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A Shelf of Glass Bottles This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

His concept of self was like a pane of glass; it seemed so strong and durable. His ability to keep calm was admired by many; though those who interpreted it as mere calmness were mistaken, for it was apathy, the most complex feeling of all. When he was young, he had drawn a wall around himself, and in it he remained, his emotions trapped in a number of glass bottles that he kept on a shelf in the corner. The shelf was covered almost entirely in a layer of dust. The last bottle that he had opened was shame, long ago. Incidentally, before shame came envy. Before envy came hatred. Before hatred came love.

His concept of self was like a pane of glass; it was cold to the touch. He spent much of his life trying to become a warm and welcoming individual- a father figure. A figure that he would never become. Many of the bottles were still completely full, and many more were close. Feelings like anger still had decent amounts left in them, because he only took a few sips every now and again. Sadness was half empty. Happiness was half full. But the last four bottles that he drank from were completely empty, discarded and strewn in fragments around him.

His concept of self was like a pane of glass; it was easy to see straight through. He had used up all of his love on one individual, and when that individual had rejected him, all he could do was drink up all of his hatred in one go, because he figured he'd never need it again. So he hated, and hated, and hated some more, until the man for whom he depleted his sole source of love started spending time with a woman. So in a fit of hateful rage, he drank up all of his envy, and became greener than the freshest field of grass on a sunny spring morning.

His concept of self was like a pane of glass; it was apt to blur upon close inspection. He had professed his love to a man who he at the time knew as a good friend. He had not wanted to risk compromising their friendship, so he kept his love in the bottle for far longer than he should have; and thus, when at last he relented to its beckoning, he was so desperate for it that he drank it all. Then came the burst of hatred, followed by the burst of envy. The envy led him to finally ask his old friend why he wasn't good enough- why he'd rather have a woman that he found in a bar than his long time friend. As it turned out, the woman was his sister. The two of them had been put up for adoption at a young age, and were separated since then. By pure chance, they had been reunited. As for the rejection, the man was scared then. He had still been young at the time. Naïve. He was afraid of what might have happened to him if he had been caught with another man. He was truly sorry, and asked for forgiveness and a second chance. Now that that had been cleared up, a whole new area of his mind became foggy; why hadn't he asked sooner? Why had he acted so rashly? Why did he assume the worst? So he drank up all of his shame. There would be nothing more deserving in his life, surely, than this.

His concept of self was like a pane of glass; it seemed static, but was all too fluid. Now he had four empty bottles. He stood by the shelf of all that remained, and gazed wearily around the room. Shards of glass were scattered across the ground, and there was nothing that he could do about it. When he overloaded himself with one emotion, all others that he had with him were pushed out onto the ground, now useless, no matter how much was left. Currently, all that he felt was shame.

His concept of self was like a pane of glass, and when it was hit in the right place, it shattered. His old friend, the man for whom he depleted his sole source of love, was now asking for a second chance. He wanted to start over. He was no longer afraid. Happiness, still half full, sat on the shelf. The man approached it and drank half of what was left, evicting a quarter of the shame. He wanted to dance with joy at finally getting what he wished for, but then he remembered that he used up all of his love, and discarded it onto the ground with an influx of hatred. He simply could no longer feel love, or hatred, or envy. Sooner or later, he would no longer be able to feel shame. And then what? So, he had a few sips of anger, and pushed over the shelf, leaving broken glass all around, and rendering all of the rest of his emotions useless. He spent a good portion of time lying on the floor, waiting for his current emotions to dry out so that he could just be without feeling for once in his life. Eventually, he got his wish, and thought nothing of the shards of glass surrounding him.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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