Miss Kylie

Miss Kylie slid the last of the outfit on. Long, shaven legs were accented with a pair of uncomfortable red heels. A short skirt barely covered the rear, and a tight top showed off more cleavage than should be possible. 

Blonde hair hung in ringlets around Miss Kylie’s face, and shades covered the eyes. The ensemble was complete with a scarf in a bright shade of pink tied around the neck. 

“You don’t have to do this,” Erica said. 

Miss Kylie just nodded and smiled. Erica shook her head and muttered, “You’re crazy going out like that, but there’s no talking you out of it now.”

“Rape culture at its finest,” Miss Kylie said gruffly.

Erica looked Miss Kylie up and down and sighed, “How is it you look better in those clothes than I do!”

With a shrug, Miss Kylie picked up a tiny purse and started for the door. 
 
 
Erica drove Miss Kylie into the city and parked off a major street. “Good luck,” she said.

A laugh, “You’ll see. Nothing to worry about.”

Miss Kylie stepped out of the car and heard a whistle.

“Hah, yeah. You’ll be fine,” Erica said. “I’ll see ya soon.”

Miss Kylie nodded and walked down the street. The shoes proved to be the hardest to master. But after some time, they seemed to get easier. An old couple walked past and gasped. Mutters of “why would she wear that?” eddied across the sidewalk.

But Miss Kylie continued on.

A whistle here, a catcall there – all well-received. But the longer the walk went on the more was heard. 

A hoot, a holler, a slap on the rear, a dirty joke, a bad pickup line, a few sexual advances, repeat. 

For half an evening this went on until Miss Kylie had had enough. 

How do they do this all the time? 

Miss Kylie travelled back to the apartment where Erica was waiting with a bottle of scotch and a frown.

“How was it, Kyle?” Erica asked as the door slammed shut.

Kyle slumped into a chair and tossed the blonde wig onto the ground. 

“People are disgusting,” he growled.

He didn’t say another word. He grabbed the breast pads, threw them down on the ground, and proceeded to remove all reminders of Miss Kylie. 

“I tried to tell ya,” Erica sighed. “No matter how progressive the world gets, women will be objectified.”

He grumbled, “I know now.”

The social experiment was over, but the lesson was not soon forgotten.
 
 
 
 
 
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I Am…

I’m out at sea. Waves crash into my sail pulling me closer to the edge and filling my boat until it’s ankle deep. I hold on, life jacket securely around me, and shovel the water out. I can do this. I can weather this storm. I have been here before, and I know exactly how to see it out.The sun shines through ahead, and I focus on that. I just have a little bit further to go. Keep the sail from touching the water. Keep the water inside my boat low. Don’t think.

What if this is the best I deserve?

I catch a glimpse of where I have been. Those dark clouds, the rolling waves, my past. I have made it this far. 

I don’t see it coming, though. I am not prepared for it. A giant wave sweeps over my boat, and it capsizes. I rush to grab a rope, the sail, anything to support me, but everything is within grasp and nothing at the same time.

The boat disappears, and I am all alone. I swallow water, and I realize I can’t swim. I don’t know what to do. 

I never finished college. They would have taught me this in college, right? 

My arms and legs jerk in competing directions to get be back to the surface. The rough waters send me out further to sea or maybe closer to land. I cannot tell which. I only know one thing.

This is the best I can hope for.

Water fills my lungs, and my mind goes blank. All at once, my arms and legs stop moving, and with the help of my life jacket, I float back to the surface.

I am in the deep end of a pool.

The lanes are not roped off, and I am still so far from the edge. It’s only a pool. A lifeguard is here. The instructor is here. I have so much support around me. Yet I am empty and frightened and sad all at the same time.

I cough and splutter. My arms and legs have no muscle memory of how to survive here. I sink; the water washes away the tears but never the fear. 

No matter how hard I try, I will be stuck doing the same thing for the rest of my life.

The end is within reach but so is the deep. I touch the ceramic surface at the bottom.

My writing is going nowhere. Will I ever get published? What am I missing that others have?

My feet touch the bottom.

Am I ever going to get to see my family again? I am homesick for them. Will I ever be able to afford to go back to college? What if I put on the weight again after working so hard to take it off? What if my heart gives out like my dad? What if my PCOS develops into cancer? What if -?

I barely notice my arm being pulled. The instructor, the lifeguard, the other people in the pool are all helping to take me out of the pool.

I land on the ground and vomit the water onto the soft earth. I breath and push myself up overcoming the weakness in my arms and legs.

I am in a crowded field.

