Xander: Then Came Freedom... 

Christmas break was my liberation, my freedom. For two weeks I need not deal with the structures and shackles of school. I already knew there were some killer parties lined up. Cole would probably have one, and if not I was certain Gavin would. For two weeks we would be the epitome of teenage anarchy. We would be the definition of rebellion. And the drugs would bring us up, and the booze would bring us down, and the whole town would reek of sex and partying all because of us.

For the first time in months, I was ready to go out and have fun. I forced myself to remember that Reina was gone, and she woldnt be coming back. And maybe I could have helped her. Maybe I could have saved her. But I hadnt. And it was too late now, and perhaps wherever she was, Reina would have been happier if I'd have just gotten on with my life instead of falling behind it. Maybe all along she had wanted me to be free like her. Like a fucking butterfly.   

My parents were still at work when I arrived home. My brother was there, though, sitting at the table with a bowl of cereal and a handheld gaming system. What up? I greeted. Wyatt chose to ignore me, not that Id expected any less from him. it would be a sad day when he suddenly woke up in the midst of reality. I wondered if I would be there to help him or if I would leave him to figure things out on his own.

As for me, I needed help figuring things out from my good friend Mr. Jack Daniels. I didnt bother saying another word to Wyatt before I started up to my room. It would have been wasted anyway.


There was blood everywhere. The floor was sticky with it, and it coated my bare arms as it seeped from the gaping wounds upon my wrists. My eyes were squeezed shut against the blinding agony, my teeth deep in my cheeks to stop the scream threatening to burst out.

Id long since grown faint. Now I was floating, somewhere between life and death, balancing precariously on the edge and begging something to push me over. Still the blood came. I wondered if ever it would stop. Or perhaps Id condemned myself to an eternity of constant, blinding pain.

Eventually I managed to steady my breathing. By then Id gone numb, and I was able to open my eyes. Stumbling over to the mirror above the sink, I took a good, hard look at myself. I looked awful, but that was expected. The light in my eyes had long since flickered out. Id practically already died. And at least this way I would leave a nice little stain on the school.

"Reina." Her name came out in a strangled whisper, one that I thought may have been ricocheting off the walls. Whever she was then, I hoped she could hear me. I hoped she was waiting with open arms.

They say that every end is really a beginning. Standing there watching my life source spill out onto the tile floor, I thought bitterly that sometimes the end was really just the end.


I awoke with a start. Darkness engulfed me as my bedroom faded into focus. I shook my head violently. It was a pathetic attempt to rid my mind of the nightmares that plagued me. Of the memories that plagued me.

I reached up to rub at my eyes. Even behind closed lids, red stained my vision. My eyes snapped open and I turned my gaze onto that same part of my flesh. A jagged scar stretched across my left wrist, puckered where it had healed.

Healed, but nor forgotten. Never forgotten. Even without the nasty scar as a constant reminder, one did not forget how it felt to stare the devil in the face and laugh.

What an awful start to my Christmas break. It had been over a year since that godforsaken day, when Id looked out into the blackened abyss of madness. When the mere thought of Reina, dead, had made me want to taste the bitter end as well. Was that love, I wondered absently?

Id been better. Id managed to push it from my mind, for the most part. Whatever turmoil lay waiting to spring, whatever demons had triggered the agonizing flashback, I could only hope they would stay where they were. I couldnt stand any more suffering. Not when happiness was so close.

 Alessa: Then Came Captivation... 

I hated winter. I’d always hated winter. I spent my first day of Christmas break wrapped up in some plaid pajamas, downing cup after cup of coffee. Nothing healed the body like coffee. The liquid was hot as it went down, but the warmth was invited.

I’d long since come to the conclusion that life’s sole purpose was to screw with the rest of us. If there was a God, I sure hoped he was getting his kicks, because I was not amused. Three months, almost to the day. Of course he still crossed my mind. That was only natural. But, if asked, I was sure I would have replied that I was over him. or so I thought.

