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Xehara

Call Me Stan

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This journal resides on her person at all times. It is readable by those who are able to get it off of her, either while she is sleeping or by force.
(If done stealthily please let me know OOC that it's been read.)

Home is a memory of roasted pumpkin seeds and smiles, warmth and love. A time when the family was a phone call away and a hand was readily available for holding when walking down the street. Now all that's left of the faded memories, is the white seed packed away in a simple paper pouch. Everything else has dissipated over time and trauma with only that simple memento left. There's little room for sentiment in the apocalypse, but it's hard to let go of who we once were. 

I've been in hiding for so long. From you, from the world. I've lost bits of myself in my seclusion. Perhaps it's time to sow a new memory, to find people again. To figure out what normal is in this new world and how to be that. Austin had a point, I need to be quieter. Maybe it'll help to observe those around me and mimic them until it feels natural.

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John. John. If I write the name enough I won't forget it I am sure. He was my second attempt at making a friend and I think I got it right this time. I had more alcohol, wasn't as hyper as when I met Austin. I need to find Austin. He was lost like me, but not like me at the same time. I'll show him I am willing to learn to shoot, as much as I hate it. John will like him too I hope. 

I met my first celebrity today too. A boxer, champion even. Can't say his name, he was nice as long as I don't say his name. I liked his accent though. I think accents are my weakness. 

Edited by Xehara

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Saw the champion again yesterday, only he had beaten up a man I had been talking to throughout the day. He beat him to death, then cut off his arm. This place is madness. This is why people make me nervous, they hurt each other for no reason but because they can.

I also seem to have found my freedom, but it feels more like I just changed the owner of my shackles and added blood to my hands. I want to live, and there was only two options, my husband or me. I may deserve better, but his death on my shoulders is still a heavy burden. Maybe I can work off that debt with good will or... something. 

Edited by Xehara

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I'm alone again. There's a man outside the door where I reside who didn't give me an option to say no to the bed. It wasn't chivalry, it was a command. Subtle, but I know commands when I hear them. The edge on the end of the sweet tone that is meant to disarm but remind me that I am not in control. He asked if I was strong or weak, same thing Joe asked. It's a matter of perspective I told him. Those who are strong think themselves weak, and those who are weak think themselves strong. I am in the middle. I know I come off as meek, very likely odd to people, but I have also survived through a lot of things I shouldn't have. 

Two people "asked" me to be "their girl" today, but I don't think they meant it. Pretty sure they were making fun of me. People usually are. I don't understand it, I try to listen and observe and mimic but it doesn't ever seem to be the right actions I am mimicking at the right time. I wish my brain worked the way it's supposed to and it wasn't so hard to just be normal. I don't want to be alone anymore.

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You would think a knife to the throat would be scarier. Odd way to enter a family but maybe I don't have to be alone anymore. I know they patronize me, assume me simple because I ask for pumpkin seeds. Maybe I will get rid of them like Joe suggested but, I'm not ready yet. 

I lost my secret weapon, which I will have to see as a blessing. If I had gotten caught it would've been worse. I just liked how it felt, and the scope. It was more efficient on ammo. 

John and Emla are cute together. He doesn't know he likes her yet, or maybe he feels guilty because he made me promises I can't help him keep. I can't trust anyone, even myself. How can I let myself be vulnerable again to run head first into a relationship? Hes more human than me in that regard. I can't be the one to save him and he needs to stop trying to save me.

Edited by Xehara

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Moving on is... weird. Lailya said he was a decent guy so I guess we will see. He doesn't seem as set on making me his reason for living like John, that's a lot of pressure in the apocalypse. Still, he was nice after he asked. Didn't make fun of me so that's a plus. I think its cause I didn't give him the backpack. 

I fed a friend today, then we went on a walk. He doesn't seem to trust the people who wanted me to be in their family. To be fair I wasn't able to say much about them anyways. He told me I was strong and gave me an S on my arm. Being cut doesn't hurt as much as cigarette burns. 

I am going to find a proper journal and write down songs. I need to start taking requests. 

I still can't find Austin. I hope he is okay.

Edited by Xehara

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Strength is all a matter of perspective I suppose. Depends on the variables. John is strong for surviving but weak for being unable to stick to his word. He is a man of will but not conviction. He didn't get my hand and he left. He played himself and theres not much I can say on that. Promises are broken everyday, gotta move on from that.

