The Curve of Wild Light

The Curve of Wild Light

A Story by Sarah Roehrig

This story takes place in a small rural community in West Virginia and follows a young girl who is overtaken by depression in the face of her denial. Deals with poverty, friendship, & drug addiction


As the last load of coal left town, the sun began to vanish far behind the skyscape, containing only a grey fury of clouds. Dana forgot her father’s broken smile and she forgot his promises. She buried her hands deep into her jacket and she escaped into the calmness of the night. She came upon a bench and as she smoked, she shook and remembered it all again. The handgun looked to unman him, her father's eyes rolled in the back of his head as he clenched his calloused hand on the trigger. He was addicted to Oxycontin and was making an attempt at ending his life in front of her, but later put the weapon down and packed his things. “My father’s a joke,” she thought. “He never fired the gun, but he left, and he took everything with him.

Hard drops fell from the cursed heavens - the plit and plat of water hitting the hard surface her back pushed against. The earth was twisting inside and outside of her soiled silhouette as the rain fell like hard silver bullets. As she continued to sit, consecutive vibrations were occurring beneath the ground, she felt out of control, as she began crying out. The town of Welch, West Virginia had been built from concrete and steel; cold, lapidary structures, shunned from the highest degree of energy. Hours passed. Twilight now tilted its head upon her solemn cheeks, numbing her to any sense of forgiveness. The moon full in complete glory, exercised its light away from her skin, as she climbed deeper into the bloodbath she created, drowning her better half.

Dana’s body was shrouded in darkness. "Please chase these demons away, great ball of light. Why must I carry such a heavy burden?” she thought to herself.

Darkness lived within her, and was present in every corner she passed. A multitude of natural color, left Dana in November, as nature’s graces stole the leaves, leaving the branches naked and bare. She crunched all the orange, yellow, and red that laid beneath her, fighting her way home. Dana’s mother was gone when she arrived onto her doorstep, only the skid marks from her white Cavalier remained. As she settled into her bed, she glanced up towards a dream-catcher hanging by a thread that she had found at a Native American gift shop when she visited her grandparents in Oklahoma. She thought the dream-catcher was a reasonable purchase, for she would have horrid nightmares, many of which turned into cryptic, lucid dreams. One dream in particular had repeated itself ever since she was a child. Dana’s mother was supposed to have twins, but her twin sister died in the womb. The dream begins in the womb, and ends with her eating her sister, swallowing the umbilical cord whole. She is well acquainted with the fact that there had always been two sides of her, as she felt her sister’s lost spirit stirring within.

Dana’s phone began to ring as she stumbled over the train tracks, back to town.

“Hey mom, yes . . .what? No. Okay, Yes. I’ll do them” Dana spat, acknowledging the mess of dishes she had yet to clean.

“Oh, one more thing honey, your grandmother sent you a book of some kind in the mail, I laid it on the kitchen counter in case you're interested. If you can, read it, and write her a thank you note” her mother insisted.

“Whatever mom” she uttered, hanging up the phone.

Before starting on the dishes that were piling up like a summit, she decided to take a glimpse of the book her grandmother had sent. She glanced over the title, “Buttons,” and read the following chapter:

He masqueraded into her full warm heart like a pony on a warm bed of daisies. Never a boy she did see until he. Undress your eyes and see for yourself the tale of all others. This is no ordinary story, this here is  the story of buttons.

Now buttons wasn’t very tall, naw, hell he was probably like 5 ft 4 inches , or sumin’ like dat but boy he could draw. He could draw like you never did see!  Michelangelo this boy did now. He helped himself onto a platter of color’ and he painted him the world.

You see on any other ole’ day back in the town of Perkins, from the Eastern Shoreline bridge, you could see the sky with a crisp yellow smile. He loved everyday to the fullest, never did he ever regret nothin’.

One day,  he met a gal named Sheena, now Sheena was a tight dressa’ she looked good an awl dat but boy did this girl do some damage, you hear me. She lined up guys up in down the street left n right shoot’n them glances, and she just kept on prancing upn’ down shoot’n suckers down . . . until buttons seen er’. He walked right up to her and said,

“Now girl, why you all huzzied up foe’, shall I take you out for dinner or sum in?” And her reply was . . .”Naw who you think you iz tryin’ ta hustle me.

