These entries from November's challenge were selected as Honorable Mentions. Those who completed this challenge are now encouraged to share their stories in the comments section of the "November Writing Challenge."
The Monster Under My Bed
There is a monster under my bed. It guards a happier, safer time, memorialized in relics of the past. A broken paintbrush, lyrics to an unsung song, all collected and shoved out of sight to where the sunlight can’t reach them. Sometimes, I want to look. An urge from deep within my chest beckoning me. Just a peek, I tell myself. Harmless. But it only takes a single waft of the past to have me transfixed and vulnerable. The beast swoops in, just like I told it to, shoots me with its petrifying glare, and carries me out of harm’s way. In the safety of my lamp’s flickering light, I pour myself a mug of tea and ponder the wonders of the past. The comforting warmth of my drink and the soft drone of the radio are the only things preventing me from wandering through my confused labyrinth of memories. Monster might be an unfair title. In a way, it acts as my knight in shining armour, rescuing me from the pain I know I’ll suffer through if I revisit the past. The pitter-patter of rain retrieves me from my thoughts, and a clock chimes somewhere in my house. Time to cross the bridge back to reality.
I was standing on the bridge, transfixed.
It was petrifying, gazing into the murky waters below me.
I was vulnerable, helpless, and weak.
I was going to jump off.
But then you saw me standing, quivering.
And I heard your song.
You helped me down from the ledge.
And wrapped me in an affectionate hug.
That’s when you became my everything.
You were my timepiece, keeping me on track.
You were my compass, showing me the way.
You were my lamp, illuminating my life.
You were my knight, my hero.
You picked up my broken pieces and put them back together.
You transformed me.
Before I met you, I was drowning.
But you opened my eyes.
And I saw the sunlight hiding behind the storm clouds
You dragged me out of a deep abyss.
You lit up my life like the sun.
You rescued me.
You saved me from my own self.
Now, when I see you, my breath completely leaves me.
You freed me.
Kendall S. Conway
Supposed to Be
“Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”
This is what Martin Luther King Jr. had said in one of his famous speeches of hope to civilians around him. His followers. His people. Of course he was shot dead, assassinated for these words, but we shouldn’t dwell on it, right?
My toes crunch in the forest, colors of orange and red and yellow enveloping me into its life of development. Soon, like the rest of us, they would turn brown and wither and die in the ground, underneath dirt and beneath the bottom of people’s shoes. It’s funny how Mother Nature offers some foreshadowing to the darker moments we will indefinitely have in our short-lived lives.
As soon as I spot it, I freeze and go completely still. Searching for something for six years in the same damn place does that to you. Quietly, my hands snake their way into my worn, brown leather satchel to familiarize my fingers with the shape of a camera. I bring it up to my eye, aiming for the beautiful area of crystallized, clear as window pane water.
Birds sing their song of delight and fresh oxygen produced from the trees. The sound of Woodpeckers and a gentle stream of liquid soothes me, brings me to my center of peace.
I walk into the opening of thick branches of leaves and brush, coming to a breathless point at the edge of the lake that shimmers against the sunlight. It’s oddly bright out today, creating a more risen temperature of the climate as well. Today I can gather ingredients Dad needs for his medical herbs. The doctor said it was less expensive and more focused on my father’s religion to heal with plants anyway.
It’s the perfect day for photography hunting, and finally, I’ve found Hideaway Blue Hole Lake. The meaning behind the name is just what it sounds like: hidden from the sight and touch of man. Like it never existed in the world of beauty and serenity. But here I am, in one piece, after camping on this mountain for three weeks towards the end of Autumn.
Camping isn’t exactly my cup of tea .
A sigh escapes past my lips as I sit on a moist rock, transfixed through the lens of my Nikon camera. The words of Mr. King Jr. ring through my head.
In order to accomplish something, you must go through the pain to get there. Look at what all I’ve sacrificed. Tragically, the boy I loved. In my backstory, that’s what I’ve struggled and wrestled with. No amount of affectionate love or willpower could make him stop getting involved with those men. And it killed him. Emotionally and physically. It destroyed me too.
I taste the tears incoming, and to avoid a hysterical crying fit, I rest the camera around my neck again and dig my journal out of the satchel. My fingers flip through the pages of a broken girl, mourning over her beloved boyfriend. My eyes try as they might to skip over what my monster of a pencil had written, but it’s vain.
The tears do fall. In waves. Waterfalls. Sobs erupt from my throat, causing a few animals to face my way. It’s been a few months since I felt this vulnerable to the world. It’s still petrifying: the memories of him being beaten to a bloody pulp are embedded into my head forever. It’s like my brain is a shattered timepiece that keeps replaying the same hour, day, second, minute that he died in front of me, holding him as the ambulance showed up too late. The exact stroke of a paintbrush of the second hand of the clock in the hospital. I remember it clearly.
No compass could bring me back to him. No lamp could brighten my home like he did. No bridge could help me cross this path of pain and excruciating grief, as much as I‘ve tried to forget.
So I’m asked by my loved ones, “Why not ask for help?”
But I don’t want to radio for help. I don’t want to confess my cracked soul that I now have the honor of withholding. I don’t want to do that while every other girl I see is kissing their fairytale knight in shining armor. While everyone else is living in a fantasy land with unicorns and rainbows and their fancy castles.
People move on. The world advances. But I’m stuck. I feel immobile, cold, and alone. Taking photos of undiscovered places we wanted to travel to was our thing. Not mine. Not me alone. Ours.
This was supposed to be ours.