"We tried to be better, but we aren't. I don't think anyone could last more than a week here if they weren't willing to do bad things." - Alba Reyes

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Cicada Days
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👀 (credit to Kotorikun)
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"Ben, you need it more than I do."

Nah, see. Bandages and stitches were for soldiers. Heroes. Boys and men who went out to the front and came back with medals and honor. Brothers who came home after baseball practice accidents still stubbornly clinging onto the groceries with what was left of their arms. Ben was none of those things. Not anymore. He refused to dignify himself with a single other word.

...

He'd need another word, though. A lot of them. It was a tall order. Eclipsed him by the heads of all the assholes in Cochise bigger than him combined.

The problem was Penelope. Her body language was also words, and they were pretty coldly bleak ones. To say nothing of the actual words she'd said. He didn't know what parts he agreed with or didn't, not at first. It was the sort of idealism that made great men, or maybe the sort that broke mediocre men over the knee. It was a plan that literally got them all killed. Ben had never even considered death an option, he'd tried to lead the battle cry and charge against it. Pickett's Charge, that first day, and every day after Ben kept waving the blunted bayonet until a boy with a real gun had made something very clear to Ben.

Death was very much an option. The terrorists mockingly reminded them of that. And the worst part was that people actually listened.

But no one had listened to Penelope. Ben himself wouldn't have back then, he'd honestly admit that. But he could listen to her now.

"I dunno. Sounds like a pretty good plan, to me." He didn't even know if he believed himself.

Contrails of dried tears were staining her face. He was reminded of how he was supposed to be the one drying tears when girls cried to him.

"I had a plan too, and it was shit." Ben needed to pick his words but there wasn't time to. "I let everyone down too, really. And I'm probably going to die..." The word 'too'. 'As well'. 'Also'. All good words in a certain time and place. Now was not that time, nor that place. "But none of that matters. It doesn't matter that people aren't going to go along. Those people are already dead, they just don't know it yet. Some people will go along, and for their sakes we need to reach them. Give all of us a better way out than dying alone and unmourned. We can still do that, for them."

Ben didn't know if he'd said the right thing. He'd never been one for the monologues. He was sure everyone watching at home was cringing or laughing right about now.

"If... your family and... your boyfriend watched you give up when there's... still work to be done, what do you think they'd say? ... You know."

Ben wasn't supposed to be 'that one'. The one that had to hold up a time out card, or wave a white flag to figure out how to to say the things that needed to be said.
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Haunted Reality · Solitary Confinement