I am currently doing a degree a minor in Creative Writing at university so I want to get my work out there so please have a read of what I have written. Most of it is still pretty raw, with much more fine tuning being needed before it is at assessment level. -------------- <b>Hiding</b> I dart around a corner and delve underneath a low awning, beckoning the shadows to hide me. I knew these streets well and knew that there was no hiding place from someone that is determined to find you. I know that you can stall it but not stop it. I know this because it was my home. I slow down my breathing with difficulty. In and out. In and out. It took a while and although I may have slowed down my breathing my heart was pounding like a jackhammer and I swear it was loud enough that it should be heard from a street away. I press myself tightly against the wall in a low crouch willing myself to become part of the wall. My mottled-grey coat helped me break up my silhouette to make me harder to see and embraced the shadows for any help it will give. I stand absolutely still, knowing that any movement right now could betray me. My moving may dislodge any number of items, trash, stones, water, causing them to sound out in an attempt to alert my followers. And even if they are not looking directly at me, their peripherals would be even better to catch a quick glimpse of something that isn’t quite right. Damn peripherals! I turn my gaze outwards from my shadowy embrace. My eyes are constantly moving, scanning the ground in-front of me. I see everything but my head never moves. Practice has taught me the benefits of seeing but no seeing. But my ears are what I am placing the most value in. They are listening for sounds that may reveal a threat. Drain pipes. Footsteps. Cars. Dull chatter. These are the sounds I know. This brings me comfort. Anything else and I would have to make a choice. Run and hope my swift feet carry me away from my pursuers or stay where I am and pray my years of learning to remain unnoticed will keep me hidden. I stand still for god knows how long. I can feel a rock in the bottom of my shoe and I have a massive desire to remove it but I know that it would be a reckless act. By submitting once to the irritation, it would simply make it easier to convince myself that I should remove any further aggravations. And no matter how quietly I could remove the pebble, it would be the movement itself that would give me away. I just grit my teeth and put up with it. Almost as soon as I make that decision not to act, I know it has paid off. I hear footsteps pounding down the pavement mere meters from me. Had I been removing the pebble from my shoe, I would have definitely been found. That said, some sixth sense seemed to tell him that someone was hiding there. His steps faltered and slowed and I see him cautiously enter the alleyway and cast his eyes around. I see him looking carefully and knew that he believed that his prey was nearby. He cast his eyes directly over me and found that I was staring into his eyes. They were kind and gentle enough but I knew they were looking for me and I knew exactly what he was going to do if he caught me. Any movement now would be fatal. Even lowering my eyes could cause a small involuntary movement of the head. That would be all that it would take to find me. I could close my eyes but I couldn’t. I just kept staring. He started moving slowly in my direction, though I was confident that he didn’t know I was here... yet. Suddenly a bin 20 meters up the alley from me toppled, scattering garbage everywhere. It was probably knocked over by some stray cat or dog but I saw it as a gift from god. My pursuer got distracted and glanced up at the bin and in doing so, destroying his concentration. He cast a single glance back into my web of shadows and departed up the alley, running away in pursuit of who he believed was the maker of that sound. Me. I suddenly felt tightness in my chest and realised that I had been instinctively holding my breath. I exhale and the pressure recedes. The footsteps have departed into the distance now and though I was sure he wasn’t too far away, I was confident that I was safe for a little while. I reasoned that he wouldn’t check the same area for at least another 15 minutes or so. The pebble in my shoe quickly becomes apparent again. Still pleased with my previous success, I take this opportunity to reward myself. I feel the relief as my foot comes free of the shoe. I wriggle my toes and shake the shoe upside down to remove the pebble. I am putting my shoe back on and moving back into my hiding spot when I hear a person yell “GOTCHA!” My head spins and I look exactly like a deer caught in the headlights of an unfortunate car. Standing a mere 30 meters away is my stalker. He must have doubled back to see if I made a stupid mistake... which I had. I fell right into his trap and if I had had more time, I would have berated myself for making such a rookie mistake. As it turned out, I didn’t so I did the only thing I could think of. I bolt. He pursues. We run up the alley and onto the street. A crowd of people greet us on the street, glancing at us, occasionally shouting profanities, as we barge our way through them. I manage to slowly increase the distance between us as I weave through the masses but I know it cannot last. When I escaped previously, I had a larger lead and a good break in the traffic. I knew that my running was only delaying the inevitable. I was going to be caught. I am already panting, my feet throb and my knees are sore. I desperately try to keep up the pace but I can feel myself slowing. I know that he is unarmed but he won’t need a weapon if he catches me and it’s only a matter of time. Despite the fact I was about to be caught, I smiled. In a way it would be a relief. I had been waiting for this