When your characters become family

As I sprint to the finish line with the last chapters of the final Morium book, I came to the realization that the next novel will complete the story with the characters that have become like family to me. The teenagers who were born inside my head over a year ago are about to slide off into the final book of existence in my mind. Or will they?

It may seem strange, or even bizarre, that one can become attached to fictional characters. As an author of a trilogy, it can, or in my case, did become a reality. I became part of them, understood them, reasoned with them, and even in a few instances, argued with them as if they were real teenagers. Sound strange? It shouldn’t. I had imaginary conversations with these teens determining if they would really act like I wanted them to. I would say this, they responded with that. It was a tug of war that raged in my writing mind. In time they had become my family. They had become my kids.

 I became sad when they did and even shared a laugh or two. I related to their pain, their sorrow, and offered them guidance when I could, often wanting to hold them and let the rain of my love come down upon them. I wanted to cover my daughters arms in an attempt to stop her from cutting away her sorrows. To be there when my son came home from school, to have his full attention for him to talk about his problems. To let them know everything will be all right, and that even in life’s darkest times, there is always the glimmer of light known as hope.

Observing my teenagers take on unexpected responsibilities was painful as a father to watch. One used strong moral believes to carry her while battling uncontrollable emotions. The other, while understanding of his rage, became addicted to the drug of life, of souls.

Did I fail as a father? Only time will tell. There is one thing that is certain, these teenagers will always be a part of my life. They will always be on my mind long after I have let them loose.

Am I crazy? No, I’m a writer. A writer becomes their characters. A writer is an actor who uses words to fill many different roles.

Until next time, may the wind be at your backs wherever your journey may take you.

 

The Lasting effects of Bullying

homeless-1213053_1920

It was a walk I dreaded every day. The large intimidating brick walls caused me to slow my approach. My stomach would tighten, and my breathing quickened. I would tense up to the point where I felt like a board. My strides became shorter the closer I got; my nerves, already cracked, start to crumble a piece at a time. Others walk past, unaffected by what looms in front of them. They do not have the worries I have. They do not understand the dread this day could bring.

As I entered this chamber of horrors, the eyes of many peer at me, or so it seemed. I felt like an outcast, easy pickings due to my shy and quiet manner. My esteem, once bright in my younger years, have dimmed until they have become a faint distant glow. I hear laughter and wonder, and I know, that they are directed at me. I am afraid to look at who is snickering at my expense. Sometimes I believed that I was stronger than what I’ve become, that I was brave enough to stand up for myself. But as it always happens, I hear the words that shatter my illusions. I’m left to face these trials alone.

I get to my first destination of the day. I sit staring at paper, at times etching a drawing just to get my mind off what awaits. There are a few more giggles behind me, but I try to ignore them. You would think that after a year of this intense fear of being mocked, I would have become numb to it. You would be wrong. It gets worse as each day passes. I could tell my teachers, but that may bring more retaliation. I did not want that.

I made it through another day of verbal abuse and being laughed at behind my back. I thankfully enter the sanctuary of my room, the day repeating itself in my fragile mind. Maybe what they say is true… that I am ugly, my speech is not good. It must be true, since they repeat it every day. I have started to believe it. What’s the point of fighting it? It will never change. Those stinging words will stay with me for the rest of my life.

This is what it could be like for kids every day when they attend school. Bullying is a major problem and its emotional scars can run deep. It’s sad to think that in some situations, the bullying can become so damaging that it will lead to the unthinkable. It damages the emotional being of a fragile child, or teenager, who, at that age, words can do more damage than physical bullying. With social media, it can reach outside the confines of school walls.

Worthlessness, depression, thoughts of suicide are some of the results that can come from ruthless bullying. In some cases, these effects reach far into the adult life of the victims. Some are able to shut the door and lock away those traumatic days, while some carry it with them well into their adult lives.

Light of Hope

tunnel-835462_1920

The blanket of hopelessness covers me. My day is over, but the horrors of life remains. Every fiber of my being is being torn between what little hope I have and the malevolence of my darker half. The voices still call my name, but they don’t understand, nor can they ever. The further they drift, the further the last ounce of my energy drifts with them.

A voice so tender cuts through my disarray, separating itself from the others. Its soothing sound calms the blowing winds of lost hope. I feel a connection to this voice that words cannot describe. From the nothingness, a glimmer of light emerges; its radiance grows stronger as it approaches. It gives me life. It gives me new meaning.

An entity, whose exquisiteness is unmatched by any wonders of the universe, emerges with a blanket of love to wrap my distressed soul. There is nothing that can capture the awe it emanates. I spread my arms to draw this presence close; to pull the essence of passion that it expels to me. That shiny metal of death that once called for me dissolves into dust of love.  I need this being. I want it, but this gift of devotion seems to be an impossibility to grasp, for its transparent beauty shines so bright, that it appears to be an angel that the heavens have sent to guide me.

In this short time, my blood boils for this being. My conscious yearns for it; for its sweet voice to flow gracefully into my ears like the wind blowing through the meadows. My lust grows with every passing second it graces my inner conscious. I want to take hold of this beauty and feel the softness of its skin. It saddens my heart, and yet, this treasure that floats before me brings joy to my once vacant soul. To know that it is there, to love and to be loved is the best feeling that I could ever ask for.

