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2. Despair

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Ever stop to think about a commonly accepted idea? De-construct the main idea, finding that it lacks cause.  Concepts like religion and politics are less complicated than the controversy would make you think. Unnecessary debates, anxiety, pain – it’s like going to war over a whispered insult. Blindly following ambitions with no purpose – definition of life. The bottom line? It goes on.

Dark night with a cold chill in the air; the rain doesn’t make things any easier. Walking down empty streets to busy crowds, brewing with tension. It hangs in the air, accumulating with the rainfall. From silent reposes to thoughtless pondering, the emotions rage on in New York’s hectic society. I appreciate the stormy weather that citizens loathe – it’s necessary. Rain washes away the sins; gives way to rebirth. My parents must’ve understood my ideals prior to my birth, considering that they named me after my “obsession”. Raine, dark, solitary, child borne of my . . . “unusual” parents. I prefer the term – enlightened.

Of all the world, there is one other like myself. Darius, my closest friend and confidant; similar to my own character, she possessed certain quirks. We didn’t grow up together or anything silly like that; a day came and we just “were”. She moved into my building awhile back and we met. More like loathed one another, but so it goes.

Back to what I was saying, the more important truths. People as a whole are ignorant of their flaws; ignorance should be a sin. They’ve got greed, gluttony, sloth, anger, jealousy, lust, vanity – but no true sins. Ignorance, arrogance, pride, despair, delirium – there are infinite types of character flaws. Paranoia leads to conspiracy, more flaws. Funny how an ideal society could have so many disgraces. Outwardly the world appears somewhat content, though that’s just the surface. Kind of like a lake – below the soft, serene surface lies an entire universe of creatures; the water’s calm edge could hide various threats and consequence.

It’s Saturday night . . . tick, tick. Seven o’ clock. Tick . . . time slows down without purpose and moves swiftly for the same reason. Another tick, another breath wasted; add a lost moment to the pile. The rain counts the hours; ruining plans, canceling events – restoring nature. All events are a cycle, life’s ups and downs, the weather, everything. Uncertainty has abandoned the world, leaving just the cycles . . . and the rain. The funny thing about rain, what makes it great is that it is constant. While our existence is simply fleeting, I can watch the trickles of nature and appreciate how it has seen all of history and will continue to after it has outlasted my generation. To be mortal is . . . exceptionally wasteful. There are some purposes to survival, but very few – to achieve great things requires a lifetime of dedication – you can’t start something great and then walk away. What you do in life follows you forever, riding on the coat-tails of your memory. But once your gone, it becomes a dream; simply a distant message.

After some time I became bored of the constant atmosphere, so I left my apartment and went downstairs. On the staircase a figure lurked, blending skillfully with the shadows. I already knew what I sought; continuing down the flight I said hello to Darius. She skulked from her dark corner, falling in step behind me.

“Two days,” she said half-heartedly. Looking up at me, she tilted her head slightly. “Getting to know my habits now?” She shrugged to signify her mood and smiled sarcastically.

“Your eyes,” I replied simply, pausing my step only for a second. Her eyes were truly amazing, they changed with her character. Now they reflected the rain, turned a dull gray, mimicking the outer atmosphere by sparkling and turning. The tints were never in the same place twice. On most occasions, each was a different color, making for interesting conversation. In response she looked away, considering the betrayal of her vision. After the brief contemplation, she fell in step behind me again.

We went down to the street and walked. There was no point, no purpose – just movement. There was nothing better to do. Darius stepped out to keep up with me; she was small and childish compared to my lanky structure. The rain hadn’t slowed down any and we kept moving regardless, there wasn’t much to say. Darius kept by my side, silently watching the few people rushing through the flooding sidewalks. The population was more dense today because of the weather; the few outside only were because they had to be. Except for Darius and myself.

There was no reason to be outside except boredom; hoping to find something to do. Boredom is the most ignored source of brilliance – it’s unfounded as a waste of time. There was a moment of my life where everything seemed to stop; I realized I had changed. My emotional progress dawned on me later – a severely delayed reaction. My emotions shifted themselves without evidence of change until I put them to use.

