Tag Archives: short story

“You’re not hurting yourself are you?”

This is the story I was always too afraid to tell, but I finally put to words how my personal addiction took over. This is not a story I thought I would ever tell, but it’s mental health awareness month, and something in me kept saying to publish it; to tell my story. It’s graphic. It may hurt some feelings. With therapy and love and support from my family- I am recovering. I have my moments, but I no longer let my addiction run my life. I still suffer from anxiety, but I don’t let it rule me. When I feel my anxiety bubbling over the surface, I don’t go near razors. I don’t shave. It’s been 5 years since I took a blade to my skin, and sometimes I still feel the urge to go back to it. Some of the things here are exaggerated, but they are what I felt. This is unedited, and it will remain that way. Writing this took a lot out of me personally. I had to go back to a mindset that was unhealthy in order to remember how I felt, and why I took to self harming. This is my journey as I remember it.

Maybe this well help give you insight, maybe it won’t. But for the first time I’m sharing a piece of myself. A piece that only a therapist really knows about. And now you.

I want to be clear: I am not ashamed of my story. That’s why I’m sharing it. I do not hide the scars I have. I talk freely and openly with those that ask me about it. But writing about it and sharing it with strangers is absolutely terrifying.

I watched the blood drip down my thigh, watched the blood mix with the water, noted the diluted color as both went down the drain. For the first time all day, I could finally take a breath. I relaxed in the shower, laying down in the bathtub as the water pounded my flesh. The combination was better than any massage I could ever get. I closed my eyes, basking in the euphoria that came with inflicting pain on myself. It didn’t last long anymore, so I had to enjoy it while it lasted. When I no longer felt high on pain, I opened my eyes to watch as the blood kept pouring from vein. As always, when the high ended, my head couldn’t stop from asking the same questions that caused me inflict pain on myself day after day: Why are you like this?

I tried to think back to when I first started cutting, but it started long before the first time I took a blade to my wrists. I was 11 when the idea was brought to me, ironically by a therapist. I don’t know why I begged my mother to take me to a therapist, but I did. My brother, who was four years younger, was going to one and I wanted one too. Maybe I always knew there was something wrong with me, I just couldn’t name it. Or maybe I just wanted what my brother had. I didn’t even have a name for it when I was 11, didn’t have a clue that what I felt every day wasn’t normal. I don’t remember much of the first meeting I had with the therapist, but I remember two things from that day. The first, she thought I was depressed so wanted me to be evaluated. The second, was the question she asked that seemed to set the tone for the rest of my life: “You’re not hurting yourself are you?”

The depression evaluation turned out to be total shit. I mean, I was 11. I lied my ass off the entire time, because the guy doing the evaluation laughed at one of my answers.

“Why do you think you’re ugly?”
“Because all the ugly boys like me.”

Cue shitty old man laughter. And then me lying because I didn’t want him to laugh at me again. I mean, why else would I think I was ugly? I always thought I was ugly, but at eleven I didn’t know how to detail all the reasons for that. That was just the only answer I had for him. At the end, he said to me “You’re either a really great liar, or you’re not depressed. So you’re not depressed.” I was actually proud of myself that I was able to lie to an adult, a professional. This interaction with two adults who claimed to be professionals followed me for years.

I never thought I was depressed, really. I mean, I didn’t feel sad all the time, I just felt numb. I didn’t have a lot of friends, but I was ok with that because the ones I had were awesome. My home life was shit, but I didn’t really know why. I just knew I wasn’t allowed to talk to people about the bad stuff that went on at home.

“If you tell anyone this, they’re going to take you away, and take your brothers away. You’ll all be put in foster care and you’ll never see them again.”

I never talked about the bad. I never talked about how I was basically raising my siblings while my parents were off doing God-knew what. I never talked about how I sometimes woke up in the middle of the night to an empty house, just me and my brothers sleeping in our beds. I never talked about the fact that my step-dad scared the shit out of me. I never talked about how easy it was for me to just stay home instead of going to school. I never told people how I was failing class because I just didn’t care. I definitely didn’t talk about how CPS had come to my house before. I just didn’t talk.

You’re not hurting yourself are you?

For two years, I thought about this question. I wanted to. God, did I want to hurt myself; I just didn’t have the courage to do it. While my inner voice was telling me I was ugly, that I sucked at school, everytime I couldn’t bring myself to hurt myself, my voice told me it was just one more thing I was bad at. One more thing I couldn’t do. I never told anyone how badly I wanted to hurt myself.

It wasn’t until I was thirteen that I found the courage to do it. I had just moved again, in the middle of the school year. By this point, thoughts of death already consumed my mind. Everyday, I thought of what life would look like without me walking around. Would anyone care? If I died, would anyone go to the funeral? Then, I would think of how I couldn’t even bring myself to hurt myself, how could I kill myself? I didn’t even know I would do it. But I thought about it. But then I would think of my parents, my grandparents, my siblings, and I would push back the thoughts of death. They were there, like the Grim Reaper had taken up permanent residence in my brain, his scythe always at the ready, but always just on the peripherals. If I tried to look at his face, he would disappear, but when I looked away, I would see him out of the corner of my eye.

I was at a friend’s house one night and we watched the movie Thirteen. Another one of life’s ironies. I couldn’t tell you what the movie was about anymore, don’t remember the characters names or the plot line, but I could tell you that I was riveted when one of the girls started cutting. I watched the screen, watched the fake blood drip from her arm, and couldn’t look away. I was entranced.

