Lost

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That day was the most terrifying of my life.  It was the crack of dawn.  I awoke in a wooded area of a park with nothing on me but khaki pants and a blue dress shirt.  My glasses lay next to me, shattered and without a leg.  The ground was damp with melting snow and all I could see in the distance were ducks and geese flying past the trees of this unknown park in this unknown city.

The mist filled the air of the vegetated area with an eerie density that wasn’t any more reassuring.  I sat there for a few minutes, with an incredible headache, thinking where I could possibly be.  More interestingly—who am I?

I finally mustered up enough strength to walk around to investigate my surroundings and I found a bicycle against a bench.  The wheels were severely deflated, but I needed the transportation.

The entire time I was pedaling I thought to myself about the circumstances that might have lead to my abandonment.  I was obviously out for some sort of business, because I was dressed for such a purpose, but how did I end up in the middle of this park with no wallet, no keys, and no means of communication?

I continued on and saw a green sign.  As I approached it, I could see that it said ‘Dayton City Limit’.  This didn’t help much.  I didn’t know where Dayton was, what I was doing there or what my very own name was.  I needed help, but given that I was left here in the middle of the city, something told me that trusting anyone was not a good idea.

I finally found a nice-looking little diner with a few cars parked in front and I decided to walk in.  I needed to try to contact someone—but whom?

“Excuse me.  Could I use your phone?” I asked with slight hesitation.

“Sure, hun,” replied the hostess as she brought the cordless phone to me.

“Thank you.  Um… what is the phone number for the police?”

The woman now looked at me as though I was from out of this world.  “Well, 911, of course,” she said in a patronizing manner.

“Oh, right.”

As I dialed the number and waited for it to ring once or twice, I looked up at the TV and saw on the news the report of a young man whose body had been found in a park outside of Dayton.  I immediately dropped the phone as I felt an electrifying shiver run through my body as if a cold wind had just blown.

As I turned back to the TV, I heard the reporter say:  “The cause of death is yet to be announced, but local police currently have the case under investigation and will be disclosing details when they are made available.”

As the reporter closed her sentence, a picture of the young man ran across the screen along with his name.  In an instant, I felt an excruciating pain in my chest.  Naturally, I held my hand over my chest with my right hand, only to bring it up to my face again.  As I looked up astonished at the sight of blood on my right hand, everyone in the diner had turned their attention to me with apparent fright.

I now knew who I was and all that had happened to me, but now I was lost and none of that meant anything.

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Lost

Exultation

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Microseconds seem like hours as a fist nears your face.  You can almost feel the pain even before the blow is inflicted.  You can see the look in his eyes–that fierce, raging grin and those bloodshot eyes.  Air puffs out his nose like a bull before the torero…  Then it hits you:  This is it.  I can’t take it anymore.  It’s too late, though.  You’re on the floor with your hand on your mouth and nose to cover up the humiliating injury that has been inflicted upon your face.  The only thing you can hear after the ringing in your ears has ended is the sound of people laughing.  All you can see are the eyes of those who, exhilarated by the thrill of a fight, have lost all compassion just for the sake of entertainment.

This is my life.  Everyday it replays in ways that are predictable enough for me to fear waking up each morning, but peculiar in a way that doesn’t allot time for preparation.

I wake up so weak and drained at the thought of going back to that dreadful place.  It’s not school.  I learn more about the scabs on Pete’s fist when he’s about to punch me than I could ever learn in all my classes combined.

I beg my parents to let me stay at home.  I tell them my problems and the troubles I’m going through, or at least I try, but it’s like talking to a wall.

Today was different though.  I guess you could say everything that was bottled up came out at once.

It was lunchtime.  Everyone was at the cafeteria.  Pete came around to my table, where I sat alone.  “Hey, turd-face,” he said mockingly.  “Hey, I’m talking to you, dumbshit.  This is my table.”

You know that feeling you get when your stomach feels like something you ate wasn’t quite right and then it just reaches a point when your body just expels it?  Well, the soothing yet nauseating feeling you get right before that is what I felt when I said:  “I don’t see your name anywhere on here, dickhead.”

I felt chills and goosebumps on the back of my head as he ran toward me with the might of a rhino.  All the punches and pranks that had been used against me ran right before my eyes in that instant and I felt empowered like never before.

