, I am still here today.

At that point in my life I was fed up. My school counselor called me a liar when I told her that my grades were starting to improve because the teacher had not updated assignments and she only saw the grade that was available. They refused to put me in the yearbook Senior year because, when I got my Senior pictures done, my hair was blue, purple, and pink. The teacher only decided to tell me this with a 2 week notice. So, I’m not in the yearbook that year. Not to mention, someone I knew in the Yearbook class said that the teacher was upset that I didn’t get my photos redone although other students were not depicted in the book along with me.

I finally exploded. I told my counselor that I was literally going to kill myself if I did not get help. It was a burst of anger and confidence to finally talk about how I had felt on a daily basis for so long. The darkness had become a part of me and I was done letting it take over my life. I wanted to feel happy again. I didn’t want to dread waking up and the daylight hours. I wanted to enjoy my life.

My dad was kind enough to turn around on the highway on his way to an out of town work event and take my sister and I to therapy. In only 1.5 years, I was given a new chance. I did a complete 180* in a short amount of time. Turns out, all I needed was proper coping techniques in addition to the self-esteem to love myself for who I was. I would never have been able to help myself in the way that my therapist helped me. And that, my dear readers, is why I think that therapy is so vital to the healing process.

Because of my experience, I went to college and received a Bachelor’s of Psychology. I was awarded Psychology Student of the Year at my Community College in 2013, made the Dean’s list every semester (Community College & University), received a scholarship for academics, and even became a Research Assistant at my University. My goal is to help, however I can, to raise awareness for the insensitivies towards Mental Health in America. By squashing myths and educating the general public, I can hopefully reduce the stigma and taboo associated with suffering from a Mental Illness. Hopefully my books will give me enough popularity that I can spread my voice over a wider audience.

Fast forward to today. I am 26 years old and finally feel like I can fully love myself. My life has changed so much. I have a beautiful daughter and I am confident I am on the right path with my life. There will be some drastic changes in my life soon, but I feel freer!

This, readers, is a seemingly bad situation that turns into a life change. Never be afraid of who you are and what you struggle with. You are NOT alone. If you feel like you cannot life another day, know that there are others who are on the same path. YOU CAN BE A PHOENIX AND RISE FROM THE ASHES!

I hope this inspired some of you to write your own story. If you feel comfortable, comment with your own bad situation that turns into a positive life change. Spread the love!