February 7, 2011

And The Bird Sang

By Stella

**Note from the authour:

I just wrote. The. Most. Depressing. Thing. EVER.
Argh, do not ever do research on the death penalty. I am permanently freaked out.

And, uh... a warning: This involves self-mutilation, abuse, death, and male-on-male rape (only hinted at, it never ACTUALLY happens in the prose, but yeah...) So if these make you feel uncomfortable, I wouldn't recommend reading.**


You are always letting go. Of something. Nothing lasts forever, nothing at all. No matter how hard you try, everything will eventually slip beyond reach. And you'll be upset, yes, but will always move on.

Some people consider life to be a line. Ever moving, never stopping, going in every direction, forever.

You never believed them.
Because everything ends. Even life. Some just take longer than others.


Life after death was always something you asked yourself of. You always saw the people on the news, screaming that they had been to Heaven and back, and that it existed. People listened, fascinated. But you always ignored them. Looked right past them and ignored their attention-seeking lies. Sometimes at a younger age, you almost believed them. Almost. Usually their stories were convincing, so why not believe them?

But, you always tell yourself, believing crushes you. Every time you believe in something it comes crashing down.
Oddly, you had the same beliefs on love.
And caring.
The more you care, the more you get hurt.
Emotions drag you down; you left them behind years ago.


He called you lost, on the best of nights. On the worst of nights the only thing you would hear was whatever he used to take his anger out on you. Sometimes the sizzle of an electrical cord singing your skin.

Strangely, it didn't hurt anymore. Didn't even sting. The only thing you felt was anger, anger at the very man that you should be able to trust and love.

And anger at the boy who stands in the corner and obviously knows what's going on, but never has the guts to do anything.


They don't know you. No one does. They think they do, but the person they know is simply a mask. A mask, a shallow reflection of a person. A shell, and you're cowering behind it. Because hiding yourself is easy. You don't want sympathy. You don't want people to know how you feel. They wouldn't understand; anyway.

But sometimes, despite yourself, you feel like the weight you carry is going to crush you. And all you want is to have someone to share it with you; or at least know about what goes on.


You ran away. Twice. Once when you were eleven. Sick. Tired. Scared. You thought you could get away. You were fast. Someone would take pity on you. Surely.

It took you one mile to realize you were freezing. Two to realize you had nowhere to go. Three to realize that if you were caught it would be horrible. Four to realize you were out of breath. Five to realize that you had nothing with you.

Six to realize there were cars chasing you.

And then when you were fourteen. It was a shred of hope that clung to you, so you acted on it. You didn't even get to a mile before they caught up with you.


Today, you almost smiled. For the first time in years, you felt that strange feeling you thought you had put aside. Burnt. Because there was nothing worthy of a smile in your life.

She had been joking around, the girl who the closest thing to a friend you ever had, and will ever have; and listening to her had distracted you. It was an odd feeling, to actually care about her life; usually you never listen to what people tell you. It's a habit, really.

For a second, the weight that curled your shoulders forward and pressed the corners of your lips into a scowl lifted. Dangled slightly overhead, just teasing you. But you really did lose it, for a little while.

And just when it was about to happen, the expression you had put off for so long... the weight crashed again. Harder than before.

This girl, you need to see her more. Maybe someday you'll get rid of that weight. That sweet feeling she gives you, one of peace and calm, is amazing.

But she'll never understand. Even if you do tell her- which you swore through tears and clenched teeth not ever to do- she wouldn't get how heavy the weight feels. She's always been loved and cared for.

Or would she? She's definitely different from the others your age; her spirit is free and wild, her intentions are selfless and important, and her thoughts are quick and true.

And... and maybe somehow they could stop it. Find a way to tell the officials what he does.

Just before you remind yourself that love is nothing, just an obstacle that slows you down.


You remembered the night it had gotten worst, the abuse. You were shivering and freezing and sore from your six mile run. You remember feeling like nothing, like a speck of dust, worthless, invaded. You remembered screaming and for the first time, crying.


It had lain in the middle of the floor. Tempting you. As if he wanted you to fall into his trap, like he wanted you to mess up everything. Everything you knew.