As he approached me on the left, I extended my foot and watched as the drool spewed out his mouth as he unexpectedly fell.  In a matter of seconds, he was covered with slime from head to toe.  Banana pudding, green beans, milk, mashed potatoes and gravy–it was all on him.

What happened next was like the cheer of an epic victory.  All the kids in that cafeteria roared in unison as they threw whatever they had on their plates in obese Pete’s direction.

What else could he do but weep as he stumbled out the cafeteria doors, slipping on the sloppy mess that had piled up on the floor.

It’s time for change.  The puny little dweeb that always gets picked on–this defenseless little kid–has to become stronger, even if that means breaking some rules.  I’ve had enough.  No more Mr. Nice-Guy.

Aside

To Anthony–From Great Grandpa

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Dear Anthony,

Your reading this letter is confirmation that the ticking of my weak heart’s clock has sadly come to its natural end.  Nevertheless, do not despond.  I hope you will cherish our moments together, especially the recollections of my adventures.

My journals will remain, as always, on the cherry oak bookcase beside the fireplace of my dusty library.

In my journals I live and shall never die.  When you are sad, there I will be.  When you are in trouble, you’ll know where to find me.  Do not despair, child.  The world will bring many hardships and trials, this I can assure you, but the adventures and stories compiled in my logs are proof that you can survive any malady and you will most certainly defeat any enemy that dare stand before you.

I bestow unto you, as a token, my golden Charles-Hubert pocket watch.  It is 56 years old.  Care for it with your life.  This watch has been in the possession of your father and grandfather for over half a century now.  I hope you will also pass it on to your children and grandchildren to preserve our memory.

When you have grown old–like this watch—you will understand that, although our bodies perish, our souls remain immortal as long as we leave a legacy behind for our loved ones to cherish.

With love,

Your great grandfather,

L. D. Davis

To Anthony–From Great Grandpa

Day 94

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It has been yet another beautiful yet busy day on the International Space Station.  There seemed to be a slight malfunction with the ETCS (cooling system).  Yuri tells me that the Soyuz picked up an abnormality on the surface of one of the sub-panels about a year ago, but it didn’t really seem like anything too serious.  It was really acting up today, though, so we checked it out.  Yuri and I embarked on a routine spacewalk to assess the situation, tethered of course by the umbilical cable that gives us the oxygen and electric power we need for the EVA (extravehicular activity) session.

I tell you, it doesn’t matter how many times I walk out into space; every single time I see that blue gem, our beautiful planet, I am dwindled with awe.  How is it that people so small in comparison with this gargantuan and majestic jewel can develop the technology to exit its incredible atmosphere?

Anyhow, we floated over to the section of S1 where the radiator is located to examine the underlying panel.  In order to prevent any possible ammonia leakage, we completely shut off the ammonia tubing on the damaged panel.  Whatever ammonia might have leaked out we vented out with the same valve.

After we cut off the ammonia tubing, we confirmed on S1′s control panel that the ammonia that leaked out was not sufficient to require immediate replacement, nor was it cause for alarm.  In any case, the Mission Commander has informed the HQ of the need for a replacement of the S1 radiator, which should be provided by an expedition in the near future.

Photo by Nasa

Day 94

What Can Happen in a Second

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Death is imminent–quicker than the speed of light and as inexplicable as the creation of our universe.  Yet, God may not exist, but death definitely does.  Benjamin Franklin was correct when he stated in his letter to Jean-Baptiste Leroy that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”.  Taxes, however, can be evaded, adjusted and fraudulently composed, but the somber and irremediable truth is that, as we speak and conduct our daily business, there is a force lurking, waiting for the opportune moment to do with us what it may.

In a second, a wrong step could be made whilst climbing a ladder and a man could tumble to his ultimate end.  In an instance, a car could lose a tire and with it the family that it carried within.  In a moment, a child could inhale his first taste of crisp and wonderful air only to exhale it for the first and last time in its unfortunately short lifetime.

Yes, Azrael is everywhere, in everything, watching us, waiting for us, be it with compassion or villainy, until the moment has come for our last gasp of air to be released and returned to the atmosphere of our planet.

Painting by Evelyn De Morgan, “Angel of Death”

What Can Happen in a Second