Ars Poetica

To lay in the dark,

without purpose or

prospect,

is to seal one’s own will

and to welcome decay.

The burning sensation

of boredom, which

squirms and burrows

in one’s skull is the precursor

to madness.

Yet, if one stops for a moment,

he can see his

slim and pasty fingers

flick and jitter and

ache and crave

the passage of thought.

Advertisements

Thank You All!

I haven’t had the WordPress app installed for some reason, so I’m just now seeing how many people are liking my work. It’s not hundreds, but it’s a hell of a lot better than 2 or 3. Thanks so much to all of you who have read my work. Also, if anybody has a request for a certain topic which might also mean something to me, I can try my best with a poem or short story. I’m always down for new experiences. Thanks again for your support! You’re my inspiration to write more often!

Don’t Take This the Wrong Way.

My demons have caved and gone home.

The ghosts who pervaded my conscience

have crawled back below the starless horizon.

 

They’re tired of waiting on me.

 

How I wish there was something;

please tell me there’s something better.

Something more than this.

 

Slow bass shivers;

carnival organs and their foul accents poke me;

they make me bleed.

Once, they stopped to play a slower, sorry psalm.

 

Is the sun lonely? How could I know.

 

How I wish there was something;

please tell me there’s something better.

Why isn’t there something more than this?
This saturated solitude.

All Of Us

To Crave Is…

To flail beneath the surface for air
inches from where blue meets white and
never reach the soft cool wind

To lie in a damp black room with
one window outside of which
a tiny stained bulb cracks and
snaps at you; your only thoughts
of how you haven’t eaten
all day

To breathe softly on a friend’s
back porch and stare
into the trees, listening to
the swarming insects,
finding mates and loving
their nectar, and grinding your teeth
because your nectar is
gone again.

Afterwards

             After the last song, we started down a dark street. There was a sound like the shock of a dropped eight-string, and it clouded our territory with distressed and anxious gnats, burrowing into our ears with a visceral scratching, the kind of scratching that may prompt one to beat himself for no reason other than to clear its echoes. A quick, sharp wail and an interrupted gasp followed the shock. Silk woven bags of sand spun and met their surroundings with the force of riot pellets against hard metal. But this was around the corner in an alley that always smelled of blood and burning heroin. That wasn’t our alley, ours was a block north. I felt the tingle in the back of my head again. The spiders were stepping ever so slowly up and down the inside of my skull, their sharp weaving feet tapping back and forth. I would soon breathe it again. Smell it, taste it, know it. The drip like old vitamins mother fed me twenty years ago. My primal instincts would best me soon, forcing me to crawl into my shadow beneath the grid once again.

The White Lines – Poem

 

The white lines began to blur

as my wrists folded under

the comatose chest

pressed

against the mirror

by the thin liquid

the razorblade drew

on accident.

 

Crumbling into the bright white

brought the happy numb

that felt like seventh grade

on the last day before summer,

when she gave you her number

on that old beige bus,

that you left,

absolutely elated.

 

It didn’t last long,

and neither did the next,

or the next,

one could go on

until this love

which crumpled my chest.

 

I’m alive again

alone

in the dark,

forgetting about dad,

about mom,

and her

when the white lines blur.

Who? (Poem)

He doesn’t get out much,

Only when he alters his state.

He spends his days alone,

But he doesn’t mind.

In the past, he wanted to die.

Now he’s too tired.

There’s so much to say!

But no way to share,

And often no one to care.

Music and medication keep him alive,

Which isn’t a bad thing.

He’s always thirsty,

And only breathes through his nose.

And that’s fine with him.

After all, he’s just a nervous mess.

He’s not helpless.

Just a little off.

– E.L.

