Heavy Dirty Soul: Part 5

Heavy Dirty Soul: Part 5

Part 5 of my suspense fiction novel

“I don’t expect you to. It’s something all of you are going to have to figure out. It’s going to take some time.”

It’s not what I want to hear. I glare at everyone, making it clear I’m not happy about any of this.

It takes minutes to gather everything we have and take it to Ms. Perry’s car. I ignore Tess when she tries to take my hand, and then her sniffles when she squeezes my hand and lets it go. I glare at Travis’s eyes watching me in the rearview mirror as he settles in the front seat beside Ms. Perry, who sees everything that is going on with her teacher's eyes.

It’s tense and silent, my stomach twisting into knots the closer we are to home. I know that psycho is no longer at large, but Ms. Perry is right. Coming back home, adjusting to our lives-it was all going to take time. I look at Tess, biting her lip, not the least bit trying to hide her fear. Travis, somehow, is convincingly calm. And Ms. Perry still looks like she’s going to cry.

I’m surprised as Ms. Perry pulls into a shopping center. We’re only minutes from home, and I find that I just want to get this over with.

“Anybody hungry? My treat.” Shutting the car off, she turns to look at us, hopeful. I roll my eyes.

“I’m hungry.” Travis plays along. Ms. Perry gives him a grateful smile before looking to Tess, who only offers a small smile and nod. We all get out, and without consulting each other, walk towards the Panera at the corner of the shopping center. Once inside, we are glued to each other. I forget about being angry as I grab Tess’s hand and press myself against Travis. His quick eyes are scanning the busy restaurant.

“Kids?” Ms. Perry says gently, and we turn to the cashier and stutter through our orders. Waiting is agony, and I don’t think any of us can handle sitting down inside and eating in public.

“Let’s go eat in the car”, Ms. Perry suggests. “It’s a little too crowded in here, and I don’t see anywhere to sit.” Still glued together, we follow her out of Panera, ignoring the handful of empty tables we rush past. It’s easier to breathe with each step closer to the car.

Silence surrounds us again as we pick at our food, nobody speaking because we don’t know what to say. If this was how it was going to be from now on, then we were better off on our own. This was worse than before.

“Kids, you know I’m always here for you. I know how you’re feeling. And there’s always the school counselor. We can find better help, too, if that’s what you want. Just give it time, things will get better, I promise.”

“Can I just say-“

Travis and Ms. Perry both turn to look at me so I shut up and sigh. “Nevermind,” I mutter like a brat and stare out my window.

“I don’t want to go home yet,” Tess says, everyone turning to look at her now.

“Let’s go to my house first. My parents will be happy to see all of us.” Travis says, reaching to touch Tess’s hand. She just nods, eyes to the floor. Ms. Perry starts her car, and I still can’t find a place past my anger to comfort Tess or be nice to Travis. So I just ride along, watching the scene outside my window become familiar again.

Each house and shopping center fuels my anger just a little more. I had myself convinced that I would be coming back here. Even under the circumstances, it wasn’t any better. I couldn’t shake the feeling that he could still be out there. Like this was all a trap.

Just before we get to Travis’s street he calls his mom.

“Mom?” A lump fills my throat at his voice. He doesn’t try to hold back any emotion. I wonder what it feels like to have parents like his.

“I’m home.”

By the time we are pulling into the driveway, there his parents are, waiting. It hits me in a thousand different ways.

Ms. Perry walks ahead while Tess and I hang back. Suddenly I feel like I could easily be blamed for this whole situation. It feels exactly like that day in the police station. It’s so obvious that Tess and I are in no rush to get home, where there won’t be anyone to welcome us as if they actually missed us, much less knew we had disappeared.

I look away from the happy reunion, turning my glare to the sky. I feel like I’ve lost everything. It’s a quick, hard reminder that Travis and I come from worlds that can’t possible exist within each other. Ms. Perry is right in more ways than she knew. The lives we were trying to fit back into just got a lot harder.

I feel Tess beside me, just as quiet. This isn’t fair in so many ways. It’s not fair that this happened to us. That our lives will never be the same. That we had a small taste of paradise, our paradise, only to turn right back around and find the only thing waiting for us is the hell we ran away from. It’s not fair that Travis gets to come back to a different version of paradise, while Tess and I will never know what that’s like.

