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A Battle Of The Mind

Short story By: Booze Zombie
Young adult



Two men walk into a dark alleyway and a conversation begins...


Submitted:May 12, 2013    Reads: 61    Comments: 0    Likes: 0   


A Battle Of The Mind

A dark backstreet is the scene for this particular story, a full moon illuminating the otherwise inky black path, grey of concrete and the washed out colours of refuse dotting the backdrop.

Two men meet in this backstreet, one standing tall, wearing a clean black suit, black tie, white shirt and no expression on his face or in his bright blue eyes, his hair falling medium-long and only slightly able to give away it's brunette tones in the darkness. The other man is slouching, wearing a brown suit under a tan trenchcoat, his unkempt brown hair wildly jutting out in many directions, his expression is that of drunken emotion, of fury, he holds a bottle that clearly reads "40%" on the label and his eyes dart all around, the deep blue world-seerers giving little hint of his inner workings.

The two men stop as they notice each other, they stare intently for a few moments. Emotion seems to be in the air, something tense that neither can ignore and apparently Nature is feeling poetic this night, as the full moon bares down on the street and illuminates them both. The man in the black suit speaks first.

"I was expecting you. We've really got to talk, did you know that?" he questions.

The man in the trenchcoat quickly responds, "Of course I know that, you're friends with... her, aren't you? Why wouldn't you get involved!?" His angry shouting likely audible far into the distance.

The man in black raises an eyebrow for a moment, before speaking again, "Come now, no need to be aggressive! We're both human beings, intelligent and capable of reasoned discussion. It's hardly like I'm here to attack you."

The other man sighs, pulling his hand down from the top of his face to his chin and begins to speak "I know that. It's just hard not to feel under attack in such a situation, it's almost like once you care about what's going on, nobody will ever stop hearing about it."

The man in black looks somewhat sympathetic at this point, but quickly surpresses any such feelings. He stares directly into the eyes of the other man and says "You know I am here about the situation that is occuring with you and Rita. She, frustrated by your emotions and inability to accept that she is not attracted to you has forced herself to withdraw altogether from an otherwise friendly and intelligent man."

The man in the trenchcoat interjects, "And I, James, frustrated with what I'm feeling, seeing and hearing is trying to regain contact and undo the madness that I feel wholy responsible for, whilst still contending with my own emotions as they seemingly try to trip me up and what is the result? James and Donovan talking in an alley in the middle of London, not James talking with the person fully involved in the situation. It's frustrating... to say the least!"

Donovan (the man in black), laughs and begins speaking again "I can imagine! But life is not here to satisfy your urges and desires, it merely does it's best to do things the way they can be done and that's not always ideal. Anyway, I fear we could talk about this all night, so let's get to the point for a bit."

"Yes, lets." James (the man in the trenchcoat), quickly replies, a hint of disdain in his voice.

Donovan walks a bit closer to James and starts talking, "You love this woman with all your heart, your friendship with her was otherwise brilliant, you greatly enjoyed each other's company and yet... it all fell to pieces. Why? Well, I admit this isn't purely your fault. She is slow to forgive and quick to anger herself, despite her many qualities but at the same time, you seem driven to ignore how she feels about you, which is not the same. You push to talk to her constantly, seemingly losing all focus about time and anything other than talking to her."

James looks at him for a minute, he takes a gulp from his bottle, lights up a cigarette and words start to flow from his mouth along with the smoke, "Yes, I admit it. I talk to her far too much, I shower her in attentions she doesn't desire and try far too hard to impress her. She is my dream woman, I enjoy everything about her. I completely fail to understand why she is perfection to me, but I am not perfection to her. Accepting that would hurt too much, I must push to create another reality where that is not so!"

Donovan smirks for a moment, then shakes his head and begins speaking, "We might speak in ways not commonly encountered, but your problem is all too common. That of unrequited love, the shattering dream. Much like the death of anything else, when you don't want a dream or hope to die, you can deny aspects or reality or bring out parts of your personality you didn't even know existed."

James looks down at the ground, his eyes narrowing slightly for a second before they return to normal and he slowly nods as he continues smoking.

Donovan looks surprised and begins talking again, "I didn't expect you to agree so readily. I'll admit, I'm surprised."

