You’ve searched and you’ve found Short Shorts. This month we are exploring the talent of Seven Magazine’s own Tiffany. That’s right, ladies and gentlemen, you have heard correctly. You may have read her numerous reviews on her blog TiffanyLovesBooks, but never before has a table turned as fast as today! Without further ado **enter drumroll** we proudly present Juxtaposed… SN:Please remember to tell us what you think AND submissions are ALWAYS welcomed. Check out our Contact Us page for additional information. Now, sit back and relax and enjoy Juxtaposed.
“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” It has become my mantra. I have repeated these words so many times they have lost their meaning. I’m not sure what I’m really saying anymore. What were once words I used to keep me focused and motivated have become a meaningless mumbled jumble. I’m not even sure why I’m still attempting to repeat these words anymore. They have become so scrambled in my mind that they have simply become a sad effort to concentrate on anything but the pain.
I’m still running. My breath rushes in and out of my mouth and the stitch in my side make every step, every breath painful. I see everything around me as if it’s someone else running in my body. It doesn’t seem real. Just this morning I was doing normal things and joking with my friends, how can I be fighting for my life now? It’s like I’m having an out of body experience. I am surrounded by nature. All these barren trees fill me with foreboding. Every time my foot hits the debris covered ground I imagine a big neon arrow pointing down on my location. I try to run softly, to not step on twigs and fallen branches. This slows me down too much. I hear them catching up. I give up on that attempt.
“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” I’m tired. My heartbeat is pounding in my head. I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up. I need to find a place to hide. A place where I can catch my breath. I start to look around. I wonder what a good hiding place would be. Will I be able to get to it fast enough with my pursuers on my heels? My energy is waning and lifting my eyes from the ground feels like a bad idea. I need to watch my step and I don’t know that I can look around and run at the same time. This ground is too unstable. I can’t keep this up. I’m exhausted and my body hurts everywhere.
“Please let me find a safe place to hide.” I throw this silent prayer into the air. I don’t know who I pray to. A god, the universe, the bird staring at me perched on that tree. I glue my eyes to the floor, I don’t want to fall. If I do, I don’t think I’ll be able to stand again. “Please help me find a safe place to hide.” This time I say it out loud. Huffed through ragged breaths and barely above a whisper. I hope now that it was said out loud my prayer will be heard.
“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” My legs are starting to buckle beneath me. I’m going to be caught. I just know it. There is no where for me to hide in these barren woods. There is also no one here to save me. No deity I believe in, no god to save me from my fate. I idly wonder what my obituary would say. “Here lies John. He wasn’t fast enough.” I can’t breathe. I feel it stuck in my throat. I try to cough, I need to dislodge it. It’s another sound that jumps out of my mouth. The force of it scares me. This laughter I hear bubbling from my throat sounds inhuman. I can’t stop it- it’s making it harder for me to breathe. I’m terrified. Tears are rolling down my cheeks.
I know I’m dead. There is no way I can escape. My hysterics start to die down as my mind tries to accept it’s fate. Would I have done anything differently? Would my death be noble? To die for what I believed in? I spoke up when no one else would. Will my story be told? Will I be remembered as a hero or a cautionary tale?
“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” I’m starting to feel light headed. Is there something wrong with the oxygen here? I feel no relief when I breathe. My heartbeat is tattooing itself into my skull. Is there any hope of me coming out of this alive? The possibility fills me with hope. I take my eyes from the ground and attempt to look around me. My foot hits a rock and I find myself sprawled out on the floor. Tears fill my eyes as all hope escapes me. As if the gods are trying to seal my fate, a hand wraps around my ankle. And pulls.
A scream born of fear is ripped from my throat. I don’t know what to do. I scream at them to let me go. I threaten to kill them when I get my hands on them. I beg them to release me, I swear won’t go to the police. My throat is dry, my voice is hoarse and I’m still being dragged across the forest floor. I don’t know what they’ll do with me and my imagination offers no relief. I beg them to let me walk. The rocks and branches on the ground are hurting me so bad. The front of my body is starting to numb. I ask them again to let me walk. I apologize for the words that got me in this situation. I tell them that if they let me live, I won’t say things like that anymore. They laugh at me. Please, I beg, just let me walk. You guys have me, I can’t escape. Please just let me walk. The guy pulling my ankles grunts and drops my legs.
“Don’t stop. Keep running. Don’t stop. Keep running.” I know what I said to be true, I have no hope of escaping but I have to try. I would have hated myself for not trying. I run with all the strength left in my body. It takes them a few seconds to react. I look back and they are not pursuing me. I feel a spark of hope come to life in my gut. Maybe I can survive this. I look back a second time already a few feet away, one’s holding a gun aimed at me. My heart drops, my blood runs cold. I try to think fast. I don’t want to stop running but I don’t see what choice I have. I dive to the forest floor to avoid the bullet that’s left his gun.
Adrenaline is pumping through my veins. I try to stand up, my legs aren’t cooperating. I hear them approaching. I work even harder to get me legs below me. I know that if I can just stand up I’ll be able to get away. I hear their laughter and look up. They are standing a few feet back, amusement in their eyes and laughter poring from their mouths. I don’t get it. Is this some form of torture? Like in those dreams where you are trying to run and are giving it your all but seem to be moving in place. As one of the men cruel laughter seems to be getting louder I look up. He’s walking towards me. He points to my back and snorts with laughter. I don’t get it. Giving up on my attempt to stand I reach one hand around to my back and touch the spot he’s pointing to. My fingers come back from my spine with blood on them. Realization dawns on me. I’ve been shot.
I’m not sure if I’ll survive this. If they let me live I know I won’t come out of this the same. Staring at the blood staining my fingers I wonder if it was worth it. Would I do it again, knowing that this would be the outcome? I never realized the power of words. How they have the power to motivate or condemn. My actions, my words have brought me here. I hear a gun being cocked above me. I know now that my death is eminent. People constantly die fighting for our country, fighting for our freedom. I know I’m no hero but I am at least dying for what I believe in. I take comfort in that. I’m not dying for nothing. Free speech is something worth fighting for. This battle for freedom won’t stop. Although I may not keep running, my message has been heard. Peace envelopes me as the gun shot reverberates in the air around us.
© 2013 Seven Magazine