Darius was special; she saw the world as a series of still pictures. No movement, minimal sound. Looking at cars passing briskly she would only see them standing still, frozen. Blink, a second passes; the cars shift in position – the red pickup is further down the road. That’s how her mind worked. She believed that movement was unnecessarily necessary. All of life is moving, glancing by in an instant; by seeing one frame at a time, taking out the noise in-between moments eliminates wasted time and allows for appreciation. Darius could pass as a mute if she wanted, living a silent lie. It took years for her to train her eyes and mind to cooperate with her intent; once I got her to explain it to me in detail. She was drunk – beat the shit out of me the next day and made me swear to forget everything she’d said. I locked it away for reflection when boredom took over.

We circled the block and went back inside once we reached the building, our building. What to talk about? Darius, of course. How did we get to how we are now? We balance one another. First time I laid eyes on her, I thought little of her. Small in stature with dark features and a brooding glare. We were young – I knocked her down by mistake and she beat me up. I pinned her arms over her head, watching her eyes dance in response to my sudden show of authority. From there I started drinking heavily, on a road to destruction. One night I wandered in the rain; lost and drunk, searching for home. Blindly I found my building, locking my shaky glance on Darius. I felt a cough and remembered the hard floor, damp around me. Everything was black after that.

I woke up in a dark room in a soft bed staring at a crumbling ceiling. Trying to sit up brought all kinds of new agony; sitting up I looked around. The walls were a dark base color but had been covered on all sides with photos, words and sketches. There was the bed I sat on and a mis-matched set of table and chairs set up in the corner. Painfully I moved to examine the photos thrown messily along its’ surface, sifting through the images. In the middle of the stack was a black and white portrait of myself. The racing of my mind tuned me out from reality as I stared at myself.

“What’re you doing?” I heard behind me, approaching. Dropping the photo, I reeled around on my heel to face the speaker. She looked annoyed in an innocent, childish way. Backing away toward a dark window I asked what had happened.

“You passed out and you’re sick,” her eyes looked intently into mine. “I carried you up here while my uncle slept; he doesn’t know you’re here,” she started to seem nervous, more anxious than before. I looked around the small room.

“Where’d you sleep? . . . why did you do all this?” My mind filled with ideas of subliminal messages, ulterior motives. She was a stranger in my familiar environment, nothing added up. I shook my head and turned to leave when she slammed the door in front of me.

“On the floor of the living room and because I chose to. Would you rather have died of pneumonia in the rain? Not very appreciative are . . .” her voice trailed off as she stared blankly at me. In a move I’d grabbed her and held her close, kissing her softly. The door was forgotten and I stayed with her for days. That’s how Darius and I became closer than any imaginable. Words weren’t necessary – it just was.

Balance is necessary in everything; life has death, Heaven has Hell; I had Darius. She was more than a friend or companion. Deeper than a wife, more compassionate than a lover, she was beyond time as well as all else. We were the same for the most part now as we were in the beginning. We aged, matured and grew but otherwise were untouchable by time, fate, chance or destiny. Only one force controlled us – Love.

Being young’s a trip, the mix of new emotions and ideas that manipulate the senses. Love’s the most tricky of all – it’ll knock you on your back and take the breath from your lungs and turn the world upside-down. Yet, Darius and I were beyond the vulgar reach of love or lust; passion had no words. We were still level-headed and foolish, as youth tends to be; but we had each other to share it with. Life granted us a melancholy relationship that we enjoyed completely.

Darius melted away into a corner, enjoying its’ enclosure. Looking down the street I saw her uncle coming closer, grumbling because of nature’s misfortune. He glared down at me as he passed, stamping his way up the stairs. Darius peered out from behind me, in her corner that had protected her from her uncle. The low muttering of her temper-mental uncle still hung in the air; she stared as if she could physically see the words. I held her for a moment until she pushed away roughly to move toward the stairs. Without a word, just a guilty glance, she ran up the flight after her uncle.

I stayed there awhile, watching the rain. I knew I wouldn’t see her for a few days. Darius’ uncle, Cid, wasn’t the most pleasant man. He was . . . emotionally unbalanced – about three steps shy of being a full-blown delusional schizophrenic. By his particular manner you could tell what humor he was in; the weather heavily disrupted his mood. When Cid was young, he had a great life. High school sweetheart, engaged to be married – ideal. His folks were bible-beaters and fought hard against the wedding. One rainy night, the two went driving to clear their heads and discuss their future. A slick spot and a dark turn sent the car in a ditch, rolling hard the way down. She was dead and he was lost; the sickness spread as he got older.

