Memoirs of a Wonder Woman

What is life? The term is so vague to me. Nobody understands it, though some claim they know how to explain it. Some claim they know what it feels like. Some claim they know the meaning it contains. Bull shit. That’s right, I said it. It’s a load of crock. Nobody knows anything, but they like to think they do. All my life I’ve been trying to figure out what life is about, but no one can give me a straight and consistent answer. I’m no philosopher, scientist, professor, what have you. All I do is work for the government in a lab, testing ground samples of the planet. Will somebody tell me what all of this is for? What it’s worth? What it means? No? I didn’t think so.

Journal 1

I am dead. But not really. Technically, I’m a living, breathing, swallowing, blinking, eating human being. And yet, I am dead…inside. I have made the ultimate decision, and that is to stop. I’m stopping everything and everything that was ever something. I have stopped walking…because there is no where else to go. And where I want to go, I can’t. It’s not possible. As if anything is anyhow. Thirty-two years and I’m giving up. Thirty-two years is far too long. God!—am I really this old? Can it really come down to this?—this feeling inside?—this hollowness gaping inside my stomach eating me alive. Ha! I sure know how to be dramatic. But I don’t know one thing about what it is to be anything that has anything to do with living the same damn thing every waking moment. Maybe I should clarify, Journal, so that you can better understand what the hell I’m talking about.

The sun was shining in my humble town Littleton, the day I was born. At least, according to my mother. I grew up in this town, along with my five older brothers, and no dad. Grew and stayed. My mother didn’t believe in moving, which I suppose was fine because I did have a sort of emotional connection to this place. I suppose you could call it beautiful, but it was more than that. It was this tingly, warming, calming sensation—how do you explain the feeling of home without thinking of a rectangular building with pointed tops? It was home, a place of belonging and acceptance, but not because of the people who resided there. It was the air, the smell of the air and when it moved about you, it seemed to give you permission to breathe, and when you breathed, you felt what it meant to be what it was you were.

Does that make any sense? I’m still figuring it out.

This was when I was a child, the simpler times. I never cared about anything that needed reasons and explanations. Like my mother and father. Why they divorced—it didn’t matter. It happened and that was all that needed to be known. Why my brothers smoked behind the garage after dinner, hiding it from my mother, and always blaming the smell on their jackets on the next-door neighbors. Why my mother never cried at the movies or at the news of a friend who had died recently. Why we never had a television set in our house. Why I had my own room and my brothers had to share. None of it really mattered.

My brothers and I used to play games around the house while Mother was off at work. My favorite was Wolf. My oldest brother would play the wolfman while the rest of us had to hide either in the backyard, inside the house, or on top of the roof—if you could get to it. I was too small to climb the roof by myself, but, if I was lucky, one of my brothers would pull me up on the ledge so that I could have access to the rest of the house’s roof. The two of us would hide by the triangular corner of my mother’s window. It was always night when playing this game. We remained on our knees, always ready to escape, and kept our eyes focused on the dark green of our backyard. I didn’t breathe. We had to be as quiet as the night—there was no breeze at this time, so that the oak trees never rustled, the leaves on the ground slept, and cars remained in their little garages. The only thing you could hear was the slight hum of the lightning bugs floating around the ground, their tails blinking on and off a golden glow. For a moment, the silence would be broken. Inside the house we would hear one of our brothers scream and a sudden rush of muffled movement probably inside Mother’s bedroom. Then nothing for about a minute. This is when my brother and I would watch the ground intensely. Emerging from the back of the house would be two figures: the wolf and the youngest brother—he always hid inside Mother’s closet. The wolf dragged my brother into the little garden at the corner of the yard and locked him inside the fence. The wolf would find all of us before making us his dinner. We kept our eyes on him, watching his slow movements, hoping that he wouldn’t spot us with his glowing eyes and special wolf night-vision. Making one last glance at his capture, he slinked back towards the house’s door. I watched my brother inside the garden intensely. He paced back and forth then looked up at us suddenly. He waved and we waved back, signaling him to stop, in hopes that he hadn’t given our hiding place away. We could attempt to rescue him. But the situation was extremely dangerous. There were, of course, two other brothers left. If we could all band together, we could corner the wolf and win. But that was always difficult to do, seeing as we had to find each other first, and that could lead the wolf to us. We couldn’t capture the wolf without all of us together.

My brother, however, decided it might have been a safe time to try to rescue the youngest one. He signaled me to stay quiet and stay put. I nodded and watched him slide around the corner and make his way to the slanted ledge leading to the ground. I peered around the window’s corner and watched the darkness make his figure become distorted. My heart began to race. This was the most exciting part: trying to save the captured and run to another hiding place before the wolf saw you. My brother crouched onto his bottom and scooted down the ledge until he was able to safely jump onto the grass. He stayed crouched for a moment, looking around carefully before making his way through the lightning bugs and towards the garden. Suddenly I heard a snap, quiet but definitely audible amongst the silence. It was on the roof! I froze, my heart stopped, and my breath moved so slowly I could barely feel it escape into my open mouth. I forced myself to peer around the window’s ledge once more, hoping that it wasn’t was what I thought it was. The darkness made it hard to see and the jagged corners distorted everything. But there he was. I could see him moving, ever so slightly, towards my hiding place. His hands, curling into claws, scraped the black tile. His arms were bulky and hung in front of his chest and to his sides as though they were too heavy to carry. His face was doused in shadow. The wolf continued skulking across the roof, right in my direction! I wasn’t sure if he saw me at all, but I was sure that he might be trying to scare me out of hiding. Down in the garden, my brother was able to rescue the other and noticed that I was trapped. The two of them started making noise, waving their arms up and down. The wolf turned his head to look and seemed to turn to attack them, but then slowly turned back to me. His steps became faster and this time I was sure he had seen me. I decided that it would do me no good to stay here. Jumping up, I made my way around the corner of the protruding window and ran to the opposite side of the roof. This might have made my brother’s nervous, seeing I was only six years old and if our mother found out, we would be in a whole lot of trouble. But the situation was dire and I had to escape. I had never gotten caught by the wolf and this wasn’t going to be the first.

The wolf moved quickly, paralleling my movements, as if he was taunting me to move towards the only exit. I took off my shoes and threw them down into the backyard. My bare feet could grab the tile easier, especially if I was planning to run. The wolf paused for a moment, not understanding the move I had just made. That was my queue. I ran down the front side of the triangular roof, hoping no one was outside to notice a little girl running around on the top of a house. I could hear the wolf move towards my previous hiding place, so I knew that I would be able to circle around behind him. A couple shingles shifted underneath my feet, but my balance remained stable. I was small and barefoot, this was a piece of cake for me. This time I could hear my brothers in the backyard call out my name, some sort of warning. All four of them were now banded together and if I could get to the roof’s ledge on the other side in time, we could capture the beast. I was determined. I made my way across the uneven tile, crawling over the other triangular window ledges. The wolf was right behind me now, though he was much more clumsy at crossing the roof. I was able to make it to the back side of the roof again, dodging around a chimney, but the wolf was closing in and blocking my only way to the exit. I decided to make an executive decision. I quickly made my way to the very edge of the lowest part of the roof, got down on my bottom and prepared to jump. I remember hearing my brothers calling out to me, telling me no. I even think I heard the wolf say something along those lines, but that’s only because he wanted to capture me and eat me. It didn’t matter. I had made my decision because this was the only way to win. I jumped. The grass cushioned my landing, the lightning bugs zooming out of the way. I rolled a little to alleviate the painful jolt running through my joints and up my back. Then I noticed the wolf crawling down the roof’s ledge. My brothers had surrounded me at this time, asking too many questions and were too distracted by my courageous jump than to recognize the opportunity we had in winning the game. I pushed them off and pointed at the wolf jumping to the ground and running towards us. “Get him!” I cried, and thankfully one of my brothers from inside the house had brought a sheet with him. The wolf jumped towards us, but we threw the sheet above him, engulfing his body. He thrashed inside, but it did him no good. We successfully tied the sheet in a knot and had him trapped. The wolf could no longer attack us again. We had won the game.

Of course, the wolf turned back into my older brother again and so we had to let him out. We would play this game almost ever night my mother was gone until one of my brothers injured himself, breaking his leg and cracking his skull from falling off the roof. He didn’t run barefoot like I did, and his foot slipped on one of the loose tiles, falling backward onto the driveway’s pavement. Since then, we were never allowed on the roof at all. Not even during Fourth of July when the fireworks would go off in the neighborhood’s park a couple of blocks away and we could see them perfectly from the top of our house. When I got older, I would sneak up there in the middle of the night when everyone was asleep and lay there thinking and dreaming. I would write little stories in my head, sometimes acting them out loud. All I wanted was to live in my imagination. Growing up was a disappointment. I promised myself when I was thirteen years old that I would never lose my imagination like grown-ups did. My imagination was all I had. It was the only thing that kept me inspired. Kept me going. Kept reality far from me.

I wish I was able to keep that promise to myself. I wish I could live in my imagination and not in this miserable existence people call life. It’s not what I want. I don’t think it’s something I can continue doing. I’m thirty-two years old and my imagination has been run off by worries and responsibilities, disappointments and destroyed dreams. If only I could stop everything.

Journal 2

“You have a way with words,” the man said. If I were to describe to you my dream man, this would be him. This man, sitting across from me in the tiny diner called Mom’s Pizza and Pies in the small town called Littleton, had chocolate-brown hair, silky and straight, hanging just below his eyebrows and swept to the side. He had these amazing sapphire-blue eyes that seemed to penetrate into my soul every moment my eyes met his. His nose was straight, his skin slightly tanned, rose-bud lips, and a smile filled with perfectly straight, white teeth. One might think he was a manmade human, genetically forced into perfection. His hands also caught my attention. Hands are very important to me. They were a man’s hands, worked, strong and browned with the very slightest of blue veins pulsing from the skin. Those kinds of hands I could only dream to touch me. This was the man of my dreams. I never thought that these things happened in “real-life.” Real-life—whatever that means. But there he was, sneaking a peak at my free-writing, and talking to me about the weather and small-town news.

You have away with words, he had said. And all I want to say is, “Not really.” The only way I have with words is the screwing-them-up way, swapping the order of them in a sentence, speaking in the way as though I can’t speak my own language. My excuse is that my brain is too fast for my mouth. My fingers, on the other hand, can keep up. That’s why I feel more compelled to write. It seems the only way I can really express my thoughts. I’m assuming many writers can empathize. But I am not a writer, though in some other life I might have been. I’m an engineer who works in a lab testing dirt samples for the government. Interesting, isn’t it? And yet this blue-eyed man, sitting across from me at this boring diner, points out the one talent I wish I had, which was the ability to be fluent with words—and to end the corrections I always received from everybody else—and this man says I have a way with words.

It was probably the most wonderful compliment I had ever received in my life. That’s not to say that I believed him, of course. But it was nice to think that he thought it was true. That someone could understand me. We met on many other occasions, Mr. Blue-eyes and I. That wasn’t his real name, but it was the name I had secretly given him. Some days we’d meet at the park and read together. Other times, we would talk from midday to sunset. Watching the sunset with him was something that I can only describe in one word as…filled. Filled with and of everything. Sitting on the grassy hill with my dream-man, watching the sun set into the horizon, red cascading across the sky, filling the white clouds with red-gold hues, the trees in the distance hiding the burning sun as it fell down, darkness creeping forward from behind, until all of the red-gold spikes of color dissolved behind the trees, returned to the sun and left the sky in darkness. For a moment of a second, there was darkness. Then the stars blinked into existence, lighting up the night sky like little fireflies. Like little lightning bugs.

And there I am, experiencing this filled with everything moment with Mr. Blue-eyes. The one person who understood me. For the first time ever, someone understood me. He wasn’t someone who thought I could be fixed, corrected, altered. I hated that. I hated that people thought they had the right to do that. I figure it’s in their nature to tell someone when they’re wrong. Any chance to display their superiority to one another, and they jump at the opportunity. But not him. Not this man, Mr. Blue-eyes.

He was the man I was to marry. The love I felt for him was overwhelming. I never thought a feeling like that could or would exist, just like I never thought he could exist. Every day felt like a dream, being married to Mr. Blue-eyes. I was twenty-six when I married. My mother adored him, my brothers respected him, and my brothers’ wives appreciated him. I lived my life with this man of wonder, and everything was filled with happiness. For a while.

I cannot explain very well what happened next. This is where things got a little muddied. Or maybe a lot…muddied. Nothing changed. My life as an engineer working in a lab testing the same dirt samples every day; the same, if not slightly different, results each time; waking every morning with the same sun rising in the distance; the same sex every day—there’s only so much you can do; the same holidays; the same weather changing in the same pattern—summer, fall, winter, spring, summer; breathing the same air in the same town on the same planet filled with the same contempt, suffering, unhappiness, war, monotony. It was all the same and no meaning. No meaning and all the same. Same meaning. Meaning nothing.

I loved my husband, my mother, my brothers. But these feelings, very real feelings that I cannot describe, changed something inside me. Killing me. Rotting me. I could feel so much all at once and not feel anything at all. Unanswered questions would consume my mind, questions that I never thought mattered. Life was what it was. And one must continue to be apart of it because that’s what makes people happy. Right? I couldn’t accept it anymore. I couldn’t accept anything anymore.

Soon I began to think I didn’t deserve anything. I didn’t deserve this wonderful man who had become apart of my life. I didn’t deserve the loving mother who had worked hard in bringing me and my brothers up. I didn’t deserve the carefully protective brothers and their patient wives. I didn’t deserve to be apart of anything. The thoughts that ran through my mind were like rampant flames burning every other passionate, hopeful, dreamy thought that used to reside there. Every negative emotion that ever existed in the world came into me and burned a hole so wide and so black that I became a vat of barrenness.

It happened that fast. Like lightening tearing the innocent sky on a stormy evening. At first, I tried to come to terms with it, fight it off, find the logic in it all. I tried to find the happiness that used to live inside my thoughts. I tried to recall what it was like to feel something like happiness. Tried to remember. So hard to remember these days.

My husband tried to save me, tried to be the hero people always yearn to be at times like these. But, you see, there is nothing to save, nothing to rescue. It’s already gone. I tried to help him understand this, but he couldn’t or wouldn’t. He was a stubborn man. And I hurt him. It was the only thing I could do, to wake him up, to open his eyes and see what needed to be seen.

“I can’t do this anymore,” he once said. And that was fine. He was honest, and maybe there was a chance that he finally got it.

“Then don’t. Don’t stay around with me. Leave me, if that’s all you can do,” I had said.

Nope, he didn’t get it.

“What is wrong with you!” he shouted. He never raised his voice to me. “What happened to the woman I married? The one I fell in love with? What are you doing to yourself?” He was referring to the raw cuts on my forearms. I had started cutting myself, if only to see what it was like. The feeling of not feeling was killing me. I wanted to test myself by using a knife on my skin to see if then I could feel something. Nothing.

“You can’t understand anything, can you,” I said. “You never understood me anyway. Why try now?” I wasn’t meaning to be hateful.

The sparkle in his eyes was gone. I was killing him along with me, and I couldn’t allow that to happen. His blue eyes that were once vibrant with life and joy had now faded to a grey. I couldn’t let him die. I had to let him go.

“You’re right,” he said, the tone in his voice sounding of resignation. He always sounded like this after these arguments, but it never meant he was quitting the fight. “I don’t know you anymore. You’ve gone to a place where I can’t reach you.” Then, as if a rush of a one-last-chance emotion punched his chest, “Come back! Please, my love, I only want you. I can’t live without you. We can fix this, we can fight what ever this is together!”

I didn’t answer. I hadn’t gotten through to him, and there was no point in continuing this argument.

He stood by the doorway of the kitchen and stared at me with those grey-blue eyes. Staring at me…something I hated. I couldn’t look back at him, couldn’t look into those dying eyes that reflected his crushed heart. He needed to go away.

“I love you,” he said, and it might have been the last thing I heard him say. I don’t remember.

I continued to look out the window, the sun dying below the horizon.

“Why?” I asked. But he was already gone, leaving the doorway empty and cold…like me. Only maybe there was a trace of warmth left from where he was standing, but it soon disappeared with the air.

Soon after, we divorced.

Journal 3

I saw my mother cry for the first time. She never told me why, but it was quite obvious she was hiding it. Her eyes and nose were swollen red, cheeks damp, and she quivered when seeing me. All the same, she pretended to be composed in front of my brothers and their wives. My brothers had lost their sense of humor, and the wives gossiped behind my back. I knew they meant no harm, that their love for me hadn’t faded, but I knew they were talking about the way I looked. I had stopped eating and so my body had become skeletal. I also continued my “cutting habit”, bringing it down to about once a week. All for the sake of exploration, really. Exploring the human body and its limits. Venturing into the unknown. A load of bull, isn’t it? I do it because I want to feel—testing to see if I still can. Eating is a necessity for those who are living, you see. I am already dead. Why waste the food? It should be given to someone who needs it, deserves it, worked for it. I’ve done none of these. And no one can convince me otherwise.

