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By Erin Eggenberger

The love of a troubled mind

This town is poison. Like Hotel California, you can leave whenever you please, but your soul is encapsulated in everything left behind. All who dare to reside here are cursed by the tragedy of a small town. Personal space does not exist; the bloodhounds that inhabit this territory hunt down each and every flaw of one's existence at the slightest whiff of dolor. These savages feast on every detail, only satisfied by subjugation of their distraught victims and the previously ensnared secret they now clutch.

Freedom of expression is forbidden; conformity is the only way to survive. Any sign of uniqueness and genuine interest only enlarges the target on your back. Pretending to be someone you aren't is a skill that must be mastered – this is your camouflage to hide from the predators. If anything, you must know the hunted are preyed upon in their darkest moments, like an owl swooping down and snatching a sleeping mouse in the dead of night.

While burden and vulnerability spread through this quaint suburban population like a plague, the antidote can be found in the little things surrounding. Relief, however, is not as simple as just that; the process starts as a hunch, and this hunch only guides you to where you need to be. Soon, this hunch will turn into much more. Treatment begins with a smile – not your own, but from another prisoner that fate led you to. This smile will start to warm the cold edges of the darkness surrounding. It sparks something inside, and all of a sudden that single person is bigger than every hungry beast in existence; the antidote is now coursing through your veins.

Like seasons changed overnight, the world around you looks completely different. This gray, gloomy habitat turns into a dream. Suddenly, the birds are chirping louder than before, and walking outside becomes a blessing rather than a threat.

That single smile slowly evolves as well; it grows into the touch of a hand, and then a dance. This dance freezes your soul and scrambles your mind all at once. The foreign place you used to reside doesn't seem so foreign anymore. As time goes by you find yourself getting lost in the arms of another. The only thing cuffing you now is his grip. You aren't a prisoner of this evil anymore, but instead a prisoner of his allurement.

He is all you think of. The dangers around have disappeared. You are reddened of the poison when you look in his direction, and everything falls into place. You realize that this place was never home: Home is in eyes, his touch and his existence. This love you've built from scratch is all you have, but it's also all you need. Its stronger than any negative force that could possible overcome you, and this love will only continue to blossom into something more beautiful than it previously was. It started as a single rose blooming in a sidewalk crack into an everlasting garden. This garden is the escape you have been searching for. You are home; this is home.

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