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Sad Fiction Friendship

TW: Mentions of death and self-harm.


*~*


A lot of people seemed to have deep and philosophical ways to understand others.

Me? I thought that everyone always had a blanket on them.

Like someone might have a blanket of nervousness and excitement around them before the first day of school.

What blanket did I have on?

Sometimes, in the winter, on the most chilly days, multiple blankets are piled on top of someone until they can barely count how many there are. They’ll fall asleep eventually, burying themselves underneath all of the layers.

My blankets were like that.


*~*


The screen door was wide open, and the cool Autumn breeze filled the room. I breathed in the smell of the crisp, clean air and sighed, content.

At least, I was until I caught a whiff of the lingering smell of sweat and alcohol.

“Ugh,” I typed on my phone, wheeling my chair over to a bottle of air freshener. “This place needs to get cleaned up.”

“I agree,” my best friend Anastasia said after reading, waving her hand to the trash-strewn floor. “I bet I can clean more than you.”


As expected, that was precisely the case. Anastasia zoomed through the rooms, dusting and sweeping and singing along with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Walk Like An Egyptian.”

Meanwhile, I had to wheel around in my wheelchair, picking up plastic cups and cans. It was maddeningly slow. I couldn’t even talk to Anastasia or sing while cleaning.

I wasn’t supposed to complain about these things. It was supposed to be easy to grow into being an amputee and being mute. At least, according to my father, it was.

But it wasn’t. There were so many stories out there with people who had disabilities that were like mine. I’ve heard stories about overcoming the grief that came with getting a wheelchair and being mute for their entire lives.

It was difficult for me to do the same.

I once had a life as a soccer player. Even if it wouldn’t be completely normal, I at least once had a chance at something close to it.

Being a mute person wasn’t as bad. I typed out words on my phone or wrote in a notebook, so at least I could “talk” easily. But I was still the “mute kid.” The “dumb kid.” The “freak.”

Then, my legs were amputated a few months ago, and things got a lot worse.

I didn’t care that a wheelchair made me different or made me who I was. I wanted it gone. After all this time, the pity, the strange looks, the harassment, and the avoidance still stung.

Many blankets came with these disabilities: Denial, depression, fury. They just keep stacking on top of me.

“So…,” Anastasia said, walking into the room. She plugged the vacuum cleaner into the socket. “Why are we stuck with cleaning up for your dad’s party, anyway?”

I shrugged listlessly, wiping a table. I set the wipe down and typed, “I guess my dad’s too busy.”

“Doing what?”

I tapped my chin with my finger. “What did he say? He was, ah, too busy doing stuff.”

“Stuff?” Anastasia asked, pulling her dark brown hair up in a bun, and turned on the vacuum. “How specific.”

“He didn’t elaborate. Because I don’t have legs and I can’t even talk, I don’t have the privilege to know about anything. I need to ‘grow up and be more of a man.’” I almost punched my phone as I typed on it.

Father and his talk drove me crazy. Ever since the incident, he had been acting high-strung. He would yell all the time, but silence always followed after. Then, it would start again, sounding angrier and angrier every time. Once, I found him inside the bathtub, sobbing while eating strawberry ice cream and staring at a photo of my mother. 

Father hated me; I knew it. I almost couldn’t blame him. He had to place his bitter emotions and grief on someone. He washed them away with parties and food.

But was I any better than that?

The knife was an iron blade with a black handle. I held it every morning, running my fingers along the edge. It would cut my fingers, making them bleed. 

The memory of the knife sinking into my skin over and over again still haunted me. I would consider cutting myself every morning. But I would remember Anastasia every single time and set the knife down.

The picture of my mother sat on my desk. She was African American, like my father. Her eyes were blue like the clear sky, as bright as the sun. We had the same eyes, so every time I looked in a mirror, I saw a part of her in me. 

Every morning, I touched her single lock of braided black and blue hair and let the tears fall. It pained me how similar we looked. We had the same hair, same eyes, same smile.

I wheeled over to the garbage can and placed a wrapper in it, trying to imagine that I was throwing away my blankets of emotions with it.

The whirrs of the vacuum filled my ears. Good-bye, jealousy. Good-bye, depression. Good-bye, guilt. Good-bye, grief.

It didn’t work.

“That’s not true!” Anastasia exclaimed. “You’re the best person I know!”

“You truly think that?” I asked incredulously. “But I’m an amputee! And a mute person! I’m a freaking freak! I—I even caused...”

My hands shook, and I almost dropped my phone; I gripped my wheelchair to steady them.

“Look at me, Jameson Okello,” Anastasia said in a no-nonsense tone, bending down so she could look me in the eye. “Having no legs and not being able to talk makes you a weirdo.”

“I certainly feel like one,” I typed. “I feel so encouraged and touched.”