“ Ya See,  I’m buttons “

“Nawl you aint s**t”

And so this is how the story might have ended, but Buttons you see wasn’t gonna let this ole’ gal slide, he never did let nothin’ slide.  No sir no way. He kept everything in a chest buried deep at sea, and when his words waddnt’ happenin’, well he damn near jus’ drawed it right up. I mean he really did. The most magnificent masterpieces you eva seen. He drew it right up, Now i aint’ entirely sure how or why he had this gift, but lemme tell you when he grew on up he became one heck of an "arteest.”

“Well that’s about the dumbest story I’ve ever wasted my time on” Dana said aloud.

She then took a few strides to the sink and began cleaning the greasy film off the first plate. Later that evening, when she was finished, she took out her sketchbook and began to draw what she thought Buttons physical nature represented. His eyes were wide, his body cumbersome, his smile broad and faultless. She carefully executed each edge of his character, animating his moxie through his expression. She composed his artistry with her own, yet she was unaware of how prolific her simple sketch was. Shortly after she was finished, she balled the masterpiece up in her hands and tossed it to the corner of the room.

Dana could also write poetry quite exceptionally. She escaped the trappings of time and space, the stress of each syllable moving outside the lines. Her art rarely touched her within, she prefered loneliness, hiding behind the transitional spaces, disembodying her words, erasing the traces of her kind nature. Her body was stuck, her mind was stuck. She felt overwhelmed by the vibration of language. Where is my voice going? She often thought. Inside the storm of herself she could not recognize how to shake the pain and seize the shake. Her sophomore year, she took a creative writing course, but she felt as if her voice was being trespassed upon when people would read her words aloud. Once, she was called into the guidance counselor’s office, for a piece she had written entitled,

“To Exist”

To exist, is to suffer.

To exist is to cry.

Halcyon giants, lost in the darkness of time.  

There is no truth. Only lies.

They want. They need.

What they have never felt.

Start a war- End all Love.

Watch it fall- Watch it melt.

Beat me, Hit me, As I crumble down.

Pinch my soul and laugh, call me a clown.

Scars only remain in this barren plain.

Thirst for rain- endless days of disdain.

You dropped my from the sky, down I went.

Fallen Angel with torment in my eyes.

My wings are clipped, I can not fly.

To exist, is to die.

Dana felt as if there was no room to express herself. She was sinking in shallow water. She felt as if the world was blindly waking each day, sending her aneurysms and distress. It seemed she was lost in a hazy hell, not knowing where to turn, following the darkness without question. She felt like a monster, when her eyes were open, and when her eyes were shut. She wanted to throw all her artwork into a fire, she wanted to watch the rapid oxidation tear through the pages, emptying her of all possessions - and that is what she did. She opened up her rustic bedside table, throwing the pile of sketches onto the floor. She then hastily picked them up and threw them into the furnace.

The next morning, Dana rose with the sun, but ignored the light that shined intensely into her eyes. She walked through town, passing the ice cream parlor and the old junk store. Her town was a small place, and its confines were boxing her in. Her vision was hazy with errors and aberrations. She paused, gazing upon the stop sign facing the school Suddenly, a black bird appeared, landing atop the sign. Dana sighed and continued towards the building.

Later that day, she walked to the edge of the woods located behind Red Wing High School.  The sound of forgotten wind crashed in time to the beat of the eastern drum as Dana’s friend stops to smell the rose bush, and Dana lights up her last cigarette. Inhaling ghastly fumes, she witnesses time stop as the nicotine scatters her brain chemistry. “Why in the hell are we even here? You know, in this place, this town?" Dana exclaimed.

Grace was barely paying any attention, “What do you think about my new earrings?”

“Their good I guess, I don’t see much of a difference” she replied.

Did you hear me though? I can’t wait to get out of this place someday.”

“Beats me dude, but let’s try and bum a cigarette off that cute new guy in our history class next period,” Grace announced.

The day drug on, but eventually the bell rang and Dana removed herself from her stiff seat. She grabbed a hold of her backpack, careful to pat the front pocket in hopes that her smokes were still compact. She followed her shadow home, watching the aphotic image dive into the walls. An older woman, hair brimming beneath her sun hat, was peering outside one of the storefronts and waved at Dana as she passed. She was taken aback by the cordial gesture, but did not return the indication. People in her town were often distant and reserved. They were quick to give you the finger, and congeniality was not exactly a motion she was used to. She felt shameful that she had not facilitated good will to this strange woman. She turned around in haste, and to her surprise the lady was conversing with her business partner who had been walking behind Dana, and whom she had intentionally directed her gesticulation upon.