White Walls – A Memoir

In order of importance, they lined us up like animals for our daily feeding. Neptune went first, as always, then Brittany, Gabby, Kristen, Justin, myself, and the few that followed me. The fluorescent lights fastened to the ceiling burned my skin. They lead us towards the bolted wooden door, behind which, a hideous woman stood. She called our names through the veil of her intimidating white scrubs. We were given tiny paper cups filled with cocktails of various medications, after which our mouths were forced open with our tongues out. She would follow every inspection with “Good boy,” or “good girl”. I stared at the floor until she called me.
“Mr. Eric?” she said.
I stared at the floor. My name was not “Mr. Eric”. She could’ve called me “Eric”, “Mr. Lundgren”, “Lundgren”, I didn’t care; however, my name was not Mr. fucking Eric. I didn’t look up until she said it.
“Eric Lundgren,” she said, a little louder this time. “Its time for your medication.”
“Yeah,” I responded. I chased the four pills with another tiny paper cup lazily filled with water. In that cup was 20mg of Zoloft, 30mg of Effexor, 1mg of Klonopin, and the base amount of Trazodone. She grabbed my mouth to check under my tongue, and all was clear.
“Good boy,” she said, before calling another patient.
“I’m not a dog,” I responded. “I’m a sixteen-year-old person.” She looked at me, smiled, and looked away. She didn’t care. She was just waiting until ten when she’d go home and snort OxyContin with her sorry excuse for a boyfriend. I sighed and walked away, returning to the community room to contemplate suicide once more.
In the spring of 2011, after three years of habitual Marijuana, Alcohol, Cocaine, and prescription pill abuse, as well as multiple suicide attempts, I was admitted to the Riverside Behavioral Health Center in Hampton, Virginia. I was diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, Seasonal Affective Disorder, and Substance Dependance Disorder when I was fourteen. After going through two psychiatrists and five therapists, the idea of the behavioral hospital was brought to our attention. My mother and I had contemplated admitting me since September 2010, but it didn’t happen until more than a year later, after I had attempted to hang myself once, overdose on pills twice, and drown myself in carbon monoxide. The evening after the carbon monoxide incident, I decided to show my mother the cuts covering my arms and legs. I’ll never forget how she cried. I know that she cried for me, but also for herself, which was just as painful. I often find myself wishing I would’ve gone about that some other way. I didn’t handle it well, and neither did she. After that evening, I decided it was time to go.
I went to school the next day. Mid-lecture I told my teacher I was going to the restroom, but I packed my things and left the school. I drove home, debating speeding up to around sixty miles per hour, rolling the windows down, aiming in the right direction, closing my eyes, and hitting a tree, a transformer, or a guardrail perhaps. I was comfortable with dying. After a few moments of peace, I decided against this and instead called my mother.
“I’m ready to go to the hospital now,” I said.
“Okay,” she said. “I’ll be home soon. Your father will be there too.”
“Shit. Dad’s going to be there?”
I asked because my parents were divorced. They split up in 2005, and my dad was still not doing well, especially because mom was still seeing the guy that supposedly tore our family apart, and because I told him of my drug abuse a year prior. Well, only the pot. We were far from friends then, as were my mother and I.
“Yes, we will be there shortly. Everything’s going to be fine, I promise,” she answered.
“Okay,” I replied, and hung up.
I got home and my parents drove me to the hospital, telling me all the while how everything would be fine, and not to worry about anything. “Alright,” and “Okay,” was all I had to say. We entered the hospital and they signed me in. They both hugged me, we did the whole “I love you” thing, and they left me.
The staff stripped me of my belt, sweatshirt, and shoes, and instead gave me sandals to wear. The nurse giving me the tour of the Behavioral Health ward was surprisingly kind, and upon her departure, I was sent into a room with other kids between twelve and seventeen, arranged in a circle. The room was dark, except for an obnoxious movie playing from a small television in the front of the room near another nurse. The smell of that place is something I will never forget. The odor was a stale thin air that felt nearly poisonous. I sat down in the circle with the other kids and looked down at my knees. I was a nervous wreck. I didn’t know any of those people, and I remembered what I had been told about places like those. I stopped an anxiety attack by slowly breathing the stagnant dust into my paper lungs.
Why didn’t I just fucking do it. Look at where you are, Eric.
The lights turned on. All eyes were on me.
“Okay guys, it looks like we have a new visitor!” the nurse said. I scanned the room. The walls were white; they all were. Every wall in the whole damned place was white. I felt trapped in an origami prison. I briefly glanced into the corner of the room. I believe in the weakest time of my life, the girl I saw in that moment was genuinely the most beautiful person I had ever seen. She, too, looked down at her knees, occasionally looking up at me and then looking away. She had straight black hair that neatly rested on her shoulders, lots of cute little freckles about her face, and such sincere eyes. I felt like I was in love with this girl and I hadn’t been inside the place for more than ten minutes.
Maybe it won’t be so bad.
“You must be Eric,” the nurse said, looking at me. I quickly snapped out of my confusion and looked up at her.
“Yep, that’s me.” I said.
“Why are you here?” another patient asked.
“Hold on, we’ll save that for later.” the nurse said, stopping me from continuing a horrible conversation with that rude prick. “Eric, we’re watching a movie. Is that okay with you?”