I once had a very memorable conversation with my oldest brother’s wife. She was beautiful. Something to envy with red-gold hair and bright, crystal blue eyes. My other brothers called her the pretty princess that didn’t belong in our rebellious family. I liked her, though. She was kind and smart and proper. All these perfect little attributes one could admire. One day, after my third brother’s wedding, she was telling me about her job in a hospital, taking care of the mentally ill. Ironic, and I say this with a smile.

She couldn’t understand why these people felt the way the felt, how lost they were, and how hopeless life seemed for them.

“I don’t get it. How can anyone feel so selfish to think that they are unloved and take their own life?,” she had said.

I stayed quiet and she continued unnoticing.

“I don’t think I could ever feel that way. Ever feel so lost in my own emotions to think there is no way out.” She looked at me now. “Other than suicide.” She tossed the word into the air as though it was a feather. A steal feather that was light as air, yet brushed my skin with its sharp edges. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.”

“I can see why someone would kill themselves.” It just spat out of me, like vomit. Oh, hell. Now she’s going to wonder if something’s wrong.

But she didn’t say anything. She did stare at me, however, with eyes of confusion and curiosity. She nodded her head, attempting to be agreeable, even though there wasn’t really anything to be agreeable about.

“I guess I don’t get it,” she said flatly. Of course she doesn’t. Who can understand these things, these strange thoughts, voices, roaring at you and with you, provoking you and teasing you, choking you and squeezing you until breathing is something that only exists in a dream.

I wish I could better explain this. I really am messed up. But not in the way you think I am. Not in the way the world thinks. I feel too much and nothing at all. What sense is there in that? No sense. So I’m not crazy, I’ve just realized something that others ignore…in order to be happy, in order to live a full life. A full life of what, though? That’s my question—because nothing means nothing, and there is no meaning in anything. So, what the hell! Why can’t I do what I’m doing?—because some person deems it unhealthy. Bull shit.

I’ve been dangerously balancing on the edge of figuring out the answer to life. However, because of my “studies” I had been encouraged to live with my oldest brother and his wife and six year-old daughter. I am thirty-one years old and I am sharing a room with a six year-old. It doesn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. The child reminds me of myself at one time. She is adventurous, vibrant, imaginative, filled…with everything. Everything I once knew, but no longer have. She brings memories back. She reminds me of what happiness is. She smiles at me, cuddles with me, though she shifts a lot because of how boney I had become, and tells me stories she writes in her mind. She seems to be part of another world separate from mine, as though I’m looking at an image encased in unbreakable glass and I can’t touch it, smell it or feel it. But all I want is to be on the other side.

I can’t. I am dead already.

Since I had quit my other job and remain on the support of my mother and oldest brother, I have spent many days sitting at the park, watching the sun come up and come down. Some days I will take the girl to school and pick her up later. I would sit, walk, breathe, eat the food my brother’s wife would feed me, throw it up later, lay in bed, but never sleep, though sleep is all I really want. It’s the only peace I can think of. One day, I decided that sleeping pills could do the trick. I took the whole bottle and feel asleep.

Amazing, sleep is. It stops the mind, brings peace and happiness. Until you wake up. It’s like you are ripped out of heaven to only be brought back to hell.

I have come to despise hospitals. The smell of steel and icy floors, medicine and chemicals, sterile and stale air. It was more than I could bare. But they kept me there, like a captive, talking about me as though I didn’t exist. They would be right, of course. I’m dead already. It infuriated me, nonetheless. How could my family put me through this? How could they allow this to happen? All I want is to sleep, dammit! Let all the swirling madness in mind take a break. Let the logic breathe for once, instead of continuously fighting being overwhelmed with hatred and sadness.

But they can’t understand. Just like Mr. Blue-eyes, who no longer has blue eyes, but have changed to a dead-like grey. No one can understand. Only I do. I am a waste of space, I have no purpose in life, and life is nothing more than specific patterns continuing in the same exact circle over and over. I can’t recall anything from my past. I am thirty-one years old, thirty-one years too many. I was able to convince my family to allow me to move back to Littleton. They had all moved away, but I wanted to return to where I had once known happiness. They agreed, trusting that maybe it was best for me. The little girl was sad to see me go, and for a moment, I thought I felt a sense of guilt leaving her and my brother and my mother. The look in her eyes, the sense of wonderment and understanding filled me with a moment of grief. And for that brief moment, I thought I could finally feel something in that black hole which continued to burn and consume. For a fleeting moment in that girl’s eyes, I saw peace and acceptance and, just maybe, freedom. And then it was gone, just like that. Unfortunately, as all little girls do, they grow into the same monotonous cycle every human being calls life.

So much going through my head…so many thoughts, so many voices. If only they can be silenced…

Journal 4

The sun shines so amazingly here, feels so warm. If there is anything to be said about the sun, it’s the only thing I can feel: its gentle heat against my cold skin, the way it bounces against my hair, the way it blinds me with its compassionate light, allowing me to ignore the pain and suffering for a possible instant. The sun was shining when I was born, my mother had once said. The sun sees everything, touches everywhere, and yet, is not affected by the agony afflicted on the people of this earth. I’ll never understand how people survive, living each day in sadness, ignoring its ever-unmistakable presence and calling it life, and a life they want to live. I am thirty-two years old and life has killed me, taken me apart by the seams and filled me with a rotting emptiness nothing can fill…and does fill.

If I were to tell you my story, Journal—if I were to “have a way with words”—it would be this:

The sun warmed the dead inside of her, filled the void with its heat until she thought she almost felt a glimmer of life. Only a glimmer, though, as the clouds crept across the blue sky, hiding the sun from her, keeping its golden light from touching her skin, her hair, her blinded eyes. She was standing on a bridge above a sparkling river, in her home and humble town Littleton. No one crossed this bridge on Sunday afternoons. Everyone remained home: socializing after-church groups had tea and little cookies, kids played in the backyard, all quite aware of the darkness that lurked inside their heads, the ever-present dimness of life that was easily overlooked by everyone and no one. So she stood alone, looking over the river, beyond the trees and towards the horizon where the sun was making its continuous journey. Even the sun never changed, but she couldn’t help but feel that she wanted to be apart of it, that it was where she belonged somehow.

A cool breeze went by, encircling her, playing with the ends of her hair—maybe it said “breathe”, but she wasn’t quite sure. She barely noticed the goose-bumps prickling her skin, she barely felt the heavy, metal coldness in her hand. It would have been heavier, had it been anyone else. But this was for her, this was where she was going, to a place where she belonged, where she could sleep, where she could feel peace. The thought of it brought a smile on her face and, for a moment, she thought she recognized it as something similar to happiness. She gazed at the dark grey lake, taking in its repetitive movement, and lifted her gaze to the horizon. Always the horizon. It attracted her and consumed her mind, or what was left of it. The sun escaped the clouds and doused her in its warm, golden light. It beckoned her, called to her, and for the first time in her life, she knew where she was going.

And for that first moment, peace. Pure peace. Everything else, gone. Finally.

Finally.

Life has been an interesting adventure. But all things end in time. We all move on. We all die. Some sooner than others. What’s wrong with that? Life is meant for those who are living, not for those who have already died. I was dead. I suppose, Journal, that’s all you needed to know.

The Perfect Human part 3

The next morning, Carrie had jumped in the shower and really made herself ready before the government agents arrived. She wasn’t exactly sure when they would show up, or if they’d show up at all, but she was completely mentally prepared for anything. Sarah had already left earlier for school and Lyn had never come home the night before. Carrie was alone like she had been yesterday. Throwing a simple set of jeans and a t-shirt on, she was about to make her way to the kitchen to make some coffee when her phone rang. The number showed as private on the LCD screen, but she flipped it open anyway.
“Ms. Carrie Goldwater,” a man’s voice said. Carrie wasn’t sure if this was the same agent or not.
“Yes,” she answered simply.
The man claimed to be the same agent as the day before and asked if she had come upon a decision. Carrie told him that she had decided yes and he continued on with instructions on how the day would proceed, as though he knew all along she would agree to the program. An hour later, a knock came to the door and she was greeted by two different officials who introduced themselves and flashed their identification. She was instructed that she needed to bring nothing with her, which made her feel a lot more nervous and exposed than she anticipated.
Following the two men in the bright sunlight, she walked down the staircase of her apartment. When reaching ground level, she turned back and looked at her home. This was the moment she could change her mind, say that she had made a mistake, run back upstairs and continue the life she had been living. But what was the life she had been living? It was mundane, meaningless, and quite frankly, depressing. She couldn’t think of one thing that held her back. So maybe this was what was meant for her, to disappear into government hands, to start a new life. That was something everyone wanted at some point in their life and she was being handed it like candy.
Turning to the suited men, who stood there on the sidewalk waiting for her, she allowed herself to turn away, breaking free of her past, and followed them into the black vehicle. As it pulled away, she watched as the complex passed her window and watched as all the memories that came with her home passed also. For a moment, her heart stopped, thinking for only a second that she had made a huge mistake, but as the vehicle moved farther away and she couldn’t see the complex at all, she felt herself let out a sigh. She had been holding her breath and must have been holding on to everything else she left back there. A little smile crossed her face, if barely, as she moved into the unknown.
Carrie had left the apartment the way it was. She had left her room tidy and clean, her bed made and everything put in its proper place. She had even left the bathroom neat and orderly, her contact case and solution tucked into the cabinet along with her toothbrush and paste. It would seem as though she still lived there, and when her roommates came home, they hadn’t noticed she’d gone. The day would turn to night and Sarah would finally call Carrie’s cell phone, only to hear it ring in Carrie’s bedroom. She would find the phone and see that there were two other missed calls, one from Carrie’s mother and one from Jason. Another hour later, Sarah would become worried telling Lyn that she couldn’t find Carrie.
Carrie dipped her finger into the solution, gently pulling out her left contact and popping it onto her eye. It stung. The contact was old and she had needed to get new ones for a while. She stared at herself in the brightly lit mirror surrounded by perfectly pristine white walls. Her cheeks had more color in them than they had three weeks ago, her hair more healthy and vibrant, and she felt stronger than she ever had before. She would have thought she would be exhausted by the way they were constantly exercised, but the way they were being exercised and being fed was a completely new experience to her.
It was the fifth week into the program and nothing had come up as incredibly unique or important when concerning human history. However, today was the final day and Carrie couldn’t wait for all her questions to be answered. Carrie moved into her bedroom, which was more like a cubicle with one window exposing lots of trees and green grass, a twin-sized bed, small closet which contained preordered clothing that Carrie called uniforms, and access to a small but private shower/toilet room that she had just come from. The shower room was white, but the bedroom was painted a rich cream color probably for comfort purposes. Everything else was plain. When she arrived here the first night, she lied in bed and cried. She later noticed with a little bit of surprise that everything was provided for her, including the toiletries. She assumed she was in another state, as she had flown on a private government jet to the Scientific Research building, which ironically was also in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by thick pine trees. At night, the stars would shine like diamonds, uninhibited by pollution or city lights, which made Carrie think they were far away from any major city. She didn’t know. Nobody knew where they had been taken.
She was one among fifty other candidates, all who had surprisingly said yes to this program. They weren’t allowed to socialize. Their time outside their rooms was monitored and controlled. Seven o’clock was when they needed to wake, and seven o’clock was when they needed to sleep. In the morning, they would eat a hearty breakfast full of protein and nutrition. They were not allowed to consume any caffeine, which made Carrie very irritated as she was very dependent on her coffee in the morning. Then they would run laps throughout the forest for hours. The difficulty of each exercise would go up every day. Then lunch would come around and they would feast on more protein-concentrated foods. Lift weights—take snack and water breaks—stretch—massage—protein dinner—exercise—recreational activities among the other participants—and sleep.
Carrie had been very exhausted for the first week, but she quickly adapted and now it became such a routine with her, she barely noticed the days passing by. To her, it felt like months had gone by. But when night came, she’d lie down in her bed and was left alone to her thoughts. Carrie would think of her mother and father mostly, think of how much she missed them now more than ever, and occasionally she’d allow her mind to dream of Jason and wonder what he was doing.
The chime rang throughout the hall’s speakers and Carrie stepped outside of her tiny cabin and followed the rest of the participants down the grey passageway toward the lecture hall. They were all dressed similarly in blue, white, or grey exercise uniforms. It was a unique group of men and women ranging from the ages of twenty-three to twenty-eight, all of them fit, and some even more so after the four week training. Carrie’s own body went from thin to thick, gaining a good amount of muscle bulk, but not as much muscle tone as some of the others had.
She waved hello to a few others she had bonded with as much as she was allowed to and sat in one of the seats inside the lecture hall. This was the same hall they had been taken to on the first day of orientation. They were handed over by the government officials to the scientists of Americor. That was the day the entire program was explained in great detail, and the scientists gave them the chance to decline their participation one more time. No body did.
Today they were going to be tested. The scientists had been developing a serum for years that was theorized to make the human body impervious to any disease, to make the human body as capably strong as it possibly could. But the serum needed to be tested on young, adult humans in perfect health. Carrie sat in her seat listening to the instructions that were being explained by a tall scientist—the boss, as Carrie called him—who looked about the age of sixty but had the body of a muscular twenty year old. He was always constantly eating protein bars, or what Carrie assumed was protein bars. She had never gotten close enough to tell.
He finished and they were instructed to return to their cabins. They were not to consume any foods this time as the serum may put them to sleep for days. Acting calm and collected, though Carrie’s insides were burning with curiosity and excitement, she made her way back to her cabin. An hour later, one of the female nurses came to her room and escorted Carrie to a place that resembled a hospital’s room. It was painted all white. There were two entrances to the room, a door on the right by a large square-sized mirror, and the one she was entering. There was a large window that allowed the daylight to shine in, giving the room a warm atmosphere, and in the middle of the room stood a bed accompanied by a few monitors and an I.V. bag.
“Please remove your clothes and change into the sheath. When you’re done, then go ahead and sit on the bed,” the nurse said, her voice soothing and warm.
Carrie obliged and soon was sitting comfortably on the bed. It positioned her sitting up, and she sat watching the nurse start up the monitors and began hooking Carrie up to them. Carrie wasn’t nervous at all. She had been waiting for this day since the first time Right and Left came to her apartment. She couldn’t wait to see if this all Left had claimed it would be: the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever. She looked out the large window in front of her, watching the pine trees bend slightly in the wind, the sunlight flickering above their tops, turning their needles into a deep green.
“Please remove your contact lenses,” the nurse said, handing Carrie a lens box. Carrie obeyed, removing the lenses from her eyes, everything turning foggy, the faraway trees becoming a blurry mesh of dark green. “Now I’m going to give you an I.V.,” the nurse instructed, as she took Carrie’s left hand and inserted the I.V. into a vein. Carrie winced only slightly, the sharp pain subsiding quickly into a dull throb. “Now I am going to administer the SHB,” she said, referring to the serum. The nurse injected the serum into Carrie’s I.V. Carrie squinted her eyes to watch, but could only see a messy blur.
“Okay, all done,” the nurse said, smiling at Carrie. Then she made her way out of the room, closing the door behind her and leaving Carrie completely alone. Carrie looked after her, but then turned her attention to the window. She watched the blurry mesh of trees rock back and forth against the white-blue sky. She was overcome with calm and serenity she couldn’t manage to think of anything. And soon she had fallen asleep.

The next morning, Carrie had jumped in the shower and really made herself ready before the government agents arrived. She wasn’t exactly sure when they would show up, or if they’d show up at all, but she was completely mentally prepared for anything. Sarah had already left earlier for school and Lyn had never come home the night before. Carrie was alone like she had been yesterday. Throwing a simple set of jeans and a t-shirt on, she was about to make her way to the kitchen to make some coffee when her phone rang. The number showed as private on the LCD screen, but she flipped it open anyway.

“Ms. Carrie Goldwater,” a man’s voice said. Carrie wasn’t sure if this was the same agent or not.

“Yes,” she answered simply.

The man claimed to be the same agent as the day before and asked if she had come upon a decision. Carrie told him that she had decided yes and he continued on with instructions on how the day would proceed, as though he knew all along she would agree to the program. An hour later, a knock came to the door and she was greeted by two different officials who introduced themselves and flashed their identification. She was instructed that she needed to bring nothing with her, which made her feel a lot more nervous and exposed than she anticipated.

Following the two men in the bright sunlight, she walked down the staircase of her apartment. When reaching ground level, she turned back and looked at her home. This was the moment she could change her mind, say that she had made a mistake, run back upstairs and continue the life she had been living. But what was the life she had been living? It was mundane, meaningless, and quite frankly, depressing. She couldn’t think of one thing that held her back. So maybe this was what was meant for her, to disappear into government hands, to start a new life. That was something everyone wanted at some point in their life and she was being handed it like candy.

