Normality: short fiction

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Normality: short fiction

By JENNY BARDWELL
Staff Writer

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(Sharon Kilday/The Dallas Morning News/MCT)
What is normality? It is a word that has become so foreign to me I can no longer understand its definition. If one lives in chaos long enough, does chaos become normal? If one witnesses pain, bloodshed, and destruction every day, does the violence become forgivable? At what point does a state of constant disorder become the new order? At what point of desperation does killing become glorified?

When I was growing up, order had a simple definition. Killing was wrong, stealing was wrong, and inflicting pain was wrong. We never questioned these basic morals, and we never thought about the motivations behind certain crimes. We never considered the possibility that such terrible acts could be justified by a person’s reason. When I was younger, words had much simpler meanings, and living morally was so much easier.

I laugh when I think about how I lived before. I used to waste my precious time worrying about trivialities, and now I dream of the day when my most disgraceful deed was copying someone else’s homework. It has been many years since I shed my first blood, but I still find myself obsessed with the few circumstances in which my cowardice failed me. I have thought upon my actions for so long that every alternate ending has been burned into the fibers of my mind. Yet, I still do not know whether the pain I caused is justifiable.

Long ago, I abandoned the innocent child I once was. I was forced to sacrifice all resemblance to him when I chose conflict over submission. If my younger self were to read a list of all the things I have done, tears would run from his eyes. The young boy’s fear of and outrage toward the barbaric man he would one day become would overwhelm him. My fear, however, does not stem from the change in my personality, but rather from watching what other people have become in order to survive. We used to take pride in our moral characters, devoting our every action to best displaying what we believed to be exemplary traits. Watching people drown in the sea of destruction was difficult, but discovering that there were those who could dance in the rubble was far worse. I often wish I could still be the man I had worked so hard to create, but he could not survive in this environment, so I destroyed him as well.

No code of laws accurately defines my crimes; believe me, I have read them all. Years ago, I could have decided my own punishment, without a court or a judge, but when They came, all simplicity vanished. Since They came, survival has become as much as a stranger to its former self as I have to mine. When They came, order became a dream of the past, and pandemonium became the nightmare of the present. Now we can do nothing but embrace the anarchy that They brought as normality, and adapt our own morals to fit this new merciless world that They have created. The only alternative I can see insanity.

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