When tragedy occurs, the mind shuts down. A characteristic common in those who take heavy mental blows is substitution. What I mean is Cid may get in a bad mood and take it out on Darius, but only because he thinks she’s someone else. Everybody knows he’s a little crazy, but ultimately harmless – to most people anyway. Darius took the blunt of it with a nod and a smile, she wouldn’t talk about him, she just went. From what I gathered, she loved him and worried about leaving him alone. Her grandparents detached themselves from their children because of their religious devotion.

Cid was her mother’s only brother; her father’s side of the family had disowned him, so they were of no help. Darius was an outcast from birth and Cid was the only one “foolish” enough to take custody of her. She led a rough life but handled it well. From this I grew to respect and appreciate her; love and affection were always there, but loyalty, respect, and devotion take time to acquire and a lifetime to maintain. The ideal relationship between two outcasts of society; too perfect for planning and too deep for destiny.

Time slipped by, I decided to go visit a friend of mine. Up the stairs, three floors – the door itself was dark and foreboding. I knocked hard twice and waited in the doorway. There were some sounds of scuffling and the door opened to reveal a weathered-looking woman. Her eyes were tired and distant as she stepped away from the doorway. I stepped in quietly and waited. A dark shape rushed by then, past me and out the door. I nodded to the woman and left, closing the door behind me.

He moved rapidly down the steps flawlessly, threatening to trip. I hurried behind him to catch up. From several feet back I heard a yell and a thud. Reaching the bottom of the staircase I found him, sitting on the floor. Draven wasn’t happy and didn’t care to hide it. Looking to his left I saw a young girl standing, offering to help him. From what I assumed, they must have been traveling in opposite directions when she tripped him and down Draven went. The anger glowed in his eyes as he sneered at her. Seeing me she gave up and ran up the stairs.

“Okay?” I questioned. Draven got up uneasily, glaring at the staircase. He shook off the shock and faced me. Nodding, he sulked away. I followed, cautious of his temper.

Draven is the complete opposite of Darius. He’s quick-tempered and seldom rational. He had a bizarre family as well. He seemed a bit unhinged, but he was all right. Loyal to the core, he’s the kind of guy who’d follow you to Hell and back just to feel the heat. His mother never said much, just stared wearily at the world as it passed her by. His father was a hard alcoholic and desperately abusive. From anger was born hatred; product of this being Draven.

He lived here about as long as Darius and he shared her dark features. He was structured large and knew the reaches of his strength. Generally he was in good humor and protective of his friends. Draven was one of my closest and best friends; we’d been through a lot already in a few short years.

He lurked back and forth in the shadows for a while slowly, adjusting to the pain of falling down the stairs. After awhile of getting his frustration out, he looked at me, as if realizing I was there for the first time. Blinking a few times, his eyes turned friendly and calm.

“Hello,” he said quietly, rolling the word over in his mind. He seemed absent, thoughts elsewhere. We went outside and sat under a small overhang, talking about random topics; conversation between the delirious and the abstract. Darkness started to settle in as day grew into night and the long hours felt weak and feeble. We listened silently to our building’s routines; the usual conversation, day to day schedules – Cid’s yelling. As hour passed before he stopped, so Draven and I went inside to find Darius. The rain started to slow down a little, only a little. It’s been awhile since we had seen sunlight, but hopefully, soon . . .

Darius was sitting on the stairs alone in profile. She seemed different though, something was wrong. I edged closer to her slowly, waiting for some sort of response. I never got any sort of answer – she just stared vacantly into space. As I moved closer, she shifted her stance, turning away. After considering something unknown she jumped up and started up the stairs. I ran after her, leaving a confused Draven standing around alone.

At the top of the flight I caught her arm, but she pulled away. I kept going until I realized a darkness on my hand. Moving to the window, I saw that it was covered in blood. As I ran up the stairs after Darius, I tried to discover why I hadn’t seen it sooner. I followed persistently to the roof where I found both Darius and Draven. Her back was toward me and Draven stood closer to me, trying to coax Darius into calming down. I stepped closer, slowly edging forward.

“Darius, it’s alright, let me help you, let me get Raine,” Draven pleaded calmly with soft, caring eyes, giving a gesture toward me to keep quiet. She started to walk away from him, whispering to herself. Draven stepped closer, as did I, moving together we dared nearer. But for every step forward we took, Darius took two more. She was nearing the edge, I couldn’t hold back. I jumped forward to grab her, but she fell away from me, sliding backwards slowly. I remember watching her fall gracefully to the ground, screaming as I lunged after her. Blinking, everything moved backwards, I found myself back on the staircase.

