Friday, 23 May 2014

BLAME: CHAPTER FIVE

If you need to get caught up, you can do it HERE.

Friendly reminder that this comes with a TRIGGER WARNING.


CHAPTER FIVE

 

“I’ll pick you up after school today.”

Autumn stops and turns around. Her hand stays on the door knob.

“What?”

Her father is holding Teddy’s hand with one hand and his briefcase in the other. He looks tired.

“After school. I…I made you an appointment.”

Her mouth feels dry and the room seems to sway gently around her. She tries to remember the last time she ate, but nothing comes to mind.

“What kind of appointment?” Even as she says it, she already knows the answer. He looks down at Teddy, who is engrossed in the task of picking a scab on his arm. His milky eye lolls about aimlessly in its socket.

“Look.” Her father sighs and shakes his head. “You need help, Autumn. Help I’m not equipped to give you.”

“As I told you before…” She fights to keep her voice even. Steady. She can’t show any signs of weakness. Not now. Not ever. “As I told you before, I don’t need any help. I am just fine.”

She glances down at her thighs and immediately curses herself for it, but he doesn’t seem to notice. Her jeans are hanging off her, too big three sizes ago. She likes them, though, as they help to cover up the thick gauze bandage wrapped around the top of her left leg. Yesterday she got an answer wrong in math. Stupidity will not be tolerated.

“We all need some help,” her father says, putting his briefcase down. “I’ve made an appointment for each of us. We all need someone to talk to. We all need to…Need to come to terms with what happened.”

“I’m going to be late for school,” Autumn says, turning away from him. She opens the door and leaves without looking back.

***

“For this next assignment, I want you to work in groups of three or four.”

Mrs Lewis walks around the classroom, handing out stacks of paper. She drops one on Autumn’s desk without looking at her.

“In your group, you are to pick one of texts we have studied and prepare a mini lesson to present to the class, addressing each of the bullet points outlined in the guide I’ve just given you.”

Autumn picks up her copy and scans through it. Her stomach is in knots at the thought of standing up in front of the class and speaking, but she tries not to show it. She bounces her leg nervously, causing the gauze to rub against the cuts on her thigh. It’s not entirely unpleasant.

“Partners?”

She turns towards the sound of the voice. Jesse. She didn’t even notice him when she sat down.

“Sure!” Mya says before she has a chance to answer. “Let’s work in a group of three. A threesome.” She giggles and flicks the pink pompom on the end on the pen. Jesse laughs, but it sounds forced, like maybe he’s just doing it to be polite. Although she’s not quite sure why, it makes Autumn happy. Just a little.

***

Autumn looks around the waiting room, annoyed. This is the last place on Earth she wants to be. She keeps her features neutral, but she is screaming inside. It was so hard to keep the truth from Dr Shay. She doesn’t want to do that again. She doesn’t want to do anything. She doesn’t want to exist. Stop it, she tells herself harshly. Just stop it. To distract herself, she bounces her leg until it starts to bleed. She excuses herself and goes into the bathroom to re-apply the gauze to stop the blood from seeping through her jeans. When she returns, the doctor is waiting for her.

“Autumn Matthews?”

She holds her breath. Nods.

“I’m Dr Emma Daniels. You can call me Emma.” The doctor – Emma – smiles and cocks her head towards the hallway. “Come on. Let’s go down to my office.”

Autumn glances towards her father. He is watching the whole exchange but when she looks at him, he looks away. Yeah, that’s right, she thinks bitterly, turning to follow Emma down the hallway. Go ahead and pretend I don’t exist. Go ahead and wish it had been me That Day. I do.

After a moment Emma stops in front of a door and pushes it open.

“Here we are,” she says, smiling. “Go and take a seat. Can I get you anything? Tea? Coffee?”

“I’m seventeen,” Autumn says softly, entering the room. “I shouldn’t be drinking coffee.”

Emma laughs. Light and breathy. “Oh, right. Of course not. Well I’m going to have a cup. 3pm lull, you know. Do you mind?”

Autumn shakes her head. Emma is not like any other therapist she has seen before.

“Alright. Well, take a seat and I’ll be back in a moment.”