All around me, I can see people. I can see their lives before me. The woman who gets hit every night. The man who has been overshadowed by his father his whole life. The girls who can’t get into the college they wanted to. Every one of them has a right to be unhappy. They deserve to be lost and scared. 

I don’t. I’m a fraud. I shouldn’t be here. I have no right to be in this place.

I push through them all. Their lives touch me, become a part of me. I want to save them all, but how can I when I can’t even save myself?

I see a man standing above an entire peoples. He is driving hate and oppression. I watch their faces go darker. The shadow covers them all, and I see it cover me too.

How did I get to this place again? 

How do I get out?

I drop to my knees and sob. I can’t stop the tears. I want to. I want this to end. This too shall pass, but how? Someone please tell me how!

I lift up my head.

I am in a square room with no windows and no doors.

I accept it. Despite all the support I have around me, I know this is where I am meant to be. In solitude. Not bringing anyone else down with me. 

“You are so useless!” a voice hisses in my mind.

“You will never amount to anything.”

“You’re a gold digger. You don’t really love him.”

“You don’t care about anything but yourself.”

I lie down on the stone floor and let the chill of it sweep over me. I know it’s not true. I know it. The people who said it are no longer welcome in my life. So why are the words still there in the back of my mind holding me down? 

I pull my legs close to me and fill the cramped room with water.

I am drowning in a pool – no, I am out at sea. Everything and nothing is wrong all at the same time, and all I see ahead of me are gray skies, rough waters, and a minute trace of light.
 
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The Principal’s Office

I clutched the note in my hand and walked through the halls of the school with a 10lb backpack swung across my right shoulder. My eyes were focused on the toes of my shoes, each step harder than the previous. My knees seemed to buckle under the pressure of the words stamped across the top of the note: “From the Principal’s Office.”

The weight of the letters was heavier than the six textbooks I carried. What could the principal want from me?

I was a band and choir geek. In that small Texas town, sports were more important than the arts, so it couldn’t be about that. I wasn’t the smartest kid in school, so I wouldn’t be winning some award. I wasn’t naughty. I don’t think I was, at least.

I approached the office desk. The long countertop stretched out across my full field of vision. The dark hallways gave way to a light-filled administrative space speckled with desks three times longer than any students are allowed. Of the staff of six, none bothered to even look up at me.

I rubbed the note between my fingers until the edge was rolled into a mini scroll. I shifted my weight and swallowed to spite the dryness in my throat.

One of the staff coughed uncomfortably without even looking up from her desk, and finally a clerk shot up and walked to stand in front of me on the other side of the counter.

“Yes?”

My mouth opened, and a tiny squeal escaped. I handed her the note, and heat swelled my cheeks.

“Oh. Yes. This way,” she said.

She pointed towards a door around the corner, and I followed her direction.

The principal was waiting for me behind a large oak desk. His pensive look, complete with pen in mouth, stared back at me from within.

I stepped forward and heard the door close behind me before he spoke, “Please take a seat, Melony.”

I nodded and sat down in the first of two cushioned chairs.

“One of your peers,” he said before a slight cough. His eyes fell to his desk before looking at me again. “One of your peers has lodged a concern with my office today.”

My eyes narrowed. What did I do? I don’t remember. 

“They saw something yesterday. At your home,” he continued.

My head lifted a tad and eyes grew. A girl was riding on my street yesterday. I remembered her pedaling past when Daddy…

“Oh that was nothing,” I blurted out.

The image of the moment was burned into my mind. Daddy was drunk. He was angry. I don’t even remember why. The why was never important.

“This is a very serious accusation,” the principal said, swallowing air loudly. “She says he was hitting you.”

Daddy’s tirade had started and ended in the carport. He held in his hands a splintered wooden rake. It may have been the source of the anger, but I couldn’t even remember the next day. He swung it into the post sending showers of wood into the three of us. We crouched to avoid chunks landing on our face or eyes. The onslaught continued until the rake was in two.

I shook my head, “He wasn’t. I promise. Daddy has never hit us.”

I blinked sending tiny drops down my cheeks, and I sniffed the moisture away.

The principal crossed the room and sat beside me. “If you ever need someone to talk to, my office is always open.”

I acknowledged him with a nod, but all I kept thinking was don’t send us away. Please don’t take me from my family. Please don’t take me from my daddy.

“If anything ever happens, you’ll be the first to know,” I said. I stared straight into his eyes and drove the lie home.

He patted my shoulder, smiled, and sent me on my way.

