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Life Is Beautiful

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posted on Sep, 10 2010 @ 03:25 AM
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LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL





See the man through the grease-smeared window of the diner. He looks, unseeing, toward the window, his chin cupped in the palm of his hand-a picture of despair. The laugh lines have long since disappeared from around his eyes and mouth. His eyes are red from too much crying or too little sleep, maybe both. At first glance, he looks like he’s in his mid-forties. Anyone first meeting him would be surprised to learn that he is thirty-five.
This part of town is like a reflection of his soul. It was once a quiet, middle-class neighborhood. Over the years, it has sunk into decay and disrepair; though, it is not as seedy as it is a few blocks further east-where winos and pan handlers fight for elbow room on the dirty streets with hookers and drug dealers. He grew up in this part of town, when it was still nice. He’d moved across town after he graduated from college and married. The marriage had lasted ten years. Now, after a bitter divorce, he stays in a tiny apartment, just down the street. He feels like he has come full circle.
“Are you ready to order now, sir?”
The voice snaps him back to the world. He turns and sees a woman of about twenty with frizzy red hair. He wonders how long she has been standing there.
“I’ll have a steak and potato.”
“How would you like the steak cooked?”
He thinks for a moment, then: “Medium rare would be fine, thanks.”
“What would you like to drink with that?”
He orders a coffee and returns his attention to the window.
The waitress looks over her shoulder at the man as she goes to the kitchen to place his order. She thinks about a friend of hers that had committed suicide the year before. The man has the same look about him that her friend did near the end. She blinks back tears and says a silent prayer for the sad looking man gazing out the window.
Someone at another table puts money into the juke box and Hank Williams starts to sing “Your Cheatin’ Heart.” It’s funny how life can be like a country song.




posted on Sep, 10 2010 @ 03:26 AM
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reply to post by Skid Mark
 


“What are these? What the hell is going on?” He shook the stack of papers, love letters, in his sweaty hand.
“Look, Jerry, I’m sorry. I was going to tell you. I didn’t want you to find out this way.”
He looked down at the letters that he had found in his wife’s drawer.
“How could you do this to me, Diana? How long has this been going on?”
“I’ve been seeing Stan for about a year. It’s as much your fault as it is mine, you know. I mean-“
“Bull#! There’s no excuse to go behind my back and-“
Look, I need something more! Hell, half the time, you act like I don’t exist! You’re always at work, anyway. You might as well be married to your job.”
He worked at social services.
“That’s not fair! You know how important this job is. I have to work twice as hard just to be taken seriously. Hell, it took two years for them to stop calling me ‘Chief’ and Tonto’ and start giving me assignments that make any difference at all. I’m this close to getting that promotion….” He held his thumb and forefinger and inch apart for emphasis. “After that, I can start doing some good for people. I’ll have more time to spend with you, too. You know that. So, that’s no excuse.”
“You’ll never get anywhere in that job. You’re just a flunky to them. You’re just their pet Indian and it’s all you ever will be!”
She’d put his deepest fears into words and threw them in his face. He was shaking with anger. He wanted to slap her, to see the pain on her face that he felt in his heart. Instead, he walked out the door to take a drive and calm down.
Diana was gone when he returned two hours later, along with all of her stuff. She must have called Price Charming to help her move out the moment he’d stepped out the door.
The next time he heard from her was through her lawyer a month later. Divorce papers had been filed and he, the lawyer, would appreciate it if Jerry would cooperate in order to settle the matter. Jerry saw no reason to fight it and signed the papers. It was obvious that Diana was unhappy. In the end, she was awarded the house. He was allowed to keep the few things he’d purchased during their marriage, and his car.
Life took an abrupt wrong after that. There was a recession and the government thought that it would be more cost-effective to pare down a few jobs. They called it “down-sizing”. Jerry was the first one to go. Now, he’s living off of unemployment in a cramped apartment down the street.
He thinks about the gun that is sitting in the night stand by his bed. He will have a nice dinner and later, a bullet for dessert.
His dinner comes and he thanks the waitress, offering her a sad smile.
“Enjoy your meal,” she says and walks away to tend to another customer. She wants to say more but no words come.
He senses someone passing by the window when he’s almost finished with his meal. There have been people passing back and forth during the last fifteen minutes, but he hadn’t paid it any attention. Now, however, he looks up and sees the back of a woman. She seems to feel him looking at her-as if his gaze has weight-and turns to look at him.
Long dark hair falls across her shoulders. Her head and shoulders are slumped, as if in defeat. The sorrow her dark eyes reflect his own and moves something deep inside his heart. He wants to go out and talk to her, to ease her pain, but thinks that he would only get hurt him-self. He thinks that it is too late for any kind of relationship. He doesn’t think that he deserves anyone’s affection, anyway. She turns and continues down the street.



