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I've been writing this story for the past few days. I had some trouble with the ending, though. Even right now, I'm still not sure if this is how I want it to end, but I figure this is as good as I can make it. I hope everyone enjoys it, at least.


As I stood on the roof watching the soft, orange glow of the setting sun, my thoughts were still consumed with her. Just as swiftly as she had come into my life, she had been taken away, though vengance had come just as quickly. It seemed that no matter what happened in my life, it all took place at such a rapid pace that, at times, I couldn't even keep up with it.

I gazed onto the streets below, high above all of the activity that was taking place down there. People scurried to and fro like ants going through their mindless activities before they turned in for the night. Even with the distractions below me, however, I could not get my mind off of the events that had taken place over the past few days.

My name is Joseph and I'm a senior in high school. Like most teenagers, I suppose I'm a pretty rebellious guy. People usually choose to rebel by dressing different, listening to different forms of music and other things of that nature. My form of rebellion is self-imposed solitude. I do not care for most people...in fact, until last week, I had not met one person that I had even the slightest affinity for in my entire life.

During the course of my life, all I've observed are the foolish actions that take place because of the silly prejudices of individual people. People are picked on, hurt and even killed; I decided early on that I would just keep myself away from anyone and everyone, except when I absolutely [i]needed[/i] to be surrounded by people.

School, unfortunately, is one of those places where people are unavoidable. A learned mind is one of those things that I feel is actually worth having to be around people all day, which is why I still continue to go to school. It's not easy; far from it. I still witness the same savage taunting and beatings that I've seen since the early beginnings of my youth. As these people have gotten older, it seems they lash out at each other far more often. It's very sickening, at times. Somehow, I still manage to keep to myself. But that's beside the point, I suppose, though it does pertain to the events of the past few days in a way.

The new semester had just started a few days ago after we returned from vacation. I entered the school and hastily made my way towards my first class. I turned a corner sharply and ran straight into another person, spilling their books onto the ground. Usually I would have continued walking to my class, but since it was my fault that this person had dropped their books, I helped pick them up. I took a short glance at her and, before my mind could adjust, I spoke.

"A-are you okay?" It was the first time in my life that I had ever stuttered. She was a pretty girl with lovely brown hair and the smooth, delicate skin of an angel. But that's not why I stuttered. Her eyes were what made me stutter. Her eyes of warm brown that touched my soul the moment I looked into them...I did not know it at the time, of course, because love was a foreign emotion to me. I had no need for it because I had never felt the slightest caring for any of my peers or superiors. I continued to help her pick up her books and handed them to her.

She smiled at me with the smile I'll continue to remember perfectly until my last day on this planet.

"I'm sorry," she said softly, with a calm, melodious voice. "I'm afraid I didn't see you when I turned the corner; I was in a bit of a hurry."

"No harm done," I said, dusting myself off. "I didn't hurt you, did I?"

"No, not at all," she replied. "The books were the only problem and you helped me out with that." She smiled again at me. She didn't have a pretentious, fake smile like almost all of the women around here have. Her smile was geniune and I'm not ashamed to say that I was almost enamored with her by then.

"What's your name?" I asked her. Another unprecedented moment. I had never asked for another person's name in my life.

"My name is Julia," she replied. "How about you?"

"My name is Joseph," I said.

"Nice to meet you, Joseph," she said, smiling again. The bell rang and she began to walk off. "I have to get to class now. Maybe I'll see you again later!"

"Yeah..." I muttered. I reformed back into my usual skulking self and walked to my class. I sat down in my seat and got out some paper so that I could take notes. However, I could not pay any attention to my teacher's lecture. All of my thoughts were on Julia. It was strange...I had never bothered to think about any one person for even one second. I didn't know how to handle this. Before I knew it, the bell rang again and I shuffled off to my next class, where I went through the same thing again.

As we were let out for lunch, I found myself a place to eat and hurriedly ate my lunch. As soon as I had eaten, I got up and roamed around the school, searching for Julia. I looked in every room, every spot in the school that I knew of, but I could not find her. Lunch ended and I was not any closer to finding out where she was. So, I went to my next class and tried to concentrate on my work. Of course, I could not.

School let out and I squirmed my way through the crowd and out the front of the school. I looked across the street and I spotted Julia. I took a quick look to both sides to make sure that there were no cars approaching from either side and I ran across the street to greet her. She immediately brightened up when she saw me.

"Hello Joseph!" she said. "I tried to find out at lunch time, but I never saw you."

"I was looking for you, too," I replied. She laughed. I remember that she had a very infectious laugh. I almost laughed, myself.