Time stopped for that moment. I was in a waking nightmare where my worst fears were realized. The funny thing was that none of it was real. Darius was climbing the stairs in front of me; I hurried up, still trying to clear my mind. I saw Draven at the other end of the hallway, trying to box her in. She moved past him to the roof with us on her heels. The memories of the dream were vivid, my stomach churned as it all played out. Draven started talking as I reached out and grabbed Darius. Holding tight, I turned her to face me. She was covered in blood, eyes downcast, looking lost. She shook in the cool breeze as my mind fought to separate reality from surreal.

I had Draven walk her down and talk to her as I replayed the events. In the “dream” I had seen her fall, she’s turned to face us before falling backwards. She smiled; a cold, chilling gesture of cruel fate. I saw the blood; Draven’s despairing glance. But it wasn’t real. Most of it was, except her death. I found a dark corner to loathe and enjoyed its’ cover. Ten minutes passed until I decided that all that mattered were the actual events. She was alive; we would be all right. The delusion left me for a short while as I looked for Draven.

They were sitting on an old stairwell, long since abandoned by society. Darius rocked back and forth, her head in her arms as Draven attempted wearily to console her. He stood and left, giving me an acknowledging nod. I took his place, wrapping my arm around her. Silence settled in for a long while as she rocked back and forth gently. The world moved on; sirens passed, people lived and society flourished. All that didn’t matter as long as we had this moment.

“I stabbed him,” she whispered, scared of her own accomplishment. I questioned whom in a neutral voice, though I already knew.

“Cid, he was . . .” she stopped to reconsider the story, “He was in a mood and came after me. I was just . . . self defense . . .” her voice trailed off again. Her head rose as she spoke and nodded in conclusion, confirming the smooth sound of the tale. I stared down at her bloody, tear-ridden face with compassionate eyes, putting my coat around her. We walked to my place so I could clean her up and hopefully find out what happened. Using some warm water, I gently wiped away blood and tears, careful of her eyes. They stared past me, empty, full of confusion and agony. The color shifted from red, mirroring the blood’s texture, to gray: neutral, lost, cloudy.

Time’s the best illusion of all; it’s fleeting when you need it to stop and it pauses when it should fly. Seconds became hours as we sat together, watching the night settle in. It was dark and the rain had stopped by the time another word was spoken.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered softly in my ear. I kissed her bandaged head to let her know that I’d heard and drifted off to sleep. Wild dreams of death and damnation plagued my mind, keeping me from a peaceful slumber. Images of dark rooftops and cruel grins haunted my subconscious, bearing my sanity to the ground. Impossible nightmares led to screams and panic, only to find that I was awake again in silence. Darius slept peacefully with her body curled over mine, her breathing steady and rhythmic. The pleasing sound helped me relax and enjoy a peaceful rest.

The morning came and I found myself opposite of how I started. Everything was peaceful, no memories to disturb my dreams; simply peace. Darius was looking out the window, using the glare to reflect herself. I don’t own a mirror and neither does she, we’ve only seen ourselves in pictures. The reasoning behind it can’t be expressed in literal terms. She felt softly at bruises and bandages, assessing the damage. After some time she was satisfied with herself and came back to me. She was calmer now, subdued from the harsh events. My family was waking; Darius hid quickly as my father entered to see if I was awake. Once he left she emerged, gave me a quick kiss and jumped out onto the fire escape. From there, I don’t know where she went, only that I didn’t see her for some time. The rain had stopped as the sun dawned on a new day, bringing hope and opportunity. Each day’s a chance to turn it all around; today was just another fleeting chance.

Draven was roaming the halls, scaring children and causing trouble. He saw me coming and stopped pacing, leaning against a graying wall to wait for me. An uncaring shrug meant that he knew I was there and acknowledged that there were a few things to discuss. My mind wandered aimlessly as Draven did the same, listening for something new.

“Crazy night huh?” he said in a low tone, questioning whether the topic should go on. I nodded, considering my own reaction.

“He’s alive you know,” Draven said in a soft whisper, looking at me with a knowing glance. His gaze said something more than the obvious, “Cid, he’s fine. The hospital’s taking care of him, one stab wound in the stomach. They were able to fix him, what a miracle of science,” he concluded with a frown, his voice echoing his facial emotions. I nodded again and considered the circumstances.