I walked out of the office burdened by the weight of my books and the certainty that life was about to get a whole lot more complicated. He would have to report this to Child Protective Services. He had a duty of care to his students. There would be an investigation, and just like last time, I would be ripped from my parents’ arms.

But there was no investigation. His duty of care must not extend to students who don’t want out of their abusive homes. There were no calls made to my parents. My worst fears were not realized. 

I kept the exchange to myself, life moved on, and I continued to travel along it on a roller coaster with a drunk conductor.

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The Arcade

Rachel’s stomach churned as the acrid stench filled her lungs. She tossed what remained of her chocolate bar aside and steeled herself through the broken glass door.

It was well past midnight and well past her bedtime too. She could hear her big brother, Vinnie, laughing uproariously. Somehow, he had coerced her to tag along with temptations of wholesome fun. So far his version of excitement was breaking curfew, trespassing, and vandalism.

“This used to be the place to be,” Vinnie said. His voice rebounded off the grey walls.

“What happened?” Rachel asked nervously. Shards of glass cracked beneath her feet.

Ash and dust settled into her throat, and she tried to expel it with a cough.

“A fire. Bad wiring or something,” Vinnie said.

Rachel shuddered. 

“Doesn’t look like anyone has had our idea,” Vinnie snickered. “Throw me the bag.”

“There won’t be any money left in them,” Rachel said with a grunt.

“Don’t be such a girl!” Vinnie said as he grabbed the bag mid-air.

The temperature was dropping inside, but Rachel tried to ignore it. Her nerves were already frayed. This was not her idea of fun.

The video arcade was a shell of its former self. The pinball machines and games still stood, but not much was left of them. The marquees, sides and bezels were either blackened or destroyed.

Rachel shuffled around the arcade and rubbed her arms. She was at the next aisle of machines when movement caught her eye. With a jump, she turned to see if it had been Vinnie.

Vinnie was still pulling out screwdrivers from the bag.

She walked down the aisle, heart in throat, and attempted to investigate.

A streak ran past her and knocked the wind out of her. 

A light breath touched her ear, “You should not be here!”

The hairs on the back of her neck stood up. With a scream, Rachel ran, and the arcade sprang to life. 8-bit sounds echoed, and the machines flashed shades of green, blue, red, and yellow.

“Vinnie!” she called as she rounded the corner. His hands were on a pinball machine, and his eyes fixed on the flashing lights. He didn’t even acknowledge her.

She pinched herself and blinked to make sure it was real. All around her the arcade games were playing themselves. The buttons were moving up and down, and the sticks moved left and right, forward and back.

Panicked, she sprinted back to Vinnie. The pinball machine buzzed with messages of “High-score! Double!” Vinnie high-fived the air as cheers and laughter rose in the room.

Rachel shook her head and rubbed her eyes. When she reopened them, she saw group of kids standing around her brother. Their heads turned toward her with toothy grins and villainous eyes.

With a shriek, she stepped back; her hand landed squarely on the closest machine, sending a jolt through her body.

“Play,” she heard.

She pulled away and called out to Vinnie. He turned to look at her.

“Play,” he said. His soulless gaze peered right through her.

She coughed and held her hand over her mouth as a haziness settled on the room.

Her mind cloudy and her chest tight, she spun towards the door. Smoke filled the room and blanketed it in a fog, but still she tried to push forward. She stumbled and struggled to regain her balance. Somehow she knew if she touched the machines, she’d be lost.

The sound of the games echoed in every chamber of her mind, and she longed to play. One game. That’s all. Just one round.

Her fingers grazed the machine. She pushed away but returned a second later, unable to resist the chilly invitation.

“Your turn,” the voices echoed.

Mesmerized, her hands clutched the joysticks, and she started the game. 

“You’re mine,” a single voice said.

Her reflection shone through from the monitor. Her own sinister eyes and venomous smile stared back, but she just smiled deeper and laughed.

Rachel ignored the cold embrace, ignored the pulling on her soul, even ignored the fire surrounding her. Her eyes stayed fixed on the little 8-bit hero on her screen, on her opponent, and on her score. She was one with the machine, and she was never leaving this arcade.

 

 

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The Vanquishing of the Easter Bunny

A party of six walked along the shores of Darkmoon Island. A paladin, rogue, ranger, made, and two healers were named among the greatest in their realm. For years, they had defeated many a foe, and for years, they had pilfered the coffers of many more. 

“What makes you think we are up to this challenge?” the level-headed paladin asked. “40 men and women have gone after him before; he all but slaughtered them.”
“And only thanks to the mage that teleported away, too!” the healer announced.

