Wilting rose, falling star
Falling far from fame
Crying mother in the bar
Sorry that she came
"Why does life keep tempting me?"
She asks, though no one’s there
"Why am I so damn lonely?
Why does no one care?”
Wilting rose, falling star
falling far from fame
Gangster boy waits in the dark
Thinking life’s a game.
"This is cool," he says out loud
Though it isn’t true
"Bang bang" the shots cry through the crowd
And from the scene he flew
Wilting rose, falling star
Falling far from fame
Little girl in the car
Nothing will be the same.
"Daddy let’s go to the mall"
Her smile warms his heart
A squeal of brakes will end it all
And life does not restart.
Of a trip that’s yet to start
Waiting for that whistle blow
In order to depart
I’m not in any hurry
The moon could wax and wane
I don’t care where I’m going
I’m waiting for the train
Out there the view is endless
Beyond that window pane
I’d wait and wait to see it
So I’m waiting for the train
The weather will not matter
The sunlight, night or rain
I’ll be safe and warm and happy
Just waiting for the train
The crowds go on for miles
Each one shares this pain
Get a ticket, get on board
Stop waiting for the train
No other way to travel
Not car or bus or plane
Those stops just aren’t the same
They cannot hold a candle
To waiting for the train
I’d light a thousand fires for you
And put a thousand out
I’d die a thousand deaths for you
If you’re in any doubt
I’d rather live those thousand lives
Each and every breath
Wander though the dusk with you
And follow you to death
I’ve told you this a thousand times
But now I will confess
You’ll hear it yet a thousand more
Until you answer yes
Sweet ringing bells; I do, I do
Till death and then beyond
I’ll hold a thousand breaths for you
Await your response
Tangled in your clinging grasp
Like birds caught in the briar
But hands that grab and hands that clasp
Put out a heart’s pure fire
I tried and tried to live that life
Behind those gilded bars
To clip my feathers with a knife
And only gaze at stars
I could not bear their perfect pleas
They beckoned me to choose
To stay with you and and your whimsies
Or bid my last adieus
I’m sorry for what pain I cause
I needed to break out
But now you’ll see I have my flaws
Only stars, they are without.
Marveltown’s a place of dreams
Where everything is as it seems
Where bright grass and sunflowers grow
Marveltown’s a place I know
Marveltown’s a place I know
Where everyone smiles and says hello
The sun shines bright for all to see
In Marveltown, the place to be
Marveltown’s the place to be
Like shade in summer beneath a tree
But somethings are too good to last
And Marveltown is in the past
Marveltown is in the past
That childhood went by so fast
But between real and not the line is fine
Marveltown’s perfect, and it’s all mine.
She was far too proud for this to be happening to her. Her clothes had all grown significantly on her body over the past several months, and her face was sunken and shallow: a ghost of the beauty she had possessed even a year ago. Every mirror in the house had been covered, and the remaining reflective surfaces had been allowed to grime until those smiles and the laughter of ten years of marriage were lost. Flynn could hardly look at her without her pain showing on his face, no matter how hard he tried. So Jamie didn’t look at him. She went into the labyrinth of corridors and rooms without him, letting him wait for her silently. It wasn’t a good lifestyle anymore. It wasn’t fun, and the back of Flynn’s mind was constantly screaming to get out while he good.
To leave her while he could save himself the heartache of watching this progress any further. But how could he leave her, helplessly in the hospital. She could never drive home after the trips, and even in the silence between them, that connection that had been strong enough for a broken man to risk everything and ask her those four beautiful words was still there. He still loved her, and he knew she loved him. Without the eye contact, she would still reach for his hand each time the doctors came close to her. She leaned on him whenever her mind traveled to the far reaches and darkness of the future and the bleak possibilities that lie there. And every night as she fusses and fevered in her sleep, he would lay there, awake at her side, praying that this would end soon. Sometimes it even helped her quiet.
