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This piece changes perspective from 2nd to 3rd person and is marked by three asterisks every time there's a shift.
I don’t owe you any sort of explanation, but since you’ll think of me as a villain some day, you should at least have a valid reason to.
The clank and shatter of yet another woke Arthur half past midnight. The air suffused with the stench of booze and confusion as every piece of glass went flying to different areas of the floor, much like his own state of mind. He tried to blink out of the foggy daze that clouded his eyes, but it didn’t leave him. Yesterday it was his chest, today his vision; slowly the other systems of his body began to give out; it as if he were about to die, but brought back to a crude reality with a sudden jolt.
A week had already gone by since it happened, though it hadn’t fully come back to him yet. All he remembered was the dark alley that he was running through, and a wad of cash in his pants that scraped at his waist the more he increased his speed. He paused once he reached a narrow opening on the opposite side of the authorities and dug in somewhat of a hurry into his other pocket; the shiny, jet black watch rimmed with gold and pointed the silver hour hand right at the 9. Now, for some reason, he was being followed by a group of men in police cars everywhere he went.
What of the little one? Surely she would’ve been asleep by now, as she too was well aware of her father’s whereabouts; she had been accustomed to an absent father who knew nothing of parenting a five- year old girl. The thought of escaping the mess had crossed her mind ever so frequently, though she knew that because of her timid demeanor she would only get so far. Yet, a small voice in the depths of her mind said she’d give out soon enough.
He had not seen the light of day for at least an entire week now and was getting restless. He had nowhere to go or nothing to do. All he had to do was wait. Soon enough, the same men in all black uniforms would show up and scour the entire apartment floor to find him, and throw him in, unless he could run fast enough.
He semi opened his window to let in some sunlight and, right when the light hit his room just enough to brighten the darkness, his eyes automatically traveled to the que of police cars right outside his apartment, with the same men in black uniforms looking up for the 5th floor. Yet again, he had to act fast, his immediate reaction being darting for the door. He looked back at the bed, where the little one was sound asleep, completely unbothered by the sunlight directly hitting her face. What would it be?
You have to understand that I had no choice. My job was to run, and a five year old kid would only slow me down. I didn’t have time to worry myself with family, and other luxuries I wasn’t cut out for. Especially when they’re just dead weight that add to my burden. At the end of the day, it’s every man for themselves.
He kissed her on the forehead, and muttered, “Bye, Sierra” and headed out for the door. He looked back once again, searing the image of her into his brain. From a distance, Sierra looked just like her mother: same red hair, brown eyes, sharp nose. He could’ve just stood there staring at her all day, but once again, he snapped out of his trance with another sudden jolt and headed out the door and into the emergency exit stairwell. He jumped through the stairs from the fifth to first floors, and escaped through the back. There was only one thing in his mind at this point: run.
After what seemed like almost an entire day, he reached a pub just as the sun was setting. He rolled up his sweaty jacket sleeves and glanced at his left wrist, then at the sky. It really had been an entire day.
So, tell me. Should I feel guilty? I left behind practically all of the money I swiped from that old man. God knows for what. I was never handed over a wad of cash like that, unless I gave word that I’d pay it back. Now, I was being chased for it: for helping a kid that would grow to hate me. I never thought it was important to grow up with specifically your parents, anyways. As long as there’s some leading figure to guide you, you’ll find your place in life, be it thief, police, or just another kid. Just as long as you don’t end up like me. In any way, I couldn’t be bothered with that. I had to find a way to leave this mess I entered.
He took one last sip of water, got up from his rusty chair and headed for the door. On his way he glanced over to the right at two buff men, one pale and the other dark, standing with their elbows bend on the counter. As he walked by them, he heard one mutter, “The key is to say you’re there for service. You know, sweeping, cleaning, general household maintenance. Once they let you inside, it’s checkmate. They say the money is upstairs, in the first room to the left. Besides, it’s not like the old hag can hear you or anything. At least doing some of us a favor by being deaf and blind.”
He couldn’t stand to be in there another second. He pushed the door open, and was once again under the night sky. He had no longer thought highly of anyone anymore, for they were all the same. At least he still had himself, though. Before he knew it, he was standing in the middle of nowhere. He couldn't help but think what would’ve happened if he had left the poor old man alone. That old man would’ve probably still been alive now. He let the guilt take over him momentarily, and closed his eyes to picture where he would rather be. Surely, anywhere but here.