“Yes, that’s fine,” I answered.
After finishing the movie, it was around three o’clock in the afternoon and the nurse ushered the group of people – including myself – into another room slightly larger than the last littered with couches and other mildly comfortable chairs. We sat in a circle. Since there was a new person in the ward, we all took turns stating exactly what put us in the hospital. The majority of us were there for suicide attempts and a few for psychopathic and/or homicidal behavior. It was my turn, and I spoke up:
“Hi, my name’s Eric. I’m here for a few suicide attempts. Obviously, none of them were successful-“
“Suicide attempts are never successful,” the nurse cut me off. “Some individuals complete the act of suicide, but there is no success there.” she finished and then looked back at me. I was speechless. I thought of a hundred things I could’ve said to that woman then, but I knew that the more I acted out, the longer I would be in there.
“I understand.” I said, sitting down.
“Do you have anything else to-“ she began.
“No, I don’t.” I said, cutting her off and looking away. I looked over at the freckled girl with the black hair. She was looking at me again, and looked away when I caught her eye. The rest of the kids said their piece before we moved on.
“Okay,” the nurse started. She removed an iPod and a small stereo set from a large bag beside her. While setting the stereo up, she said: “Have any of you ever heard the song ‘Perfect’ by Pink?” she smiled and looked around the room. “It’s really a great song. You guys would love it. It’s about people who are feeling like some of you feel sometimes. Do you guys want to hear it?” A few of the girls and younger kids nodded or said “yes” lazily.
She played the song.
Fuck me. What is this bullshit?
One kid said something about the song actually being called “Fucking Perfect” instead of “Perfect” and of course, the nurse was playing the clean version.
“Yes, they do use the F word in this song,” the nurse said, giggling. “But that’s not what we need to focus on here. Isn’t this song wonderful?” That stupid song played over in my head under buzzing fluorescent lighting that felt as if it were burning my skin. I looked around for a bit, trying to escape the music and noticed that there were no windows in the room. As a matter of fact, I hadn’t seen a window since I was admitted. I wasn’t sure when I’d see sunlight again. I noticed then that the nurse had been trying to get my attention.
“Yes?” I answered her. That horrible song played in the background.
“Eric, this is the only place in the center where patients are allowed to swear. Anywhere other than this room over my watch, you guys cannot use curse words. Understood?”
“Yes,” I answered.
“Great.” she said. The song was finally ending. It was at this point that she decided to go around the circle of patients, each with their own song request for the iPod. Most of them chose the worst type of rap music, and about half of them sang along. I hated that more than anything. I contemplating holding a palm out to them. Stop. Please. Do you have any idea how stupid you look? A guy named Justin, whom I briefly befriended in the hospital asked to listen to Disturbed, and he sang with the music. My God, his voice was awful. He would later call his parents and tell them about how great it was to sing in front of everybody, and how well it went. The freckled girl with the black hair, Kristen, asked for a Papa Roach song, and her friend Gabby asked for a My Chemical Romance song. So, naturally, those were the people I gravitated towards.
By the time it was my turn, I asked the nurse to play “Wake Up” by Suicide Silence – a well known Deathcore band. Not only did I love the song, I knew it would be unsettling to lots of the other people there, which would be hilarious. As she played, I soaked it in. Gabby and Kristen laughed and smiled at the music. That made me a little bit more comfortable. The nurse asked me questions, but I would answer very quickly.
“Why do you like this song?”
“It’s fucking awesome.”
“Doesn’t it make you angry?”
“Nah.”
“Well, right now we’re listening to songs that make us angry,” she said. I had missed that part of the conversation.
“Well… I suppose sometimes it does.”
“Why?”
“I have no idea.”
“What is he saying?”
“Wake up, wake up… Do I still exist… I can’t see my face…”
“What is it about?”
“Acid.”
I wanted to tell her to shut the hell up. They took our iPods, cell phones, and anything else that could possibly bring pleasure into one’s life upon admission. I was enjoying my music, but a few continued to look at me, surprised that anyone could listen to my favorite genre. I spoke up. “Oh come on, you can’t tell me that this isn’t the kind of shit you guys think about with a razor in your hand or a noose around your neck.” Nobody had an answer. I shrugged and continued to soak up the screams until it ended, far too soon I might add. We listened to the rest of the kids’ awful music until it was time to eat.
We were fed a vile mixture of meats and vegetables. I could never have known exactly what it was. It didn’t smell too bad, but the taste was far from pleasant. While picking at my food, I found myself alone. Kristen and Gabby decided they would introduce themselves to me. I formally met them both, but I couldn’t help but feel attracted to Kristen. She really was one of the most gorgeous things I had ever seen. Maybe it was because we were completely shut out from the rest of the world. It was as if everything had died, leaving the two of us alone. I dreamt that would happen. I begged my imagination to set us alone. She was slightly flirty, but I didn’t pick up on it. It wasn’t until a few days into my imprisonment that I could see that she was just as attracted to me as I was to her. She told me the dreams she had of me, and I did the same. I hadn’t had a girlfriend in a while, and I figured a girl with problems almost exactly like mine would make us both happy, and it did. I didn’t find her until October of 2013. She loved me from the end of 2013 until December of 2014.
