Restless

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Squinting between the sun and horizon, a tumble weed scurries past my blistered feet. My throat aches from dehydration as I swallow the salty taste of the blood from my busted lip. Ever since I stepped foot in this godforsaken, wasteland, I’ve lost track of the days, alone so long that my tears have dried against my blackened skin. It’s a miracle I haven’t gone blind from wandering through the midday sun like a car with a broken GPS, past the dunes of sand and sparse wild flowers that give color to the homogenous setting. Although most of my hope is all but gone, there’s still a part of me that believes there’s an oasis ahead. Perhaps, my days as a restless nomad are almost over, and I’ll find a place to rest. A place I can call home.

 

The Preacher’s Secret

Wedding rings on a dictionary showing the word infidelity

Horacio remembered the day he first saw her at a revival youth seminar. He was busy laying hands on the youth for prayer when he spotted the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Her long jet black hair and warm set of dark eyes and lively smile caused him to stutter as she asked for prayer.

 After service was over, he caught up to her and the two of them talked exchanging telephone numbers beginning a long distance relationship over the phone since he traveled regularly. When he’d come to town, he would visit her and take her out on dates. At first her parents were skeptical of him, but after they saw how much of a gentleman he was they grew to love him. He proved himself to them by showing them that he shared their same morals and convictions. It also helped he was an upcoming pastor.
She was innocent unlike most women he pursued, which made her a prize to him. At the time, she was the woman of his dreams. He earned her trust by not letting his true colors show and succeeding in marrying a young virgin, but he soon grew dissatisfied with her. He had always been a playboy in his personal life and he was sure that she really wanted him. A long time ago he wasn’t a womanizer and actually tried to have real relationships with women, but when he was mentored by his senior pastor they would sneak out together seeing various women realizing the shameless nature of many he lost respect for them. He knew his senior pastor was constantly cheating on his decrepit wife who was unaware believing she was living the dream Christian life. There was a difference between being a pastor’s wife which was dull and the mistress, which was for having fun with. Catalina at first seemed she could be both since she was physically perfect to him, but she wasn’t sensual enough to fulfill his sex addiction. At first he gave up his aggressive, strange sexual fetishes trying to be a perfect husband, but when Adrian came along he took up too much of her time and his old desires returned and he sought out mistresses that could do the kinky things his wife would never be willing to do since she strongly was against going outside of the natural uses of sex.
When she had that kid, he loved Adrian. He resembled him and it looked like his boy would always love him, but he began to become annoyed of him because he loved to follow him around even when he needed to sneak out causing him to feel condemned. Adrian was brilliant. The kid could read by the age of two and was already starting basic math at a kindergarten age, which brought a great deal of pride to Horacio, but it wasn’t enough to stop him from withholding his rage. Adrian was his shadow quoting scriptures he memorized them like a robot. Those were the days he loved his son then something changed. He met this woman she was everything he sexually dreamed of and she had a few kids of her own and he began bond with them. Adrian soon became a shade of his mother. He no longer minded beating his son it was no different than beating his stupid wife. When Adrian would cry it would make him feel guilty and he would tell him to shut up. After all he wasn’t a bad person, he was a philanthropist having donated money to numerous charities, went on mission trips feeding the poor. Not to mention a pastor. If he were evil he wouldn’t have family’s basic necessities, and provided the extras, but no; of course they were ungrateful and undeserving of his kindness. When his son would say he was an evil man, he would beat him worse. Adrian used to say God wouldn’t like it or be pleased. How did that kid know he was only a child and he was a pastor? In past Christmases he would either beat him and his mother on that day or go on “revival retreats” in which he spent the holidays with his mistresses and their kids instead. Horacio had been through multiple mistresses probably near the hundreds and didn’t regret it, he was a man and he wasn’t getting what he needed at home.

Stay With Us

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The glare of headlights in my rearview mirror contributed to the unevenness of my heart. I gripped the steering wheel and squeezed back tears as I sped through the summer night. Ahead were specks of light that sprung up. The tears in my eyes dried as I slowed to a stop.