“You’re weird; that’s a fact. But so is everyone else. Everyone’s different. Who cares if you’re not normal on the outside? Screw being normal; it’s boring! It’s the inside that counts.”

“You sound like you’re in a movie,” I told Anastasia.

“You’re my best friend, and I’m not friends with any jerks.” She grinned. “But apparently, I’m best friends with sarcasm experts.”

“My mother died because of me! Are you friends with killers?” I burst out. I felt tears rush into my eyes; I didn’t bother to wipe them away.

I remembered that day.

There were sounds of gunfire.

BANG!

BANG!

BANG!

The customers were screaming. 

And I was terrified.

My heart pounded a million miles an hour. 

My mother was assuring me.

She was telling me that it’ll be okay.

She told me that she loved me and that this situation would all be over soon.

Those were the last words she ever said.

After a second, my mother started to push my chair to the right.

Her hands were trembling.

I didn’t know why until a second later.

BANG!

Somehow, my mother sensed the bullet was coming.

I thought that was only something that happened in movies.

The bullet was coming toward me.

She had tried to push me away.

Her safety had been secondary to mine.

She died because of my disability.

I realized four things at that moment: Blood was a strange color. It was bright but dark. 

The ambulance siren made my ears ring.

A look of fury and grief could never look as deadly as my father’s.

Grief and guilt was a chilling feeling.

It settled over my body like a blanket. 

Blankets usually comforted, but they could suffocate. 

And that’s what my guilt and grief did.

“You are not a killer!” Anastasia practically shouted. She lowered her voice. “Your mom jumped in front of that bullet for a reason. It wasn’t because you weren’t good enough or able enough to get out of the way. Your disabilities aren’t your fault, Jameson.”

“Yes, it was,” I argued. “You don’t know that.”

“Maybe I don’t, but I know you. Your mom sacrificed herself for you because you’re special, Jameson. She loved you so much! She thought that her son deserved to live and wanted you to have the best life possible like moms tend to do.”

Anastasia took a deep breath and took my silence—well, I was always silent—as a sign to continue.

“You know your mom. She was a selfless and brave woman. Even if you had no wheelchair, she would die for you in a heartbeat. Anyone who loves you would. Can’t you see that?”

The only movement was an empty soda can dropping from a counter and onto the floor as two pairs of eyes stared at each other, blinking. I was one of those pairs.

“I… What?”

Ever since that day, I blamed my disability for my accident. It didn’t make sense that someone would lay down their life for me. That blanket was on me for the last month. But now—

“You think so?” I asked, typing slowly.

“Yes,” Anastasia said without hesitation. She bent over and hugged me, wrapping her strong arms around my back. As she did, my old blanket of guilt started lifting from my body, and a new one settled. But it was different. Warmer. Cozier.

“Thank you,” I typed out when Anastasia let go. “You’re the best friend I could ask for, Lil Anas X.”

“And same for you, Jelly Jame.”

I started to smile, but then I heard something in the backyard.

BANG! BANG! BANG!

It left a ringing in my ears.

Gunshots.

“No, no, no, no!” I could barely type; my hands moved too fast and couldn’t seem to function. I fumbled for my phone and dropped it. It cracked, and the screen went black. Terror started a flame in my heart, spreading across my entire body. And it had nothing to do with my phone.

Anastasia could get the same end as my mother; I could get the same end as my mother. I couldn’t move. The gunshots filled my ears until they were the only things I could hear.

BANG! BANG! BANG!

“Come on, already!” Anastasia yelled. I could see the fear dancing in her eyes, but she managed to start pushing my wheelchair toward a different room as fast as she could.

I sat, paralyzed in my chair.

I didn’t want to move.

But I looked back.

A man and a woman were standing inside the room.

We had forgotten to close the screen door.

Stupid.

Idiotic.

They looked nothing like murders or burglars.

They wore crisp suits like they had just returned from an important meeting.

But they still had guns.

It was so silent that it was eerie.

Anastasia’s back was to them.

She hadn’t looked back.

She got tunnel vision like that.

In her mind, the gunshots were still going in the backyard.

The men weren’t inside the house for her.

I frantically tapped on Anastasia’s shoulder, trying to warn her without typing.

She turned around.

One gun was pointed at me; another was pointed at Anastasia.

“You’re in the wrong house,” Anastasia said, her voice quivering.

“Go away.”

The man grinned.

“I’m afraid that’s not a part of our plan.”

Anastasia sprang toward the man, her hands outstretched as if to strangle him. 

In the back of my mind, I wanted to join her and at least go out fighting.

I shouldn’t be such a coward, paralyzed while my best friend risked her life.

But the fear got the best of me.

The woman pointed her gun—this time at her heart—at Anastasia before I could do anything else.

“Don’t die for me!” I wanted to yell.