"It's funny how things work out sometimes," she said. "We were both looking for each other, but we couldn't find each other." I had to agree. It was actually pretty funny if you thought about it.

"Do you mind if I walk you home?" I asked her tentatively. I had never been so forward with anyone in my life and, to be honest, I was nervous as hell.

"No, I don't mind at all," she replied. "I'd like to walk with you." We walked down the street together for a while, just admiring the sights. Julia spotted a bench and asked if I wanted to sit down for a few minutes. I told her that I didn't mind. We strolled over to the bench and sat down.

"You're a very quiet person," Julia said, staring out at the street. "Why is that?"

"I don't like talking to most people," I replied.

"Is there any particular reason [i]why[/i], though?" she asked.

"I don't care for most people," I said. "There are too many people who are selfish, violent and ignorant. I don't care to talk to those who fit that mold."

"Not everyone is like that," she said.

"Most people are," I replied.

"Where do you live?" she asked me.

"I live a few blocks down," I said. "Mason street."

"But there are nothing but abandoned houses there!" she said, clearly surprised.

"That's the only place I can live," I said. "I need an abandoned house, so that nobody will know that I'm in there."

"Why would you not want anyone to know you're there?" Julia asked me. I was about to give her the same answer I gave everyone, but she looked into my eyes with those beautiful brown eyes of hers. It was like she was peering straight into my soul...but it wasn't like an invasion of privacy or anything. It was like she was giving me strength, somehow.

"I used to live in an orphanage," I began. "My parents died when I was very young, I suppose. I've never bothered to find out the true story behind that because it never interested me. I grew up in the orphanage until I was old enough to get a job and go out on my own...maybe about four years ago. I ran away from the orphanage, moved to this city, got myself a job and shacked up in that old house."

"Why did you want to run away from the orphanage?" she asked me.

"Because it wasn't where I needed to be," I replied. She raised her hand up to my cheek and stroked it softly.

"I can see why you have such a low opinion of people...you've never had anyone to care for you, from the sound of it," she said.

"It's not so bad," I said. "I prefer to be on my own most of the time, anyway." I got up and held out my hand for her. "Let's keep walking." She took my hand and got up. We started walking again, side by side, until we got to her home. We walked up to her door and stood in front of it for a few seconds.

"Thank you for walking me home," Julia said. "I don't really get to spend much time with anyone outside of school and, usually, other people are too busy with school to spend time with each other."

"Well, you're really the first person I've spent any time at all with," I said. "I usually just go straight home after school. I figured I could at least walk you home after bumping into you earlier." She smiled at me again.

"That was very considerate of you," she said. "I'll see you tomorrow!" She opened her door, walked inside of her house and closed the door. I stood staring at her house for a few seconds, then I started to slowly stroll away. I walked the rest of the way to my house, opened my door and went inside. After I went inside, I closed my door and locked it.

I sat down and attempted to do my homework. Of course, I could not concentrate on a single assignment. My thoughts led me elsewhere, down other paths, paths that had been left untraveled for the majority of my life. I forced myself to do a few math problems, only to find that I had not even written down a single problem. I thought I had been writing for half an hour, but my pencil had not touched the paper even once.

I rubbed my forehead in slight frustration. Obviously, I could not concentrate on my homework in that particular moment. I decided to take a short nap, in order to clear my thoughts. I slipped into my bed and attempted to fall asleep. Unfortunately, I could not sleep, either. My thoughts were bouncing around in a million different directions all at once and I could not clear myself enough to drift off into sleep.

This pattern continued well into the night. I stayed up, against my will, until three in the morning, when my body simply gave in and I collapsed into slumber. When I woke up in the morning, I was tired beyond belief. I debated with myself as to whether or not I should attend school, but I decided that it would be for the best that I still go.

I dragged myself out of bed and walked to school. I passed by Julia's house, but it seemed that she had already left for school. So, I continued to walk by myself until I arrived at the school. I walked over to my class and spotted Julia waiting over by my classroom. I walked over to her and greeted her.

"I don't have much time to stay here," Julia said. "Class is starting in a bit. I just wanted to tell you to meet me in the garden by the photography area during lunch. Does that sound good?"

"Yes," I agreed. "It sounds very good to me."

"That's good," she replied. "Well, I have to be going now - I'll see you at lunch, though." She turned around and walked off, her hair flying gracefully behind her. I stared into space for a few moments before snapping back to reality and walking into class. I sat down, but I still could not concentrate on my work. The teacher's speech was fuzzy, his motions a blur, his writing a foreign language.