A couple women stood in the middle of a parking lot and they turned as I pulled up beside them.

“Hey,” one of the women said as she swished towards the car.

“Hi.” I smiled.

“Welcome?” She shook my hand.

“It’s good to be back in civilization. I’ve been driving for days.” I said.

“So what’s your name?” she asked as her manicured nail rested under her sharp chin.

“Destiny.”

“Nice to meet you, Destiny. I’m Wanda,” she said. The sound of another vehicle as it swung into the lot stole our attention.

“Oh look, another newcomer.” The other woman said.

“Interesting, Anette. We don’t usually get many new faces around here.” Wanda replied. Another woman emerged from the jeep. Her dark hair covered part of her face and when she looked up at me our eyes locked. I quickly looked away and pretended not to notice her intense gaze.

“So what’s your name new girl?” Anette said as she crossed her arms.

“Grace,” the girl replied without a smile, then directed her attention back to me.

“Well, Grace and Destiny make yourselves at home.” Wanda grinned and led us inside the salon. My eyes grew wide with astonishment at all the young people chatting and drinking inside.

“Is everyone in this town in their twenties?” I asked Wanda.

“Yes” Wanda replied, and placed her hand on her hip.

“Weird.” I muttered, then I felt something grip my wrist. I turned to see Grace. We stared at one another for an entire minute before she spoke.

“We need to get out of here,” Grace whispered.

“Why?” I shook my head.

“These people are dangerous.” Grace gritted her teeth.

“How do you know this?”

“Don’t you find the whole set up of the town suspicious?” She leaned in closer so no one else would hear.

“If anything you’re the weird one. You followed me on the road. Your brights were blinding me.”

“Someone has to look out for the naive.” She frowned.

“Oh, so that’s how it is. You stalk and defame me?”

“I wasn’t trying to be mean. I’m just really concerned about you.”

“Why?”

“Because I am.”

“You’re a complete stranger,” I said. Grace turned and walked off, but Anette stopped her.

“Hold up Gracie, you and Destiny will be roommates.”

“What?” I said.

“Oh, you girls didn’t think you were just going to stop by and leave. Stay with us.”

“I don’t have enough to afford rent.” Grace answered.

“Don’t worry, you can stay for free.”

“What’s the catch?” Grace said.

“Nothing.” Anette replied. Both Grace and I exchanged glances and followed her to our apartment complex. It was spacious enough, and had a simple design. When Anette, shut the door Grace grabbed hold of my hands.

‘I’m telling you, we need to leave,” she said.

“I still don’t see why.” I pulled away from her. “I’m going back out to explore.”

“Wait!” She tugged on my shirt, but I moved away.

As I walked through the streets, I noticed a bus at the station and I crept closer and watched as a group of basketball players got out. Then I saw Anette and Wanda deep in conversation with them. I plodded towards them.

“Hey Wanda!” I said. She turned and narrowed her lids at me.

“Oh hey, Destiny. I thought you and Grace were in for the night. You seemed a bit flustered by everything.”

“I’m a night owl.”

“Oh okay, well meet our familiar strangers.” She pointed to the team of guys they were now staring at the both of us.

“Hi” I waved shyly. One of them grinned.

“Destiny, I was thinking I could give you a bit of a makeover.” Anette said coming up from behind.

“I don’t think I’m in the mood.”

“Trust me, when I say that I can give you the red carpet look.”

“You’ve got to be kidding?”

“I used to work as a makeup artist in Hollywood before I relocated.”

“I don’t know,” I said.

“Go on, try it. Anette is amazing at what she does and she’s quick.” Wanda winked.

“I guess.” I sighed. Anette led me inside and seated me in an empty chair. My heart started to rage again. I tried to ignore it as my hand tingled. Anette applied foundation, and she resumed her conversation with one of the guys as he walked inside to see her. I was nervous since there was no mirror. Then she stopped, and I stood up confused.

“Anette,” I interrupted her.

“What?” She scowled.