You’re not hurting yourself are you?

I got home that night, grabbed a knife from the kitchen after everyone went to bed, and hid away in my room downstairs. I sat on the bed, with the TV playing some show in the background, and stared at the knife sitting on my comforter in front of me. Could I do it? I grabbed the knife, and put the tip to my forearm and dragged the tip across my skin. I didn’t do it hard enough to break skin, just scratch the surface, but even that scratch made me feel good. I felt the pain. I had been bottling everything up for so long, never talking about anything and just pushing it down so I didn’t think about it anymore, that feeling the pain made me feel so good. I did that.

I did that.
To.
My.
Self.

It took two years for me to gain the courage to scratch my forearm, but only took a week for me to take a cheap disposable razor to my wrist and slice it. I was taking a shower before bed, shaving my legs when I stopped and stared at the razor, again asking myself, could I do it? The answer? I could. I didn’t bleed much, just tiny droplets that quickly washed away, but for the first time in my life, I swear I felt high. They were superficial cuts, but the high lasted all night. Rumors started around my new school, not that I paid much attention to them. I always wore long sleeves, and if someone had noticed the cuts on my wrist, I told them my cat scratched me. A kid I sat next to on the bus, a kid I had a crush on, one day asked me point blank to show him my wrists because people were saying I cut myself. I laughed it off, told him it was ridiculous; told him my cat was just an asshole.

After school I had freaked out. I knew I wasn’t going to talk to him again. If he found out the truth, he would tell people and then someone would make me stop. I think subconsciously when I first started hurting myself, I wanted someone to ask me if I was ok. I wanted people to look at me and see that something was wrong with me. It wasn’t until the kid asked me if I cut that I realized I didn’t want people to know about it. I only cut a couple times, I wasn’t doing it every day, maybe every couple of days. I usually let the cuts fade before I would try to do it again. That night in the shower I realized I needed to do it so I could calm down. There was no way I was going to be able to go to sleep if I was freaking out the way I was. That was the first time I consciously made the decision to cut to help with my emotions.

One night, after a shower and a session with my favorite razor, I got the courage to talk to my grandmother about cutting. I had a book I got from a Scholastic Book Fair sheet or something literally called Cut. My grandmother had helped my mother raise me, and in some ways she was my mother. She meant the world to me. She could have stabbed me in the back and I would have had a smile on my face because it was her who did it. So I sat down with her in her room, and brushed my hair.

“Grandma, sometimes I think about cutting.”
“Honey, if you did that, I don’t know if I could handle you.”

Knife, meet back. I didn’t talk to her about cutting again after that. If she couldn’t handle me, then who could? Who would want to?

God, looking back, I was like a walking, talking, breathing sign for fucking help. How many signals did I have to give people? I was fucking 11 getting tested for depression and 13 talking about self harm. What’s a girl gotta do to get help? Apparently a hell of a lot.

When the weather started getting warmer, I stopped cutting on my wrist, and moved to my thigh. I couldn’t hide the cuts on my arms when I was wearing short sleeves, but I found I liked cutting my thigh better. The first time I did it, I still remember how I walked around the next day on a high. Every time I shifted, my jeans would rub against the marks and I would feel a stinging pain all over again. Or when I would get stressed out at school, my stomach would start to hurt and my chest would feel heavy, I would press my fingers to the the little cuts I had made with a razor the night before and I felt instant relief. My breathing would go back to normal, my stomach would untangle itself.

A couple months after I started cutting, I turned fourteen. I was still using a razor to cut, but it became more frequent. Instead of every couple of days, it was turned to every other day. Since it was the summer, my cousin had stayed with us for a couple weeks. My sister had just turned one in early June, just two weeks before my own birthday. My cousin and I were the same age, and the oldest of all the kids at the house, so it was our job to take care of the baby when my parents couldn’t, or didn’t want to. She usually got up to take care of my sister in the mornings, but one morning she complained. I told her my stomach hurt,

Your stomach always hurts in the morning.

I stopped to think about it. My stomach always hurt in the morning? I couldn’t remember. I made an effort after that to get out of bed in the morning, but I realized she was right. Every morning I woke up, my stomach hurt so bad I didn’t want to move. I thought about it, about how when my stomach hurt during the day, I would press against the cuts on my thighs and it would help me feel better. One morning I woke up, went to the bathroom, and quickly brought the razor down against my fleshy, too fat, thigh. The ball in my stomach, the one I hadn’t noticed was always there in the mornings until it was pointed out to me, disappeared. At this point I noticed that I was pressing the razor into my thigh harder, that I needed more pain to feel the same high, that the highs never lasted as long, I just didn’t care. The best part? Nobody knew. My shorts were short, but my cuts stayed above the edge of my shortest pair.

Cutting was mine, and mine alone.

I thought that thoughts of death consumed me before I took that knife to my wrist, but it was nothing compared to how I felt after. The Grim Reaper was my closest friend and constant companion. Now I could sit and talk to him in my head, instead of only getting glimpses of him in the recesses of my mind. He would always ask the same question, and my answer was always the same,

What’s truly keeping you here? Keeping you from joining me?”
“My brothers and sister.”

