I wake up in the morning and before I know it I’m standing in the kitchen with a bottle of Jack that I half drank last night or some night, but maybe I didn’t and I can’t remember but it’s early in the morning and the stars are still out twinkling beyond the kitchen window that someone never closed last night. It’s cold and the Jack’s looking really inviting and so are my pills ‘cause I don’t want to be in this fucked up place anymore. I don’t want it anymore ‘cause there’s no way to escape, and in my mind I take the bottle of pills like a shot and guzzle down the Jack Daniel’s and float off into a dreamless twilight forever, but I’m really still standing there. I can hardly hear Dally snoring over the buzz of voices in my head. Voices in black cloaks, some fucked up shit I made up in my mind. They’re telling me, “Go ahead do it, do it, fuck everything and just do it. You don’t deserve to be here. Just end it all,” they whisper it seductively until they start screeching, screeching real loud and somewhere in the distance the basement door opens. I know Dally’s coming, but my feet are stuck and my arms they’re moving but not fast enough but the Jack Daniel’s is an anvil now and I can’t move it any further. Dally walks up to me and the voices are still screaming and screaming at me to off myself. Oh God, he’s with one of his goddamn friends and they’re saying something to me but I can’t hear and oh, it is so very hard to think because of the cacophony in my head until it hurts and my ears start to ring pleasantly and the world goes black and I don’t have to think at all.
When I wake up again that evening my face is in the musty den carpet that’s gone in places so it looks like a dog with mange and smells like one too. My head throbs and I roll over and see Dally’s friend laying naked in the half light. That’s when I realize my clothes are torn and I guess I know what happened, but I try not to think about it.
Regardless of the not thinking about it it’s still there and I don’t know if I know the bastard, but it’s all so fucked up I can’t tell anymore. All I know is that he hurt me in that blacked out time and space I wasn’t there, and I want him dead for that, but I get up softly wondering what’s happening again. There’s a light on in the kitchen so I limp in there ‘cause I’m kinda shaky and I don’t know where my glasses are. I see a smashed bottle of Jack Daniel’s on the floor liquid amber against the white of the tile, and I figure it must of smashed somewhere on me, but I don’t know where because every nerve ending in my body just hurts a deep aching hurt. Damn it, I just cleaned that floor I think and stoop down and start to clean. There are little white pills in the puddle, and I’m guessing Dally poured them all in there just for meanness after he smashed me with the bottle. He knows if he keeps me without my pills, and not thinking straight like this he can do anything he wants to me. My brain is all scrambled and the pills are all stuck to the floor and disintegrating and I want to take them, not all of them this time, just some of them so I feel better, but I can’t take them because they’re all ruined and shit.
Something red is splashing in the pills and booze and at first I think it’s kinda pretty. The crimson, and the golden brown with little white dots. Kinda looks like modern art. Kinda looks like the painting in the psychiatrist’s office that Dally takes me to sometimes. Sometimes is the key word; if it was all the time then I wouldn’t be so crazy and moronic and people wouldn’t think I was “special” ‘cause I’m not.
I see the adult’s whisper when I walk by at school, “Poor girl. Mom killed herself…heroin addict you know. Dad stuck in an institution…lost his brains to that new LSD. Brother’s a no good druggie. I think there’s abuse going on. Someone really should do something about it.” But they never do anything about it. And the children of these “concerned adults” are worse than anyone I’ve ever met, even Dally. They look at me like a genetic experiment, prodding me and poking me to see if they can get me to react. I am an animal in a glass cage, but I would never join them even if they gave me the chance. I am above them in so many ways.
And I keep thinking these thoughts as I’m scrubbing and the red keeps dripping from somewhere and it still looks pretty until I realize the red is coming from my head. And I think that’s a pretty cool rhyme, but it’s also not pretty cool that I’m bleeding from my head.’
That’s when the puddle of Jack stares to spin and bend back and forth mixing like wet paint. The blood streaking down my head forming pathways in the booze. It looks like the light shows we used to have so long ago when dad played gigs all over. I remember the smell of the Flo Master ink and crowds in smoky rooms. I was usually behind the stage playing the guitar when everyone was too tripped out or drunk to remember the chords. Dad would finger sync as best as he could, which wasn’t well at all, but the audience didn’t know any better.
