1. Pleasantry

"Arie, feed your sister, I gotta go!" The door slammed shut, shaking the house. I didn't even look up from what I was doing.

"Love ya too, Mom," I mumbled to myself. I was used to it by then. The same behavior repeated for, what was then? Ten years? You get used to it. My mom went to the bar eight nights a week (she found a way, if beer was involved she always found a way). Which left me to feed my five-year-old sister, who for safety purposes, will be called Symbolic Name, Symb for short. I arose from my bed to get us a some form of dinner.

I walked out of my room and slouched down the stairs that creaked with my every step. I opened up a cabinet in the kitchen to find cobwebs. Not really, but there might as well have been, considering she hasn't bought us real groceries in weeks. I started rooting through the other cabinets, expecting to find some remnant of food, knowing it was a fruitless endeavor. I moved on to the fridge, finding nothing in there either, well, nothing except mommy's good ol' beer, wouldn't dare let that oil well dry up. Feed my kids? No, why would I? I need to make room for all the liquid poison that I need to ingest, lest I shrivel up and actually contribute something useful to society.

It might be worth mentioning that I have very unsubtle issues with my mother... and that doesn't change. I checked the freezer to find a frozen personal pizza. The perfect dinner for two growing children. I threw it in our microwave, and watched it slowly turn and cook. As it was cooking I went to fetch my sister.

"Symb, time for dinner." She was coloring at her tiny desk in the corner of her room.

She turned to get up,"Okay, Arie! What are we having?" she asked in her adorable, prepubescent voice.


"Yay!" I walked in and prodded her out of her room, just in time for the window to shoot open and spill all of her crayons on the floor. I let out a sigh of annoyance and walked over to clean up the mess. After ever one of her crayons were neatly put away, we began walking downstairs, hand in hand. We sat in utter silence eating the burnt cardboard-flavored pizza. After our dinner, I went into my room for alone time, the only way I could've survived this life. Nothing but some literature and the loud twanging voice of Mick Jagger singing to me as I read.

I grabbed the most recent of my literary exploits; a book of assorted poetry, and flipped to the freshly creased dog-ear. The poem I reached was entitled, Dreams of a Willow, Weeping. I read through the first stanza, feeling the sweet sensation of being pulled into the magical world that was being painted for me. Envisioning every word, every verb jumping to life in my imagination. Visions dancing, magical images existing in my subconscious and mine alone, everything as only I could see it. Then I was dragged back into reality by the sound of silence. No acoustic guitar, no piano. No tales of Mick's romance sung through those enormous couches he calls lips. Just silence.

Did my radio break?

My inner-monologue was interrupted by a loud banging on my door.

"It's bedtime!" my sister yelled from the hallway. I glanced at the clock; 9:00. It was late, well late for my sister anyway.

I gathered my strength and rose from my bed once more, throwing my book on the bedside table. I walked her to that same annoyingly pink, flower-covered door.

So girly, I thought, so ludicrously trite it seems borderline cliché.

She ran ahead, already wearing her pajamas, and jumped in her tiny bed and pulled the covers over her torso.

"Did you brush your teeth?" I asked, mimicking the tone of a mother. The girl needed some form of motherly love.

She answered with a high-pitched, "Yes!" Proud that she was a good little girl. Then she did the one thing she did to me all too often; she looked up at me with those eyes.

Those eyes.

Her eyes could do what only one man ever did. Those things could part the seas. Her eyes could tell you a mystical story. Housed within them was something so pure, so infallible, something just so innocent and youthful, yet so full of life and wisdom. Her eyes told you that she would be important. They didn't tell how, but you could see it, clear as day, this girl had purpose. I kissed her on the forehead and went to the door frame. As I went to turn off the lights she yelled at me. I was taken aback. "Arie! You forgot to put on my bedtime music!"

"Sorry, hun, won't happen again." I walked over to her tiny little radio, same make and model as mine, and pushed in the 'play' button. I was rewarded with the sound of Stephen Tyler scream-singing about some girl being his 'Angel'. I liked the 'Stones, she liked Aerosmith. What can I say, our family liked big lips? I attempted to exit for a second time and as I did I paused in the doorframe to see her turn over and go to sleep. I just stood there and watched as her stomach slowly rose and fell, she was the bearer of pure angelic, stainless life. In that moment, I began weeping on the inside. For this girl was so careless and happy, yet so daftly unaware of just how fucked up the world she was living in, was. But that's not why I wept. No, I wept because I knew that she would eventually find out.