But it hadn’t ended yet. No, he sat in the blue plastic chairs, rolling a magazine in his fists, too nervous to read it, or really to do anything but stare at the doors through which his wife had disappeared. She too, was silent as the doctors came in. Nothing needed to be said. She wanted to go home, she wanted to sleep for days or weekends or months on end until the disease was gone. Until she was herself again and she could look at Flynn without seeing him staring at how far she had fallen. She knew this was stressful for him, but the hateful look that was on his face, screaming at how much he hated to see her like this. She was sick, and nothing but a reminder that eventually, he’d be just as dead as she looked. To him, it was empathy, hurting because she hurt, but for Jamie, Flynn’s pity hurt more than anything that might actually kill her.
Hours passed as treatment continued, and tests would be following that, yet neither spoke. It was practice for the great silence that, deep down, both knew awaited them. It hung in the air and around the thin woman’s shoulders like a cloak, calling to her. She wanted him in the room with her more than anything, but her pride and dignity and the wish that somehow he could remember her only as she had been in her prime prevented her from allowing Flynn to see her. He couldn’t see her like this: weak and prone and sick from a disease that was eating her from the inside out. She wouldn’t let him see how much pain the chemicals the doctors pumped into her burned. It was bad enough that her hair was gone and she couldn’t dress up nicely and go out with him on the beautiful dates he had arranged while they were dating.
A chill rushed through her body, sending her whole body shivering and her teeth chattering, and everything but her IV site burning with cold. That one spot, right near her heart, was the only place his burning with heat as the chemicals found their way into her blood stream. Nurses walked past the room, not even noticing how cold everything had become, not noticing the man in black that had appeared in the corner of Jamie’s vision. Her eyes shut tight, her finger finding the call button on their own to bring a stranger into the room, one who could maybe warm her up.
“What’s wrong Mrs. O’Connelly?” The young short nurse in the pink-patterned scrubs said quietly. She didn’t know that Jamie never spoke during her treatments; she had only heard rumors. And no one in the hospital knew that she didn’t speak at home. They assumed that the man who waited for her so diligently could get her to speak. After all, part of human existence was interacting and communicating with others. It made life happier to have a happy conversation.
Jamie’s eyes found the nurse as her hands remained trembling from the cold as well as the sight that the woman had already managed to chase away. “C-cold.” One word. One break through. Enough to put the patient out of breath as her windpipe pressed against the tumors growing on her throat.
“I’ll go get you some more blankets and the doctor Mrs. O’Connelly” excused the nurse, but that’s all it was to poor Jamie: an excuse to leave her disgusting as she was.
The green, pained eyes shut and weakly, her head shook. Jamie didn’t care about a stranger seeing her like this the way she minded her husband’s eyes on her. This nurse didn’t know her as anything else, so this image was not tarnishing any prior ideas she might have had. They had no relationship, but Jamie couldn’t let the reaper return. “Stay. I don’t want to be alone.” I tear left her eye and Jamie didn’t have the strength to wipe it from her face, so she was left, a mess and crying, begging for the nurse, or really anyone to stay in her room.
The poor scrubbed woman was torn. Why was Mr. O’Connelly not in here if his wife didn’t like being alone? They really should be together. But rather than say her judgments on their marriage out loud, she grabbed another nurse from the hall and dictated the requests the woman had made. It took only a few minutes for both the scratchy wool blankets that the hospital kept in stock, and the oncologist to return, latest tests and files in hand. The nurse had spent the time speaking about her young son, how big he was getting, and how he would start kindergarten in the fall as Jamie listened though her mind still wandered far from the conversation. Flynn had always wanted a child, but it had never been the right time. There had been one scare, but miscarriage had made their finally decision for them.
For a woman who had wanted company, Jamie had spent most of the time with her face turned toward the far wall, looking away from the nurse. The doctor, however, cleared his throat and spoke as though she were looking right at him. This was it. She didn’t know how much longer she could put up with this torment. It was either over, or it was over. The burning, the loneliness, even in her head, and the struggles she dragged Flynn through couldn’t keep going.