That was the beginning of the end. Mom, Dad, and Dally fell apart and now the leftover bits of our family are decaying and putrefying in a puddle of alcohol and violence just like my pills. I could take them now and never see this place again. Never have to live with the pain of knowing any more. I am 16 and I feel as though I have lived a thousand million years in the marsh and the desert and the tundra. All those places are one. Decaying and stinking; dry and parched; cold and blustering. All those places, this place, invite death very close. The voices in my head, one from the swamp, cloaked in black, pulls me deeper into the muck; one from the desert, lips cracked and dry ; one from the tundra, stabs icy knives at my heart. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do. Dally is sick and I am too and I can’t possibly make any of it better.
“This is your house man?” I hear in the distance. Oh, shit another friend and what the hell time is it anyway?
“Hey bitch,” that’s Dally trying to impress his friends. He’s 25 so you think he wouldn’t glean satisfaction from bossing around a 16 year old, but they are practically neanderthals so of course they think it’s hilarious.
“Hey bitch! I was talking to you!” Now he’s standing in front of me again and I think I might upchuck on his shoes so I stand up and walk away. I’m not going to answer to bitch even if it means getting hit again.
“Uhh…what’s going on? She looks hurt. Are you ok?” says the other boy. Ah! So he’s playing the sensitive, bravo I think. Really he’s not half bad looking. Kinda short with pretty eyes but he’s got atrocious hair that looks like it hasn’t been combed in a week. But who cares? If he’s hanging out with Dally he’s definitely a honest to god slime ball. I look up at the clock 2:24 A.M. the fuzzy green letters read.
“I’m going to the hospital not that you care,” I nonchalantly tell Dally as I pack my school bag. “If I go now I’ll have enough time to get to school.”
“What the hell woman? You think I’m made of money?” he shouts and his voice starts to crack.
“No one said I needed your money! I’ve got royalties.”
“So you’re just going to spend all mom and dad’s money on yourself?”
“Dude! She’s bleeding!” the other kid says indignantly. “What the hell’s gotten into you Dally?”
“Fuck off, Nick! Don’t tell me how to run my household!”
I just snort and walk towards the door. His household. That’s hilarious. I think my whole life is just some big cosmic joke. I am feeling pretty light headed but this has never stopped me before. I am what you call a frequent flyer at the hospital. They know me pretty well and disdain me just as much. We live in the growing metropolis known as Wyatt, Indiana. My parents decided to move here for fresh air and country living but they neglected to quit shooting up and tripping on acid. Consequently we were fodder for hellfire from the start.
Pretty much everyone knows what’s going on at my house. They just choose to blame it on me instead even though they hate Dally just as much. It’s one of those blame the mentally ill girl cases. It makes me want to throw up, but I have also lost a lot of blood so you know, it could be that.
It’s not until I get out the door that I realize Nick or whatever has been following me. I turn around and he stops wide eyed like a deer. Whatever, I can’t let this guy get to me. There he is though on our rotted out porch and I have to say something so I put on my best poker face. “If you want to rape me go ahead and try, but honestly it will be pretty shitty for you because that already happened…happened…well within the last few days or something and I’m really not in the mood. I am honestly not very stable and I am going to kill then next motherfucker who does it.” My voice cracks at kill and pretty soon I am sobbing.
He doesn’t approach me but says, “Err…do you need a ride?”
“Fuck no!” I’m yelling and snotty now. “Do you think I’m stupid?”
He doesn’t say anything and walks away. I just sink down to my knees in the gravel and lay there for a while with the rocks digging into my knees, hands and face. “How the fuck did I get here?” I think.
I hear footsteps and I hope it’s like the grim reaper or something, but it’s that kid again. He’s talking to someone, but I have no idea who that could be.
“Hey, what’s your name?”
I don’t answer.
“Ummm… I’m talking to you with your face in the gravel.”
“Emily Barnett,” I mumble.
“Date of birth?”
“What the hell? It’s 5/12/96. I don’t need your help. I’m fine. I just…” I say as I try to stand.
“It’s ok Em,” he says. “Just stay down. The ambulance is on it’s way.” When he says my name it reminds me of someone else; someone else that cared very much about me but those days are over. Still I wouldn’t mind hearing his voice again I think as I slide off into oblivion.