If not for my brothers and sister, I don’t know where I would be. At fourteen, I didn’t think I would live to see my eighteenth birthday. When I was five, I told everyone I was going to go to Yale. By the time I was fourteen, I didn’t care enough to think about life after high school. My mind and mental health quickly deteriorated. Every conversation I had with those that were supposed to love me unconditionally, I ended up finding fault with. At the end of the summer, my father came to pick me up from my grandmother’s house and took me home with him.

My mother and father weren’t together. They had separated a long time ago, and I was really ok with that. Up until the summer of my fourteenth year, I spent the majority of my time with my grandmother, mother, step father, and three brothers and one sister. And my cousin that was just three weeks younger than me, whenever I could see her. When I moved in with my father, I was going home to three more brothers, and a step-mom.

Moving in with my father had positive and negative affects on my psyche. For four years I was bombarded with comments from my mother and grandmother about how I needed to move “home”.

Ungrateful.
You know your father doesn’t really love you.
You were always supposed to come back home.
You have until Christmas to come back home, then we’re coming to pick you up.
Think about what you’re doing to me.
Your father has never loved you.

My cutting got worse. One day, I broke a brand new, disposable razor. I threw out the pieces of it, but saved the four small razors, put them in a special jewelry box, and hid them in the back of my bottom draw in my dresser. Every morning, I would pull a razor out of the box, put it to the top of my thigh, and dig deep into my skin, and watch the blood dribble down the sides of my leg. I would wipe the razor down, then put it away, only to do it all over again when I got home from school, before starting my homework. Sometimes I brought a razor to school and would go to the bathroom when life became too much. When the texts and calls telling me to come home would be too much.

My step-mom found the razors one day, and we talked. For the first time I talked about the feelings I’d had since I was eleven. Not all of them; I didn’t talk about my thoughts of suicide, or how cutting made me numb to the rest of the world so I could get up and function; how every laugh and every smile I had was faked. I didn’t talk about how I didn’t cry anymore. I told her how the cutting helped with the ball in my stomach. For the first time in my life, I had a name for it.

Anxiety.

For a couple days, having a name for the thing that made it hard to breathe some days, helped. I could identify it, which meant I could tell it to fuck off. Right? Wrong. Once I put a name to it, I knew what it was, but I also knew how I could handle it. Or not handle it. I was cutting two or three times a day, every day. I was cutting so deep I was leaving scars on my thighs. I loved it. I loved watching the blood rivulets drip onto the sheet below me. I loved that with a simple action, I could eradicate the anxiety attacks that plagued me daily. I hid it from everyone.

I talked to some therapists while I was in high school, and it would lead to a week or two here and there without cutting. I was on the recreation swim team in the summer, which meant I couldn’t cut because everyone would notice. Those times were the worst. My anxiety was at an all time high. I didn’t smoke weed, I never drank, but the summers I couldn’t open a vein and watch the blood form tears as it streaked my skin, I thought I was going to suffocate. It was like I couldn’t remember how to breathe.

My thoughts of death slowly faded. I didn’t think of death everyday. I would go weeks without thinking about death sometimes. The scars on my thighs would heal during the summer break, but once the pool closed, I would start again; sometimes I would cut over a scar, and the pain would be so delicious, I was tempted to re-open all my old cuts. I never did that, though. I knew if I did it too much, it wouldn’t hurt as much eventually. What once hurt, what once would cause me to gasp, I had become immune too. I had to cut deeper and press harder against my flesh to feel the same pain; get the same high. It was moments like that, where I would press the razor to my flesh so hard I could see my flesh separating, when I would wonder if I took it too far. Was this the time that I would have an accident? Who would find me?

Would they care?

I didn’t. Death was not on my mind as it once was, but it was still my companion. I am told now that I wasn’t really ready to face death, because if I had been ready, I would have welcomed it with open arms. I disagree. My heart, mind, and body were ready for death. They still are. It’s not me that’s not ready for me to die. It’s that my heart still has tethers to this earth, ones that have always kept me firmly planted in the land of the living: my siblings. Not my parents or grandparents. My siblings. My six brothers and one sister. Since I was thirteen, they have always been what’s kept me from going to the Grim Reaper in relief. While they are what have always kept me firmly planted, I will never know and would never know if I mean as much to them as they mean to me.

Over the years, I got better at hiding my secret; from friends, boyfriends and family. I knew I was addicted. Knew that without cutting, I wouldn’t make it. Every minute of the day, I had to make the decision to breathe, and every day it got harder to do that without feeling the blood flow from my body. Watching the blood flow from my body now, in the shower, was like watching the bad shit that got tangled in my head flow from my body. If I shifted the right way, the water from the shower would hit the cut just right, and for a second the stinging pain would come back and I felt the high. That never lasted long, though. Just like the pain from the initial swipe against my flesh, I got used to that pain as well. My body had numbed itself to the pain as my mind and heart tried to stay numb against the emotions that bombarded me on a daily basis.

I knew I couldn’t tell anyone how I felt. Couldn’t tell anyone how my addiction had overtaken my life. I was more afraid of living without the feeling of a blade pressing against my flesh than I was of living life. There was the fear that someone would take away the only thing that allowed my lungs to function on their own, the only thing that helped me rise out of bed every morning. Then there were the callous comments made by those I thought I could be friends with.

“I could never be friends with someone who cut themselves.”
“How sick do you have to be to want to hurt yourself?”
“They must hate themselves.”