“Mrs. O’Connelly, I have the results back from your latest blood panels and scans. It isn’t good. Though the treatments have been stopping the progression of the disease, your numbers have no been improving as rapidly as I would have liked.” Her head turned at his voice, and she couldn’t have focused harder on him if he’d been on a giant stage with a spotlight centered on him. What did that mean? Her frown gave away the confusion. She was not a doctor, and even the smallest of large words confused her, especially since the drugs had dulled her mind to a smooth stone.
“We need to continue treatments still, and I think we should add some extra supplements to aid your body in recovering itself. Radiation next week, and,” he pulled out a prescription pad and scrawled across it, as doctors are wont to do, “take these three times per day until then. Make sure you get some food into you, as much as you can as well.” Her handed the note to her and began to unhook the IV’s from her central line. She watched him, a bit numb to the news as her hands, much like those of Flynn’s began to roll the note into a tight tube.
In a blur, the nurses moved her from the bed into a chair and were wheeling her down the hall, talking to her all the way to the waiting room. Her eyes flickered to the others in the halls, making sure the cloaked man was no longer following her through the hospital. As the heavy doors to the hospital opened, Flynn lept to his feet and ran over to her, getting all of the information from the nurses and taking her hand.
“We’ll get through this, James, I promise.”
And for the first time in 10 months 3 weeks, 4 days and 15 hours, Jamie looked at him, straight in the eye, and smiled sadly at him before she spoke. “I’m sorry I ruined our anniversary.”
I was only 8 years old the first time they came to my house. They didn’t want me that time. They were here for my older brother, Malai. Malai had always been a fighter. He was only twelve, but he’d beaten other children at school who were more than three years older than him. And these men, these Tiger, they were no different. Malai lunged at them when they tried to take him away. He’d heard all they had to say before and he didn’t want to go with them. They had promised to train him, make him an even better fighter, but still he resisted. And I sat at the table, watching as the men hit him. And I watched as they hit my father and mother. I ran to my bed before they could hit me too, so I didn’t see what else they did to my family. But I heard it. I heard my mother scream and the men laugh as they took their turns. And I heard the door slam as my brother agreed, just to make it stop.
It would be years before I saw him again.
I had all but forgotten that night by the time I was 11. It was the day before I myself turned twelve when they came the second time. I had seen them around school, talking to other children, taking them away in their large vans. Some children went willingly, others resisted. But they would all go eventually, I avoided them entirely as the memories came rushing back. They couldn’t come back to my house. My father had gotten sick after the last time. I had to take care of my family. I rushed home, but that didn’t stop them. The men came in perhaps thirty minutes after I got home. My mother turned pale and my father stood up, ready to fight the men. He was not strong enough to stand as firmly as he made it seem, a and the Tigers saw that, pushed through him ,and one put his hand on my shoulder.
But I am not my brother. I cannot fight, and I could not watch my mother and father stand up and be tortured again. So I went with the men, without a fuss.
There were many familiar faces in the van with me as we were taken away from our homes, our school our family. We held each other, and many of us cried in that darkness as we were bounced in every rut and bump along the dirt road, away from our history and to our new, miserable lives.
I was only twelve years old the first time I saw the training camp, and when I saw what they had planned for us, what they would be teaching us, I nearly messed the pants my mother had made me. We were moved into a barracks and given a gun nearly as tall as each of us, as well as new clothing and small hard balls. They gave us some gray-brown soup and stale bread, and then we were sent to bed, to sleep on rag beds with the other children. Those that had come before use and were already being trained were dirty and tired and they marched as though it was all they had the energy left to do. Most of them collapsed into their bed but a few sat up, watching us newcomers. They watched us, but I am still not convinced that they really saw us; their eyes were so hollow and haunted. For only the second time in my life that I could remember, I rolled over in my bed and cried myself to sleep.
