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Reconciliation

Blood seeped from the man’s open head onto the chipped ceramic tile, turning the grimy white color to a deep crimson. The blood from the gash in his head that I’d just cut, slicing his skull cleanly from his left temple to his right jaw, leaked in a spider-web pattern across the crevices created by the floor tiles. The guilt of killing still troubled me, and I told myself that I was only killing in self-defense, though the thought of taking another person’s life to advance myself in the wasteland that this world had become still sickened me. I wondered what my parents would think of me now; would they resent what I’d done?
I remembered a time when we lived in relative peace in the Bronx, New York. We definitely weren’t the richest of people, my father being a blue-collar construction worker, and my mom working at the dry cleaners, and they frequently struggled to pay the rent, doggy-paddling to keep our head over the sea of financial difficulties. Our tiny little apartment had many problems, including a faucet that spewed rust-colored water, a window with no glass panes in it, and no heat in the winter or air conditioning in the summer. The rent was too much to ask for, and the landlord was always demanding too much from our family. He only got harder on us when I was thirteen, and my father died. I had caught him yelling at my mother for the rent, and she was crying because my dad had just been killed, and she didn’t have the money yet. When my mother left to go to her room, I killed him. I killed him for all the things that he had done to my family, and the lack of compassion he showed at my father’s death. That was probably what kept me back on this world after every good had left in the vanishing.
I walked over to the sink in the kitchen of the ruins of the apartment that I had made my stand against the man that lay dead on the floor. I ran my blade under the water, washing off the blood stains. The man had chased after me, wanting my bodily pleasures, but instead got slain. People always underestimate me, which is probably my best advantage. They don’t know that I have been fending off men that want me for their own for years. I stare at my reflection in the now clean blade of my machete, and see my own bright green eyes framed by my flaming red hair that my mother had always fawned over. My looks had always made other people stare, but I don’t think much of them. I remember my best friend, Melissa saying to me back when we went to high school, “ Kayla, you only get all the guys because of your million dollar body”, but I never really noticed it until I had to fight off the first guy that came after me. It’s funny how I remember all the little details of my former life better now that it has passed. Sad with memories of my past life, I adjusted my hair, washed my face, and turned around to walk out of the house. I stepped down the splintered steps, and onto the cracked road that I would take me anywhere but here.
The last time I saw someone die that I actually cared about was when my mother and I had witnessed the murder of my father, who was trying to break up a street fight between two wannabe gangster boys before the vanishing. My father was always such a pacifist, so I wondered why he had to die, or if he would be ashamed of ‘his little girl’ for all this blood that had ran at her hands, including the landlord. My mother had told me that a lady should act peacefully, and try to avoid fights and arguments, and I can’t imagine that she would be proud either, but if she were in my place she probably wouldn’t have made it a month because of her strict moral code. On December twenty-first in the year 2012 when I was sixteen, the ‘vanishing’ finally happened. Those of us still left on the earth call it the vanishing because it is the most accurate term for what happened. All at once, all the good people simply disappeared as if fading into the arms of heaven, as if leaving the scourge of the world to the barren earth that was no longer able to support boundless life as a consolation prize. That day, my mother was taken from me as well as my father who had been gone for three years, leaving me alone in a new world filled with many new threats. I had learned to fend for myself well enough, keeping all the lustful men who admired my looks away from me with my ever-sharp machete.
That’s what I’ve been doing for the last two years of my life, roaming from place to place, not caring where as long as I was not in the same place for too long. To do that could be fatal in the place that my world had become. Anyone could find me If I stayed where I was, and that was the last thing I wanted. I walked and walked, my brain saying that I needed to go farther before I lay down for the night, but my feet saying that if they didn’t get to rest now they would go on strike. I went down the road about a half mile more before I set up camp in a drab, gray pile of stones that I assumed used to be a building, but now was so overgrown with vegetation that It wasn’t even recognizable anymore. That’s how the rest of the world is nowadays. The whole of America has been taken over by the canopies of jungle-like plants that seemed to have grown up out of nowhere, as if the earth had aged several hundred years in a moment, intertwining the branches of the forest to make one interlocking organism that lives and breathes like we live and breathe, or that’s how it seems anyway. I’ve grown used to it though, and am not perturbed in the slightest by the now arborous atmosphere, and the eerie ebb and flow of the life of the forest. I pulled out a few strips of beef jerky that I had scavenged from a still unopened pack, but these days, meats had to be eaten with caution because since the livestock died off, some sick people had turned to cannibalism, which I thought was revolting, but who in this godforsaken world paid attention to an eighteen year old girl? That’s right, nobody. People must love bacon, or at least something resembling it. As soon as I finished my dinner, I lay down my bedroll and snuggled in for the night
