Final Words | Quick Piece

The phone rang and I reached over to grab it so fast that I nearly fell out of my chair. “Hello?” I answered, but all I heard was a loud, high-pitched tone. “Damn!” I pulled the phone away from my ear. “What the hell-“ I was cut off when a smooth female voice started to speak. “Emergency. This is a worldwide emergency. All beings are in danger due to imminent comet approaching in 6 hours.” I scoffed. This is probably a prank call from a bored 12 year old. “This is not a joke.” the voice continued. “Comet will make a direct hit in 6 hours. Please stay calm and stay with your loved ones. Further information can be found online through all news channels and keep updated through Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.” My hands began to shake slightly. I could’ve imagined it, but the final words that came from my phone will always haunt me. “You have one life and it’s going to end soon. Make the most of it.” And with a final click, the voice was gone.

For the first hour, my phone continued to ring off the hook as I sat still and motionless in front of my TV with my laptop quietly heating up on my lap. Messages flooded into my inbox from bosses, old lovers and high school classmates saying that I was a great worker, apologies with reasons I don’t recall and an onslaught of memories that I had long filed away. As I watched the reporter talk about the axis and momentum of the comet, a part of me wanted to believe that it was all a hoax. The government wanted everyone to stop complaining and pay more mind to them or maybe it was a rich guy’s  sad idea of teaching everyone gratitude. For all I know, the comet could even miss. I couldn’t accept that six hours was all I was going to get. Yet, I continued to diligently answer each call, reassuring, crying and yelling with everyone. What else can I do?

For the next hour, I wandered the street and tried my best not to lose my faith in humanity. Broken glass lay strewn all over the ground, couples straight up naked in the middle of the road while cars honked endlessly at them. Discounts filled stores still with clothes still swinging, but stores with bold red letters screamed, “Take it all! It doesn’t matter anyways!” with things like novelty garbage pails gone within minutes — one man’s trash is another man’s treasure. There was no point in driving because of the amount of people wandering the streets, carefree and carelessly. It was like the illusion of safety was popped and what we were left was who were truly were. By now, my phone had generally quieted down, so I was surprised when I received a call from an unknown number. “Hello?” I answered, hoping it was the same cool voice from 3 hours ago taking everything back. “Hello?” No one responded. I tried a third time. “Hello? Is anyone there? The world is ending and I don’t want to be that jerk that hangs up on you. For all I know, you might be someone pretty important who needs company.” There was a sigh on the phone and a voice so small and fragile that I had to lean in to hear. “I love you. You were the first person I thought of when the mess of the world started to unravel because to me, you are the calamity and color of the world.” A final click ended the call. The final words comforted my soul and I walked down the street under the rapidly deteriorating and fearfully raw world, their screams lifting up to meet the incoming comet.

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Inherently Bad | Quick Piece

Note: This story contains images of crime, violence and grief/loss. If you are sensitive to these issues, I would suggest not reading this piece. Please read my Quick Piece Breakdown for further explanation. I wanted to give a warning because of what’s happening overseas.

We were watching our usual crime scene show with the faux blue and red flashing before our eyes as the police step out of their cars to face the crime scene. I looked at my girlfriend, Jolie, her eyes widening as the crime scene slowly unfolded with the shining red dripping from all corners of the room. Cue the credits and ending music as well as a loud groan from Jolie. “That was so good!” she said as she stretched, her beautiful hair cascading down her back. “I’m not sure if I can wait for next week!” I jumped up from the couch and started stretching with her, purposely bumping my arms into her. “Man, I’m so tired right now!” she yawned and sat on the floor. We sat together in silence, listening to the throbbing of our apartment complex. “Do you think people are inherently bad?” she said. I couldn’t see her face anymore, but something wavered in her voice. “That episode must’ve really gotten to you.” I said, feeling her breathing. She shook her head and got up to get ready for bed. By the time I finished getting ready, she was already fast asleep.