It’s quite ironic that just when you decide you no longer need something it comes crawling back, telling you it was sorry and it missed you and it wanted a second chance. And I cried, and I spent the first two days of my break in major relapse.

But in the end, Xander was the one that my heart was crying for. Xander was the one I wanted to call and rant to for hours on end. Because I'd been fucked over once before by that one I'd thought I loved. And letting him in again would have been the death of me. So when it came time to choose, I told him goodbye, I hung up the phone, and I dialed Xander's number from memory.


“So, tell me again about Xander.”

I took another deep breath, exhaling loudly and dramatically. I was sprawled out sideways on the chair of my shrink’s office, absently running my finger over the metal studs of my belt. I didn’t want to talk about Xander with her, because there was no way she'd understand. How could I possibly describe his angelic eyes, his musical voice, the very way he made me want to live on in his arms? How could I possibly express how fragile he seemed to be, or how complete he made me? 

She had been listening to me rant and rave about him every session for the past month. I knew she was sick of it. When even your shrink didn’t want to hear about your problems, you knew you had it bad. I was crazy about him, yes, but I was beginning to wonder if Xander had also made me crazy. His was the name on my lips as I held the razor to my wrist. But his was also the name in my head when I dropped it into the sink without a drop of blood upon it.

“Alessa.” Dr. L’s voice brought me from my downward spiral of thoughts. “Was there something more important you wanted to talk about?”

Too quickly, I shook my head. “No… No. Xander’s good. He’s, well, He’s Xander. Every time I see him it makes me think maybe I’m not so broken after all. His wounds run so much deeper than mine. He… I see something, when I look at him. Something in his eyes. Like he is just waiting for the perfect moment to laugh in all our faces. He’s the shattered one, but it’s like he still thinks we’re worse off than him.”

Dr. L nodded. “Maybe he’s hopeful?” She suggested.

I shrugged, adverting my gaze back out her window. “Maybe he’s just fucked like the rest of us, and he’s already come to accept it.”


When I arrived at Paul’s I was busy texting Ellie, just a nice little good morning like she had requested. Which was probably why I didn’t see Xander until I had walked right into him. I reached out for his arm to steady myself.

His smile was warm, the sort I knew he wasn’t quick to give out. “Clumsy as ever,” he murmured. “I thought you reserved that for the lanes.”

I scowled at him, but it quickly faded into a grin. It was just so easy to be around him. I was careless in his presence, perfect. something about the way he looked at me made me feel like maybe there was a light in me somewhere, and there was still hope of it breaking through to the surface.

The heavy vibration of my phone reminded me of, well, everything, and I knew that my heart was beating loud enough to be heard around the world. I wondered to myself what would happen if right there I poured my heart out to him, told him everything there was to tell. Told him that he was saving me even as he was killing me. That he was healing me even as he was breaking me. That I was craving more of the poison he filled me with. Someone said once that in Black Hills, everyone had to pick their poison. I was quite certain that Xander was the only one for me.

Xander must have seen something in my expression change, because his own brow creased. “What’s wrong?” he asked gently. His hand reached out to push my bangs back from my heavily made-up eyes.

I shook my head ever so slightly, and of course they fell right back in. “Xander,” I whispered, hating how my voice came out. Weak. That’s what I was. Weak and fragile. “There’s this guy… He’s been a part of my life for a while. And I-”

He cut me off so fast and so hard I swear I could feel the physical pain. “I get it,” he said. “You don’t need to explain.”

“Xander,” I pleaded. But by then he had already turned away, back towards Cole, away from me. My heart felt like it had been ripped from my chest and a mace had been shoved in to fill the hole. And all the while I was trying desperately to find the words, because I loved him, I loved him, and that was all there was to it.

I watched him across the room for a long time, that beautifully broken boy. He was different from the others, so resigned to take all the pain that life had t offer. While others stood up and kept on fighting, he only sat there and took each hit. I wondered if that made him brave or merely a coward. He said no goodbye to me that day, but only pushed his way out the door, out into the chill of the winter. It could not compare to the chill in my heart.

The End

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