Running on Empty

Running on Empty

A Story by Sharon Kim
"

A man devoid of emotion finally "wakes up."

"

Running on Empty


She plucked a few blades of grass and held them out to me accusingly.

          “Are these not important?!”

          I stared at her dumbfounded.  She reached down and grabbed grass and wildflowers in each hand.  She hurled them at me.

          “Are these meaningless?!?”

          The next thing I knew, she pounced on me, pelting my chest with closed fists.  “Does anything mean anything to you?!” she cried.  “Don’t you feel anything?”

          I stood still under the barrage, not putting any effort into keeping her at arm’s length.  I let her hammer at me until her energy was spent.  Her sobs turned into little hiccups.  I put my arms around her and drew her close but I didn’t say anything.  There wasn’t anything to say.  She was right.  I was empty inside.  A cold, dry husk.  Absently, I patted her back trying to placate her.  I didn’t even really feel sorry for her sadness.  I had nothing inside to give.  I hadn’t for a long time, not since that night.  Oh, I tried to move on with my life.  I went through the motions.  I finished college, went to all the frat parties, had some flings, graduated and got a job.  I’ve pasted smiles on my face but they’ve never reached my eyes.  This relationship was just one more failed attempt to jump start my heart- to feel.  Should have known it wouldn’t work.

 

          After a few minutes she drew in a ragged breath and pulled back.  I dropped my arms to my side as she rested her forehead against my chest.  “I can’t do it anymore,” she said quietly.  “I can’t pretend that it’s okay and I can’t hope that it’s going to get any better.”  

I stared down at the crown of her auburn hair, noting the part and the way the sunshine gleamed on the strands.  “Still nothing?” she asked, pain and sadness in her eyes.  I stared woodenly back at her.  She sighed.  “Then, Jase, this is goodbye.  I hope you can find happiness.”  I didn’t respond and she turned and walked away.  She had only gone a few steps when she turned around.  Pity shone in her eyes, “I really hope you can find something that makes you feel alive.” 

          And then she was gone.

I looked down at the red and white blanket I had spread on the ground.  Our picnic lunch of fried chicken and wine sat barely touched, getting tepid in the sun.  I drew in a deep breath, tipping my face up to the sun.   Eyes closed, I released the air forcefully from my lungs.  I raked my hand through my dark brown hair and sat down.  I closed my eyes as I lay back on the blanket.  I was tired, emotionally and physically.  I hadn’t had a good night’s sleep in years.  The memories wouldn’t give me peace.  Every night my sleep was interrupted by flashes- glimpses, shattered images of what happened.   I hadn’t put any effort into trying to piece it all together to remember what really happened.  Not for a long time- the flashes were horrifying enough.

After she had taken me home from the police station, Mom had left me alone for a while, waiting for me to come and talk to her.  After a week of me sitting around the house, catatonic, she started pushing me to get back to school, eat, shower…  When that didn’t work, she begged me to see a shrink.  Personally, I was hoping I’d just close my eyes and not wake up.  It never happened.  I loved my Mom and as she sat there imploring me to go, I came out of my daze enough to see that she was losing it, she was looking haggard.  It had just been my Mom and I since I was about 6 and my Dad didn’t make it back from the war.  My Mom had always been there for me, so I did it for her.

Let’s just say it didn’t go well.

  I’d blocked out everything.   Doc started in on the small talk and I grunted short responses back at him.  Then Doc did his “magic” and I eventually began to open myself to the memories.

Flashes of blood on my hands-angelic face-eyes closed in death-covered in blood-seeping, spreading-turning gray, red-hard floor under knees-blood pooling-vacuum of air-no sound…suspended.

Bell above door jingles-sounds, feelings flood back-mother comes in-sees son, my blood soaked hands-wails, falls to knees-tears streaming

Friend runs around mom-jerks me to my feet, eyes wild looking at my hands-he’s shouting-I don’t understand-he’s shaking me, words register-“What happened?  What have you done?!?  What have you done?!?!”

I woke up with a start and sat bolt upright.  At first I wasn’t sure where I was, but as I looked around, I saw the red blanket and spread of food.  I remembered Rachel leaving.  And I began to get pissed off.  Anger, an emotion I hadn’t experienced in years.  It felt good, it felt alive.  I took the corners of the blanket and pulled them together like a knapsack with the whole damn picnic inside.  I dropped it into a trash barrel on my way back to my car.  I had a purpose now.  I was going to get some answers.

 

© 2014 Sharon Kim


Author's Note

Sharon Kim
This story is to be continued.

I would love any comments or suggestions.

My Review

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Featured Review

I see a lot writers put their stories in Bold, which doesn’t add or detract from the story itself, and I assume its meant to dress up the text, but I don’t recommend it; it tends to jump out at the reader, in turn when you do emphasis a word it loses some of its umph—but that’s my opinion.

Accusingly: try and avoid adverbs, especial(ly) ones.