The entity slowly begins to vanish before my once swollen, tear filled eyes. I whisper my love in its ear, and its tender voice whispers back, “I love you too.”

For the first time since my entry into the never ending darkness there is a sense of hope.

Hopeless Existence

anxiety-1337383_1280

I slide on my deceitful mask of exultation before I start my day. My true nature lay hidden behind a façade of false emotions, for my insides tell a different story. The soul I hold so dear is being eaten away by an endless void. I stand here alone, in the darkness of my own personal hell. I hear voices of the ones who care calling for me, guiding me to safety, but they are only echoes that flow endlessly around me. I continue on in search for my own sanity, but it eludes me. I’m lost in life.

My meaning in this world has no clear direction. Weak is how I will be perceived, so I wrap my feelings in a veil of deception. I tie my mouth closed so the words that are stored in my mind do not escape and reveal the wrong meaning. There is no one who can help, or maybe, I do not wish to seek out help, but instead, go about my day in lies. Nothing matters; nothing is of concern, as I struggle to achieve the simplest chores. The energy that once drove me has been washed away into the sea of despair. All I do, all I attempt, is a failure, and at times, it’s a failure in a life that fades further away.  Is it that I don’t care, or is it that I have given up? My personal demons are beckoning me to journey to the other side; to blow away the emotional dandelion seeds of mental anguish and put my fragile soul to rest. The small glistening metal of death shines brilliantly in my fractured mind, gravitating towards the pulsating life line in my wrist.

 I check my watch, only to discover that only five minutes have passed. This day, like every other one, will continue for now. For I wait until the next unforeseen disaster in my chaotic life to send those echoing voices who are trying to guide me, into that void forever.

I lie in bed and remove my mask, causing the walls of sorrow to drift towards me. No one understands; no one can comprehend. I turn to the side and pull the sheets over my head in a desperate attempt to shield me from the world outside. I pray that one day this horrific spiral of doom I dwell in will someday reveal the ever so elusive light at the end of the tunnel. Just one day. Just one day of glimmering hope.

Interview with the characters from Morium

Today I will not be interviewing authors, but instead, the three main characters in the MORIUM trilogy. I will talk to them about what it’s like to be bullied, how they deal with it, and how it affects them emotionally.

I sat down with Lexi and Nathan first. I met them in their hometown of Westview, Illinois, which is nested a little more than an hour’s drive from St. Louis. This is what you would consider to be the perfect small town U.S.A. It has your typical main street filled with small family owned shops, a movie theater that has only one screen, and a family restaurant owned by Nathan’s parents. Two subdivisions of homes while the rest of the houses are scattered around the town. It’s a middle-class town where most of the residents make the hour drive into St. Louis to work and support their families.

Westview prides itself on its High School football team; the Wildcats. The players are treated with such high respect, almost to the point of obsession. Their fellow students look up to them, treat them as royalty and follow their lead.

I met the close friends in a small coffee shop amply called, The Coffee Shop. It was unusually quiet for this Sunday afternoon with only a few older residents filling the seats. I could tell the difference in their attitudes and feelings right away without them saying a word. Nathan appeared to be anxious; nervous. His left leg bounced and you can see anger in his eyes. He talked in a frustrating tone, while at times looking back over his shoulder, as if he was waiting for something to happen. Lexi kept her head down, her black hair covered the right side of her face as she stared fixedly at her hands. Only a few times would she brush her hair behind her ear and look at me while we talked. She was very soft spoken and shy.

You were bullied by some of your schoolmates. Why didn’t you tell anyone about it?

Lexi: “What difference would it make?

Nathan: “Yeah, it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference. Who would they believe? The jerks who cannot do anything wrong in their eyes, or us? Besides, if we said anything, they would only act out worse against us and honestly, I’ll have brain damage for having my head slammed into lockers before they’d do anything.

Lexi: “You know, you can only be called useless and a piece of crap for so long before you give up and start believing that it may be true. You lose hope that anyone can do anything to make it stop.”

Nathan: “You know you’re not Lex. This town treats these assholes like they were Kings and Queens. They can never do no wrong. If they only knew how bad they were, everybody may look at them differently, but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.”

Lexi: “We are almost done with High School. After that, we don’t have to worry about it anymore.”

Have you ever tried to fight back and defend yourself?

Lexi: “No. I don’t want any more thrown back at me. I just want to be left alone.”

Nathan: “I would get my ass beaten if I tried. If I had the strength to stand up for the two of us? I wouldn’t think twice about giving them what they deserve.”

I know being bullied is hard… How has it affected your life?

Nathan: “I get frustrated. Angry. Why me? I did nothing to them to deserve the shit I get almost every day. As if that’s not enough, I have nobody at home to talk to because my parents are always at work. I just let it sit inside me, you know. What else can I do?”

Lexi: “I get really depressed about it and at times I just hate myself. I would talk to my dad, but he’s been going through a lot and I don’t want to burden him with my problems. My mom died a year ago, so he has his own stuff to deal with.