The next morning, Dana rolled out of bed, tossing her alarm across the room. She let out a protracted yawn, and found some old duds to put on. She found a mangled grey t-shirt and reckoned it would do. Her mother had already left for work, and left her a note by the sink, it read, “Don’t forget to rake the leaves in the yard. Thanks.” - Mom.

“God, I wish there was a man around here to do that kind of stuff” She vented.

She was already running late for school, so she decided to check out “Benjamin Franklin's Crafts and More,” a local convenience store that also sold art supplies. She was feeling a bit of contrition due to the night she set ablaze her congerie of sketches and paintings. She stumbled upon an intricate graphite pencil set that was 23.99 and decided she would hold off on buying cigarettes for a few weeks in order to acquire it. At least she would try, she thought to herself. In the meantime, she bought a less expensive pencil and carried herself the rest of the way to school. During second period, when she had time to doodle, she began depicting the lines in her teacher, Ms. Williams stern forehead, outlining the creases, bending her pencil with conviction and cynosure. Before she was finished and just as the bell rang, Ms. Williams stumbled over to her desk, whisking the paper away from her hand with rage. It was as if the exhaust from a steam engine groveled out from her ears, as she had one of her infamous conniption fits.

“Dana! Leave my classroom this instant ! I am fed up with you and your lack of propriety!”

But, Ms. Williams, class is already over” Dana explained.

“Just get out! I don’t want to look at you any longer” Ms. Williams interjected.

Dana moped through the halls back and forth until lunchtime drew near.

“Be careful! You're going to burn the entire forest down!” Grace yelled.

Dana had thrown the end of her cigarette down without ashing the end, and it began to convolute the leaf it landed upon, forming an alarming line of fire. Dana immediately stomped it out, quickly turned toward Grace and commented on the day, “ Do you think Ms. Williams is buying pills from Steven, I mean, it's pretty obvious she’s a pill head.”

“I don’t know” Grace replied.

“ I can't stand people that do pills. She used to be so nice and now she's wretched” Dana exclaimed.

“Can we please change the subject? I could really care less. Her life is her own, I’m not one to judge, we are after all chain smokers.”

“I don’t smoke cigs ALL day, just at lunchtime and after school, plus, tobacco isn't the same thing as a pill, you know that. I was just saying...”

“ Grace then cut her off, “Whatever you say Dana I'm just done with your negative bullshit, it's so petty and it's really starting to get to me. I’m done fighting with you on this. Dana, you need to get your s**t straight.”

“You can’t exactly get “s**t” straight” Dana expressed.

“Look, I don’t expect you to f*****g understand, but at least listen when I’m trying to tell you something!”

“Touche.” Grace said.

Later that evening, Dana could feel her heart beating like a drum. She felt the dawn closing in on her spirit, caressing its opaque shadow around her silhouette. She shuffled onto her front porch and slammed the door behind her. Finite pieces of paper were strewn across the empty room. She found her mother’s cheap wine and drank each drop until she fell asleep with her back against the bed, channeling voices, and the thoughts within her head. She could hear her sister’s forlorn voice beckoning. “Dana, you must hold on.”

She awoke to the crackling of thunder, bursting from the depths of the clouds, flogged with grey. “At least it's Friday” She thought. As she sauntered to school, a gelid wind chilled her spine. It was quiet, as thunder continued opening the eye of the storm. The music playing in her ear fell mute as the rain began to fall, each drop symmetrically pluming down. Her energy was trampled, she failed to recognize each drop of rain contributed to the efflux of growth, and the rebirth of nature. Terror struck her as the last flash of lightning was conceived, and she made her way inside the walls.

When she found her seat, it was filled with another body. “I can’t believe Grace let that new guy take my seat” she expressed to herself. After class ended, and her peers were piling out the door, she touched Grace on the shoulder, “ What the hell was that?” “Please tell me he gave you a pack of Pyramids to sit there.”

“No actually, he didn’t. He did give me something else last night” She informed.

“Jesus, Grace, you are a class A skank.”

“I’ll tell you about it at lunch okay” Grace said frantically as she ran to her locker. It was almost as if she didn’t hear the end of Dana’s sentence due to her hastiness.