I found the others to be quite strange, and I did not speak to them much. Justin was a horrible compulsive liar and Gabby was a horribly rude person.
After we ate, they fed us our pills, and those of us who had behaved well were able to go to sleep earlier than the others. As much as I wanted to sleep, I figured I would stay up and enjoy the slight buzz that I was getting from the Trazodone. After it wore off, I went to my room. There were no sharp objects, medications, or outlets in the room, so these were not options. I looked for a place to hang myself with a towel, but the shower curtain was held up by a PVC pipe and the bed posts were a coned shape, as were the door handles. I tried to sleep, but could not, partly because the staff would open the door every other hour for a “check up”. I cried myself to sleep and was woken up at nine in the morning by the staff, who told me it was time for food.
Before they fed me, I had to speak with a nurse every morning from then on, who asked me vague questions about how I was feeling.
“Do you feel suicidal today?”
“Nope.”
“Good! How happy are you on a scale of one to ten?”
“About a six.”
“Great! We’re going to do some blood work on you now before you eat and check your vitals just to make sure you’re doing well.”
“Alright.” I said.
Of course I had to lie. How else would have I gotten out of that miserable place?
Two young nurses entered the room and tried to take my blood. She ended up missing my vein four times, which left a large bruise over my left forearm. That day was much darker than the one before. I knew I would not be able to commit suicide inside the hospital, and I knew I would be there for at least four more days. I prayed that my parents would remove me before the weekend, but I knew that they wouldn’t.
After we ate, we painted. I scribbled all over the page. The nurse asked me what it meant to me. I said that I had no idea.
I really didn’t.
After two days of art, awful movies, and talking in circles, I found myself sitting at a table alone, waiting for staff to tell me I could sleep. The nurse called me to the desk in the front of the ward, where I was handed the phone.
“It’s your father,” the nurse said. “He would like to speak with you.” she smiled and walked away.
“Thanks,” I said. I placed the phone to my ear.
“Hello?” he said. Just hearing his voice made me dreadfully sad.
“Hey dad,” I said.
“How are you?”
“I’m horrible,” I whispered into the phone. I covered my mouth with my hand.
“What’s wrong?” he asked.
“You gotta get me the hell out of here, dad. You have to. I can’t do this anymore.” I said, beginning to cry.
“Eric, I’m sorry. I don’t know what to tell you. Your mother wouldn’t like that very much, and its for the best, anyways. Just hang in there.” I hit my fist on the table.
“Dad, please. You’ve got to help me.”
“Eric-“ he began, before the nurse took the phone from me.
“One moment, Mr. Lundgren,” she said, placing the phone back on the counter. “Eric, you need to be calm,” the nurse said. “I don’t want to see you go to the cloud room.”
Oh Fuck.
The cloud room was a room off to the side of the ward, where they would put you if you did anything violent. In the process, staff would hold you down, shoot you in the ass with a needle full of Ativan, and lock you beneath restraints onto a table in a room that was painted to look as if there were clouds on the walls, because somehow that helped.
“No I’m fine, I’m fine. I’m sorry. It won’t happen again.” I said back to her.
“Okay. I’m just making sure everything is well,” she said. She picked up the phone and returned it to me.
“Dad,” I said, breathing heavily into the phone.
“I’m sorry. I just can’t do that right now. You know I love you and I would do anything to help you, but this is for the best.”
“I love you too, dad.” I said, and hung up. I quietly cried to myself on the table until it was time to be drugged and put to bed.
The next day, a short muscular kid with a shaved head was pushed through the doors of the ward. I was eating at the time. After a few moments of speaking with the nurse, he sat down next to me. We sat in silence for three or four minutes before I awkwardly looked in his direction. “Hey,” I said. “My name’s Eric.” I reached for a handshake, but his hands gripped his knees and showed no signs of movement. He stared at the white wall before us with the kind of blank stare that one might find on a dead man. He had not touched his food; he just continued to stare. “What’s your name?” I asked. He didn’t reply. I looked back at my food, shaking my head. After more prolonged silence, I decided I couldn’t take it anymore. I didn’t know what the fuck was wrong with that kid, but I needed a god damned friend. “I think I’ll just call you Neptune, dude,” I said. To this day, I have absolutely no idea why I chose the name Neptune out of all names for this guy, but he didn’t seem to mind.
“Neptune. I like that.” he said, still staring blankly forwards.
Maybe he won’t kill me now.
“Sweet, dude.” I said. I finished eating, and moved to the community room where I sat alone once again. About an hour afterwards, the rest of the patients moved into the room and gathered in a circle. We had to watch a video about drug abuse and how it ruins your life. I protested a few times during the video in order to bring up the fact that drugs are an excellent coping mechanism, especially for when you lose something.
The following day, Kristen and Gabby were released, and I was released two days after they were. I never realized how much I needed my parents until my mother picked me up from the hospital. I wanted to cry, but I figured I was done with that for the time being. The sunlight and the warm grass cradled me in those moments of bliss. My mother laughed, but I didn’t find it funny. I rolled around in the grass, itching all over, until mother picked me up from the heated green blades. I still didn’t understand why I was in the ward for so long, and mother couldn’t give me an answer, but it didn’t matter.

