I rub my eyes to try and remove the shrink wrap clouding my vision, but as always secluded and debunked I was stuck in a rut of distorted perception. The lines of my surroundings curved as they should not, skewed my reality, and your voice quivered: my only warning you saw a malfunction. I watched you back away, but could not recognize the uneasiness playing on your features, your arms braced by your side, wary of my reaction. I followed your retreating steps.

You disappeared around the corner, a game of hide and seek commenced, my pulse beating faster as the spirit of chase got underway. You were halfway through the first floor of the building, but I could still see you through the panes of glass, looking back playfully.

The people around the tables and those sitting in circles of sofas turned to gaze at me, sparkly eyes and smiling, waving hello. Oh, how I wanted to stop and say hello, but if I did I would have lost my mouse, and all our fun would have been ruined. A young man from across the room hugged me, kneeling down before me as he backed away from our embrace. They laughed and scattered.

Was this your plan all along? I wanted to burst with excitement. So many diversions and distractions, you had gone out of your way to test me. You knew me too well. You knew how invigorating a new challenge is for me, my persistenceunyielding.

I must move on. I last caught your form leaving the building, cold ice dropping in my stomach. I didn't like being this far behind. Blood pumped furiously through my veins, the muscles of my hamstrings twitching as I paused, trying to control my breathing, peeking around the corner.

I saw you, telling all the other students along the walkway of your scheme. Why did some do nothing, smile and continue? Didn't they want to partake in my fun? The others looked at me as you turned around, their eyes lighting up, your shrieks propelling some of them into the buildings. How many had been added to this game? My heart palpitated furiously. How many more were still to be added to my game?

Restlessly, I wanted to urge you up the stairs, make it more intricate, morph this into a complicated mind game woven into the simplicity of the architecture.

I raised an eyebrow. What is this? Those remaining were all laying down in my path as if I was a king, their royalty, as if subject to my every whim. I liked this. They smiled up at me as if contented in their servitude, willing and able to do whatever I desired.

I flushed, feeling a bright hue splash my face. I think I could have gotten used to this, and yet I knew I shouldn't. This feeling could become addictive, obsessive if I weren't to try and control it. There is too much joy in that sort of dominance.

My breath accelerated, tiny stars dancing before my eyes. I saw you looking over your shoulder, you hair flicking tauntingly as you sprinted away. How could I not but enjoy this regal procession which you so obviously set for me. One second, just one second, and I would again be on your trail.

Cautiously, sweepingly, I marched through the rows of my minions, a slow, steady, oscillating wave to greet my public. How the sun beamed against by face, warmth spreading throughout my body, light filling the expanse of my innards. Why did this illumination not fulfill me always?

Reluctantly, I press on from my brief bask in my glory. Oh, what lovely glory.

I've lost you, the sound of your footsteps lost to the sounds of my oppressive gloom trying to fill the emptiness. I've waited too long, my fall into temptation too deep for a successful recovery. What an arrogance! The utter nonsense of pride, the deviation from true enjoyment. What now is the purpose of this advantageous game? She went so far out of her way, and in this split second I've found the thread to unravel this quilt of trust, the reassurance of my part to pull through the reliability and fulfillment of my duties to her.

A knot forms in my throat, my chin pulled inward, dimpled. Tears formed in my eyes, my fists clenching in frustration. I look around, the stifling loneliness permeating, emphasizing my conscience, the vacancy of her love and affection. My motivations crumble as do I, pooling down on the ground. I am dejected, forlorn, a victim of my roving thoughts.

Tears. So many tears, rolling down my cheeks, salt upon my tongue, the product of my created misfortune. And down on my knees, wretchedly, I rest against the wall, peering up to spy the tree, shielding me from the sun. A massive bright light, assaulting my eyes, spots of pink splotching over my subservient friends.

But wait. I turn to stare, blink rapidly, one moment longer, the false perceptions fading. A thick aroma of blood coats my nostrils, is freckled, moist and cooling on my chests, my legs, my shoes.

This I ponder, looking around, disgusted and intrigued by my actions. The sparkle has trickled from their faces, smiles replaced by a sweet expression, neither joyous nor melancholy, vengeful nor complacent.

I am tormented by the indifferent blankness of their ended existence. Together, they have fallen, and together they have transcended above me, and I am isolated.

I am isolated.

I have placed myself back into the realm of despair of which I had finally caught they end to. Or had I? Was there a chance?