All my classes were the same. The same foreign language, the same blurry motions, the same fuzzy speech. I couldn't understand anything. The sweet release of the bell sounding off for lunch was the only thing that kept me from going crazy.

I walked over to the garden, under the tall tree that loomed over the middle of the vast flora. My eyes swept over the area. There weren't many people walking around; just a few that had come to admire the bed of flowers. I spotted Julia walking over to me from the lunch area.

"I apologize for being a bit late," she said. "The lunch line was a bit long."

"No problem," I said, sitting down. She sat down next to me and began eating her lunch quietly.

I took out a small lunch of my own and began eating. As soon as we finished, we sat back and admired the emerald green of the grass from the shade of the tree.

"Isn't this a nice spot?" Julia asked.

"Yes," I agreed. "It's soothing to look at." Julia nodded in agreement.

"I come here a lot during lunch," she said. "Sometimes, the school gets very overwhelming...it's nice just to sit back and admire the view."

"Yeah," I said. "I probably should have come here before. I could have used a nice spot to avoid all of the people." Julia stayed silent and continued to take in the view.

"Joseph?" she asked suddenly.

"Yes?" I asked in return.

"If you hate people so much, what's so different about me?" She saw that I was taken aback. "I'm just curious, is all," she said quickly.

"I don't know," I said. "There's just something about you...I can't explain it, because I've never felt it before. You just seem to be radically different from anyone else. Free from their prejudices and hatred. I could see it in your eyes from the first moment I saw you." She blushed slightly.

"You're sweet," she said. "I never really thought of myself as a special person before."

"That's because you're used to your own qualities," I said. "To someone like me, you're a special person." She looked over at me and I looked into her eyes, which were more beautiful than ever. Just looking at them seemed to fill me with warmth. The bell rang loudly and my concentration broke.

"There's the bell..." Julia said, obviously disappointed. "I'll see you after school." She stood up to walk away, but there were several people blocking her path. The up front, the leader, I suppose, walked up to her and grabbed her arm forcefully. Julia winced in pain and tried to pry her arm away from this newcomer.

"What's a beautiful girl like you doing with a freak like him?" he asked. Julia grimaced and kept trying, in vain, to get out of his grip.

"Please let me go!" she yelled. She tried hitting him but he evaded her shots with ease. I stood up and walked towards them, glaring.

"She asked you to let her go," I said. "I think it would be a good idea if you respected her wishes."

"What do you know?" he asked. "I think I like her. She's a feisty one. I like my girls feisty."

He tugged Julia's arm violently and pushed her away. Julia looked close to tears, but then composed herself. She walked up to the man with fire in her eyes and slapped him across the face.

"I want you to stay away from me," she said furiously. "I've never had feelings for you and I never will." A couple of the man's cronies attempted to approach Julia but the leader held out his hands and stopped them.

"You'll pay for that, you *****," he said. "I'll see to that personally." He signaled the others and stormed away, his friends in tow. She held her arm gingerly. I looked at it, evaluating the damage.

"It looks okay," I said. "I think you came away with only a bruise where he grabbed you. I think his pride took more damage than you did physically."

"Yes..." she said. She was obviously very shaken by what had happened. I had to admit, I was pretty shaken, myself.

"I'll take you over to the class," I said.

"Okay," she replied. We walked over to her class and she went inside, with a bit of hesitation. When she was in her class safely, I walked over to my class. I arrived a bit late, but I didn't really mind. I couldn't concentrate on my studies, anyway.

After school, I met up with her at the front of the school. We looked around warily to make sure that the people we had fought with earlier were not following us and I escorted her home. We didn't talk much on the way, because we were both still scared out of our wits. Eventually, we made it to her home.

"Do you want me to stay with you?" I asked her.

"No, that's okay," she said. "I don't want to trouble you."

"It wouldn't be any trouble at all," I said.

"I don't think it will be necessary," she said. "I'm sure that you are very busy." I frowned, but decided not to press the issue. I did not want to force myself upon her if she felt that I was not needed.

"However," she said. "I [i]do[/i] want to thank you for standing up for me at the school."

"It was nothing," I said. "You did more for yourself than I did, heh."

"The effort didn't go unnoticed, though," she said. "Most people would have tried to avoid a confrontation."

"Well, I just didn't think it was right for them to try to bully you into doing what they wanted," I said. "I had to do [i]something[/i], even if it wasn't that much."

"Sometimes, a little goes a long way," she said, smiling. She leaned over and kissed me gently.