“Now what?” My voice lost something when I realized what could result from this. There were several factors involved in a situation like this.

“Cid gets help, he’s required to join a rehabilitation group, upon other things. Darius . . .” his voice trailed off. “Well, either Child Protective Serves takes over, or a family member steps in, only until she’s old enough, which isn’t long from now.” His eyes turned to the floor, hiding any emotion or feeling. None of her family would help; CPS was a horrible solution – there was no way out. I voiced my frustration to Draven, but all he did was smile quietly. I wanted to hit him just to get rid of that silly little grin of his.

“Well she’ll be okay, she’s got family,” his eyes danced as a thought moved through them, leading to revelation. We sat in the hallway as I waited desperately for an answer to my hopeless situation. In a minute, all of life was lost. Draven rocked me by my shoulders to get my attention.

“Her brother is taking responsibility,” he whispered, emphasizing the main idea of this statement. Draven changed in character then, giving an uncharacteristic smile and a hinting glance. I considered the idea, but it was an unstable reality that would fall away and re-create itself time and again. Sibling, Darius’ an only child, or so I thought. Of all people though, Draven . . . it didn’t add up.

I stopped thinking so hard and everything fell into place, somewhat. I just accepted what was said and got up to move around. Pacing helped thoughts slow down and make sense. I left truth sitting quietly on the floor, waiting for a response of sorts. I just kept pacing for a while before heading home and sitting quietly. My family never bothered to question my habits, so I was able to rest undisturbed. The day passed swiftly, more swiftly than expected. I dozed off to sleep shortly after the sun set, bringing about the day’s end. Tomorrow would be ever more interesting.

The sun’s rays were bright on that new tomorrow; its’ shine stung my eyes as a fresh dawn settled in. I stood wearily, observing the fresh day with a keen eye. Darius lay curled up on my floor like a child, resting peacefully. I decided not to wake her; I just closed the window to darken the room. Picking her up gingerly, I set her in my bed under the covers, careful to make the room dark should my family step in. I stood back to creep away when I heard a whisper.

“Thanks,” Darius said in a dreamy voice as she slipped back into her unconscious state. I sat in a chair for a while watching her as the earliest hours were wasted. The soft rhythm of her breath soothed my mind to help everything become more clear. I heard some talking outside my room and, recognizing Draven’s voice, I left Darius to sleep.

A cheerfully bleak figure awaited me outside the door, which I knew to be Draven. He grinned happily and ushered me out the door of the apartment without much of a “hello” to my family. They didn’t mind though, they loved him. My family loved all of my friends, except Darius. Because she was different; because she was free. She didn’t trust in government, she didn’t blindly follow Christ. They hated her for her liberty. And most of all, they hated her because she was mine.

Draven smiled constantly until we were in the hall, keeping his devilish charm going for my parents. “Where is she?” he asked suddenly, as if he’d waited an eternity to ask those three words and how his existence depended on my answer. I told him calmly where she was as he dragged me to the fire escape.

“We’re due in court today to determine custody, you have to help me get her to go through with this,” his eyes had taken a desperate turn, like he was on the edge of sanity. I realized that there was something more to the story, behind the hidden truth and mystery. We crept into my room silently; as I carefully woke Darius, Draven sulked impatiently in the corner. I saw now that he was dressed as “normally” as he could manage, looking very adult and intimidating. Darius awoke in mild confusion, in which state I kissed her and went back to the fire escape.

From outside I heard hushed screams and quiet arguing. After my parents left, the voices grew louder and more troubled. I peered in to see pacing figures moving quickly, brooding back and forth briskly. Creeping back in through the window, I saw the two on opposite sides of the room, frozen. The words were lost, events a distant memory. Draven stepped closer to Darius, speaking softly, plain. I watched the look in their eyes, the same pleading desperation. I moved toward Darius unconsciously, hoping to do something of worth. I would do anything to help her, anything.

“Darius, if we don’t show up, they’ll decide your fate without you and come to collect. Please, trust me now, if not ever again. I just want to help now, everything’s changed,” Draven spoke soothingly, as if speaking to a child. She was like a cat in a tree, cornered by logic; it was time to come down. She embraced me quickly and led me out the door.