Turning to the suited men, who stood there on the sidewalk waiting for her, she allowed herself to turn away, breaking free of her past, and followed them into the black vehicle. As it pulled away, she watched as the complex passed her window and watched as all the memories that came with her home passed also. For a moment, her heart stopped, thinking for only a second that she had made a huge mistake, but as the vehicle moved farther away and she couldn’t see the complex at all, she felt herself let out a sigh. She had been holding her breath and must have been holding on to everything else she left back there. A little smile crossed her face, if barely, as she moved into the unknown.

Carrie had left the apartment the way it was. She had left her room tidy and clean, her bed made and everything put in its proper place. She had even left the bathroom neat and orderly, her contact case and solution tucked into the cabinet along with her toothbrush and paste. It would seem as though she still lived there, and when her roommates would come home, they won’t have noticed she’d gone. The day would turn to night and Sarah would finally call Carrie’s cell phone, only to hear it ring in Carrie’s bedroom. She would find the phone and see that there were two other missed calls, one from Carrie’s mother and one from Jason. Another hour later, Sarah will have become worried telling Lyn she couldn’t find Carrie.

Carrie dipped her finger into the solution, gently pulling out her left contact and popping it onto her eye. It stung. The contact was old and she had needed to get new ones for a while. She stared at herself in the brightly lit mirror surrounded by perfectly pristine white walls. Her cheeks had more color in them than they had three weeks ago, her hair more healthy and vibrant, and she felt stronger than she ever had before. She would have thought she would be exhausted by the way they were constantly exercised, but the way they were being exercised and being fed was a completely new experience to her.

It was the fifth week into the program and nothing had come up as incredibly unique or important when concerning human history. However, today was the final day and Carrie couldn’t wait for all her questions to be answered. Carrie moved into her bedroom, which was more like a cubicle with one window exposing lots of trees and green grass, a twin-sized bed, small closet which contained preordered clothing that Carrie called uniforms, and access to a small but private shower/toilet room that she had just come from. The shower room was white, but the bedroom was painted a rich cream color probably for comfort purposes. Everything else was plain. When she arrived here the first night, she lied in bed and cried. She later noticed with a little bit of surprise that everything was provided for her, including the toiletries. She assumed she was in another state, as she had flown on a private government jet to the Scientific Research building, which ironically was also in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by thick pine trees. At night, the stars would shine like diamonds, uninhibited by pollution or city lights, which made Carrie think they were far away from any major city. She didn’t know. Nobody knew where they had been taken.

She was one among fifty other candidates, all who had surprisingly said yes to this program. They weren’t allowed to socialize. Their time outside their rooms was monitored and controlled. Seven o’clock was when they needed to wake, and seven o’clock was when they needed to sleep. In the morning, they would eat a hearty breakfast full of protein and nutrition. They were not allowed to consume any caffeine, which made Carrie very irritated as she was very dependent on her coffee in the morning. Then they would run laps throughout the forest for hours. The difficulty of each exercise would go up every day. Then lunch would come around and they would feast on more protein-concentrated foods. Lift weights—take snack and water breaks—stretch—massage—protein dinner—exercise—recreational activities among the other participants—and sleep.

Carrie had been very exhausted for the first week, but she quickly adapted and now it became such a routine with her, she barely noticed the days passing by. To her, it felt like months had gone by. But when night came, she’d lie down in her bed and was left alone to her thoughts. Carrie would think of her mother and father mostly, think of how much she missed them now more than ever, and occasionally she’d allow her mind to dream of Jason and wonder what he was doing.

The chime rang throughout the hall’s speakers and Carrie stepped outside of her tiny cabin and followed the rest of the participants down the grey passageway toward the lecture hall. They were all dressed similarly in blue, white, or grey exercise uniforms. It was a unique group of men and women ranging from the ages of twenty-three to twenty-eight, all of them fit, and some even more so after the four week training. Carrie’s own body went from thin to thick, gaining a good amount of muscle bulk, but not as much muscle tone as some of the others had.

She waved hello to a few others she had bonded with as much as she was allowed to and sat in one of the seats inside the lecture hall. This was the same hall they had been taken to on the first day of orientation. They were handed over by the government officials to the scientists of Americor. That was the day the entire program was explained in great detail, and the scientists gave them the chance to decline their participation one more time. No body did.

Today they were going to be tested. The scientists had been developing a serum for years that was theorized to make the human body impervious to any disease, to make the human body as capably strong as it possibly could. But the serum needed to be tested on young, adult humans in perfect health. Carrie sat in her seat listening to the instructions that were being explained by a tall scientist—the boss, as Carrie called him—who looked about the age of sixty but had the body of a muscular twenty year old. He was always constantly eating protein bars, or what Carrie assumed was protein bars. She had never gotten close enough to tell.

He finished and they were instructed to return to their cabins. They were not to consume any foods this time as the serum may put them to sleep for days. Acting calm and collected, though Carrie’s insides were burning with curiosity and excitement, she made her way back to her cabin. An hour later, one of the female nurses came to her room and escorted Carrie to a place that resembled a hospital’s room. It was painted all white. There were two entrances to the room, a door on the right by a large square-sized mirror, and the one she was entering. There was a large window that allowed the daylight to shine in, giving the room a warm atmosphere, and in the middle of the room stood a bed accompanied by a few monitors and an I.V. bag.

“Please remove your clothes and change into the sheath. When you’re done, then go ahead and sit on the bed,” the nurse said, her voice soothing and warm.

Carrie obliged and soon was sitting comfortably on the bed. It positioned her sitting up, and she sat watching the nurse start up the monitors and began hooking Carrie up to them. Carrie wasn’t nervous at all. She had been waiting for this day since the first time Right and Left came to her apartment. She couldn’t wait to see if this all Left had claimed it would be: the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever. She looked out the large window in front of her, watching the pine trees bend slightly in the wind, the sunlight flickering above their tops, turning their needles into a deep green.

“Please remove your contact lenses,” the nurse said, handing Carrie a lens box. Carrie obeyed, removing the lenses from her eyes, everything turning foggy, the faraway trees becoming a blurry mesh of dark green. “Now I’m going to give you an I.V.,” the nurse instructed, as she took Carrie’s left hand and inserted the I.V. into a vein. Carrie winced only slightly, the sharp pain subsiding quickly into a dull throb. “Now I am going to administer the SHB,” she said, referring to the serum. The nurse injected the serum into Carrie’s I.V. Carrie squinted her eyes to watch, but could only see a messy blur.

“Okay, all done,” the nurse said, smiling at Carrie. Then she made her way out of the room, closing the door behind her and leaving Carrie completely alone. Carrie looked after her, but then turned her attention to the window. She watched the blurry mesh of trees rock back and forth against the white-blue sky. She was overcome with calm and serenity she couldn’t manage to think of anything. And soon she had fallen asleep.

The Perfect Human part 2

Carrie spent the entire day home alone, pondering on the decision she had to make. It was only until seven o’clock when her roommates finally came home. Sarah returned with her usual load of homework and Lyn went directly into her bedroom. Carrie sat at the dinner table with an untouched bowl of spaghetti she had microwaved. She waited for her roommates to settle in, shaking her leg unconsciously.
Sarah came out of her room, load free, and started rummaging through the kitchen for something to eat.
“What a day,” she said. “I’ve got so much homework, I don’t know how I’m gonna do it.”
“Yeah?” Carrie said, turning to face her.
Sarah smiled slightly. “What have you been up to all day?”
“Oh, nothing,” Carrie shrugged. “Just been cleaning around the house. Stuff like that.”
“I wish I could have a day off,” Sarah sighed, slumping into the chair next to Carrie, giving up on the kitchen. “Hey, you eating that?”
Carrie looked down at her untouched food, shook her head no and passed it over to Sarah. Sarah immediately began cramming it down. Lyn came out at that point, silent as always, and made her way into the kitchen.
“Hey, you,” Carrie said lightly, trying to give her best natural smile. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”
Lyn didn’t look in Carrie’s direction, but rather continued to frantically look through the freezer and cupboards, throwing dishes in the washer, grabbing the trash bag that was only half full and pulling it out to be thrown away. It seemed as though Lyn couldn’t find a way to calm down.
“I’ve just been real busy,” she answered finally, looking around the living room for something else to busy herself with.
Carrie glanced at Sarah. Sarah shrugged back. The two girls watched Lyn frantically move from her bedroom, to the living room, to the laundry room, and back. When Lyn finally settled, she sat at her computer inside her bedroom, busying herself with more unnecessary work.
Carrie knocked on her door and walked in. Lyn saw Carrie enter out of the corner of her eye, but didn’t turn.
“Hey, I was thinking,” Carrie said, “maybe we could have a girl’s night.”
Lyn finally acknowledged her. There wasn’t a hint of anger in her expression, rather it was neutral, or tired, or her thoughts preoccupied with something else. She gave a faint smile before answering.
“I would like to,” she said, “but I’m going out tonight with Ben and the boys at ten, so I’ve got to get a lot of stuff done before then. I feel so behind since I haven’t been home.” She shrugged her apology and turned back to her computer.
Carrie stood there for a few seconds, watching Lyn busy herself. Ben was Lyn’s boyfriend and the boys she referred to were their friends, who included Carrie’s ex. Carrie couldn’t spend time with the boys anymore because of her recent break up with Jason. Her insides seemed to grow cold, thinking of how Lyn spends every moment with Ben, and here she was spending the night with him again, on top of going out with the friends Carrie can no longer be with because of Jason. It drove her mad how Lyn drastically went from being her closest friend to a distant stranger just over a few weeks. She wanted to blame it on her overly needy boyfriend, Ben, but Carrie somehow knew it was because of her decision to leave Jason that drove Lyn distant. They and the boys used to be a closely knit group. Then it changed, as things always do, when Carrie realized she and Jason could never work, despite the fact that she did, indeed, love him. It was simply unfortunate that they shared the same group of friends.
A feeling of sadness overcame her and Carrie turned away, seeing Sarah still eating the spaghetti at the dining table.
“What are you doing tonight?” Carrie asked.
Sarah looked, seemingly startled from her eating. “Nothing, really,” she said. “Oh, except I do have a ton of homework. I really have to start working on it. Probably take me all night.”
Carrie nodded, almost absently. She felt the loneliness shift into her chest, forming itself into a tight pain. “I was hoping that we could spend some time together,” Carrie said. “Actually I was hoping all three of us could do something. Like old times.”
The look on Sarah’s face turned pitiful. She cocked her head to the side and Carrie could almost swear that her expression resembled a pouty face. “I would, really, if I had time,” Sarah said. “But I can’t. I’ve got so much to do. I’m sorry.” She gave a very realistic I’m sorry frown, then moved her attention to the spaghetti again.
Carrie stood there, staring at Sarah. Her insides wanted to scream and tell them this may be the last time they’d ever see her, that they didn’t appreciate her as much as they should, that she wanted to be with them, wanted to laugh and drink wine, wanted to share dreams and fantasies like they used to, and not be bogged down with unimportant things, to forgive each other, to love each other. She wanted to see something that might make her stay, that might encourage her decision to decline the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever.
Carrie let out a sigh. She couldn’t scream and tell. They would think she was crazy, or just trying to grab attention. But maybe that was all they needed to change their minds.
“What if this is the last time you’ll ever see me?” Carrie blurted out.
Sarah looked up and smiled immediately, the smile knowingly recognizing dramatics when she saw it. Lyn, though her bedroom door was open, didn’t respond. “This isn’t going to be the last time I’ll ever see you,” Sarah said, smiling. “Are you really that bored?”
“I’m not bored, I—“
“I really can’t, or else I would,” Sarah interrupted, the smile fading. At that, she got up, placed the spaghetti dish into the sink and went into her room, leaving Carrie standing silently alone in the living room. Eventually, she made her way to her own bedroom and closed the door. She picked up her cell phone, checked to see if she had gotten any texts or calls—nothing. Sinking into her bed, she gripped the phone tightly wondering on who to call. She was tempted to give Jason a try, but every time she thought of it, her stomach wrapped itself into a knot. It was time to consider what was important in her life. Her friends, the only ones she really had, were busy with their own lives. Her family lived in another state, so she never got to visit them nearly as much. She had already graduated school, but wasn’t working her dream job; in fact, she hated it with all her being. And the love interest—the one she used to think of marrying and planned spending the rest of her life with—grew into someone else where happiness between the two of them was a feet that would never be reached. There were times she wanted to sacrifice everything, just to be with him and love him, but it couldn’t work if it was never fully reciprocated. And she knew that.  But she didn’t think Lyn knew that.
Carrie stared at herself in the mirror across from her. The color of her hair seemed dull and her face looked pale and sick in the dim lighting of her room. The depression of leaving Jason and the distance of her friends was dragging her down somewhere she couldn’t escape. Change was something she needed, and here was a huge opportunity right in front of her. But was it worth it to never see her family and friends again?
She called her parents’ house. No one picked up. She called again. She ended up calling three times before her mother finally picked up.
“Hi, Mom,” Carrie said, her voice straining to sound happy.
“It’s past midnight here,” her mom said, her voice cracking with sleep. “What’s going on?”
“Nothing,” Carrie said. “I just wanted to talk to you. Everyone’s busy tonight, so…”
“Baby, it’s past midnight.” Her mom’s voice groaned.
Carrie felt a warm numbing sensation spread through her chest and arms. Her eyes burned slightly as she felt the sadness she had been burying spill over. “I know,” Carrie managed, “I just miss you, that’s all.”
“I miss you too, honey,” her mom said, but Carrie could tell that she was still half asleep.
“Hey, Mom, I have a question,” Carrie said. She waited for a second to see if her mother would respond, but she didn’t, so she continued. “If a huge opportunity came around, a really good one, but it put you in a position where you had to choose one over the other, would you take the opportunity?”
“Baby, are you okay?” her mom said, slowly becoming coherent. “How’s work treating you?”
“Works fine—no, it sucks. I hate it. Mom—“
“What about your roommates? How are Lyn and Sarah?” her mom continued.
“They’re fine,” Carrie sighed, pulling at her left eyelid again. “Just really busy. In fact, I don’t see much of Lyn anymore. Mom—what if the opportunity of a lifetime came my way?”
“What kind of opportunity?”
“Of a lifetime!” Carrie forgot how frustrated she could get with her mother. She was this way no matter if wide awake or half asleep like she was. “And I had to make a choice. Take the opportunity of a lifetime and leave my old life behind, or don’t take the opportunity of a lifetime and stay where I am now.”
There was silence on the other end of the phone.
“Mom, you awake?”
“Yes, honey, I’m just thinking,” her mom answered. After a moment’s pause, her mom said, “Well, I would take the opportunity. You never know when you might have missed your life’s calling, so if it’s being handed to you, take it because you’ll never know when you’ll get another opportunity offered to you again.”
Carrie nodded, staring blankly at herself in the mirror, as though the person on the other side was also giving her advice.
“Baby, I’m going back to bed now,” her mom said. “Your dad and I get up really early, you know.”
“Okay,” Carrie murmured, mesmerized by staring at herself, as though the answer were somewhere within her own eyes.
“Goodnight,” her mom said.
“I love you,” Carrie said, almost too quickly.
“I love you too, sleep well.”
“You too—I miss you—“ But it was too late, her mother had already hung up. Carrie sat there for a couple of seconds with her phone stuck to her ear. Her mother had said it and now Carrie couldn’t believe the decision she was going to make. It was a decision that may change her life forever. Or it might end up being a total gag. Something in the back of her mind convinced her that this wasn’t going to be the last time she ever spoke with her mom. She found it hard to believe that she would be allowed contact with the world, but not with her own family. As far as Carrie was concerned, they wouldn’t be able to stop her if she wanted to see them. And how could they ever find out? Once the experimental program finished out its five weeks, they would be set free again. Wouldn’t they? Or did it matter?
She had decided upon her answer and felt there was one more thing to do. She dialed Jason’s number. She didn’t quite know what she was going to say, but it didn’t matter anymore. Nothing did, except to say something one more time. But he didn’t answer and she was taken to the voicemail. She hesitated, thinking that whatever she was going to say, it had to sound normal.
“Hi, Jason,” she said, her voice surprisingly calm. “I know this might sound a little odd, but—“ Her voice broke for a second. She took a slow breath and concentrated on saying the right thing. “I just wanted to say…that you were a really great boyfriend.” She couldn’t think of saying anything else, so she let the phone slowly close.
Carrie exited her bedroom hoping to see if Sarah or Lyn were up and about. Sarah seemed to still be locked in her room, the light shining from the bottom of her door, and Lyn was gone. Apparently, she had already left to meet up with the boys. Standing in the middle of the living room, Carrie realized what she was about to do. She took in her surrounding, trying to memorize every detail, so that maybe she could remember her last moment with this life. She hoped the new one she was about to venture into would be a good one. If nothing at all, at least she knew where she was going now.

