Fiction On Odyssey: Soulmate's Doodles (Part Three)

Fiction On Odyssey: Soulmate's Doodles (Part Three)

"'You're crying on my face.' 'Sorry.'" V1 and her friends manage to escape...

Find part one here and part two here .

J3 is dying.

L5, P6 and I all know it. Maybe deep down, she knows it, too. The problem is, we don't know what to do about it.

It's weird; I know I should be feeling something, but all I can do is stare at the wet, red circle that's been steadily growing on her side. The leaves and grass underneath have become stained with blood in the past few hours. This is one thing Teacher hadn't taught us about – how to stop someone from dying. We know what death is. We know what blood is, we know what a weapon supposedly is and what Doctors do. But we have no idea how to keep this "life liquid" in your body, or how to stop it from hurting or what to do about the tiny little hole that just keeps bleeding and bleeding in odd little spurts...

The sounds of P6 retching in the distance echoes slightly. In my head, Teacher's voice drones on about sound waves bouncing off objects to create different sounds.

J3 shifts, and I stroke her hair. Her head rolls on my lap, staring upward.

"The moon is so weird," she murmurs quietly.

"Yeah," I respond with a half laugh. "It is pretty weird."

After all, what could be weirder than a big hunk of shiny rock in the sky? None of us have ever actually seen the sky before. I remember teacher explaining the moon and sky and stars at some point. The facility has no windows, so we could never actually see them, but we were told what they looked like. It's just one of the things that faded from my memory a bit since we talked about it once and never mentioned it again.

I notice a wet drop of water on J3's cheek. Her nose crinkles at the feeling. When another drop of water appears not far from the first, I realize they're tears – my tears. I'm crying on her face. Strange. When did that start? Why don't I feel anything?

"You're crying on my face."


"Sorry." She laughs, but just as quickly as it appears, her smile fades. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry to my soulmate."

The escape went badly. The original plan, simply put, was for me, J3 and two other friends to slip out with the help of the new Doctor in between guard shift rotations. In reality, it involved a complicated series of exact timing periods of running and hiding.

All it took was P6 and his friends to screw it up.

In P6's defense, all he wanted was to "mess with us" a little. He hadn't realized we were genuinely trying to escape. He thought we were sneaking out to get food or something. L5 just went along with it because his friends were going, and he didn't want to get left behind. But K5 knew better. He let a guard know what was going on. I remember him grabbing R4, one of the others we were supposed to escape with. Doctor didn't let me or J3 stay to help her, and as we ran down the hallway with P6 and L5, I looked back.

Teacher had never explained to us what the long black things the guards carried around were for. She just said they were "weapons." All we knew about weapons was that they were supposed to protect people.

"Look! I caught one!" K5 had said over the sound of R4's screams.

Two of the guards raised their sticks. There were four or five loud bangs. R4's cries stopped, and she and K5 had fallen bonelessly to the ground.

I'd never known that blood was so red.

The seconds that had passed as Doctor tried to get his keycard to open the elevator were excruciating. The doors opened just as the guards came around the corner, with more bangs echoing. I heard J3 grunt. Then the other guy with us, O2, had suddenly gasped and grabbed his shoulder. A dark spot appeared on his forehead, and then he fell, too. Doctor didn't get in the elevator with us. Instead, he just smiled at us, turned and stood in front of the doors as they were closing. He held his hands out, and his body jerked with each of the bangs.

"I'll never meet my soulmate. I'll never know what they look like. I'll never get to hug them. I'll never get to kiss them."

"Would you shut her up?!" P6 cries.

My first instinct is fury; how dare he say something like that?

The look on his face is not mean, though; he's scared. J3 is scaring him, and for once, he doesn't know what to do.

L5, though, doesn't see what I see. This entire time, he's been leaning his back against a nearby tree, his body curled up into a loose ball. At P6's words, he shifts and aims a savage kick at P6's calf. P6 yells.

Then the barking starts.

This place scares me. It looks like the facility. The nice man said it was a hospital, so hopefully they can fix J3.

I'm sitting in a very uncomfortable chair and stare at my red-stained hands. A lump slowly grows in my throat, and it feels like I'm choking. Craving a hug, I turn to spontaneously embrace J3's shorter frame with my own, but I then remember:

My best friend is dying.

I might never hug her again. The emotions I somehow managed to block out for such a long time are finally threatening to overwhelm me. This can't be happening. This can't be happening. We're supposed to make it out together, and we're supposed to hunt down each other's soulmates together. She can't die now; it's not fair.

I rock silently in my seat, wrapping my arms around myself. I know I'm probably freaking out P6, L5 and whomever else might be around, but I don't care. Then I feel the familiar tingling in my hand, which means it's my soulmate. It's on the back of my hand. I stare rapturously at it, watching as lines appear. These aren't his normal Markings, his letters. This is a picture... but of what?

Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author's imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Cover Image Credit: Shutterstock

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'Fifty Shades' Isn't A Love Story, It's An Abuse Story

Fifty Shades is not "empowering" or a "beautiful" love story, it is abuse.

In the midst of all the buzz about #metoo, I find it surprising that many of these people who are standing up for women who have been sexually abused and exploited are also going to see "Fifty Shades Freed."

