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40. Helps Me to Live

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            Things were stable. Or as stable as could be expected. My life was divided yet united at the same time. I worked at the bar with Lucid. I would drop by Pandora’s and help with the babies. If they were overly exhausted, I’d spend the night on the couch. And when they were really desperate for time off, I’d make Lucid come over with me. They warmed up to him. He was their street boss, and him and me were kind of…well…close. He got a strict talking-to from Layne and Serkis about business and another one about me.

I got very stupid one day and tried to kill myself. I didn’t try hard, being I’m still here. But I sat and raked a blade over the vein enough to draw a tiny bit of blood. Enough to make a scar. I didn’t understand it until later, why I did it, why it mattered. I wanted to know my limits. It’s explained simply: you do it twice. Once when nobody would expect it, when you have plans the next day, where they’d know immediately. And once when nobody’s around to stop you and you’re convinced that nobody cares. The principle is seeing how close you come either way. You’ll get closer alone. Because the other way you’d be breaking plans with people. They’d hate you instead of mourn you. And what’s the point if they won’t miss you, right? We all secretly want to be missed.

I did it so I’d always know how close or far I’d been. I’d have the line on my wrist to remind me. I spent hours running my fingers over it. To know, to remember.

This is who I am. This is how much I’ve hurt.

Am I asking to be saved? No. Nobody can save me – but me. No, this isn’t about being saved. It’s about being lost.

Why did I try to kill myself? Depression, school, work, some guy, the voice in my head told me to? Note: that “voice” is your conscience. Deal with it. So why did I try?

I was curious. And I danced with Death and kept the line we danced on. I wanted to know my limits in life. Why?

Does a lawyer defend someone without background information?

This was my background to living. After enough time passed and I couldn’t remember why I really did it, when only the line remained, I could move on. It’s funny – things that seem important enough to die over…fade to black just like everything else.

Trying to explain this to people who can’t see it as I do could get me committed. I did my best to put it into words, and even then I might be crazy.

When you do something stupid like that and live, it ticks people off. They’ve been trying like all hell to help; an attempt is a slap in the face to them. It’s easier to sit and take the lecture – after all, I brought this upon myself.

That was off-topic, but it is a relevant event of my life. It provided a foundation for later growth. Because of it, I knew when to fight and when to run. That doesn’t mean that I always did, but I knew when I should. Useful pieces of information don’t do much for you when not put to use.

Here is to proof of my madness – skin deep.

Understand – there’s a big difference between wanting to die and knowing one’s limits. This I explained to the family. Repeatedly. They believed me but felt better hearing it. And I’d do whatever it took to set them at ease.

We all go a little crazy – that was my defense for my sudden eccentricity. I went out, got piercings and tattoos, and got older. It was part of the cycle.

I became Lucidius’ other. He ran the gang and I was at his side. I can’t understand how it happened, if it was love or not; we just were. I think we were mostly beneficial to each other; I ran the bar under Pandora and when he wasn’t working, he was at the tattoo shop. He really loved that place. I liked it as well, it was a surviving piece of history – pictures of the past owners were still all over the place. Legends committed to film. Forever. Further proof of the stories being real.

Through the family, we had a hand in everything that mattered. The circus, the bar, the tattoo parlor, and the gang that ran the streets…we all achieved multiple tasks at once. And since the madness had settled down, we went back to art. Pandora did half of everything when she was home, most of her work being hectic or disorganized. She was the bar’s secondary owner now, but she only worked a few times a week. She was an artist of several mediums, painting primarily because the kids liked to contribute. And above all, she was a mother.

Layne and Serkis wrote music. She’d kept up with her random sculptures, but she’d decided to settle into drawing, for want of space. Layne was all music.

And I took up photography – the idea stemming from Pandora. I took pictures of everything, so we’d all have part of each other. Lucid drew like a dream – he taught Serkis a lot. I think he adopted himself into our family. And nobody stopped him. As insane and ruthless as he was, as long as he was a kitten around us, everything was fine. As long as street life stayed on the streets.

So what else can I say? What am I supposed to leave you with? The story’s come to a close, this chapter at least. There’s always something new starting somewhere. For every end there’s a fresh beginning. The family got the one thing we all thought we could never have – stability. We had love and devotion. Trust and loyalty. We had everything that was deemed impossible. Unattainable. And it was ours. And we had each other. We had songs and drawings, paintings and photographs…to show for it. There was no escaping the truth. It was there.

And we lost some dear friends along the way. They will be missed, living on in our memories, as well as in the children’s. To old friends lost –

To Uncle Edward. To Max. To Art. To Cassidy. To Requiem. To Vagrant. To Grey.

And to Mr. Draven Riddle.

All the lost, young and old – they’ve contributed equally.

And to those still standing –

Layne. Serkis. Lucidius. Sylum. Maven. Revere.

And Saint, Klyde, and Angyl…wherever you are.

And of course, me. I’m still here. In one piece and everything. Who knew?

All the other stories have endings that are long and drawn out. And they’re absolutely gorgeous. Whether they’re just a rant or a stream of consciousness or an explanation…they are all flawless. I wish I could do something of that caliber, but I’m just a kid.

Kid…I wish I was. I’m 19 years old. I lost my childhood, my innocence, long ago.

My real, true, given name is Hadley Morrow. My uncle started calling me Harley when I was young because it was cute. I’ve been Harley ever since.

This is my life. This is my family. We are born and bred on the streets. We created a circus. We gave birth to a revolution. And we hold all the keys in case it gets out of hand.

Whoever said that the youth were hopeless, reckless, or irresponsible?

I had been gathering my thoughts, writing randomly, sitting at home alone. I looked around, bunched up my papers and walked out the door, grabbing my coat as I went. I made my way to the tattoo shop – it was dark and raining. I bundled my paperwork in the coat until I got there. The place was mostly empty. The owners were gone for the night – there were a few artists. They’d taken Lucid on every so often. I made my way to the back of the place. There was a guy kind of stretched out in the back, smoking as he slept, I tapped him softly.

“Busy?”

He raised an eye to me, took a few pulls of his smoke, and settled back down. “I only do real work. Go bother one of the others.” He waved me away. I stood there and waited.

“No. I want you. And this is real work.”

He got up, yawned and stretched out. He looked me up and down. “Climb into the chair and you can tell me all about it.”

I don’t know if it was the sound of my voice, or the look in my eyes, but he was going to do this for me. I sat in the chair and explained what I wanted done. He kind of laughed and smiled, but consented to do it for me. I was having matching tattoos put on my wrists.

One said – “Someone ought to break you.” And the other said – “Someone ought to try.”

When it was done he looked me over again, still kind of smiling. I was satisfied. Lucid had come in without being noticed. He stood over my shoulder, reading the words. He was satisfied as he bent down to kiss me. The tattoo artist was smiling as he lit another smoke. I gave him a look.

“What’s the big deal?”

He exhaled smoke and shrugged simply. “You remind me of a girl I once knew.” 

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