Carrie spent the entire day home alone, pondering on the decision she had to make. It was only until seven o’clock when her roommates finally came home. Sarah returned with her usual load of homework and Lyn went directly into her bedroom. Carrie sat at the dinner table with an untouched bowl of spaghetti she had microwaved. She waited for her roommates to settle in, shaking her leg unconsciously.

Sarah came out of her room, load free, and started rummaging through the kitchen for something to eat.

“What a day,” she said. “I’ve got so much homework, I don’t know how I’m gonna do it.”

“Yeah?” Carrie said, turning to face her.

Sarah smiled slightly. “What have you been up to all day?”

“Oh, nothing,” Carrie shrugged. “Just been cleaning around the house. Stuff like that.”

“I wish I could have a day off,” Sarah sighed, slumping into the chair next to Carrie, giving up on the kitchen. “Hey, you eating that?”

Carrie looked down at her untouched food, shook her head no and passed it over to Sarah. Sarah immediately began cramming it down. Lyn came out at that point, silent as always, and made her way into the kitchen.

“Hey, you,” Carrie said lightly, trying to give her best natural smile. “Haven’t seen you in a while.”

Lyn didn’t look in Carrie’s direction, but rather continued to frantically look through the freezer and cupboards, throwing dishes in the washer, grabbing the trash bag that was only half full and pulling it out to be thrown away. It seemed as though Lyn couldn’t find a way to calm down.

“I’ve just been real busy,” she answered finally, looking around the living room for something else to busy herself with.

Carrie glanced at Sarah. Sarah shrugged back. The two girls watched Lyn frantically move from her bedroom, to the living room, to the laundry room, and back. When Lyn finally settled, she sat at her computer inside her bedroom, busying herself with more unnecessary work.

Carrie knocked on her door and walked in. Lyn saw Carrie enter out of the corner of her eye, but didn’t turn.

“Hey, I was thinking,” Carrie said, “maybe we could have a girl’s night.”

Lyn finally acknowledged her. There wasn’t a hint of anger in her expression, rather it was neutral, or tired, or her thoughts preoccupied with something else. She gave a faint smile before answering.

“I would like to,” she said, “but I’m going out tonight with Ben and the boys at ten, so I’ve got to get a lot of stuff done before then. I feel so behind since I haven’t been home.” She shrugged her apology and turned back to her computer.

Carrie stood there for a few seconds, watching Lyn busy herself. Ben was Lyn’s boyfriend and the boys she referred to were their friends, who included Carrie’s ex. Carrie couldn’t spend time with the boys anymore because of her recent break up with Jason. Her insides seemed to grow cold, thinking of how Lyn spends every moment with Ben, and here she was spending the night with him again, on top of going out with the friends Carrie can no longer be with because of Jason. It drove her mad how Lyn drastically went from being her closest friend to a distant stranger just over a few weeks. She wanted to blame it on her overly needy boyfriend, Ben, but Carrie somehow knew it was because of her decision to leave Jason that drove Lyn distant. They and the boys used to be a closely knit group. Then it changed, as things always do, when Carrie realized she and Jason could never work, despite the fact that she did, indeed, love him. It was simply unfortunate that they shared the same group of friends.

A feeling of sadness overcame her and Carrie turned away, seeing Sarah still eating the spaghetti at the dining table.

“What are you doing tonight?” Carrie asked.

Sarah looked, seemingly startled from her eating. “Nothing, really,” she said. “Oh, except I do have a ton of homework. I really have to start working on it. Probably take me all night.”

Carrie nodded, almost absently. She felt the loneliness shift into her chest, forming itself into a tight pain. “I was hoping that we could spend some time together,” Carrie said. “Actually I was hoping all three of us could do something. Like old times.”

The look on Sarah’s face turned pitiful. She cocked her head to the side and Carrie could almost swear that her expression resembled a pouty face. “I would, really, if I had time,” Sarah said. “But I can’t. I’ve got so much to do. I’m sorry.” She gave a very realistic I’m sorry frown, then moved her attention to the spaghetti again.

Carrie stood there, staring at Sarah. Her insides wanted to scream and tell them this may be the last time they’d ever see her, that they didn’t appreciate her as much as they should, that she wanted to be with them, wanted to laugh and drink wine, wanted to share dreams and fantasies like they used to, and not be bogged down with unimportant things, to forgive each other, to love each other. She wanted to see something that might make her stay, that might encourage her decision to decline the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever.

Carrie let out a sigh. She couldn’t scream and tell. They would think she was crazy, or just trying to grab attention. But maybe that was all they needed to change their minds.

“What if this is the last time you’ll ever see me?” Carrie blurted out.

Sarah looked up and smiled immediately, the smile knowingly recognizing dramatics when she saw it. Lyn, though her bedroom door was open, didn’t respond. “This isn’t going to be the last time I’ll ever see you,” Sarah said, smiling. “Are you really that bored?”

“I’m not bored, I—“

“I really can’t, or else I would,” Sarah interrupted, the smile fading. At that, she got up, placed the spaghetti dish into the sink and went into her room, leaving Carrie standing silently alone in the living room. Eventually, she made her way to her own bedroom and closed the door. She picked up her cell phone, checked to see if she had gotten any texts or calls—nothing. Sinking into her bed, she gripped the phone tightly wondering on who to call. She was tempted to give Jason a try, but every time she thought of it, her stomach wrapped itself into a knot. It was time to consider what was important in her life. Her friends, the only ones she really had, were busy with their own lives. Her family lived in another state, so she never got to visit them nearly as much. She had already graduated school, but wasn’t working her dream job; in fact, she hated it with all her being. And the love interest—the one she used to think of marrying and planned spending the rest of her life with—grew into someone else where happiness between the two of them was a feet that would never be reached. There were times she wanted to sacrifice everything, just to be with him and love him, but it couldn’t work if it was never fully reciprocated. And she knew that.  But she didn’t think Lyn knew that.

Carrie stared at herself in the mirror across from her. The color of her hair seemed dull and her face looked pale and sick in the dim lighting of her room. The depression of leaving Jason and the distance of her friends was dragging her down somewhere she couldn’t escape. Change was something she needed, and here was a huge opportunity right in front of her. But was it worth it to never see her family and friends again?

She called her parents’ house. No one picked up. She called again. She ended up calling three times before her mother finally picked up.

“Hi, Mom,” Carrie said, her voice straining to sound happy.

“It’s past midnight here,” her mom said, her voice cracking with sleep. “What’s going on?”

“Nothing,” Carrie said. “I just wanted to talk to you. Everyone’s busy tonight, so…”

“Baby, it’s past midnight.” Her mom’s voice groaned.

Carrie felt a warm numbing sensation spread through her chest and arms. Her eyes burned slightly as she felt the sadness she had been burying spill over. “I know,” Carrie managed, “I just miss you, that’s all.”

“I miss you too, honey,” her mom said, but Carrie could tell that she was still half asleep.

“Hey, Mom, I have a question,” Carrie said. She waited for a second to see if her mother would respond, but she didn’t, so she continued. “If a huge opportunity came around, a really good one, but it put you in a position where you had to choose one over the other, would you take the opportunity?”

“Baby, are you okay?” her mom said, slowly becoming coherent. “How’s work treating you?”

“Works fine—no, it sucks. I hate it. Mom—“

“What about your roommates? How are Lyn and Sarah?” her mom continued.

“They’re fine,” Carrie sighed, pulling at her left eyelid again. “Just really busy. In fact, I don’t see much of Lyn anymore. Mom—what if the opportunity of a lifetime came my way?”

“What kind of opportunity?”

“Of a lifetime!” Carrie forgot how frustrated she could get with her mother. She was this way no matter if wide awake or half asleep like she was. “And I had to make a choice. Take the opportunity of a lifetime and leave my old life behind, or don’t take the opportunity of a lifetime and stay where I am now.”

There was silence on the other end of the phone.

“Mom, you awake?”

“Yes, honey, I’m just thinking,” her mom answered. After a moment’s pause, her mom said, “Well, I would take the opportunity. You never know when you might have missed your life’s calling, so if it’s being handed to you, take it because you’ll never know when you’ll get another opportunity offered to you again.”

Carrie nodded, staring blankly at herself in the mirror, as though the person on the other side was also giving her advice.

“Baby, I’m going back to bed now,” her mom said. “Your dad and I get up really early, you know.”

“Okay,” Carrie murmured, mesmerized by staring at herself, as though the answer were somewhere within her own eyes.

“Goodnight,” her mom said.

“I love you,” Carrie said, almost too quickly.

“I love you too, sleep well.”

“You too—I miss you—“ But it was too late, her mother had already hung up. Carrie sat there for a couple of seconds with her phone stuck to her ear. Her mother had said it and now Carrie couldn’t believe the decision she was going to make. It was a decision that may change her life forever. Or it might end up being a total gag. Something in the back of her mind convinced her that this wasn’t going to be the last time she ever spoke with her mom. She found it hard to believe that she would be allowed contact with the world, but not with her own family. As far as Carrie was concerned, they wouldn’t be able to stop her if she wanted to see them. And how could they ever find out? Once the experimental program finished out its five weeks, they would be set free again. Wouldn’t they? Or did it matter?

She had decided upon her answer and felt there was one more thing to do. She dialed Jason’s number. She didn’t quite know what she was going to say, but it didn’t matter anymore. Nothing did, except to say something one more time. But he didn’t answer and she was taken to the voicemail. She hesitated, thinking that whatever she was going to say, it had to sound normal.

“Hi, Jason,” she said, her voice surprisingly calm. “I know this might sound a little odd, but—“ Her voice broke for a second. She took a slow breath and concentrated on saying the right thing. “I just wanted to say…that you were a really great boyfriend.” She couldn’t think of saying anything else, so she let the phone slowly close.

Carrie exited her bedroom hoping to see if Sarah or Lyn were up and about. Sarah seemed to still be locked in her room, the light shining from the bottom of her door, and Lyn was gone. Apparently, she had already left to meet up with the boys. Standing in the middle of the living room, Carrie realized what she was about to do. She took in her surrounding, trying to memorize every detail, so that maybe she could remember her last moment with this life. She hoped the new one she was about to venture into would be a good one. If nothing at all, at least she knew where she was going now.

The Perfect Human part 1

Carrie Goldwater dipped her finger into her contact case, gently pulling out the left eye contact. It felt like slimy softness between her fingertips as she readied it to her eye. A silent pop and it was on, like a suction cup to a glass window, making her horrible vision somewhat clear again—but not quite 20/20. What an ordeal it was to get ready in the morning. It was bad enough Carrie wasn’t a morning person, but it was worse when waking to a blurry mass of objects which, in turn, tricked her mind into thinking she was still asleep. And, yet, she knew better than that—oh that tricky, tricky brain.
Splashing lukewarm water on her face, she lathered—rinsed—shoved a Crest covered toothbrush into her mouth, brushed hard—spit—rinsed—pulled a brush through her long blonde hair—highlighted of course—dusted her cheeks with pink blush, dabbed her eyes with the slightest bit of mascara—breathed, or sighed—and done.
Looking at herself in the mirror, she frowned. Was it really the same thing every day? Yes, it was, she thought. Carrie grabbed one of her sweaters and pulled it over her loose pajamas that she hadn’t yet changed out of, and made her way into the kitchen. Her two other roommates were gone again, leaving her alone in their humble apartment. Sarah was off at school early, while Lyn was probably still at her boyfriend’s house. Lyn and Carrie had been growing silently apart, ever since Carrie’s recent break up with her own boyfriend, Jason, of two and a half years. Carrie didn’t quite understand the distance between the two of them, but neither did she understand the failure of her own relationship.
As she poured the coffee grounds into the filter and pressed the brew button, she remained standing in the kitchen, watching the coffee drip into the pot, rubbing her left eye. Her gaze drifted to the cabinet of food, realized she didn’t have the stomach for it—glanced towards Lyn’s bedroom—the door was open—and finally rested her gaze on the window, or rather outside of it. She continued to stare through the window, focusing on a tree, its limbs gently bending in the wind, the leaves flashing green from the morning sunlight, the sun’s light pushing into the living room but never reaching the darkened kitchen. Must change, she thought. Maybe cut my hair—pedicure—dye hair brown…
She jumped. A loud knock on the front door startled her out of her daze. Fluffing her hair and pulling at her left eyelid to adjust the bothersome contact, Carrie made her way to the door. She wasn’t expecting anyone in particular and she knew there wasn’t any maintenance needed in the apartment. She peered outside the peep hole and saw two tall men in suits standing outside the door.
She paused before opening the door. She definitely wasn’t expecting any men in suits. Carrie slowly opened the door and gave her most polite smile—which also could have been read as who the hell are you and what do you want. Funny how it works that way.
“Ms. Carrie Goldwater,” the right one said.
Carrie hesitated but nodded, a little taken aback that he knew her name, which meant they were definitely here for a very specific purpose.
“We would like to speak with you,” the right one said again. The left one didn’t seem to have anything to contribute at the moment, but the two of them did pull out FBI badges in order calm Carrie’s nerves down.
But it didn’t do much help. She was already dreaming up scenarios of either Sarah or Lyn being dead or kidnapped, maybe something bad had happened to Jason—maybe her parents!
“Ms. Goldwater, may we come inside?” Right said.
“Of course,” she managed, clearing her throat nervously. “I’m sorry.” Carrie ushered the two agents inside and slowly closed the door behind them. She stood there awkwardly, not knowing what to do next. The two men glanced around then focused on her, expecting her to say something. When she did not, Right gestured to the couches.
“May we sit down?” he said.
“Oh yeah,” Carrie said, a little more flustered than she wanted to be. “Please sit down.” Carrie made her way to one of the couches and sat, the other two men sitting on the opposite couch.
“So is this something really bad?” she asked nervously. “Do I really need to hold on to something or get ready for some bad news?”
“Ms. Goldwater, we are here to inquire if you would like to be a participant in a very specialized government program supported by the US military and funded by Americor Science and Research,” Right said.
Carrie sat in silence, staring blankly at them. All her fears were replaced by pure surprise. She wasn’t sure how long the three of them sat there in silence. To her, it felt like time had frozen and she was stuck in surprise-mode. Finally, she spoke.
“I’m sorry, but I’m really confused,” she said. “I thought you were here to tell me some really bad news.”
“That was not our intention,” Right said. Left just sat there.
“I guess I just don’t see why FBI agents would be asking me to be apart of some program,” Carrie responded.
“The program is specialized for people within their mid-twenties and especially for those who are physically fit and rarely sick,” Right continued, ignoring Carrie’s question. “We need willing participants who will go through a steady and rigorous training of exercise and diet for five weeks. After that, we conduct the experiment. Out of the criteria, we randomly chose a select group of people, and you were one of them.”
Carrie sat there for another silent second and attempted to absorb all of this.
“Wait,” she finally said, “this is a bit much. I’m not even sure what’s going on here. You’re asking me to participate in a program. I’m not even sure what this program is about?—other than all that other stuff you just told me.”
“It’s technically an experiment on the human body,” Right said.
Carrie smiled slowly, finding the entire situation to be ridiculous and almost humorous.
“Okay,” she said, nodding in appreciation to the bluntness of the answer. “Why is the government conducting this program, slash, experiment?”
“That is top secret,” Right said.
“But you’re openly telling me a bunch of stuff about it. What if I were to say no and then go blab to other people that the government is conducting a secret experiment on human bodies?”
That’s when Left smiled. It was one of those calm smiles that somehow radiated creepiness at the same time.
“You could do that,” Right said. “But who would believe you without proof? Besides, it wouldn’t really matter what you would spread if you decided not to be a participant. And you have every right to decline. We are only here because you were one the selectees that was picked by a computer randomizer. And we, among other government officials, have said the same thing that we are saying to you now.”
Carrie nodded, forcing herself to take this seriously, and something inside of her told her that it was very serious. Maybe it was the way Left smile that made her stomach turn.
“Alright, I’m listening,” she said. “So what happens after the five weeks are over? Do I just come back home?”
Right hesitated for the first time and that made her more curious, if not more concerned.
“If you decide to be a participant within this program, you can no longer have contact with your friends or family. Not during the five weeks, or after. To them, you will have simply disappeared.”
The room suddenly seemed to turn cold despite the sunlight filling the room.
Carrie didn’t say anything. She didn’t know what to say. Her insides screamed hell no, but something else held her interest—her curiosity. What program or experiment could be so important, or dangerous, that one would be cut off from family forever? It couldn’t be forever, could it?
“That’s a little extreme,” Carrie managed to say.
Neither Right nor Left said a word.
So Carrie said, “How can I make a decision like that? Especially when I practically know nothing about what you’re talking about.”
“Other people have declined because of the severity of the situation. But there are those who have agreed,” Right shrugged. “It’s really up to you.”
“Well, I—“
“This is the chance of a lifetime,” Left said, and it almost surprised Carrie enough to jump. “There are so many others that will not have this opportunity given to them. We cannot tell you why you must be cut off from your family and friends, and we cannot tell you anymore about the program than we already have. All we can tell you now is that this may be the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever.”
“At least, so far,” Right said.
“Yes, of course, without saying,” Left responded.
Carrie blinked. She wasn’t sure how to react or think. The whole situation sounded absurd and she wasn’t sure if she could believe them. And even if they were telling the truth—and why wouldn’t they be—should she really drop everything to become apart of something she knows nothing about, except exercise and diet?
“Is it dangerous?” she asked.
“Every precaution is taken,” Right said.
“Would I have any contact with the outside world at all?”
“Yes,” Right said.
It didn’t make sense. She wouldn’t be allowed to have contact with her family or friends, but she could have contact with the rest of the world?
“Do I have to decide now?” Carrie asked.
“No, you can be allowed twenty-four hours,” Right answered.
Carrie nodded. She was wringing her hands in anxiety. Twenty-four hours. That would give her enough time to contemplate her answer and perhaps spend as much time with the people around her as possible—call up her parents and grandparents, make sure Lyn was coming home this time and maybe they could have girl-time along with Sarah—maybe call Jason.
As she walked the two government officials to the door, she was thinking all this. There was so much information cluttering her thoughts and teasing her curiosity, she couldn’t bring herself together. As the two men exited the apartment, Right mentioned that they would return the next day. Carrie nodded absentmindedly, closed the door and double locked it. It wasn’t that she was afraid of them breaking in, but it was the simple state of shock that she was in.
As she slowly, mechanically moved her way into the kitchen, she grabbed a mug from a shelf and poured herself a cup of coffee, something that she had been missing this whole time. Maybe if she had her coffee, things would clear her fogged up head. She had to think. She had all day to think. And she couldn’t believe that she was even considering it at all. How could she leave everything behind, but for something that might be the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever? Carrie definitely needed to think!

