Hades and Persephone

“I’ve been in love with you the first time I’ve saw you.”

My voice cracked, I was never good at this kind of thing. I sat across from Candice and clutched her hands. Her perfect, smooth hands that still smelled of her favorite vanilla lotion. Her nails were angel white and perfectly curved, fingers interlaced and perfectly still…

Thanks to the silk rope tying together her wrists.

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The Guardians

There was a time before we lived in Graylake, I think. Before we lived in our little house on the end of Marble Boulevard. But that was so long ago all memories I have are pale and almost gone.

My life becomes clear the moment we pulled up to our brand new house and seeing a distorted stone monster perched on the top of the roof.

I screamed and clung to my mother’s leg, pointing at the monster and asking mom what it was. My mom patted my shoulder and told me it was just a statue, that it wasn’t going to hurt me and that everything was okay. She pointed down the street and showed me that there was a statue at every house. Some were crouched on the lawn, others hanging off the gutter, some were big, some were small.

Each one was as hideous as the last.

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Guardian Angel

I was nine years old when this all happened, so forgive me if the details are a lil unclear. I bet if you’re also twenty five you got crappy memories of when you were nine, unless something important happened. Two important things happened when I was in fourth grade.

First thing, just before Thanksgiving my parents announced they were getting divorced. Now that I look back, it was for the best. Dad was a bit of a sleaze and had multiples affairs while Mom was an addicted spender. It wasn’t a pretty thing leading up to the divorce and the events afterwards were even worse. No wonder that year I chose to spend Christmas with my friend Erica.

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The Grunp

The Grunp was just something my cousins and I made up while at our grandparent’s place. We went up almost every summer for a week or two at a time when we were old enough, and I think we first started telling Grunp stories when I was nine.

The Grunp’s appearance and personality would evolve and change as we got older. The first time we told stories about the Grunp, he was a naked man with one giant eye in the middle of his head. The next year, he was covered in thick, white fur, with empty holes for eyes who walked on all fours and chewed on bones. 

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Growth

Did you know that one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage?

Some women are lucky. When they conceive, their child is born safe and sound. They grow up healthy and happy, they become doctors, lawyers, maybe even the president some day. Some women are not nearly as lucky, they lose a child the first or possibly even the second time, but then they have their lucky day and they’re blessed with an addition to their family.

I’m neither of these women.

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Granny

My granny was a terrible person.

A crotchety old woman that was hardly over one hundred pounds soaking wet, she would sit in her rocking chair all day long and scowl while watching her TV game shows. She looked like a skeleton with cracked leather clinging to her bones and wisps of colorless hair sticking out from a mostly bald scalp. And she was mean. If I tried to play Legos in the living room?

“You better clean those up, boy, or you’ll regret the day you were born!”

If I laughed too loudly at whatever TV program was on?

“Stop that racket! That junk will rot your brain!”

If I so much as walked too fast?

“Quit rough housing or else!

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Becoming a Man

“This is what you have to do to become a man, Christian.” My dad practically shoved me out of his truck. I turned back to see him light up a cigarette for my cousin Dave in the backseat.  

Dave looked at me and grinned crookedly. “Make sure to wrap your tool!” He teased before reaching forward and pulling the door shut, having to slam it twice to make sure it actually stayed closed.

Well, this was actually happening. I swallowed before I walked down the street, hearing my dad’s truck backfire twice before it drove off. I was now alone out here. Granted, I could use my phone and call an Uber, maybe even beat my dad home, but I had to do this. I was eighteen. I had to prove to the rest of my family that I was a real man.  

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You or Him?

I got the worst news of my life on my lunch break six months ago. I was feeling pretty good about myself, I’d received high praise from my boss and I felt like a promotion was coming my way any time. I turned my phone back on to see six missed calls from my wife and a voice message telling me that I needed to come to the hospital right now.  

Cara had been home from work that day with a headache. Just a headache, she told me that morning, she would be fine after some rest and I shouldn’t worry about her.

Someone had broken into the house and beaten her within an inch of her life.  

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The Troll Bridge

 “Don’t be a pussy, Ryan! Just do it!”

I would’ve rather stuck my head in a blender and turned that shit on puree than do this, but I didn’t have a choice. It was either go across the bridge or be called a pussy the rest of my life. Or at least until the end of the summer. When you’re eleven, there’s really not much of a difference.

The only way to end this endless teasing was to cross the troll bridge. Well, we called it the troll bridge. We weren’t sure what it was really called back then. It wasn’t anything special, just a small stone bridge that went over a creek just outside of town. It wasn’t used much anymore, it wasn’t big enough for a car to go over and there was talk of tearing it down, but it just never got done.

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The Dangers of Tattoos

Out of the nine guys at Dillan’s bachelor party, I’m the only one left alive. And I don’t know how much more time I have.  

Dillan was a friend from my highschool days. We weren’t close, but we hung out when all our other friends were busy. I was happy to hear he was getting hitched to his girl Heather, they were good for each other. When he asked me to join him and a few of the other guys for drinks, I happily accepted. One last crazy night before he said I Do.  

We’d all gotten pretty buzzed when Mickey threw out this brilliant idea:

‘We should all get tattoos!’

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