Becoming Human

May 6, 2008
By Ian Jones, Papillion, NE

“Ugh…so BORING!” It was a regular April Monday; school was finally over and the week had started. My homework was calling my name, but first I wanted to catch my favorite show. But of course, my show had been moved to a different time slot. That just figured. Click…click…click. Nothing is ever on. But then the crimson stripe glaring across the screen on channel 7 begged to differ. I paused; what could have happened in calm little Papillion to warrant the glaring red signal? My answer came all too quickly as the news anchor spoke. A Papillion man had been murdered. I recall the details being sketchy at best, as all they had at that point was the carcass. I looked on at the scene from the glowing box in front of me, my eyes at first staring coldly and bored as the body was wheeled away. But suddenly I felt a new emotion vibrating from the bowels of my heart. All at once I found myself upright, no longer restraining my form against the hot leather coach. What was this emotion? This odd, thrilled, yet somehow distraught and melancholy feeling swirling in the middle of my chest? My hand slowly rose from the cold remote, that unsuspecting messenger of my redemption, over to my beating heart. My fingers pressed in; my heart had never beaten quite this way before. It felt…warm.

My eyes gleamed over. Little did I know that the following second would be the longest second of my current life. Flashbacks are aptly named. With a bright flash, I found myself in my old house, five years younger. The putrid stench of poorly prepared Hispanic food mixing with the smoke of yet another cigarette slipping past my mom’s lips molested my nostrils. The coach lost its leather sheen and became rough and scratchy, my right arm vigorously reaching over and ripping at the itching skin of my left arm. The news was on again; and once again, another human being had died. A horrid smirk crossed my young ten year old face. A wicked, almost murderous and lustful glimmer brightened by ice blue eyes as I saw the beautiful crimson life liquid drizzle down the body’s dead arm, twisting and winding around the cold, expired muscle before landing with a satisfied “plop” against the icy December road. My heart jumped; the little unnamed bastard had gotten what he deserved! It was common place in the city; you ticked off the right person and you had your brains blown out. It created a truly stunning artwork masterpiece against the tiled canvas of the tilted wall given the right circumstances.
Or so I thought. My gleeful and unwavering eyes showed the mark of a beast; a fallen monster who not only was untouched by death, but also seemed to joyfully feed off it. Life had no true meaning. You lived. You died. If you played the game well, you lived longer. Nothing more and nothing less. If others died, so what? It meant less competition. My grin slowly sunk, the cold frost of my heart spreading through my veins.
It was at this moment that my trip to the past ended. My fingers relaxed and suddenly flexed, clenching the soft area that protected by heart. This human had died. And I felt…pity? Sorrow? What on earth was this?

My eyes snapped open in sudden understanding. This feeling was called…sympathy. I felt pain for the human that had died. It was his only life; Papillion had show me something. Life was not a game. Oh no! It was much more. My hand relaxed, my heart returning to its normal pace. Thump…thump…I glanced once more at the TV. The blood dripping from that horrible stretcher no longer looked like a beautiful red liquid as it drizzled and crawled over the flesh of the deceased. Instead, the crimson fluid brought a twisted grimace to my face. This was the cold blood of one who had died. It could no longer be warmed. It was not a thing of beauty. No. Instead, it was a nightmare; a symbol of life that had been ruthlessly taken away. Something that I once found as a joke had now become the one thing I longed to protect. Life was not a game anymore. Life was being a human. And with this realization, my finger flicked the power button on the remote. “Blip!” And the screen turned black. I stared for just a second upon the black screen and saw my reflection. I had changed; I had become…human.

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