“You didn’t finish.”

“I’m done,” she said. The guy she spoke to gaped at me, and the pounding of my heart grew worse.

I rushed to a mirror and my mouth dropped at the sight. My face glimmered as I now possessed the look of many of the women I would fawn over on television, but something was missing. I couldn’t place it and no matter how glamorous I looked, I was disgusted. Then it hit me, it was my soul.

I backed away and dashed to the apartment to collect my things. There Grace waited cross armed.

“You’re leaving?”

I ignored her and continued to pack my bags.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” She snatched my bag.

“Because it’s none of your business!” I snapped at her. She tackled me, and I elbowed her in the face. She fell over and I sprinted outside. A tow truck dragged away my car.

I tore down the street as the entire town was now outside including Grace. Their eyes were solid black as they surged towards me, and I ran out of the town with only the wilderness to hear my cries.

 

Her Revenge

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“Azazel!” Naamah shouted, from the pit of her stomach as she toppled over the mound of rocks that sealed her husband’s fate.He could no longer hear her from his imprisonment within the earth. 

* * *

Thousands of years went by, and her heart hardened. She ruled over the other sirens in a kingdom beneath the sea, luring men’s ships in only to crash from the sound of her melodic voice.

Certain nights she left the waters and traveled to men’s bedrooms, taking on whatever form a man craved feeding on their tantric energy. Her operations grew more destructive as she taught hexes to her cult followers. Although Lemuria had been destroyed by the deluge, she never truly left it.The dark sorcery that had brought about the antedeluvian world’s demise was within her.

Displaced

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“We’re almost there” His mother exclaimed. Slowly, the campus came into view. A sense of excitement and fear filled him. His dream had finally come true, and he’d be attending Yale. Nervousness about his reception flooded his mind. He didn’t have many possessions, just a laptop, fridge and a few basic necessities.

He had devoted hours to studying, performing hours of community service and other painstaking sacrifices. Entering into the elite world was a dream come true, but also a nightmare. The thought of having to contend with generations of old money seemed impossible. His family consisted of him and his mother who struggled to make ends meet. Adrian viewed himself as a poor young man in search of a place in an aristocratic world.

It had always been his passion to study law. Although it had failed to punish his father for what he had done and unfairly targeted his best friend, he refused to let it skew his perception and more than anything, he desired to make a positive impact on the legal system.

His mother assisted him transport his meager possessions to his dorm. As they ascended the staircase, he felt as if everyone’s eyes were on him which left him unsettled. His mother seemed oblivious, or if she were aware she managed to conceal it.

As they rounded the corner, down the hall, Adrian braced himself to slip into a cordial mood in preparation for his first encounter with his roommate. Numerous ideas about what the guy would be like flooded his mind. He just hoped he wasn’t overly eccentric or vexatious. It was a struggle for him to connect with most people because they lacked his world view, which made it near impossible to form meaningful relationships with the majority of people his age.

As they approached the room, the door was slightly ajar, and he spied a nonchalant guy seated at a small, rectangular black desk as he viewed Instagram on his MacBook Pro. There wasn’t much space in the room. It was small, but doable. Posters of Indie rock bands covered the left wall. The guy looked up and smiled.

“Hey bro, I’m Mario Vitali. You must be Adrian Luz?” He stood to shake Adrian’s hand.

“Nice to meet you” Adrian mustered an unconvincing smile, dazed after the long drive.

“So where are you from?” Mario asked.

“Phoenix.” Adrian attempted to smile once more, but failed; he needed sleep.

“You must be his mother” Mario took Catalina’s hand and shook it “I thought you were his sister for a moment, no joke,” Mario chuckled.

“Well I’m flattered, and it’s very nice to meet you Mario.” Catalina smiled.

“So Mario where are you from?” Adrian said.

“I’m originally from Chicago, but after my parents separated four years ago my mother sent me to Greenwich which isn’t’ too far from here to live with my father.”

“I bet it was quite a change,” Adrian responded a bit more engaged.