How do you cope with the endless humiliation in school?

Nathan: “I just take it all in. There’s nothing I can do. I try to get through the day the best I can. I get anxious, my nerves get out of control and I count the hours…. no… down to the minutes until the final bell rings.”

Lexi: “I have my own way of dealing with it.” (Lexi rubs her upper arm)

If you can do it all over again, would you have reacted differently to the bullies?

Lexi: “I don’t think about it. This is reality now and it’s too late to do anything, so why look at the past?”

Nathan: “Really Lex? You don’t think about what you could have done differently?”

Lexi: “No. What difference would it make to think about something that cannot change?”

Nathan: “Well I do. I would have stood up for myself. Once they knew they could mess with me and get away with it, I was fair game.”

If your parents knew, how do you think they’ll react?

Lexi: “Dad would be upset, no, pissed. Maybe someday in the future when things are better for us, I will let him know what I went through. Until then, it’s something I have to hide.”

Nathan: “I don’t know honestly. Sometimes I don’t even know who they are.”

Are you two in love with each other? Are you dating?

Lexi: ***Chuckles

Nathan: “Do you want to answer that one Lex?”

Lexi: “No, I’ll let you.”

Nathan: “We dated a few years back. We’ve been good friends for so long that we found dating a little… odd.”

Lexi: “Is that how you describe it?” (Laughing)

Nathan: “How else would you put it?”

Lexi: “When we kissed, didn’t it seem weird?”

Nathan: “Yeah, I guess.” (Fake smile from him)

If you had the means of getting back to these bullies, will you take revenge?

Lexi: “What would getting back at them accomplish? I would be no better than they are.”

Nathan: “Maybe that is what they need. To have thrown back at them. To see how they like it.”

Do you have any advice for teenagers who are in the same situation as you?

Nathan: “Don’t let them get the better of you. Stand up for yourself. Don’t let them control your lives cause once you give in, you’re at their mercy.”

Lexi: “I agree with what Nathan said. It’s tough, it can be demeaning. Don’t let it get as bad as it is now for us. Tell somebody. Your parents. Your teachers. It has caused the two of us to become shells of our former selves.”

Stacy Bishop was the complete opposite of her two friends. Transferring to Westview High over a year ago, Stacy had the big city attitude. She was fun to talk to, often veering away from the discussion to chat about something completely unrelated. She spoke her mind no matter how vulgar it may be.

How did you become friends with Lexi and Nathan?

“I moved to Westview a year ago. I was the odd one out, just look at me. (She stands up, showing off her torn jeans, British flag t-shirt, and her wrist covered with different colored bracelets.) I saw Lexi sitting alone in the corner of one of my classes and she looked so helpless. I knew what she was going through, so I told her to text me one day. She was very quiet at first, only saying a few words while I spouted off. After a while she opened up and we became close friends. She is such a beautiful person, and it breaks my heart to see what she goes through

Nathan, well, he came as a package deal with Lexi, LOL. He’s a great guy, though he’s like a scared little mouse when he’s around me.”

Did you experience being bullied too?

“Yeah, but I’ve learned to deal with it in my own way. I don’t give the bitches the satisfaction of knowing that their words do hurt. I’ll give them shit right back, I don’t give a damn. I always stick up for Lexi since she doesn’t have the courage to do it. I love that girl and I would take the blunt of her abuse if could.”

Are you a Lesbian like they say?

“Did somebody ask you to say that? Do I look like a lesbo? Maddie and Tiffany always say that Lexi and I are a couple. Just because I think highly of Lexi doesn’t mean that I am in love with her. I mean, shit, I do love her, but in a friend kind of way, you know? But what if I was in love with her? Would that make me a bad person? My parents have always been afraid I was one of them, like it was some kind of freakin’ curse, or sick disease. Love is love right?”

What do you think about these school bullies?

“They’re messed up. They get their sick kicks by making others feel bad. They hide their own screwed up life by making others more miserable than they are.”

Your friends Lexi and Nathan seemed to have had a terrible time in school. If they did something to avenge themselves, how would you react?

***Laughing. “I don’t think they have it in them, especially Lexi. If they did, they would need some kind of superhero powers. I just can’t imagine it. I think Nathan would be the one to strike back and kick their asses, and I wouldn’t mind being there when he did.”

What advice do you have for teenagers who are being victimized by bullies?

Stand up for yourselves. You don’t have to take it until you can’t anymore. Don’t be afraid to seek help no matter what. Do something before it’s too late.

Driving out of Westview, I looked out at the endless countryside, my thoughts drifting to the three close friends I had the pleasure of talking to. My heart went out to them, for one can see the emotional damage inflicted on these teenagers at such a young age. The fear, the distrust and sorrow broke my heart the more they spoke. They wanted a better life. They dreamt of a world where they could have gone to school without torment; without humiliation. Most teenagers don’t even concern themselves with these problems. Yet to Lexi, Nathan and Stacy, victims of bullying, the lasting effects of their experience will be issues that they’d have to deal with for the rest of their life.