She leaves Autumn hovering there and disappears down the hall. Autumn looks around the room uncertainly. It isn’t set up like Dr Shay’s office at all. There’s a desk facing a window and three comfy looking couches clustered around a coffee table. There is a colourful crocheted cushion on one of the couches. It looks handmade. She walks over and picks it up, turning it over in her hands. The picture is of a family of four, all holding hands and smiling. Their woollen faces stare at her, grinning lopsidedly without a care in the world.

“One of my clients made that for me,” Emma says, returning. She takes a seat on one of the couches and sets her coffee on the table.

“It’s beautiful,” Autumn says, setting it back down on the couch. It’s not beautiful, really. The stitches are clumsy and parts of it are fraying, and yet…And yet. She subconsciously curls her fingers over the ends of her jumper and sits down opposite Emma. She looks at her, really seeing her for the first time. She is pale and thin with long, golden brown hair that hangs loosely over her shoulders. Her mouth is set it in permanent half smile, like she might fall into laughter at any moment. After a few minutes Autumn realises that she’s been staring and she looks away, chewing the bottom of her lip.

“It’s okay,” Emma says, lifting her coffee cup and taking a sip. “It’s normal to want to know what I look like. To take me in. You’re supposed to be sharing all your darkest secrets with me, after all. It makes sense that you should want to know who you are talking to.” She grins when she says that, like she is excited at the prospect of sharing secrets. Autumn can’t help but smile just a little. The movement feels unnatural.

“Do you have any questions for me?” Emma asks, setting down her cup.

“What?”

“Questions,” Emma says, picking up a pad of paper and handing it to her. “Things you’d like to know about me. Things that will help you feel more comfortable about talking to me.” Emma slides a pen across the desk. Autumn picks it up and clicks the top, releasing the nib. Her hand automatically begins to draw a swirling pattern in the corner of the notepad.

“This is weird,” she admits after a moment. “I’ve never had a doctor act like this before.”

Emma smiles. “Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret. I used to be a social worker. My speciality was working with children. This is how we’d get them to trust us. To open up. It works just as well on adults.”

Autumn’s hand stops and she looks up. “So this is a strategy? A trick?”

Emma picks up her cup. “You don’t have to say anything you don’t want to say. This time is about you. We can talk about whatever you want.” She takes a sip and Autumn considers this, returning to her sketch. No one has ever put it that way before. Dr Shay was nice enough, but she was all about fixing Autumn like she was a broken toy. She was always pushing her to talk about That Day, as though reliving the memories over and over again was somehow going to make the pain stop. Dr Shay didn’t even know about pain. About loss. She didn’t know anything. Autumn casts a sideways glance at Emma. She’s staring out the window. A smile dances on her lips. She looks kind. She looks like she can be trusted.

Are you fucking kidding me? The voice is back. Autumn hadn’t noticed the silence in her head until now. No one can be trusted. No one. Talking is against the rules. Crying is against the rules. Everyone leaves. Everyone. Always. Everything just falls apart.

When Emma finally announces that their hour is up, Autumn has drawn a detailed sketch of Adam’s face but she hasn’t said another word.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

BLAME: CHAPTER FOUR

For your reading pleasure...Or something. The next instalment of BLAME.

If you need to get caught up, you can do that HERE.

As always, this comes with a TRIGGER WARNING. Stay safe.




CHAPTER FOUR

 

“What did Mommy say last night?” Teddy asks, swinging his legs under the bench top. He sits on a tall stool, noisily devouring a bowl of Cocoa Pops. A thin line of chocolate-coloured milk dribbles down his chin.

Autumn’s hand stills on the cupboard door. She takes a tiny breath in, swallows, and turns to face him.

“What?”

He stuffs another monster-sized bite of cereal into his mouth and puddles around with the end of his spoon. She walks over to the bench and stops in front of him, bending down into his line of sight.

“Teddy,” she asks, barely breathing. “What did you ask me?”

He swallows with some degree of difficulty and wipes his nose with the back of his hand.

“Mommy. I heared you talking to her last night.” Another mouthful of now-soggy cereal. A twinge of panic runs through her.

“Teddy...” She hesitates, searching for the correct words. “Teddy, we…We spoke about this. Do you remember? With Dr Shay?”

He nods.

“So…You know I wasn’t talking to Mommy. She’s…She’s not here anymore.”

Teddy puts down his spoon and looks up at her, smiling.