“I still miss it there sometimes but it’s not bad here either.”

“I’m already out of my element.” Adrian sighed.

“You’ll adjust, there’s plenty of stuff to do out here. Did you get a chance to tour New Haven yet?

“I haven’t had much time. I just got here.” A slight grin spread across Mario’s face. “There’s still plenty of time.”

“Mario, if you don’t mind, I need to have a word with Adrian before I leave,” Catalina interrupted.

“Sure thing, I was about to duck out. It was my pleasure to meet you Mrs. Luz and Adrian catch you later,” Mario waved as he closed the door behind him.

“Bye” Catalina and Adrian replied in unison. Catalina shifted her attention to her son, her eyes filled with nostalgia.

“I remember the days when you were a baby, I would cradle you in my arms, now you’re all grown up and off on your own. Where has time gone?” Catalina cupped his face in her hands.

“Stop.” He freed his face. Catalina laughed. It never took much to embarrass him.

“It’s truly amazing how fast time flies.”

“I guess.” He rolled his eyes.

“Before I go, I just wanted to let you know that if you ever need anything you can call me. I’m going to miss you so much and I wish you the best in all of the years to come. I also want you to come visit me whenever you can. With all that said, I have something for you.” She reached into her beige tote bag and pulled out a medium rectangular box. “I want you to open it after I leave. Adrian placed it on the bed and embraced his mother as she fought back tears.

“I’m going to miss you too and don’t worry, I’ll stay in contact.” He reassured her. “I won’t let you down.” He whispered. As he held her he could feel her tense up at the last words he had spoken.

“There’s not a day that could go by that you could ever disappoint me.” She gripped his shoulders. Adrian looked down at the ground and shook his head. Deep down, he knew he already had.

“I love you,” he said.

“I love you too,” she said. They finally pulled apart. “Goodbye Adrian”

“Bye.” Adrian parted as his mother closed the door. An emptiness overcame him after she left. All these years he couldn’t wait to get out of Arizona and head to the Northeast so much so that his friend used to tease him about it. He looked at the black box sitting on his bed. He decided now would be the most opportune moment to open it before Mario returned.

The box wasn’t light yet it wasn’t heavy either, piquing his curiosity. He shook it wondering what it could possibly be.

When he waded through the mass of tissue paper, he reached the object. He should have known it would be a King James Bible. Oh great another one of Mom’s religious attempts to get him to convert he thought to himself, but because of his love for her, he wouldn’t trash it. Just as he started to shut the box, he noticed a piece of paper branching out from underneath. He lifted the bible and grabbed the note.

Dear Adrian,

My one and only son, I love you so very much, and I am deeply sorry for the lack of childhood you experienced as you were forced to grow up so fast. I feel I never really got to tell you how truly proud of you all the time I was. You overcame so many obstacles that no one should ever have to face. I pray with every passing day that you excel in all you do.

            -Love Mom

 

Under the note, he discovered the money his mother had left him and was hit with instant guilt. He knew she shouldn’t be giving him extra money, he already had a full ride.

The door swung open catching him off guard.

“Hey Adrian, what’s up?” Mario returned with two large paper bags of Chinese takeout. “I figured you were hungry after your drive, so I got us both dinner.”

“Thanks,” Adrian tried to appear grateful, which was tedious for him since he was practically devoid of emotion.

“So what are you majoring in?” Mario asked as he stuffed his face. It took Adrian a moment to answer.

“Law” He tried his best not to sound peeved.

“Oh great I’ll be sharing a room with a future attorney.” Mario chuckled as he gobbled down more of his rice. When he saw Adrian wasn’t laughing, he stopped. “I was joking, I think that’s a decent field to major in. I come from a long line professionals in law myself, and I decided to break the cycle and major in marketing. My father was unhappy with my decision at first, but in the end, he agreed to support my ambitions.” Mario laughed. Oh great another one of the good ole boys. Adrian thought to himself.

He couldn’t help, but marvel how someone of Mario’s caliber was a descendent of a long line of wealth.