At about three in the morning, a scream rent the air. I had a feeling it was real, unlike some of the posers who called for help, only to lead travelers into traps. I could actually feel the fear in the air. I groped for the handle of my machete, and stood up slowly. I looked through the vegetation to see a small child of around seven years old burst out of the forest on the other side of the road, terror clear on his face and a small scrap of bread clenched in his left hand. A second later, a group of burly men burst through the leafy expanse after the child, surrounding him. Each of the men had a knife in his hand. They advanced on the boy, and the man that appeared to be the leader spoke up. “Hey you little thief, give me back my dinner, an’ I won’ kill ya’”. He said in a gravelly voice, a smirk beginning to form on his unkempt face. “An’ if you do, I’ll kill ya anyways.” He guffawed turning to his companions, all of whom seemed to think that the lame joke that he had just told was as funny as he had thought it was. The kid seemed to be paralyzed as he tried to make a decision. at the last moment, he shoved the piece of bread into his mouth, probably wanting to get in a last meal before his life was snuffed out. The thug’s grin melted off his face, and he walked up to the child, who was cowering in fear, trying to remember how chew and swallow a piece of bread.
I couldn’t take it any longer. I stepped out of my hiding spot, making eye contact with the child, making him look at me. The thugs noticed where he was looking, and shifted their gaze to where I’d stepped out of the brush. I looked at the Thug with an anger that can only be paralleled by a mother’s anger for a lost child. He looked at me with amusement, until his gaze shifted to the machete in my hand. His voice was sarcastic as he said, “Well, well, well, what have we here? A pretty little girl playing with knives?” I stared back at him, an edge in my voice as I said “Let the child go, I won’t stand for this.” he strolled leisurely over towards me and stared at me curiously as I met his gaze with my own defiant glare. “You won’t stand for this?” he chuckled “Someone’s a little feisty, don’t you think? I like that.” he said reaching out to touch me.
“Touch me and see what happens” I said warningly, but he only hesitated and decided to test me by continuing to reach for my waist, a smug grin on his face. As soon as his hand made contact with me, I brought my machete up to slice off his hand and reached over to slice off the both of them. He screamed in agony yelling incoherently, but his gang got the idea, and came after me. I took care of most of them with no trouble, but the last one decided to cheat. He pulled a gun on me, and shot me through the gut three times. Dazed, I collapsed, blood reaching my lips, and I knew that a bullet had pierced my lung. In a last desperate attempt to save the child I yelled “RUN, LITTLE BOY!!” and with my last breath threw my ever faithful machete through the air to lodge in the back of the last thug, and setting the child free.
I could see again, and as I looked myself up and down I realized two things. First, my wounds were gone, and second, I had a ghostly complexion, and was able to pass one hand through my other. I was astonished by this and as I looked down to my left, I saw my dead body. I realized what was happening just as a strong wind picked me up on high. I was going to join my parents in the next stage of my life. I had completed my good deed, and realized that I was being redeemed, and would see my beloved father again for the first time in five years.



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This article has 5 comments. Post your own!

mckaykay said...
Jan. 12, 2013 at 7:18 pm:
i love the idea u shsould lengthen and expand it into a book  
 
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KenyaLove41This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 12, 2013 at 5:28 pm:
Okay so I really enjoyed this story simplly amazing but I did notice some things. Though your story was really good i felt like you lack alot of transitions. Most of the story was telling about the girl's pas but i elt like it was too much and little too confusing. You jumped around alot make me slightly confused especially when you started talking about how she killed the land lord. Also in the begginning you talk about her killing some one but who was that? Plus you don't go ... (more »)
 
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jetta.ckThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 6, 2013 at 5:31 pm:
That was so beautiful! My eyes are literally watering... You made the girl seem so heroic and loving while she also seems daring and feisty! I loved this - please keep writing. You're great at this!
 
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MonsterGirl2000 said...
Jan. 3, 2013 at 7:34 pm:
simply supurb 
 
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Allicat001 said...
Jan. 2, 2013 at 10:13 pm:
This was kind of a haunting story, but very well written and your descriptions were amazing!  Good job and keep writing!
 
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