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The Last Commandment

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As her chest frantically heaved up and down in a screaming attempt to suppress the gripping suffocation that had taken hold of her, she couldn’t help but recite the Ten Commandments to herself. She had never stolen, committed adultery, or coveted her neighbor or his wife. Never had she said the Lord’s name in vain, or worshipped any other gods. She had never killed another human being and had always tried her best not to lie and to go to church—or at least pray—every Sunday. Under the remaining Commandment, however, she was hopelessly flawed. And she saved saying this one for the very last.


She was on her own now, and she knew it. Even her body was aware. Several strands of her thick hair had fallen out in grievance; her intestines burned with acidic anxiety. Her arms were still flaming red from the night before, and the word “HATE” which she had etched with scissors into the inner part of her upper left arm, glowed ominously in the light of dawn and threatened to leave a faint scar.


She simply couldn’t stay in that house a millisecond longer. Couldn’t stand to hear another criticism. Couldn’t bear a single more mental or physical abuse. Last night had done it. She had never felt so weak, or so angry, as she had then. Pinned to the cold hard ground by two strong hands crushing her arms and cutting off their circulation. Her measly squirming and prying had been no match in strength. Spittle sprayed across her face, emphatically delivering the words that seemed to singe her flesh. A smart slap across the check that had made her neck crack.


So much pain. But pain was the body’s way of telling one that something was wrong. She reasoned that she could answer it by running away. So, with her backpack stocked with very little money, a glass bottle of clear vodka, and a hardback copy of beatnik poetry, she had crept out of the backdoor of her parents’ house and into the wide yet empty reality of the world.


It was funny. She had always been careful not to go even a fraction of a milliliter over the recommended dose of cough medicine when she had a cold, but last night she had gotten so drunk to the point of which she might have vomited half of her weight into the toilet. She had been a sad and silent drunk—only weeping and mumbling sadly to herself between throwing up.


She surely looked a spectacle, stumbling down an empty suburban street, muttering the Ten Commandments under her breath. She needed to say them. They were the only thing preventing her from shattering the vodka bottle against a tree and driving the biggest shard down her scrawny arm. Maybe she wasn’t such a bad girl as Mom and Dad said, if she could keep nine of the Ten Commandments. God would surely forgive her. She desperately needed her immortal soul to be in good condition. Now that she knew there was nothing for her in life, she wanted to look forward to death and a joyful afterlife.


There wasn’t a person on Earth whom she could go to. Her friends had grown up in happy loving families; she would be so ashamed to show up at any one of their doors with such a pitiful story and an ugly hangover. And if her parents could push away their own teenage daughter, they could certainly do the same to other relatives. She had no idea where she could find an aunt or uncle, and she knew that her grandparents were dead. She was alone in the world. Completely alone.


Fear began to overcome her. She would starve. She would suffer. She would never find her way. Her lungs couldn’t conquer the suffocation that they had been trying to fight, and her body went numb, as the straps of her book bag seemed to fuse into her body. Hysterical laughter escaped her lips, and she started to hyperventilate. Her ears felt like they were stuffed with cotton; her visual perception narrowed to a tunnel view.


“Thou shall not steal!” she screamed between manic laughter. “Thou shall not kill!”


She was walking uneasily down the middle of the street now, turning this way and that, unsure of where she was. Then, she became dizzy and fell on her face with a sickening smack! She slowly got up, and through her blurred vision, she spotted two of her teeth scattered on the bloodied gravel. She bent over to pick them up.


Suddenly, the ground began to quake. She looked up. Even through her tunnel vision, the massive corporation truck that was speeding toward her direction seemed to be dangerously close. She squinted and wiped her bloody mouth. The metallic smell of the crimson liquid made her feel dizzy and extremely lightheaded. Now all she could hear was an incessant ringing in her ears. She felt raw, reduced to particles. Looking down at the rest of her body, she thought she could see the very atoms of her flesh vibrating in motion.


Abrupt impact threw her off her feet. With a crunch and the shattering sound of broken glass underneath her, she was finished. Her worries of prolonged survival were over.


As permanent darkness clouded her eyes, a small mournful voice inside some secret part of her head said for her what she had been hesitant to say: “Thou shall honor thy mother and father.”




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