all day and was glad it was finally over. After all... it was only a game of tag. -------------- <b>Belonging</b> “Hi. My name is Andrew and I am an alcoholic,” I would state in a monotone of boredom and resignation. “Hello Andrew,” they would reply, almost robotically. These two sentences summed up my life in the period of 6:00 to 8:30 every evening of every Wednesday of every week of every month until I got off the bottle. I sit down again as Fred says the exact same thing. I don’t bother to reply as I am already deep in thought, reminiscing about my past. As long as I have been able to remember, I have drunk. I think it was caused by my parents who would often end the day by drinking till they forgot all of their worries and did they have worries to forget! They believed that the best way to approach a situation was to drink until they forgot, waiting till the last minute, when they would finally have to do something. I still remember their apartment from so many years ago. The stained brown carpet, the scuff marks on the walls and the massive cargo trains that passed the apartment block so close that the ornaments would shake and dust would succumb to gravity and fall back down to earth. But all of this didn’t matter as long as there was alcohol in the liquor cabinet. It was usually the cheap stuff that lingered on their breath for hours on end. Just thinking about it brings the smell to my nostrils. The dank, tepid breath that would make you want to gag. All in all, I was an unhappy kid. I was unable to go to friends houses as I had no way of getting home. Both of my parents received DUI after DUI until it became cheaper and easier to just stop driving. And no one wanted to come to my place after school as we lived in the south side of town. Cheaper rent meant more booze. All in all, even without drinking, alcohol was an omnipotent force in my life that directed the way that I would live. When I moved out of home after 18 years of oppression under the bottle, it still would not let me go. It started off with a drink to finish the night, a simple way of relaxing with an arm around my girlfriend, but nowhere near the amount of my parents. I will admit that I enjoyed alcohol. I loved the taste of it, coating my throat in pure euphoria and the warmth that it delivers to my core when I have a sip. Life was great, as long as I kept drinking in moderation. But then I got laid off at work and my slow spiral into the depths of alcoholism began. I would go to the liquor store with the money I got from centre link and spend about half on drinks, knowing that I needed that money for food and rent. It tore at my conscience every night until an inebriating haze would settle over my senses, liberating myself from my common sense. The type of alcohol did not matter, as long as it gave me the buzz I needed. Vodka. Beer. Spirits. Rum. Whiskey. I drank them all and as the drinking accumulated my life got worse and worse. I lost my apartment, my car and my girlfriend and this made me drink evermore. It was a vicious cycle that took me to the edge of my life. I was in a pit. A pit of my own depression that only an addict can know. Fit only for the meanest and rotten of society and I was in the dankest and darkest corner of it. I had no hope. There was no God to guide me and no friends left to assist. I was alone. I had no hope of salvation and in desperation I turned my back on morals, ethics and possibly life itself. I attempted to move forward in my life but I just couldn’t. I took several different courses in dealing with alcoholism but it was so hard. Throwing away such a significant part of my life is harder than I ever thought possible, despite knowing that it was not good for me. The bottle had become a slave driver, cracking it whip with such ferocity that I had no way of relinquishing its grip. Instead of owning the alcohol, it owned me. I smirk, in spite of myself, knowing that this next part changed my life. For a week, a sharp pain was located right between by eyes. The first few days were alright as I had been able to drink the pain away but even then, it managed to intrude upon my happy stupor. It was unbearable, unrelenting and refused to disappear. It drove me out of my mind and in my desire to escape this agony, I drank. I drank and I drank until I passed out. I had no idea what happened but I woke up in the intensive care unit at the local hospital. I felt horrible. My tongue was swollen and my eyes couldn’t focus. I later learned that I had walked out of my apartment and collapsed in the middle of the street from alcohol poisoning. It turns out that my headaches were a form of cluster headaches that afflict heavy drinkers and they would continue until I learned moderation. I was discharged later that day and returned home. Immediately I went to the liquor cabinet, more out of habit than need. I was about to take a sip when I caught myself in the mirror and I finally had a good look at myself and found that I did not like what I saw. I had thinning hair that showed grey at the roots, my shirt and pants had innumerable stains upon them, my eyes were constantly bloodshot with a greyish tinge around the eye and my facial hair was wild and unkempt, so much so that it made me look like a madman. And worst of all was the breath. It was the same dank, tepid breath that would make you want to gag. When I left home, I vowed never to end up like them but I saw what I had become and realised something... I was worse. Despite all of parent’s faults, they were still together. They had someone to sleep with and comfort, even if they were drunk when they did so. I had no one. Not a living soul to help me and comfort me. I stared at liquid in the glass and fell its pull and I knew that I had to make a choice. Did I belong to the bottle or did the bottle belong to me? I