It was true, most days I hated myself. I hated that I couldn’t get through the day without bleeding, hated the way I looked when I saw myself in the mirror. Hated how awkward I was and how hard it was for me to make friends. Hated the fact that I had doubts to whether my family gave a shit if I woke up the next morning, even though they were the only reason I had to wake up the next day. I did hate myself. Hated all the things I couldn’t do, my anxiety keeping me from truly enjoying life. But no one understood. They didn’t get it. And they never would, because I would never tell them how wrong they were. How I needed them in my life, I needed more reasons to continue breathing. I wasn’t sick, I was struggling to breathe.

Over the years, in high school and in college, my inner voice constantly told me how I was a fuck up. How I couldn’t do anything, and that I should stop trying. Another voice, one that was much smaller, had started in my head though. It sounded a lot like a blend of my step mother and father mixed with the various therapists over the years. It tried to tell me that talking about my feelings, about the crushing weight of the pressure I put on myself to be something my parents and siblings could be proud of often weighed me down, would help. It tried to tell me that if I told people I was having trouble breathing, that they would help me. The voice was just too small, though. Any time I found it in myself to talk about it, other comments would swirl in my head, drowning it out.

You’re not hurting yourself are you?
I don’t know if I could handle you.”
“How sick do you have to be to want to hurt yourself?”
Would they care?

Instead of talking, I would go to the bathroom and find my relief. And at night, before bed, before the voices had a chance to battle in my head and heart, I showered and opened my vein again. And every night, I would go to bed with peace instead of with hatred for myself. I would go to bed with lungs that worked instead of lungs that refused to do what they were supposed to do. There was a part of me that hoped one day I could make it through the day without watching my blood run down my thigh, but there was another part that refused to believe I could do it. I also didn’t want to make it through the day. It had been six years since the first time I took the knife to my skin and scratched my forearms; six years since I felt high for the first time. Six years since my addiction started slowly taking over my life.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Call 1-800-273-8255

Available 24 hours everyday

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1-888-628-9454

For Deaf & Hard of Hearing
800-799-4889.

Click this link to help support as well.

The Myth of the Merrow

“What are you doing?!” Marcail shouted, as the men around her tied her legs together. She tried kicking them, bucking her hips, anything to stop them but they over powered her.

“Now listen lassie,” the captain of the ship started. His thick Scottish brogue dripping with false sympathy, “I understand this is scary, but yer just bringin’ us more bad luck. We’ve had nothin’ but storms since we found ye stowed aboard.”

The woman stared at the captain in shock, temporarily forgetting the position she was in, which allowed the two sailors to finish tying her legs together, and another two other sailors to finish binding her arms to her sides.

“NO!” she screamed, the wind whipping her long red, curly hair around her head, her voice echoing around her. Strands of her curly hair were caught in the rope around her body, but she couldn’t feel the stinging in her scalp over the fear pulsing through her body, making the sound of her heart beat threaten to deafen her.

“Lassie, it’s bad luck to be bringin’ such a fine woman as yerself on a ship, ye know that. I’m sorry lassie, but this has to be done.”

With that, she was picked up and thrown overboard. She had just wanted to get out of Scotland, and now she was bound like a lamb going to slaughter and thrown over the side of the ship. She had secretly climbed aboard the ship in the middle of the night, when she knew the sailors were out drinking before cast off. She had overheard the sailors talking in the market place the day before, talking about how they were sailing to the Ireland to trade, and she wanted to see what it was like. Marcail’s parents would never let her leave their tiny village, let alone go to Ireland.

She tried to hold her breath as she hit the water, but she knew she wasn’t going to be able to survive this. She tried to twist, trying to loosen the knots made to make sure she sank to the bottom of the ocean, but it just made the knots tighter. The sailors were arses, but they could tie a knot. She could feel her lungs starting to burn as the lack of oxygen made the edges of her vision go black. If she could cry, she would.

The further she sank, and with the heavy dress she was wearing she was sinking fast, the pressure of the deep water pressed on her chest. Just as she was resigned to dying she saw something green swim past her, and then something swim the other way. She tried to turn her head and follow it, but she was too tired, and her lungs were starting to ache. Then three green women were in her eye sight. Their skins were only light, pale green, but their hair looked like the color of algae. It flowed out around them, as they floated in front of her. Their eyes were all the same blue of the ocean. Their upper bodies looked like a woman, but she could see their bottom halves had scales like a fish and they had fins.

Merrow, she thought. She had heard the stories of merrows all her life, of the evil sprites that lived in the ocean, seducing the sailors and dragging them into the ocean, where they stole their souls and kept them at the bottom of the ocean.

Suddenly, the ropes that bound her arms were undone, and a slightly webbed hand was reaching out to her. She touched the hand and watched as her skin went from pale and freckled to light green. She opened her mouth and could suddenly breathe in the water. Her dress fell off of her body slowly floating away from her, and the ropes that once bound her legs disappeared and her legs started to mesh together with scales. She looked around and her hair, starting from the ends and going to the roots, stayed curly but changed to dark green.

“Skye,” a musical voice said. She turned back to the merrow, and saw she was pointing at herself.

“Marcail,” she said, pointing to herself.

Skye smiled and swam up, and Marcail followed her. When they reached the break in the ocean, Marcail looked out and saw the ship she was just tossed off of. Skye started singing and Marcail joined. When the sailors looked over the side of the ship, the captain barked at them to stop looking. Marcail and Skye sang louder. The men couldn’t resist looking at the merrows, and for the first time in her life, Marcail felt powerful.

Am I Dying?