But even you, who had suffered at the hands of sharp objects, couldn't resist. Your hand went to your arm, traced the lines of deep cuts that never healed, not fully, and formed scars that act like a sleeve around your arm. You thought you would have closed up at the idea of something sharp- you flinched around glass, after all, and knives terrified you.

But this... it was different. You remembered what a girl had told you once- a Goth, she called herself. How it released all your feelings. How you felt better.

Pain had always made you focus. Reminded you that you were alive and human.

And that's why, you tried to convince yourself. For reality.

And your hand curled around the knife, a kitchen knife, no longer used.

And you raised it to your wrist.









(Why, you wondered. Why you were stupid enough to start.)


During the long nights spent at home, no matter how hard he hit you, with words or actions, you never cried. You hadn't, really, since you were eleven and invaded. And that was once. Before that? You can't remember. Never? Probably not, because when you were very young you did. Had to have. While he was still overseas, and while she still cared for you.

When he had come back, he was... different. Cursed at everything, and your living room was lined with littered with broken bottles. The room you had called your own was too.

And every time you think of the glass you remember the long nights where sleep had fled you, and spent the time pulling the shards of glass out of your skin, ignoring the trickle of blood that flowed down each time, and the small spurt of pain each gave.

But still, you held all emotion inside, until you found the largest piece. That you throw at the crumbling brick wall, and imagine it to be him, for hurting you so much.

And her, who simply left you.
And him, for never speaking up about what happens.


You'll always remember the school assignments, anything that had to do with your family. Each time you squeeze the pencil in your hand so hard it feels like its about to break, because all you want to do is tell them what happens at home, not to make up a happy lie about a close family who never argue and a father who actually cares and a brother who is always there to talk to and always goes to you for advice and an actual mother who didn't desert you because she didn't want to be a part of everything and...

"You okay?" They would always ask, seeing your tense expression and the death grip. You'd loosen your hold and fake a smile, saying, "Fine... I was just daydreaming... sometimes my thoughts get a little weird, you know what I mean?" And somehow they always believed, or didn't care enough to press the issue further.

It was a good thing lying came so easily to you. Anything less would be awful.

It wasn't only the assignments that did such a thing. Every field trip, party, dance, or anything besides a normal school day, you were exempt from. You were always sick, or were away, or your religion didn't approve of it, or anything.

You often cursed mentally at the teachers that always seemed so smart to most people, and maybe they were, but weren't ten years of excuses suspicious? Didn't they ever notice the wounds that, somehow, you didn't manage to cover?
Apparently not.


Mornings were the worst, even though your entire day was bad. Everyday the option of just curling up tighter and hiding forever from the world seemed better than your life. Falling back to sleep, which was your only place to hide, was so appealing, you wished you could live in a dream.

But no. You didn't want to get hurt again, did you? So you forced yourself up, and somehow made it through the day.

Every day you wore a long-sleeved, high necked jacket. It covered most of the scars. Even at his most intoxicated state, your father next to never hit you on the face. It was too hard to conceal that way, unless you did something especially bad. Such as sleep in. And then you'd be forced to search for an excuse, because people always noticed for some reason.

He'd forced you to let your hair grow long to hide the back of your neck. You had to wear long clothing at all times.

You would never tell a person of what happens at home. If you did, you were dead. Simple as that.

You were to go straight to school and back. No after school activities. No before school activities. You were to walk both ways, even though your house was two miles away.


She slammed the locker door so hard it made a loud, hollow clanging sound that must have rung throughout the hallway. "Alright, you've got to tell me why you don't answer anything I ask you. Why? Come on; just give me a simple answer. Don't I deserve to know?"

You looked away from her. Convincing lies, that's what you needed to tell. And yet, you were sick of lying. For eleven years you've lied about everything. Couldn't you tell the truth for once?

You knew the answer was no.

"I... I can't," you answered her quietly. She heard the shift in your voice, and she softened her tone.

"Yes, you can. I can help, whatever's going on. I care." Again, you wanted to tell her. But you can't, you know that. Your promise, and if you broke that... you were dead. Simple as that.

And then you turned around and walked away. You whispered, "I wish," under your breath, knowing she'd never hear.

(But you still had to say it. It brought you satisfaction, if only a little.)

(You wanted to tell her.)

(There was no denying that.)


They used to try, when you were younger. Try to include you into things.
Maybe they were trying to be nice, but it just felt like torture to you.

