This is not related to any short story prompt but AJ felt compelled to write it.
The color of the leaves changed from their lush greens of summer to the reds, yellows, and oranges of autumn. The crunch of leaves sounded like snapping of bones with each step as I ran through the middle of a Central Park path. A path I took every day. I pushed my right leg forward, left, right, left trying to keep up my normal pace. My lungs pressed in on me with the cool air of the brisk morning. Each step was difficult as my mind rolled with the memories of my nightmare.
Monster! Worthless! No one will ever love you.
The mantra made each breath harder. Each step felt like slogging through mud. The whole world around me turned and a memory danced in my head like a horror show on Broadway.
I was a small boy sitting on the couch excitedly awaiting my mother’s return. The door opened and I jumped up to see who entered. She walked into the kitchen, her arms full of her gear as her gaze took in the kitchen. The weariness darkened her eyes and deepened the creases of her face. She didn’t look like Mommy.
Fire returned to her eyes, anger flared across her face. I cringed against the couch as I sat down, but she grabbed me and shook before I could hit the cushions. The lights changed, and she yelped as fire sprang up across the room started on her favorite curtains.
She tossed me across the room and grabbed a fire extinguisher. The sound of the expelling fire hissed and curdled my blood. I was in trouble. Fear kept my eyes open wide. The red canister flew past my head as my mother yelled. The words echoed in my ears. “You’re a fucking monster!” She pointed to my room and screamed though the words didn’t register as I ran.
Every fall, the anniversary of the day I sparked neared and the memory grew stronger, the nightmares made worse with each passing day. My own personal demons haunting me. Monster! Worthless.
I plodded along my run ignoring my normal stop to play a move on chess. He probably wouldn’t care if I stopped or not. No one cared as I ran through Central Park.
No one cared as I ran up the stairs of the AU building to my dorm room in the Academy.
No one cared when I opened the door to find my bed turned over and my belongings tossed around the room.
No one cared as I righted my mattress.
No one cared.
My roommates burst into the room laughing. One turned to see me straightening my sheets and his laugh grew louder. “Looks like you got tossed again. Teach you to drink on campus.” But it was their fault.
Another roommate pushed past me knocking me down. They all laughed. The cold floor was a poor comfort but getting up never resulted in anything positive. I could hurt them if I wanted to. The task would take only a thought. Fire, air, or water used to put them out of my misery. Those same things I could use to end things for me.
Words like ‘fag’ and ‘queer’ tumbled from their mouths with other words like ‘loser’, ‘minorem’, and ‘nobody’ agreeing with my thoughts. Monster. Worthless. No one loves you.
I crawled out of the door and ran to the roof. The door open flung caught on the wind and bounced against the wall. The door clicked shut locking me out when I closed it behind me.
The gravel crunched under my feet much like the leaves on my run, wind wrapped around me as I walked to the edge. People below scurried about their business like ants. The height was dizzying. My heart raced in my chest, pounding against my rib cage. The air in my lungs became like stone and my chest hurt more than ever. I hated heights.
But fear had never stopped me. I climbed on to the edge like the many times before. There was no time to stop myself as I careened over the edge. 8 seconds to the bottom. The fall would be over in eight seconds.
My eyes were closed. The world around me dark and drab. My phone started singing Pop Goes the Weasel and my eyes blinked open. I pooled every bit of air and earth around me to slow my fall. If I’d been merely human, I would have died.
The ground was like mud when I landed with my arms straight in front of me. he bones shattered and I howled in pain, but the pain meant one thing — I was alive.
I used a waft of air to pull the ringing phone from my pocket and used another charged weave to answer it. “Mia, help!” I said over the speakerphone.
“I love you. We’ll be right there.” Mia didn’t hang up, instead, she ran through her house brushing the phone against her clothes as she ran. “Mom, I need to call Sage. Talk to Nox.”
“Sweetheart?” The voice spoke. “We are coming. Don’t do anything stupid.” She didn’t hang up the phone when I didn’t answer. Her voice babbled on as I listened to the soothing voice.
A lifetime later my best friends were rounding the corner, and I was being carried into the AU building to the infirmary. I was alive to hear Mia’s voice again, to get a hug from Sage. I was alive, but only barely.