By: Nacole Stayton

The Upside of Letting Go

A Graceful Mess

In the Lyrics

To anyone who believes that a savaged heart can be saved.

And to the few of you that have stuck around to find out.

SULFUROUS ODORS ASSAULT MY nose, pressed against the frigid concrete. The smell lingers and a warning flashes in my brain, cautioning me not to turn over. Refusing to listen, I regret the movement immediately as pain slices through my body. The hairs on my arms are smoldering then matting to my skin before my eyes. My mind blank, I try to make sense of the sight, barely registering my surroundings. A gust of wind blows by, and the chattering of my teeth echoes off the brick wall in front of me.

Sweat drips off my forehead as rage seeps from my pores. Vague images of black-masked forms start playing on repeat in my head as I try not to think about the unbearable agony slithering up my side. Dragging my limp arm across my chest, I attempt to hold my throbbing ribcage, to lessen the pain.

Viscid warmth covers my fingers as I find the wound there. Wincing, I gather all the strength I have left and apply pressure in an effort to keep from bleeding out. The pain dulls when I don’t breathe so I hold my breath, grunting with each gasp that escapes my lips. I’m lightheaded, and my weak neck can barely hold my head up.

I close my eyes and silently pray that I’m not dying. I can feel the flesh of my face redden with color as the pain of my wounds blazes more fiercely than anything I’ve ever endured. I wonder if this is even real. As much as I hate admitting I’ve hallucinated before, nothing has ever seemed quite this vivid.

This isn’t a dream; it is indeed a nightmare, though I’m not sleeping.

Was I shot? Doused in acid?

The realization of my fucking reality cuts me deep. Stabbed, beaten, burned into unconsciousness, and left to rot in a puddle of mud and my own despair.

An ache races like a fever across my skin as sudden stinging attacks me, jarring my senses. Moving my bloodied hand, I inch it up toward my cheek. As if my face were made of breakable porcelain, I graze lightly over my skin, afraid that with even the faintest touch, I will crumble. I moan, licking my lips to ease their dryness, tasting a foul, metallic-tinged substance. I’ve been cut there, too.


From the corner of my mouth, I trace the wide path carved in my skin upward to my eye, ending right beside the brow. The open flesh burns under my touch, and in this moment, as I lie helpless, my mind freezes. My body weakens, drained of life, of hope, and I wish that they had killed me.

Death has to be better than this.

Death has to be better than fighting to live.

“JAROD!” I BARK INTO THE receiver of my phone, paging my assistant, and then hit end abruptly. Clenching my jaw, I lean back in my black leather chair and take a deep breath before exhaling very slowly. It’s something I learned from watching self-improvement videos online. Sometimes it helps, but most of the time it doesn’t do anything but make me feel like a fucking idiot.

My eyes burn from staring at the computer screen in this dim lighting. It’s been two minutes and Jarod still hasn’t returned my page. I seethe as my rage and agitation grow. Running my hand through my hair, I exhale and allow the anger trapped inside to leave my body before loosening the knot of the blue tie that’s like a noose around my neck. I’m thankful that my day is coming to an end. Running an empire is no joke, and the day’s tension builds in my temples.

I reach into the bottom drawer of my cherry-stained desk and pull out a bottle of aged bourbon. Pouring an ample amount into a short glass, I raise the rim to my nose. As I inhale the aroma, the stout yet refined smell pleases my senses. Taking a swig, I swish the liquid around, and allow my taste buds to savor the liquor before I swallow. The alcohol is not meant to cure my anger. It is merely meant to dilute the real desire that lurks within me. My longing to get laid is like a nagging alarm clock in my body. I can tell when it’s going to go off and rings loudly in my ears.

As the seconds pass, I grow more annoyed at Jarod’s unanswered page. I pour another drink. As I tip back the second glass, the faint sound of a creaking door alerts me that someone is coming. Finally. The beast within me ignites and begs to be let loose, but I stow the growling–the urges that prowl within me are powerless as long as I stay in control. My eyes dart from the screen in front of me as I sharply whip my head around. Glaring into the dimly lit room, I can make out the silhouette of a body.

“What can I do for you?” Jarod asks from the threshold, appearing unbothered by my agitated state.

As irritated as I am at Jarod for taking his sweet time, I’m more irritated at myself. I know what my body longs for, what I’m craving in this very moment, and I know the only way to make these feelings disappear is for me to give in to them. Being locked up like an animal has put a giant kink in my normally eccentric sexual tendencies, but I’ve found other ways to lure women into my home and my bed.

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