The Solution

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I talk to myself. I have to. No one else will listen. No one else understands. Even if they did, I wouldn’t dare expose myself to them.
They’re out to get me. They’re out to get you.
Oh I know they are. They think they’re so smart, pretending to be my friends— You can trust me, Jared. I’m always here for you. You know you can tell me anything.—but I know the truth. Each and every one of them is a liar. They don’t care about me. They fear me. That’s why they all want to destroy me. Every act of affection is a subtle attempt to sneak past my walls, gain my trust, tear down my guard, and exploit me. All they want is to see me writhing on the ground, embarrassed and alone, but I won’t let that happen. Ever.
They’re getting closer. I feel it in my gut. They keep trying to find me, trying to work their way in, and I keep letting them get too close. I hate myself for that. You’re playing a dangerous game, Jared, but don’t worry— I’ve found a solution. Every time they get too close, I’ll cut them off. I’ll take their lives right out from under them. One by one, they’ll fall.
It’s working! My hands are coarse with sin and stale blood, but it’s working. Wait, why isn’t it washing off? Why won’t it go away? Get it off of me. Stop. Stop following me!
It’s not working anymore.
All of those people are gone now. Those people who looked like friends but were really just dirty liars. Those people who pretended to be trustworthy. Those people who said they loved me. No time for regrets, though. I’ve got new people to deal with. They don’t try to hide their intentions.
They’re out to get me. They’re out to get you.
Dark uniforms, cold eyes—they all look the same. Their movements are stiff. That’s probably why they can’t catch me. For some reason, they always travel together. I wonder what that’s like. They slow each other down, I bet. Dependence makes them weak. They rely on each other, they need each other. It’s sad. It’s weak. I don’t need anyone. I’m strong. I don’t need anyone.
Shit. They’re getting closer. Run. RUN.
We’re on our own now. Oddly enough, I feel at peace. The fire burning my chest and the numbness constricting my legs feels kind of… good. Wait, what’s that? A gentle patter, like rain.
God, I’m thirsty. My throat is sandy. Tiny grains scrape at me from the inside—clawing, tearing, shredding. Footsteps. That isn’t rain; it’s footsteps. I’m being followed. It’s you. How did you find me? Leave me alone. Please, oh please, leave me alone. No. Stop there. Don’t get any closer! I’m warning you, stop. Get away now. GET. AWAY. Stop! Stop following me! What do I do? What do I do? Stop following me or I swear I’ll—.
I have to do it. It’s the only solution. It’ll be okay. Just think: all of the fear and anxiety will finally trickle out of your mind. Your shoulders won’t be so tense. Your face won’t be so tight. Look at my hands. I can barely keep them still. But everything will be okay. Just relax.
Blood stains—God, they’re everywhere.
I’m sorry, Jared. I’m so, so sorry.
But at least I’m free.
At last, we’re free.
____

The featured image accompanying this piece, entitled ‘Henry’s Dream’, has been used with the permission of artist, Diego Tripodi.

Diego Tripodi was born in 1983 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, where he lives and works.
His work can be seen at diegotripodi.com.

Kuo

Born and raised in Southern California, Kuo is a college freshman with a lust for all that is pretty and colorful. Although she’s majoring in mechanical engineering, she maintains an undying affection for reading, writing, drawing, and fashion, which she pursues through her blog, Hello Kuo.

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