The apartment was empty from my parents’ departure. Darius moved around nervously, pulling me out the door. Draven was left standing in my room, alone. I followed Darius aimlessly to the door of her apartment. It was changed now, the doorframe seemed darker and more foreboding. A cloud seemed to float there, oblivious to man or thing. I pushed the door open slowly, allowing it to creak noisily on its’ ancient hinges. The rooms were dark and abandoned. An open window left carelessly had allowed rain to puddle on the floor. A cat wandered around the rooms lazily, dark in color and mysterious in character. It blinked eerily at us before nestling itself on a chair. Every instant we stayed it watched us, glaring as we passed. It dared not venture nearer than it knew safe and we didn’t disturb it.

I moved to Darius’ room so that she would follow. She walked with her head down, shaking at each movement. I held her close for a while, feeling how cold she was, letting her share my warmth. I whispered in her ear to get dressed; my words seemed to enchant her as she moved flawlessly afterward. After some time, footsteps echoed in the nearly empty apartment as Draven emerged from the shadows. He seemed tired, less joyous and light-hearted. He found a chair and was seated, as if everything was simply part of a dream that he was recalling fondly.

“It’s been a long time,” he said half-heartedly. The body language showed him in a deeper meaning; he was telling himself something which time already knew. He was remembering a distant memory, like a dream long forgotten. To him it might’ve been a nightmare. He glanced at me as if we’d just met for the first time. A deep sigh and a heavy shoulder heave brought him back to reality. Blinking slowly, he began to talk:

“You must be wondering,” he started, leaving the statement how it was. “It started a long time ago, a nightmare best left undisturbed.” His words seemed final and definite, making boundaries around truth. “But you deserve to know, you have every right to know. I was born a year before Darius. From the moment I first saw her, I knew she was different from myself. So I protected her – from everything. Many times she hated me, but in her heart she still loved me. Draven and Darius, the ideal children; ideal to everyone except our parents. When they died, I left. She told me that if I left her then, I may as well never come back, I was dead to her. But I had to go, to get away, you understand, don’t you?” he questioned. This was the first time he directed anything to me and I was caught off-guard, a deer in the headlights.

I sat sheepishly considering the question. I simply answered in the affirmative to get the rest of the story.

“So I went,” he sighed, “and she was lost to me. I’ve been in so many foster families I lost count. I wasn’t always so angry; she kept me calm. Over time I got worse and things didn’t change. Eventually, I ended up here and I searched out Cid. The first time I saw her again was with you,” he stared up at me with guilty eyes.” I realized then how much I’d missed, so much time wasted. I couldn’t let her know that I was around. We’d both changed in appearance and general character, but I knew her immediately. Her eyes still held that tragic glow I’d seen as I left home.”

We both looked toward where Darius was changing. Going over Draven’s words, I let it all sink in. “You only befriended me to protect her and get closer, didn’t you?” I heard myself ask suddenly. His sorrowful eyes were still downcast as he sheepishly agreed with me. The backstabbing son of a bitch, yet I shrugged it off.

From there silence settled in like an old friend. I could understand the hatred that Darius felt and the regret that Draven knew because I was subject to both. What got on my nerves was that I was dragged in the middle of their family conflict. It was stupid and childish.

Darius emerged at that moment, looking disarmingly simple and “normal”. Everything that a typical adult would frown on was carefully hidden; her room was meticulously clean as well. I understood the reason for that – in case of court inspection. Her manner was refined – played the part of an innocent child, free of sin or flaw. We all played our little roles carefully; she was already in character. Nothing was said, they just moved out the door, leaving me standing alone in the darkness. My sole companion was the cat, its’ coat shining as its’ eyes burned.

For a while I waited, when that did nothing I went home. My parents were still at work, stuck in the endless cycle of routine 9 – 5 hours day after day. I don’t even know what they do. They might work in a fast food restaurant for all I knew, or became multi-millionaires twice over. The bottom line was that I was clueless; the worst part was that I didn’t care. About my family, my friends, myself. Everything was ignorance – the lack of personal knowledge I possessed amazed me. I didn’t even know Darius’ last name. My mind found gaps everywhere; nothing was complete. The idea was new and provoking, like giving a young child a new math problem to worry over. I sat in my room in a daze, the only sound being the ticking clock. The never-ending tick that reminded me of the wasted time. I watched it tick perfectly, a cycle that couldn’t be altered. I remember blinking and seeing the cat again, stalking through the house. It too was ignorant of many things, yet it thrived. Abandoned, weary, it watched me with steady eyes. I saw that it had begun to rain again. With all that in mind, I got up and sat with paper and pencil. It was then that I began to write . . .

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