Some didn't give up. They kept trying to lure you into things. Said they cared, but probably didn't. You knew they wouldn't care. It wasn't like talking to you ever benefited them, so why try it?

And then later on, the girls who were obsessed with your sullen, somber mood and tried to drop hints at their feelings. And yet even they gave up, and around tenth grade, people finally learned to leave you alone. It wasn't like you wanted to be entirely isolated, but you didn't want to have to put up with pointless talking.

Only two people in your life tried to get past your shell.


"You never say anything about your parents. Do you get along with them?" the kind teacher asked you. It was right before lunch, but she had held you back. And right when she did, you knew what she was going to ask.

"Yes, of course." You tried to twist away, knowing that she knew you had lied. But she clamped her hand on your wrist, and your shirt, which was two sizes too big, moved slightly, and revealed a long bruise right on your wrist. She pushed the fabric back, and found several more of similar quality. For a second, she stood there, stunned, staring right into your eyes.

She stuttered a couple words, fell silent, and then tried again. "D-do they... do they hit you?"

You swallowed hard. The room seemed to spin and close in on you. This very moment was the one you had never thought about before, because no one else had ever noticed anything wrong with you.

You shut your eyes tight. Your hands curled into fists. "Yes," you whispered your voice barely audible. "Not they, just... just him."

And then... and then that emotion you'd been hiding away for so long burst. You couldn't help it when the tears built in your eyes, and the next thing you knew, you were sobbing into her shoulder, her arms around your back, not saying anything but just being there, and the gesture is so alien to you, so unfamiliar, but you love it. She cared. And you couldn't thank her for that; it's too much to ask.

When you calmed down, though, you took a step back. "You can't tell anyone. No one at all. If anyone else finds out, he either kills me, or-" you choked for a second. You didn't finish and instead looked over to her.

She blinked, like she was chasing tears from her eyes. "What... what am I supposed to do then? I can't just know and not do anything, it's not right."

"Nothing. I'm not dying. I refuse it."

"Very well, then." Her voice was calm. "But I am telling my husband. He won't spill, of course, but maybe we'll find a way." And, before you stepped out of the room, you nodded at her.

"Thank you."

(You had never felt so loved. It felt amazing and confusing at the same time.)


The worst horror is knowing there's nothing you could do.

You were stupid, you knew that. You'd known since the day you picked up the knife and turned to self-mutilation.

But this....

What were you think, telling someone? He'd always been good at reading your emotions, always knew. Had you not thought? Had you not known? And still you acted out. You had done exactly what he wanted you to. You cracked. You acted out of desperation. Out of fear.

Fear did things to people. Changed them. Made them do things they knew they never should.

Being discovered was always a small hope you clung to, in a sea of desperation. You shouldn't have. It just... it just made things hard. Was like an extra weight pressed on your back.


You hadn't wanted to give him the satisfaction. At first you had tried your hardest to hold in the screams, but this time it was impossible.

You were screaming. More than you had in years. Six years. Crying. Tears soaking your face. Begging. The worst one? "Kill me." You curled yourself into a protective ball, trying to help yourself, but that didn't help anything. You repeated those two words: Kill me. Kill me. Kill me. Kill me.

He didn't listen.

You lost track of time. It didn't matter. You withdrew into the void that was yourself. Blocked him out, but still felt the pain.

And then he pulled away. You didn't realize it at first, that he had left. And then you realized there was no new pain, and you sat up. Closed your eyes. The thing about him was that whenever he hurt you, he was so careful not to do anything visible. No one would be able to see the marks from the night.

He came back seconds later. And you swore you felt your heart stop. Because this was it, wasn't it?

"I'm not a liar," he said as her came up to you. And you saw it, the gun. Right in front of you. The tears fell. You didn't want to cry. Not now. But you couldn't stop it.

His hand was on the trigger. "I hope you go to hell."
Squeezed it.

But a sudden wave of bloodlust took over you. Your hands shot out at the moment his fingered pulled it. Pushed it so that it pointed straight at his head.

And with a blam, the bullet slammed into his head.

His blood covered the floor for the few seconds it took for his heart to stop beating.

You were so shocked that the gun dropped from your hands and clattered on the floor.

