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Long Live: A Short Story

She was a quiet girl, a people watcher and a fervent proponent of introspection, trapped in an extrovert’s body. She was caught in between wanting to be left alone and wanting to shine like the center of the known Universe. What was worse was that she was capable of being both. She had paid her dues;  she had been the work horse. She had risen like a shooting star and the time to exceed expectations was upon her. She was on her way out and she was poised to make her mark. She was positioned to leave a legacy.

Or so she had been told.

Inside, she was in turmoil. She was reevaluating things. She was reexamining the meaning of success. She hardly fancied herself something special or unique. Rather, she struggled to understand when and how her constellation had made it onto the map. Her humble beginnings of burlap had been woven into gold and it was expected to fetch a high price. Oh, the plans that many had for her!

The arduous journey was promised to lead to greatness, but instead it would  serve as the doorway to unindentured servitude. It would lead to the gradual decay of any desire within her to create something of her own, regardless of its profitability or location on the map of her “five year plan.”

As she would lie awake in bed, futilely attempting to assemble the landscape of her future from shape shifting scraps of “maybe’s” and “I hope’s,” she would think of the people in her life. She knew she could count on the heavy hitters, namely her family, to survive another day as ubiquitous change continued to stroke its brush across her canvas. But what of the others? she would wonder. What of the friends, the colleagues, the role models, and the acquaintances? Would they truly come and go, as many wiser than she had written? Or would time prove history wrong, surprising the world with this band of thieves’ loyalty and honor?

She had lived long enough to see history repeat itself, and thus resigned herself to the inevitability that sooner or later, these people would cease to care. About her. About themselves. About everything that doesn’t fit within the paradigm of the American dream. One night, as she stared at her ceiling, counting the fingerprints that she had left on its surface from trying to touch the night sky, she made the decision to draw arms. She made the decision to steel herself against the long painful deaths that were coming to relationships she’d been a fool to grow overly fond of.

Long live our dreams, she thought. Long live our ideals and our brazenness. Long live the promises we had made to one another and to ourselves. Long live our secrets, but may the truth someday set us free.

Long live the quiet girl who often wanted to be left alone. The phone was ringing. It was the Universe, calling collect.

-C.F. Boehlke



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