It was a bright day around August, fifteen years ago. I looked up and saw the old clock tower under a happy blue sky, the hour hand almost pointing to the golden “2.” It was nearly time for her shift to be over. I glanced towards the diner, and there she was near the window, taking her apron off. She stood just a little over average height with big, light brown eyes, and as she stepped out the wind ruffled her red hair into place from the messy bun it was in seconds ago. She smiled, and the sunlight reflected off of her perfectly white teeth, giving them a momentary glint, just like in the movies. I tried to reach for her hand but something stood in my way. Suddenly, a black windstorm rushed over the sky from corner to corner like a spinning top and separated us. I looked up again where the clock tower was, but in its place stood a tall, daunting tree that crouched over me, almost as if it would engulf me if I moved. I was standing in front of an epitaph, and on it the first words I saw were, “Rest in peace, Dianna Glass.” I tried to blink out of it again, and there I was, standing under the navy sky like an idiot. She left me, again.
He had walked for another two hours, when he had to stop again. His throat was parched. He peered into the darkness and saw a light up: a 24 hour diner. Nostalgia and bitterness ran through him at that moment, and every part of him didn’t want to go inside. Alas, he didn’t have a choice, for he knew he wouldn't make it any further unless he drank something. Right as he entered, the smell of stale coffee and spoiled milk hit him, further convincing him that it was a bad idea to go inside in the first place. Trying to ignore his lack of judgement, he ordered a glass of milk which turned out to be pretty decent, and found a seat closests to the window. The lack of ventilation in the room made it rather muggy, so he rolled up his sleeves and started gulping down the milk.
It took me a few minutes to realize that the guy behind the counter went missing. I might have seen him go back to restock on napkins, but I wouldn’t trust that. Right then, a group of three bikers had made a grand entrance, all of them with switchblades in hand. The one in the middle looked around to see if anyone was around, until his eyes landed on me. I didn’t think much of them, since I was going to leave soon anyways. They finally took a seat on the opposite end of where I was sitting. It took me a couple of seconds to register the fact that they were all staring at me. My watch, specifically. I calmly got up and made my way to the door, when one of them jumped up and pinned me against the window with his hands around my wrists, purposefully putting extra pressure on my left so that the metal would leave a mark on my skin.
“Not so fast, pal” he muttered in a deep, husky voice.
I prayed harder than I ever did before that the guy behind the counter would show up again, but for some reason, people have this tendency of leaving me. He never came back. I knew what was happening, but I had no energy to fight a guy three times my size plus a switchblade. Three switchblades, actually.
“Take it if you want it”
He smirked, unhooked the watch off my wrist, and pulled it off with just enough force to make it hurt. They didn’t say anything as they left but they all made sure their shoulders bumped into mine, making their exit as grand as their entrance. The last thing I remembered was getting extremely lightheaded and feeling the cold metal bar of the table hit my head as my eyes closed shut.
The rays of sunlight tried to force open his eyes again as he woke up, not remembering much of the night before. There was still nobody behind the counter, and he figured it’d be best to leave before someone did come. As he left, he found one of the silver switchblades from the bikers that they dropped. He picked it up and held it by the handle, and it all came back to him in flashback. He could still picture it as if it happened yesterday; the dark alley, the handle of the dagger in his hands, the stupefied look of the old man as the blade slowly pierced into his stomach and his eyes started clouding with pain. Before he knew it, he was running from a group of four men in all black uniforms, handcuffs ready. That explained the guilt, fright, and men in all black.
I stepped out of the diner with an odd aftertaste of milk still in my mouth. I looked ahead to the unpromising empty road; looking back was too painful anyways. I was caught in this vicious cycle, the only difference between each passing day is that I lose something practically every 24 hours; it’s been that way for fifteen years now.
I don’t know what else I could’ve have to satisfy you. This is one of the reasons I left: nothing I ever did could make you happy. I killed an old, innocent man for you for that once chance at possibly that you would possibly stop asking me to stay home or complain why I wouldn’t be around anymore. To end the guilt that encompassed all the reasons I wasn’t good enough for you to look up to; yet I was chased down, constantly being reminded of every mistake I’ve made. Just remember, everything I did and had to endure afterwards was all for you. Because of your discontent and selfishness. So, actually, I guess I did make the right choice, and I shouldn’t feel guilty at all. This is not my fault. You did this.