Collateral Damage

Submitted into Contest #98 in response to: Write a story involving a character who cannot return home.... view prompt


LGBTQ+ Contemporary

AN/Warning: Deals with suicide and an internal battle between religion and science. The latter is the main focus of this story. If you are uncomfortable, please skip :).


“Your order ma’am. Please be careful as the coffee is still very hot”

Alex, deep in thought, could not mentally process the message and disregarding the barista’s warning, reached out to sip her “Black Devil, Intense Roast heated brew”. God knows what she was thinking when ordering the cafe’s notorious black devil coffee. Rumors had it, that coffee could shoot someone to Mars and beyond.

“SHIT! FUCK! Agh gah”, Alex groaned, her legs on fire and white leggings soiled with a heavenly-smelling dark substance.


She focused on the pain, the burn traveling down her legs slowly. She closed her eyes and relished in the warmth the coffee had to offer. She would have preferred it be an internal heating, but the external surprise seemed to work just as well. After regaining her composure, Alex glanced up to see all eyes on her situation. Just like that day. Warping. Taunting. Malicious. Shunning. Betrayed hints running through utter disappointed looks. Alex sighed, knowing she had broken her resolution to not bring up those bad memories. A task she had failed the day before, and the day before that.

Alex stood up and notified the barista. She felt that she had ruined yet another day as the barista’s programmed smile dropped into a blazing scowl. Feeling terrible for the girl who looked new to the job, Alex left a $10 tip, twice the cost of her coffee. As she exited the cafe, she never saw the money soaking up the spilled coffee, and then promptly discarded into the trash. Perhaps it was better she didn’t see.

The gods seemed to shun her as the skies of Alberton suddenly turned pitch gray and rain droplets descended at a fast pace. Alex cursed the heavens for the predicament, then stopped, and cursed the atmosphere for the turn of events. Alex never understood the concept of religion. Granted she held no real prejudices when people introduced themselves as Catholic, Buddhist, Jewish etc, but she had to hold off the nagging question as to why they believed in their gods. 

Brought up in a strongly Christian household, Alex felt terribly suffocated by the strict lifestyle she was subject to. Some Catholic parents were open to change, they accepted relationships between men and men and women and women. They learned to flow with the generation and not shut them down. Hers however were raised with whatever ideologies they found in the Bible and her grandparents had taught them. She supposed they assumed they would too pass on their held beliefs. She might have been thoroughly devoted had not one day she sat and thought, locked away in her room under detention, of why she succumbed to her parent’s actions.



Why was it her parents who told her what to believe and who to follow? Was it her genealogy that decided she was Christian? Are these beliefs ingrained in our DNA? Shall traces of Christian coding be passed onto her future children? If she had any. Because her parents identified as Catholic, was she forced to follow their customs too?

She was a girl. A girl with now dull brown tresses. A girl with slight freckles. A girl with pitch black eyes; eyes she was isolated for. A girl who stood at 5 foot 6. All that was coded into her genes. She knew that. But can DNA define the rest about her?

She was a girl who IDENTIFIED as a girl. She was a girl who enjoyed math and playing the drums. She was a girl who preferred the name “Alex” to the original feminine form “Alexandra”. She was a girl who could not believe in a God. She was a girl who accepted others, because she herself was much different from the people who did not accept her. And she accepted that those people were not healthy parts of her life. She was a girl who intimately liked other girls. Not boys. Girls.

She was a girl who was strong, and not one to be pushed down by social norms.

And yet, she found herself practically homeless on the now wet roads of Alberton, white pants recolored a dark brown, tank top covered by a light cardigan doing nothing to prevent the occasional shivers running down her body.

There was a hazy line between religion and science. She admitted that yes, she enjoyed reading stories about Greek Gods, the near-human emotions incorporated in their world. Heaven, hell, angels, and demons; she had deluded herself into thinking one day she could grow wings and fly away from her cage, just like the gods, bad or good regardless, could. Of course, that wasn’t scientifically possible. For now at least.

Even though she was a math nerd through and through, it was the introduction to science that really fueled her recent rebellion against religion. How could people believe that one sole being, not even a human being, something mightier than themselves, created everything? That these godly beings were so like humans yet so much greater than the species. That God sculpted people and gave them talents.