Her life was more important than mine.

I wanted to say anything, anything to save her.

But I was silent for my entire life; it was going to stay that way.

I would never be free from the blanket of silence.

Anastasia could die.

That thought made me snap.

As fast as I could, I picked up a can from the floor and threw it at the woman.

There was no use.

She just dodged it easily and pressed on the trigger.

BANG!

Blood.

So much blood.

Anastasia’s body was on the ground, limp and still.

A science lesson I had a long time ago flashed in my mind.

If a person fell into a black hole, they would fall towards the center at the speed of light.

The gravity would crush them until they stretch like a noodle; that was called “spaghettification.”

Time would be meaningless; they would seem to fall forever until they hit the center and become part of the singularity.

I felt like I was falling into a black hole, stretching and getting closer and closer to the big pit of despair.

It was even worse than the blankets.

I wanted to scream.

I wanted to cry.

I wanted to release all I felt inside: destruction and pain.

But no sound would come out.

If I had warned her; if I had protected her; if I had been the brave man I was supposed to be, she could still be alive.

All I could do was throw a can.

I was a coward.

I was a disabled, useless coward.

The old blanket was back, stretching to fit on top of my noodle-like body.

It was somehow even colder than before.

It clung to me, and it wouldn’t let go.

That was two people.

Within a month, two people had died because of me.

Anastasia was gone.

My mother was gone.

Anything I could've done wouldn't change that unfortunate fact.

The first tear came.

Then another.

More and more until I couldn't count.

They rolled down my face.

I threw another can.

My tears had blinded me momentarily, so the landing of the can was unknown to me.

The man and the woman aimed their guns at me.

The blanket of death is coming.

They shot.


*~*


This story is for Bill Cipher, who always takes off my low self-esteem blanket when I don’t have the strength to do it myself.

https://blog.reedsy.com/creative-writing-prompts/author/bill-cipher-430e9c/

May 15, 2021 02:59

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62 comments

03:00 May 15, 2021

Positive comments and honest critiques are appreciated! The latter more than the former. I’m not happy with how this turned out—sad stories and contemporary stories aren’t exactly my strong point—so I would love it if you can point out the things I can fix. Please tell me if you would like me to read your latest story(s). I’m a little behind. Thank you for at least clicking on this story when you can be clicking on a better one. Have a great day/night! Keep writing!

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11:35 May 16, 2021

To say that I loved this is an understatement. 'Blankets' is absolutely gorgeous! I agree with lone Wolf, the 'blankets' in themselves are philosophical. I can relate to how you feel about this piece because I have been there before. The way you begun the story was what kept me reading. it was just sublime! The story flowed so well. I loved how the story somehow had a poetic feel to it. I also thought the voice you created with the main character was cool. As a fellow neophyte who also craves critiques, I understand your need so I have a f...

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12:05 May 16, 2021

This comment made my day. I’ll make sure to apply the critiques you suggested. Thank you for the feedback!

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12:15 May 16, 2021

My pleasure!

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23:08 May 15, 2021

gAhH :'( the end was so sad alksjdhfjkahsdfjsk why are you so good at writing sad endings :'< loved it <3 and it was written bOotIfULLy~ ~ Amethyst

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23:42 May 15, 2021

Thank you so much!

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00:14 May 16, 2021

Np! :))

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00:19 May 16, 2021

How are you doing?

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00:43 May 16, 2021

Good & tired :) lol can't walk on my right foot~ I'm writing my story, about 1400 words in :) hbu?

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12:22 May 16, 2021

That’s great! I can’t wait to read your story! I’m doing good. I’m looking forward to a few things, so they keep me going when I’m in a bad mood.

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Sunny 🌼 🖤
12:22 May 15, 2021

I am shooketh. Jameson my poor child- Ok time to think of something to say...hmmm I think this one turned out pretty well. The ending had me excited

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15:20 May 15, 2021

Haha, thank you!

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15:23 May 15, 2021

And as for your question in your bio, I'm fine with adding backstories, quirks, family members, and things along those lines to my character. I can't wait to see what you come up with!

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Philia S
12:43 May 20, 2021

Hey Anna! Loved the story! It wasn't exactly relatable in the physical sense but I felt that when he couldn't speak....I mean even though the story might have been intended in the physical sense..the story can be kind of viewed from another perspective, using imagery. And like how sometimes we all feel helpless and stuff, it was portrayed as him not being able to speak...watching your dear friends or family struggle without being able to help....when Anastasia died... Of course you wrote the story, you only know what it says :D but still w...

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12:49 May 20, 2021

Yes, I was trying to portray how we all might feel sometimes. I'm glad you noticed. Thank you for the feedback!

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Philia S
12:50 May 20, 2021

:)) Of course! Btw, if you don't mind could you leave feedback on my stories? Absolutely no obligation to do so, though...