Feeling somber, Dana went downtown to the parlor instead of meeting Grace at their usual spot. Before entering, out of the corner of her eye she saw her friend and the boy who had stolen her seat, leaning close, nonchalantly sharing a large cup of ice cream. Bitterness rose in Dana’s chest, sending her off balance. This dynamic conflict with her friend was progressing further. Love and hate filled her with a vengeance.

Dana decided not to return to school, she made her endeavor home, spending her last few dollars on a pack of cigarettes. Her vision was blurred already as she lit the first one hanging gently out of the pack. She felt immense sadness and opened up her window as wide as it could go, exhaling the smoke rising in her throat. Her chest began to heave and her mind continued twisting and turning. She reached for her lighter once more. Flicking it, a small flame carried, she placed the flame directly under her arm until she became numb. She watched as the heat corroded her skin, and her last thought left her in an envelope of silence.

The next morning she was heightened by the arrival of her conquest to address her friend. Her senses were obliterated by the desire to generate an apology. On her way to school, she thought about tracing the outline of the road, letting color bleed through the concrete. “What if there were purple mountains and crimson fields, auburn red with warm buds? What if the skies freed themselves from blue, transforming into an ocean of coral? What if the trees had faces, and invited me to climb their branches?” She mused. She immediately finds Grace at her locker, conversing with the boy from class. She silently groaned, careful not to dismantle her plans to reconcile. “Hey, Grace, do you think I could talk to you for a second. Whenever you get a second to spare of course” Dana murmured.

Uttering with a look of annoyance Grace replied, “ Yeah, how about we chat it up at the usual spot?”

“That works” Dana emitted.

As lunchtime rolled around, students hustled and bustled through the narrow hallways. Dana wondered how all those people could condense themselves inside one building so haphazardly, and not lose their minds, for her mind had fallen between the cracks long ago. She whisked herself casually out the door, and into the parking lot, taking the crosscut to the woods, grooving her way between the vines.

Her friend was waiting for her, with her legs and arms crossed, a red hot flame sitting between her lips. Before Dana had a chance to make amends, Grace stood up, brushing the morsels of dirt off her back pockets. She then pulled a plastic bag out of her faded jeans and pulled out three small blue pills. “I know you think you don’t like them, but trust me, these are going to change your life. You know how you are always talking about being depressed and stuff? Well dude, these are going to take you to another place! That guy I’ve been talking to got them from Steven, and they made me so high man, like I was literally floating!”  Before she could finish another sentence, Dana tore the baggie out of her friends hand and looked closely at the content. She almost crushed the pills with her hands before Grace snatched them back, placing them into her trusted pocket. “I can’t believe you would do this. You know how I feel about those things. You know they ruined my childhood, there’s a reason I haven’t spoken to my father in six years! He threw away his family. All for that tiny . . . “Dana could barely speak for she was shaking so violently” All for that little . . . minuscule, insignificant speck! What do you think you're doing? You're going to take all of those? How many have you taken already? “

“Dude, chill. I told you already, I’ve only taken one, the other night when I met up with that guy”

“It doesn’t matter if you only did one, so now you are going to continue to take them, I know how addictive they are, you can’t do this to yourself,” Dana said.

“I was going to share them with you, but now, since you are being such a b***h, I think I’ll take all three tonight by myself. I’ll be thinking of you when I’m high above this place, floating around in the clouds with no place to be. Not one worry in sight just me in ecstasy, too bad you can’t join me. You really need to let go Dana. There’s a whole nother’ world out there you haven’t yet discovered. But all you have time to do is complain about how dismal your life is. Whatever though, call me if you want to feel peace for at least once in your life, maybe later I’ll forgive you” Grace finished.

I don’t know how you could do this” Dana sputtered.

The two girls ambled on there way, taking opposite paths.

Dana couldn’t help but weep. She shed a river of tears, capsized by her friends indiscretion. As Grace continued marching back to school, Dana fled home.

    As Dana walked she noticed a woman with misery aligning her face, touching each accretion in the sidewalk, holding a plastic yellow bag filled with the trash she had collected. The litter scattered on the local sidewalk had turned into the woman’s lunch. A wave of solemnity entered her as she turned down the next street, only to find a man, burnt red from the sun, leaning down in front of the local police department, picking up a roach of tobacco. She couldn't help but notice the negative cycles that repeated each day, like a broken record, keeping her from the songs the birds called, relaying melodies of patience and love. Wearing a thick shield of armor upon her chest, her gloom continued to follow, imprisoning her mind with self defeat, yet the white light from nature’s selfless embrace continued to flow, carrying her spirit in its cloak.

