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Updated: Jul 14, 2022

Generally speaking, humans are born, they grow and learn, then become functioning members of society before they die and become a useless memory in the grand scheme of history. Life has a set of unwritten laws it expects people to follow. For the most part, people play the role and do what is necessary to survive in a world filled with challenges and never-ending opportunities for complete and utter humiliation.

Others, like me, decide early on that we will not conform to those laws in any way, shape, or form. Instead, we hide and hope for the best, that life will forget we exist and let us live simple lives in our dark, comfortable holes. The problem with that way of thought is this—life doesn’t forget about you, not for long. And when life realizes one of its underlings slipped through the cracks without experiencing the obligatory tortures it loves to inflict upon us mere mortals, it tends to pay it back tenfold. For me, life’s payback was Mattie Bender.

My whole life, I felt like an outsider looking at the world from a different vantage point. Not a total outcast in the sense that I’d die surrounded by a dozen cats and newspapers stacked to the ceiling, but a loner for sure. I had a few friends and hobbies—actually, I had one friend who moved when I was ten, but that’s beside the point. I liked social interaction and all that, but I always felt like the person holding the snow globe, fascinated by the scene inside but never really a part of it.

Some might say I was a nerd, but I called myself a connoisseur of collectibles. I collected anything of value that was sports or comic book related. I found my place amongst the superheroes, reading their stories and collecting their memorabilia. It kept me busy, so I didn’t have to try so hard to be, well… human.

Being human was about the most mundane thing I thought a soul could be. What the heck was our purpose, anyway? Enter the world just to grow old, work hard, then die? It made no sense to me. I believed in God and a higher calling, but I simply could not see myself in it all. Not until I was hit upside the head with a crazy stick, or perhaps I should say, a crazy person.

Mattie Bender.

Oh, Mattie. Dear, sweet, sociopathic Mattie Bender. Now, there was an anomaly among men, or women, as the case was. She had no boundaries, no limitations whatsoever, and life just let her have at it without so much as a how do you do. She did what she wanted when she wanted, without regret, hesitation, or permission. The woman rampaged through my quiet life like a tank in a china shop. And then she left.

Mattie taught me so much about life, I almost forgot about death. The balance point that makes the living part important. But Mattie, she taught me about death, too—and regret, and loss, and the pain of wanting and wishing for something so far out of reach it may as well be a star. Mattie was a star, burning bright in her own universe surrounded by people who were dull in comparison. At least, to me, they were.

But none of that really matters if you don’t know Mattie. To know Mattie, to really know her, you have to dive right in head-first and hope you don’t drown on the journey. I, Ben Parks, jumped—well, no, that’s a big fat lie. I dipped my toe in, and she dragged me under, but I’m glad she did.

Enough rambling. Let me tell you about Mattie, the quirky, funny, beautiful girl who murdered my cereal.

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Title and Info

MATTIE BENDER IS A CEREAL KILLER © 2019 Melissa Padgett (M. J. Padgett) All Rights Reserved. No part of this publication may be...

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