My heart skipped a beat and my eyes closed almost immediately, but I never felt more in control or more assured of myself. I was truly happy. She moved her head slowly away from mine and walked into her house. She waved goodbye to me and closed her door. I stood there for a moment, frozen. I didn't know what had hit me at that moment...I wouldn't know until I had gotten home.

I started walking back to my house, not knowing what to think. Except for that one moment of happiness, I was not assured that anything would be right. Something was bugging me in the back of my mind. I arrived at my house and stepped inside. I started to close the door, when I noticed a cat walking behind me.

"Hello there," I said. "Did you follow me home?" I bent down to pick up the cat, when it suddenly hit me. I stopped quickly and ran back into my house. I opened a drawer and took out a knife. I figured that I would need it later on. I started running to Julia's house, cursing my stupidity. I was so concerned with Julia's safety that I had neglected to consider that we would be followed. We had looked for people when we left school, but they could have easily been hiding from us. I ran for what seemed like hours until I made it to Julia's home. I was tired and my lungs were burning with the need for oxygen, but I ran up to her door, anyway.

"Julia!" I screamed, pounding on the door. "Julia, are you in there?!" There was no answer from inside. I sighed with frustration and looked at her front yard. A garbage can was knocked down and there were dirty footsteps leading away from the home...obvious signs of a struggle. Upon closer inspection of the footsteps, I could see faint traces of blood on the ground next to them. My mind was racing with a million thoughts at once, but I knew that I had to find Julia before it was too late.

I followed the area that the footsteps seemed to be leading to, though they stopped after a while...the person's shoes had been absolved of all dirt, most likely. That didn't matter now, though. Knowing the mentality of these people, they would probably head over to some desolate part of town. I slowed down a bit, because I heard some commotion coming from an alleyway a bit further ahead of me. I ran as fast as I could over to the alleyway. The gang was there, as I knew they would be. They were huddled in a circle until they noticed that I was there.

"****," one of them said. "We've been found!" They broke apart a bit and I could see that they had been gathered around the limp body of Julia. There was a deep gash in her throat and some blood was still trickling out of the wound.

"We'll just have to kill him, too," the leader said, approaching me. "It would be very fitting that this guy goes after his girlfriend." I let him come a bit closer and I ducked down quickly, drawing my knife. The leader's eyes widened; he seemed surprised by my sudden movement. I took advantage of his hesitation to draw my knife up to his throat.

"None of you move," I said icily. I brought the blade a bit closer to the leader, just so he could feel the pressure a bit more. The others surrounding us looked at each other tentatively.

They were very unsure of what to do. The leader was trying to speak, but the blade to his throat was keeping him from talking. I knew I couldn't keep them still for long, though. No matter how much they looked up to their leader, their pride would keep them from staying back too long. I knew I had to act swiftly.

I brought my knife away quickly and struck the leader in the small of the back with the hilt. He stumbled forward with a grunt of pain and fell onto the ground. The other four people then charged at me. I stabbed one in the stomach with the knife. I couldn't pull my knife out quickly enough, but I managed a quick punch to another one of the men. I ran to the end of the alley, barely pulling my knife out of the dead man's stomach in time to avoid a severe beating.

I reached the dead end of the alley, with two others bearing down on me, the third feeling his face where I had punched him. I reared my arm back and threw the knife at the person in front, catching him right between the eyes. He fell to the ground with a shriek and convulsed a bit before laying still. The other person approached me quickly and managed a strong punch to the face.

I fell to the ground, cheek throbbing with pain. He picked me up by the collar of my shirt and prepared to punch me again. In what seemed more a reflex than anything, I kicked him in the knee. There was a sharp crunch where I kicked him and he could only manage a short, sharp screech of pain before letting me go and clutching at his knee.

The other person left took one look at the carnage of the area and decided to run away. I pulled the knife out of the body of the person I had hit between the eyes and walked over to the leader. He looked up at me, the fear of death in his eyes.

"I'm not going to kill you," I said. "I don't think I could bear letting you off that easy." He tried to run away, but the hit in the spine from earlier left him without the ability to control his lower body.

"What are you going to do with me?" he asked, clearly frightened. I ignored his question and raised the knife into the air. With one swift stab, I took out his right eye. He screamed with pain, his hands immediately covering the fresh wound that I had created. I raised the knife again and took out his left eye, completely blinding him. He yelled in pain some more and I started to walk away.

"Your sight is not adequate compensation for what you have taken from me," I said. "But it will have to do. Enjoy your new life." I went over to Julia's limp body and picked her up, holding her gently in my arms. I ran away, knowing that the police would eventually be here.