“I know that, silly. But you can use your maganation.” He leans forward and lowers his voice. “You can play pretend. Dr Shay said so.”

Autumn releases a breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding. A memory flashes in her mind. “Where’s Mommy? I want Mommy!! Take me to Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” She straightens up and turns around, squeezing her eyes closed and pushing the image away.

“Okay. Yes. You can play pretend.” She opens her eyes and returns to the cupboard, pulling a loaf of bread from inside. “But,” she adds, almost as an afterthought, “Only do that at home, okay? Don’t do that at school.”

“Why not?”

Because the other kids don’t need another reason to tease you.

She puts the bread on the counter, preparing to make Teddy’s lunch.

“Just because, okay? It can be our secret.”

Teddy grins, pushing his bowl away and leaving a trail of soggy Cocoa Pops and chocolate milk on the counter. “Okay,” he says eagerly. “Our secret.”

***

“Hey!” Mya says, jogging up beside Autumn. “You’ve got AP English now, right?” She slows to a walk, keeping Autumn’s pace.

Autumn nods, keeping her eyes on her shoes.

“Cool. Me too. Sit together?”

A small voice at the back of Autumn’s head tells her to say no, but she hears herself say “Sure.” The voice scolds her. It will never last. You don’t need friends. Everybody leaves. Everybody. She does her best to ignore it. She can feel Mya’s eyes on her and she adjusts her backpack, trying not to look awkward. The hallway seems to extend into the horizon. All she wants is to sit down in class and fade into the background.  

“So.” Mya giggles nervously. “Where are you from?”

“Minneapolis.” Someone pushes past her, making her stumble. She quickly regains her balance, feeling herself blush. She curls her fingers over the ends of her sweater, trying to breathe past the spring beginning to coil around her insides.

“That’s cool. I’ve never been there. Is there much to do?”

Autumn fumbles around inside her head, looking for the right thing to say. She takes too long and the moment passes. She knows it would be weird to say anything now, so she says nothing. Mya casts her a strange look, but her eyes retain their friendliness.

“You’re quiet, huh. That’s okay. I can talk enough for both of us.” She smiles and links her arm through Autumn’s. All the nerves inside Autumn’s arm recoil in horror, but she manages to keep a straight face. She’s not used to being touched.

“It’s okay, little one,” Mya says cheerfully. “You don’t have to say anything. I’ll look after you.” She continues to have a one sided conversation about the upcoming school dance – “I really hope Tate asks me, but I’m way too scared to actually ask him myself!” – and Autumn focuses on her breathing. She glances at their linked arms and tries not to wonder if Mya can feel the stiff gauze wrapped around her forearm. It’s not noticeable, she tells herself. She would have said something by now if it was. Still, she can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of relief when finally, finally, they reach their AP English room. Autumn stealthily removes her arm from Mya’s grasp and looks for a place to hide. She heads towards a seat at the back of the room, but before just as she is about to get there, a boy slides into the chair. She stops, hovering indecisively. The boy turns towards her.

“Oh, I’m sorry. Was this your seat?” He rises, holding the chair out for her. She stares, taking too long to answer again. He half smiles. “Do you want to sit down?”

“No,” she says, finding her voice. “It’s okay. You were there first.”

He looks at her strangely and she feels her face flush. She is being so weird. Why does she have to be so weird?

“Well there’s another seat back here,” he says, nodding towards the chair beside him. “You could sit there if you want to, you know, hide out at the back of the room.” He smiles again and sits down. She feels frozen. Behind her, Mya gives her a little nudge. She regains control of her feet and shuffles towards the seat. She can feel the boy’s eyes on her. She digs her fingernails into the palm of her hand.

“I’m Jesse,” the boy says, watching as she slides into the seat beside him. “I just moved here from Indiana.”

“Autumn just moved here, too,” Mya says, taking a seat beside Autumn. “From Minneapolis.”

“Oh yeah?” His face is friendly. Open. With nothing to hide. She looks down at the graffiti on the desk in front of her. Someone has scratched get me out of here into the laminex. She can’t help but relate. “What brings you to Cedar Rapids?”