I trudged down the hallway, back to my bedroom. It seemed like forever, the hallway looked so long. My door appeared as if it were miles away. I had tunnel vision, my head was in throes. My door seemed to keep getting farther and farther away, no matter how many steps I took.

I grabbed my head in anguish, still trying to muscle my way to my door. No sound but my heart beating, loud and obnoxiously, right in my ear. My blood curdled like rotten milk. I fell over, clutching at the wall for support, finding none. I shut my eyes, and squeezed them closed, like if I pushed hard enough it would suck all the crazy back into my brain. I opened them to see white rays of light as my vision slowly restored itself. I was sitting right next to my door. There was some odd noise coming from inside my room. It sounded like a drunken man ranting off crazy notions in slurred speech. I slowly turned the handle and pushed it open... Mick Jagger, who else?

Stupid radio, it must be busted again.

The thing kept randomly turning on and off and playing random songs on my mix tape. No rhyme or reason. I had checked everything. There were no faulty wires, nothing was touching it. I had the dang thing isolated on a single table in the corner of my room, like it had done something wrong and it was being punished. I walked over and jammed in the off button,then collapsed on the lumpy twenty year-old mattress, and looked for my book to get in some light reading before going to sleep. I slapped my hand on the wood of the table and felt just that, wood.

Not there? I swear I put it there.

I was way too exhausted to get up to look for it, and figured that Future Me would solve this problem tomorrow morning. I let my eye lids close and drifted off into a peaceful slumber.

The next morning I awoke. My brain analyzed the day. Thursday. In other words, another school day. I didn't mind school, I was actually quite fond of it. Classes, teachers, learning, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was the classmates, the pure-bred simpletons that so abundantly inhabit the place. The kind of people who don't know the intricacies of ancient, romantic, or even modern literature. Who don't revel in the works of Milton or Dante, let alone even know who they are. That is the lone reason why I didn't like school. If I was surrounded by intellectuals who took an interest in the written word, or the complexities of ancient cultures or even the mechanics of math that even I abhor, but still accept, maybe I would have liked it better, but alas, society seemed to be crumbling at my feet and I was left to watch it. I realized either way things wouldn't change; I was forced to go through the motions and endure these last four years, or now two years, until I would be off to better places.

I began my morning routine by putting my clothes on, nothing special. I dressed very ordinarily. I didn't need to stick out anymore than I already did. With hair as obnoxiously red as mine, I stuck out enough. Every day through the halls I would hear at least one person call me 'The Little Mermaid," it was mildly annoying.

I searched for my backpack, finding it near my closet, with my poem book stashed right on the top.

Don't remember putting it there, oh well.

I was too spent to really put forth the mental effort for something so unnecessary. I was already relatively late for school and I had to rush out the door to just make the bus.

School went by slowly as it always did; The only real 'news', was some new kid apparently came that day. For some reason I thought I overheard his name was Cabbit? I have no idea what parents are doing to their kids these days.

I was inspired by my poem book to attempt to write. It didn't go as well as I planned, (what rhymes with film?). I decided to leave it up to the professionals to wow me with their innate gifts.

As soon as I got home I was greeted by my mother rushing out the door. "Arie, feed your sister, I gotta go."

"Go where?"

"I-I've got a meeting."

"Mom you're a waitress, what kind of meeting could you possibly have?"

"I have an appointment."

"Do you mind telling me for what?" My mom is terrible at coming up with excuses, especially on the fly. I liked toying with her, watching her squirm... I should probably see a therapist.

"Arie, I don't have time to explain, I'm late."

"Yea, the bar closes, what, six hours from now?"

"What? Bye hun." And the door slammed shut again. Every night she came home for like five minutes just to make sure that her kids weren't dead and then she went right back out. Probably to celebrate the fact that we were actually alive. Celebrate by downing five shots of tequila.