Audrey Collins I

I wondered. I often wondered. How it would've been like if I hadn't woken up this morning. How it would've been like if I had taken took a different pathway to life. How it would've been like if I had preferred tea instead of coffee.

And then I wondered about the Labyrinth of suffering and how it actually works. How, if we were all simple people who lived simple lives, would there be a difference in the labyrinth system? They said that if you think longer and harder, you'd be wiser, understand why things were how they are. And I questioned myself again, are there actually monsters walking upon us?

Maybe it's the giant cicada. Maybe it's the way your mother looks at you when she's angry. Maybe it's the ghostly white figures that appear in horror movies. Maybe it's the piranhas.. or maybe it's something far worse and beyond imagination.

They don't live under your bed. And they bring a kind of fear you have never experienced before, charging like a black blob of ferocious flies, feeding on dead matter, rotting your brain. They corrupt your mind like a swarm of chemicals entering your body in large masses and infect every bit of your nerves and cells, to the point where living is not a good option and is considered a bad idea.

But then again, what was the point? Over thinking is never good. It kills good vibes and invites bad ones. It slowly decomposes your mind like how moist air rots bread and lets other evil matter feed on it. a never ending cycle of negativity.

But that's how it works anyway, isn't it? This is life. You're supposed to go out there and risk your heart; your effort. But in the end, it usually boils down to either which of these two things: winning, or losing, and most of the time, it's the latter.

We were born to feel, to love, make "YOLO" our life mottos before the devil takes us all. We're all creations of tattered skin and open wounds but at least we can proud enough to say we're still standing strong on our feet.

These were thoughts buzzing annoyingly in and out of my head. They come, they go. And just as I was delving into the harder-shelled insides, a loud, obnoxious voice rang that from the depths of hell, snapping me out of serenity.

"Are you coming down for breakfast or what? Mom's angry!" Elroy yelled from below, a hint of annoyance evident in his tone.

"Be down in five!" I called back. "Shit," I had been daydreaming again.

Converting energy stored in my body, I mustered myself out of bed, possibly a little too hard, causing me to fall onto the oak wood flooring, landing on my stomach with a loud thud. Damn the clumsy generics.

Getting up on my two legs, I staggered towards the toilet, blurry-visioned and light headed from earlier, i almost fell, hilariously, onto the basin. Turning on the tap, I drowned my face in the cold, rushing water, giving me a sense of refreshment. Looking into the mirror, I sighed, pointing out the flaws on my face and wishing that I could be like the others. The girl in the mirror looked so unappealing. A pimple robbed my already tainted beauty. In a drunken stupor only drunks can say the extremes, I grabbed some cream and splattered it all over my face, wishing for the red menace to pop. It stood there independently, not wishing to depart my lovely skin.

"Damn!" I had no choice but to suffer more of the embarrassment of my red, refusing-to-pop pimple. It's been five years since puberty, can I fast forward to the part where i'm suddenly super hot? It's about time i get called 'beautiful' already.

"AUDREY! ARE YOU COMING DOWN?!" The damned sound of my mother's yelling rang through the house, threatening to rock it off its foundations. Bless my neighbourhood for having to tolerate her great roaring volume that resembles a jet engine at full thrust. I hurriedly threw on a sweater and ran down.

As expected, everyone was glaring at me when I got down to the kitchen. We have this family rule whereby everyone had to be around to start breakfast and I had delayed everyone of their time. Mother appeared out of nowhere and my head smacked against her chest.

Seventeen years of growing and I am barely five feet and three inches tall and she was already forty and stood by five feet and seven inches.

"Good Morning..?" I greeted timidly, grinning like an fool. Their glares were boring intensely into my soul, raping me of guilt.

Elroy took a look at me and commented with a reluctant sigh. "How long do you take to get yourself ready?"

I shot him a silent 'sorry'.

"I don't see a reason for you to be late, young lady. It's not like you have a precious face or body of an angel." my mother bitterly spat.

Quickly, I pulled out the usual punishment chair and as soon as I sat down, everyone dug in quickly. So much for a 'good morning'.

I cracked a smile, forcing myself to stare at the contents of the plate, "Bread again? Why is everyone eating bacon and eggs?"

"Don't complain. Just eat what you have." I was dismissed curtly. I sighed. Taking the toasted piece of bread, I peeled off the bread crust and started stuffing pieces of bread into my mouth.

"So.. I have a math test today," I tried to start off the conversation.

"Your math is as good as nothing! I'm curious as to why I am still funding your education." Father shot me down with a cold stare.