She digs her nails further into her palms. “My dad moved here for work.” Not a lie but not the truth either. The spring inside her tightens. Thankfully the teacher arrives, eliminating the opportunity to talk. She pulls out her notebook and ducks her head down, trying to look absorbed in the task. A couple of times she sees Jesse glance towards her but she ignores him, focusing instead on critically analysing the collection of sonnets handed out by the teacher. As soon as the period ends she stuffs her notebook back into her bag and hurries out of the room without saying a word to anyone. She heads straight for the bathroom, relieved to find all the stalls are empty. She chooses the one on the end and locks herself inside, shutting the lid of the toilet and sitting down. Her hands shake as she fumbles around inside bag, searching for her emergency kit in the bottom of her backpack. Her fingers close around it and she pulls it out, resting it in her lap. She yanks up the sleeve of her jumper and unwraps the gauze around her arm.

By the time she leaves the bathroom, the tension inside her has eased.

***

That night, the boy visits her in her sleep. Adam. Like before, she watches herself from the other end of her bedroom. He doesn’t see her. She tries to understand what is happening. It must be a dream, surely. It must be a dream. Across the room, Adam sits down on her bed. He says something to her. She closes her eyes and imagines she can hear it. Behind her closed eyelids, she sees him. At school. Standing by his locker. Throwing a balled up piece of paper at the back of his friend’s head. Laughing. Breathing. Living. She took that away from him. Is it any wonder he should haunt her dreams now? She swallows the lump forming in the back of her throat and opens her eyes. He is standing right in front of her. He is speaking, but she can’t hear it. She tries to tell him, but her voice is stuck behind the lump in her throat.

Hear me.

His voice rings clear in her mind.

Autumn. Hear me.

Adam, she thinks. His face registers surprise. He takes a step towards her. Stares into her eyes.

Adam, she thinks again, louder this time.

“Adam.”

The word hangs clearly between them.

“Adam.” Her voice sounds rough, like she hasn’t spoken in days. “Am I--”

“Auty?”

Teddy stands in the doorway, talking to the sleeping Autumn.

“Auty, are you awake?”

Her head grows foggy. Adam starts to fade.

“Wait,” she says, but it’s too late. She wakes up in her bed.

“Auty??” Teddy is standing in front of her, clutching his stuffed elephant. “I had a bad dream.” She rubs her eyes and wriggles back, giving him space to crawl under the covers.

“It’s okay, kid,” she whispers, running her hand through his hair. “It was just a dream.”

Just a dream.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Fate is coming, that I know; time is running out.

When I first started this blog, I had ‘Procrastinator Extraordinaire’ in my bio. I have since removed it (in favour of ‘Where words fail, music speaks’), but I feel like that is still a huge part of who I am. Time waster. Avoider. Dilly-dallier. Lately I have found myself wasting more and more time, to the point where whenever there is a break in my creative flow, my hands automatically reach for my phone. I’ll just check Twitter while I think. I’ll just send a quick text. I’ll just do an image search to help me better describe Avery’s features...He looks like Jared Leto; better spend four hours looking at pictures until I find the perfect one [true story]. It’s getting so bad that I feel like I haven’t been achieving ANYTHING lately. Sure, I still write a couple of hundred words almost every day, but given what I am sacrificing to pursue my dreams, that is NOT good enough. I don’t really know how it got to be this way. I have always been a massive procrastinator, but I used to use writing as a way of procrastinating what I SHOULD be doing. Oh I’ve got end of term reports to write? Nah, I’m going to go ahead and write an entire novel instead [This really happened]. And now? It seems like writing is the thing I am trying to avoid. It’s silly and completely counter-productive, but it is happening more and more. I know the reason for it, of course. It always comes down to the same thing: Fear. Fear of failure; fear of realizing that I simply don’t possess the talent to be noticed in a fiercely competitive field; fear that no one will connect with what I have to say. Every blog post I write is riddled with fear. What if they hate it? What if no one reads it? What if I’ve made a huge mistake in fighting for this dream? I know I’ve written about fear before (a lot, actually), but that’s because it’s a daily struggle. I feel like I am caught between who I am and who I want to be. If I could just let go of the fear, I could do more. Achieve more. Be more.

