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A Short Story by Alice Clark
Written using the suggestion "Crusade"
Originally featured on 11-03-2009
As part of our series "The Words That Seem to Justify Anything"

The room was sage green, in order to calm, and he sat there on the couch weeping. This was the box that was designated for emotions that were elsewhere inappropriate and I breathed and looked at him. Letting the crying sit in the room. There were two people often in this box, moving through a rotating roster.

I wondered if the room could weather this, feeling the tears, not the fine tears of a woman, but the mournful thick ones of a man, sticking to the green in a humid heat. The room had begun to feel worn, the voices always bathing it in some emotion.

The wood of the walls, beneath the plaster was the suicide attempts, in its firmness and in the fact that it was not seen, but talked about. Something that happened to someone else, some other day. The rage felt like fingernails in the popcorn texturing, tearing little bits of it and taking it with them. The wild fast talking of the young was the fluorescent light, pouring and brash. The psychosis the blaring heat of the radiators, a furious, menacing backdrop. The couches themselves warm mothers holding us together.

When he left, I sat at my desk, the sound proof walls and the sound machine whirring. When alone, between people, it was as silent as possible and no one disrupted me as I wrote notes. The walls still held everything and I felt them. I opened my window to let some of it out, and the air came in and I sat in silence.

Read More By Alice Clark

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Portland Fiction Project

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