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The Exit (revised) (standard:non fiction, 991 words)
Author: Lady MacKenzieAdded: Jan 28 2001Views/Reads: 2269/1Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Searching for an "exit" to emotional hurt, but in the end, learning something far more valuable.

The camera flashed just as Dale put up a “wall,” bared his teeth, and
pushed forth a vague smile. He was surrounded by hundreds of people, 
young and old, milling around him like ducks in a pond, all hoping that 
at this "Star Wars" convention in Chicago, they might get a quick 
glimpse at one or all of the actors.  The convention was only going to 
be there that night, so Dale, accompanied by his best friend Jared, had 
decided to drive from their homes in Michigan to Chicago for the night, 
seeing as both were die-hard "Star Wars" fans. 

Dale gripped the tube he was holding close to his side, seemingly
protecting it from any harm. Inside it was a recently autographed 
picture of the actor who played Darth Maul in the hit movie "Star 
Wars".  Dale seemed vaguely thrilled with his luck in getting an 
autograph, but was far beyond tired and ready to go home.  While 
pulling on his coat that had been drapped over his arm, he remembered 
how cold the wind had been on his face when walking from the car into 
the convention.  His face became flushed with utter disgust. 

The air outside the building had a brisk and bitter chill to it. Chicago
almost always had that blustery cold feel about it, even in the 
springtime. There was something eerie about the way the wind hit 
people's faces as they walked the streets on a dark Chicago eve. All it 
took was to be outside for a couple of minutes. Then, after entering a 
heat-infested establishment, everyone's cheeks would bleed wind-chapped 
red blotches. 

"Are you ready to go?" Jared shouted to Dale over the hundreds of
squealing Star Wars addicts. 

Dale, still squinting his eyes to recover from the camera's flash nearly
ten minutes ago, quietly said "Sure," and sauntered behind Jared still 
clutching his tube as if he were holding on for dear life. As the two 
plowed their way through groups of teenagers, singles, couples, and 
older fans, the doors seemed farther away than ever. In Dale's mind, 
all he could think of was getting home, crawling into a warm bed, and 
falling asleep. It wouldn't matter to him if he never woke up again. 

Dale had been through an awful lot lately in the past few months.  The
wear and tear on his body had begun to show.  He had slight gray bags 
under his eyes, his face always seemed brightly flushed with pink 
tones, and in general, he seemed very worn-down.  He'd been working 
over forty hours a week, going to school over twenty, and carrying 
around an emotional baggage that seemed to float around him like a fog. 
 Months before, he had been happy with his life, and thoughts of 
marriage had entered his mind.  Things fell apart from there on out.  
The marriage never took place, and so Dale didn't want his life to 
"take place" anymore.  He felt so much despair from losing what was 
once his entire life, that nothing seemed to matter anymore but the 
hurt.  It sank into his mind to the point where that was all he thought 
about.  To him, nothing would ever be the same again.  Life must go on. 
 Work, school, and the "Star Wars" convention seemed nothing out of the 
ordinary for Dale.  They were just things he had to do in life, other 
than surviving. 

Jared and Dale continued to trudge forth through more crowds, all of
which were pleading for autographs from their favorite stars.  They 
seemed never-ending.  It was as if they were purposely stopping them 
from getting anywhere. Both men seemed almost lost; however, Dale 
seemed to have completely spun off into his own world somewhere in the 
deep, dark void.  His mind had wandered from a cool convention where he 
got an autograph back to the hurt locked up in the back of his mind.  
It seemed almost pointless for him to keep on walking, yet he did 
despite his empty heart. 

Jared's eyes darted aimlessly about, searching for a closer exit.
Dale’s; however, looked only down, watching Jared's feet plod onward. 
Left, then right. Left again, then right. Except Dale wasn't looking 
for the exit to the convention.  Instead, in his mind, he was plotting 
a way out of the terrible scheme of the life that he didn't want to 
live anymore.  The night, to Dale, had turned into a metaphorical game. 
 A game in which he continuously looked for an "exit" out of his life.  
An escape away from the hurt in his heart.  A getaway from all 
emotional terrors. 

So many times in the past, Dale searched to find someone, a woman, the
other half of his soul, to complete him. Over and over again, he 
failed. In his heart, this was what he felt. No clues on Dale's 
exterior gave anyone any idea about the feelings he kept locked up 
inside. Everyday he would get up, go to school or work, and put on a 
happy face for the world. Never would anyone guess what was really 
going on inside. He was afraid of getting hurt...afraid of giving his 
heart fully to another only to have it ripped out and stomped on. 

Months later 

Visually imagining being back in the building in Chicago, in the
metaphorical game, Dale's eyes lifted. He was no longer staring at the 
heels of Jared's shoes, seemingly wandering circles looking for an 
"exit". Instead, now he held his head high. His eyes seemed brighter.  
Still he couldn't see an exit in sight, but not because it was 
impossible to reach, but because he had found something within someone 
that he thought he'd never be able to find again.  He didn't need an 
"exit" anymore.  There was no hurt in which to hide anymore.  To Dale, 
the "exit" no longer symbolized anything except the doors to a world 
outside that had so much more to offer.


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