“What is it?” I called down the hall while rubbing the gunk out of my eyes. “What’s happening?” Loud pounding sounded at my door and when I cracked it open, a brisk morning breeze and two police officers met me. “Can I help you?” I mumbled. It was still too early for me to comprehend anything. “Mr. Berry, we have some unfortunate news.” the officer on the left said. I looked up at him and saw his eyes stern, but hurt. “You probably want to sit down for this.” I was still confused about what was happening, but I lead them inside where they perched themselves onto my couch. I sat in front of them and the next fifteen minutes were the worst moment of my life. They started off slow, but the story picked up pace as they explained to me that my dear Jolie set the neighbor’s house on fire, the neighbors who had just moved in and then burst into the house in an attempt to save them. They explained to me that they weren’t sure about her intentions, but they were sorry for my lost. As if their sorry would mean anything to me. As if they understood what it felt like to suddenly be devoid of my beloved. And as quickly as they had arrived, they left. The house fell silent, but the silence was so painful with the ringing in my ears, reminding me of Jolie.

It’s been a week since the incident. My beard has grown long and patchy, take-out boxes litter my floor with small biospheres starting to form. I read through the text messages last sent from Jolie for the thousandth time today. I can do whatever I want.

 

Maryrose and Lucius | Quick Piece

Part 1: Carpus

“Don’t you want to be happy, Shila? Don’t you think you need something else in your life?” my sister shouted at me. Her eyes filled with tears and slowly started approaching me. “Yes, but you’re better at this than me, Jenni! You’re great! Please don’t be upset!” Her skin started fading to grey and she extended her arms to me. “I just have to go to do something. Actually, I’m fulfilling my Carpus fate! Please, where are you going, Jenni!” I frantically tried to get a hold of her, but the last words she said was, “Don’t fail the family, Shila.”

I woke up with a start, heart pounding and drenched in sweat. I started doing a bunch of checks to keep myself from overthinking. My name is Shila and I left home three years ago to fulfill my Carpus fate. I’m living in Washington right now and I’m getting pretty close. I looked around my apartment and saw empty cartons everywhere. There were water bottles, take out boxes and papers strewn everywhere. I muttered, “My mom would kill me if she saw my room like this.” The last time I talked to my mom was a week ago and our conversation was extremely stiff. She just asked where I was and I gave her one worded responses. There were sometimes several seconds where our faces would silently be pressed against our phones with only an exchange of our breaths. My mom would finish the conversation off with a quick “I love you.” and before I had a chance to say so, the line was cut. I got dressed and had a quick bite of breakfast before heading to class.

When I first left home, I was set on proving to everyone that I didn’t need the fate to prove my worth but the more I ventured off, the more stories I heard of failed attempts to ditch the fate. I’ve heard about people’s hands suddenly falling off. I’ve heard about people’s wrists becoming engulfed in flames and being burned alive. I’ve even heard about people disappearing and never seen again. I immediately enrolled in a school after being on the road for a couple months. There was someone in my class named Maryrose, but I never got close enough to see her wrist. I just had a reverberating thought that this was simply too easy. By the end of the year, I still hadn’t talked to my sister, made a group of friends and wasn’t able to get close enough to Maryrose. She must’ve realized that I was in her class, but it was a big lecture class after all.

The following year, I was in a different class and it had less people. There weren’t that many people that we could introduce ourselves. I sat in the front of the class and I noticed that someone jumped when they heard my name. I looked back and saw a guy who couldn’t have been older than me. He made eye contact with me before glancing at his wrist. It wasn’t until he introduced himself with his eyes locked on mine did I realize that there was a match. As I walked back to my apartment, thoughts ran in my mind. My first instinct was to call my parents and tell them I potentially found my soul mate and enemy at the school I was attending. I just had to find out who was which, but the thing is that they would want us to meet and I wasn’t prepared to speak to my sister yet.