“Do you have friends that go here?” Adrian asked, trying not to sound too anxious.

“Most of my friends are in a fraternity. My father exempted me from joining this year due to my behavior in boarding school, but that won’t stop me from going to any of the parties they put on. That reminds me, you’ve got to come to some of them,” Mario said as he ran his fingers through his light, brown hair. “One of the houses is having a party tomorrow night we should go, and you can start acquainting yourself with some of your “peers.” Mario signaled to Adrian letting him know the peers he was referring to were girls as he nudged him and the two boys burst into laughter.

 

I Didn’t Fall, I left

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The original removed scene when Claudius confesses to Maricel he’s a fallen angel

 

“I want to tell you my story” He stated as we sat across from another at a wooden table in the dining room of the spacious cabin. A gust of wind blew in from the windows rattling our clothing. I lolled in the chair in the middle of constructing a crown of flowers and gazed into his eyes, my hand tucked under my chin.

“Enlighten me”

“Some would call me a villain”

“You seem more like an angel to me”

“Are you willing to pay the price?”

“Any price is worth paying for you,” I said. He stood.

“Follow me” I rose and trailed behind him to the back of the cabin in the dead of night.

“Before you tell me, I would like to know your name.”

“Claudius. His head hung low.

“That’s an intriguing name. It reminds me of a Roman emperor.”

“It means crippled like my chances of redemption.” A prolonged silence took over before he spoke again.” Can you love a devil?” He chanced a glance over his elevated shoulder. When I didn’t answer, he circuited his head, and started to walk off.

Every fibre of my being screamed retreat, but something about him enraptured me like a negative and positive charge merging on opposite ends of magnetic poles.

“Claudius!” I entreated. He moved further away, and I feared he would abandon me. “I will do whatever it takes! Just don’t leave!”

“Anything!” he huffed, his back was still to me.

“Surely whatever it is you are hiding cannot be that bad.” 

He stopped dead in his tracks. The dismal glow of the moon beamed down on him.

Suddenly, he tilted his head back popping his intervertebral column growing so tall he could bear me up in the palm of his hands like a gem.

A black substance emerged from both sides of his back, sprouting between his large shoulder blades. My jaw fell open at the sight of his massive set of feathery, black wings stretching forth. I averted my attention to the posterior end of his head, and he turned toward me. His eyes flashed like lightning.

            “What do you think of me now?” His voice erupted like thunder. “Am I what you expected?” He marched towards me and I backed away, falling on my kneecaps.

            “This is unbelievable!” I raved standing to my feet, unable to determine whether he terrified or intrigued. He grinned and shrunk to his humanoid form. “What kind of angel are you?”

            “A watcher”

            “So you fell from heaven?”

            “No. I left.”

Don’t Wake Me Up

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Maricel meets Claudius in her dreams

 

I didn’t want to return home so I bought time as I listened to my music, and dreamed of Central Park, the Statue of Liberty, and preforming under the bright lights of Broadway. Taking a deep breath, I entered into my house, climbed the steps, and rounded the corner startled to see my mother seated on the couch reading an article on her tablet. She glanced up at me and turned up her nose.

“What are you doing home so early, I thought you were working today?” I sighed. Every time she was here she nagged on me about every little thing possible.

“I decided to take the day off to spend some time with you before you graduate” She said. As I stood there her eyes narrowed. “What were you thinking stepping outside like that?” Her red painted lips pursed as she eyed me.

“Would you rather I went naked?” I sneered.

“Your clothes are way too baggy and don’t match, and your hair don’t even get me started on your hair! It’s a tangled black rat’s nest. Why Maricel? You’re a beautiful girl, but you dress like a homeless person. Is this some sort of act of rebellion?” She said. I rolled my eyes. “If you truly loved yourself, you would…”

“Dress like another clone in this vapid world!” I retorted. She covered her face.

