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Bradley sat on the carpet, his pudgy legs stretched out in front of him. In between the stocky limbs was a pile of multi-colored building blocks. He stared blankly at it. Mrs. Johnson waited anxiously for Bradley to begin playing with the blocks, and was disappointed when he shifted his emerald eyes from the blocks to her. He avoided any contact with the blocks, as if the pile would burn his flesh if so much as grazed its surface. “Oh Bradley, why won’t you just play normal like the other kids? Look at Amy and Jeffery in the playhouse over there, they are having fun. Wouldn’t it be fun to join them?” She said, pointing her slender index finger to the pair of children giggling and playing house on the other side of the room. Hoping that their giggling would somehow entice Bradley into social interaction with the other kids, Mrs. Johnson turned her head away from Amy and Jeffery, fixed her gaze on Bradley, and smiled. His eyes were vacant, lacking a sense of depth. “Ugh, Bradley, I have had enough. If you can’t play with the other kids, then you won’t play at all. Now go to the nap room, I will come in to bring you your snack in twenty minutes. Now be a good boy and go.” Mrs. Johnson sometimes forgot Bradley’s troubled past, and immediately felt ashamed for speaking to him in such a tone.

He came to Sunnyside Daycare about a month ago, having been checked-in by his foster parents. Bradley’s biological parents were extremely abusive, and they often beat Bradley when he spoke too loud. Child welfare took custody of Bradley, having received an anonymous tip exposing the abusive and demeaning family life Bradley was forced live in. A fairly wealthy couple, the Podges, adopted Bradley. They were a lonely pair, from what Mrs. Johnson could tell, who were fruitless in their attempts to have a child of their own. They loved Bradley, and thought he should meet other children his age. He never played with any of the other neighborhood kids, and had a great deal of difficulty expressing anything through those blank green eyes.

Taking Bradley by the hand, Mrs. Johnson walked him through the wooden door marked ‘NAP TIME!’ “There you go, Bradley, go to your bed. I will check on you in a few minutes. Have a nice nap.” She put her hand on his forehead, gently letting his brown hair flow through her fingers. She stood up, retracted her hand, smiled at the boy and walked out the door. She gently closed it, and Bradley sat up.

“Hello, my name’s Bradley, what’s your name?” He asked, turning to face the young boy on the bed beside him. “I’m Todd. So what do you want to talk about?” The other boy said, smiling. “I’m not sure. I don’t really talk to people all that much. Whenever I talked, they hit me, so now I don’t really say much around the grownups. “ Bradley confessed, hoping that the boy would understand. Todd nodded his head, and smiled. “It’s alright, Bradley, I know how you feel. Nobody loves you, nobody cares. Nobody loves me either. They used to hit me too! But they don’t anymore…” He said, trailing off with a smirk on his face. “Really? How did you get them to stop?” Bradley asked, rubbing his elbow. Bradley remembered one incident when his father pushed him down and he hurt his elbow, and often lightly caressed the skin on it whenever he remembered the pain. The psychiatrist says this is his way of coming to grips with the abuse, so it is encouraged.

Todd explained how every time the grownups hit him, he would let it all brood up inside him until they went to sleep. Then, he would exact revenge. Todd said that when you give them your pain, you don’t hurt as much anymore. Bradley’s eyes lit up; it hurts so much and he really couldn’t bear to feel it anymore. He smiled at Todd, and Todd smiled back.

Excited, Mrs. Johnson ran into the nap room. Bradley was speaking! She opened the door in a hurry, and started to open her mouth. She almost had a word out, when she closed her mouth, disappointed. Bradley was sitting on the bed, the same vacant expression he always wore. Looking around the room, she noted all the beds were empty. Bradley had been alone. “Whom have you been talking to, young man?” She asked. Upon saying that, Bradley smiled, and a strange look came across his face. Mrs. Johnson smiled. She wondered what he was thinking about. Bradley never smiled, so this was indeed a rare occurrence. “I’m going to get you your milk and cookies, Bradley, stay right here.” With that, she turned her back to the young boy, and Bradley stood up and grasped a pair of scissors that rested on the desk next to the crayons. Within minutes, the pain had disappeared,

"Imperious, choleric, irascible, extreme in everything, with a dissolute imagination the like of which has never been seen... there you have me in a nutshell, and kill me again or take me as I am, for I shall not change."

From his Last Will & Testament, Marquis de Sade

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The following comments are for "Bradley’s Healing"
by strangedaze

Once again you have come up with an unusual little bit of flash. Excellently written, and I was certainly not expecting the ending from step one. I like the way you build sympathy for the tyke before turning him into a scissor wielding live Chucky-doll. Nice sense of realism in an otherwise unlikely situaton.

Keep them coming.

( Posted by: Bartleby [Member] On: June 27, 2003 )

I liked this one. Dark, gross, bad, good. It's always a good ending when someone dies, right? Or not. I can never remember. Anyway, this was good. The build-up to Bradley's closing act was good.

( Posted by: Washer [Member] On: June 27, 2003 )

Thanks for the kind words. It's nice to know that somebody enjoys reading my work. I am fairly new to the writing game, and the input is most appreciated! I am currently tossing around ideas for flash fiction, but in the future I'd like to tackle something longer. I am also experimenting with some poetry as well. Once again, thanks!

( Posted by: strangedaze [Member] On: June 27, 2003 )

That's why they make dull scissors for the pre-schools now....but I digress.

You gave us a great pay-off there at the end. Good story, good focus on the character. Your writing is good, and with practice will become better, so keep it up.
Suggestions: When possible, substitute passive verbs (was) with active, as in the second sentence where "lay" or "rose" would sound better than "was." Adverbs are to be avoided if possible, as in the third sentence "He stared blankly at it." which requires a re-write such as "He stared at it with vacant(blank)eyes"
Only odd sentence "Mrs. Johnson sometimes forgot Bradley’s troubled past, and immediately felt ashamed for speaking to him in such a tone." because instead of forgeting his past, she is remembering his past, and that's why she's ashamed. So "suddenly remembered" instead of "sometimes forgot" and the sentence makes more sense.
"He came to Sunnyside Daycare..."
should be "Bradley had come..." because you are now in the past. Match the rest of that paragraph with that tense, because we are never in the present, and nothing in that paragraph should feel like an action that is now occuring. USe devices like "then adopted", "eventually took custody" I'd also trim the paragraph as a whole.
I only disect what has great potential. It's not critical, it's a compliment. I hope it's been of use, and I can't wait to see what else comes out of that immagination.

( Posted by: malthis [Member] On: June 28, 2003 )

Only that small glitch about the scissors, could have been better as pencil? But I fully enjoyed this fiction. You know, horror movies like Chucky are my favorite.

( Posted by: PETERPAULINO [Member] On: October 18, 2004 )

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