edit on 10-9-2010 by Skid Mark because: Adding content



posted on Sep, 10 2010 @ 03:30 AM
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reply to post by Skid Mark
 


See the woman-a picture of despair. Her shoulders are slumped, as if the weight of the world sits upon them, as she walks down the street. Her dark eyes are focused on the ground. Some may call her pretty. That is not how she feels inside. Her inner mirror reflects an ugliness and uselessness that do not exist. It is an image that has been imposed upon her by those that have claimed to love her.
Love, people use the word in such a careless and casual way. They cheapen it with insults, blows, and ill use-hold it hostage or use it as a weapon in order to get what they want. She supposes that true love exists but thinks that it is too late for her to find it and that she doesn’t deserve it, even if she did.
She thinks about Doug, the man that she had once thought of as her soul mate. He’d said that he loved her. She’d lost her virginity to him. How could she have been such a fool?
They met at the restaurant where she used to work. He had come in five days in a row and seemed to make a point of sitting in her section. The things that she had liked most about him were that he didn’t hit on her and wasn’t crude, like most of the guys she’d known. He was sweet. He asked her out the fifth day and she had agreed. They ended up having such a good time that they started dating. She slept with him six months later. They had gone out drinking that night. It was the first time she’d ever been drunk. She liked to think that she was willing to do it. A month after that, she found out that she was pregnant. She was scared and didn’t know what to do.
“Don’t worry. It’ll be fine. I’ll take care of you and the baby. We could get married.”
“Are you sure? I’d love that but….”
“I love you. There isn’t anyone else I would rather be with. We’ll be happy.”
Happiness and relief washed over her. It was short lived. He stopped returning her calls two months later. His visits to the restaurant had ceased, too. When she came by his house, she saw a woman leaving and felt a stab of betrayal when the woman kissed him before she left. She circled the block and parked in front of his house.
“What the hell do you want,” he asked when she knocked on the door.
The sudden change in him shocked her. “W-what’s going on? Why won’t you return my calls? Who was that woman?”
“It’s over, Kate. I don’t want to see you again,” he said, his face turning mean.
“I don’t understand. You said you loved me. The baby….”
“All you were was a screw. That woman is my girl friend. We just got back together and you’re not going to # that up. Besides, for all I know, the kid’s not even mine.”
She was close to tears and her voice trembled. “I was a virgin. You know that.”
“Right. Whatever.”



posted on Sep, 10 2010 @ 03:31 AM
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reply to post by Skid Mark
 