How could people disprove the Big Bang? That the world was 4.54 billion years old, that the universe was nearly 14 billion years old. That we, humans, have occupied the Earth for less than 0.004 percent of it’s time. That there are atoms and molecules that bond to form even greater things. How can we simply write these peculiar creations away as something a being who has no definite form created? When we have so much evidence!?

Alex walked down a couple blocks, being sure not to slip and create another spectacle of herself. If she did that, the eyes could return for another displeasing session. A driver with no regard for his life sped down the puddle ridden streets. Alex saw it coming and gave it no heed. She prayed, to something: Please don’t tell me I’m going to be splashed with water like in one of those cliché movies. At least let some marvelous woman come running in with an umbrella to save me.

Alex had realized upon reflection that people followed their religion out of desperation. Of course she understood that science was difficult to grasp. She had seen students blatantly falling asleep with their middle fingers up while the physics teacher ranted about the Navier-Stokes equation. Honestly, she had no idea what the Medusa looking creature was preaching, but it gave her some comfort knowing there was proof as to why it worked. She basked in the idea that everything around her could be proved. Its existence could be proved. She could prove as to why she looked the way she did. But-

She couldn’t understand why she thought the way she did.

Nor why others thought the way they did.

Nor why, because she simply had thoughts, that was enough to be exiled.

It was due to this she felt an initial understanding as to why people believed in a greater being. There are some aspects of life, science will never be able to fully prove. Science may be a human language, but it never comes off as natural as it should be. For that, people resort to believing in a God who dictates what we think. 

But then she couldn’t understand this point either. If God told her what to believe, then God programmed her to like girls. God made her not believe in the existence of a divine figure. Was it all God’s doing? Did God create an anomaly like her, then code others to fuck with her, his supposed creation. For what? For fun?

Alex sighed, now covered in a gallon of bone-chilling muddy water. At least now all her body seemed to have a central theme: dirty. How dirty was it for her to like women. How revolting that she felt a certain repulsion towards men. What a defective product that was created. So battered and malformed that the people residing in her previous thought home demeaned her an exile. Faulty.

Religion and Science could go fuck themselves. It was religion that trapped her, and science that barely allowed her to escape from her enclosure, but left her wings clipped. A bird with clipped wings is unable to fly.

So it falls. Down from the sky it tumbles. Dreams left unacquired, indefinitely unattainable. 

Alex found herself at the edge of a bridge. She glanced down into the abyss, a ditch now flooded due to the heavy rain. What if she could evade death, just like demons did when they fell from heaven to hell. What if she could temporarily indulge herself in useless fantasies. Religion blinded her from science. Or was it science that blinded her from religion? She simply didn’t care anymore. It was obvious that the people of this time would never accept her ideals. Who gave her the ideals? Who prompted her to jump? Was it God? Or was it Science? 

One foot on the pavement, and one foot dangling over the pit, she allowed herself to pitch forward.


Such a strange word.

One thinks it’s definite but it’s not. Home can change at any time. Until recently, Alex had believed her home was always going to be the iconic Baxterville hills, a home with an exquisite view of a pit-hole beach. A home with decade old friends. A home, even if a cage, was still a home. But a home must be accepting of you. Her home certainly wasn’t. Ridiculed, cast-away, left a nomadic dazed woman; that was Alex. She would never be able to return to her Baxterville home, but perhaps it wasn’t really much of a home. Perhaps she was destined to never have one.

June 16, 2021 18:55

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Amber Reed
11:05 Jun 25, 2021

Hi Jasmine, Your writing is great and I love how you've written the inner thoughts of a character, questioning some of life's biggest questions. We all have inner thoughts but rarely think about how other people might be struggling internally with theirs. Your story was very thought provoking. It's hard to write a story based on mainly one character and I think you've done a good job.


Jasmine Bell
15:14 Jun 25, 2021

Hey Amber, Thanks for the feedback and support! :-)


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23:51 Jun 23, 2021

Jasmine, I love the bold way you take on deep thoughts and big ideas. I feel for your character and her dilemma, and have had those long cold walks buried in conflicting thoughts myself. (Obviously with a different dénoument!) Another way you could explore some of these ideas in a more visual way would be to externalize them—show them through her interactions with other characters. You are a good writer—showing more, rather than explaining, will make you a better storyteller.


Jasmine Bell
15:16 Jun 24, 2021

Hiya, Thank you so much for the comment and constructive criticism! I understand what you are saying as reading through my work I feel that it doesn't flow as much, given a lot of it is internal thoughts. I will work harder to make my stories more captivating. :)


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