We were awoken before dawn the next morning, and the children who had been so lifeless before were already gone, off to fight in a war that they had no business taking part in. The rest of us were hit with sticks until we were awake, dressed and outside with the weapons we had been given. These men were hardened, ready to hit us each time faltered. That morning I knew I wouldn’t see my mother and father again. I’d only gotten a few hours of sleep, but under threat of being beaten or worse I worked harder than I ever thought I could: jumped higher, ran faster, and I even shot a gun. When I winced at the noise and the pain that the recoil threw into me ,I was struck. When I flinched at the shouts and beatings, I was beaten. And when I recognized one of my trainers and tried to call out to my brother, I was beaten until I couldn’t get up again.
But I did. And I walked away, hurt far worse by my brother’s cruelty and lack of acknowledgment than by any amount of bruising or breaking that the stick or the whip could ever give me.
It was only a week that we spent in that camp before we were shipped out and a new bunch of recruits came in, just as scared, just as innocent as we had been. It was only a week, but it seemed like more than a lifetime had past since we had been at home, eaten our mothers’ cooking, gone to school where we weren’t afraid of dying. I didn’t want to think about it, but I knew, when I looked at the other children, the ones who had just arrived, that they saw that same lifeless dullness that I had seen on my first night. And I knew that they would cry those same tears I had shed. Not a day had past when I did not want the comfort of my mother’s arms wrapped around me, but deep in my soul, it was like she was dead. I was too old for her to still be alive.
I was still only twelve years old.
Like every other day, we were marched outside the next morning, though this time it was earlier than we usually woke up. And this time, we were handed another item for out arsenal. A suicide vest joined the AK-47 rifle and the grenades that we had been equipped with when we first arrived, and had spent a week learning to use. The hardened men told us that we would use them to prevent capture if the enemy ever came for us. We were told that they were last resorts, and we were commanded to avoid capture at all costs. It was more honorable to kill ourselves than go to the captors. The warning was moot. They’d spent a week drilling into us how evil, menacing the people we would be fighting were.
We were then driven to the front lines. And were thrown into the battle, into a situation where we had to fight to survive. I still was not a fighter, but I’d been forced to pretend toe hard for too long to not feel like a veteran. It wasn’t long in the trenches before we heard the shouts of the enemy and ducked to avoid the bullets flying over our heads like tiny wasps looking to run us through with their stingers. Already I saw children I’d grown up with fall because they had reacted too slow to that first crack of a gun. Rain started to fall around us, soaking through our uniforms and into our bones and boots. It stung our eyes and drowned out the noise of the war around us and turned the trenches into a muddied bloodbath.
In that haze of sensations, our enemy surrounded us and moved in. We were the guerrillas trained to combat using nature to our advantage, but they were real soldiers who’d had more than a week of training and more than a couple seconds to get to know the terrain of the battlefield. There were only a few of us left alive for them to capture, but the remaining soldiers than I had grown up with, grown jaded with, blew their vests up, committing their honor suicide unflinchingly. I hesitated, earning myself stabs of pain as the rocks around them shot out and into my arms and legs and face. I couldn’t see the arms reach for me, or the faces of the men, angry and glaring as they pulled me from the safety of the bunker. I couldn’t even open my eyes. But as soon as I was freed from the mass grave I’d been forced into, I did what I had to do. I faced the blood that spilled into my eyes as I opened them and looked into the eyes of the army I would be taking out.
I was a Tiger, now, and I did what I’d learned was the honorable thing.
There exists nothing so
As a rain-dappled window
Perfection marred by
The teardrops of a hurting world.
The crystal drips sag
Bearing a mournful reminder of all the suffering
Yet endured by
And those tormented by the
The mind and the body.
Cut the shell
With eyes that won’t see
Words that aren’t heard.
Frosted panes refuse to clear
To show the picture that could
Change the world. So we go
Happy on with life,
of the beautiful song
which would awaken
To the horrors