Dana felt as if she had been intruded upon. She never thought her friend would be lured into the opium den. She felt the swelling of space, she felt spiritually repressed. She could not taste the light of oblivion, nor could she drown the oppressor. A melting pot of misery submerged her spirit. She imagined ancient temples casting themselves upon her, and then she imagined them decaying, breaking beneath her bones. Her vitality quivered. She attempted to write a poem, but she couldn’t wade the thicket of ink through the blank spaces. She looked out into the dead of the street, with the urge to bury herself into the earth. How dull the spectrum of color had become. She felt limited to only this place. Only this sullen, empty, lonesome place. It was as if the envelops of a vacuum swallowed her whole. Her frustration became a disease, her spirit was dead. Each day, she felt as if she was under the knife. She could not unravel her consciousness and end the pain. There were too many physical and mental barriers in the way, she felt no one could see her, nor could she see herself. “Will I ever see my true reflection” She thought.

The light and dark kept her in tow, but now the light had forsaken her. She felt as if her body had ripped open, as rivers of pain flowed inside, and outside her. “Had the sun been shot out of the sky” She thought. Her fears were unleashed through the lens of a guilt ridden state of transparency. She felt her soul unraveling, hovering above her in an abyss of uncertainty. She could not handle the eerie, unstable structure of life, disorientation was the only predictable state

She found each foundation she stepped upon, gradually eroding beneath her. She was lost in her own microcosm, and there were too many things in reality that were out of her control. She witnessed nature taking on its own form, and soaring above her small frame. She did not understand the regeneration unfolding in nature at a constant rate, she merely felt the destruction. She could not emphasize the beauty of order within disorder. She failed to tie light and dark together, she chose instead to let the darkness trigger her fear and manifest itself into pain. She veered far away from any physical and clear path. She couldn’t control the storm of time, that often eliminates all sense of organization. She wanted to hold onto something solid, but the fury of nature is unforgivable and brought about a sense of delirious obstruction. She heard a loud voice echoing while attempting to dissect the emotional dungeon she was falling in, “Dana, hold on, Dana please, hold on.” She found no reservation in bold disorder, and she gasped for air.

While in a constant state of conflict with the outside world, she has an instinctual urge to place her hand upon something external that would not move. Mad with thoughts of escape, she relished in disaster, letting her misery seep out into her future. She became filled with an array of sick utterances and ghoulish chants. She did not want to be inside herself, and so she sank deeper into darkness and further away from her actual self. Her conscious filled with worrisome angst, as she attempted to defeat the noise, she continued to defeat herself.

    The storm of her brutal nature, illustrated convulsions parading off course, trespassing on the prison she has created in her mind. Sick and frightened, trapped inside the physical. Dead, yet living, attempting to restore feeling, Dana leaves the surface, her emptiness swallowing her whole, never learning to drown out vulnerability, as she slits her wrists. Her eyes sat locked, transfixed on the dream-catcher hanging above her as thick rivers of red spilled from her wrists and stained her bedspread. Her breathing became heavy and her body shook tremendously as she fought back her fear and the shooting pain pulsating violently from her wrists. The dream-catcher grew and filled her bloodshot tearful eyes as she forced herself through the last few agonizing minutes of her life. She held her arms flat and firm down against the bed. Her lower lip quivered violently. Soft, muffled whimpers of pain spilled from her mouth out into the quiet room. Blood spilled slowly off the side of her bed onto the cold hardwood floor. Outside, truth spilled out over the soil, the earth’s breath channeled slowly, oxygen accretive,  the violent volume of lost words remains. When did we become killers created by fear and built on distortion, wounding time, never unraveling pain, never to rest upon starlight?

Fully adrift, her soul flies on.


© 2017 Sarah Roehrig

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Added on January 9, 2017
Last Updated on February 12, 2017
Tags: dream, teeenager, pain, express, suicide, drug abuse, West Virginia, coal, energy, darkness, existence, death, life, school, cigarettes, art, pills, friendship, thunder, nature, growth, terror


Sarah Roehrig
Sarah Roehrig

Asheville, NC

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