Carrie Goldwater dipped her finger into her contact case, gently pulling out the left eye contact. It felt like slimy softness between her fingertips as she readied it to her eye. A silent pop and it was on, like a suction cup to a glass window, making her horrible vision somewhat clear again—but not quite 20/20. What an ordeal it was to get ready in the morning. It was bad enough Carrie wasn’t a morning person, but it was worse when waking to a blurry mass of objects which, in turn, tricked her mind into thinking she was still asleep. And, yet, she knew better than that—oh that tricky, tricky brain.

Splashing lukewarm water on her face, she lathered—rinsed—shoved a Crest covered toothbrush into her mouth, brushed hard—spit—rinsed—pulled a brush through her long blonde hair—highlighted of course—dusted her cheeks with pink blush, dabbed her eyes with the slightest bit of mascara—breathed, or sighed—and done.

Looking at herself in the mirror, she frowned. Was it really the same thing every day? Yes, it was, she thought. Carrie grabbed one of her sweaters and pulled it over her loose pajamas that she hadn’t yet changed out of, and made her way into the kitchen. Her two other roommates were gone again, leaving her alone in their humble apartment. Sarah was off at school early, while Lyn was probably still at her boyfriend’s house. Lyn and Carrie had been growing silently apart, ever since Carrie’s recent break up with her own boyfriend, Jason, of two and a half years. Carrie didn’t quite understand the distance between the two of them, but neither did she understand the failure of her own relationship.

As she poured the coffee grounds into the filter and pressed the brew button, she remained standing in the kitchen, watching the coffee drip into the pot, rubbing her left eye. Her gaze drifted to the cabinet of food, realized she didn’t have the stomach for it—glanced towards Lyn’s bedroom—the door was open—and finally rested her gaze on the window, or rather outside of it. She continued to stare through the window, focusing on a tree, its limbs gently bending in the wind, the leaves flashing green from the morning sunlight, the sun’s light pushing into the living room but never reaching the darkened kitchen. Must change, she thought. Maybe cut my hair—pedicure—dye hair brown…

She jumped. A loud knock on the front door startled her out of her daze. Fluffing her hair and pulling at her left eyelid to adjust the bothersome contact, Carrie made her way to the door. She wasn’t expecting anyone in particular and she knew there wasn’t any maintenance needed in the apartment. She peered outside the peep hole and saw two tall men in suits standing outside the door.

She paused before opening the door. She definitely wasn’t expecting any men in suits. Carrie slowly opened the door and gave her most polite smile—which also could have been read as who the hell are you and what do you want. Funny how it works that way.

“Ms. Carrie Goldwater,” the right one said.

Carrie hesitated but nodded, a little taken aback that he knew her name, which meant they were definitely here for a very specific purpose.

“We would like to speak with you,” the right one said again. The left one didn’t seem to have anything to contribute at the moment, but the two of them did pull out FBI badges in order calm Carrie’s nerves down.

But it didn’t do much help. She was already dreaming up scenarios of either Sarah or Lyn being dead or kidnapped, maybe something bad had happened to Jason—maybe her parents!

“Ms. Goldwater, may we come inside?” Right said.

“Of course,” she managed, clearing her throat nervously. “I’m sorry.” Carrie ushered the two agents inside and slowly closed the door behind them. She stood there awkwardly, not knowing what to do next. The two men glanced around then focused on her, expecting her to say something. When she did not, Right gestured to the couches.

“May we sit down?” he said.

“Oh yeah,” Carrie said, a little more flustered than she wanted to be. “Please sit down.” Carrie made her way to one of the couches and sat, the other two men sitting on the opposite couch.

“So is this something really bad?” she asked nervously. “Do I really need to hold on to something or get ready for some bad news?”

“Ms. Goldwater, we are here to inquire if you would like to be a participant in a very specialized government program supported by the US military and funded by Americor Science and Research,” Right said.

Carrie sat in silence, staring blankly at them. All her fears were replaced by pure surprise. She wasn’t sure how long the three of them sat there in silence. To her, it felt like time had frozen and she was stuck in surprise-mode. Finally, she spoke.

“I’m sorry, but I’m really confused,” she said. “I thought you were here to tell me some really bad news.”

“That was not our intention,” Right said. Left just sat there.

“I guess I just don’t see why FBI agents would be asking me to be apart of some program,” Carrie responded.

“The program is specialized for people within their mid-twenties and especially for those who are physically fit and rarely sick,” Right continued, ignoring Carrie’s question. “We need willing participants who will go through a steady and rigorous training of exercise and diet for five weeks. After that, we conduct the experiment. Out of the criteria, we randomly chose a select group of people, and you were one of them.”

Carrie sat there for another silent second and attempted to absorb all of this.

“Wait,” she finally said, “this is a bit much. I’m not even sure what’s going on here. You’re asking me to participate in a program. I’m not even sure what this program is about?—other than all that other stuff you just told me.”

“It’s technically an experiment on the human body,” Right said.

Carrie smiled slowly, finding the entire situation to be ridiculous and almost humorous.

“Okay,” she said, nodding in appreciation to the bluntness of the answer. “Why is the government conducting this program, slash, experiment?”

“That is top secret,” Right said.

“But you’re openly telling me a bunch of stuff about it. What if I were to say no and then go blab to other people that the government is conducting a secret experiment on human bodies?”

That’s when Left smiled. It was one of those calm smiles that somehow radiated creepiness at the same time.

“You could do that,” Right said. “But who would believe you without proof? Besides, it wouldn’t really matter what you would spread if you decided not to be a participant. And you have every right to decline. We are only here because you were one the selectees that was picked by a computer randomizer. And we, among other government officials, have said the same thing that we are saying to you now.”

Carrie nodded, forcing herself to take this seriously, and something inside of her told her that it was very serious. Maybe it was the way Left smile that made her stomach turn.

“Alright, I’m listening,” she said. “So what happens after the five weeks are over? Do I just come back home?”

Right hesitated for the first time and that made her more curious, if not more concerned.

“If you decide to be a participant within this program, you can no longer have contact with your friends or family. Not during the five weeks, or after. To them, you will have simply disappeared.”

The room suddenly seemed to turn cold despite the sunlight filling the room.

Carrie didn’t say anything. She didn’t know what to say. Her insides screamed hell no, but something else held her interest—her curiosity. What program or experiment could be so important, or dangerous, that one would be cut off from family forever? It couldn’t be forever, could it?

“That’s a little extreme,” Carrie managed to say.

Neither Right nor Left said a word.

So Carrie said, “How can I make a decision like that? Especially when I practically know nothing about what you’re talking about.”

“Other people have declined because of the severity of the situation. But there are those who have agreed,” Right shrugged. “It’s really up to you.”

“Well, I—“

“This is the chance of a lifetime,” Left said, and it almost surprised Carrie enough to jump. “There are so many others that will not have this opportunity given to them. We cannot tell you why you must be cut off from your family and friends, and we cannot tell you anymore about the program than we already have. All we can tell you now is that this may be the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever.”

“At least, so far,” Right said.

“Yes, of course, without saying,” Left responded.

Carrie blinked. She wasn’t sure how to react or think. The whole situation sounded absurd and she wasn’t sure if she could believe them. And even if they were telling the truth—and why wouldn’t they be—should she really drop everything to become apart of something she knows nothing about, except exercise and diet?

“Is it dangerous?” she asked.

“Every precaution is taken,” Right said.

“Would I have any contact with the outside world at all?”

“Yes,” Right said.

It didn’t make sense. She wouldn’t be allowed to have contact with her family or friends, but she could have contact with the rest of the world?

“Do I have to decide now?” Carrie asked.

“No, you can be allowed twenty-four hours,” Right answered.

Carrie nodded. She was wringing her hands in anxiety. Twenty-four hours. That would give her enough time to contemplate her answer and perhaps spend as much time with the people around her as possible—call up her parents and grandparents, make sure Lyn was coming home this time and maybe they could have girl-time along with Sarah—maybe call Jason.

As she walked the two government officials to the door, she was thinking all this. There was so much information cluttering her thoughts and teasing her curiosity, she couldn’t bring herself together. As the two men exited the apartment, Right mentioned that they would return the next day. Carrie nodded absentmindedly, closed the door and double locked it. It wasn’t that she was afraid of them breaking in, but it was the simple state of shock that she was in.

As she slowly, mechanically moved her way into the kitchen, she grabbed a mug from a shelf and poured herself a cup of coffee, something that she had been missing this whole time. Maybe if she had her coffee, things would clear her fogged up head. She had to think. She had all day to think. And she couldn’t believe that she was even considering it at all. How could she leave everything behind, but for something that might be the most important scientific break through discovered in human history ever? Carrie definitely needed to think!

The Perfect Human part 4

Carrie woke with a start. It was daylight still, her entire room filled with sunlight. She was still hooked up to the I.V. and monitors, nothing had seemed to change. Her heart was pounding, though, as if she had just awoken from a nightmare. She felt hot, the air felt stale, it smelled of metal and sterility, and she had the sudden urge of being trapped. Out of complete instinct, she tore the I.V. out of her hand, a small stream of blood seeping out, but it soon stopped.
“Good afternoon, Carrie,” a voice sounded from the monitor. It might have been the female nurse’s because of its calm and warm inflection. “How are you feeling?”
Carrie’s nerves immediately relaxed in recognition of the voice. “Fine,” she answered. “I feel a little on edge, but that’s it.”
“Good,” the woman’s voice said, “you can change back into your clothes and I’ll come in a few minutes to take you back to your cabin.”
Carrie nodded, comfortable with not knowing all the details at the moment. She was used to the secrecy at this point. Although, she wondered how long she had been asleep. It had only seemed like a minute.
“How long have I been asleep?” Carrie asked.
“Approximately seven days,” the voice responded.
Carrie stared at the monitor from where the voice came. It couldn’t have been seven days, she thought. It was incredible to think she had been asleep for an entire week when it had only felt like a minute. She took a deep breath, noticing the room had more than just a metallic smell, there was something very organic and…human about it. She thought about it for a moment and came to the conclusion that it must have been her that smelled. Her muscles ached and throbbed from not moving for a week, but she was still able to manage sliding off the bed and onto the cold linoleum floor. She slowly made her way around the bed, stretching her muscles ever so slightly, and glanced out the window at the forest beyond. She thought she heard something—a bird. Her eyes squinted at the bright light and she could see the bird amongst the green of the trees, the sun’s rays gently lighting the bird’s feathers into a rich blue. She could hear it—through the thick window.
Carrie’s stomach grew cold and she touched her eyes. Frantically swinging around, she searched for her contact case. It sat on the bed table. Snatching it, she opened and found that her contacts remained inside the case. Her mouth dropped in awe, turning a full circle and examining everything. Each object was so clear-cut; it was almost impossible how perfect her vision was. Carrie scrambled to the window again and peered outside, looking at the details of the trees’ pines, and thick, green blades of grass—she stopped, her gaze halting at a stump far by the edge of the forest. She thought she saw something. She squinted, her eyes focusing harder on the stump—
And suddenly, she felt like she shot forward, everything around her zooming by in a haze until she stopped right in front of the stump, or what should have been the stump. All she could see was extremely detailed dark brown bark, but among the bark was a single black ant, crawling up the stump’s side. Carrie’s heart stopped. She wasn’t sure how she got there. She reached out, as though to touch the ant, but all she felt was a smooth, cold material. She was still behind the window—still inside the room.
“Shit,” she panicked, closing her eyes and pushing herself forcibly away to the point of falling to the floor. Slowly she opened her eyes. Her vision seemed back to normal and she was back in the room—even though she never left.
Carrie’s hands shook as she crawled herself back into a standing position. Her mind was a chaotic mass of thoughts. She could almost feel her nerves firing all over her body. The same thought repeated itself in her overwhelmed brain: most important discovery ever… This was far more than she expected. This was far more than they had warned her. What of the others? What were they experiencing? Or did they feel different at all? Maybe the scientists didn’t expect this to happen either. Her mind continued to reel as she propped herself against the bed, and that’s when she saw it:
Herself.
Across the room, in the large rectangular mirror, she saw herself: a new form, completely the same, but absolutely different. She moved closer to the mirror and examined her body and face. Her face looked the same, but the skin seemed different. It was tauter and she could see her jaw muscles twitch as she clenched her teeth, something she could never really see so defined before. The thickness her body had accrued from the exercise and diet had morphed into a slimmer muscular form. She could see every muscle movement within her arms and hands, veins puffing out from her skin. She lifted the sheath to reveal her legs and abdomen. Her breasts seemed more swollen and lifted by the pectoral muscles underneath. Her legs were no longer thick, but rather lean and extremely defined. Her stomach was the most shocking of all: tightened and constantly flexing every moment Carrie breathed, her stomach could have been the envy of all men, as it displayed every single toned muscle beneath the skin, which seemed to just be a thinly pulled protective covering over the muscles themselves. Needless to say, there was not an ounce of fat in her entire body. She looked like a killer, a barbaric woman who could crush anything and dodge bullets. And she had this horrible hunger urge gnawing the inside of her stomach. Carrie came to the grim realization that she was no longer the same person she was before. She had changed, more than she’d asked for, more than she’d hoped for, and now she could no longer return to the old life she’d once known. She was a freak—or more like the perfect human.
Carrie Goldwater stared into the mirror in horror of what she’d become, completely unaware of the scientists staring right back at her from the other side.

Carrie woke with a start. It was daylight still, her entire room filled with sunlight. She was still hooked up to the I.V. and monitors, nothing had seemed to change. Her heart was pounding, though, as if she had just awoken from a nightmare. She felt hot, the air felt stale, it smelled of metal and sterility, and she had the sudden urge of being trapped. Out of complete instinct, she tore the I.V. out of her hand, a small stream of blood seeping out, but it soon stopped.

“Good afternoon, Carrie,” a voice sounded from the monitor. It might have been the female nurse’s because of its calm and warm inflection. “How are you feeling?”

Carrie’s nerves immediately relaxed in recognition of the voice. “Fine,” she answered. “I feel a little on edge, but that’s it.”

“Good,” the woman’s voice said, “you can change back into your clothes and I’ll come in a few minutes to take you back to your cabin.”

Carrie nodded, comfortable with not knowing all the details at the moment. She was used to the secrecy at this point. Although, she wondered how long she had been asleep. It had only seemed like a minute.

“How long have I been asleep?” Carrie asked.

“Approximately seven days,” the voice responded.

Carrie stared at the monitor from where the voice came. It couldn’t have been seven days, she thought. It was incredible to think she had been asleep for an entire week when it had only felt like a minute. She took a deep breath, noticing the room had more than just a metallic smell, there was something very organic and…human about it. She thought about it for a moment and came to the conclusion that it must have been her that smelled. Her muscles ached and throbbed from not moving for a week, but she was still able to manage sliding off the bed and onto the cold linoleum floor. She slowly made her way around the bed, stretching her muscles ever so slightly, and glanced out the window at the forest beyond. She thought she heard something—a bird. Her eyes squinted at the bright light and she could see the bird amongst the green of the trees, the sun’s rays gently lighting the bird’s feathers into a rich blue. She could hear it—through the thick window.