One day after class, I was going to grab some lunch before I ran into Maryrose again, drawing me close enough to see her tan wrist. I clearly bore Shila on her wrist and before I could say anything, she bolted from the restaurant, with my forgotten lunch left behind and my mission quickly drawing to an end. Eventually, I caught up with her in an alley. Her hands were on her knees, her chest was heaving and her glare was unforgettable. They bore through me and before I could say anything, she shouted, “I know who you are! Get away from me! I don’t want anything to do with you or the Carpus mission!” I slowly approached her and said, “Look, I don’t know if you’re my enemy or my soul mate. I also hate the fact that we have to do this, but let’s get this over with. If you’re my enemy then I’ll leave you alone. If you’re my soul mate, then let’s work this out.” I wasn’t sure if my words made any impact, but I kept approaching her. “Don’t come any closer!” she shouted, from her back pocket, she pulled out a knife. I thought to myself, if she wanted to have a fight, then I’ll give her one. I lunged at her and narrowly dodged her knife. I managed to land a couple hits on her, causing her to pause and smirk at me. “Come at me, bitch.” she muttered as she slices my arm. I scream in pain and leaped on her and we wrestled around in the dark and dirty alley. I managed to wrestle and kick the knife away and I sat on her stomach and before I could pummel her face with my punches, I heard a distinct shout. I looked over my shoulder and saw Lucius holding a woman’s hand. We stopped fighting and sat up. “Maryrose, I know I avoided you last year because I was also in the process of fulfilling my Carpus fate. I met Keara and I immediately knew that she was my soul mate. When I saw you, I knew you were my enemy and I was afraid.” Lucius slowly said. His words only started to register with me when I sensed Maryrose standing up next to me. She extended her hand to me and without a word, she pulled me in for a hug. Instead of feeling hatred for her, a new feeling erupted within me as I made eye contact with Lucius who smiled to me and then smiled to Keara. “How come you aren’t fighting me?” I stammered to Lucius. Maryrose nodded in agreement and added, “I always thought you have to somehow defeat your enemy. When I saw Shila, I just got the feeling to defeat her. Maybe the paranoia was getting to me.” Her sorrow filled look erased the hard feelings I had for her. Lucius laughed and said, “As long as you recognize the relations of the names, then the fate will be settled.” And from then on, I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders.

A month later, Maryrose and I share an apartment and each day with her is a new adventure. Sometimes Lucius and Keara would visit us and we would happily catch up. After that night, I glanced at my wrists and to my surprise and dismay; I found the names completely faded from my wrists. Since then, I had tearfully reconciled with my sister with a five hour phone call and we’ve visited each other many times afterwards. And from then on, I knew that everything was settled again.