God’s Forked Tongue

And so it was one day before this, he decided to roam among the trees as he often would in such difficult circumstances. Walking around and over the contents of the dead forest, as it were around this time of year, he stumbled upon a flower. However, this was no ordinary flower. This flower was divine life among an abundance of forsaken foliage. His sun-brightened denim sank in the cold dry leaves as he knelt before the radiant blue blossom. Far beyond the flower’s beauty was his desire to pick it, perhaps, to help soothe the somber situation from which he had escaped momentarily. He carefully clipped the bottom of the stem with his deadly fingernails and held its grace in the air to get a proper look. It had to be perfect. He spun the blossom between his fingers ever so carefully and took in a deep breath of the cool mountain air.

“Maybe I can fix this,” he thought. This flower did bring him a wondrous sense of optimism with its rarity. He turned about, and hunched over the flower, protecting it from anything that it may touch. The trees’ low dead branches loved to pick and snap at the face of any given wanderer. Even through his extensive examination, he could not match the allure of the blue petals to anything he had ever seen before, and he was quite learned in Mother Nature’s children. But, his elation was interrupted, not long after he began his return. A loud hissing from below alerted him of danger made very vivid. He immediately stopped where he stood; knowing that what lie on the leaf-bed was a rattlesnake. Slowly tilting his eyes downward, and then his head, he looked down upon a small, bright, multi-colored serpent. The snake slithered under a stack of leaves and then back to the surface. It eyed him with its little triangular head the entire time he eyed it. It moved closer, twirling and gliding between his feet. Coiled, and ready to strike, it looked up into his eyes once more for a cold, terrifying moment, then back down, and jolted his ankle.

He screamed, and immediately collapsed onto one knee, clamping his leg with a rock-hand. He rolled onto his back, cracking and crunching the deceased sticks and frond. He panted and sighed loudly, leaking warm breath from his lung. It floated visibly in the air before him, giving him a chance to savor the beauty of the swirling cloudy breath, as he knew he would most certainly die. He lay his head down onto the freezing forest floor. The snake stood above him on a large rock, coiled once more, and stared below into him.

Of course, with the dryness of eyes, came the man’s urge to blink, and the closing of his eyes. He opened them to find the lifeless canopy above distorting itself, flickering and shifting like static. There was music too, there, accompanied by a sharp ringing. It sounded beautiful. The music, being quite pleasant, echoed of groovy drumming and crunchy pentatonic guitar scales. He blinked incessantly and stared back into the bright snake as the world melted before him.

The forest became consumed by darkness, with an occasional red or purple streak leaking from the trees. The music quieted and he began to choke and cough on his own saliva. Realizing that he could no longer move his body, or breathe, he panicked.

“Where is my flower?” he heard a deep voice ask politely from behind him. He struggled to speak, but could not, and wrestled himself on the ground.

