Volatile by Brenton Lee

Sometimes I dont know how I make it day to day. It seems as though I am in a state of perpetual cognitive dissonance with only the briefest periods of respite. My few and infrequent sanctuaries of seeming normalcy only exascerbate the situation… I let them fool me just long enough to get comfortable, and then I am forced back into what I am starting to feel is my destiny. Dont get me wrong, the terrible things I have experienced didnt make me me. I always was. It isnt the storm that makes the ocean dangerous.

I stare at my reflection in the mirror everyday. The person I see makes my eyes burn, green webbed into a halo of golden brown, she said. The color of Thunderstorms and decay, she said. I dont recognize the face which stares back, warped and distorted in the shard of glass hanging from my wall. Somedays burning with an undying, unquenchable rage directed upon itself. Some days somber and solemn with dull, dead eyes. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of the person I once believed I was, buried under layers of unadressed issues and trauma, rising to the surface and desparetely grasping for air only to be pulled under again immediately.

We paint our insides black as the shadows ‘hind our flesh
And make all that we lack, the part of life that we forget

I am not sure if there is anything pure left inside of me. Am I nothing more than a jaded, bitter unapologetic asshole incapable of rising above my shortcomings? More often than not I find myself turning a blind eye to them or blatantly lying to myself, unconvincingly. Sometimes I feel the urge to destroy everything good in my life, its a sadistic self sabotage brought on by the fact that feeling good is so foreign. I react to love and happiness in my life like the immune system reacts to a foreign body or disease, relentlessly attack it until nothing remains. Tall, dark, desparetely unstable and charming, a recipe for tragedy.

Sometimes I feel like I’m close but I never get there,
Does it mean I’m a ghost if I’m still here?

In the end my self destructive tendencies win out. I have no outlet here, no escape and no sanctuary. My best friend was scattered over five square meters of Afghanistan and there was not a damn thing I could do to help him, no way for me to pay him back for keeping me sane over the last eight months. Nothing to do but succumb to the destructive demon inside of me and let him wreak havoc.
I dont want pity. I dont want understanding. I dont want advice. I dont want a second chance. I want everyone that I have ever wronged, everyone that I have ever hurt to confront me and let loose, bring me back to where I am most comfortable.

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Ghosts Of The Past by Brenton Lee

I blink as the dirt lingering in the air slowly settles around me. Filling my mouth and nostrils with decades of death and grit, working its way into the creases of my face, accenting the expression of pain and confusion which has come over me. I roll from my back and prop myself up on all fours, coughing and spitting the dirt away and groaning in pain. Suddenly I hear it; shouting in the distance which is almost completely washed out by the deafening ringing in my ears. I strain to raise my head, and realize it is not far off shouts , its Josh standing over me yelling in my face. Screaming at me to stand up and get moving, Dave is hurt, and hurt bad. Ignoring the throbbing in my head and the ringing in my ears I force myself up and start to sprint, staying just a step behind Josh. I run as fast as I can, each step sending dull pulses of pain streaking through my head and deepening the burning that has clutched my chest. Just when I feel as though I can go no further we reach it, the smoking crater in the ground, two feet deep and four feet wide. Just moments ago Dave stepped on a pressure plate linked to a plastic jug containing six pounds of homemade Ammonium Nitrate and Aluminum explosives. I see a hole in the ground, the sole of a boot a few feet away, half of a foot lying in the dirt next to it. Scraps of a Multicam uniform flutter softly to the ground as we frantically search for our missing brother. To the right of the crater is a three foot mud wall which Josh quickly jumps to begin his search. The left side is a three foot ledge down to a ravine which I slide down to find Dave lying on the bank of. Both of his legs are gone below the knee, his right arm and hand mangled into a chunk of dangling flesh. His eyes burned black, empty sockets staring at me as he releases a terrible moan from his shattered face.
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