I have not and will never go see or read any of the Fifty Shades of Grey trilogy. Beyond my own standards of what visual content I think is right or wrong to watch, I won't watch it because I do not think I should take part in something that normalizes and romanticises abuse.

I'm not the only one who thinks this. Check out #fiftyshadesisabuse to see what other people are tweeting. The National Center on Sexual Exploitation considers Fifty Shades to be abusive. Cosmopolitan, Fight the New Drug, The Independent UK, and Huffington Post all have also published articles on the abusive nature of Fifty Shades.

Dawn Hawkins, the Executive Director for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation, made this statement about 50 Shades:

"The popularity of Fifty Shades of Grey among women sends a message to men that this is what women really want. Even more dangerous, it also sends the message to women that they can “fix” violent, controlling men by being obedient and loving.

A warning to the women lining up to see this film: There is nothing empowering about whips and chains or humiliation and torture.

Women as a group will not gain power by collaborating with violent men. Women would be serving only as an agent to further their own sexual degradation, handing themselves on a silver platter to exactly the sort of men who want to use and abuse them, and take away their power."

As you can see, the Fifty Shades trilogy is no love story. It makes abuse seem normal and puts women into a submissive, weak, and degraded place. According to Fight the New Drug, Fifty Shades does these things, as compared to healthy relationships:

The Journal of Women's Health says, "Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction " in Fifty Shades and that Anastasia reacted like a typical abused woman. These abusive instances include:

1. Stalking

2. Intimidation

3. Isolation

4. Sexual Violence

Not only does Fifty Shades normalize abuse, it correlates to having negative effects on consumers.

In fact, there was a study done that traced the effects of reading Fifty Shades to young women's health. They found that women who had read Fifty Shades were more likely to have a verbally abusive partner, fast/diet, have more than five sexual partners, and binge drink.

Fifty Shades also teaches some pretty bad lessons, such as:

In light of the #metoo movement where women are standing up against sexually abusive and manipulative relationships, rape, and other forms of sexual harassment, "Fifty Shades Freed" should have sold zero tickets at the box office.

But that is not what is happening. People are flocking to the movie. In fact, as of right now, it is the #1 movie in the world.

It's not OK to view abuse through this movie or other forms, and then post about standing up against it through the use of #metoo. Either you are fine with domestic and sexual abuse, or you are not. If you want sexual abuse to stop, stop giving money to people or organizations like the Fifty Shades franchise who normalize it.

Fifty Shades is not "empowering" or a "beautiful" love story. It is abuse.

Cover Image Credit: YouTube

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Help, I Haven't Left The Couch Since The Olympics Started

Like any addiction, the first step is admitting you have a problem.

There were many strange things about my upbringing, but one of the strangest is that I did not grow up watching commercial television. I’ve never seen an episode of "Spongebob." I never watched the Disney Channel or Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. My TV experience came in the form of episodes of PBS Kids shows, lovingly taped by my grandfather. My first encounter with reality TV came in the form of "The Biggest Loser" when I was 14. My family’s cable TV blackout was total — in all respects except one. Every two years, for two weeks, I glue my ass to the couch and my eyes to the screen to watch impossibly athletic humans perform feats of speed and skill in order to earn disks on ribbons made of precious metals. Yes, I’m talking about the Olympics. The Olympics have ruined me.

The Summer Olympics are fine, for the most part, since they’re in the summer and I’m usually free of responsibility at that time of year. During those two weeks, I cease to leave the house, leaving the couch only to go to the bathroom and to obtain more food. If my Summer Olympics watching habits were a sport, it would be Extreme Couch-Potatoing, with points awarded for the longest time elapsed between shifts in position and the largest drops in resting heart rate. I have a system for the Summer Olympics. The system works. The Winter Olympics, however…

With the 2014 Games, I got lucky, as my typically temperate hometown was snowed in for a decent portion of them. Not compelled to leave the house for school, I entombed myself on the couch and watched them almost straight through. This year I’m not so lucky. I’m hovering on the edge of real adulthood. I have school, and worse than school, I have work. There are myriad responsibilities preventing me from achieving my ultimate goal: to become one with the furniture as I cheer on whichever country seems likely to win a particular event. There’s no such thing as country loyalty for me when it comes to watching the Olympics. Patriotism is nonexistent in my attempt to consume as many sports as possible over two weeks to make up for the rest of the time when I consume no sports at all.

We’re not even a week into the Winter Olympics, and the cracks in my respectable public façade are already beginning to show. My eyes twitch unnervingly. I steer clear of social media, living in fear of spoilers for events that haven’t even happened yet. Instead of asking my coworkers and classmates if they had a good weekend or how their classes are going, I demand “Did you see _____ event at the Olympics last night?” and shake my head and cluck my tongue when they say no. I am a purist. I am obsessed. I make other people nervous.

Like all true and good things, however, the Winter Olympics will come to an end at some point — most likely in two weeks, at which time I will lurk around my apartment in varying stages of withdrawal. In time, the symptoms will fade. But the disease will lurk somewhere in the back of my mind, ready to spring out in summer 2020.

I am a marathon Olympics watcher. I am unstoppable.

Cover Image Credit: BLazarus / Pixabay

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