It’s not fair that I’m still mad at Tess.

“Wanna go raid the liquor cabinet and go to the beach?”

“I’m already there.” Tess doesn’t hesitate to answer. I pull her to me. It’s just like her to be so damn forgiving, even when I most certainly don’t deserve it.

“I hate my life.” I mutter.

“I hate your life, too.” Tess replies, and we both snort.

As we pull apart someone else throws their arms around me, making my body and mind lock.

“You don’t know how worried we were.” I relax at the sound of Travis’s mom acknowledging that we had been missing. She holds me tight, and I tense again, knowing that if I give in, I’ll regret it. “I’m so glad everyone is ok.” She lets me go and holds my face so that I have to look into her kind, concerned eyes.

“I know you’re not ok, but you’ll get there. All of you will help each other.” She kisses my forehead when my eyes fill.

Travis, his dad, and Ms. Perry join me as I watch Travis’s mom gather Tess in her arms, who, unlike me, doesn’t hold back. I feel slightly guilty that I’m not the one comforting her, but I know exactly how she feels when Travis’s mom is around.

She just didn’t try to fight it like I did.

Cover Image Credit: Kerri Caldwell

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9 Eligible Princes You Need To Know About Now That Prince Harry Is Off The Market

You too could have a Meghan Markle fairytale

Prince Harry's royal wedding is officially over and there won't be another British royal wedding for quite some time now, as Prince George is way too young to start thinking about that. Fortunately, there are plenty of other countries with plenty of other princes that are still eligible bachelors at the moment. Lucky for you, I did my research and compiled a list of all the eligible princes you need to know about know that Prince Harry has tied the knot with Meghan Markle.

1. Prince Louis of Luxembourg (31)

Prince Louis is the third son of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg. He has recently become a bachelor again after his separation with his wife of 10 years, Princess Tessy.

Fun Fact: He graduated from Richmond, The American International University of London with a BA in Communications. He can also speak Luxembourgish (the fact that's even a language is fun fact by itself), French, German, and English fluently.

2. Prince Sebastien of Luxembourg (26)

Prince Sebastien is the youngest child of the Grand Duke Henri and Duchess Maria Theresa of Luxembourg, so if you marry him, you'll probably never actually be queen because he's pretty far removed from the throne. However, he's relatively young and single, so best of luck.

Fun Fact: For some bizarre reason, this prince actually went to college in Ohio. He played rugby and graduated from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2015. Now, he is back in his home country and is an officer in the Luxembourg Army.

3. Prince Phillipos of Greece and Denmark (34)

You read that correctly, Prince Phillipos is the prince of not one, but two countries. He is the youngest son of King Constantine and Queen Anne Marie of Greece and Denmark. Unfortunately, Greece abolished their monarchy, so he's a prince in name only there.

Fun Fact: Like Prince Sebastien, Prince Phillipos also went to college in the United States. He earned his B.A. in foreign relations from Georgetown University in 2008. Fortunately, for us American girls, he is actually still living in the US and he works in New York City as an analyst at Ortelius Capital.

4. Prince Albert of Thurn and Taxis (34)

Ever heard of Thurn and Taxis? No? Me neither. Anyways, Prince Albert is from the House of Thurn and Taxis, which is essentially a very old German aristocratic family. He is the son of Prince Johannes XI of Thurn and Taxis and Countess Gloria of Schonburg Glauchau. His family is well known for their breweries and castles, so unless you're gluten-free, you can't really complain.

Fun Fact: He's not just a prince. He's also a racecar driver and 10 years ago he was ranked 11th on Forbes Magazine's List of The 20 Hottest Young Royals.

5. Prince Mateen of Brunei (26)

Prince Mateen is basically like all the guys you already know, except he's royalty. He's the prince of Brunei, which is a small country on the island of Borneo, south of Vietnam. He is one of the five sons of Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, and he also has seven sisters. Maybe that's a little different than the guys you know, but one thing he takes very seriously, just like most frat guys, is his Instagram.

Fun Fact: Mateen enjoys playing polo, flying in his private plane, cuddling cute wild animals, and keeping up his Insta game with 890k followers. You can follow him @tmski.

6. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum of Dubai (35)

Sheikh Hamdan also has a killer Instagram with 6.3 million followers. Anyways, Sheikh Hamdan is the billionaire crown prince of Dubai and the second son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who is the prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and essentially the king of Dubai (Emir). He's actually next in line for the throne because his older brother died in 2015.

Fun Fact: Hamdan's hobbies include skydiving, zip lining, and diving, just to name a few, so if you're an adrenaline junkie, Sheikh Hamdan is the prince for you.

7. Prince Hussein of Jordan (23)

Prince Hussain is the son of the extremely beautiful, Queen Rania and Abdullah II of Jordan and next in line for the Jordanian throne. At 23, he's already a second lieutenant in the Jordanian Armed Forces and he was the youngest person ever to chair a UN Security Council Meeting

Fun Fact: Like Prince Phillippos, Prince Hussain also graduated from Georgetown University in Washington D.C.. Also, like Prince Mateen and Prince Hamdan, he's Insta famous with 1.3 million followers and you can follow him @alhusseinjo.

8. Prince Constantine-Alexios of Greece and Denmark (19)

Like Prince Phillipos, Prince Constantine-Alexios also has two countries. Lucky for us though, he is also living in the US right now attending Georgetown University in Washington D.C. (like pretty much every other prince, amirite?) He is the oldest son of Crown Princess Marie-Chantal and Crown Prince Pavlos of Greece.

Fun Fact: He's Prince William's godson, so that's pretty neat. However, if that wasn't cool enough, you might like to know that this Greek/Danish prince was actually born in New York. Oh yeah, you can also follow him on Instagram @alexiosgreece where he has 88.7k followers.

9. Prince Joachim of Belgium (26)

Prince Joachim of Belgium, Archduke of Austria-Este is the third child of Lorenz, Archduke of Austria-Este and Princess Astrid of Belgium. Although he bears the title, "Prince of Belgium," he is also Archduke of Austria-Este, Prince Royal of Hungary and Bohemia, and Prince of Modena. Unfortunately, he'll probably never actually be king in any of these countries as he is ninth in line to the Belgian throne.

Fun Fact: Prince Joachim has degrees in economics, management, and finance, but he decided to join the Nautical School in Brugge after completing college and is currently an officer in the Belgian Navy.

Hope is not lost for all you girls dreaming of finding a Prince Charming that's literally a prince. After reviewing the data, my best advice is to transfer to Georgetown where princes are basically around every corner.

Cover Image Credit: @meghantheduchessofsussexstyle/Instagram

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You Can Be Normal, You Can Be Great And You Can Definitely Be Both

When we're given a choice between normalcy and greatness, it seems to be binary, black and white and one or the other. We encourage the idea that there is no opportunity for these terms to overlap or to be be great while being normal.


Summer vacation is the perfect time for ignoring most of my responsibilities including eating, sleeping and homework among other things. So naturally, I was recently surfing the internet after waking up at 1:00 p.m. when I stumbled across an article meant to be something inspirational on the Odyssey.

It said: "In order to be great, we have to give up the idea that we will ever be, or ever have been, normal. These two concepts cannot happily coexist because in order to achieve greatness you have to outgrow the idea of normalcy."

However, the whole time I was reading the article, I wondered, "why?" I was so confused about a number of things. What did the author mean when she used the word great? What did she mean when she said normal? Why was being normal and great a choice that had to end up as one or the other?

So I decided to do some research. Apparently in the dictionary, the word great means, "of an extent, amount, or intensity considerably above the normal or average." So I guess in a sense, the author had some merit. However, something still didn't feel right. Words have no meaning other than the ones we attribute to it. If that was the official definition of great, then I figured there was something seriously wrong with what we have been taught.

I always thought great was a more enthusiastic version of good. I thought it meant possessing beneficial or helpful qualities. But I never knew great was supposed to be compared to a step above the average. In my eyes, everyone is great in some way; they have some attribute that makes them valuable. Even the ones we find the most despicable, as hard as it is to accept. Serial killers are great at killing people, and even the most ordinary person is great at being normal. In this sense, isn't everyone normal because they're great?

