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The Alley

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“They won’t see us waving from such great heights
‘Come down now,’ they’ll say
But everything looks perfect from far away
‘Come down now,’ but we’ll stay…”
~ “Such Great Heights” by The Postal Service


Things are so different now. You look down and what do you see but the perfect girl. She looks to happy and normal on the outside, at least from far away. But if you were to get closer, you would see that that’s not the case at all. She hides herself behind her crazily styled hair and dark makeup and strange hair colors and clothes. She keeps her face a perfect mask of perfection, porcelain and smooth. She paints her nails in either neon shades or black. She holds herself with conviction and confidence, keeping her shoulders from slumping, her back from caving. She is skinny, “but not anorexic,” she says. And she likes it that way, her slim body, and works to keep it as such. She is not bony, but she is slim, not visibly muscled, but if you were to see her dance, you would see the flow of muscles beneath her skin. You would see someone who is happy with what she does, and enjoys what she does. You would see someone with nothing wrong, nothing to hide.

But you’d be wrong.

Underneath the hair and the makeup and the clothes and the nail polish and the mask of perfection and the seemingly true confidence you will find a girl that is caving in on herself. She keeps her façade up to keep people from seeing that something’s wrong with her. When she sits alone in her bedroom, she drops the curtain of lies from around herself, but she never allows herself to cry. She holds in her emotions, both good and bad. She rolls them into a ball in the back of her mind, a lump in her throat, a stone in her stomach. She keeps it caged inside, never to be let out in a way people could see. She writes her afflictions on paper, getting out everything that she possibly can in her written words. She prefers to handwrite them, as if she were to save them on the computer they could be found, even if she deleted them from the computer and the recycle bin. And so she puts pen to paper and writes. She can sit for hours, just writing, and still not get everything out. So she shoves what’s left back inside, as far down as she can get it. And then, grabbing a matchbox and the pages she’s written, she goes into the concrete alley by her house and proceeds to burn the evidence. She does this right after she’s written, never waiting or leaving them where someone could find them. She doesn’t want the world to see that she’s not the perfect girl everyone thinks she is. She crouches in that alley until all that remains of her words and thoughts and feelings are reduced to nothing but ashes, which she proceeds to scatter. Instead of returning home, she goes for a walk through the back alleys, hands in her pockets, a switchblade gripped firmly under the fabric. The switchblade is only for personal defense as she likes to walk in the shadows of back streets and alleys, preferring to stay away from the light of the surface streets and avenues. She walks and she walks, nodding to familiar faces but never stopping. She continues walking, venturing farther from her house, farther from familiar territory and into the shadows she doesn’t know; anything to get away from the cheerfulness that is her house, if only temporarily. She walks with her hands still in her pockets, one gripping the blade, her head down and watching her feet. So she doesn’t notice until it’s too late that she’s about to run into someone. She collides with a strong solid body and stumbles backwards and looks up. He’s at least eight inches taller than her. His face is clouded by shadows, but he doesn’t look much old than her. She mumbles apologies under her breath before putting her head down and going to walk around him. But he has other ideas. He grabs her hood and yanks her back. She falls to the ground of the alley, not even wanting to think about what she may have just landed in. He stares down at her. He looks taller now, and even more menacing. His eyes gleam in the darkness and she grips her switchblade tighter in her hand, a finger on the little trigger that would release the blade. She stares up at him, watching his body for any sign of movement; any hint at what he was planning to do. He advises her to keep quiet and still and begins to crouch down towards her with his hand outstretched. Against his advice, she begins murmuring apologies under her breath again and starts scrambling backwards, away from him. But he only reaches out and grabs her ankle. He’s tells her that she’s not going anywhere until he’s done.

Four Days Later

Three helicopters circle the alley where she had encountered him. One flies up high and the other two circle closer to the tops of the buildings. The girl had been reported missing by her parents and had not been discovered until the fourth day of her disappearance. Her body lay still on the cold pavement of the alley, her eyes open and glassy, staring at nothing. There are no marks on her body, no obvious cause of death. She shows no visible signs of struggle. He is nowhere in sight and no trace of him is found in the alley. Had he even really been there?





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