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Countdown

Five…
Her mentors have given her the information
on the papers now in her shaky hands,
And they have given her the metallic drive
through the words they know will have her craving more—
More than this bland, gray fantasy.
She hungers for the tang of striking, silver reality.

Four…
There is another like her, who looked up today
and found himself boxed in
by skills they both lack.
They bumble around blindly in the dark,
searching for something to cut through the blackness.
He thought he found a lantern for them,
asked an elder partner for a demonstration.
But he turned the flame too high,
Through the short, shattering burst of glowing glass
the two prisoners catch only a glimpse
of the patterns on high walls surrounding them.
They sit stunned and shaken,
He flawlessly memorizes every detail
from the select bit he saw most clearly
She fights to remember the basic imprint of the entire place.

Three…
She wakes up heaving for breath
sitting upright without any memory of how she came to be that way.
She was never ready…
The horrible laughter that threw her out of the dream
still spirals around her in total cacophony.
She is ready to scream—
ready to give up and throw up.
but something syrupy sweet and feather-light whispers in her ear.
She gathers herself to analyze her surroundings
She no longer sees the terror, only hears the terrible chaos,
and when she gets through that
She closes her eyes
Eases into the beats of rest.
She listens to the silence.

Two…
She is struggling out of the confusion a little at a time,
she promised herself she’ll get out.
Minty air alerts her in perfect harmonization with the tap
She knows who it is without turning around.
He asks if she’s really going to try for this thing
and she knows what he means.
She knows everyone around her is worried, but,
she can’t help herself.
This is what she loves—
it’s the scent of her soul.
She will continue until she gets it right,
or at least until she can go no more,
but how can she tell him that?
She can’t seemed consumed by this
because that isn’t healthy.
And she can’t seem like she cares
because that isn’t cool.
But how can she not care?
It’s the only constant she knows,
the only thing that will rise no matter how many times it’s pushed down
the only thing that will always be with her,
because it is in her.
But she doesn’t need to explain any of this.
He speaks first.
He’s giving up.
He wishes her luck,
and leaves her in a cloud of heady mint.
It dissipates as slowly as her disappointment.

One…
Last chance to learn
A full run-through today before the big moment.
it isn’t good enough.
She feels her stomach sink to her feet because there is no chance.
this won’t pass the cut,
She knows this is too weak to put her fantasy to reality.
She wipes her trembling hands together,
wishing the creature she can feel inside her would just claw its way out.
perhaps, if it were out, she would do better.
She clutches her stomach, but says nothing.
All she can do now is feel what she knows of this world,
And hope its stark authenticity brings peace enough to win.




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