That’s when she slapped him, hard, across the face. An angry red handprint appeared on his cheek. She was shocked that she’d done it. There was a sudden pain in her stomach and she felt herself stumbling backward off the porch. She landed on the lawn, driving the air from her lungs. She lay there, looking at the sky and trying not to vomit. It took her a moment to realize what had happened. Doug had hit her. There was a loud bang, sounding as if it came from another world, as Doug slammed the door shut behind him. Her breathing became easier a little later and she struggled to her feet. Her stomach blazed with pain and she still had the urge to vomit. She staggered to her car and drove toward home.
It was five minutes later when the cramps hit. They were horrible. It felt like a powerful fist was squeezing her insides. She felt something wet on her thighs and prayed that she’s wet herself. Dread filled her heart when she looked down. Red roses bloomed through her white jeans. Blood.
The hospital was a couple of blocks away and she drove there as fast as she could.
“Hey! You can’t park there,” a police officer yelled when she swung her door open.
“My baby! Oh, God, my baby!” She gestured to the stain spreading between her legs.
Understanding and pity filled his eyes when he saw it.
“Hey! Bring me a wheel chair, now!”
One of the nurses that were having a cigarette break heard the concern in his voice and hurried inside.
“It’s going to be okay, honey. It’s going to be okay,” the nurse said as they helped her into the wheelchair.
It’s never going to be okay again, Kate thought, never.
The police officer, whose nametag said that he was Tom Crandall, hopped into her car and parked it. He then caught up to the nurse that was pushing Kate to the emergency room.
“What’s your name, miss?”:
She told him.
“What happened?”
She explained it to him, between gasps of pain, and gave him Doug’s address.
Officer Crandall felt anger boil within him. He put his hand on her shoulder, thinking about his wife, who was five months pregnant, and said, “Don’t worry. We’ll get him.” He turned and walked outside.
A week passed and she learned about Doug’s death from the newspaper. He’d been shot down in an apparent drug deal gone wrong. The news came as a shock, that he was dead and that it involved drugs. She hadn’t known that he was a dealer. She looked inside herself and found that she wasn’t sorry that he was dead.



posted on Sep, 10 2010 @ 03:32 AM
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reply to post by Skid Mark
 


That was a year ago. Since then, she’s descended into a pit of depression. No light ever shines there and she still mourns for the child that she never got to know.
She walks down the street, among the happy couples, and wonders how it would be to feel so much joy. The thought makes her even more sad. She pushes it away and continues on. She has a destination in mind. There’s a bridge up ahead. It used to be a happy place for her. She and her father would go fishing along the riverbanks when she was little and sometimes, when the water was low and the current was not so swift, she would swim there. She wonders how it would feel to just float out to the middle and let the current pull her down into its cold embrace and sweep her away.
Her footsteps stop as she passes a restaurant a block from the bridge. She feels someone watching her. She turns around and leans forward to look in the window to see who is observing her. There is a man sitting there. He’s about ten years older than she is. The frown lines make him look older.
Compassion is the sorrow or pity aroused by the suffering of others. She feels this for the man when she looks into his sad, dark eyes. She wants to go in and comfort him and ease his pain but she’s afraid to open herself that way for someone, that she would get hurt even more. She does not stop to think that he might be able to ease her own suffering, such is the state of her heart. She tries not to think very much these days. She gives him a sad smile and turns to walk toward the bridge.



posted on Sep, 10 2010 @ 03:33 AM
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reply to post by Skid Mark
 


