The following piece was written by Forrest and was published in the seventh volume of the magazine The Atlas:
Lost and Found
I don’t force anybody to do anything, and maybe that was my greatest mistake when I allowed you to run away, never to look back and never to return. The eleven years of your life had been pressured by grief and separation. Your anguish of our father’s departure drove you to leave.
Your room, which used to be bright and reflect your once cheerful, once happy character, now feels gloomy and hollow. Your smashed guitar lies on the ground, your unread books are scattered across your unmade bed, and your special photograph of the whole family lies torn on your pillow. The part of the photo that had our father on it had been sheared off. I assumed you took it.
I didn’t encourage you to go, but I let you go. The seventeen years of my life, and the eleven years that I had known you should have been enough time for me to learn that an older sibling needs to watch out for his younger brother. And now that I’ve realized my mistake, I will leave and I will find you. I don’t care how long it takes. You deserve better than to be out there by yourself. I will find you, and I will bring you back, because as long as the two of us are together, even if our parents are not, we are still family. I may have not been the best brother to you, but you were the best brother to me.
Out in the country, there are not a lot of places for you to hide. My regret is that you had left an entire day ago, so I assume you had covered a lot of ground. But that’s not going to stop me. In my head, a fierce joy begins to bubble in my mind, because I feel that I’m going in the right direction. When I find you, I will wrap my arms around you and tell you how sorry I am for allowing you to leave. I will beg you for a new start, because I know that we can still be family together, even though our father is gone.
As I look out at the field ahead of me, I believed I saw a small, moving figure far off into the distance. My feet quickened their pace as I began to run towards the figure, which was hard to recognize from the distance I was at, but I believed it was you. I was already pleading to you before I got to you.
The next piece is a poem written by Forrest and published in the seventh volume of The Atlas:
The Memory That Counts
It’s been three years
You’re still gone
The memories are still strong
Like a blazing fire
Now just a thought
Now a missing light
In my dark life
Your dazzling eyes
Your gentle hands
Now frail and still
With your glaring absence
The memory is the only thing
The next piece was written by Forrest and submitted to the River Cities’ Reader and won second prize in its 2012 Short Fiction Contest:
My friends may not see it, but there is a soft side in me despite my abhorrent behavior. I had risked my reputation with my friends by letting her go. I never saw her again, but I’ll always remember that face. The one with a look of sheer terror, yet unspeakable beauty. Those soft, blue eyes would never gaze upon me again. I long to see that face and those eyes again, but I never got another chance. My anger was taken out on everybody else at the banks that I robbed, and the innocents that I mugged, never giving myself a moment to hesitate, or to reconsider.
My days became bitter as I became obsessed with the thought of her. My pistol eventually became horrendous to look upon, and I couldn’t stand to be with my friends anymore, who insisted on following their own dark desires. I will never forget that face, the way she looked when I threatened her for the belongings she had with her, and how it pained me like a knife driven into my heart. My friends became distant, and I eventually left them for good, never to participate in their repulsive deeds again. I never saw her again, but I always thanked her inside for jolting me back into a life that was free of fear, even when I was found and arrested, and this time, I didn’t fight back.