You had killed.


It took the neighbors minutes to barge in. No, not even that. They were there the second the shot was fired. There long enough to see you holding the weapon that ended his life, the murderous look in your eyes.

"Oh my God, did he-"

"Is he-"

"This can't-"

"We've been living next to a murderer-"

"Call the police-!"

Someone pinned you against the wall while another picked up the phone, another tried to comfort the boy in the corner screaming his head off. Oh, you fought. You knew it was worthless, that you wouldn't accomplish anything. But you were feral. Mad. You squirmed. Bit.

And while the woman was frantically talking on the phone to the operator, saying how she had seen you kill your own father, how he lay bloody and dead on the floor, how you were dangerous and trying to escape, you lost it all. You yelled at the top of your voice how it wasn't your fault, how he was about to kill you, how he had hurt you so-

And then the ambulance and the police came and you were empty, your limbs feeling too heavy and having to drag them, how blank you felt, and you wished you wouldn't have lived.

But seconds before you reached the police car, a hummingbird landed on the roof and sang a short tune to you before flitting away.

(The song haunted you for the next week.)


The next months were brutal. Your trial was a short one- all of the evidence was there, your father was a former governor and marine, and you stopped trying to defend yourself, so the decision was nearly unanimous- death. All of the jury except for one took no pity on you, despite your age. Sometime in there, you turned 18- which should've been a celebration, but all that happened was you felt even worse than usual. Knowing you was about to die was horrible.

You spent nearly four years in that prison, waiting for them to finally carry out your sentence. You were actually very lucky; some men had waited for thirty years. It drove you insane, utterly insane. But, at least you were used to little contact.

All you could do was remembered what you said to the kind teacher the day you had killed him- how if he found out you had spilled, you were dead no matter what you did.

You had been right, though you hadn't expected the sentence to be from your own killing.

And the blood never washed off. Every night before you slept you looked at your hand and you swore you saw his blood filling it. And every night you bit that spot as hard as you could. The pain brought reality. They never would let a knife in there, but your teeth were satisfying enough.

They visited you rarely. Just your mother and your brother, who had spent the whole time frantically apologizing. You had shaken your head, because nothing had been his fault. You didn't see the point in living the last part of your life angry, except at your mother. "I can't believe you left us," you had spat. She disgusted you, and you hated her. She knew of what happened, and when it started, she had left. She didn't even care for you.

And she... she came twice. Just as beautiful as ever. And like you had far too many times lately... you cried into her shoulder. She said she was trying to help you, that she and the teacher were protesting against capital punishment.

"If we're lucky," she said, "We'll make it illegal before your time comes." And just before she left, she turned and said, "Oh, and I believe you by the way. A few of us do. No one believes us." She swallowed. "There are debates everywhere. No one can agree."

And then, when that final night rolled around and you had your last meal, you barely ate. Mostly you just stared at the wall and zoned out. The food left no impression on you.

You also turned 21 shortly before that. You were still the youngest criminal in there.

You didn't even sleep that night. You chewed on your hand all night. You weren't satisfied until you drew blood. Ad even then you kept biting. Unable to stop.

(You just wanted to die.)


The night seemed endless, but you were relieved when they finally came for you. It was odd, but you were glad that it was finally over. You didn't protest, and you weren't that worried. You were simply as reserved as always, keeping your eyes fixed ahead of you, and your thoughts far away.

There were only four people who were there- of course your brother, who didn't look as innocent and frantic as you thought he would be, and your mother, who had a disapproving look on her face. But, to your surprise, standing next to them was your teacher, the one who had figured it out. Her eyes were red, like she had been crying. She felt like the mother in the room, not the dyed platinum blond woman with extremely high heels and a face that had obviously gone through many cosmetic surgeries. She was there, too. Crying. Their protests had failed.

At least they tried, which was much more than could be said for most people.

They strapped you to the gurney in the room, and you closed your eyes as they swabbed your skin with alcohol, and two IVs were attached to your arms.

You didn't think about what was going on. Instead... you drifted. Not into memories, but into a painless bliss of... of happiness.

The last thing you saw was the hummingbird and its beautiful song. Somehow, you had forgotten about it. In all the time, music had failed to come with. And minor memories, such as that one-

You were gone before you could finish the thought.

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