James looks at him, inhales deeply on his cigarette and responds,"When you feel yourself changing into a different person, acting in ways that feel alien to even you, you register such feelings quickly, even if you feel powerless to stop them. I do not normally get possessive, I am not normally this emotional. Something strange is occuring here."

Donovan adjusts his tie and brushes off his jacket, he smiles and looks James in the eyes, opening his mouth to speak, "I have been in your situation many a time, it would be a lie for most men and women to claim they are above being in such a situation. That feeling of a powerful driving force inside of you, telling you someone is perfection made human. But I'll tell you something, I relate to how you're feeling and I'll tell you something, the things coming out of your personality in response to the prospect of losing a dream hint at one thing... insecurity."

James' expression becomes that of someone shocked at how easy something is to see, his mouth open and his eyes wide for but a moment before returning to a thoughtful gaze and getting ready to respond. He flicks his dying cigarette to one side and speaks once more, "Of course. I'm insecure as Hell, I view myself as being nothing and her as being... everything. I suppose accepting she can't love me would also be allowing myself to accept the view that I'm so terrible that someone so wonderful can't love me and it tears me apart inside."

Donovan looks at him for a minute, seemingly contemplative and deep in serious thought, James waits for his mouth to open, "So we get to the root of the problem and whilst it's not entirely complicated, it's not entirely easy, either. You've associated someone else with your happiness, your success, your victory over... yourself."

Myself?" James asks in a puzzled tone.

"Yes, yourself." Donovan responds, before continuing on. "You see, who set that goal? Who told you how little you were worth? Who worked with all those ideas, dreams and hopes to motivate your behaviour? It wasn't Rita and it most certainly wasn't anyone else... it was you. The person who disempowered you, was you. You're really having a fight with yourself, about yourself but you've dragged it into the real world."

James looked at Donovan for a moment after he said this, lit up another cigarette and finshed the bottle of alcohol in one giant gulp, he stared at him for a moment, figuring out how to respond... and then he does. "You appear to be correct. I am fighting a battle against myself, about myself, with myself and Rita has turned into some kind of flag to capture on the battlefield, to signal victory and transcendence from being nothing to being something. How did I get in such a situation?!"

Donovan raises both his eyebrows for a moment before opening his mouth to speak, "Why, it's quite simple. You've assumed that when things have gone wrong, it's all you. You've taken things you see as failure, painful or bad quite personally and have devalued yourself as a result. You have to accept that everyone is human and we all make mistakes, feel pain and emotion. But also, you have to accept something quite beautiful as a result."

James looks quite skeptical at this, but Donovan takes his silence as a cue to continue on, "Not sure what I mean? It's quite simple. If one person is capable of being wonderful, anyone is capable of being wonderful. From the person you hate at the bottom of your heart, to anyone you don't know to... yourself. Originally it seems like you're losing a dream when you can't have someone you love, but really, the fact that there are people to love should be the wonderful thing in and of itself."

"The journey, not the destination, right?", James quickly interjects.

"Precisely", responds Donovan, before continuing on, "You see, other people are windows through which we come to know ourselves. We learn more about them, what drives them and understand how they think, feel and do what they do. As we do this, we come to think more about ourselves as we think about them. But then, you also begin to realise something."

James looks around for a moment, smirks and asks "What's that?"

Donovan smiles widely before speaking, "All that love, all that emotion, all those thoughts, ideas, dreams, etc are you. You make them in response to the world, people, objects that you experience, it's all you. So since Rita is perfection... you're perfection and well, everyone can be perfection, really, in that case. If you'd like to think about things that way."

James looks at Donovan, smiles and says "That might help me get along a bit better, huh? I don't enjoy being down, drunk and angry... I'll see what I can do to think about things a bit more positively."

Donovan smiles and laughs for a while, before opening his mouth to speak again, "That'd certainly help resolve the problem when your problem is really all internal! Sorta like me, really... do you ever actually remember Rita having a friend called Donovan?"

James opens his mouth to say something but as he's about to, Donovan suddenly isn't there anymore. He hears a feint echo in his head, "You thought you hated yourself, but some part of you remembered the love and wanted to help out. Never thought it'd be that easy though, ha, ha! Have fun!"

James stares at the empty bottle in his hand, laughs and walks out of the alley, a little smile on his face.





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