Okay, that was probably really confusing. But the thing is, normal and great are both relative terms. Something normal is defined by what most people do, and what's great is defined by the step above the norm. These words both depend on what is considered normal; a meaning that is constantly changing in itself.

However, the author of the article seemed to disagree. She said, "We all have the desire to be great, and I truly believe that we all have the capacity to be great. But not everyone is ready to do what it takes to be great, to give up the routine that they've been in for years, to step out of their beloved comfort zone. Greatness means giving up your 'normal'..."

Basically, she believed that greatness seemed to a fixed definition. That there was a specific quality or meaning in being great. She believed there were people who fit in this category and people that didn't thus, separating them into "the greats" and "the normals." She seemed to think great and normal were binary terms that were black and white; one or the other. That there was no opportunity for overlap or to be be great while being normal.

I found that quite concerning before I came to a realization: most of the world thinks that way too. The dictionary has been teaching people that great is above normal, and most motivational speakers these days preach about standing out to be great.

However, I think the closest word I can find to describe the specific quality that all these people have in mind when describing the word great is "exceptional." Over time, greatness has not come to mean good, but to mean different, outstanding or the best.

And there's a problem with this.

Everyone does want to be great, indeed. It makes for a good inspirational talk that we've gotten ever since we were young grasshoppers. We've always been encouraged to be something. The author herself says greatness is about, "not letting the negative people and mindsets in your life drag you down with them into that place of apathetic complacency."

Unfortunately, some of that negative stuff the world feeds us is true. We can not always be who we aspire to be. There are always factors beyond our control that we must face such as luck, chance and reality. Success does not always come to those who wish for it. And as unfair as it is, no matter how hard some people try, the world offers them no opportunities.

Most of us will probably end up in a normal job. We find ourselves in "that place of apathetic complacency." And when we do, we feel as if we have failed. We feel as if we suddenly have no purpose but to aimlessly waste away our life there. We make it sound like to be great, we must rise out of the ranks of normal and be different in some way. We make it sound like to be great, you have to be the best at what you do.

All of this couldn't be farther from the truth. The word great has no meaning other than the one we give it. You can be great at what you do by being normal. You can be great- not by being the best at what you do but by being good enough for yourself. And though it's hard to accept this, there is a greatness in normalcy. If we appreciate what we are given, what we have and what we've earned, we can great while being normal. We can be satisfied.

So among the many definitions of the word great, I've found two so far that we can live our lives by. We can be great by giving our own meaning to the word. We can set our own parameters and achieve our own goals in order to make ourselves great.

Or we can live our lives trying to be great as it is defined by the people. We can adopt the mentality that if everyone else thinks we're great, then we must be great. We can work to constantly please others and make them think we're exceptional, proving that we are great, not to ourselves but to others. Our validation doesn't come from personal growth this way but from our reputation. It is one that leads to mental instability, loss of motivation and loss of direction or purpose.

However, I don't want to enforce the idea that this choice is between one or the other. I think we can all certainly do both.

We need a healthy balance of definitions to keep ourselves ambitious and motivated yet satisfied. You may be thinking "these words are contradictory." And they are. We can never keep these mindsets perfectly balanced, but we must have both in order to function today.

We must accept being normal as part of our lives in a world where everyone wants to be extraordinary. We must sometimes realize that if we are not satisfied with ourselves, it may not be something wrong with us but what society has taught us. Though we would like to believe it, we are not a complete meritocracy, and everything that happens may not be our responsibility.

However, we shouldn't blame everything on others. We should also keep in mind that we must have goals and be productive to make a living in society. My motivation for writing this article is not for people to be complacent but to accept themselves. If we constantly work to improve and fulfill our definition of great, not the world's, if we're taught we don't always have to be the best, we can work towards a more realistic goal and be happy with that.

In a sense, even the most outstanding of us are normal because we're united by our desire to be different. So maybe the key to being different is to do something that many people haven't done: accept the ordinary and in the process, ourselves. And when we do that, we'll all create the new normal of positivity and be completely fine with it. Being ordinary and different both present their different hurdles and challenges, none which are more valid than the other. So therefore, let's start allowing ourselves to be normal and great.

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