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Not My Circus: Chapter 22

by GengarIsBestBoy


Chapter 22: ...My Father Took Me Into the City

No. Keith couldn’t do it. He couldn’t handle it. He had been repressing his feelings for years, and he still wasn’t ready to open that can of worms.

Air rushed in and out of his lungs. He sat up but didn’t get to his feet. He covered his eyes, trying to find solace in the darkness behind his hands.

Get up.

Keith jumped. Avery’s voice was so clear in his head, so terrifying, that he felt like he had to listen to them. The angel on his shoulder had become a drill sergeant, and he was merely a private with no insignia.

He did as they told him to.

The memory on the wall seemed to have a grim blue filter over it, and yet it was so clear—much clearer than any of the other memories. Keith watched the walls silently. The projection on the walls took up his whole field of vision. For a while, he forgot where he was; it felt like he was reliving these memories.

It had been just a regular day. There had been nothing to warn him of the horrible tragedy that was going to unfold.

He got off the bus and walked down the street to his house. It was a small blue house near the sea. Keith could swear that he smelled the ocean air, right here in the memory lab.

When he opened the door to his house, he saw his mother and father in the kitchen (his siblings were off at college).

His mother waved. “Hello, sweetie! Did you have a good day at school?”

His father waved too, but he did so a little slower, as if he was feeling weaker today. “Hey—”

And then, the coughing started.

Keith’s father clutched his chest as he entered a coughing fit. At the time, it could have easily been mistaken for a particularly bad case of the flu.

The memory faded out much slower than all the rest. Keith heard a distorted version of his voice saying “Are you okay, Dad?" before it had completely faded.

The next memory was a normal day, just as the last one had been—except, his dad was still coughing.

And then, something new happened. Memories began to fade in and out like a slideshow presentation, showing his sickness only getting worse.

The coughing was accompanied by all kinds of symptoms; he wheezed whenever he breathed too deeply; he became thinner, more skeletal over time; and his usual bright smile began to fade away.

In hindsight, he wondered how they had let the symptoms stack up; but at the time, it was hard to notice the progression.

The rapid slideshow suddenly stopped. The walls played a much different memory now.

His entire family was in their car—even his older brother and sister, who had been at college. The silence was deafening, other than occasional coughing and wheezing from his father. Everyone’s faces were ridden with worry—but especially Keith.

The slideshow of memories slowly started again. He saw his father going in and out of doctor’s offices and hospitals. Keith spent a good chunk of this time in waiting rooms, even having to do his homework and study there. He had grown accustomed to the sanitized smell.

And then, that fateful day.

He saw his whole family in the hospital room. He hid behind his mom timidly, even though he was supposed to be acting like a high schooler. The words being spoken were hard to hear. But when he heard three familiar words, every hair and non-hair on Keith’s body stood up at once.

Terminal lung cancer.

Those words still shattered his heart years later.

Everything in his life had gone downhill. Keith watched his younger self spend more and more time in the hospital with his dad. He saw his dad get sicker and sicker. The treatments left him weaker every time he saw him. They weren’t working. Eventually, he could barely even say hello.

And it was hard to balance school and family. Keith had tried to keep his grades as high as possible, but there were times when he had no motivation to do anything.

He truly hit rock bottom when his father took his final breath.

Keith couldn’t even watch this memory. He covered his eyes and looked away. But he could hear everything.

“No, please… don’t go… not yet…”

“...son… I love you…”

Keith brought his head to his knees. His tears left spots on his pants. He didn’t lift his head to watch any of the other memories; he completely ignored his memories of college, his memories of urban exploration, and memories of the factory.

Thousands of thoughts swirled through his head, but the loudest one was: why? Why did this have to happen to him? Why did he have to be taken away by that horrible disease? They could have made so many other memories together if it hadn’t happened. Keith thought of all the times he had taken his family for granted. How could he be so stupid?

He tried to tell himself that his father was always with him. That’s what he always told himself, especially when doing things that reminded him of his father. Although… it never really made him feel better.

