Dying Isn't Half as Hard as Living

By , Jackson, NJ

A reflective sheen covered the city as rain poured softly and cascaded down the creavases of the cobblestone streets. Streetlights gently reflected against the polluted scenery, making the slum look almost peaceful. But the residents knew better than to be fooled by a soft filter. Not even the rain could wash away the blood that haunted the streets. No one knew that better than Isaac, as he sat under the canopy of a nearby shop, trying to keep warm.
He eyed the town pharmacy, waiting for his moment. He saw a shadow dance across the glow that emitted from the shop window, so he got into a crouching position and impatiently waited for the customer to come out.
It’s fine, we’re worse off than they are, Isaac justified himself, Mom needs it more than these stupid people do.
The door creaked open, breaking the rain’s gentle song, and out came a man with the sleazy doctor. They shook hands and the doctor walked back inside.
That’s the medicine Anita was talking about, Isaac thought.
As he rose from his crouched position and prepared to sprint, he paused as another figure exited the shop. A woman, holding a small baby. The man that held the medicine gently put his arm around the women and lovingly kissed the baby’s head. Isaac couldn’t move. The overwhelming feeling of guilt washed over him.
It’s for a baby…
The couple made their way down the stairs of the shop and began down the street. Isaac watched in pain as their blackened figures slowly slipped into the darkness of the night with the medicine still in their possession. Standing abruptly, he let out a frustrated yell and turned around, slamming his fist against the brick walls of the alley he hid himself in.
Deciding to head home to check in on his mother and little sister, he made his way down the alley, taking a shortcut to the shelter. The soft scraping of Isaac’s dragging feet was soon muted by the sound of cheering. Curiously, Isaac looked around, trying to follow the noise. It got louder as he made his way further down the side street, and as he reached the end, he invasively peaked around the corner.
There laid a small boy, bloody and unresponsive, limp on the ground while another child knelt over him, panting heavily and trying to shake the unconscious awake. A group of men, looking to be from the upper class part of town were where the sounds of joy were coming from. Isaac’s eyes widened as he saw wads of cash being passed around from one man to the next, when finally one of the suited men threw a rolled up bill at the child that still held consciousness.
“Hey, kid!”
Isaac jumped as the men now all looked in his direction, inviting him over. Fearfully, Isaac entered the light of the street lamp and he felt his legs weaken as the child grabbed the money and sprinted down the alleyway.
“Don’t let the kid get away! Bring ‘em back here, gonna need him!”, the tallest of all the men yelled out before turning to Isaac and invitingly spoke, “Looking to make some cash, kid?”
The lump in his throat grew and all his senses told him to run, as fast as he possibly could. But, the thought of his mother lying in the cot with his sister crying over her weak body kept him standing there.
“How old are you?” The man barked.
“I-I’m 11”, Isaac's voice shook, “Uh, what, what do you mean cash? What do I have to do..?” His voice trailed off as the boy from earlier was dragged back into the alley by two of the burly men.
The man let out a sadistic chuckle and shoved the boy closer to Isaac, “Simple, we bet, you fight. In fact, you win, you can even keep this brats money from the fight he just one”.
Isaac looked at the boy, his matted black hair cover his face except for his eyes, which held a defensive, animalistic glare.
“Um, like whoever pins the other down first?” Isaac questioned.
The men quietly laughed to each other when one of the came up and patted Isaacs back, kneeling down to speak in his ear, “Whoever’s still alive by the end, wins.”
Before Isaac could react, the boy that stood in front of him lunged hungrily as his face, letting his nails attack Isaac’s neck and face. Isaac’s defensive nature kicked in and get back throwing his fists at the boy. Images of his mother and sister flashed in his mind, the only thing keeping his hands held in fists as he attacked the other boy.
She’ll die if I don’t get the medicine..
His fist slammed against the other boys head.
I can’t let Amelia grow up without her mom..
His hands became slick with blood.
He’s not moving..
Isaac threw himself backwards as he realized he was straddling the boy's limp body. His face was filled with horror as the boys face forever locked in an expression of pain and fear. His lifeless eyes staring blankly at the night sky, a light drizzle washing away the crimson hue that covered his face. Some of the men cheered and other groaned.
“Yes! I knew this new kid looked strong!”
“I had 100 bucks on Garrett! He’s been undefeated for weeks!”
Garrett…
“Oh come on, you should know that new meat always has that fight in them!”
Garrett…
“Alright, alright pay up!”
The dead boy's name echoed in Isaac's mind, but as the wad of cash landed into the puddle in front of him, all he could think of was his mother at home, and the how the pharmacy was only open for 20 more minutes.
I’m coming Mom… hold on…

_____________________________________________

Isaacs knuckles turned white as he gripped the paper bag from the pharmacy with all the strength he had left. His limbs burned and it felt as if there were knifes being sliced into him from every angle. The fallen canopy that he recognized so well came into view as he rounded the last corner. His legs slowed down as he saw a small figure curled against the brick wall, dirt covered blonde hair draping her frame. Amelia.
“What are you doing out here, Amelia? Why arn’t you with mom?” Isaac’s concerned voice echoed throughout the alley. 
But, she didn't respond. Her delicate face that was now sitting before Isaac held no expression. Isaac’s free hand gripped her shoulder, while he shook her in frustration,
“Amelia!” he bellowed, “God! I told you not to leave her side! What if she got sick again? Your cleaning it if she did! Look, I got the medicine, I’ll go give it to her..”
Isaac stood and gently pushed the fragile door open, eyeing his mother's curled up figure in the cot.
“I got the medicine, Mom, are you feeling any better..?” He trailed off.
No response, but Isaac expected that. Emptying the contents of the bag, he grabbed the syringe, carefully filling the needle with the medication. He quickly made his way over to her.
“This may hurt a little bit. I’ll be careful, okay?”
Isaac grabbed her arm, but his arm immediately jerked back at the ice cold touch. Without hesitating he gripped her shoulders tightly and started shouting for his little sister. Begging to know what had happened when he left. Tears welled up in his eyes and his voice had never been so loud.
“Mom! Wake up! Please!”
“She wouldn't wake up..” Amelia’s small voice trailed off behind Isaac.
“Please wake up..” Isaac sobbed.
“Please.. I got your medicine...”
“Please..”






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