Carrie’s stomach grew cold and she touched her eyes. Frantically swinging around, she searched for her contact case. It sat on the bed table. Snatching it, she opened and found that her contacts remained inside the case. Her mouth dropped in awe, turning a full circle and examining everything. Each object was so clear-cut; it was almost impossible how perfect her vision was. Carrie scrambled to the window again and peered outside, looking at the details of the trees’ pines, and thick, green blades of grass—she stopped, her gaze halting at a stump far by the edge of the forest. She thought she saw something. She squinted, her eyes focusing harder on the stump—

And suddenly, she felt like she shot forward, everything around her zooming by in a haze until she stopped right in front of the stump, or what should have been the stump. All she could see was extremely detailed dark brown bark, but among the bark was a single black ant, crawling up the stump’s side. Carrie’s heart stopped. She wasn’t sure how she got there. She reached out, as though to touch the ant, but all she felt was a smooth, cold material. She was still behind the window—still inside the room.

“Shit,” she panicked, closing her eyes and pushing herself forcibly away to the point of falling to the floor. Slowly she opened her eyes. Her vision seemed back to normal and she was back in the room—even though she never left.

Carrie’s hands shook as she crawled herself back into a standing position. Her mind was a chaotic mass of thoughts. She could almost feel her nerves firing all over her body. The same thought repeated itself in her overwhelmed brain: most important discovery ever… This was far more than she expected. This was far more than they had warned her. What of the others? What were they experiencing? Or did they feel different at all? Maybe the scientists didn’t expect this to happen either. Her mind continued to reel as she propped herself against the bed, and that’s when she saw it:

Herself.

Across the room, in the large rectangular mirror, she saw herself: a new form, completely the same, but absolutely different. She moved closer to the mirror and examined her body and face. Her face looked the same, but the skin seemed different. It was tauter and she could see her jaw muscles twitch as she clenched her teeth, something she could never really see so defined before. The thickness her body had accrued from the exercise and diet had morphed into a slimmer muscular form. She could see every muscle movement within her arms and hands, veins puffing out from her skin. She lifted the sheath to reveal her legs and abdomen. Her breasts seemed more swollen and lifted by the pectoral muscles underneath. Her legs were no longer thick, but rather lean and extremely defined. Her stomach was the most shocking of all: tightened and constantly flexing every moment Carrie breathed, her stomach could have been the envy of all men, as it displayed every single toned muscle beneath the skin, which seemed to just be a thinly pulled protective covering over the muscles themselves. Needless to say, there was not an ounce of fat in her entire body. She looked like a killer, a barbaric woman who could crush anything and dodge bullets. And she had this horrible hunger urge gnawing the inside of her stomach. Carrie came to the grim realization that she was no longer the same person she was before. She had changed, more than she’d asked for, more than she’d hoped for, and now she could no longer return to the old life she’d once known. She was a freak—or more like the perfect human.

Carrie Goldwater stared into the mirror in horror of what she’d become, completely unaware of the scientists staring right back at her from the other side.

Can I get you anything else?

 

*the names used are not real for privacy purposes
“Um, yeah,” says the boy, probably in his early twenties or late teens, sitting next to his girlfriend, staring up at me with one of those vacant expressions. “…can I get some ranch?”
“Sure,” I reply, smiling. Of course smiling doesn’t have anything to do with being happy. The table I was waiting on that day was one of those tables. It was one of those tables where the minute I greeted them, they greeted me with the infamous deer-in-headlights stare, staying silent for a few aggravating seconds as though I was some sort of alien deformity, then finally saying in quiet little voices, can I get a coke. It was one of those tables where they claimed to be ready to order, then lost their brains somewhere along the way when I asked what they would like, while I’m busy as hell and don’t have time to stand around until they finally retrieve their runaway brains and figure it out.
Being a good server takes a very special kind of talent: unlimited patience. Not to mention the multi-tasking brain of a computer. I consider myself to be a “good server” after being put to the test at *The Restaurant and Brewery where a server can be triple-sat (meaning three of your tables got sat at the exact same time) with six to seven-top tables (that means six or seven individuals) while the rest of your section is already full (that section being as big as seven to eight separate tables). A good server can handle all of this without freaking out and I have successfully passed this test. 
To be a server at The Restaurant and Brewery you must have a certain level of tolerance. The table I described earlier would be a type C (A being great, B being okay, C being tolerable, F being bad, bad, bad—there is no D). I have never understood why some people don’t speak up to servers and look them in the eye, as though they’re deathly afraid of us.
Thankfully most tables range from A to B and are very normal. And yet, I cannot seem to escape the annoying tables. Imagine a table with five women. They’re nice, but short with you, so you know they’re not in the mood to socialize. That’s fine; it’ll save you some time to visit your other tables without worrying that one will take up too much of your attention. They have ordered a round of beer, which you have already gotten for them, and all five of them are drinking happily. Then you pass by and ask if there is anything else you can get them. They don’t pay too much attention to you, even though your voice was loud and clear, but one lady does turn and asks you for a water. You smile and nod, saying to the other ladies, “is there anything else I can get you—nothing, okay,” then returning a minute later with a water, after you’ve already been pulled over by other tables needing something. Easy. So you set the water down and suddenly the rest of the four women turn to you, each one saying, “Oh, I’ll have a water too.” As they say this, you see that another one of your tables has been sat. So not only do you have to greet the new table and get their drinks, but have to make an extra trip carrying four more waters because these women didn’t pay you any attention. All you’re thinking is why couldn’t they ask for waters when their friend did?!!
Not that bad of a situation, really. Just irritating as hell. I would rate that table a B. Then there are the tables that don’t listen at all. Picture this: one person asks for a coke, and you respond with “is Pepsi okay?” The next person asks, “Can I have a diet coke?” and you respond with “is diet Pepsi okay?” Then the next person asks, “Do you have Coke?” and you say, “No just Pepsi products” when you really want to scream PEPSI!!! in their face.
I also love the tables that think you have eight arms. Here I am carrying two hot and heavy plates on my left arm and hand with another hot plate in my right. I set them down in front of the rightful owners on a table of six. I was only able to bring three plates on this trip. One woman says in a condescending tone, “Where’s the rest?” I look her straight in the eye, smile and say, “They’re coming.” But what I’m really thinking is, “sorry I left my other two arms back in the kitchen, let me reattach them just for you.” 
Then there are the F-type tables. These tables can be obvious or clever. And I hate them. We all hate them, and I know of some servers who claim to take revenge on them on their last day of work. There are many different types of F-tables. There’s the typical “something in my food” table, the incredibly rude and needy table that is impossible to satisfy, the table that complains about what we offer in the menu to either me or the manager, the table that leaves without paying the bill, the table that comes in automatically in a bad mood (don’t go out if you’re in a bad mood!), and then there’s the infamous “verbal tip” table. This is what I call the sneaky F-table.
This kind of table is what we all consider to be an enigma. Thankfully these tables are rare. However, they can really put you in the worst of moods. I had a couple once that, I thought, loved me. Everything was fast and efficient, and on top of that, I was “working it.” They also proceeded to tell me how wonderful I was, that I was a “great server.” After they left, I picked up the bill and gawked: four dollar tip on a sixty dollar bill. My initial reaction was to chuck the bill book across the room, hoping it would hit the exiting couple. But instead, I stood at the computer in a controlled, inner fury with a dash of sadness, my last thought echoing what the fuck! I certainly can’t pay the bills with a fucking “you’re great” tip. A totally irritating enigma! F, F, F!!! 
I try to remember the faces of those kinds of people for next time. However, I always seem to forget about it by the next day. I suppose that’s a good thing for many reasons. My job is to serve you, but remember, in order to get your food and drink, you have to go through me. 
Can I get you anything else?

“Um, yeah,” says the boy, probably in his early twenties or late teens, sitting next to his girlfriend, staring up at me with one of those vacant expressions. “…can I get some ranch?”

“Sure,” I reply, smiling. Of course smiling doesn’t have anything to do with being happy. The table I was waiting on that day was one of those tables. It was one of those tables where the minute I greeted them, they greeted me with the infamous deer-in-headlights stare, staying silent for a few aggravating seconds as though I was some sort of alien deformity, then finally saying in quiet little voices, can I get a coke. It was one of those tables where they claimed to be ready to order, then lost their brains somewhere along the way when I asked what they would like, while I’m busy as hell and don’t have time to stand around until they finally retrieve their runaway brains and figure it out.

Being a good server takes a very special kind of talent: unlimited patience. Not to mention the multi-tasking brain of a computer. I consider myself to be a “good server” after being put to the test at *The Restaurant and Brewery where a server can be triple-sat (meaning three of your tables got sat at the exact same time) with six to seven-top tables (that means six or seven individuals) while the rest of your section is already full (that section being as big as seven to eight separate tables). A good server can handle all of this without freaking out and I have successfully passed this test. 

To be a server at The Restaurant and Brewery you must have a certain level of tolerance. The table I described earlier would be a type C (A being great, B being okay, C being tolerable, F being bad, bad, bad—there is no D). I have never understood why some people don’t speak up to servers and look them in the eye, as though they’re deathly afraid of us.

Thankfully most tables range from A to B and are very normal. And yet, I cannot seem to escape the annoying tables. Imagine a table with five women. They’re nice, but short with you, so you know they’re not in the mood to socialize. That’s fine; it’ll save you some time to visit your other tables without worrying that one will take up too much of your attention. They have ordered a round of beer, which you have already gotten for them, and all five of them are drinking happily. Then you pass by and ask if there is anything else you can get them. They don’t pay too much attention to you, even though your voice was loud and clear, but one lady does turn and asks you for a water. You smile and nod, saying to the other ladies, “is there anything else I can get you—nothing, okay,” then returning a minute later with a water, after you’ve already been pulled over by other tables needing something. Easy. So you set the water down and suddenly the rest of the four women turn to you, each one saying, “Oh, I’ll have a water too.” As they say this, you see that another one of your tables has been sat. So not only do you have to greet the new table and get their drinks, but have to make an extra trip carrying four more waters because these women didn’t pay you any attention. All you’re thinking is why couldn’t they ask for waters when their friend did?!!

Not that bad of a situation, really. Just irritating as hell. I would rate that table a B. Then there are the tables that don’t listen at all. Picture this: one person asks for a coke, and you respond with “is Pepsi okay?” The next person asks, “Can I have a diet coke?” and you respond with “is diet Pepsi okay?” Then the next person asks, “Do you have Coke?” and you say, “No just Pepsi products” when you really want to scream PEPSI!!! in their face.

I also love the tables that think you have eight arms. Here I am carrying two hot and heavy plates on my left arm and hand with another hot plate in my right. I set them down in front of the rightful owners on a table of six. I was only able to bring three plates on this trip. One woman says in a condescending tone, “Where’s the rest?” I look her straight in the eye, smile and say, “They’re coming.” But what I’m really thinking is, “sorry I left my other two arms back in the kitchen, let me reattach them just for you.” 

Then there are the F-type tables. These tables can be obvious or clever. And I hate them. We all hate them, and I know of some servers who claim to take revenge on them on their last day of work. There are many different types of F-tables. There’s the typical “something in my food” table, the incredibly rude and needy table that is impossible to satisfy, the table that complains about what we offer in the menu to either me or the manager, the table that leaves without paying the bill, the table that comes in automatically in a bad mood (don’t go out if you’re in a bad mood!), and then there’s the infamous “verbal tip” table. This is what I call the sneaky F-table.

This kind of table is what we all consider to be an enigma. Thankfully these tables are rare. However, they can really put you in the worst of moods. I had a couple once that, I thought, loved me. Everything was fast and efficient, and on top of that, I was “working it.” They also proceeded to tell me how wonderful I was, that I was a “great server.” After they left, I picked up the bill and gawked: four dollar tip on a sixty dollar bill. My initial reaction was to chuck the bill book across the room, hoping it would hit the exiting couple. But instead, I stood at the computer in a controlled, inner fury with a dash of sadness, my last thought echoing what the fuck! I certainly can’t pay the bills with a fucking “you’re great” tip. A totally irritating enigma! F, F, F!!! 

I try to remember the faces of those kinds of people for next time. However, I always seem to forget about it by the next day. I suppose that’s a good thing for many reasons. My job is to serve you, but remember, in order to get your food and drink, you have to go through me. 

Can I get you anything else?

*the names used are not real for privacy purposes

Situations and Text Messages

 

I had just gotten home after a second date with a guy I had recently met. He and I were sitting on my bed and were engulfed in deep conversation—this “deep conversation” transforming into “deep making-out”—so while we were busy, my phone jingled its trademark tune notifying me that I had a new text message. Out of respect for my date, I didn’t answer my phone, even though a part of me was itching to check it. That part of me was probably just an automatic response, but I was too all aware of my date’s mouth on mine and the subtle hint of cigarette tobacco lingering on his breath, something I wasn’t entirely too fond of. However, it was all part of the moment—honestly I just hadn’t actively kissed in a while. And yet, with all this thinking of kissing, I still wanted to check my phone.
I had forgotten about it until the next morning when I did my daily check-my-phone routine. I then remembered the text immediately and saw that it was from Steve, my first not-exactly-a-relationship-but-something-like-it, which I like to call my “situation.” This “situation” occurred when I was twenty years old. At twenty, I was still as single as ever! Not just single, but had never been asked out. So you can imagine my surprise and unaccustomed reaction to when someone like Steve showed great interest in me. Steve was twenty-six, had been married and divorced twice—claiming both wives had cheated on him—and was a father of two, one of which I didn’t know about until a year later. Apparently, after his second wife’s divorce, he had a two week fling with a girl and had gotten her pregnant, producing nine months later a baby girl. He isn’t aloud to see his daughter. Steve has joint custody of his son and has a friendly relationship with his second wife. I still wonder if Steve’s little boy will ever know he has a little sister. This was just a part of the heavy baggage attached to Steve’s back.
The other part was that Steve had severe depression. He had told me it was because of his traumatic experiences in Iraq when he was with the Army. Steve once said that he and his team had gotten captured and were tortured. He also claimed to have gotten discharged because he had acquired some type of cancer. The problem was I couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. You see, he claimed to have had the cancer for five years and still had it when he met me. Without chemo, I kept wondering why he hadn’t died yet. He looked healthy enough to me. But that was three years ago.
Three years ago, Steve was the situation I tried to escape from. Three years ago, at the naïve age of twenty and being very inexperienced with any sort of sexual male attention, I was thrown into the year of extreme confusion and drama. Though I liked Steve as a person and a friend, I did not like the sexual/romantic relationship that distracted me from everything else. Of course, that’s not very truthful either because I loved how he made me felt. So I guess I could say my logical side didn’t like it; however, my “not-logical” side craved it. Steve was attractive and charming. He definitely knew how to “work” the female body. I experienced my first orgasm with him and kept going back for more. I finally knew what it was like to be needed, wanted, sexy, and attractive. He helped give me the confidence I needed to be comfortable with myself and the opposite sex. He was like a drug, and I was addicted.
However, that was the year I failed two of my classes for the first time and had to withdraw several others. Seeing as I was used to being an A and B student, the F’s were a huge disappoint and I blamed my relationship with Steve. And I feel I have every right to blame it on the relationship. As far as I was concerned, Steve was not my boyfriend, rather he was something I was drawn to because he made me feel wanted. I’m sure I convinced myself at one point that I was in love with him, but I wasn’t really. There was also a point where I blamed Steve for my own failure. I am not a morning person and I had a horrible Music Theory class at 8am. Steve would sleep over a lot and when my alarm clock chimed, he constantly pulled me back into bed. 
“Don’t go yet,” Steve would say. That’s when he’d start kissing my shoulder, or the back of my neck. I always melted when he kissed my neck. His lips were so enticingly soft—so stupidly, damn soft. I gave in so many times. 
By mid-spring semester, I was able to work up enough anger to end the “situation.” It had all gone too far and my classes were suffering because of my neglect. After school ended, we tried to keep a casual friendship, but that never worked out. Anytime we hung out alone, he always found some way to get me back into his bed. So finally I told him that we couldn’t see each other anymore, at least not until we could control ourselves. 
Steve and I still kept in touch—a phone call every once and a while; after a sufficient amount of time had passed, a random dinner here or movie there. Now it’s been three years and the last time we talked was four months ago. Not surprisingly enough, Steve was engaged. I was happy to know that he had found someone else. I hoped she was the right one for him. I hoped she knew how to deal with someone who wouldn’t accept help in order to climb out of the dark hole he had created for himself. However, I was shocked to discover that she was barely twenty-one. By now, Steve was almost twenty-nine. I was just glad it wasn’t me that he was focusing all of his attention on.
So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my cell phone and the text box read, “Can I come over? I really need to be with someone.” He had sent that at eleven o’clock.
I rolled my eyes in irritation. Not again, I thought. I really wasn’t the type of person that enjoyed these kinds of dramatics and, in my mind, it was entirely inappropriate for an engaged man to come to my house in the middle of the night. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that he still didn’t get that, and that he also still kept me a part of his life. We weren’t that close of friends.
So I ignored the text and didn’t respond back. There was no point in adding to the drama. I went on with my day and had completely forgotten about it, of course that was after I had elaborated for a few minutes to my girlfriends about how illogical Steve was to even consider requesting to see me at eleven o’clock at night.
The next morning, I was woken up by my phone again, jingling and vibrating on my bed table—the jingle always reminded me of Super Mario Galaxy—and I snatched it, quickly muting the sound. I hated being woken up by my phone. I quickly flipped it open to see there was another text from Steve. It said: “Sorry about that. I was going to kill myself and Emily [his fiancée] called the police on me.”
I stared blankly at it for a moment, trying to decide whether or not he was being serious, or if this was another dramatic ploy. He had known that my aunt had killed herself when I was young, and I also knew that if a person really wanted to kill himself, then they would have done it by now instead of talking about it. At that point, I could feel myself getting angry. It infuriated me that he told me this, and that he actually considered killing himself in the first place. I didn’t understand what he was still depressed about. He has a son who loves him. He has huge family who loves him. He’s engaged. The last time I spoke with him, which was months ago, he sounded so happy.
 A part of me wanted to ignore this message. I didn’t know why he felt the need to tell me this anyway. But then, I thought, what if he really did want to take his own life? What kind of person would that make me to ignore him like that?
Clearing my throat from its grogginess, I called Steve. He didn’t answer the first time and I forgot to leave a message. After thinking about what I could say for a couple of minutes, I called again, planning on leaving him a message. And then he answered.
“Hey,” I said automatically.
“Hi,” he said, his voice bleak and gruff. It sounded like he either just woke up too, or was drugged up to the point of being comatose. So I just got right to the point. 
“What’s wrong,” I asked.
 He answered that he didn’t know. I asked him how Emily was doing. He answered fine. I felt like I was getting nowhere. Of course, I really didn’t expect to be getting anywhere. I wasn’t a counselor. I didn’t know what was right or wrong to say. I knew that listening usually helps, but difficult when no one is talking. So I told him what I thought. I said that if he had killed himself, then he wouldn’t have appreciated all the work and effort his parents put into bringing him up, that he would have abandoned his son, and wouldn’t have valued all the love his family and friends have given him.
He was silent on the other end, but I could hear that he was moving about, probably getting his son ready for school. A moment passed and he said he had to go, but that he’d call me back. 
I waited. An hour went by, then two. I assumed he forgot to call me back that day. In fact, he never did. He was probably mad at me for not being nearly as sympathetic towards his suicidal attempt as he would have wanted me to be. After we had hung up, I thought back on our conversation and thought that maybe I was a little harsh. But, then again, I was pissed, and he was a grown man that needed to grow out of his depression. Though he didn’t call me back, I somehow knew he was okay and that if Steve had done something drastic, I would have found out through our mutual friends.
Three months later, I had gotten another text from him inviting me to Poker night at his place. Sometimes I still wonder why he includes me as one of his friends. We were never that close. But I was glad to see that he seemed happier, as much as one can tell through a text message.
I didn’t respond this time. I didn’t want any part of Steve’s life. The depression, the ups and downs, the drama, the baggage—I couldn’t do it. Steve and I were no longer friends and we weren’t really in the first place. We were more like acquaintances and I didn’t care to keep in touch. We never could be just friends and I had no interest in trying at something that didn’t really exist. Steve was a closed book that concluded a long time ago.
I don’t answer anymore.

