a.n.-I splurted this out in just a few minutes, and I'm not going to make any changes, though there are many things I know I should change. Nonetheless, constructive criticism is always welcomed, and encouraged.

The More It Hurts When You Fall

Brilliant shades, brilliant colors, brilliance with every step. He would stop, place a careful hand over one eye, look away with a delicate grin of uncertainty. If you asked his problem, he responded with a laugh tainted with nausea for his own popularity. Then he would become caged and helpless, his prosperity no longer his—his only property, of course, being his metal determination, quiet introspection. He'd then shout it all out; his trick. He belonged not to a single person, even himself. He belonged to an unsatisfied creature, its name was experience.

What a catastrophe! Self-loathing. The nausea never ceased. Hatred to the world and the self it made of him. Nonetheless, without a grimace, on he would march. Stopping only for the peace of others, but truly masochistic, he wanted to feel the worn ground scrape against his naïve feet. Skin cursed with innocence. But innocence was merely a quality he yearned for within himself. He dreamt of innocence gold as his cavernous eyes, pale as his distaste for mankind in light of self-disdain.

I asked him, "Where do you feel most pain?"

Then he smiled and winked unceremoniously, cringed onward despite a steady face.

And carefully, she shook as she fell asleep that night, weak for the most part but at least she'd had a moment or two of guilty satisfaction, piling up incriminating evidence of her rude vampirism. I, unfortunately, remained ghost. I, unfortunately, could not speak. It took me years to discover he'd asked the question himself, that I shuddered, unjustified, at the thought of caring again. His self-inflicted curse had become a tangible creature, which I've tried so hard to slaughter against a blank page.

"Delirious!" his own mind screamed; and then this creature would whisper back—"Well deserved."

And couldn't she see that popularity made her crazy with hunger? Hunger for a madness called theater, called drama. And she claimed she didn't need fiction, and she claimed not to be false—when his lies are not just her mask, but her bleeding heart as well. She leaves pain! She leaves despair! She cries to the anonymous on a crackling payphone, she thinks it costs a few quarters. Then the sky ruptures, and this slaughtered-but-breathing creature takes hold of her head, and breathes out concern for his dying presence, like cigarette smoke outside her mouth. Her sensitivity has long since forgotten self-induced motivation, and she craves inspiration through innocent genocide of a funhouse crowd. She'll pop the circus energy with the creature's forked tongue and she'll spill her prospects of right and wrong. Assurance through his absence marks her his unwanted slave. And he still treads, day by day, across worn hearts grown thick with vines, and he laughs as the thorns tear into his feet.

I cared and I listened, and I carried his breath, and with her I'd cry and I'd scare away recovery. Then she'd say to me, "If this is the future, and history repeats, then where in my past did I lose another lover?" The surface, you see, was too murky to see past, and the creature then snatched her away.

"Catastrophe is my middle name." She shot it like a gun that fine spring day. Changed her tone of voice like the temperature, but there were no blooms, for he's stolen them all away. And the graves of those he destroyed on his way fell victim to her insensitive practice, her drive for fulfillment never to be achieved. And his creature lay deep within our hearts, castrating our pride with a blunt knife. She acted out of loneliness. His goals grew more unreachable, changing, too, with the tide of her semi-poetic fountain of thought, bleached of eloquence by his bloody tracks. The footprints would wash away, day after day, and he didn't stay to repeat them. His slave, though, that girl, traced them like ink across her back. Tired superiority was tattooed on her body, and branded on his was the devil's name in fingerprints.

She thought her illusions could get no better. She thought I'd never realized her intentions as the creature. Her heart of black, and mine of stone, all I wanted was to be left alone. Though not by him, inevitable as it was. I dreamt of impossible marriage to this little boy scared of death, but in love with pain. I watched him play his game of narrations, soaked in false happiness, drunk on gregariousness. And meanwhile, god watched from nonexistence as I worshipped this boy's talents, was thrown into a jealous rage and smeared the girl's presence into my life. "How rude!" she said, of my choice against a painkilling fairytale, and took to a ritual of soapbox shouting, donation collecting. And he, my favorite boy, sat motionless in routine, awaited a catalyst to lift him from spiraling thought. He suspected it me—but we're the same person, in reality. In fact, I have no identity. Truly inconvenient to his quest for satisfaction in this world. And then the girl would wonder at my silence, my nods, my faint colors dulled by the brilliance of his steps.