I woke up screaming today, again. I was covered in cold sweat and my blankets were twisted around me in a violent way as if i had been in a wrestling match with them all night. Everyone looks at me with pity in their eyes, and my grandparents look to the floor so they aren’t reminded of what I am screaming about, but I cannot hide it any longer. I can't escape what happened. The sounds and sights are too real in my dreams every night and no amount of pills can make them go away.
I live everyday as a reminder of that night. I don’t know why I lived, or how. They say I flat lined for three whole minutes and that at last second, my eyes popped open and I came back to life, I even have the death certificate to prove it. I was dead. I can't remember what brought me back. I just remember hearing the sounds.. The sounds that continue to haunt me to this very day. The crashing of things being thrown, sounds of a gun being cocked, a trigger being pulled, and my mother... begging for her life. Then a second shot, and a third. I hear them everywhere I go, everywhere I have gone. I can never escape them, not even in my dreams. It's worse when I sleep. I see everything again and again. My therapist says its normal, PTSD or whatever, but I can see its nothing of the sort. She keeps upping my dosages of this pill and that pill and then she tries to make me sleep. She says I have a bad case of insomnia, one of the worst she's ever seen, and that everyone was worried about me because I looked like hell. They just don't understand.. I can't keep seeing her die; I can’t keep seeing him die. I should have died too.
I don't fit in at school; they look at me as if I'm a freak. Even the Goth kids treat me as a project. Teachers dance around any topics that may be close to what has happened. I can't stand it. Don't they understand I need to talk about it? I think that's why I have so many nightmares, it's all stuck up there in my head and it's begging to be let loose and hang out in the air between two people, but no one wants to free it, no one but me. It's like a dam, waiting for its opportunity to burst. All the bad wants to be released and it just wants to give my mind a break, my body is so tired from keeping it in but every time I approach anyone with it, they turn away and refuse to talk. It's a small town and no one wants to be reminded of the violent thing that happened, the thing that stained our town's reputation.
I can't live like this anymore, I need someone to help. I need someone to understand. My therapist just wants to drug me to the point of total inebriation. I feel even worse then. I'm alone in this fight, like I was that night. I am just waiting for him to come back to finish me off. That's why I don't sleep, I'm an easy target laying there, out cold and unconscious. It would be easy for him to pick me off just like he did to my mother, then to himself. He never left anything unfinished, and he wouldn't stop until he got what he wanted. Us. I see him lurking around every corner; he whispers my name late at night when I'm lying awake. He wants me to sleep like everyone else, but he won't win; I cannot let him win.
"Get up now, you're going to be late for school." says a disappointed voice from my doorway, I know instantly it's my grandmother. She acts like I actually sleep.
They were my fathers parents and my grandmother reminds me everyday somehow that it was my fault. She never says it right out but in little ways she makes it known that she wishes I would have died instead of my father. She blames my mother and I for making him go crazy, even though we were treading on eggshells for most of our lives. You see, my dad wasn't always all there, which is why it was no surprise when the man snapped. Doctors always thought he was schizophrenic but he was never diagnosed. He would walk around talking to people who weren't there, chant in languages my mother and I could never understand. In my grandparents eyes he was a step away from a saint, so there was no way they would ever believe a "head shrinker" as they call it.
I remember when I was about five, my mother ran into my room late at night and pushed me into my closet, putting a single finger up to her lips signaling me to stay quiet before shutting the door. I heard her retreating footsteps walk into the kitchen and they were followed by yelling and crashing of plates and glasses. I knew my father was home then, and that he had most likely been drinking. My mother was a strong woman, no matter what my father did she was always looking to the hopeful side of things like going to church the next day or taking me shopping for new shoes.
I block out these memories and roll sideways out of bed walk to the closet looking for something to put on. I settle for a plain t-shirt and jeans like always. I sit on my twin bed with its old worn out floral bed sheets and put on my socks and sneakers before I walk downstairs to make toast before I leave.
"Why can't you ever dress presentable for once, you make us look bad. God, you look like you're strung out on drugs." comes my grandmother's voice from the hallway.
I shrug off her comment and walk down the polished cedar steps, giving myself a pep talk to make myself go to school. There's nothing worse than walking into a place knowing everyone knows your past, especially when its the darkest part. You are looked at as a fragile thing that can be broken with an unkind word. I hate that. I gingerly walk through the living room where my grandfather is passed out, whiskey bottle in hand and go into the kitchen. I walk to the counter where the bread is and quietly open it and pop two pieces into the toaster.
I walk out the back door, careful not to let the screen door slam shut and wake my grandfather from his morning drunken blackout and head toward the woods, this is the quickest way to school. I walk briskly down the weather beaten path, wishing I had grabbed a jacket before I left. It's autumn now, and the leaves are falling with the small breezes that dance gracefully from tree to tree, like little sprites. I wrap my arms around myself, breathing in the earthy smell that surrounds me and for a moment I feel calm. I feel hopeful for my future. This feeling, though, is short-lived and I continue my fast-paced walk.
Within minutes I am outside of Wyvern Valley High, becoming encased in it's looming shadow. Most teenagers think of school as prison; but not all can say their school is - or was - one. Our high school burned down in the late 50's and instead of rebuilding everyone decided to cut their loses and relocate and remodel an old state penitentiary that had been abandoned for some time right on the outskirts of town. It was shut down a decade before due to the mistreatment of the prisoners by the CEOs. It was a HUGE scandal. But, in some twisted way, our magistrate believed if they knocked down the walls to what used to be the prison yard and slapped some bright colored paint on the inside that it would seem more inviting to its students and parents but honestly, who wants to enter a place where some of the most dangerous people lived (and died).
I stare at the outside of the school, looking to the tear-streak rust stains on the windows from where the bars had been. The grey concrete on the outside screams anything but inviting to me as I take in it's appearance. I sigh and make my way to the front doors, preparing myself for another day.
"In conclusion, the Great Depression was one of the greatest American tragedies to ever happen; you have a test on this next Wednesday.. make sure you use the study guide I gave you all it basically gives you the answers people. I don't make it for my health I make it......."
My head snaps up at the sound of my name I look and everyone is still, I could hear a pin drop. It looks like someone hit the pause button to the whole room, minus me. Mrs. K's hand is wavering right above the board, obviously in mid-sentence. Some random boys are right about to throw a paper airplane and the blonde girl next to me is frozen in the middle of painting her nails.
"Hello..?" I say, hoping no one will answer.
"I'm coming back for you... "
I suddenly cant breathe. I start to panic. What is going on? What do I do?!
I jump awake at the sound of Mrs. K's Voice. Everyone is staring at me. I cant believe I fell asleep. The sentence one the board is finished and the blonde next to me is beaming at her manicure skills. There is a paper airplane on the ground behind her.
"Are you okay?" She asks, looking worried.
Does she ever sleep? she looks so tired..
She's never going to pass if this keeps up..
It's not her fault.. she's seen a lot.
The whispers become too much.. I have to leave.
"Can I be excused please?" I ask, getting an instant nod and the nurses pass.
I never do go to the nurses though, I go and hide in the bathroom.