I had just gotten home after a second date with a guy I had recently met. He and I were sitting on my bed and were engulfed in deep conversation—this “deep conversation” transforming into “deep making-out”—so while we were busy, my phone jingled its trademark tune notifying me that I had a new text message. Out of respect for my date, I didn’t answer my phone, even though a part of me was itching to check it. That part of me was probably just an automatic response, but I was too all aware of my date’s mouth on mine and the subtle hint of cigarette tobacco lingering on his breath, something I wasn’t entirely too fond of. However, it was all part of the moment—honestly I just hadn’t actively kissed in a while. And yet, with all this thinking of kissing, I still wanted to check my phone.

I had forgotten about it until the next morning when I did my daily check-my-phone routine. I then remembered the text immediately and saw that it was from Steve, my first not-exactly-a-relationship-but-something-like-it, which I like to call my “situation.” This “situation” occurred when I was twenty years old. At twenty, I was still as single as ever! Not just single, but had never been asked out. So you can imagine my surprise and unaccustomed reaction to when someone like Steve showed great interest in me. Steve was twenty-six, had been married and divorced twice—claiming both wives had cheated on him—and was a father of two, one of which I didn’t know about until a year later. Apparently, after his second wife’s divorce, he had a two week fling with a girl and had gotten her pregnant, producing nine months later a baby girl. He isn’t aloud to see his daughter. Steve has joint custody of his son and has a friendly relationship with his second wife. I still wonder if Steve’s little boy will ever know he has a little sister. This was just a part of the heavy baggage attached to Steve’s back.

The other part was that Steve had severe depression. He had told me it was because of his traumatic experiences in Iraq when he was with the Army. Steve once said that he and his team had gotten captured and were tortured. He also claimed to have gotten discharged because he had acquired some type of cancer. The problem was I couldn’t tell what was real and what wasn’t. You see, he claimed to have had the cancer for five years and still had it when he met me. Without chemo, I kept wondering why he hadn’t died yet. He looked healthy enough to me. But that was three years ago.

Three years ago, Steve was the situation I tried to escape from. Three years ago, at the naïve age of twenty and being very inexperienced with any sort of sexual male attention, I was thrown into the year of extreme confusion and drama. Though I liked Steve as a person and a friend, I did not like the sexual/romantic relationship that distracted me from everything else. Of course, that’s not very truthful either because I loved how he made me felt. So I guess I could say my logical side didn’t like it; however, my “not-logical” side craved it. Steve was attractive and charming. He definitely knew how to “work” the female body. I experienced my first orgasm with him and kept going back for more. I finally knew what it was like to be needed, wanted, sexy, and attractive. He helped give me the confidence I needed to be comfortable with myself and the opposite sex. He was like a drug, and I was addicted.

However, that was the year I failed two of my classes for the first time and had to withdraw several others. Seeing as I was used to being an A and B student, the F’s were a huge disappoint and I blamed my relationship with Steve. And I feel I have every right to blame it on the relationship. As far as I was concerned, Steve was not my boyfriend, rather he was something I was drawn to because he made me feel wanted. I’m sure I convinced myself at one point that I was in love with him, but I wasn’t really. There was also a point where I blamed Steve for my own failure. I am not a morning person and I had a horrible Music Theory class at 8am. Steve would sleep over a lot and when my alarm clock chimed, he constantly pulled me back into bed. 

“Don’t go yet,” Steve would say. That’s when he’d start kissing my shoulder, or the back of my neck. I always melted when he kissed my neck. His lips were so enticingly soft—so stupidly, damn soft. I gave in so many times. 

By mid-spring semester, I was able to work up enough anger to end the “situation.” It had all gone too far and my classes were suffering because of my neglect. After school ended, we tried to keep a casual friendship, but that never worked out. Anytime we hung out alone, he always found some way to get me back into his bed. So finally I told him that we couldn’t see each other anymore, at least not until we could control ourselves. 

Steve and I still kept in touch—a phone call every once and a while; after a sufficient amount of time had passed, a random dinner here or movie there. Now it’s been three years and the last time we talked was four months ago. Not surprisingly enough, Steve was engaged. I was happy to know that he had found someone else. I hoped she was the right one for him. I hoped she knew how to deal with someone who wouldn’t accept help in order to climb out of the dark hole he had created for himself. However, I was shocked to discover that she was barely twenty-one. By now, Steve was almost twenty-nine. I was just glad it wasn’t me that he was focusing all of his attention on.

So you can imagine my surprise when I opened my cell phone and the text box read, “Can I come over? I really need to be with someone.” He had sent that at eleven o’clock.

I rolled my eyes in irritation. Not again, I thought. I really wasn’t the type of person that enjoyed these kinds of dramatics and, in my mind, it was entirely inappropriate for an engaged man to come to my house in the middle of the night. I couldn’t wrap my mind around the fact that he still didn’t get that, and that he also still kept me a part of his life. We weren’t that close of friends.

So I ignored the text and didn’t respond back. There was no point in adding to the drama. I went on with my day and had completely forgotten about it, of course that was after I had elaborated for a few minutes to my girlfriends about how illogical Steve was to even consider requesting to see me at eleven o’clock at night.

The next morning, I was woken up by my phone again, jingling and vibrating on my bed table—the jingle always reminded me of Super Mario Galaxy—and I snatched it, quickly muting the sound. I hated being woken up by my phone. I quickly flipped it open to see there was another text from Steve. It said: “Sorry about that. I was going to kill myself and Emily [his fiancée] called the police on me.”

I stared blankly at it for a moment, trying to decide whether or not he was being serious, or if this was another dramatic ploy. He had known that my aunt had killed herself when I was young, and I also knew that if a person really wanted to kill himself, then they would have done it by now instead of talking about it. At that point, I could feel myself getting angry. It infuriated me that he told me this, and that he actually considered killing himself in the first place. I didn’t understand what he was still depressed about. He has a son who loves him. He has huge family who loves him. He’s engaged. The last time I spoke with him, which was months ago, he sounded so happy.

 A part of me wanted to ignore this message. I didn’t know why he felt the need to tell me this anyway. But then, I thought, what if he really did want to take his own life? What kind of person would that make me to ignore him like that?

Clearing my throat from its grogginess, I called Steve. He didn’t answer the first time and I forgot to leave a message. After thinking about what I could say for a couple of minutes, I called again, planning on leaving him a message. And then he answered.

“Hey,” I said automatically.

“Hi,” he said, his voice bleak and gruff. It sounded like he either just woke up too, or was drugged up to the point of being comatose. So I just got right to the point. 

“What’s wrong,” I asked.

 He answered that he didn’t know. I asked him how Emily was doing. He answered fine. I felt like I was getting nowhere. Of course, I really didn’t expect to be getting anywhere. I wasn’t a counselor. I didn’t know what was right or wrong to say. I knew that listening usually helps, but difficult when no one is talking. So I told him what I thought. I said that if he had killed himself, then he wouldn’t have appreciated all the work and effort his parents put into bringing him up, that he would have abandoned his son, and wouldn’t have valued all the love his family and friends have given him.

He was silent on the other end, but I could hear that he was moving about, probably getting his son ready for school. A moment passed and he said he had to go, but that he’d call me back. 

I waited. An hour went by, then two. I assumed he forgot to call me back that day. In fact, he never did. He was probably mad at me for not being nearly as sympathetic towards his suicidal attempt as he would have wanted me to be. After we had hung up, I thought back on our conversation and thought that maybe I was a little harsh. But, then again, I was pissed, and he was a grown man that needed to grow out of his depression. Though he didn’t call me back, I somehow knew he was okay and that if Steve had done something drastic, I would have found out through our mutual friends.

Three months later, I had gotten another text from him inviting me to Poker night at his place. Sometimes I still wonder why he includes me as one of his friends. We were never that close. But I was glad to see that he seemed happier, as much as one can tell through a text message.

I didn’t respond this time. I didn’t want any part of Steve’s life. The depression, the ups and downs, the drama, the baggage—I couldn’t do it. Steve and I were no longer friends and we weren’t really in the first place. We were more like acquaintances and I didn’t care to keep in touch. We never could be just friends and I had no interest in trying at something that didn’t really exist. Steve was a closed book that concluded a long time ago.

I don’t answer anymore.

Fortune Cookie Part 2

 

The next morning, Mandy readied herself for work, popping in her mouth one of her medications and downing a cup of black coffee along with it. She gave Sam a call to ask him for a ride and he gladly obliged, even though Mandy couldn’t get rid of the sense of being a burden.
The two of them made it to work on time, Sam talking most of the way about the power outage the night before and how scared his cat was. Mandy listened quietly as usual, never saying more than she had too.
Work at the office of iAndroid was the same. Mandy sat inside her cubicle a couple paces away from Sam’s cubicle amongst a long line of many identical cubicles, bleakly watching her computer screen flash in front of her. Nothing was more mundane than this. And it couldn’t get any worse as far as Mandy was concerned.
Within the room, Mandy could hear two women and a man burst into laughter suddenly. This made Mandy jump out of her stupor and distract her away from her computer.
“What’s going on?” Mandy heard the woman directly across from her say.
“Just another prank,” a man’s voice answered. Mandy couldn’t see who it was.
“Oh, shit,” Mandy heard another say.
In one of those unexplainable moments, Mandy had the sudden urge to duck. In that instant, a baseball came flying right over her head, smashing against her computer. The computer fell backwards and off the desk, crashing in a fit of sparks onto the floor, the ball rolling passed it.
Before Mandy could respond, the entire room was in an uproar, people running towards her cubicle, bombarding her with concerned looks and questions, none of which Mandy could make out yet. She kept repeating “I’m fine” over and over until Sam pushed his way through to her side.
“What happened?” said an incredibly stern voice. Mandy looked up and saw Ms. Williamson standing very taught in her blue suit and looking very unhappy.
Everyone skirted back into their personal cubicles, afraid to suddenly be involved. Ms. Williamson didn’t move a muscle, but her eyes shifted from Mandy to the computer and to everyone else in the room until finally someone gave themselves up as the culprit.
“Sorry,” Mandy heard a woman’s voice say as Ms. Williamson disappeared around the cubicle’s corner to deal with whoever that was.
Mandy unraveled herself from her crouched position and looked at her smashed computer. For some reason she thought of the smashed front end of her car at that moment. And still she felt nothing, not even a twinge of anger.
“Nice instincts,” Sam said to her, breaking Mandy’s rumination.
“Thanks,” she murmured, not even giving it a second thought.
The rest of the day at work passed uneventfully. By the time Mandy was given a new computer, it was time to clock out. Sam and Mandy walked out to the parking lot, Sam rambling on about Mandy’s incident and Mandy listening intently as usual. They were crossing through the parked cars when suddenly Mandy grabbed Sam’s arm and pulled him back quickly, as though something was to hit him.
But nothing happened. Sam was surprised by her sudden urgency and looked down at her contorted expression. She wasn’t looking at him, but her grip on his arm was surprisingly tense.
“Hey, what’s going on with you?” he asked, gently loosening her grip with his free hand.
For a moment, Mandy was confused. Her instinct was to pull Sam back from something she thought she saw…or felt…or saw out of the corner of her eye, an impeding collision.
But nothing had happened.
Mandy relaxed then, realizing it was nothing, and her sudden anxiety faded back into the black hole inside.
“Did you hear me?” Sam said.
Mandy looked at him then and smiled. “Yes, sorry. I guess I’m a little jumpy from yesterday’s accident.”
Sam nodded understandingly, but his hazel eyes expressed worry. He drove her home and asked if she wanted some company again, and again she declined. She entered her apartment and took out the leftover Chinese food she had in her fridge. Sticking it in the microwave, she marveled at the unfortunate occurrence earlier that day. Waiting on her food, she remembered the fortune cookie she had the night before. 
Use your instincts now, it said.
Mandy frowned, glancing over at her trash can. Without giving another thought, she moved towards the can, reached inside and pulled out the thin piece of paper.
“Use your instincts now,” she read out loud again. Then suddenly she felt herself twitch out of the way as though something was about to fly at her head, but there was nothing in the kitchen but her. The microwave beeped, signaling the food being ready, scaring Mandy nearly out of her skin.
“I am ridiculous,” she murmured to herself, tossing the fortune aside and grabbing her food out of the microwave. In ten minutes she finished all of her dinner and readied for bed. She hated this part. Sleep scared her the most. She had bad dreams—or good dreams, but it depended on whether she thought the dreams were apart of reality or not. The hole inside of her grew. This always seemed to happen around this time, after dinner.
Mandy made her way from the bedroom to the kitchen again and grabbed a butch knife from on top the counter, then swiftly went into her small bathroom and sat on the toilet. Lifting up her pajama leg, she dragged the knife quickly and forcefully against the inside of her left leg. She did about ten strokes until enough blood was able to seep out of her skin. Mandy watched in a strange hypnotic state; the blood bubbled from the gashes, trickled down her calf, sometimes catching on tiny hairs that were missed by the razor, until the trails hit the back of her heel.
Then, as though out of habit, Mandy grabbed a tissue and wiped her leg clean, gently layering clear anti-bacterial cream over the cuts. She placed the knife back in the kitchen sink, after rinsing its sides off, turned off all the lights, and went into her room.
It smelled of lavender and vanilla spices, something that was supposed to calm her, but seemed only to annoy her. Mandy hated the smell of vanilla and lavender, and especially when together. After swallowing two pills, one being a sleeping agent, the other being a prescription from her psychiatrist, she climbed into her modestly sized bed. Laying there waiting for the sleeping pill to kick in, she listened to the continuous hum of the traffic outside and hoped her mind wouldn’t begin to wander before she feel asleep. Mandy couldn’t stand to be left alone with her thoughts. So she focused her energy on listening to the outside vibrations and waited…
All the while something tugging at her concentration…
~
The sun came blaring into her window, warming her bedroom up about 5 degrees hotter than she preferred, and Mandy was all-too aware of the body nestled right beside her—right behind her!—an arm, a leg—all entwined and wrapped around her. For a second, she thought it might have been Sam, but she quickly dismissed the idea away. Sam knew she didn’t feel that way about him and he certainly wouldn’t sneak into her apartment in the middle of the night while she was out cold!
The hand moved, warm and big—bigger than Sam’s, she noticed—and traveled up her night-shirt. Mandy froze, not knowing what to expect, her green eyes wide in fear.
“Don’t move,” the man’s voice whispered. It was deeper than Sam’s and somehow oddly familiar, but she couldn’t place it. And it didn’t matter at this point; she was too frightened to move or think, her frail body starting to shudder. Use your instincts, she thought. Use them now!