"Oh. Okay." I mumbled as I hung my head in disappointment. My vision tainted by the gradually built up tears. I hastily tried to blink them away. Parents are to protect, to encourage, to be an ally, not be an enemy.

Then, in a state of depression and regret for wasting everyone's time, I left the table, grabbed my daypack and fled through the door. Never looking back, I ran as far as my legs could carry me. I couldn't care less if I couldn't walk after. Running gave me a sense of release.

Elliot Jahrl I

I stared at the ceiling while lying on my bed, just a white display. With my wallet in my hands, I was playfully tossing it up and catching it. Blank thoughts. The ceiling fan's monotonous sound buzzed through the room. My mind was undoubtedly blank.

And there it comes.

That very hand, swiping past my face. The scene. It came back. No. A picture of my ex reappeared. She slapped me. the empty pain killing me inside out. That slap. I jumped up and threw my wallet towards the wall ahead of me. The picture disappeared and I fell onto the bed again.

It has been two months after my break-up with Cleo. The image of our break up still lingers in my mind. I remember, we were quarrelling over whether i should go with her and play truant, or attend school. Being in the straitjacket of obedience, the obvious choice was school but that pissed her off.

You see, Cleo was a rebel. She never liked rules; she was a firm believer in freedom. She was bold, probably bolder than any girl should be and I guessed that was what attracted me towards her. Clearly a foolish mistake.

The haunting scream of the last thing she said, "You never loved me, did you?! You're scared. You're always scared. Why have a dick then, when half of it is in your personality!"

The slap followed up.

That hard slap had ironed pain into my very being. It felt inevitable, haunting me on a daily basis.

"Elliot! How is your morning?" Father called from below, jolting me free from memory, "Breakfast today is delicious!"

"Yeah, sure." I got up from my bed. Recalling something inaudible in my head, I picked my wallet from the floor, opened it and extracted a travel ticket.

"If you think it is best for you…" my mother's words echoed through my mind.

I had saved enough for a one-way trip to Europe, two weeks later after the breakup. Having those nightmares are enough for a person to have suicidal thoughts. I would crumble if this went on.

Booting my gaming laptop, I gingerly slipped buttons onto the suicidal retreat of the screen before me. I typed, 'b-r-i-t-i-s-h'. An option appeared below the search bar, revealing my frequently searched option, 'british airways'. I clicked it, and the laptop displayed the company, stating its next flight to Europe would commence in three weeks, delayed due to the frequent volcanic eruptions in nearby countries.

Three weeks, 21 days. I marked my calendar set on the date. I was going to make my move. I would finally get out of this paper town. I would be free - like a bird.

I clicked onto the the date three exact weeks from now. The screen flashed a writeup on the trip.

"British Airways Flight 2.

Boeing 747-400.

Trip time: 12 hours"

The feel of getting in a big plane in style to freedom envelopes me in excitement.

"Hurry Elliot, you need to eat!" My father called again.

I put on the usual casual clothes. A white-washed down v-neck shirt and dark faded jeans should be good enough, but a tempting target for stains and my friends' mischievous pranks. Their pranks don't shake me. So what if they act bad to look cool? I'd rather be law-abiding. They're a bad lot, just like Cleo. Cleo was bad. She probably still is. We were never meant to be.

Get her out, Elliot. She's in the past. Pressuring myself to stop thinking about her, I opened my bedroom door and exited to the corridor.

Rushing down the stairs with my daypack slung on my shoulder, I jumped onto the chair and joined at the dinner table with delight.

Everyone started eating as soon as I got to my chair.

"Good morning everyone!" I cheered, a smile dancing around my face. Everyone returned the greeting in the same manner. I dug in, comparable to a pig. There were sausages, ham, tea, a plethora of all the food I love.

Without warning, a strong, screeching sound at high frequency drowned my ears and the picture reappeared.

Subconsciousness overwhelmed me. I instinctively picked up a knife from the table and threw it onto the wall behind my brother.

He looked at me. "Are you trying to kill me?"

"Elliot, are you okay?" Mother looked at me incredulously.

The knife I threw punctured into the wall. "I'm sorry. I think I'm okay.. but maybe not.."

I retrieved my knife and everyone looked at me worriedly before continuing to stuff their mouths with food.

However good the food looked, I had lost my appetite. The picture then mocked me again. It's her. Why is my head acting this way?

Pushing aside my unfinished breakfast, I fiddled with the hem of my shirt and said, "I'm full. Will be coming home late, ma. I got lessons on Computer Programming." Bundling out of the door, I got on my bicycle and my helmet secured over my head.

I cycled away.