Clyde affected me more than I realized. He was weird like me, and we connected as friends. He listened to the need to organize, grew all of those pumpkins, he... got me in a weird way. And when people wanted to dismiss him I would tell them to ask him about weapons. He loved them, he was like an all in one reference guide to them. I don't know if he was a snake or not, but his death hurts. I broke my rules because he was important. I'm breaking them for Elliot too. 

I can't bring Clyde back, as much as it hurts, so I gotta be there for who I have left. I have to get my head straight, keep out of Dragon business for Elliot's sake, or help if that's what is needed. Theres only him and Joe. Protect them both, cause that's who I can trust and who matters. Not sure I have room for anyone else right now, those two are risky enough. 

That's strength though, isn't it? Knowing that people are temporary and those who aren't are affected by my own ability to live on my own. Can't be a liability. 

Edited by Xehara

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Family is a funny thing, especially when you get to choose. I thought he was dead but hes not, and he keeps showing he cares in his own way. Just because he can't express himself doesn't mean emotion is absent, or that's what I think anyhow. He saved my life today. I was at his store looking in my bag for ammo to trade and behind me I hear someone say to put my hands up and then count down really fast from three to 1. I turn around to hear bullets spraying and at first I think I have been shot, but I wasn't. The robber is there on the floor and Clyde just says "No. I gotta go." And runs. He saved my life. Our lives. Then he ran but... when he got to his destination he radioed me asking if I was okay. I met up with him and tried to assure him he wasn't in trouble, then I escorted him to Kab because that's where he wanted to go. 

While I was off searching for Clyde, someone else was on my radio and in my ear. It was a roller coaster of a call. I thought I was losing a family member at first, he was mad over something stupid and I felt like I had wasted my time investing any kind of emotion in him. Then he caught me off guard. I am not sure what to think of the things he said, I don't ever consider those emotions as a possibility when I see someone or befriend someone. I didn't even think Elliot felt that way until he said it and I still questioned it then. 

I wish I could see myself from other people's eyes. I mean yes, I am pretty awesome, but having romantic feelings for me seems weird. Does it seem weird for everyone else? Either way... I am surprised he cares as much as he does. I just have to be respectful and not take advantage or abuse that information.

Also, it took Elliot five hours after getting off bedrest to get into another firefight. He won though and I had a front row seat. I gotta keep practicing so I can start helping him in those.

Edited by Xehara

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Numb. That is what I felt after the adrenaline wore off and the image of the brain matter flying from his skull faded. I felt... nothing. Maybe I'm still in shock or processing. I didn't know him. I don't know if he was innocent or not, but I suppose no one really is. Put some things into perspective I suppose. The people around me, the conflicts that exist, who would really care if I was gone. I found myself switching the frequencies on my radio, wanting to check in on family members to see how they were doing. Each time I got to one they would be on, I found myself pressing the button and releasing, questioning if they would miss me or if I would just kind of disappear into the back of their mind and fade away. If my marriage taught me anything, it's that love is temporary for some people. I may be loyal beyond when it's reasonable but I am an exception, not the rule. So... I finally pressed the button, and I sent a simple message to my family. 

Just checking in, seeing how you're doing. 

I guess what I was really saying... Was please don't forget me.

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Clyde told me how he missed having friends and he wanted somewhere he could just sit around a campfire and roast marshmallows. He said that he doesn't know if he's ever been happy, or if he's able to feel happy. He just feels well or bad, and I make him feel well. I want to find that place for him or build it if I can't find it. He deserves some peace. I guess we all do. I think I look out for him so much because I wish someone would look out for me. Maybe people do and I just don't realize it. Someone says I'm a good singer and I feel warm for a moment and then it gets overshadowed by the redundancy of people saying how useless or worthless I am. Why is it easier to believe those words than the kind ones? I guess it's like that saying, we accept what we think we deserve? What if I don't know what I deserve? 

I like climbing to the highest point I can sometimes and sitting on the edge of it with my feet dangling over. I get lost in my thoughts sometimes, peering over the edge and contemplating the line I am literally straddling in those moments. I don't think I'd ever jump and dying isn't really the point. Sometimes you just have to put life into perspective. Being used to being alone doesn't mean I'm not lonely, and with no one to live for you have to find reasons to keep going for you. Some days are harder than others to find a reason. 