“Today is when he is the weakest,” the rogue advised.

“Does anyone know where we’re actually going?” the ranger asked, his tiger walked alongside him. It was salivating through it’s bared fangs. Still, no answer came.

“How do you figure?” the paladin asked.

“It’s Easter,” the mage answered. “Every Easter, he relives the tragedy that befell his kin… For it was today that he became… the Darkmoon Rabbit.”

On cue, dark clouds covered the Sun, and they were blanketed in the dull gray before a storm.

“Dun, dun, dunnn,” the other healer laughed.

“No. It’s no laughing matter,” the rogue announced as she applied a green substance across the edge of her blades. “The Darkmoon Rabbit is the last… of the Easter bunnies.”

Rain trickled down onto the group and thunder rolled. The waves of the ocean crashed angrily closer to them.

“I sense a story coming on,” the paladin sighed.

“Damn right there is!” the rogue cheered, twirling her blades in her hands.
Lightning crashed, and the rogue immediately slid her blades back into their scabbards and grabbed her pouch of powder. She was set to vanish at a moment’s notice. The mage released his staff from his back, readying himself to cast the first spell.

“Maybe we should seek some shelter,” the ranger finally spoke.

The paladin nodded, pointing towards a cave to the east.

The six huddled under the shelter of the cave, and the mage conjured a flame that they could all sit around.

“He was once the king of the bunnies,” the rogue said.
“But these were no normal rabbits. They were magic,” the mage chimed in. “Every Easter they laid chocolate eggs for all the good children in the land.”

The second healer snickered, “I’ve dropped many a chocolate egg, if you know what I mean.” Her elbow met the paladin’s ribs, but all just ignored her.

“But there was one kid that never got a chocolate egg, and as the years went by, he became resentful. Until one terrible Easter, he polymorphed all of the Easter bunnies into chocolate bunnies,” the mage continued. “The king sat on his throne in Darkmoon Island and wept, as he felt the life be extinguished from all his subjects.”

“The Darkmoon Rabbit’s heart was broken. He hid inside a cave and grieved for one day. Then from that day forward he was no longer the king of the Easter bunnies… He was the Darkmoon Rabbit, and he killed any who entered his cave with nasty big teeth,” the rogue finished.

Silence fell upon the cave, and the six sat listening only to the sounds of the crackle of the fire circle.
“Uhh…. Which cave?” the paladin finally asked.

“This one,” they heard from deeper within.

Red eyes stared at them through the deep. A growl rose up and echoed within the cavern. A blur of white swept past them, latching itself onto the second healer. Ripping a limb off the caster, the bunny went to its next target. The rogue used her powder and instantly vanished. The mage teleported into the water, far from the action, and the ranger sent in his tiger to act as a distraction as he fled as well.

All that remained was the paladin and the healer, once the tiger was vanquished. The paladin struggled to remain whole, losing fingers and an ear to the beast, but the healer managed to keep him moving. The paladin’s blade swung at the Darkmoon Rabbit. It narrowly missed a few times, but never hit its target.

They were entangled in the brawl for a solid 2 minutes before the others realized that it was a fight that may not be lost. Slowly the rogue made her way back. Her engineered bombs landed a nice blow to the rabbit. With it knocked down for a moment, the ranger dealt the first direct strike. An arrow pierced its ear. The mage sent a fireball as it was down, and its furry chest was singed.
It released a terrible scream as the paladin charged forward, smiting it with his holy power before slamming his blade down into it. He slumped into the ground. Air escaped through its terrible teeth as Brown fudge flowed out from its wounds. 

After no movement for several minutes, the paladin lifted the rabbit and searched it. I tiny key hung in its fur. 

“There’ll be loot in here!” he announced.

The mage gave light to the inside of the cave and they saw what remained of the Rabbit’s belongings. It was all within a chest at the end of the cavern. The paladin opened the chest and looked within.

“It seems all that the Darkmoon Rabbit had left in this world was a miniature rabbit that one of us can take as a companion,” he said, lifting a tiny rabbit from the chest.

“Dibs!” the rogue said as she grabbed it from the paladin’s hands. “It’s sooooo cute!”
  
 
 
 
 

For a bit of context, the Darkmoon Rabbit is a killable mob in World of Warcraft during an event called the Darkmoon Faire. It is a crude reference to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, hence the fearsome teeth. This is a rehashed story that I wrote a couple of years ago with prompts my stepson requested, including Easter, comedy, and Darkmoon Rabbit. Hehe