Somehow I know this is all my fault, but I can’t seem to put the fractured pictures back into place properly.
They’re gone and it’s my fault, I somehow wished for this because somehow I’m still here, this is my dream.
I have to figure this out and the only way to do it is to go back to that day…
Three weeks ago…
The first page of my journal was lying open on my bed, next to a laundry basket of my folded clothes.
I read the opening verses sure she hadn’t actually listened to them although it’s what she would have me believe by there open placement.
She probably felt closer to me and that was its purpose in the first place. Comfort.
“This content is meant for my eyes only…”
SO STAY OUT!
I mean, that alone said everything anyone reading it would need to know. Right? Or should I have been more clear?
Seems like no one understands the meaning of privacy these days. Closing the journal the perpetrator had sloppily left on my bed covers I made my way to the closet. Thumbing through for the perfect outfit for the final day of high school I would ever attend.
It didn’t feel daunting if felt more like a taunt. Now I would have no reason not to move on from this place. No years of required study to keep me reined to this town. It was me and only me standing between myself and the rest of the world.
Kind of like my slop book. I looked gratefully at the decoy I’d hidden in the most obvious hiding place for anyone who knew me but not well enough to know my twisted mind build by endless books and this place.
The smile snuck in before I could conceal it, not that it had anyone to hide from. Now whoever read that journal, mother, would be pacified by the expressions they found. I probably appear to be a wondering teenage girl, with normal thoughts and whimsical meaningless blurbs circled in thought bubbles and scribbled cartoons.
They wouldn’t have any reason to prod further, so rather than digging down the rabbit hole, they would continue accepting that this girl had her life together. The smiles must be real.
I picked a light pink sundress, it looked good with my dark hair. And I loved the way it felt when I spun in circles. Tonight I would be the girl from my burn journal, I’d keep the one hidden more carefully between boards I’d learned to place in a youtube video.
Buzz Buzz Buzz…
They would have to wait, the thought pounced.
I walked toward my nightstand still fighting with the soft material over my head. I felt like a baby deer trying to get through a fence with its spindly legs ending in dime-sized cute baby hoofs stuck on the other side with no way of wriggling loose.
With a final grunt, I succeeded in pulling myself through. I reached for the lit screen as another message joined in on my closest friends group chat.
Jen:… no way that’s like the craziest thing ever.
Bai: If you even tried to do that I am pretty sure it wouldn’t work.
Rae: Yeah kind of a waste of time…
Boo-Ya!: Yeah, okay, well I am sure Cam would agree with me… I think ya’ll are a bundle of scared junk… I can do it.
I smiled at my best friends nonsense, always roping me into things. She’d changed her name in my phone a million times, and most recently she wanted me to pay special attention to her.
I think she’s started to guess my plans aren’t to stick around.
I ran a towel through my hair, grabbing my phone I scrolled up to see what I had missed.
Jen was worried about Casey not showing up without Makenzie, and Bai had assured her not to worry.
I started skimming more quickly, passing over the conversation topic I’d heard a thousand times.
Then Rae said her dad had come home drunk again and would probably end up missing our ceremony, no one in our group seemed surprised, but I made a mental note to offer her a ride in my reply.
I thought back to the first time we’d gone to her house for a sleepover. It was also the last my mother allowed for at least a year.
We recked it up, everywhere we went, the posey I’d found had been my saving grace. They enriched my life in so many ways. We’d made it into the frequent fliers list of the rumor-mill in not one, but three counties surrounding and anyone from a small town understand that is a rural version of the tabloids.
We were happy to entertain the simple folk, be their black sheep in times of need and separation. I’d heard hundreds, of thousands of versions of my life. Each more exciting than what really happened.
From the back of my mind, I’d always stared at the Gossip magazines with their obscene suggestions of activities tied to an embarrassing photo of someone who’d been deemed worthy of their public’s eye. Infamous and famous alike, we all have bums and we love to show them as long as we are proud of the shape we see through our ever-present mirrors.
I’m getting away from myself.
I always saw those characters we’d forged our entertainment from, melting and pounding every little bit of personal life from them until we’d created the perfect centerpiece for conversations better left undone. I saw them and I would never read the awful lines, I’d just daydream the phrase, I understand. It’s not you, it’s the ones holding the rocks. I remember doing that from a young age.
Rae: Any bidders guys? I am desperate.
Bai: Y don’t you stay with me for the night? My mom is doing a brunch in the morning for anyone.
Jen: ooo… I just told my mom I am staying with you.
Boo-Ya!: Yo, the offer still stands, I will totally kill him for you. He didn’t wake you up again, did he?
Rae: Well, I didn’t sleep well if that’s what you mean.