 

Which brings me back to time. The logical side of my brain knows that wasting time and procrastinating is the worst thing I could be doing right now. It keeps reminding me that the only way I am guaranteed to fail is if I never try, and all this time-wasting and Jared-looking means I’m not trying hard enough. The only way to get better at writing is to KEEP WRITING, and yet that’s the thing I’m struggling to do. Not for lack of ideas; I have more ideas then I know what to do with. Of course there is huge value in taking some time away and doing other activities, but all I’ve been doing lately is ‘other activities’. Some of them are necessary and some of them are other creative endeavours, but most of them are pointless time killers and they need to stop. I keep thinking about something someone* said: It may not seem like much when you spend 10 minutes watching funny YouTube videos or spend half an hour watching mindless TV, but when you add up all the times you did that over a course of a week, it usually turns out to be a lot. Think about all you could have achieved in that time. Think about all you could have done. If you want to live your dreams, you have to work. You know this. I know this. We all know this. You have to be willing to sacrifice other things so that you have time to do the work. You have to recognise your distractions and temptations and do your best to eliminate or remove them. You have to want it more than you want anything else. You have to be compelled beyond a reasonable doubt. It’s not a matter of ‘finding’ the time; you have to make the time to turn your dreams into your reality. So, Girl With Words, this is a message to you from you: Quit screwing around. Get your ass in gear and get your act together. And if that’s not motivation enough, consider this: It’s really about what’s important to you. If you want to make things and share those things with people and you want to be a creative person, you have to produce work and create something of value. If that’s what’s important, that’s what you’ll spend time doing. Time may be infinite, but your time is not. Spend it wisely.

 

Title lyrics: ‘Do or Die’ by Thirty Seconds To Mars
 

*Yeah…It was Jared. Naturally.

**Jared actually said pretty much the entire last paragraph…#Whoospie

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

The Toxic Girl With Words

I am currently suffering from Post-Book Depression (and Post-VyRT Depression, but that’s another story.) A few days ago, I bought Allie Brosh’s book ‘Hyperbole and a Half.’ It’s based on her blog of the same name, which is pretty much one of my favourite things on the internet. If you’ve never read her stuff, go do it. Now. Well…After you read this :p

 

Last night I started reading Hyperbole and a Half…And finished it. You know that feeling when a book is so great that you are torn between wanting to devour it in one sitting and wanting to savour it piece by piece over a few days? Yeah. I ended up devouring it (“Just one more chapter…”) and now I’m sad that it’s over. Both the book and her blog are based on her life experiences, as told by hilarious cartoons mixed with prose. It’s genius. I highly recommend it.

 

After I finished reading, I began to reflect on some the crazier incidents of my childhood. I started telling my mum about them, forcing her to remember all the horrible things she had done to me as a child (I say that with love…I actually had a brilliant childhood :3) It made me want to write a few down for when I’m old and decrepit and can’t remember what I had for dinner last night, let alone the things that happened when I was a kid. And so, without further ado, I present to you…The Toxic Girl With Words.

 

 

When I was seven years old, I watched a (horrifying) movie called ‘The Toxic Crusader’. If you haven’t seen it (and don’t, because it’s horrifying), it’s about a typical nerd-like character (described as a ‘98lb weakling’) who is falls into a vat of toxic waste after being harassed and chased by a gang of bullies. The toxic waste turns him into this huge muscley (but grossly disfigured…I mean his face was melting) crime fighting machine. That’s pretty much all I remember about the movie because I have deliberately blacked out the rest. I mean…Who thought this was a good movie for seven year olds??

 

On the surface, this movie probably doesn’t sound too bad. After all, it is pretty much the basic premise of almost every superhero movie ever. Person falls into toxic waste/gets bitten by radioactive spider/is experimented on/some science experiment goes horribly wrong and they gain super powers which they use to fight crime and make the world a safer place. In fact I spent a lot of my childhood actively hoping to fall into a vat of toxic waste because I obsessed with the TV series The Secret World Of Alex Mack (She also fell into toxic waste and gained superpowers, but her face was intact. Also her superpowers were way cooler). So what made the Toxic Crusader different? So traumatic? Well. Let me tell you a little story about my darling mother.

