As controlled as she tried to be, on the slow ascent upstairs, Amelia felt herself beginning to panic. Her breathing was thick and heavy in her throat, and it felt like she was gaining weight by the second, each step becoming more and more difficult. Questions surged through her head without intermission, a blur of fear and doubt.
'What if I can't do it? What if it doesn't work? What would Mother think if that happened? What about the girls at school?'
"It'll work. Just believe, this is what you want."
Sophie's voice rattled in her head again with each weighted footfall on the exceptionally carpeted stairs. Everything was spick and span as usual, glistening with the latest decorations of her mother's interior design friends. It was home - yet it wasn't anymore, and that was what frightened Amelia. She knew, that once she closed her bedroom door - and locked it, just to be sure - she wasn't coming out...
First, she sank down on her bed, the covers cold and spread tautly over her high mattress. It was here that David had first told her he loved her, both of them half-naked on top of the covers with just a blanket and the complete collection of Lost. Her response had taken a while, and it had been pitiful - "thank you." He hadn't spoken to her for a couple days after that, until she'd told it back to him, and they'd been closer than ever.
'David, oh David. I'm so sorry. But I know you'll be alright.'
Amelia spent a while trying to catch her breath, exhausted as if she'd just run a marathon. She scanned her room, the flatscreen television mounted on the wall, the dressers covered in phone covers and make-up, three different outfit sets screwed up in the wicker basket. It was all hers, all gifts and privilege, and she knew she should have been happy. But the emptiness in her stomach burrowed deeper, feeding off of her from the inside out. There was no other option. Reaching into her handbag, she pulled out the ampule and set it down on the dresser. The pills glistened through the orange container, the label addressed: MRS LAURA MCADAMS. Her mother didn't know, of course, that Amelia had decided to pick up her sleeping medication today.
* * *
First, she felt tired, as if her head was becoming heavier and heavier, dragging her down, busy with voices shouting and slurring.
"You no-good, air-headed SLUT...David'd be bett'r off witho't yo'! Honestly, Amelia, what IS the point of you?"
Before she knew it, there were tears in her eyes as she dry-swallowed the next, and the next. Sophie was right, Sophie was always right, how could she ever doubt her best friend like that? She stared at herself in the dresser mirror, propping her head up with her hand, ruffling and tangling the neatly combed fringe she'd worked on for quarter of an hour this morning. Her brown eyes were wide and her pupils had swelled like pools of oil. She wasn't herself, she wasn't Amelia anymore, and that was for the best. She would never do something like this, everybody would be ashamed of her if they knew what she was thinking.
Rising slowly, her arms becoming slack at her sides, she walked slowly towards her bed where the pills were spread out on the covers, gulping down one more until her eyes tried to close on her. No...more, I need more, otherwise it won't work! It has to work!
I can't wake up...not to this...I don't want to...
She slipped from the bed to the floor, clutching for more of the glistening, white pills but they were too far away. The ground seemed to sink, everything rising higher and higher above her, twisting and blurring out of place. Finally, the strength in her neck failed, and her head fell to the floor, staring up at the ceiling with glow-in-the-dark stars that her father had put there when she was five. She'd remembered ordering him where to put them, which made the right patterns, and he'd laughed, moving the ladder and doing exactly as she'd said. It was too happy a memory for her to take them down years later, and now, they glowed a little, her curtains shutting out the afternoon light just enough. Tears seared the corners of her eyes, like molten metal welding them shut, and all of a sudden there was a rush of cold up her body from her feet to her throat, goosebumps rising on her arms before darkness scrambled around her...
She was gone for just a moment, and then came the heat. It burnt her at her fingertips, painful enough for her eyelashes to flicker and for her eyes to open just the slightest. Blurred, she saw him. She knew him, but she didn't. He was a stranger, but his thick-lashed eyes locking onto hers made the heat bearable, even as she tried to scream unsuccessfully from an aching, dry throat. His eyes were like the sky, like the beautiful blue beyond the clouds, and leaning down, his dark hair cast shadows across his cheekbones. He was speaking, she saw his mouth moving. She tried to reach up and brush her fingers across them - he was so beautiful, radiant, like a dark star - but her body wouldn't move. Her ears felt as if they were burning, and then she could barely hear him, his voice deep and fading in and out like a dying signal. She realised there was a device to his ear, a silver phone.
"#A8-9-932...one dosage...emergency Grace revival...give a seraph's ass..."
Like drops of snow, Amelia felt his fingertips stroking her cheek, and she was fixated on him as he snapped the phone shut and pocketed it so that both hands were on her cheeks. Something in his hands began to glow, she wanted to wriggle away, to stop him from whatever he was doing. But she was numb and helpless as the glow began to spread, burning bright and white like the depths of fire. It seemed to engulf the whole room, everything bled of colour, and then she felt the light at the backs of her eyes, burning her nerves so that she could feel again. Her veins were alight and she swore her skin was melting, rising into a climax of agony that set her free from the darkness and let her scream aloud.