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Shaunna Harper Shaunna Harper
Recommendations: 35

The Slaughterhouse


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She had a friend.

There was a fire the night we lost ourselves.


From the reflections of the silver hooks swaying above the slaughterhouse, you could see the red flashes of the flames that licked the forest, almost sacrilegious in their fury. In an explosion of rusted dreams, we lost our childhood. In the destruction of what we believed to be pure, we came upon a miracle: that innocence was not final. We would not be forever young. We would, one day, understand. The trees collapsed and stole the air from our lungs; made us wheeze and splutter and cough as we ran.
      
The ensuing monster of flames came after us, tumbling through dried bales of hay and eating them up in seconds. I turned back once, just for an instant, and caught sight of the pink slabs of meat scorched in the fire, crackling and popping in agony. After that one night, the city became a warzone. No one was the same.
      
As though the fire had burned everyone’s souls – depending on whether they had one to begin with – the smiles on people’s faces didn’t look quite as pleasant as they had done before. In the eyes of strangers, there was a blackened emptiness, and in their words, a sting of hatred.
      
Pretty girls turned to whores. Their stories of drugs and drink and city squalor made our stomachs turn. They drew pictures of their adventures, an exhibition of lust and remorse. It was an endless cycle for them; they did whatever it took to get what they wanted, which wasn’t actually what they needed, just to wake up to another dirty day and do it all over again. Their smeared lipstick like the blood from an animal’s kill, their greasy hair and their crooked, uncomprehending smiles…imprinted onto the inside of my brain forever.
      
The curious wore themselves out, having had their passion for something new destroyed by the changes in the city. On the outskirts, it was primal. Animals were forgotten, neglected, and man became the animal. He hunted for food and for women and obliterated any competition he saw in his path. We stayed out of the wastelands that used to be the forests, keeping to lighted paths.
      
We weren’t happy anymore; how could we be? In the ruin of our home, our identities, we were faced with the one thing we had always known distantly, but not personally.
      
Death. The death of who we were and the rebirth of what we had to be. The death of innocence and youth. The death of ignorance and its beautiful darkness, which once had shielded us from harsh light. Now, we were old and blind.
      
We went back to the slaughterhouse early in the morning, before the sun had found its way over the hills on the horizon. The fire had attacked everything in a six mile radius, and yet, in the centre of the destruction, there stood the blackened barn against the soft light, like a spectre of enormous size. Treading through crisp, ashen grass, just small people in a big world, we headed to the barn.      
      
Swinging on the silver hooks above our heads, the people of the city. One of the whores, her bare legs streaked with blood, her lips just as red, hung slumped to the side. In death, her life story seemed much more significant, though we could not be sure why. Her pictures told a truth, made sense.
      
The peoples’ shoes had fallen to the ground; heels, sneakers, boots, sandals. We burned them inside the slaughterhouse, along with the bodies. Two days later, we went back.
      
The building stood, stronger than ever, with no sign of fire or damage. The city burned a thousand times over that year, but the people never learned. 2 comments


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