Jerry finishes his dinner and lays a ten-dollar bill on the table without looking at it. He goes to the counter to pay for his dinner, then walks out the door. A right turn will take him to his apartment and to his gun. A left turn will take him to a block of stores and restaurants, a bridge spanning the Saint Mary’s River, and to a small park beyond. For some reason unknown to him, he turns left. He walks along, deep in thought. There is a commotion up ahead as he nears the bridge. He looks up and sees ten people gathered there. No, eleven. A woman is on the other side of the guardrail, preparing to jump. Jerry realizes that it is the woman that he saw in front of the diner. A man with a scruffy beard and a red baseball cap is trying to pull her back over the rail.
“Don’t do this! Please don’t do this,” he yells.
“Anybody got a cell phone? Anybody? Call the police,” someone else is shouting.
The woman manages to wriggle free of the man and teeters on the brink of falling. He shoots an arm out to grab her again. His hand closes on empty air. The crowd cries out in unison.
Jerry watches in horror as she falls. All thoughts of taking his life vanish. He explodes into motion without thinking. There is a distance of ten feet between Jerry and the bridge. He covers it in seconds.
The man with the scruffy beard tries to hold him back but he slips away.
“You damn fool! She’s gone!”
Jerry doesn’t hear him. His mind is focused on saving the woman. He can’t let her die.
The fall isn’t as long as he’d thought it would be, just a few seconds. The cold water shocks the breath out of him. The momentum from the fall drives him a few feet under the water. He fights his way back up and emerges coughing and sputtering. He takes a breath before diving back down to look for her.
The water is murky and he can only see a foot in front of him. Something brushes his leg and he grabs onto it. It is a tree limb. He holds onto it as the current moves him along.
There is a logjam up ahead. Some limbs stick out a little way into the river. Something blue catches his eye. At first, he dismisses it as a piece of garbage. The river is littered with it. Then, he notices something white attached to it.
Waves lap the jumble of sticks and the white thing bobs up. Jerry swims toward it.
He remembers his mother’s warning about not swimming after eating as a cramp hits him. He’s still four feet away from the jam. His energy begins to wane as the cramp takes hold.
Not now. Not now.
He struggles against the pain and thrashes ever closer. He starts to go down when he is just two feet away from it.
He shoots out a hand in desperation and is relieved when it closes around a good-sized stick. He works his way to the spot he had been swimming for.
His heart skips a beat when he sees that the thing is a leg encased in blue jeans with a sneaker on its foot. He takes hold of it and pulls himself along until he can se the rest of the body, submerged under a few inches of water. Dark hair floats around her head like ink.
He notices that he can feel the bottom and pulls her toward the riverbank by her armpits, holding her head above water. It lolls forward. He pulls her out and lays her on her back.
His heart sinks when he sees how pale she is, her bluish lips, and her lack of breathing. She’s been under the water for five minutes. He checks for a pulse. It is very faint. He’s glad that he took that course for CPR a few years ago at the Red Cross.
Jerry tilts her head back and makes sure her airway is clear, then gives her the breath of life. Her chest rises and falls.
Nothing. He feels a hand on his shoulder and half-turns. The man with the scruffy beard is standing there, along with four others. Sorrow fills his eyes.
“There’s nothin’ you can do for her, mister. She’s gone.”
Jerry turns back to her and tries once more to revive her. Nothing happens at first. He sits back and puts his hands to his eyes.
He pulls them away when he hears a watery cough a second later. Water is pouring from her mouth. He lifts her head a little so that it can be expelled easier. She gasps for breath and begins to breath once more. When her dark eyes flutter open and focus on him, Jerry thinks that life was never more beautiful.



posted on Sep, 22 2010 @ 03:36 PM
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Nice story skidmark, tragedy, misery and triumph, a good reflection of contemporary collective mindsets. You successfully made me feel the thought process' and reactions of the characters.
Thanks for sharing!

spec



posted on Sep, 22 2010 @ 04:02 PM
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That was a good read.

I don't know why but it remind's me of a poem called Richard Cory by Edwin Arlington.

"Whenever Richard Cory went down town,
We people on the pavement looked at him:
He was a gentleman from sole to crown,
Clean favored, and imperially slim.

And he was always quietly arrayed,
And he was always human when he talked;
But still he fluttered pulses when he said,
"Good-morning," and he glittered when he walked.

And he was rich, richer than a king,
And admirably schooled in every grace:
In fine, we thought that he was everything
To make us wish that we were in his place.

So on we worked, and waited for the light,
And went without the meat, and cursed the bread;
And Richard Cory, one calm summer night,
Went home and put a bullet through his head."

I don't know. x)


edit on 9/22/10 by ohsnaptruth because: spelln'



posted on Sep, 30 2010 @ 12:24 PM
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Thanks for reading and for the comments. ohsnaptruth: I like the poem you included. I've never read it. I'll have to look up more of his work.



posted on Sep, 30 2010 @ 12:59 PM
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reply to post by Skid Mark
 


Great story Skid!
My eyes were glued to the screen as I devoured the words. The compassion you evoked in me for both characters was strong enough for me to feel relieved when she survived


Great Stuff!

Keepem coming!

meathead



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