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Soft Skeleton.

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Smoke billows into the listless glare of deserted streetlamps. Brick walls supporting abandoned buildings once full of dreams and ambition provide little comfort in the darkness of failure. I lean carefully against the cool stones, shuddering at every slight breeze. With each drag of the cigarette, I close my eyes, embracing the solace of release. I savor each smoldering transfer, liberating the smoke along with the stress that drove me to run. In the shadows of our life we will welcome any relief. A fleeting glint of hope dissipates as the embers burn.


Monstrous locations and circumstances force themselves into the forefront of my mind. Torrid scents of Whiskey and crude oil surge against the smoke already occupying my system. Memories have a way of picking out the most extraordinary triggers and effects, each a perfect match forever complementing one another. We can never fall into the night unscarred. Vulgar outbursts of drunken stupor ring in my ears with the haze of childhood protecting my undeveloped processor.



At ten years old I had already endured eight years of abuse. It was just another afternoon; I walked home from school as with every other day. Left a safe haven of peers and adults to join the man I feared more than anything. Alone in the house with him, I gasped for breath in the musty air of isolation. The pain and agony manifested into silent pleas of mercy. These pleas were ignored, so I sailed to the moon. Tigers, dogs, macaroni and cheese, love, and security all resided in my idealistic utopia. When reality fell short of bearable, I let my imagination run wild with the childhood I was entitled to.



I throw the butt to the cold concrete; it lands in a shallow puddle left over from last night’s rain. My fingers grasp the box and I remove it from my pocket. Printed on the surface a golden camel stands strong and unaffected, accompanied by desert scenes and a frame of blue. Ironic, the stability of this landscape, its contents only cripple me more in their comfort. I take out a smoke and light it tenderly, dragging my sorrow away.



A year after he was gone and everything stopped it was hard to make sense of the broken fragments of rationalization. Loneliness was a debilitating disease that chewed at my existence. When fights didn’t keep me content, I set out to find anything possible. Peaceful sleep became a rare phenomenon, and eventually I avoided it altogether. Anger consumed me through a precursor of confusion.



A soggy rat crawls out of the dumpster adjacent to me; his eyes shine in the dim light. I call to him, half expecting an answer, and uninterested, he barrels through the alley out of sight. My mind has been wandering, memories bright in my retinas, the pain and difficulty I’ve trudged through stain my soul. The sharp sting of the filter burning jolts me back to reality. I smother the filter against the bricks and let it fall.


My phone vibrates, reinforcing the conclusion of my past. This last year and a half has been the happiest of my life. So, why then has everything resurfaced? I’m losing sleep and dulling my memories with substances I have always been against. I’m killing myself and hurting the people I care about most. I am better than this. I don’t believe that, but the words echo in my mind, a collage of voices, all in agreement. I can’t bear to see them in pain, to see their tears, knowing I am the cause. I leave the camels for the rat, and walk into the night. I set out to seek absolution for my actions now, but for my past, only closure. I am not at fault for what engulfed me ten years ago. I am only responsible for what I become when I rise from the ashes of my childhood.





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