I loved you once. A love I thought irrevocable. A love I
mistakenly believed could transcend both time and circumstance. Under the
influence of my dimwitted, naïve, traitorous heart, I became intoxicated with
what I now know was simply a figment of my self-indulgent imagination. So drunk
on the feeling, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face. So foolishly
enamored, I blindly followed my heart into the depths of an emotion that would
Years later, I know now what I wish I knew then. I am
stronger. Smarter. Tougher. I will not allow myself to be broken again.
I loved you.
I raged for you.
I wept for you.
And now, I’m letting you go.
Author’s Note: Under
the Influence is the journey of two childhood friends that spans the course of
five pivotal years in their lives. It is a story about their discovery of true
friendship as it blossoms into first love, their experience of crucial sacrifice
and ultimate betrayal, and their endurance of agonizing heartbreak on the way
to finding lasting redemption.
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I am not a good person.
And I don’t pretend to be.
There may have been hope for me at one point but now,
as I stare back at the hardened face and vacant eyes in front of me, there’s no
denying the truth. All hope for me was lost years ago, stripped clean from my
mind as they broke me. The life I’m indebted to now is one packed with
corruption and polluted with lies.
I try to breathe in
deeply as I rinse the freshly spilled blood from my hands, but the bitter pang
of disappointment begins to compress my entire chest. It seeps along the
previously etched grooves that line it, burning the hollow channels that were
created with each punch to my stomach and blow to my ribs.
I rarely have these moments of weakness, when I wish I
hadn’t allowed myself to be drawn into the darkened path that is this life. But
right now, I find myself wishing that I had been strong enough to brave my
childhood on my own. That I had been able to fend off the monsters that lurked
in dark rooms and reeked of alcohol, able to protect myself from the multitude
of broken bones and black eyes inflicted by the hands of those who were
supposed to fucking protect me.
But I wasn’t. And now I’m stuck, hopelessly adhered to
a life in which I have chosen to forgo conscience for security.
Little did I know the day I met Darius Roe, I would be
making a deal with the devil. That I would be forever bound to a life from
which there is no escape.
Although I started
out as his lackey, I grew quickly
—both physically and within the hierarchyof his organization
—to become his weapon. Not only his muscle, but a tool which has manyuses. His most prized possession.
And now here I am
at eighteen years of age, long since graduated from errand-boy. I watch the
familiar streaks of someone else
’s blood swirling around yet anotherporcelain sink. Someone who also made a deal with the devil but didn
’t deliver on hisend.
I always deliver.
After drying my hands, I curl my fingers over the lip
of the sink and place my palms flat on the cool ceramic surface, silently
watching the reflection in the mirror. Cold, dead eyes stare back at me. Not a
spark of life left in them.
In fact, the only
bit of humanity I permit myself is that of Spencer Locke. She
’s the one thing,the one person whose mere presence provides some sort of sense of relief from
the constant feeling of asphyxiation that encompasses me.
She is my reprieve.
Spencer Locke is the one slice of happy I have in this shit pie I call life. Darius Roe
is a ruthless motherfucker.
The two will never cross paths.
I would, with absolutely no hesitation, lay down my
life to make sure that never happens.
Spencer’s safety has been and will always be my concern—no, my priority. And in orderto assure that safety remains, she must never know the real me. The cold,
calculated, hardened criminal that I am. She will only know the Dalton Greer I
permit her to know.
Just like everyone else that I come into contact with.
To Rat, I’m the entertaining best friend. To Spencer,
I’m the overprotective big brother. And to Darius, I’m the lethal weapon.
None of them truly know me.
Because the truth
’s nothing more frightening in my world than those who know you—who really knowyou. The ones who know your deepest, darkest secrets. The ones who know what
’re going to dobefore you do it. The ones who know not only what buttons to push when they
seek your attention, but also the ones that can be used to completely
They can be your strength.
But they can also be your weakness.
And just as a chameleon changes color to blend for protection,
I’ve learned to evolve into the person I need to be in order to survive the
situation at hand, all while keeping people at arm’s length.
Yet sometimes I can’t help but wonder
true colors would have been had I not beensubjected to this life. I question what it would be like to just let someone
in, to tell them all of your unforgivable truths and discover they still love
you in return.
I find myself
utterly fascinated, awe-struck even, that there are people actually capable of
truly loving someone without wondering when and how they will be betrayed.
However, the knowledge of their existence also saddens me because the cold
reality is, I will never know that type of love. I will never know the freedom
to just be with someone, without pretense or fabrication, without the
endless lies and untruths.
Maybe that’s why I keep holding onto Spencer when I
know I shouldn’t. When all my instincts scream for me to let her go, to cut
those ties and just let her be.
I’m too selfish.
Therefore, I will plaster on my over-protective,
big-brother face so that I can see her again, just to get my fix on the relief
she provides. And in turn, I will continue the lies.
I will continue telling myself the only reason I insist on my frequent
visitation is because I want to see to her protection.
I will continue convincing myself the things I say to
her are merely pretenses which
accompany my façade.
But in this rare moment, I will also concede that like
a moth to a flame, I’m drawn to her.
To her innocence.
To her kindness.
To her ability to love…
To all the things I wish I was capable of but have
sacrificed in order to survive.
Because just seeing
her demonstrate those capabilities with me and willingly share them with
others, the knowledge that the ability to do so actually exists in a world
outside of mine somehow frees me
—no matter how temporarily—from the chainsthat bind me here, in this suffocating place.
Yes, Spencer Locke is indeed my air.
I just hope the immorality I’ve chosen to bury deep
within my soul doesn’t one day pollute her very essence.
L.B. Simmons is a graduate of Texas A&M University and
holds a degree in Biomedical Science.
She has been a practicing Chemist for the last 11 years. She lives with her husband and three
daughters in Texas and writes every chance she gets.
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