Deep down this girl is tortured beyond belief, I’ve never felt I had a place and my band of goons each hurt in their own way. We didn’t dwell on it we found ways to escape. stuck between a million expectations when all I’d ever wanted was to fly away.
Rae: Now my eyes are puffy for our big day.
Boo-Ya!: I love ya, we will all remember it as the last day your dad was seen alive. We’ll celebrate it ironically with a shot of his favorite whiskey.
Rae: He is way too sophisticated for that, more like scotch on the rocks.
Boo-Ya!: As stuffy and lifeless in his legacy, as he was in life, ugh.
Rae: Shots to new beginnings?
Boo-Ya!: See you are nothing like him…
Rae: Thanks, Maddie ❤
Jen: Seriously guys, we have like twenty minutes to figure out what I’m wearing.
I turned the screen off and rushed down the winding stairs to the lower level of the house. Making my way over the cold oak floors I took it all in, turning myself in a slow spin. The fabric of the dress pulled nearer in the perfect places while drifting in the most enticing ways in a direction that would have me doing it for the rest of my life.
Could I leave this place?
I brought my phone to my chest as if one of the hooligans knew it, a vibration brought my attention to the screen once more.
Boo-Ya: Cam I’m coming for you now
Me: Sounds good, running to the cellar right now! Did you figure out what we were going with?
I could see her typing her response as I silenced the screen to put it in my pocket. I already knew what her answer would be.
Of all the expensive shit my parents kept on hand for dinner parties and events in the community and impersonal yet generally well-accepted gifts that would never be missed, my best buddies without fail would choose cherry flavored McGillicuddy’s as a favorite booze.
Maddie’s parents were filthy wealthy for these parts. They invested in a convenience store chain that ended up skyrocketing under their influence. Using the money they made to invest in properties and small businesses. They’d built an empire of promise Maddie was all too happy to take on once they stepped down. She’d already applied for business school online to prove she’d walk the line.
And someday I would sell love to strangers. Telling them how beautifully they seemed to fit, and without knowing their true stories, telling them I could find them the perfect fit. I’d seen my dad do it a million times, I knew the entire pitch. Sell something more than a ring attached to the thing and using their foolishness to get rich. Doesn’t seem very Christian to me.
Even thinking about it makes me feel like I’ve sold out.
My dreams would take me to the cities, I have a specific few in mind, there I would find myself in the shoes of a struggling writer chasing after a muse. Or be found and star bound by my ability to sing the blues and inability to stay out of the news. I’d already gotten used to those shoes. The dim floor danced cold underneath my feet as I made my way lightly to the lair where all the spirits lie.
Even though no one will notice it makes me feel mischievous. Like the elves and the tricksters in the stories, I loved so much growing up.
I laugh out loud as the pictures cross my mind, it’s nice that I don’t have to worry about anyone hearing me in a house that’s nearly always empty. I know I’m the only mouse. Sometimes I’m sure my parents played the acoustics that way, so I’d never feel lonely. The echoes play around the entrance behind me, or maybe it was just a million other memories.
Could I really leave this place?
Footfalls fell around me in the cement and cedar stairwell, mindlessly I counted the stairs as if it were a final farewell. The inkling played more deliberately, coming back with three options that might have the power to unseat me. One if I was drafted, I don’t even know if that is a real thing anymore. I reached for the red bottle whose label had been written in my melancholy fable.
Would you could you might you leave, if you had no one left to drink it with?
My eyes widened at the wicked thought. I won’t even think about it.
I grabbed one of five other unopened bottles.
But now what other things could send me reeling any harder than that? Suddenly it’s all I could think of. What if Maddie and the others never were. What if somehow they were to disappear.
I smirked into reality, now you see, that’s not how you get me with fear. Come hell or high water, far or near we’ll have each other for at least eighty more years until death claims our hearts.
Sometimes I get lost in poetry. I came too at the door, slipping into my boots I sat on the stoop stairs, gazing into the knotted laces I’d never undone. Something wasn’t sitting right. I’d felt something building up all night, wait… that can’t be right, because this was before the ceremony right?
Ugh, see everything is coming back but it’s blurry. I know what happens, I just can’t seem to reach it. It must have been light out but all I see is a dark cloud of melancholy, blurring out whatever hopeful feelings I may have been dreaming over. I see myself standing with a long stare in my eyes as I reach for the keys on the glass table before me…
Remembering to lock my parent’s investments in behind me like any other night of the rest of my life.
I have to imagine that’s how the last day usually starts for everyone else, though I’d never have imagined this would be mine. Had I known what I’d wake up too through the machines constant beep to feel it breathing for me, I might have fought harder to stay asleep. Had I known what lie sleeping beneath the nature of my injuries I might not have pushed to regain the memories.