“?!” In all my years of writing I just learned of the interrobang and this is the first time I’ve ever see it used.

The next thing I knew: this is the equivalent of out-of-nowhere, try and avoid phrase like these. You just need the action. ‘She pounced on me’.

I stood still under the barrage (this is contradictory, if you’re on your back, which pounced suggest, you can’t stand still.

I put my arms around her and drew her close but I didn’t say anything. (omit needless words) ‘I put my arms around her, drawing her close. I didn’t say anything. (or perhaps, I remained silent, in order to avoid the word ‘anything.’

There wasn’t anything to say. (omit) transition to next line.

A cold, dry husk (this is a sentence fragment, it needs a subject, e.g. I was a cold, dry husk.).
(Absently), I patted her back (again ly adverb, it adds nothing to the sentence)

I’ve pasted smiles on my face but they’ve never reached my eyes. (Not sure I understand this line, how does a smile reach your eyes?)

I got to admit I’m a little lost here, you’re use of a flashback gave me more question then it answered. I would like to see where this goes. A short edit to pull your sentence together, make them a bit more concise, pick out those pesky adverbs, and your on the right track. I hope you don’t take this review wrong, I’m simply trying to help. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.


Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jack Wolfe

7 Years Ago

Yes, you may send me a request. General(ly), or normal(ly) adverbs, Especial(ly) one lend nothing to.. read more
Jack Wolfe

7 Years Ago

I just learned of it myself, but it's a linkage between inquisitive and loud, the interrobang is mea.. read more
Sharon Kim

7 Years Ago

Great! Thank you, Jack, this is helpful!



Reviews

This is some very good story-telling, and it held my interest well. It could use some editing, though, and the suggestions made by Jack seem quite good. In this sentence, a comma after "her" would be nice, as I have no idea what a "dumbfounded" is. "I stared at her dumbfounded."

Posted 6 Years Ago


Sharon Kim

6 Years Ago

Thank you so much for reading and for your comments. I do have another version of this chapter wher.. read more
I see a lot writers put their stories in Bold, which doesn’t add or detract from the story itself, and I assume its meant to dress up the text, but I don’t recommend it; it tends to jump out at the reader, in turn when you do emphasis a word it loses some of its umph—but that’s my opinion.

Accusingly: try and avoid adverbs, especial(ly) ones.

“?!” In all my years of writing I just learned of the interrobang and this is the first time I’ve ever see it used.

The next thing I knew: this is the equivalent of out-of-nowhere, try and avoid phrase like these. You just need the action. ‘She pounced on me’.

I stood still under the barrage (this is contradictory, if you’re on your back, which pounced suggest, you can’t stand still.

I put my arms around her and drew her close but I didn’t say anything. (omit needless words) ‘I put my arms around her, drawing her close. I didn’t say anything. (or perhaps, I remained silent, in order to avoid the word ‘anything.’

There wasn’t anything to say. (omit) transition to next line.

A cold, dry husk (this is a sentence fragment, it needs a subject, e.g. I was a cold, dry husk.).
(Absently), I patted her back (again ly adverb, it adds nothing to the sentence)

I’ve pasted smiles on my face but they’ve never reached my eyes. (Not sure I understand this line, how does a smile reach your eyes?)

I got to admit I’m a little lost here, you’re use of a flashback gave me more question then it answered. I would like to see where this goes. A short edit to pull your sentence together, make them a bit more concise, pick out those pesky adverbs, and your on the right track. I hope you don’t take this review wrong, I’m simply trying to help. If you have any questions or comments feel free to contact me.


Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Jack Wolfe

7 Years Ago

Yes, you may send me a request. General(ly), or normal(ly) adverbs, Especial(ly) one lend nothing to.. read more
Jack Wolfe

7 Years Ago

I just learned of it myself, but it's a linkage between inquisitive and loud, the interrobang is mea.. read more
Sharon Kim

7 Years Ago

Great! Thank you, Jack, this is helpful!
solid writing. (do we say that?). a very intriguing story. tha psychological analysis is well done. I like the descriptions, too. the little details. I'm certainly looking forward to the rest.

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Sharon Kim

7 Years Ago

Thank you Woody!
i enjoyed reading this and am glad to hear that you will be expanding on it.

"I stared at her dumbfounded. She reached down and grabbed grass and wildflowers in each hand. She hurled them at me."

The only suggestion I have is to use a different word than "hurled". I personally use "throw" or something like that, but that's just a taste thing. Fell free to keep it that way if you want. Thanks for sharing it and I will be waiting to read the updated story.

Have a nice day:)

-CW

Posted 7 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Sharon Kim

7 Years Ago

Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Cody! You have a great day too!

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Added on July 11, 2014
Last Updated on August 3, 2014
Tags: emotionless, teen gangs, relationships, past, memories

Author

Sharon Kim
Sharon Kim

Texas, GA



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