Before I decided to leave the city, I paid a visit to the school. With Julia's body still in my arms, I walked over to the tree where we had sat under only a day ago. With my bare hands, I dug a makeshift grave for her. How I managed to remain unseen by the police, I do not know. I figure it was just luck. I gave Julia's body one last kiss on the forehead before placing her in the grave and burying her. When the grave was finished, I shed a tear that fell onto the grave, the only tear I cried in my life.

That did not matter to me, though. My life there was over, with only one memory left fresh in my mind.

And that's where I stand today. My love for Julia had provided me actual joy and a purpose in life, if only for a fleeting moment. In the end, though, it had also reduced me down to the level of those that I had hated so much. I don't know if I could ever love again. Not if things end up like they have here. Such thoughts may be irrational, but there is nothing rational about what I have seen and felt.

All I can do is keep my memories of Julia alive in my new life, wherever that may be. With as many cruel people as there are, myself included, someone like her should never be forgotten.


As always, comments and critique are appreciated.

EDIT: Gah, added one pretty big part that I had forgotten to add before -__-;;;

EDIT2: Hopefully, I made the fight scene a bit more bearable...I'm not good at fight scenes lol.
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[size=1][color=darkred]You really have it in you, Shin. This is yet another brilliant story. [/color][/size]

[size=1][color=#8b0000]I do have an objection to "though" being used too frequently. It keept knocking the flow of thought/emotion back a bit.[/color][/size]
[size=1][color=#8b0000]Your description of actions, thoughts and feeling have improved. In some places I felt that you moved too quickly forward (I'm thinking of the scenes with the gang, when they are first introduced and later on in the alley), but in general you have a great story pace.[/color][/size]
[size=1][color=#8b0000]I won't go into specifics (unless you want me to) and just say that it was a fantastic read. [/color][/size]
[size=1][color=#8b0000]Great work, Shin ![/color][/size]
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[quote name='Mimmi][size=1][color=#8b0000] In some places I felt that you moved too quickly forward (I'm thinking of the scenes with the gang, when they are first introduced and later on in the alley), but in general you have a great story pace.[/color'][/size][/quote]

Yeah, I think that's the biggest problem I had with this when I was finished with it. In some parts, like the scene you mentioned, the story moves a bit [i]too[/i] quickly. But I'm a bit reluctant to change it, I suppose.

[quote][size=1][color=#8b0000]I won't go into specifics (unless you want me to) and just say that it was a fantastic read.[/size][/color][/quote]

I'd like to see you go in-depth if you'd like to do so ^_^

EDIT: That 'though' stuff was a problem, too...I fixed that right now lol. Just one of those things that you have to have other people point out for you :p
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Okay then. First off, I thought it was fantastic.

Second, I thought it was fantastic.

And third, I'm not sure where to begin. You've definitely got the character down right. There's a lot of personallity there to work with and you've obviously had a lot of fun changing his life.
I'm with Mimmi on the subject of the brief intro of the gang, but I'm not there on the fight.

In my eyes the fight was too... calculated. If you changed it ever so slightly it would be a great fight scene (I've had a lot of experience in fighting large odds, I used to get picked on a lot and I had attemtped lynchings on a fortnightly basis when I was in school). My point is that, to pick one point as a specific example, 'I kicked him hard on the kneecap, shattering it.' he wouldn't know that. Try 'I kicked him hrd on the kneecap, there was a crunch and he let me go with a cry of pain.' Not the best substitute, but that's all you would get from Joseph's perspective.

Little things can niggle, and that was one of them for me.

Otherwise, I'm pretty sure that there's not much you could do to effect the storyline itself. I wouldn't change it myself, but I would put a few different inflections on the emotions and on the actions.

Fourth, I thought it was fantastic.

CFN, I look forward to anything else you're going to write.
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[quote name='Thaylien']In my eyes the fight was too... calculated. If you changed it ever so slightly it would be a great fight scene (I've had a lot of experience in fighting large odds, I used to get picked on a lot and I had attemtped lynchings on a fortnightly basis when I was in school). My point is that, to pick one point as a specific example, 'I kicked him hard on the kneecap, shattering it.' he wouldn't know that. Try 'I kicked him hrd on the kneecap, there was a crunch and he let me go with a cry of pain.' Not the best substitute, but that's all you would get from Joseph's perspective.[/quote]

Yes, I definitely see what you mean. I think that's a complaint notable enough to warrant me going back and tinkering with the story a bit, heh. Thanks for the suggestion ^_^

I'm glad you enjoyed the story. I have about three more a few pages back in the forum, in case you care to read those, as well.
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