“Going outside like that is the equivalent of walking around naked!” She shook her head. A tear welled up in my tear duct burned my heated countenance, and I swallowed back the lump that formed in my throat. “Had I been aware of how awful, you usually looked. I would’ve done something about this crisis sooner.” She said. I rolled my eyes considering it had taken her until the second semester of my senior year of high school to realize how I dressed. Maybe if she gad spent more time with me instead of working, I would’ve taken more after her and been a social butterfly with a sense of style, then again, I’d be another shallow zombie.

“I wasn’t asking for your help!” I sneered. Her face creased into a frown, and her dark eyes became a pair of angry saucers. I turned away and marched up the staircase to my room.

“Maricel!” I ignored her call and locked the door. My eyes darted to the alarm clock. It read 3:33 pm. She banged on the door demanding I open it. With a smirk, I turned away, grabbed a lightweight hoodie, pulled it on. The key started to turn the knob. “Don’t make me open this door!” Her voice dropped a few octaves.

I paused in the center of the room. “Three…two…” She counted backwards. Sprinting for the open window, I swung my legs over the ledge and jumped, landing feet first straightening my bent knees. By the time she barged in, cursing under her breath, I was quite a distance away and she looked down at me. Neighbors stared as I ran amok across the vast green patches of land, past the high wheat. Slowing to a walk; I pictured myself in a metropolis outside of the small town I resided in. Somewhere I would see new faces every day.

Venturing on, the thud of heavy footsteps reeled me out of thought. I pivoted around only to find the empty rows of wheat and I quickened my pace. Then, that noise intruded upon my thoughts again, and I snapped around, but there was nothing to confirm my paranoia.

My arms pulled up the branches of an eastern cottonwood tree and I adjusted my legs so that my small feet dangled. The phone continued to ring, but I put it on silent. Sun rays flickered across my limbs, bringing out the warm undertones of my copper skin. Squeezing back hot tears, in a low whimper, I cried until I fell asleep.

* * *

Golden streaks of sunlight cast a soft orange glow on my eyelids and they peeled wide open. Sprawled out in the pasture I collapsed in upon encountering the being my heart rate slowed regaining equilibrium. The sweet scent of the various species of plants from the bromeliads, and poinsettias to the hairy gardenia permeated the sticky air. To my left was a secluded wooden cabin.

A pale hand overhead obscured the light. My almond eyes focused on the sculpted lines of the face of a man. The sunlight formed a halo around his head, illuminating his set of cobalt eyes gleaming like the inner flame of a fire. Despite the horror of our first encounter, witnessing him in the light purged my fears.

I accepted his invitation and when our skin met, a sharp current of electricity shot through me and I bucked. Instantaneously, I withdrew my throbbing hand, staring at his palm startled by the sting of his touch. Without a second thought, I closed my eyes, and gripped his hand again. Our fingers interlocked and the pain subsided as I rose to his level.

He stood over a head taller as we faced one another. His golden spirals fell upon his muscled shoulder rippling around his square face, but his eyes were his most striking feature-they were iridescent. We faced one another and I leveled my gaze. My knees weakening and full lips parted.

He pulled me in by the hips, and I rested my head against the curve of his broad shoulder. I placed my palm upon his thorax and listened to his shallow heartbeat as he ran his large fingers through my thick tresses.

“Soon” He whispered rendering me speechless.

* * *

I sprang up in bed, sweating. My blood ran cold, startled by the alarm clock. It was 7:00 a.m. and my hands missed the off button. With an awful ache, and burdened eyelids, I struggled to search for the right switch. The shrill sound grew more irritable by the second, then I located it after almost knocking the clock off the nightstand.

Rubbing my eyes, I took note of my settings befuddled, and noticed a group of freshly picked flowers beside my pillow.

As I got ready, I struggled to recall how I ended in bed when I fell asleep in a tree along with the intricacies of the mysterious man of my dreams.

In the psychology course I took the previous semester I learned that everything in a dream resulted from the subconscious mind. Our minds based people who appeared in dreams off of individuals seen in real life. The drawing I had awakened to in class yesterday must have spawned the dream, but whose profile inspired the drawing?