I am staring at the pile of assorted textbooks, notebooks, and folders that is perched on the chair in front of his desk. He won’t be home for two days. If I look and put everything back exactly how I found it, he will never know. My blood is running cold in my veins, and my head is screaming at me to walk away now. My heart seems to have migrated north in my chest, beating uncomfortably in a position against my ribs that I do not think is normal. I sit cross-legged on the floor in front of the chair. Hating myself, I pull the heavy stack down beside me. I begin to search.
    I unfold papers, flip through pages covered in text, rifle through lined paper with Jamie’s neat handwriting on them. I take note that my name appears nowhere. When he is at school and I am at home, I am apparently not on his mind. I am almost desensitized to this search, automatically unfolding pages and scanning them before tossing them aside. I am almost absent-mindedly flipping through a notebook when a sheet of folded paper flutters out.
    It sits on the floor next to me, enticing and screaming at me to open it. My heart pounds more uncomfortably, and my stomach feels disgustingly warm in contrast to the icy flow in my arteries. I extend a shaking hand and pick it up. I unfold it and take one look before my heart immediately falls from my chest and right into the floor. I swear I hear a gun fire as my head tells me I have been shot.
    A number, a question asking if it is correct. I almost refuse to believe it is possible. I get my cell phone and quickly dial the number, ensuring to make my own number private. Each second is like loading a gun. Bullet by bullet, ring by ring. The message at the end of seven rings is a female voice. I hang up before I am recorded. Each bullet lodges itself in my heart with brute force as I quickly restore the stack on the chair with shaking hands. My head is exploding with emotion, as tumultuous as a hurricane.
    Panic, pain, disbelief, betrayal, and horror chase each other back and forth, competing for dominance. I stare at my phone, held in my palm. He bought it for me. It is maroon and the thought flashes into my mind. The tears burn hot in my eyes and I run out of the living room and into the bedroom we share. I dive across our full sized bed to my side and push aside the papers that have accumulated on the bottom shelf of my nightstand. Something flashes silver before it is knocked out of sight by my rush. I track it down again and extend my fingers to pick it up. I lift my treasure to my face.
    I extract the razor blade from the outer shell of the box cutter and smile sadly through my anguish at the fact that my father has not realized he supplies my instruments after all these years. The blade is new, has never cut tape, cardboard, or skin. I place it on the unmade bed and pull off my sweatpants to expose my hips. The right side of my pelvic area is a network of scars already. A cluster of cuts from a different time, a different blade, but the same pain from the same person. Oh Jamie, how could you do this to me?
    I pick up the blade between my fingers and her voice springs into my head. I don’t know who she is. My heart feels as though it is shattering in my chest, breaking apart to spill the pain through out my body, to allow it to consume me and only add to the poison Jamie bestows in my being. Loving him is arsenic.
    I think no more and blink tears out of my eyes. They freefall all of five feet before scattering into droplets on the carpet, which stay suspended for a moment before soaking into the gray fibers. The silver flashes, and there is pain. Not enough, no good. Blood oozes but I am not recovered, I am not okay. I press down and pull across, feeling my skin separate. It stings and smarts and almost makes me cry out, but I do not lift the steel. Grim satisfaction, disgusting resignation drives me to this. I raise the blade again and this time I do cry out. Over and over I desperately slice myself open, gasping and squeezing my eyes shut with each impact.
    I open twenty red creeks in my skin before I put the razor down. The edge is stained scarlet, and blood runs down my leg from my hip, past my knees to freeze somewhere mid-shin. I am still not okay. Her voice is echoing in my mind, and I am picturing Jamie’s smile and his pen across the paper as he wrote the words that shattered me. He knew I would find out. He must have known. It is all too real, the pain is all too much. My trust has been completely obliterated and my confidence is not far behind.
    You see, Jamie is everything. He has been everything for almost three years. Every opinion about myself originates somewhere in Jamie’s opinion of me. I realize his opinion of me has whittled to nothing. I am worth less than a girl in a class of his. Her number trumps my entire existence. I fall apart on the carpet, collapsing to my knees and then bending over at the waist so my forehead rests on the carpet and my body shakes with sobs. My hip stings and I ignore it. I feel warm liquid on my inner thigh and know that it is blood. I reach for my phone and dial the number I know by heart. It is seven o’clock. He is still on the bus. Jamie is in the Army, and he is on his way to a weekend training session two hours away.