Keith, called Avery.

“No,” he told them, as he continued to cry.

Keith.

“Leave me alone.”

“Keith!”

His head shot up. The voice was different this time.

Sylvie, Flax, and Rei all surrounded him. Their faces shone through the bright lights on the ceiling.

Keith looked around. He wasn’t in a long hallway anymore. He was back in the small padded room of the memory lab. He was too confused to do anything.

Vos was scribbling rapidly on his clipboard as he paced the room. “No, no! This wasn’t supposed to happen at all! It was supposed to target specific memories, not all of them!”

Sylvie and Flax bent down to meet his face. They both rushed to ask if he was okay, albeit at different times and with different wording.

Rei continued to stand. Keith couldn't see her face.

It was all too much. Before anyone could stop him, Keith pushed himself off the ground and ran out the door.

~~~

Previous: Chapter 21

Next: to be announced


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124 Reviews

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Stickied -- Tue Dec 26, 2023 12:36 am
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GengarIsBestBoy says...



I'm officially adding "Welcome to the Black Parade" to Keith's playlist




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211 Reviews

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Sun Dec 31, 2023 11:38 pm
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OrabellaAvenue wrote a review...



Hello. This is Orabella, here to freak out because of this awesome chapter.

I literally started crying, reading this. I don't think I've ever done that reading anything here on YWS; and if I have, I don't remember.

This is one of the most emotionally beautiful things that I've ever read, and I want to read it again and again! Going to read it a third (or fourth?) time, and it still won't be enough.

One question I have...

every hair and non-hair on Keith’s body stood up at once.

Is this current Keith or past Keith? And by non-hair, does it mean his hair poofs? If it's current Keith, I'd suggest making it more clear. I think its confusing because you mention both in the same paragraph without distinguishing them. Unless that whole paragraph is only talking about past Keith. Then it's fine and you don't have to do anything.

Other than that, I couldn't find anything that I found confusing or that I could give advise for.

So may I say again how great this is?

The way you explained that strange hallway and how the memories looked to Keith made it seem like the dramatic part of a movie. I could perfectly visualize what was happening around him, and the way it happened was intriguing and engaging. Often authors will describe settings or the way they're set up in a way that takes the reader outside of the story, but you successfully avoided doing that! Not only did it fit perfectly with the storyline, it helped you avoid describing the same redundant information that wouldn't have been important to the plot.

Did I say this made me cry? It made me cry. How it began with just a cough and how scared Keith was of it made me scared too. And all the small details just made the story seem real and come to life, as if Keith really was reliving horrible memories, and that his dad really did die from cancer.

And... oh no. Rei knows (probably). The question is, what is she going to do about it? What is Flax, Sylvie, and Vos going to do too? Although, it seems Vos was more concerned about the amount of memories rather than what they were.

I can't wait to read more! If life comes first, then by all means, take your time. But I hope you'll scrape up enough for another chapter.

Please, even if you don't continue this story for whatever reason, keep writing! You're so very good at it and I'd hate to see that talent not in use.

Have an amazing day/night, and happy new years eve!




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Wed Dec 27, 2023 4:58 pm
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vampricone6783 wrote a review...



Hello there, human! I'm reviewing using the YWS S'more Method today!

Let us begin with the review…

Top Graham Cracker - Keith gets to a core memory of when his father was dying from lung cancer. It gets too much for him and then he leaves…

Slightly Burnt Marshmallow - I don’t think that you have to mention that the siblings were in college when they’re going to the hospital, because it was said before, but that’s just an idea.

Chocolate Bar - I like the ending, when Keith runs away. It shows how much his memories had affected him. I also like when Sylvie and Flax reached out to him, it shows that they care.

Closing Graham Cracker - It’s a sad chapter, but it’s needed. I wonder what Keith is going to do now…and as for Avery, I’m not sure how I feel about them. I’ll have to sit and think, I guess.

I wish you a fantastic day/night!





Writing is my soul made tangible on paper.
— bluewaterlily