It feels like there’s an elephant sitting on my chest and I can’t breathe. I am actively reminding my self to breathe in through my nose, out through my mouth.

In through your nose, out through your mouth.

In through your nose, out through your mouth.

In through your nose, out through your mouth.

Over and over again, I keep repeating this to myself, hoping I can get through the fog in my head. But it is like I am whispering this mantra. While I am actively making myself breathe, there’s another voice in my head that’s louder, that’s reminding me that I cannot breathe. My lungs don’t work. And then I start panicking all over again because I can’t breathe.

I can’t breathe. I cannot physically breathe. 

I can see people around me, moving and talking. I think I know them. I think they’re my friends, but I can’t remember. I am too busy whispering to my body that I can breathe and that my lungs do work. But if these people moving around the room are my friends, why aren’t they helping me? Why aren’t they calling an ambulance?

My lungs aren’t working!

I want to scream and yell, but that requires breathing, and I can’t do that. So instead, I stand in the corner, not focusing on what is happening in the room. I’m not focused on who is moving around me, or who is bumping into me with a mumbled apology. I hold the red solo cup in my hand, but I don’t drink it. If I drink it, will it get into my lungs while I struggle to breathe?

In through your nose, out through your mouth.

“God, Rey, you’re so freaking anti-social. Go talk to someone!” Someone says next to me. I look to see, I think, my best friend Alessia, but I can’t be sure. My vision is starting to blur from the lack of oxygen. “Seriously, you look like such a bitch standing over here, alone, in the corner. And you’ve got RBF!”

I think I made a sound.

“Yeah, resting-bitch-face! You look so unapproachable. This is why people complain about you. Sometimes I don’t even know why you come out to these things.” She flips her brown hair over her shoulder and walks away from me.

She thinks I am purposely standing in a corner, with a drink in my hand, looking like an anti-social, unapproachable, person. I’m just trying to take a deep breath. Get some oxygen into my lungs. Something.

Anything.

I look around the room again, but my vision is starting to go black. Blindly, I stumble towards the door, where I think the door is, down the stairs and onto the street. I sit down on a curb somewhere, anywhere. I put my head in between my knees trying to breathe. Trying to get air into my lungs. Trying to get my lungs to work.

In through your nose, out through your mouth.

My jeans are suddenly too tight, my hair is too long and it is helping suffocate me. My shirt is starting to stick to my skin as I sweat. The sweat is beading across my forehead. It drips down my arms. I am drowning in a pool of my own sweat, and I can’t breathe. My mind cannot get past that I cannot breathe.

Why can’t I breathe? Am I dying?

No. This is anxiety. I know this is anxiety. My lungs work, I know this. I know this. But it’s so hard to make my brain remember this. It’s so hard to make my heart remember this. I don’t know why my anxiety comes. It starts slow.

A crowd of people; a knot in my throat.
A date with a new guy; butterflies eating at the inside of my stomach.
My friends telling me I’m not social enough; I can’t breathe.

Tonight it was all three. My friends invited me to a house party. There were so many people there, and the knot in my throat made it so I couldn’t talk. They wanted me to meet a new guy, so the butterflies ate at my stomach lining. I couldn’t tell anybody what was wrong. And then the complaints started. How I don’t talk enough, I’m not social enough, and then I can’t breathe.

But nobody cares.

Nobody can tell.

In through your nose, out through your mouth.

Valentine’s Day Discount

I strolled through the supermarket, pushing the cart in front of me. The wheel was broken and it squeaked as I pushed it down the aisles, searching for the discounted candy. The constant squeak of the wheel as I forced it to go straight instead of the cart turning with the one wheel. Of course I would pick the cart with the squeaky, crooked wheel that wanted to make the cart careen down the aisles.

I turned down the aisle that housed all the Valentine’s Day candy, now 50% off, and smiled for the first time since February 1st. For a second, I allowed myself to bask in the glory that was discounted candy, before I looked through the selections.

“Reeces, or a bag of assorted? Bite size or full size?” I debated quietly, while lifting a bag of Reeces Pieces, and another bag full of assorted bite size candies.

“Oh, Mary! What a surprise!”

I suppressed a groan, and turned toward the voice of my neighbor, Debby. I knew for a fact I waved to her as I got into my car today, so I know she saw me leave. Did she leave the house five minutes after I did this morning? Follow me here?

Debby had the perfectly straight, blonde bob; her makeup was flawless and looked natural, but I knew her makeup routine took an hour. She was wearing skinny jeans, not mom jeans like she should be wearing, since she had three kids and still looked like a high school cheerleader. Her purple sweater had little red hearts all over it. I tried my hardest not to roll my eyes at her tacky Valentine’s Day sweater. I swear I tried, but its possible my eyes rolled. Just a little.

“Deb, what are you doing here?” I made my lips move in semblance of a smile, but it probably looked more like a grimace.

“Oh, I forgot the boys have a game on Friday, so I need to pick up some groceries for Saturday. They always have friends over the next morning,” she smiled, her perfect white teeth gleaming. Then she looked over my outfit, which consisted of a hoodie with the Egyptian goddess Tawaret, and black yoga pants with black converse, and then she looked at the candy in my hand. “Oh, honey I’m so sorry. Yesterday must have been really hard for you. I should have come over and seen you.”

I forced another smile.

“Actually I was fine. I’m just here for the discounted candy.” I laughed slightly. Awkwardly.