Maybe not being good enough wasn't the greatest fear. Maybe I'm scared I won't matter. Is that the same thing?

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I set out today with a goal, help Clyde find a place he feels safe. We ran all over and finally, he settled on a place he could feel at ease. He was excited, in his own way. It's going to be a lot of running between here and where Elliot and I meet up, but it's worth it. Clyde has my back, and I plan to have his. It'll be good to have something to work on, a project of my own. I can't be following Elliot everywhere, especially when he gets so much flack about it. I'll keep practicing and I'll become more useful but until then I need to have something that's mine. 

I was thinking today about those around me, friends and ones I call family. Who of those people actually has my back? Trust is such a hard thing to offer. I expressed my emotions towards Elliot the other day without prompting and he mentioned it being the first time I had done so. I had to take a step back to consider because I was sure I had said it before, but he was right. It's all be echoes up until that point. He'd say it and I'd throw it back at him. It's a scary thing to confess much less to feel. Last time I gave my heart to someone and put my all into the relationship, they tore me down. I know he's not the same man, I get that, but the mindset is still there. 

Only one I can depend on is me. Gotta handle my own shit. Does that make me weak or strong? 

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I thought my day was done but then I ran into Morgan and Jimmy. Jimmy could be useful I guess. He knew that Karmen chick though so, big yikes. I'm glad I found Morgan again, or rather he found me. He had an episode today and went up on the roof to be alone. He dropped his SKS and the spear I made him, and then he had this bear. He had been hearing voices, triggered from meeting all the new people and the rain. I named his bear Freeman and told him when he heard the voices to talk to Freeman as though Freeman was the source of the voices. Maybe it would help him not feel so crazy. He said the voices were a man and a woman. The man told him to jump and the woman said to kill us all. He was surprised that I didn't seem scared but... Now I'm starting to question why. I guess I'm numb to the idea now. My husband tried to kill me so many times that I no longer respond correctly I suppose. I had him pick a house and told him when he felt overwhelmed he could go home to relax. I also told him I was proud of him because he didn't jump and he didn't hurt himself. He disarmed himself and he got away from us so he wouldn't hurt us. Baby steps. Jimmy took the SKS and held it for him until he was ready. 

Reminded me of the mute I met the other day. I need to find him. I can't lose him like I lost Austin. I feel like... I keep finding the hidden gems left in the world that everyone assumes is just a rock but is really a diamond. They just don't know how to nurture them. 

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I waited a few hours, things must have come up. Tower runs were the usual, except for the group of ten that ran right past me and scared the shit out of me. I recognized Ragnar, some of the others recognized me. They kept going, didn't bug me.

Met up with Morgan and his new friend John. Always a John. I like John's accent, found him an SKS so he could drop the shotgun. I sang for them as we traveled up north to meet Clyde, but John kept stopping for various reasons. One of the moments without him Morgan asked me if I was happy and I said the first thing to come to my mind as I usually do, no. I'm not happy. I try to be. I fake it most of the time and hes the first to ask me if I actually was. 

It's weird being called out or noticed. I don't know why I am not happy, and sometimes I feel like I have no reason to be unhappy its just how it is. Guess I have to work on my acting more. 

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Morphine has worn off now and the pain is... very much real. It's an idle throbbing that in a weird way is also soothing. It's not the first time I've had a sprained ankle, just different circumstances. I woke up with the radio beside me and on. It was just static but I assume I spoke to Elliot before I passed out.

I like it up here. I still go on my adventures during the day but now I have a home to come back to. The family is growing. I adopted Morgan today. I asked he said yes and here we are. It's a scary thought really. The bigger the family is the more people I have to worry about. With everyone coming and going to the camp it's only a matter of time before we get attacked. Will it be a one off when they find we don't have anything to steal? Maybe the endless packs of wolves will scare them off. 

I'll have to just enjoy it while it lasts and keep an eye out for other options should we need to move. 

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I use to steal comic books when I was younger for a few hours and return them to the store. It was a nice escape for a little bit. I liked Spiderman and Venom. I can't remember much of it now, but I keep thinking about Venom when people hurt me. I wonder where it all started, what happened to plant that seed into them that corrupted them until they got to the point where I got to meet them. Thinking that way has helped me to forgive and move on... It humanizes the person hurting me and offers a reason for potential redemption. 