Carpus | Quick Piece

For my entire life, I’ve lived in Abington with my family. When I was little, I loved playing outside with my sister and we would fantasize about fairy realms. I always played the fairy queen and my sister would play the peasant, but in the end, she would always be the fairy princess. I remembered long hours where we would dart around the woods, pretending we were fairies. As we got older and our imagination evolved, I became a fairy ice queen and my sister became the fairy fire princess. We ran so fast and often that our bodies grew strong. In times like these, we would forget about our destiny that often haunted us when we were little. Whenever we had to attend council meetings, we tried to convince our parents that our fairy kingdom was going to collapse and that they desperately needed us. They would convince us that the fairy police force had it taken care of and we would sadly head to the council meetings with our family. At the meetings, the mayor would talk about our Carpus fate and updating us who had successfully completed their deeds, who was currently taking part of it and he would end the meeting by motivating us to take part in it because it was our fate. I still remember when my parents first talked to us about it. They explained that the two names on our wrists were the two people that would shape me and my sister’s lives. My parents would tell the story of how they found each other. My mom held out her right hand and Brandon, my dad’s name, was there. On my dad’s left hand was Cindie, my mom’s name. They talked about how they helped each other find their enemies. I remembered asking my dad why they even bothered to find their enemy. He said that even though they’re your enemy, you have to identify them so you can clear their name. I still never understood why, but I understood this growing burden that I would soon have to take on.
My sister and I went to school and started seeing more people who had people’s names tattooed on their wrists, but didn’t know who were their soul mates or enemies. People would talk about what they think would happen, but since they didn’t have much time, there wasn’t much we could do. I just stared at my wrists and wished that they would go away. On my left wrist was Maryrose and on my right wrist was Lucius. They were both written in an elegant script that was a different style than the two names my sister had. They were blockierand there were rumors that the style that the names were written in described your personality. I didn’t feel very fancy. Our teachers would always remind us about our deed, but I would take my eraser and try to scrub it away. My wrists became bright red from all the scrubbing I would do and my classmates started calling me Lobster for some reason. My sister tried to back me up, but when she started getting called Crab, she backed away from me. Ever since that, I stopped talking to her. We would only tell each other that dinner was ready and we would silently retreat from our rooms and quietly eat, our parents uncertain of the situation.
One night, she bought up her fate. She proudly announced that she had already found her soul mate. My parents sat up straight and started asking her questions. Apparently she met him at the restaurant she worked for and when they met, their tattoos faded to the grey that indicates that you were successful. She stuck out her hand and her left hand was faded to a grey that matched my parent’s status. My mother’s shaky hands caressed my sister’s hands and gently kissed it with her soft lips. “Well done, Jenni. Well done.” my dad whispered as tears brimmed his eyes. He knew that his daughter wasn’t his anymore. “Tonight, we’ll head to the Council meeting and meet your soul mate.” my mother finally said. For this entire time, I sat with my hands under the table, furiously rubbing my wrists until they were raw. Without a word, I walked away from the table to my room and started to cry. I already heard stories at school of how they had also found their soul mate. Some of them even found their enemies and talked about epic battles. One of my friends even found their soul mate and she would constantly talk about how magical it felt. I still hated the Carpus fate. I lay in my bed and stared at my wrists. “What if I never find you guys? What if it takes me 50 years to find you? I’m sorry I’ll make you wait that long.” I muttered. “You’re just lazy, that’s what. You’re not even trying.” I heard my sister say from my door. I leaped from my bed and shouted, “You really think so? Do you really think that I want this stupid fate stuck on me ever since I was born? Heck, I didn’t ask for this!” She shouted back at me, her face turning bright red. “Don’t you want to be happy? Don’t you want to be successful? For all I know, you’ve failed!” I took a step towards her and rolled up my sleeves. “You don’t know me, bitch! And you? You’re not the same anymore. You would never be worthy of the fairy realm anymore.” I said, hoping that some childhood nostalgia would remind her for who she was. She laughed loudly, her high pitched squeal echoing throughout the house. “We’re not in the fairy kingdom anymore. Wake up! It’s the real world where you have to face your problems.” I lifted my hand up to her face just as my parents raced up the stairs and stood shell-shocked of the scene unfolding in front of them. My mother let out a whimper, but neither of them reached out to stop us. It was already too late and whatever’s been said has already done its damage. My sister closed her eyes, ready to take my blow, but something held me back. I simply whispered, “I guess everything we did together didn’t count then.” I lowered my hand and retreated to my room. I could hear my sister shouting at my parents and her door slamming shut, shaking everything violently. I started packing immediately; throwing everything important into my backpack so my mind left no room for reflection. In the distance, I heard my parents begging me to come out so we could talk. The noise quickly died down. I let the only noise I make be a whispered good-bye. I walk out of the house, seeing the entire house shrouded in an unusual quietness with the reverberation of my parent’s hurried whispers leaking through their walls. I walk until I reach the opposite sidewalk and drop my bags. I hold up my scripted wrists in front of the house, seeing my sorrow-filled sister’s silhouette in the window and close my eyes. I shout to the skies, “I’m coming for you, Maryrose and Lucius!”

Part 2: Maryrose and Lucius