 

In my childhood home, the mirror in the bathroom was above the vanity and too high for me to see into. If I wanted to look at myself I had to get a chair or a stool and even then, I could only really see the top of my head. However, when I was seven years old, I experienced a growth spurt practically overnight that allowed me to see myself in the mirror without the assistance of a chair for the very first time. UNFORTUNATELY, this was around the time that I had been subjected to watching ‘The Toxic Crusader’. Now, unbeknownst to me at the time, I have always had a darker patch of skin on my back. It’s quite big, covering roughly half of my back and some of my right shoulder. My mum calls it a birthmark, but it does have a technical name which escapes me right now.  Given that I couldn’t see in the mirror without assistance, it had never occurred to me to look at my back. However once I was free to look whenever I wanted, I wanted to see all of me.  So, one night before my shower, I decided to see what my back looked like. I’d never seen it before, after all…What if I had wings?? (I really wanted wings as a kid. In fact I still really want wings. Why can’t I have wings??) So I took off my t-shirt and…Words cannot describe the pure panic and terror I felt when I spun around to find a huge thing creeping over my back. It’s important to note that this patch does not have clear edges – it kind of just fades into my normal skin tone – so I imaged that it was spreading. In fact I could almost swear that it was growing while I watched. Twitching. Spreading. Consuming what was left of my ‘normal’ back. I practically sprinted out of the bathroom to show my mum, expecting shock, horror, and maybe an ambulance or two. However, despite my frantic rambling and hand gestures, she didn’t seem concerned in the slightest. Instead she very calmly informed me that I was turning into The Toxic Crusader.

 

Yep.

 

She said it so calmly, like, “Oh, didn’t you know?? You’re going to be The Toxic Crusader in a few days.”

 

Now, I don’t know why my darling mother did this (honestly, who knows why she does half the things she does), but she said it with such conviction that I totally believed her. And I panicked. I panicked A LOT. I can’t remember if she saw any evidence of my panic (let’s pretend she didn’t, okay? :p), but I DO remember spending at least 30 minutes in the shower that night, frantically scrubbing my back in the hope that I could wash away the dark patch. It was eerily like the scene in The Toxic Crusader where he tried to wash away the toxic sludge, but thankfully, my skin wasn’t melting under the soap (oh gross I hate that movie I hate it hate it hate it). After an unsuccessful attempt to scrub away my own skin, I tried to resign myself to the fact that I was going to wake up one day and my face would be melted off. I turned off the taps, put on my pyjamas, and slunk off to bed.

 

In the morning, the first thing I did was run into the bathroom and check if I still looked like a human. I did. I also tried to lift up the bathroom cabinet to see if I had super strength. I didn’t. Not yet, anyway…I tried to console myself with the thought that if my brothers ever pissed me off again, I could flatten them with ease. I also tried to imagine myself lifting cars off babies (why there would be cars on babies is anyone’s guess) and reminded myself that The Toxic Crusader was a hero. A scary, horrible one that plagued my nightmares, but a hero nonetheless. I went to school attempting to feel smug about my impending super powers, but really, all I could feel was fear.

 

When I came home later that day, I tried to catch my mum off guard. She was cooking and doing a million things at once, so I thought if I asked her a question, she’d be too busy to trick me. My mum is known trickster you see, so I held onto a glimmer of hope that maybe, maybe, she was just tricking me. The conversation went something like this:

“At school today I painted a picture of a dog.”

“That’s nice.”

“Mrs Leishman said it was the best dog I’ve ever painted.”

“That’s wonderful. Can I see it?”

“No…It’s still at school. Is The Marshmallow Man* real?”

“No.”

“Is Batman real?”

“No.”

“IsTheToxicCrusaderReal?”

(Without missing a beat) “Yes.”

 

So that was it. I was doomed. I resigned myself to becoming a mutant and tried not to be scared. After all, a hero wouldn’t be scared, right??

 

I don’t actually remember exactly how I discovered that I was not, in fact, becoming a mutant, but I like to believe it went something like this: Soon after that, new boy started at my school and he was in my class. His name was Patrick, and he had a mark very similar to mine across his face. I like to believe that I told him that he too would turn into The Toxic Crusader, traumatising him and forcing the school to call my mum and make her admit her li…Errrr, tricks. I know that’s not what happened, but I tell myself it is because it’s nice to imagine that my mum got her comeuppance. Tehe :3

 

 

*From ‘GhostBusters’. I was terrified of that damn marshmallow.

