Heavy Dirty Soul: Part 5

Heavy Dirty Soul: Part 5

Part 5 of my suspense fiction novel
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“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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To The Girl Who Still Has Her Mom This Christmas

To the girl with who is blessed enough to have her momma this Christmas. 
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     To the girl who is blessed enough to have her momma this Christmas, please remember to soak every last bit of it in. 

      Please remember to hug her so tight, that the way she smells is locked into your nose. Listen to all the stories you've heard a million times, like you've never heard a single one. Help her, even if it seems completely silly to you, help her mix that cake. Laugh, oh please laugh. Laugh at all her corky ways, at the way she mispronounces words, try's to be hip and use new found lingo, or how she cusses when she forgot to get the rolls out of the oven but quickly asks the Lord for forgiveness. Remember her laugh, etch it into your brain. Make her happy, if she wants to go riding around looking at Christmas lights down the same streets you've went for years, do it. Don't fuss, take her advice, agree to just disagree on things. It's not worth it. Most importantly, remind her over and over how much you love her. 

     Because unlike you, I'm not able to see my mom on Christmas. I'm not able to see her on birthdays, Thanksgiving, or any other occasion. My time with her is up. Death is the most permanent heartbreak. 

     How I long to hear her voice, her laugh. To feel her tight embrace. Smell, oh god, what I would give to just be able to smell her. I would absolutely love to go riding around for hours while she ohhs and ahhs at every single house we pass. If I had the opportunity I'd tell her just how much I love her, how I'm so thankful for all the sacrifices she made for me. In fact, I'm not sure I could ever tell her enough. 

      Some days I wake up and it still doesn't feel real. Others, I panic trying to remember exactly how she sounded. Because, I don't want to forget. I don't want to forget a single characteristic about her. Not one. 

     Take time, not just on holidays, or special occasions to be with your mom. Even if it's just you two piled up watching reruns of "The Little House on the Prairie", soak it in. 

    You only get one momma. Nobody could ever take her place. She's your rock. 

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The Kevin Hart Controversy Shows The Death Of Comedy And The Rise Of Political Correctness

Kevin Hart has apologized for recent tweets containing homophobic language. In doing so, he's further shown how comedy is dying and political correctness is rising.

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The Academy Awards are a big event for film lovers every year. There seems to be extra anticipation for this year's ceremony. This is because it seems like newly acclaimed actress Lady Gaga may take home the statue for Best Actress. While that would inevitably make our gay hearts very happy, the host of the show would need to do the same. On the surface, Kevin Hart seemed like an ideal host. But this is 2018 and if you look for something bad, chances are you're going to find it.

Very shortly after the announcement, several past tweets from Hart emerged. These were tweets of jokes. I never think it's a good idea for comedians to work out their stand-up routine via Twitter, because it tends to come back to haunt them. There were homophobic slurs and comments about how he wouldn't accept his son as gay. The academy gave Hart a choice between publicly apologizing for his tweets or losing the opportunity of a lifetime. Hart declined to apologize claiming that he explained himself since then. Several people spoke out on both sides of the argument. Hart eventually did apologize via Twitter and revealed he stepped down as host because he didn't want to be a distraction.

I don't think Hart should've apologized. Prior to his apology, Hart said via Instagram that we too often feed the internet trolls. I agree with that statement. The fact that Hart's past tweets made headlines so soon after he was announced as host is very telling. There seemed to be a lynch mob mentality targeting Hart. Whenever a celebrity apologizes these days, it comes across as phony. They're apologizing because they got caught and want to avoid scandal. They don't want their career destroyed. This doesn't actually help the celebrity at all. What it does, is give the lynch mob more power. In order to take power away from these trolls, public figures need to stop apologizing.

Hart had previously explained himself in an interview with Rolling Stone magazine. He said that the joke about his son in particular was meant to be ironic. "The funny thing within that joke is it's me getting mad at my son because of my own insecurities — I panicked," he said. "It has nothing to do with him, it's about me." I understand this explanation and I'm inclined to believe him. If I were Hart, I would've posted a screenshot of this quote without saying anything. This is what comedy is based on. The whole reason we find what stand-up comedians say funny is the absurdity of it all. Unfortunately, it seems like this is an art form that is losing it's power.

Lisa Lampanelli, dubbed as the "Queen of Mean," recently announced she was retiring from stand-up. Lampanelli is an insult comic who often makes jokes about racial stereotypes. She explained that the reason for her retirement is because her intentions to unite people would be understood better by becoming a life coach. I find this disheartening. Comedians shouldn't stop doing what they do because some people don't understand it. If their intentions are positive, they should keep going despite the criticism. There will always be critics.

Nick Cannon retweeted several past tweets from comedians Chelsea Handler, Amy Schumer, and Sara Silverman. These tweets included apparent jokes using the same homophobic slur Hart used. Cannon's point being that these women are given a pass, while Hart is being punished. Silverman appeared to respond by retweeting a post from a gay man. The man explained that since these female comedians were public activists for LGBTQ rights, their intentions were clearer.

I can see where this man is coming from. However, one doesn't need to be an outspoken activist for LGBT rights to support them or the community itself. Plus, jokes are jokes. If Hart explained his intentions weren't homophobic, I see no reason why his jokes are held to a different standard. Why is it okay to only question whether or not Hart is genuine? What if Handler, Schumer, and Silverman are just using the LGBTQ community for profit? Assumptions can be made about anybody, whether they're an outspoken activist or not.

I don't think assumptions should be made about anyone. I'm sure you know the saying about what making assumptions does. Comedy is an art form that is all about being politically incorrect. There is a reason these jokes are funny to people and comedians shouldn't have to apologize for them. Intent matters and punishing artists for expressing themselves should have no place in our society. That is a form of judgment that shouldn't be tolerated. After all, a world with less judgment is what we're all striving for.

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