The tree dances now, as the dots reappear in my vision, a breeze drying the beads of sweat that I had not noticed had crept from my pores. Awareness withers into the background, the warmth of the sun squeezes through the shadows cast by the branches. I climb over the small wall, nestling in with the soil, my hands for a moment sinking down into the dirt.

I hug my knees, far gone enough in my head to drown out the sounds of their voices. In this oasis, I am untouchable and approachable, the focus of their attention, while myself ignored.

I smile. I think I am content. I think I can deal with the emptiness left with the departure of my fellow students. The arrogance that has taken my comrades has elevated me above them. I think being superior amongst the inferior suits me just fine.

It is hard not to notice as the voices grow closer, the black figures move among the whitewashed buildings, a stark contrast.

They are brave, certainly braver than I, but you don't have to be brave to triumph, No, you don't have to be brave to triumph. Rigidity and steadfastness result in victory. They are neither steadfast or rigid. I dictate what actions they will take, every move that will be made is my choice.

"The choice is yours," they attempt in mock politeness and sincerity, raspy through a megaphone.

The choice is mine. Almost weary of their presence, I raise my head to stare innocently at them, the sea of assassins, my eyes large and round, fooling no one, but asserting my power. They must know it is I who holds the cards and decided the consequences.

They know better than to speak as I stand up, brushing the soil off my pants, small clumps falling back into the pit of earth.

Warily, I am eyed, bodies on edge in the shadow I cast. I picture myself framed by the sunlight, a halo of light disassociating me from them. Me and them. I am a different category, not a meager subsection under the broad umbrella.

Weapons click menacingly, and within my mind so do my surroundings. The sun has hidden behind the clouds. My shadow blended into the dimness of the concrete. My tremendous thunder is stolen away by the real occurrence, light flashing, painting the courtyard black and white. No longer is it me and them, but me amongst them. The color of my empire has drained and without the luxury of advantage the hue of existence blurs, a gradation of fully active mediocrity. My will to rise balanced by their will to remain on the same plane of worth. Yet, even in this equilibrium, my worth is measly, the crumbs of the actual substance, the leftovers soon to rot, cause disgust and ridicule at its colors and odor.

I am inferior.

And I am alone.

And the uselessness of this long endeavor has bloomed before me, the veil should not have been lifted from my eyes, the excitement and final happiness should have lasted far beyond this day. This year. This life. But I guess, as is my fate, the ball has dropped and I, as always, was shielded by my desires to be the one to hold and release the ball that I am crushed.

Over and over.

Over and over.

Over and over.

This vicious cycle leaves me furious, at myself and at them. I am a fool, and they do not offer sympathy, offer an open door for the naivety of my follies to mature to the mediocrity their society so requires. I should think this makes them fools as well, all of us fools in this circus, and the ring master remains unseen and omnipotent.

I am tired, I've decided. This entertainment has lost its charms and good humor, my tricks lacking the appeal an audience may once have found amusing.

"I am sorry." I say clearly, loudly, but they can't hear me. They never could. They must go find their amusement elsewhere, for my profession is about to end. I will leave this to those who know how to work the crowd.

I cross my arms over my chest, head high, proudly perched on my pedestal. If they object, then it is their duty to remove me from this arena they have dragged me into. They must destroy their own creation, for it was through not will of my own that I arrived at this point.

There is silence but for the rustling of the leaves behind me, the faint murmuring of the wind. They are waiting. I am waiting. It is their move to make after all.

They speak to me hurriedly, sensing this impending action, kinetic energy rising up, charging the air with tension. Goosebumps rise on my skin, the hairs on their arms on guard, erect. I feel their impatience growing in the absence of my replies.

I move. They flinch. Oh, these tightening moments. I cannot help but laugh. They do not know their moves, what ultimately these circumstances will coerce them to do.

I raise the chilling metal, level to one of there faces. It is done, but the pain is more overwhelming that I expected. The burst of colors is beautiful before my eyes. This is true beauty; this is true life. Sadly, I am leaving life just as I've begun to glimpse its essence.

A pity.

They seem pleased, the line for the audition is growing quite long, the job nearly filled, as it should be, I guess. The circle continues.

Gradually, even as they move me onto the stretcher, small drops of water caressing my face. The colors grow more vibrant, unnatural hues emphasizing all even I was too trained to notice. I understand my place now. No, I accept my place, but cannot sympathize with it. It is no longer my problem. Let another fool suffer the rounds.

I have found my stage left.

The arena was but a small stop and in this foggy rainbow I see the new beginnings. I see my future suffering, and also future joys, but nonexistent are your meaningless, mediocre circles.

I leave you to your madness.