For Him

July 30, 2009
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The steps had never looked so tall before. There were never so many of them. They had never towered over her like that. They had never given off a sense of insecurity and danger. But right now they were like the first half of a hill on a roller coaster; the other piece missing.

Cori stared up at the building, tall and white like her father had been when she told him the news. The stone pillars were cold and hard in the mid-November wind. They reminded her of her father’s arms and hands and features. The dark windows looked like his eyes.

She kept her vision fixed on the stairs, which, one after the other, built up to the building where she would have to face the criticism of a thousand pairs of eyes. Few of them understood what she was going through; none of them would be sympathetic. None of them but one, and that one was the only source of courage that allowed her to climb those stairs. She held on to the banister as though it was the only thing keeping her alive. With each step up she would slide her hand a few inches across the metal; each inch closer. There were cars going by on the street behind her, but no people. The sun seemed to be the only one paying attention to her. For this she was grateful, and she looked into it, knowing someone else was up there who loved her, too. One step after another, she glided towards the doors.

The office was silent. Gray. Formal. Her frazzled hair and make-up smeared eyes clashed with the proper air of the place. She felt alone again. An outsider. By herself. The receptionist smiled, but her eyes scorned. When she took the note from Cori’s hand she didn’t bother reading it. Everyone knew.

Cori took a slip from the receptionist and sat down, staring straight in front of her at the wood of the front of the desk. The guidance councilor’s door was closed. She shut her eyes, tilted her head down, and hoped that when she opened them what was inside of her would be gone. The thin red lines that told stories on her arms would be gone; not faded, but never-existent. But before she could open her eyes, a reminder that nothing had left her swelled inside. She unhooked her arms from her bags and stood, hunched over. The door of the office couldn’t open fast enough, and everything she had attempted to eat that morning and the night before was on the hallway floor. She stared at it for a few seconds before looking up; a delayed reaction to the disgusted voices of students coming from a classroom across the hall. Cori looked down, stepped over the mess calmly, and headed towards the bathroom. It was vacant, and she took it as an opportunity to finish what she had started a few days before.

Before she really knew what she was doing a searing pain shot up her arm, and seemed to radiate through her chest. The blood was warm and flowed slowly, dripping on her sweatshirt, forming a small puddle on the floor. Tears over-whelmed her vision. Her mind drifted to a drunken memory of two months ago, and how she could barely remember anything from the room she had been in. This lack of detail carried over to the identity of the father of the child inside of her. That was the first moment she had ever considered it a child.

Her reverie was broken when Jared swung open the door. He was at her side before the receptionist was, and he signaled for her to go away. He grabbed Cori softly by the hips, trying to hold back the swelling emotion, and pulled her away from the sink. A few seconds passed and she was on the ground, Jared bent over her, moving her hair away and talking to her quietly. As much as the real Cori would treasure that moment forever, this twisted other side of her went off in a fit of rage. She kicked and screamed and got loose from him, stood up, walked to the sink, and grabbed the razor blade. She was angrier at herself now that Jared had seen her as ugly as she looked. Before he could stop her, another piece of her was gone, slashed by the blade. This new persona she had taken on wondered if she could stand here, taking this out on herself, forever.

But Cori wasn’t going to take it anymore. She dropped the blade, took some paper towels and wrapped them around her arms, then looked at herself in the mirror. She got close enough that her breath was painting temporary circles of fuzzy white on the glass. She decided she was pretty, right then. Her eyes were dark, her face white, and her lips full and red. They matched the slits on her arms, which now disgusted her.

“What’s wrong with me?” she screamed, stepping back from the mirror. She looked at Jared for an answer, but he stood, still bent from helping her, with tears dripping from his face. After sixteen years of providing Cori with a safe haven whenever she was harboring sorrow, he didn’t have anything to say to her when she needed it the most. He stood straight, took a step towards the bent and mangled body of what used to be his best friend, and wrapped his arms around her. It was all he knew how to do at that moment. The small girl’s blood seeped through his shirt and he could feel it, now cold, on his stomach. She didn’t make a move to hug him back, and fell limp in his strong grip. Sobs echoed in the tiny bathroom, bouncing off the walls and back into the ears of the crying teenagers. This was the hardest thing either one of them had ever had to do, but they were both thankful they were doing it with each other. Cori looked at Jared, more thankful that she had ever been that there was someone there to stop her. And Jared, barely having the ability to see passed his tears, was thankful, even though she wasn’t stable, to have Cori there. He was thankful for that everyday.

The lights and sirens were a blur to her, mixed with worried voices and screams and crying. She was embarrassed at the scene she had caused, and was almost positive she would never be returning to that school again. Her parents would probably send her away to a place with other teenage mothers, and then boarding school, and then college, if she ever made it that far. The hopes of graduating with all of her friends-or the people that used to be her friends-were fading fast, and the last thought she had before falling under the lullaby of the medication was of Jared’s eyes; filled with pity and love and gratefulness at the same time. She was too much of a mess to do anything for herself anymore, and as the doors opened and she was rushed into the emergency room-lights, voices, sobs, screams- she decided that she had to do this for Jared. She had to stay alive for him.





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