dropped the glass and watched it soak into the carpet. I had made my choice. I shaved; I washed my clothes and threw out all my alcohol. Going cold turkey was a struggle but I finally took my first step by going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting and that made all the difference. Sometimes it is just knowing that you are not alone, that others have done the exact same as yourself and have succeeded. Fred was a man that spent all of his savings on alcohol and wound up ruining his marriage by having a one night stand with a woman he met at a club. Mitchell had received several DUI’s and even spent a week in jail when he drove while having his license suspended. Geoff got in a brawl while drunk and is now required to attend these meetings. I am not alone anymore and although I know that I will eventually leave here when I manage to control my drinking, I remember the first family I truly had and belong to society once more. -------------- <b>Obsession</b> I know what I need to do; I know what I want to do but the act of doing it is beyond me. I feel like I am standing waist high in an ocean swell, safe right now, but knowing it could go either way in an instant, leading to salvation or damnation. The same action could lead to either of those outcomes but I know that it’s impossible not to act, no matter how well I am able to procrastinate. I will tire and fatigue just as much in my mind as my body would in the waves. Images whirl through my mind. Half forgotten feelings and dreams surfacing from underneath the swamp that is my consciousness. Memories so vivid and vibrant in their intensity that they threaten to engulf me. Regrets, triumphs and heartbreak entwine so I am no longer able to tell the difference. But in the eye of the hurricane, one image remains as the point of convergence for my tumultuous thought process. In a nightmare, it is the beacon of light you run for when all else fails. But knowing the reason for my confusion only reveals one thing to me, that if it is important enough to torment me so, it’s worth holding onto but that realisation only increases the anguish. And while my mind ponders these issues, my physical self diminishes. It feels like I am detached from my body, watching the world through the eyes of a stranger. I exist and yet I don’t. I am drowning in air. I lose interest in the world, becoming solemn and sober. I can see that it pains those close to me and I truly wish to stop their worry but I am unable to. I am simply a faded photograph of my former self, with no substance, only occasionally rousing myself to facilitate the simplest of social interactions and then surrendering to my mind once more. I want to yell and scream at them! I want their help, to relieve myself of this immeasurable burden but I am too far gone. I am lost inside my own head. This casual nexus of events continues to accumulate inside my head, blotting everything else out. And when the moment comes that I should relinquish my solitude and embrace the world again, the words that might have warmed my frozen essence die on my lips, forever unsaid. With that act, clarity suddenly reaches me. Time is not made for waiting and past in not worth examining. Why ponder over ‘could’s,’ ‘buts’ and ‘ifs?’ I blink and it is as if the smoke has dissipated and the world is born anew. I grab a phone and dial a number. My winter is about to thaw. -------------- <b>Life is like a game of Russian roulette.</b> Life is like a game of Russian roulette. Imagine the gun being your mind and the bullets every significant decision you make. Every pull of the trigger could be your last. It may take five tries, it may take five-hundred but eventually you luck is going to run out and your world will collapse. Some may survive, never pulling the fateful trigger but never taking the chance could mean you’re dead already, destined to fade like a Polaroid photograph, into obscurity with nothing of importance to lay claim to. It’s the thrill of the game that’s life to provide the temptation to test yourself but those that play should be aware of the risks. It’s a rule that has been passed down since the dawn of man; the concept of equilibrium. We know this under many guises but the one most are familiar with would be “Yin and Yang,” in which some evil exists inside all good and some good exists inside all evil. Another guise is karma, in which you good and bad actions will reward and punish you, respectively. This notion extends itself into our life choices. With every leap of faith we make, we must accept that there is a chance that the ground will slip from underneath our feet and we will fall. But we accept these risks as necessary as, without the chance of failure our world as we know it would cease. It reminds us that we are alive. But firing this ‘bullet’ need not be the end of life as we know it. Like the mythological phoenix, humans can be reborn from the remains of their former selves. We cast of the shackles of our dead exterior and walk the earth as a new person. By committing ourselves to an irrevocable path, we run the risk of self-destruction but also enlightenment. So many people play this deadly game daily, not realising what we are doing until it has happened. It can be as simple as speeding down a road. It could be giving away your heart. We never know what is around the corner but its the thrill of the unknown that gives humans their passions. How can we know who do give our hearts to unless we take a leap of faith. There is every chance it won’t be reciprocated, but without actually trying, you will be left with memories filled with regrets. So I ask you, when the time comes, will you pull the trigger? -------------- I would personally say that Obsession is my favourite but I would love any feedback about what I have written, be it good or bad.