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TAKEITSLOW

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“Okay, but where are the pudding cups?” Brendon slams his tray down opposite Tyler and Josh; Tyler flinches whereas Josh laughs “What pudding cups?” Josh continues to laugh. Tyler looks at how Josh’s eyes squint when he laughs, as if it’s a genuine and meaningful laughs.

Man, how does this guy stay positive, how is he not so miserable?

Miserable like you, you mean?

Cut it out.”

No, you.”

You!

Brendon lifts his tray to look underneath as a joke, “You have got to be kidding me?” He slams the tray again, Tyler flinches. “First of all you don’t have TV room and now no pudding cups? And what is this crap?” He stabs the spoon into the slop. “I told you.” Josh smirked.

“Attention all inmates,” a guard steps up on the table beside Tyler “after breakfast all of you will line up outside the medical office.” Suddenly all inmates look around at each other making the atmosphere grow wary. Brendon’s expression changed into a smile filled with suspense “Ooh, what do you guys think it’ll be?” Tyler looks around at everyone collecting all of the emotions surrounding them “Ugh, I hope it’s not shots.” Josh shuddered. “I think we may be getting shaved.” Tyler adds, Josh and Brendon look unsettled. Suddenly Brendon bursts into laughter “Oh man, Josh, say goodbye to the pink.” Josh smirks at Brendon “Say goodbye to that stupid quiff, plus the pink looks weird now most of my natural hair has grown out.”

-

They all stand in line; Tyler, Josh and Brendon. Tyler twirls his hair between his fingers as he stares blankly at the off-white tiled floor, Josh and Brendon keep making jokes back and forth, Tyler was getting tired of it already, only considering the fact he doesn’t understand the concept of enjoyment anymore. Tyler had always wondered how free and expressive he’d feel once his head was shaved; maybe his little demons trapped behind every strand will fall out with the chunks of hair, the strangers shouting at him and his every move was really sickening, maybe it’s a type of devil personally assigned to him, like a guardian angel but for the ones God rejects? Tyler grips his throat.

Once sat and cuffed to the chair he takes a deep breath, hoping that shaving his head will free him, at least a little.

Buzz.

Buzz.

Buzz.

He sat for a moment as they released the handcuffs from the chair, he didn’t feel free at all, not one bit. If anything he felt like his demons were more internal, as if they seeped through his follicles and pores into his bloodstream.

-

Josh and Brendon were welcomed back to their cell by Tyler screaming his prayers and pacing he cell, “God isn’t listening to me, why won’t he listen to me?” He rubbed his face and slumped onto his bunk. “I’ve been praying non-stop, it’s like he rejected me before any of this!” Brendon and Josh exchange eye contact “Maybe I’m possessed? God rejected me and the devil took me in, that’s why I’ve killed and hurt the ones I love?” He begins to pace again. “Hey, dude, have you ever considered that maybe there isn’t a Go-“ Josh elbows Brendon in the ribs to stop him. “Maybe it’s a form of tough love?” Josh guides Tyler to sit back on his bunk. “But why would God give tough love, how is any of this tough love?” Tyler buries his face in his hands “This is perhaps God’s way of teaching you, you know? Like in the bible? There’s teachings and stuff?” He rubbed Tyler’s back “It’ll be okay.” Tyler looks up at Josh and Brendon, all his muscles relax and unwind and he laughs “You two look funny.” Josh continues to rub Tyler’s back. “It’ll look even better when it grows back, my hair gets so curly.” He chuckles and smiles at Brendon, who’s rolling his eyes, “Dude stop. I’m not leaving this cell until it grows back.” He flops onto his mattress. Silence fills the cell, it’s quiet for Brendon and Josh, but for Tyler it’s almost deafening.

“God won’t take you.”

“You were born a heathen.”

“A family of pure Christian blood, you’re evil.”

“EVIL!”

“So,” Tyler takes a deep breath “do you really think God is just giving me the tough love treatment?” Brendon grunts and turns over to face Tyler. “Dude, God loves everybody, that’s what everyone preaches about all the God-damn time.” Tyler looks down “But why won’t he listen to me?” Brendon sighs and sits up “Alright man, have you seen the movie ‘Bruce Almighty’?” Tyler nods “Remember that scene where Morgan Freeman makes Jim Carrey sort only a few local prayers and Jim Carrey found it pretty much impossible?” Tyler nods again “Well, dude, that’s what God apparently goes through with most of the planet! He’ll get to you soon.” He says with a reassuring smile. Even with that everlasting taste of uncertainty and metal, he felt something in his gut, he liked it, and its name is hope.