I was wrong for thinking that. What was robbed can't be reobtained. There is no redemption for you. 

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Literally overnight, everything is gone. It happened so quickly and I'm still trying to steady myself. Loyalty is a weird thing, painful even when it only goes one way consistently. I'm back where I started, wondering from tower to tower trying to find a bit of ammo to trade for goodwill or just my life. It's been nice while it lasted. Maybe I should hold more loyalty to myself and go back to seeing people for what they are... temporary. 

Edited by Xehara

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The entry was scribbled out many times over until nothing was legible. At the bottom she wrote three simple words instead.

I missed you.

 

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It's been some time since I've written. I got swept up in rekindling things and the constant travel and hostilities that I have simply neglected the gathering of my thoughts. Things have settled down a bit now, I have a home again. Anywhere he is is my home but, there's a physical one too. I still don't sleep well so I wonder a lot to try and get tired. I've taken to walking in the graveyard because there's a woman there sometimes, a local named Lana. She says she wants to keep me safe for some reason. I don't get it but, it's still nice. She's never around when the sun comes up but at night she's there to gossip with. It's nice having a friend I can just ramble to. 

She said she use to be a gravedigger in the cemetery, I told her she still could be if she wanted and she seemed pleased with that. She's fairly intimidating so I wouldn't tell her no regardless. Sometimes I see cracks where her kindness comes out but otherwise, it's that stern exterior and cold silence. 

I told her about what happened to me and she said that God would judge them. I didn't tell her I am agnostic and I don't really know if I believe in all that. It was a nice thought I guess. Truth is, it's just something I have to live with. No one really cares as long as they don't have to hear about it. It's a me problem only. 

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I've watched him linger by the window or clutch his weapon in bed, waiting for the moment when his finger doesn't freeze and the trigger gets pulled. It's haunting how much I understand those urges and how hard he fights them. It makes me feel not so alone when I get those same urges. I try my best not to let him see, to find an excuse to run towers or scavenge. I grip each rung in the ladder with the same thoughts on repeat in my head...

Let go. Just fall.

I wouldn't die, I don't think anyways. It'd just hurt, and I know I'd lay there just gazing up at the sky waiting for someone to find me or the pain to subside. Even if someone did find me, I'd probably tell them the same thing I tell everyone. I'm fine. Am I though? Is he? 

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Dear Clyde,

I keep wondering where you are if you're okay. I feel like I should've looked more for you and maybe I failed you, but... I also feel like you wanted to not be found. I'm different. I've seen things, and I am aware of things that are happening around me but I keep pretending to be ignorant. There's this line I am tiptoeing on. I know I have to cross it to keep my family, but I'm scared of losing who I am. 

I know you don't understand love, and I'm not sure I do either but from what I gather it's a point where you become overwhelmingly aware that your life is now not just your own. Everything you do becomes a reflection of yourself and another person's well being. No longer are your crossroads chosen based on what will keep you alive, but what will keep the both of you alive. I would die for him, and I feel stupid even thinking that. Joe would've called it a liability, but I just can't see the point in going on without something worth dying for. 

We live next to a graveyard and I've begun assigning the worn down and unreadable markers to those I once considered family or even friends. Joe is near the entrance because let's be honest, he was the first person I considered family here. Stupid of me, short-lived, and completely one-sided... But a fact is a fact. I stash pumpkin seeds in his grave because he's the one who talked me into letting them go so it seemed an appropriate reminder of how he impacted my life. 

Morgan is sadly on the other side of the graveyard with two surgical masks buried there. One with the smile and one with the X. It's to represent the voices in his head, how he taught me to look past the base concept of good and evil and see people for the flawed individuals they were. We're all just trying to survive in our own way. 

Then there's you, and I hate the idea that I've given up hope of seeing you again. You were weird like me, you got me, and you saved my life. I don't really have an ability to keep guns in my hands so I drew one for you. I think it's your favorite but I'm not sure. 

I miss you. I hope you're okay.