 

NOTE: My mum is actually all kinds of awesome. Don’t let this (or the stories to come) convince you otherwise :p

 

ANOTHER NOTE: As always, my mum proofread this for me. She CLAIMS that when she saw I was scared she told me the truth, but I think that’s a li…Errrr, trick.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Say something; I'm giving up on you. I'm sorry that I couldn't get to you. Anywhere, I would've followed you...

Dark and twisty.
Scary and damaged.

A short story. It comes with a TRIGGER WARNING. Stay safe.

 
Title lyrics: 'Say Something' by A Great Big World
 
 
For more dark and twisty stories (which all come with a trigger warning), look in The Dark and Twisty Place.
 
 
 
 
 
***

He wakes up with a start, feeling the empty bed beside him. He rubs his eyes and looks around, waiting for his eyes to adjust to the darkness. He glances at the empty place beside him, staring at the neatly pulled back blankets, the slight ruffle of the sheet below that indicated where she once lay. He hears her light footsteps approaching and he sits up, looking towards her in her dark. She is walking slowly, arms outstretched slightly as though to feel her way back to him.
 
He says her name softly in the dark and she stops, looking up at him. He senses that something is wrong in a way that he can’t explain and he holds his breath, waiting for her to respond. She sways and he leaps from the bed, barely making it in time to catch her before she hits the ground. She collapses into his arms, and even in the dark he can see that her eyes are not focusing on him. Her body is covered in a thin sweat and she is shivering even though the room is warm. He whispers her name, feeling her heart beating rapidly against his chest. Her head lolls around and she breathes in shallowly, mumbling something he can’t quite understand. He takes her hand and squeezes it, trying to control his voice as he asks her what she took. She shakes her head as tears start to form in the corners of her eyes. He asks again, a hint of panic entering his voice as he hears her breathing becoming increasingly shallow and rapid. She shakes her head again and shivers violently. Her grip on his hand loosens, becoming slack. Her eyes close and her rapid breathing stops, plunging the room into complete silence. He stares for a moment, expecting to wake up and find her curled up beside him. He shakes her slightly, saying her name again. His voice is barely audible and the silence drowns it out, and he can’t be sure that he has even spoken. He shakes her again, saying her name louder, hoping she can hear it above the sound of his heart screaming inside his chest. She remains limp in his hold. Panic taking over and his fingers fly to her neck. He presses them against her jugular, waiting.
 
She hasn’t got a pulse, oh God there’s no pulse.
 
He covers her mouth with his, blocking her nose and breathing into her, praying that his air will be enough. He breathes into her twice and places his hands against her chest, pressing down firmly five times, trying to kick-start her heart. He does this three times before checking her neck again. His heart skips a beat when he feels the light thudding against his fingertips. He puts his ear to his mouth, and relief washes over him as he hears that her shallow and rapid breathing has returned. He gently places her on the floor before stumbling over to the bedside table and grabbing his phone. With trembling hands he dials 911 and puts the phone to his ear, trying to control his breathing. When the operator picks up and asks him what the emergency is, he is barely able to get the words out. He returns to her, scooping her up in his arms and giving the operator all the information she needs. He stays on the line until the ambulance officers arrive, pressing the phone into his ear so hard that it hurts. Her breathing grows weaker with every passing minute, but it does not stop again. After what feels like an eternity he hears a knock on the door and he runs towards it, opening it and allowing the ambulance officers to enter the room. He chokes over his words as he tells them his suspicions, hoping against hope that he is wrong. The officers rush over to her, taking her vitals before lifting her onto a portable gurney. The movement wakes her and she opens her eyes, staring at the faces around her in fear. She says his name in a panic and he steps into her view, holding her hand as they move her.
 
“I’m sorry.” Her lips quiver. “I didn’t…I didn’t…”
“It’s okay,” he says, although nothing about this is okay. “It’s alright. I’m right here.”
 
