Ready or Not...
Short Story
Written by: Brittany Semplonius
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The crowded sidewalk keeps me company on my walk home. I wait on the  street corner, waiting for the street light to change.

“C’mon,” I say, rushing the light. I blow on my hands and rub them together. I shove them into my pockets to find a crinkled paper. I pull it out and flatten it: 

You are looking at this paper. I am watching your eyes skim over each word, watching you barely touch them with your gaze. Each word is read and dismissed within seconds.

“Whattt?” I mutter and keep reading. 

Perhaps if long enough was spent undressing each word, you would see my naked soul. But instead you carry on acknowledging each word without hesitation; without becoming acquainted and therefore, never getting to know what I have become. I long to be seen by your eyes so that I could exist, even for a mere second, within your world. But because you never return my gaze, you have forced me to die.

The cold breeze bites at fingertips.

This game has gone on long enough, it’s time for you to see me.

A gust of wind pulls the note from my hands. I see it getting smaller in the night sky. Chills crawl up my back. People push past me, crossing the street. I melt into the crowd. 
     
A few minutes later, I was home.

“Finally!” I kick off my shoes and peel off my jacket. A piece of paper floats down to my feet. 
I kick it away. It clings to my pant leg. I pick it up. 
"No way." The note carried the same hand writing as the other message.

 My heart quickens.

Time to play.

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The house was full of darkness. The darkness just made a friend.

                                                ***

With hot breath, I hear him scream, “I FOUND YOU.” I feel flames wrap around my neck. My eyes burst from lack of oxygen. My fingers begin to feel lifeless. I frantically begin flailing in attempts to wiggle from the grasp. My world fills with whiteness and everything becomes calm and peaceful.
 
                                               ***
Becca?
    
My head whirrs as I sit up. I am in a bright white space. In front of me are four white walls. No doors are visible. I see something walk out of the light towards me. A piece of paper falls in front of me. I un-crinkle it. 
    
It reads: “Happy Birthday Victor! I am so proud to be your sister. It’s hard to believe you’re 6 now. I still remember when we would sneak downstairs in the middle of the night and steal cookies from the cookie jar. You’re still the sweetest cookie I ever met. Love you.”
    
I look up. Victor is in front of me. I sit in disbelief. I want to hug him but I’m afraid the image will vanish. 

What’s that? He points at the letter in my hands.
    
“It’s the birthday card I was going to give you, but…” he reaches down and takes it from my hand. I quickly grab his hand before he pulls it away.
    
“Your hand is so warm. You feel so real.” My eyes swell with tears. I pull his body into mine and hug him tightly. “I’ve missed you so much Vic. I’ve missed you so much,” I sob. 

I know. But you must let me go, Bec.
    
“I can’t!” I squeeze his little body, tighter. “That day… that was the longest hour of my life. When we found you there… I couldn’t help but count how many times I had walked by your hiding spot, how many times you were hoping someone would find you, how many times you reached for the closet door but couldn’t open it. You were right there!” anguish and despair rasped my voice.

I miss you too but don’t let my death steal your life.

The guilt in my gut builds and I find it hard to breath again. One more breath. That’s all anyone needs to live.
 
                                              ***

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP! 

I turn over and turn off my alarm.

7:15am.

YAWN. 
The sun flirts with the edge of my curtains. A sliver of light fills the darkness of my room. ​​​​​​​
Hope.

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