    He answers on the third ring.
    “Hello?” comes to me over the cacophony of male voices.
    “Who is Erica?” I ask, keeping my voice steady despite the instability of my entire mind.
    “Who?” he asks, playing stupid. I want to draw the razor through my skin again.
    “Erica. The girl you texted. The number that was in your notebook.” There is silence on the other line and I know the tide of anger is about to wash over me.
    “Why the fuck do you go through my shit?” There it is. It is familiar and I know I have caught him. Play stupid all you want. I know what I mean to you.
    “How can you do this to me?” Pathetic. Awful. Dramatic. Desperate for an answer which he predictably does not provide.
    “Annaleigh you do this to yourself. You look for reasons to be pissed at me.” It’s always my fault.
    “I can’t do this.” My famous line. He doesn’t know how true it is at this very moment. I can’t talk to him, I can’t be with him, I can’t trust him, I can’t continue living. My mind is black, black, black and my heart is rent apart by panic.
    “Do what?” His famous line. I hate him for it.
    “Be with you. It is emotional murder.” My voice breaks and I sob.
    “I love you Annaleigh.” He is a fantastic liar, only sweet when I am trying to leave. Only caring when I threaten to go. Only in love with me buried in the covers on which I sit.
    “No you don’t.” I hang up before he responds. I sit for a moment, cell phone in hand and half-hoping he’ll call back. Of course, he doesn’t. It was a miracle for him to answer in the first place. I decide, right then and there, that I sincerely cannot do it anymore. Everything Jamie has ever done is crashing down on me, wave after wave of misery and regret. That, coupled with my already instable mind, has pushed me over the edge. I am done.
    I put my phone on the bed and watch it for a moment. No attempt to communicate with me causes the screen to light up. I nod in defeat and walk into the kitchen. Tears blur the light above the sink and I open a drawer which houses Advil. Pain killer.
    I walk into my parents’ side of the multi-family home and open a cabinet that is above their counter. My mother is a goldmine for emotional problems just like me, and as such her cabinet is a treasure trove of medications. I reach for one I know so well; Seroquil. Through my tears I see one word in the drug name: zen.
    I return to my apartment, and I am numb to the fact that no one heard me open the cabinet and take the pills. Or they didn’t care. Either way, it just makes it easier for me. I need a final ingredient, and I enter our bedroom once again. The bottle sits on the top shelf of my nightstand. I haven’t taken them for a while, so I have quite the supply. Effexor, prescribed to chase away depression and replace it with happiness. Kill the pain, manufacture happiness, achieve Zen. And I will, in that order.
    First, I line up the Advil on the counter in our bathroom. Next comes the Effexor, and last the Seroquil. All three bottles are empty and I walk into our kitchen, taking a bottle of Dasani from the fridge and placing it beside the pills. I then collect a pen and paper from the bedroom and take it into the bathroom. I realize that I am still crying and wipe away tears. I am also still lacking pants, blood dripping freely down my left leg. I glance momentarily in the mirror. My makeup has bled down my face.
    I put pen to paper and begin to scrawl the only thing I can think of: lyrics to a Bright Eyes song. I end up writing down the majority of the first verse and the chorus. I blink back tears and simply write that I am sorry at the bottom of the paper, though I am not at all. I place it on the lid of the toilet which I closed. I stand and open the bottle of water. I hear my phone and am too immersed in my forth-coming death to care. I know it isn’t Jamie. My emotions seem to shut off and there is no fear or apprehension within me. Only determination, and defeat.
    Methodically, systematically, I begin to take the pills. Advil comes first. Pills, water. Pills, water. Next, Effexor. Capsules are disgusting. I choke them down and rinse my esophagus with purified water. Finally I reach the Seroquil. To achieve Zen, I swallow all that I can. I finish the bottle of water and sit on the floor.
    As I wait for death to enfold me, I wonder briefly when I’ll be found. Who will find me. What they will think. Who they will call. I wonder at great length what Jamie’s reaction will be. My stomach is churning and my mind is still spinning in a hurricane. I feel disgustingly sick and miserably overwhelmed. I urge the darkness to come and finally it does. It begins in the back of my mind and fans outward, consuming everything in it’s embrace. I am conscious until I am halfway to the floor.

The End

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