Strife reads Writing Prompts: 002: When you were 12 you began seeing two lines on the ground…



hello I'm Josh triphase and this is strife reads writing prompts today's prompt when you were 12 you began seeing two lines on the ground in front of you red and green you followed the green line and became hugely successful in life but now you're bored time to try the red line the following story was written by inner eye and I perform it with that kind permission you know I really couldn't say when I first saw the lines I mean sure I know it was sometime around my tween years when I saw them for sure I was 13 when I saw the brightly colored lines cutting straight across the gravel parking lot leading me back to my parents after I had gotten lost on that road trip but before that I really couldn't say maybe I had seen them before mistaking them for pavement lines and supermarket markings regardless after I noticed them I couldn't help it I saw them everywhere two lines red and green edged into the ground like they were marked in paint no one else could see them I'd commented on them once to my mother and she looked at me like I was crazy I was old enough at that point to know to keep my mouth shut but I watched as they wove their way in and out of my life and as one does I inevitably found myself overwhelmed with the need to investigate them to see where they led the curiosity was more than I could take the memory of that first time was too fresh in my mind of the green line leading me straight back to safety and so when I was 14 I grabbed a bottle of water and a snack and I followed them the green line of course Green is good and red is bad right it just seemed smarter that way it had taken me on a winding twisting path deeper and deeper into the city until at last I found myself at a robotics tournament being held that afternoon it was thrilling I had no idea that something like that was even a thing but my interest was piqued I decided I wanted to do something like that with my life and I looked at that little green line with newfound respect so I followed it again over and over I followed it and time after time my life was rewarded for it it took me to the front door of a prep school where I met mr. graves whose tutoring I hold directly responsible for getting me into college a few years down the road he led me out of danger as a kitchen fire burned out of control in my school and it crossed my path with that of the woman of my dreams literally we smacked into each other in a crosswalk so here I was I was 30 and the world was at my fingertips i sat in my leather gaming chair in front of the desk holding all of my equipment I looked out of the window of my top floor penthouse gazing down at the city below the walls were covered with the awards I had won in automation and robotics and system designed my lovely smart beautiful wife was in the other room reading a book as she brewed coffee it was perfect really perfect all thanks to that little green line but I couldn't help it I was bored my whole adult life I'd relied on that invisible line to guide my steps it hadn't bothered me when I was younger I was just a kid and this line opened doors for me I didn't even know existed I'd follow it without hesitation trusting it to take my life wherever it needed to go now that I was older now that I had time to stop and think about it I wondered if this had all really been for the best had I just taken the easy path had I gone with the flow and given up on taking my life into my own hands it kept me up at night if I'm honest and through it all it burned in the corner of my vision that red line its seared into my sight like it was on fire it demanded attention begging for me to give it the shot I'd only ever given its green brother that old curiosity was back and so I grabbed an old messenger bag out of my closet a remnant from my college days I threw in bottles of water and a pocketknife a charge cable for my phone and a granola box i laughter myself as i saw it it looks so much like the bag I packed all those years ago when I first walked the in line but that felt right you know I slipped out the door with a quick goodbye to my wife she accepted my excuses of taking a walk without hesitation pressing a kiss to my cheek and wishing me a good day I smiled to myself as I left the house she was the best thing that the Greenline had ever gotten me and then I stepped onto the red line once again it led me into the city deeper and deeper but where the Green Line had taken me straight toward the center of activity leading me towards schools and conference centers the red line seemed to be taking me right to the worst part of town I flinched away from seedy glares eyeing my bag and the make of my coat as I hurried onwards I hoped this wasn't going to be the last mistake I ever made the buildings around me loomed higher the roads and streets giving way to narrow alleys I was about to give up to declare this a fool's errand and turn back and then I heard her crying please please no I swear I won't say anything I don't have any money I don't have anything please just let me go I swear I won't ever shut it the woman's voice was high Reedy with fear and her tears threatened to overwhelm her words entirely it stopped me in my tracks before I even had a chance to hear him speak the voices were coming from ahead the red line burned inviting me onwards almost against my will I found my feet moving forwards and then I saw her huddled on the ground in a mask of scarf and hair a man was in front of her kneeling with her purse torn open in front of him he dug through it tossing receipts and makeup cases aside carelessly as he looked for anything valuable in his other hand he held a gun it pointed at her lazily weaving back and forth as he eviscerated the back they were right there no more than 20 feet in front of me neither of them saw me the man's back was to me and the woman was in no state to notice my hand plunged into the bag slung over my shoulder latching reflexively around the familiar shape of my knife I didn't know what I was going to do with it but having it in my hand made me feel a little better I needed to call the cops this was all wrong there was no way I could do anything to help her I was just gonna end up getting her killed or myself or both of us he had a gun what could I possibly do against his hand swayed the barrel pointing back at her his fingers tensed the trigger before I had time to think I was running the knife was out of the bag now gleaming in my hand as I thrust it toward him toward his neck if I could knock him over if I could get that gun pointed away from her I swore colorfully as I stumbled the man grunted in surprise and pain as my knife dug into his wrist I winced even as I rang headlong into him turns out my aim with a knife sucked but it got the job done he fell cursing and screaming as blood flowed from his wrist the gun clattered to the cold pavement forgotten as he stumbled back his eyes were locked onto my knife through the mist of pain I could see in his expression what the he cursed again clutching his wrist dude off I swiped the knife at him clumsily more threatening than actually intending to hit him he swore one last time jumping back thought this keep your shitty person ad with one last parting jab he spun on his heel and vanished rapidly down the alleys the woman was a mess eyes all red and sniffling desperately but she pulled herself together as I approached her beginning to tuck her belongings back into the back are you are you okay ma'am I asked tentatively my voice low she glanced up at me smiling I am now badass all right I was so scared thank you so much thank you I don't know what would have happened if you don't worry about it I'm glad I was hey we should get you to the police I cut her off before she could go on I knew the signs of an incoming meltdown and figured I needed to get her somewhere safe before her emotions finally caught up with her shock she nodded accepting my offered hand with a grateful nod and we stumbled on words down the alley I glanced downward the red line brightly ahead of us my stomach roiled more the noise of the city was returning to normal around us as we return to some semblance of civilization I began to relax just a hair and then as we turned toward the Main Street I hesitated the red line was turning down a different alley it led me half a block down and then cut straight up to the front door of a little shack I could see a tiny hazy tendril of smoke rolling out from under the side door the line burns screaming red in it's urgent see it's seared a line into my vision as I looked down the alley I paused caught deep in thought questions that had been lingering in my head for years and answers that had suddenly become apparent the Green Line took me where I needed to go it showed me the easy path the path that I needed to take what if what if the red line showed me the hard path not the path that I needed but the path other people needed me to take what if it took me where other people needed me to go can you manage from here I heard my voice say ringing distant in my own ears the woman glanced back to me smiling faintly I think so do you have to go I I think I do yeah I didn't look back at her my eyes were still locked onto that little building the smoke was growing swelling by the second I half turned releasing the woman's hand and giving her a reassuring smile she returned it shyly waving as she merged back into the flow of pedestrians and made for the police station I turned back to that red line and then I broke into a run

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