“Oh yes of course. I just meant, you know, that you’re single now. So a day all about love must be really difficult. If you need anything you just come right on over. Ok, hun?” Before I could thank her and try to escape the conversation, she pat my arm and kept talking. “Now you listen to me, Mary. You will find someone ok? Someone better than Joe. Do not even think about him and his new girlfriend. I heard they’re having a baby now, did you hear that? Anyways, don’t even think about them.”

She kept talking to me but I tuned her out. Yes, my ex-husband was a cheating scumbag, it was the day after Valentine’s Day, and we broke up last year on Valentine’s Day. Yes, I was wearing yoga pants when I so obviously was not doing yoga. I was not depressed, my life was not over, I was just trying to buy a bag of assorted bite size (“fun size”) candy for half the price it usually was.

I.
Was.
Fine.

I had mourned the loss of scumbag, as I usually called Joe in my head. I had cried that he left, cried that he was a lying jerk, cried that he gave another woman what he told me he didn’t want. I cried about it all, and I grieved the loss of someone in the house with me. But I was done grieving the loss of someone I didn’t miss.

I was happy he was out of my life because now I could live my life. I could go and find someone who wasn’t a jerk.

In fact, I went on a date a couple weeks ago, but nobody seems to care about that. We were going out again soon, but we just didn’t want to date around Valentine’s Day because there was so much pressure to have someone on a day that was created by the greeting card companies. We both thought it was stupid.

Debby was still talking to me, her mouth was still moving, but I still was not listening to her. I just put the candy down in my cart, next to my purse. I opened my purse and grabbed the gun and pulled it out, pointed it at her head and shot her. Right between the eyes. She was annoying anyways. I put the gun back in my purse, and went back to debating on what candy I was going to buy. I heard people milling around me, I heard them wondering if they should call the police. But I didn’t care. I was going to buy my damn candy and no one was going to say anything about it.

I did not care that Debby was bleeding out on the floor, that her blood had started to pool around her head. I did not care that the blood would eventually run and might soak my sneakers. I was tired of caring what Debby said, or what she did, or even if her blood stained the bottom of my sneakers. I just didn’t care!

Debby wasn’t the only one either. My whole town, though it was small, would see me and want to talk to me about Joe, his new girl, their new baby, the baby they had when we were still together, how was I feeling?, had I spoken to Joe?

It got old. Really. Old.

“Hon, you gonna get your phone?” Debby’s voice brought me out of my day dream, and I reached into my purse to grab my phone. I looked at the caller ID before putting it away.

“Telemarketer,” I said with a little smile. Debby just smiled her perfect, Stepford wife smile.

“Oh, I didn’t know they had cell phone numbers. Anyways, I have to go finish shopping. You come over anytime, ok, hon?”

I nodded my head as she walked away, and I blew out a breath. I put both bags of candy in my cart with a muttered fuck it.

I bought two bags of candy.
I was single.
But most of all, I was happy.

I was happy being single, and not in a relationship with someone who was comfortable. I enjoyed dating. I enjoyed having my house to myself. I was living life again for the first time in years, and I didn’t need someone else to make my life complete. Sure, sharing my life with someone would have been nice; but I wasn’t going to settle for second best. Not again.

Joe-shmoe. I was fine. I would continue to be fine. Hell, I may even be better than fine. I was not going to let the scumbags get me down.

And I was going to eat my damn candy.

Changing the Ending…

Prologue

Remus

She took her last breath staring up at the green eyes that had haunted her dreams for over a decade. The eyes she thought were meant to be her salvation, but ultimately ended up being her demise.

The end.

Wait, what?!” I yelled, “Charlie dies?!”

“Ah, you finished it,” my sister, Reggie, said from the doorway. I looked up to find my fraternal twin leaning on the wall with her arms folded across her chest. Her chestnut hair was cut short, just brushing the tops of her shoulders. Today, she was wearing a white, short sleeved t-shirt and light jeans, with brown knee high boots and a brown leather jacket. She actually looked pretty good today, considering she usually left her house wearing sweat pants with her hair a mess.

Jesus, now I’m talking about her clothes.

“You made me read a stupid romance novel, said how amazing it was, how awesome it was, but it was utter bullshit! Charlie dies! How is this a romance novel?!” I yelled again, “‘You gotta read this, Rem!’ she said, ‘It’s a romance novel, but it’s so good!’ she said.” I threw the book at her, but she just ducked and started laughing.

“It is a romance novel, you ass!” she laughed again picking up the book. “Charlie finds love, but has to die to save the world, ” her golden brown eyes stared down at the cover of the book, as she stoked it lovingly. I was ready to toss her out of my bedroom window. She looked back up at me with a huge grin.

“Aren’t romance novels supposed to have happy endings?” I asked, throwing my hands up in the air. I got up from my bed and paced, while I ran my fingers through my hair.

“Not all of them have them, Rem. Just like real life, not everything can end with an HEA.” When I gave her a questioning look, she just chuckled. “Happily Ever After.”

With that, she took her book and sauntered out of my room. I could still hear her in the kitchen somewhere, but I wasn’t paying attention anymore. I was thinking of ways I could change the ending, maybe pull a Misery/Stephen King style stunt, but I wasn’t sure I was up for a kidnapping. I didn’t want to go to jail, I just wanted Charlie to live.