“Do not try to move… this will only kill you faster.” And so then, he conjured the strength to quit struggling. He sighed, and the snake appeared in his field of vision, moving directly towards him. Its skin was much darker in complexion then, and appeared in a very glossy, semi-shiny coat. It was also much… much larger. The snake pushed its nose into the man’s space, and breathed slowly through its tiny nostrils.

“These are our tests, and as you can see, they are quite effective at weeding out the… non-believers.” Losing oxygen, his eyes began to close. He panted heavily as the snake slowly slipped and danced away from him – as snakes do – into the darkness of the melted forest.

“Goodbye,” the snake said, out of sight then. He closed his eyes for the final time and a bright flash of light struck him almost immediately. He could no longer tell where he was, but it certainly was not the forest. Sometime in an expansion of the everlasting paradigm in which he briefly crossed, his legs became fully extended and his body shifted upright into the standing state. Wherever he was, in that bright land of warm traitors, he sank into its base surface. Attempting to walk, he fell to his hands and knees again, as an infant would – often resorting to crawling – which he did. When he finally opened his sticky tired eyes, he looked below himself to see that he had been placed within an ocean of sand, but this was no desert. The ocean’s concept was certainly not one of transparency, as there was none like it on the face of the earth. The sand rippled as water would, in small waves, crashing here and there. They crashed all about him, sending small clouds of sand-mist into his air, and he constantly coughed inside the unforgiving nature of miniscule crystals. Still on his knees, he looked above to see a wave the likes of which his brain had no capacity to imagine. The enormous column of broken pebbles rolled over its allies directly towards him. It moved slowly, but contact was eminent. Showers of glimmering sand fell from the wave’s crest into the surface below. He looked upon the wave in horror as it came ever so near him, and he closed his eyes. A sudden smacking of gritty sandpaper scraped across his face, and caved his chest inside itself in an instant. Yet he did not die, and he felt every bit of pain that the sand had prepared for him. It threw him around in circles, breaking bones and tearing skin within the tumultuous swell for quite a while, until the sand’s waters became calm again. There he lay, as a pile of organs and bones, loosely held together by a skin coat inside a vast world of dune-matter. Unlike water, however, the sand was not kind enough to leave his semi-lifeless body floating, but instead, swallowed it whole into a pit of dark, wet pain.

“Why are you not listening?” said the snake from inside his head. The man could not speak as he was sucked into the blackened hole, inside of which there was no daylight. Only ricochets of the fire’s reflection remained inside this old land, within which he regained his consciousness and his ability to move. A great fire raged on, bearing lifetimes of suffering upon everything in its path. He could see he was in some sort of city, or town rather, but its inhabitants could do nothing to escape their homes, and they withered and burned. Looking on, his eyes skipped from building to building, apartments, small businesses, large businesses, government buildings; anything that could be found in the average American town. It all burned in the fire, that scorching scarlet beauty that engulfed all that humanity has worked towards. There were no goals anymore, no money, no friendships, and no families; it all died before him in screaming melting pain. All of those goodbyes that had not been said, the unrequited love, the missed celebration, and all of life’s beautiful surprising splendor was cremated. The snake spoke from behind him:

“You see what you have made for yourself, here. Think and it shall be truth.”

He could not do more than stand where he was and look on in shock at the smoldering ruin of community. He knew then what must be done, but it was too late, and the snake had already bitten him. He could not return home, nor live as he saw fit, now, and had no chance to take another path.

“I cannot change man, but I have tried,” the snake said, slithering to the man’s right side. Everything became quiet then, yet the flames still raged on, and the screams and the happy crackle of the hungry blaze persisted. He stood there, still until he felt a snap upon his neck, and his vision went black. The snake had bitten him once more, this time around his neck. His feet twisted from the ground and he fell on his chest and face.

It seemed that years had passed before he awoke, returned to the forest. It was much brighter than he remembered, as he noticed the very second he opened his eyes. He gradually lifted his sore body into a sitting position and rubbed his palms about his body. He knew that he was alive, and gave a sigh of relief before lying back down on the forest floor. Remembering, suddenly that he had been bitten; he raised back up quickly and grabbed his leg. He peered into his ankle; the bites were miraculously gone. Turning around, he saw the snake, tiny again, still sitting coiled on the same rock as it was before. It stared him directly in the eye just before sliding off between the trees. It was right then that he decided he would stand up and walk home.