The next morning, Mandy readied herself for work, popping in her mouth one of her medications and downing a cup of black coffee along with it. She gave Sam a call to ask him for a ride and he gladly obliged, even though Mandy couldn’t get rid of the sense of being a burden.

The two of them made it to work on time, Sam talking most of the way about the power outage the night before and how scared his cat was. Mandy listened quietly as usual, never saying more than she had too.

Work at the office of iAndroid was the same. Mandy sat inside her cubicle a couple paces away from Sam’s cubicle amongst a long line of many identical cubicles, bleakly watching her computer screen flash in front of her. Nothing was more mundane than this. And it couldn’t get any worse as far as Mandy was concerned.

Within the room, Mandy could hear two women and a man burst into laughter suddenly. This made Mandy jump out of her stupor and distract her away from her computer.

“What’s going on?” Mandy heard the woman directly across from her say.

“Just another prank,” a man’s voice answered. Mandy couldn’t see who it was.

“Oh, shit,” Mandy heard another say.

In one of those unexplainable moments, Mandy had the sudden urge to duck. In that instant, a baseball came flying right over her head, smashing against her computer. The computer fell backwards and off the desk, crashing in a fit of sparks onto the floor, the ball rolling passed it.

Before Mandy could respond, the entire room was in an uproar, people running towards her cubicle, bombarding her with concerned looks and questions, none of which Mandy could make out yet. She kept repeating “I’m fine” over and over until Sam pushed his way through to her side.

“What happened?” said an incredibly stern voice. Mandy looked up and saw Ms. Williamson standing very taught in her blue suit and looking very unhappy.

Everyone skirted back into their personal cubicles, afraid to suddenly be involved. Ms. Williamson didn’t move a muscle, but her eyes shifted from Mandy to the computer and to everyone else in the room until finally someone gave themselves up as the culprit.

“Sorry,” Mandy heard a woman’s voice say as Ms. Williamson disappeared around the cubicle’s corner to deal with whoever that was.

Mandy unraveled herself from her crouched position and looked at her smashed computer. For some reason she thought of the smashed front end of her car at that moment. And still she felt nothing, not even a twinge of anger.

“Nice instincts,” Sam said to her, breaking Mandy’s rumination.

“Thanks,” she murmured, not even giving it a second thought.

The rest of the day at work passed uneventfully. By the time Mandy was given a new computer, it was time to clock out. Sam and Mandy walked out to the parking lot, Sam rambling on about Mandy’s incident and Mandy listening intently as usual. They were crossing through the parked cars when suddenly Mandy grabbed Sam’s arm and pulled him back quickly, as though something was to hit him.

But nothing happened. Sam was surprised by her sudden urgency and looked down at her contorted expression. She wasn’t looking at him, but her grip on his arm was surprisingly tense.

“Hey, what’s going on with you?” he asked, gently loosening her grip with his free hand.

For a moment, Mandy was confused. Her instinct was to pull Sam back from something she thought she saw…or felt…or saw out of the corner of her eye, an impeding collision.

But nothing had happened.

Mandy relaxed then, realizing it was nothing, and her sudden anxiety faded back into the black hole inside.

“Did you hear me?” Sam said.

Mandy looked at him then and smiled. “Yes, sorry. I guess I’m a little jumpy from yesterday’s accident.”

Sam nodded understandingly, but his hazel eyes expressed worry. He drove her home and asked if she wanted some company again, and again she declined. She entered her apartment and took out the leftover Chinese food she had in her fridge. Sticking it in the microwave, she marveled at the unfortunate occurrence earlier that day. Waiting on her food, she remembered the fortune cookie she had the night before. 

Use your instincts now, it said.

Mandy frowned, glancing over at her trash can. Without giving another thought, she moved towards the can, reached inside and pulled out the thin piece of paper.

“Use your instincts now,” she read out loud again. Then suddenly she felt herself twitch out of the way as though something was about to fly at her head, but there was nothing in the kitchen but her. The microwave beeped, signaling the food being ready, scaring Mandy nearly out of her skin.

“I am ridiculous,” she murmured to herself, tossing the fortune aside and grabbing her food out of the microwave. In ten minutes she finished all of her dinner and readied for bed. She hated this part. Sleep scared her the most. She had bad dreams—or good dreams, but it depended on whether she thought the dreams were apart of reality or not. The hole inside of her grew. This always seemed to happen around this time, after dinner.

Mandy made her way from the bedroom to the kitchen again and grabbed a butch knife from on top the counter, then swiftly went into her small bathroom and sat on the toilet. Lifting up her pajama leg, she dragged the knife quickly and forcefully against the inside of her left leg. She did about ten strokes until enough blood was able to seep out of her skin. Mandy watched in a strange hypnotic state; the blood bubbled from the gashes, trickled down her calf, sometimes catching on tiny hairs that were missed by the razor, until the trails hit the back of her heel.

Then, as though out of habit, Mandy grabbed a tissue and wiped her leg clean, gently layering clear anti-bacterial cream over the cuts. She placed the knife back in the kitchen sink, after rinsing its sides off, turned off all the lights, and went into her room.

It smelled of lavender and vanilla spices, something that was supposed to calm her, but seemed only to annoy her. Mandy hated the smell of vanilla and lavender, and especially when together. After swallowing two pills, one being a sleeping agent, the other being a prescription from her psychiatrist, she climbed into her modestly sized bed. Laying there waiting for the sleeping pill to kick in, she listened to the continuous hum of the traffic outside and hoped her mind wouldn’t begin to wander before she feel asleep. Mandy couldn’t stand to be left alone with her thoughts. So she focused her energy on listening to the outside vibrations and waited…

All the while something tugging at her concentration…

~

The sun came blaring into her window, warming her bedroom up about 5 degrees hotter than she preferred, and Mandy was all-too aware of the body nestled right beside her—right behind her!—an arm, a leg—all entwined and wrapped around her. For a second, she thought it might have been Sam, but she quickly dismissed the idea away. Sam knew she didn’t feel that way about him and he certainly wouldn’t sneak into her apartment in the middle of the night while she was out cold!

The hand moved, warm and big—bigger than Sam’s, she noticed—and traveled up her night-shirt. Mandy froze, not knowing what to expect, her green eyes wide in fear.

“Don’t move,” the man’s voice whispered. It was deeper than Sam’s and somehow oddly familiar, but she couldn’t place it. And it didn’t matter at this point; she was too frightened to move or think, her frail body starting to shudder. Use your instincts, she thought. Use them now!

Fortune Cookie Part 1

 

Standing alone on the sidewalk, the wind blowing through her long streak of blond hair, Mandy gazed out towards the sun. The sky was a golden shade tinted with light blue as the sun slowly set below the horizon. There was nothing to expect from this day, nothing to want or need. Work at the office had been the same as always. Her computer had crashed as usual. Her daily routines had remained the same, except this time she was standing across from her car being towed away. Mandy considered herself a very attentive driver, and yet she still managed to find herself distracted enough to run into the car ahead of her. A slight fender-bender that barely dented the silver Audi, but nonetheless smashed the front end of Mandy’s blue 1988 Toyota.
When the accident occurred, Mandy barely reacted. Any emotional outburst would just be another annoyance to add to the situation. In fact, standing as she was, gazing out towards the sun, she realized she didn’t even feel anything. Not a hint of aggravation, not a sigh of frustration. Nothing. Her gaze shifted to the tow truck man, hefty and sweaty compared to her delicate, sweet frame, and she signed the paper on his clip board. Then she signed another paper from the police, the flashing red and blue lights an irritating embarrassment.
As soon as the technical details were done and over with, Mandy was able to get a ride home from a close friend. His name was Sam. He was a little taller than Mandy, a rough 5’10”, and much more roundly built. The two drove in silence, neither wanting to mention the last few hours, and Sam dropped her off at her simple apartment.
“You sure you don’t want some company?” Sam asked before Mandy closed the car door.
“Yeah, I think I need to sit and think a bit,” Mandy said, hoping there was a smile present on her face, though it didn’t feel like there was one. Sam and Mandy had been friends for six years since she started her job at the office. Mandy was a shy girl which Sam was drawn to. From the moment they met, Sam took her under his wing and became the only friend she had in the small town of Ripon, Wisconsin.
“You sure?” The look in his eyes seemed more concerned than they really needed to be.
Mandy nodded sincerely and shut the car door. Sam waited until Mandy was inside her apartment before driving off down the tree-shaded street.
As soon as she was inside, Mandy took the opportunity to throw herself down onto her bed and wait for the tears to come. Having her car totaled was the last thing she needed to happen in her already stretched-to-the-wire life. She couldn’t even begin to imagine how she was going to pay for the damages and the ticket she was cited. Mandy wasn’t without car insurance, but she didn’t think it was going to cover all of the expenses. So she waited with her head burrowing into her pillow for the tears to be soaked up. But they didn’t come. Everything felt…dry. There seemed to be nothing to feel for.
Pushing herself up in frustration, Mandy got up and moved into the kitchen. She rummaged through the cupboards and fridge before coming to the realization that she hadn’t gone grocery shopping in a month. There was nothing to eat except for some pasta and cereal, neither of which sounded appealing.
Snatching up her phone, Mandy dialed the nearby Chinese delivery and ordered chicken fried rice and chow mein. She figured it was probably better for her to spend money on grocery shopping, but seeing as she didn’t have a car at the moment and she didn’t want to rely on Sam, she figured this was the best decision for the time being.
An hour later, Mandy sat on her tattered couch watching Iron Chef and enjoying her chow mein. She was half way through the show when suddenly the screen flickered and flashed off. That’s when she heard the thunder rumble overhead and the lights go out. Mandy sat there for a second, bowl in hand, staring blankly at her television in the dark. She waited for the electricity to come back and heard another rumble from above.
When the power didn’t come back on, she set her bowl down on top the beat up coffee table and stumbled to the kitchen drawers for a flashlight. After searching for about five minutes, she lit up the darkness with a dull flashlight and started to place a few candles around her living room. Once she lit the candles, Mandy settled herself down on the couch and lazily watched the tiny yellow flame dance. She was amazed with herself and how well she was taking everything today. Normally she would find herself in tears, or tearing up one of her pillows in a fit of rage. But this time, nothing happened. A part of her was thankful and another part was disappointed. It was strange how numb she felt inside, as though there was a great black hole sucking in all that she felt or could feel.
And yet, maybe this was something that had been going on for longer than she thought. Something was eating away at her insides, making her feel less and less. It didn’t make sense to her.
Mandy reached out toward the candle’s flame and brushed her finger through it, feeling a brief hotness from the contact. She did it again, only slower this time, and wondered how long it might take to before she could feel its warmth burn through her. She decided it wasn’t a good idea to try and see what would be the result, curious as she was.
Having an urge to move, Mandy got up to start cleaning away her bowl and Chinese. Before she tossed the delivery bag into the trash, she dumped out the plastic wrapped fortune cookie onto the kitchen counter. She tore open the plastic and broke the cookie in half. Pulling the thin white paper out of the cookie, she leaned towards one of the lit candles and read the piece of paper out loud.
“Use your instincts now.”
The thunder crashing above made Mandy jump in surprise and then looked back down at the fortune. The orange light from the candle made the paper glow gently in the dark.
“Very funny,” she murmured to herself, then threw away the broken pieces of cookie and the fortune along with them.

Standing alone on the sidewalk, the wind blowing through her long streak of blond hair, Mandy gazed out towards the sun. The sky was a golden shade tinted with light blue as the sun slowly set below the horizon. There was nothing to expect from this day, nothing to want or need. Work at the office had been the same as always. Her computer had crashed as usual. Her daily routines had remained the same, except this time she was standing across from her car being towed away. Mandy considered herself a very attentive driver, and yet she still managed to find herself distracted enough to run into the car ahead of her. A slight fender-bender that barely dented the silver Audi, but nonetheless smashed the front end of Mandy’s blue 1988 Toyota.

When the accident occurred, Mandy barely reacted. Any emotional outburst would just be another annoyance to add to the situation. In fact, standing as she was, gazing out towards the sun, she realized she didn’t even feel anything. Not a hint of aggravation, not a sigh of frustration. Nothing. Her gaze shifted to the tow truck man, hefty and sweaty compared to her delicate, sweet frame, and she signed the paper on his clip board. Then she signed another paper from the police, the flashing red and blue lights an irritating embarrassment.

As soon as the technical details were done and over with, Mandy was able to get a ride home from a close friend. His name was Sam. He was a little taller than Mandy, a rough 5’10”, and much more roundly built. The two drove in silence, neither wanting to mention the last few hours, and Sam dropped her off at her simple apartment.

“You sure you don’t want some company?” Sam asked before Mandy closed the car door.

“Yeah, I think I need to sit and think a bit,” Mandy said, hoping there was a smile present on her face, though it didn’t feel like there was one. Sam and Mandy had been friends for six years since she started her job at the office. Mandy was a shy girl which Sam was drawn to. From the moment they met, Sam took her under his wing and became the only friend she had in the small town of Ripon, Wisconsin.

“You sure?” The look in his eyes seemed more concerned than they really needed to be.

Mandy nodded sincerely and shut the car door. Sam waited until Mandy was inside her apartment before driving off down the tree-shaded street.

As soon as she was inside, Mandy took the opportunity to throw herself down onto her bed and wait for the tears to come. Having her car totaled was the last thing she needed to happen in her already stretched-to-the-wire life. She couldn’t even begin to imagine how she was going to pay for the damages and the ticket she was cited. Mandy wasn’t without car insurance, but she didn’t think it was going to cover all of the expenses. So she waited with her head burrowing into her pillow for the tears to be soaked up. But they didn’t come. Everything felt…dry. There seemed to be nothing to feel for.

Pushing herself up in frustration, Mandy got up and moved into the kitchen. She rummaged through the cupboards and fridge before coming to the realization that she hadn’t gone grocery shopping in a month. There was nothing to eat except for some pasta and cereal, neither of which sounded appealing.

Snatching up her phone, Mandy dialed the nearby Chinese delivery and ordered chicken fried rice and chow mein. She figured it was probably better for her to spend money on grocery shopping, but seeing as she didn’t have a car at the moment and she didn’t want to rely on Sam, she figured this was the best decision for the time being.

An hour later, Mandy sat on her tattered couch watching Iron Chef and enjoying her chow mein. She was half way through the show when suddenly the screen flickered and flashed off. That’s when she heard the thunder rumble overhead and the lights go out. Mandy sat there for a second, bowl in hand, staring blankly at her television in the dark. She waited for the electricity to come back and heard another rumble from above.

When the power didn’t come back on, she set her bowl down on top the beat up coffee table and stumbled to the kitchen drawers for a flashlight. After searching for about five minutes, she lit up the darkness with a dull flashlight and started to place a few candles around her living room. Once she lit the candles, Mandy settled herself down on the couch and lazily watched the tiny yellow flame dance. She was amazed with herself and how well she was taking everything today. Normally she would find herself in tears, or tearing up one of her pillows in a fit of rage. But this time, nothing happened. A part of her was thankful and another part was disappointed. It was strange how numb she felt inside, as though there was a great black hole sucking in all that she felt or could feel.

And yet, maybe this was something that had been going on for longer than she thought. Something was eating away at her insides, making her feel less and less. It didn’t make sense to her.

Mandy reached out toward the candle’s flame and brushed her finger through it, feeling a brief hotness from the contact. She did it again, only slower this time, and wondered how long it might take to before she could feel its warmth burn through her. She decided it wasn’t a good idea to try and see what would be the result, curious as she was.

Having an urge to move, Mandy got up to start cleaning away her bowl and Chinese. Before she tossed the delivery bag into the trash, she dumped out the plastic wrapped fortune cookie onto the kitchen counter. She tore open the plastic and broke the cookie in half. Pulling the thin white paper out of the cookie, she leaned towards one of the lit candles and read the piece of paper out loud.

“Use your instincts now.”

The thunder crashing above made Mandy jump in surprise and then looked back down at the fortune. The orange light from the candle made the paper glow gently in the dark.

“Very funny,” she murmured to herself, then threw away the broken pieces of cookie and the fortune along with them.