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12:51 May 20, 2021

Sure! Which one do you want feedback on?

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Philia S
12:54 May 20, 2021

Any! Although would prefer the series 'The Chaotic Four' :)

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Sunny 🌼 🖤
11:19 May 20, 2021

well then sky, looks like you won the quiz contest. gg would you like a PrIzE?

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11:47 May 20, 2021

Haha, your bio came in handy for the quiz. What do you mean by "prize?"

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Sunny 🌼 🖤
17:41 May 20, 2021

meh, I just wanna give you something for winning. Originally I was gonna say the winner would get a story dedicated to them, maybe earn a collab. but really if you just want a little somethin (as long as it's digital and free) as a prize then go ahead and ask. in the meantime have a bunch of virtual food 🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🍕🧁🧁🧁🧁🧁🧁🧁🧁🧁🧁🍪🍪🍪🍪🧃🧃🧃🧃🧃🧃🧃🧃🧃🧃🧃🧃

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18:12 May 20, 2021

I'm not sure, actually. Surprise me!

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Phoenix Langston
01:07 May 20, 2021

I don't know why you weren't happy with this story, because it was -- everything. Jameson's emotions were so raw and profound, and the frequent mentions of blankets really pulled it together. Seeing him think so negatively about himself made me so sad, because it obviously wasn't true. And then he and his best friend died. . . My only suggestion is that you could group some of the related sentences/ideas together, and not put them all on separate lines. It would flow a bit better that way, stylistically. But like I said, it's only a suggesti...

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01:18 May 20, 2021

Thank you for your kind words! I think time has affected how I feel about this story; I see it in a more positive light. For your critiques, they are appreciated. I would’ve grouped the related sentences together in almost any other story or situation. But that was intentional; to put each sentence in its own paragraph so each one can hit you individually. I’m not sure if that succeeded, but I think I would like to keep it that way. And unfortunately, my story has been approved, so I cannot edit even if I wanted to. Thank you for your feedback!

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Phoenix Langston
01:59 May 20, 2021

I'm glad you feel better about it. It's quite a masterpiece! I see. It did have a good effect; I was wondering whether or not that was intentional, but wanted to suggest it just in case. No problem! Have you been doing all right lately?

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02:41 May 20, 2021

I’m doing great! What about you?

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Phoenix Langston
02:49 May 20, 2021

Things are a bit hectic here at home, but other than that I'm quite all right!

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03:04 May 20, 2021

I hope things get better! I just read your bio and realized that you’re continuing Kayla Lane’s series. She was a great friend of mine. I left feedback on your part!

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This. Is. Amazing. I felt the emotions in this story so much, the pain, sadness, everything was displayed so perfectly. Such an amazing story, great job Anne!

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Corey Melin
16:55 May 18, 2021

Very well done. It flowed well as it makes the reader continue to read to the end to see where this story goes. Depressing? Yes indeed. We all want the happy life, but it can be difficult in this world. Sometimes it's like trying to cut your way through a dense jungle with danger all around you. Having written for countless years there are times the story of sadness comes forth. It's like a release from my situation at the time.

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17:12 May 18, 2021

I agree. Thank you for the feedback!

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16:03 May 18, 2021

Wow. This was so emotional, I was cheering for the characters to pull through and the end really hit me. I hope you can lift your blanket and feel great!

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16:26 May 18, 2021

Thank you so much!

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12:52 May 19, 2021

How have you been?

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12:55 May 19, 2021

Good!

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12:57 May 19, 2021

Me too. Hey, did you follow me on pinterest? I got followed by a name I don't know.

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12:58 May 19, 2021

I'm not sure.

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Valerie June
22:05 May 17, 2021

Wow. This was heartbreaking and beautiful at the same time. I really enjoy this even though it was sad. One of my favorite lines: “Blankets usually comforted, but they could suffocate.”

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00:15 May 18, 2021

Thank you!

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wow, just wow. so many emotions. I get what it's like to bottle them up inside you. Geez. I feel like I can somehow relate to this (not so much the dying part, but the wheelchair part and muteness). My brother has a similar experience. He can't talk that well, and he has a wheelchair. It felt so close to home, as if you were describing my life (in a way). And now, the flashbacks. oof. Over all, great story tho, lots of details (like always, which is why you're a master), great scenes (maybe lol), and yeah :) The blanket idea was still philos...

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16:25 May 15, 2021

I hope your brother is doing well! I'm happy that you were somewhat connected with this story. Actually, that hidden meaning was unintended. But now that you pointed it out, it makes sense! Thanks for the feedback!

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yeah he is :) XDD yw :)

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17:11 May 15, 2021

How are you doing?

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better i suppose :) u?

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17:13 May 15, 2021

I'm doing good!

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