She tries to say something else but it gets carried away in the breeze. They reach the ambulance outside and the paramedics lift the gurney into the back of the van. She breathes in sharply and vomits on the floor, covering it in a sickly yellow liquid littered with little white pills. Some of the pills are partly digested, but most of them are whole. He looks down at the mess and fights the urge to vomit himself, trying not to think about the fact that he had been asleep in the other room while she had...While she had…He can’t bring himself to finish the thought. She looks away, closing her eyes as the tears stream down her face. She throws up twice more on the way to the hospital, and though the paramedic assures him that it’s a good thing, that it is getting the pills out of her system, he still can’t fight the panic mounting inside his heart. Once they reach the hospital he watches numbly as they unload her and race towards the ER. A nurse offers him a chair in the waiting room but he’s frozen, unable to take his eyes off her retreating figure. He stands there for what could have been minutes, hours or days, staring at the last place he saw her just before she disappeared around the corner. He is aware of someone touching him on the arm, trying to guide him away, but he shakes them off.
 
He doesn’t deserve comfort.
 
His lips taste salty and he roughly wipes his face, turning away from the glass doors to the ER. A lump forms in his throat and he strides towards the entrance of the hospital, resisting the temptation to run. He hears someone call out after him but he ignores them, barely making it out in time before a wave of bile erupts out of him, splashing onto concrete and staining his boots. He looks at his boots in confusion.
 
When did I put those on?
 
Out of the corner of his eye he sees a little girl and a woman her assumes to be her mother approaching him. He straightens up and wipes his mouth, taking a deep breath in.
 
“Ewwwwwww,” the little girl says, tugging on her mother’s arm. “That man throwed up. Am I going to throwed up, too?”
 
“Come on, honey,” her mother says anxiously, pulling the girl closer to her. “Let’s go see the doctor.”
 
“Sir?”
 
He looks up to see the nurse from earlier standing behind him. She is holding a paper cup. “Would you like some water?”
 
He takes it and rinses out his mouth.
“Thanks,” he mumbles, crushing it in his hand. She nods, glancing down at the putrid mess in front of him.
 
“Come on. Let’s get you cleaned up. I’ll get someone to deal with this.”
 
He follows her back into the hospital and down the corridor. He can feel the eyes of the other people in the waiting room burning into him, judging him. You couldn’t save her. You couldn’t help. After a minute they enter an empty room and the nurse turns to face him.
 
“Wait here. I’ll be back in a minute.”
 
He looks at her, seeing her for the first time. She is young, probably around the same age as him. She has auburn coloured hair and very striking eyes. She smiles and he notices that one of her teeth is twisted slightly, like it ran out of room to grow so it tried to make itself as small as possible. His eyes automatically drop to her bare arms and he stares at them, feeling the ache inside his chest spread.
 
No scars.
 
“Are you okay?”
 
He looks up at her. She looks kind. Whole. Undamaged.
He nods.
She gives him a small smile and pats him on the arm. Her fingers are warm.
“I’ll be back in a moment,” she says again as she turns to leave. The door closes behind her, leaving him in silence. The sound of his thudding heartbeat fills the room.
 
He has no idea how much time has passed when she finally returns. She smiles sympathetically and hands him another paper cup filled with water.
 
“The doctor will be here in a minute,” she says quietly. “Can I get you anything? Is there anyone you need to call?”
 
He takes a moment to process the question. Who could he call? Who could possibly have anything to say that would make this hurt a little less?
 
“No,” he says eventually, shaking his head. “It’s just me.”
Me. Not us.
 
The distinction isn’t lost on him.
 
The doctor comes to speak to him after what could have been an hour or a week, but all he can hear is white noise. He watches the doctor’s lips move, waiting to hear what he is saying, waiting to understand, but the only phrase that slips through the static in his head is, “You can see her if you want.”
 
He follows the doctor down the hallway and into a stark white room. There, in the corner of the room, is his heart, bundled up in a blanket. He lingers in the doorway.
 
“Is she going to be okay?” His voice cracks.
“Only time will tell.”
 
He nods, brushing back the mist from his eyes before entering the room and sitting down in a chair beside her. He takes her hand in his, noticing the fresh cuts for the first time that night. He wonders briefly if the hospital staff noticed them too before spotting a long line of stitches on her other wrist. He vaguely recalls seeing a white bandage wrapped around her arm earlier that night, but the memory is ready becoming blurry. She coughs softly in her sleep and he looks up, not bothering to wipe the tears now falling freely from his eyes. He gets up and lies beside her, wrapping his arms around her and closing his eyes. He holds her against him, praying that she knows he is there, and that it is enough to keep her holding on.
 
***