For some reason, I felt her deep in my bones. I connected with her in a way that I never had with a fictional character. I’ve never read romance before, usually sticking to my tech journals, but Reggie had convinced me to read this one. She wanted to talk to me about something other than the newest technology.

I walked out of my room, still in my sweat pants that I slept in, into my office and sat down at the desk, my brain going a thousand miles a minute. I put my head in my hands, elbows resting on my desk, as I stared emptily at the wall where the display for the computer was. As I started sorting through different articles that appeared on the projection, one article caught my eye.

New technology proves alternate universes exist! Not just sci-fi anymore!”

Alternate universe? Could Charlie be in one of them?

Chapter 1

One month later…

Charlie

Ding dong!

“Coming!” I yelled, racing to the door.

Ding dong!

“Jesus,” I muttered, “I’m coming!” I yelled louder. I stepped over Reggie, my lazy golden retriever who wouldn’t even bark if my entire living room was on fire, and opened the door.

“Woah,” I whispered looking at the man standing on my door step. He was at least six feet tall, which compared to my five foot frame, I considered to be giant status, and had broad shoulders like a football player. His chestnut hair had golden highlights in it that my mother would have paid hundreds of dollars for, but looked natural on him. His eyes were a golden color, not brown. He had a pair of black glasses that were rectangular, and didn’t take up too much of his face, but looked kind of odd since he looked like a linebacker, and the glasses made him look almost nerdy. He had a big smile on his face, and showed his perfect white teeth, as he stared down at me and I looked him over. He was wearing an olive green polo, which looked really good with his light complexion, and brought out his eyes even more, tucked into a pair of khakis.

Although this man was a complete stranger, he seemed oddly familiar.

“Charlie?” his deep timbre shook me out of looking him up and down, and I looked back up into his eyes. I tilted my head in confusion.

“You know my name?”

“My name is Remus Montgomery, but you can call me Remy, and although we’ve never met, I do know you.”

He smiled again and I shook my head, my hair falling in front of my face. Don’t let a pretty face beguile you Charlie. When I heard a laugh, I looked back up and could feel my cheeks heat.

“Did I say that out loud?” I whispered.

“Yup,” he chuckled again.

“Look, bud, I don’t know you, and I’m not sure how you know me, but it’s quite frankly freaking me out, so there is no way I am letting you into my house. You could totally be an axe murderer or something,” as I started to close the door, his name finally registered in my head, and I whipped the door back open. “Wait, did you say Remus Montgomery?”

This time, his head tilted in confusion, “Yes?”

I left the door open, as I turned around and went into the living room to get my favorite book, which was still sitting on the end table since I had just finished re-reading it, yes, re-read because I like to re-read my books. Don’t judge me. I picked up the book and walked to the front door, flipping through the pages until I reached the description of Remy. I tripped on Reggie, since she had apparently decided to move without me noticing, and put my hands out in front of me to catch my fall. I felt two strong arms come around my waist, catching me before I fell flat on my face.

“You alright?” he asked me, his hands lingering on my hips as I straightened my self.

“Yeah,” I said, clearing my throat. “Reggie,” I said turning to the laziest beast I had ever met, “when did you move, girl?” I swear she just rolled her eyes at me.

“Did you just call your dog Reggie, and did she just roll her eyes?” Remy asked from behind me. See! Dogs can totally roll their eyes.

“Yes, her name is Reggie. Why?” I said looking back at him.

“No reason,” he said, his eyes on the dog, but I swear I heard him whisper, “Reg is gonna love that.”

I opened the book again, since I hadn’t dropped it when Reggie tried to kill me, and flipped back to the part I was looking for. I read the description out loud,

“Remus Montgomery, known as Remy to his friends, was barely listening to his sister Reggie as she prattled on about some book he didn’t care for. He was too busy trying to get into the hard drive of a computer that the local police department had sent him. Although he was a technical genius, he was built like an athlete, and it usually surprised people to find out he was not a lacrosse player, but spent his time creating the newest technology out there, and spent his free time working on cases for the police department. His glasses slipped down his nose again, for the thousandth time that day he wished he had gotten the surgery to just fix his eyes.”

I paused looking back up at Remus, and he had his mouth hanging open.

“Can I see that?” he asked, holding out his hand. I put it in his hand and watched as he read the back of the book.

“How is it, that you look exactly like the Remus Montgomery that I’ve always pictured when I read this book, and you just showed up on my doorstep?”

Remy cleared his throat as he looked up at me.

“I read a book my twin sister, Reggie, convinced me to read, and you’re the main character. Charlotte Rose King, also known as Charlie, and I didn’t like the ending of the book. I was thinking of going Anne Wilkes on the author when I found out that alternate universes were real, and tried to find you. So here I am, trying to change the ending.” Remy looked at the book again, and checked the author. “Whoever wrote this book, wrote the book in my universe too,” but it sounded like he was talking to himself more than anyone else. “Quick question,” he said looking back at me. 

“Yeah?”

“Did you name your dog after my sister?”

I could feel my cheeks heat again. 

If you liked this, and want to read more, please comment below.

Dahlia

Dahlia sat with her back straight in the chair. Not blinking or moving. Her long, voluminous black hair hung down to her backside, curling off the chair. The oak chair she sat in was far from comfortable, which only added to tension to the situation she had found herself in. Across the room stood the love of her life, the man she thought she’d marry and make babies with. She could feel the anger rising in her again about his betrayal, but she swallowed it down. She had decided it would be better to look impassive than to look like the crazy woman he accused her of being. There he stood, looking as perfect as the day she met him, while she sat looking like a frump, forced into the clothes by the situation. God, she hated him almost as much as she loved him.

