Fifteen Seconds This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

November 30, 2015
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I stare at them, examining each, deciding who deserves to die. They stare back at me, afraid, like deer in headlights. I know one thing: No matter whom I choose, one will die.

There are three of them, each with hands bound by green wire. Their eyes plead for me to walk away, to simply forget about them. If I walk away, someone else will come. They have already been condemned.

The first one, a male, is the biggest and is not scared of me. He should be; they all should be. He’s tough, but hurt, there is a stump where a leg used to be. I move a step closer, and he doesn’t budge, not an inch. Either brave or stupid.

I move along to the second potential victim. She looks very old, frail but experienced, I wouldn’t be surprised if her children and grandchildren were looking for her right now. It’s a shame she ended up here. As my glare of death fixes on her, she backs up and lifts her arms. Does she want to fight me? Is she challenging me or simply trying to protect herself? That won’t protect her. I can’t be outrun now; they all know it.

I move to the third and final one. He’s the smallest, maybe still a child. Under his left eye is a large gash that looks painful. Every movement of his eye causes him to flinch. He probably sustained this battle wound when he was captured. That gash is not the worst of it, though. One can only imagine that he’s been here for a long time, forced to stare death in the face hour after hour, day after day. No one ever chooses the smallest. He will probably continue to be ignored until he is bigger and older. He has much longer here.

I step back and look to the woman next to me, who gives me a strained smile. She wants me to hurry up and decide. After all, she’s just doing her job. Reluctantly, I point to the third one. The smallest one. The youngest one. She reaches into the aquarium, grabs the lobster, and pulls it from the tank. “It’ll be ready soon,” she says, as the lobster tries to adjust to the air.

“Thank you,” I reply, catching a whiff of that delicious Red Lobster scent. The smell of beautifully baked biscuits, deliciously seared salmon, and completely avoidable death. As I head back to my booth I realize something: what that lobster saw was not a hungry teenager. That lobster saw a god.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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