Constance 

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Nothing. I felt nothing. I told myself it was because he didn't exist. He was like this cardboard cut out placed before me, target practice used to test my resolve under pressure. Shoot or be shot. I exchanged his life for an extension on mine and I felt nothing like he wasn't even a person. I questioned what that said about me for so long, but Vlad was impressed. 

I've been sitting up at night watching him sleep, wandering the graveyard to relieve my chest of undue stress all vomited into words aimed in Lana's direction. I've watched those around me rob and slaughter, wondering where it was I fit into that equation. I've felt like I was just present and this was all a private showing of some horror film I wasn't a part of but could still bear witness to. Welcomed, but an outsider all the same.  

He offered me a drug to calm my mind and slow things down and he talked to me about Iris. She makes a lot of sense and for some reason, I'm not scared about the idea of giving a sacrifice. I told him it was like divine intervention or some shit. Maybe this is how I cross that line from the person I used to be, to the person I need to become. This is how I join my new family, how I make myself fit in. 

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It feels different. I'm not angry. I feel like I can't breathe and this room seems smaller. I am a pin cushion where the needles are trapped inside fighting to break free from my skin. I've tried to wait it out, to lay here perfectly still or hug the cold wood flooring but it doesn't help. They were supposed to last me days. One a day, one a day one a day. I can't wait. This isn't even helping. Fuck it. 

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For a year I was in the outflow of the dam. I slept on a bed I stole from the hunting camp, pressed against the concrete wall. I remember how the warmth faded when the electricity did, the voices too. I scrounged the camp for food, seeing fewer and fewer people until I was alone. Those who came and went were rarely friendly, so I hid and avoided them. I survived. I hunted and I scavenged and I lived. It felt empty, though. One day I found myself lining up the sodas and canned goods I'd gotten from the hunting camp all along the edge of the dam and standing beside them. I stared at the shallow side below me, trying to find a reason to climb down and return to my home. I wonder how many of us have had that moment. It was the wind or an animal but, I saw a bush move below and I tripped, falling back onto the road. That's when I stopped hiding. I still wore the shirt from the camp that read KEEP IT SIMPLE on it. I had a stick, and pumpkin seeds, and whatever I could carry. I left the dam and I headed to what they called the triangle. Days like today... I miss my solitude.

 

 

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Spoiler

 

Declarations galore, some with weight and some with the substance missing. It's an unusual place I find myself in with the anxiety of disappointment looming all around me. 

You bask in my understanding and willingness to show up and hope that I can love you because you don't know how to love yourself. I watch your interactions, listen to how you switch from who you are when it's just me and you and who you are around others. I wonder if you see the switching of your masks as clearly as I do. I just don't know which one is really you, not sure you do either. I'm here if you need a friend, but then people don't usually want to just have a friend.

And you. You're a sliver of hope in a desperate time. I've seen the man and the soldier and how much of a liability you've allowed me to become. What am I suppose to do with that information? I don't want you to die, especially over me. I can see how much you believe in what you're doing, the way you struggle with the atrocities your men create. You deserve everything you want for me but I'm conflicted on how I can help you get there or if I can help you get there. 

Finally, there's you... It feels natural. You feel natural. You're my best friend and the love of my life. I miss you.

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It all catches up to us one way or another. You're a ghost, fading in and out of my presence as you see fit, sometimes with the help of a bullet wound. I'll never tell you it was me who dragged you off to safety, but I think you already knew. I don't do it for gratitude or goodwill, it's just... What's right, what makes sense. I've been trying so hard to fit in with my family and I see you doing the same. I'd say we should stop trying but, for you that would mean death. 

Everyone has an angle, I haven't quite figured yours out yet. Trust is something I find so hard to give. The person I trust the most still has me putting up walls at times. I act hard but, keep hurt feelings to myself and move on so it's not like they'll ever know when the walls have sprung. Maybe that's arrogance to assume. We all think no one really sees our pain but I see yours. 

I see a lot of people's pain, the masks they put on to hide it. I can feel it like it's seething off of them and forming into a mist that wraps around me. Sometimes I can feel it as though it were my own emotions. Probably why I like comfort. I feel nothing just... contentment. It's hard to keep giving the world chances to do the right thing, to show me or others that we matter, only to be disappointed time and time again. Even the people I trust most, that I strive to protect above all else, even they disappoint or abandon me. Tomorrow's down is going to suck. 

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