If only she hadn’t been so naive to think someone as perfect as him could love someone as flawed as her.

She remembered it clearly, the day her heart broke into a thousand pieces and her world turned on its side. It had been early, six thirty in the morning. Dahlia had just finished putting on a tight black dress that emphasized her curves. She put on a little bit of foundation to make her pale white skin gleam a pearly white. A pop of dark red lipstick pulled her look together. Her icy blue eyes just made her look even more innocent in her eyes. By seven, she was out the door, driving to Matthew’s house. The man who held the key to her heart.

She had met Matthew two years earlier at work. They both worked for an accounting firm in the city. His shaggy, dark blonde hair and hazel eyes gave the impression that he would be a surfer, but he was as dedicated to his job as he was to her. They dated for two years, and Dahlia was sure he was going to ask her to marry him.

Until she walked through the door.

When she unlocked the door to his house, she heard a noise upstairs. She followed the noise, walking quietly up the carpeted staircase. She had slipped off her heels when she came into the house, because Matthew was a neat freak. There were many shoes by the front door, so she didn’t think anything of the female slippers sitting besides Matthew’s loafers. A trail of clothing, both male and female, led to the master bedroom. She opened the door to his room, and there he was, with another woman, laying in the bed. Naked. Dahlia’s not sure what sound she made but two pairs of eyes turned her way at the same time. It’s possible she screamed.

“Dahlia! What are you doing here!” Matthew yelled. She started laughing, while tears fell from her eyes.
“Matthew, honey, I came to make you breakfast,” Dahlia said quietly. She couldn’t drag her eyes from the pair on the bed.

Matthew got up, pulling on a pair of boxers. The woman just pulled the sheet up to her chin.

“Dahlia, sweetheart, we broke up,” he said, coming towards her.
“Matthew, tonight is our anniversary. You were supposed to ask me to marry you!”
“We broke up a year ago! Aren’t you listening to me?”

Dahlia didn’t answer. She just turned around and closed the door to the bedroom quietly, locking it. After that she couldn’t remember.

And now these people were saying she killed Matthew and his little whore. But how could she have killed him, when he was standing RIGHT THERE, smiling at her? Smirking at her? LAUGHING AT HER? She was sentenced to death because of him, and they weren’t even looking at him! She was going to die because of him!

So there she sat, with her back straight in the chair. Not blinking or moving. The oak chair she sat in was now unbearable to sit in, which only added to tension to the situation she had found herself in. The man beside her strapped her to the chair, and hooked a machine to her head. And across the room stood the love of her life, the man who had falsely accused her of murdering him. There he stood, looking as perfect as the day she met him, while she sat strapped to a chair in an orange jumpsuit. God, she hated him almost as much as she loved him.

Unfollow

Inhale. Exhale. Unfollow.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Unfollow.
I stare at the computer screen, looking at their Twitter, my hand braced over the “unfollow” button.
It’s easy. I lie to myself. They’re already out of my life, I don’t talk, text, or e-mail them anymore. I haven’t seen them in months. This is just the next step. I have to unfollow them. Permanently erase them from my life. Easy, sure.
God, when did life get this hard? It used to be so easy. You just stopped talking to a person. You could try to convince yourself that you just fell out of touch, that people grow apart. But you knew it was that you couldn’t have them in your life. But you could just not answer their calls, tell yourself you’re busy. That’s it. Now, you have to make a conscious decision to remove someone from your life. Not just not talking to them, but by removing them from your social media.
I put my hand on the mouse, but as I lift my hand from my lap, it starts to shake.
It will be healthier for me. Now that’s the truth. No more online stalking, seeing what they’re up to. No more causing myself more pain by seeing their newest beau. No more writing updates and seeing if they understand I was talking about them. It will definitely be healthier.
I need to breathe, but I can’t. I can only stare at the “unfollow” button, with my hand on the mouse, willing myself to click the button.
You’ll be happier this way. I probably will be happier. I can’t torture myself anymore, which is good. Now I just have the memories of them to torture me. Great.
Will unfollowing them from my social media really help me? Will deleting them from Facebook, or unfollowing them on Instagram really help me happy and healthy? It’s not like we talk anymore, or see each other, so why not just leave them where they are? The memories won’t go away anyway. Will I really stop thinking about them? No, I won’t. I won’t lie to myself. I’ll still hear that song, our song, and I’ll think of them, still see that movie, the one we wanted to see together, and I’ll wonder if they’re seeing it too. So what’s the difference?
I know I’m trying to convince myself to not unfollow them, to let them continue to torture me, even if they don’t know that is what they’re doing to me. I’m trying to keep them in my life, any way that I can. But I know, deep down in my head, not in my heart, that I cannot continue to do this to myself. My head knows what I need to do, but my heart doesn’t want to do it. But I will, one click at a time, one breath at a time.
Once I do it for Twitter, I’ll have to it for Instgram, Facebook, and Snapchat. Anything I follow them on, I will have to undo. I will have to make the conscious decision to remove them from my life, to delete them, unfollow them.
I didn’t think unfollowing one person would be this hard.
The worst part? They probably won’t even notice that I did this.
Inhale.
Exhale.
Unfollow.
I click the mouse, and they’re gone.

unfollow-twitter