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I’m down for the count. One, two, three hits in the face and all the lights go out. I sit up screaming. She’s put another cigarette out on my skin. She laughs sadistically and I cringe. Her upper lip curls and her hand comes down hard across my face.
That’s the last thing I remember. I had thought I had been knocked out again but I hadn’t. That night was the first night I knew of the monster that lived within me. The monster that took control and killed my mother. I see flashes of cold steel and bright red in my dreams and know that I became no better than her.
That was ten years ago today, yet I remember it like it was yesterday. And since that time she’s only gotten stronger. I can barely separate us. I wonder how things would be for everyone in my life if the monster had only killed me.
I jump, milk flying from my spoon to spatter the table. The drops flash red and I gasp.
“Whoa now, calm down. I didn’t mean to scare you.”
It’s Janice, my adoptive mother. “It’s ok. I was just lost in thought.”
“It was ten years ago Nevada,” she says softly.
I raise my eyes to hers and a tear squeezes its way out. “I know,” I sniff.
She hesitantly steps forward, not because she’s afraid, just because I don’t likely accept touching from others. But I receive it with grace today. All I ever wanted was someone to care and Janice does.
“I know it’s not a good day for you so I scheduled you for an appointment at Dr. Z’s. It’s at noon. Do you want me to drive you?”
“No,” I pull away. “I can handle it by myself. It’s probably something I need to do by myself.”
“Okay honey. Meet me here for dinner.”
I smile; birthday dinners are always the best. I kiss Janice on the cheek on my way to the door. “I will call you I leave the school.”
“Wait! You are going to need this.” She hands me the signed note dismissing me from class and I skip out the door to my car.
I walk through the halls alone. Despite how well things have developed between Janice and myself I could never manage a friend my age. They all think of me as the outcast, fearing me without even knowing why. But I know.
Walking to 3rd block I begin to think about my appointment. ‘Maybe I will tell her all about you,’ I think. Something within me twitches and I shudder. ‘Leave me alone.’ I am getting scared now. I feel a pressure in my head and I start to run down the hall pushing people anxiously aside.
Suddenly I am sprawled on the ground.
“Whoa man I’m sorry. Are you alright?”
A hand has a hold of my arm and it’s lifting me back to my feet. For once I don’t flinch at the touch and my eyes roll searching for a face.
There it is.
It’s a boy.
‘Why am I smiling?’
“It was my fault,” I find myself saying. “I tend to stare at the ground when I walk.”
“Walk?” he says to me and he’s smiling too. It’s making my knees weak. “What’s the rush?’
I laugh, “I honestly can’t remember.”
He’s retrieved my books from the floor and holds them now with his own. “I will walk you to your next class then.”
“You’ll be late to your own,” I tell him as we begin to walk.
“That is perfectly fine with me.”
My smile won’t relax and if I know anything I’d say his isn’t either. We walk slowly in companionable silence brushing arms from time to time in the crowded hall.
“This is me.” We are standing outside Mrs. Dialson’s anatomy class room.
He opens the front of my book, glances at it and then hand me my things. “Well Nevada I will most definitely see you later.” He turns and I reach out and place my hand on his arm. “Name’s Seth,” he smiles.
And of course, so do I.
I glance at the clock. I should leave for Dr. Z’s in a few minutes. My head gets heavy and I slump forward.
“Mrs. Janice Rice?”
The voice sounds extremely alarmed, anxious and I sit without thinking. “Speaking,” I say.
“Janice, its Mr. Anderson from Nevada’s high school. I think you should come here right away. There has been some kind of incident with Nevada. I believe we could use your help.”
The word echoes through the halls as I am walking back to class from the restroom. I believe it in my best interest to duck into the nearest door so I do.
I hear a whispered, “Seth no!” but by then it’s too late.
I’ve walked right into the reason for the lockdown. Standing in front of the class is Nevada holding a scalpel pointed towards the cowering students in their chairs. I see blood.
Pulling up to the curb at the school I see police cars and the panic really sets in. I run through the doors into the chaos.
“Janice come this way please.” The police officer leads me to a surveillance room. Covering all the screens is a single room. I instantly spot my Nevada wielding a rather sharp looking scalpel before entire cowering class.
“This student has been injured.” he points to a girl cradling her arm and I gasp.
Shaking my head I collapse and begin to cry.
“What!? What is it?”
“That’s not Nevada. It’s her!”
“Who is her?”
“You aren’t supposed to name them. It acknowledges that they exist and you shouldn’t do that.”
“Nevada has a multi-personality disorder. That is the other personality. She is very violent, evil, sadistic even. This isn’t good.”
Everyone within earshot was now staring my way. This changed everything.
The chief steps forward and helps me to a chair, “Tell me, please, what you can about this.” And I tell him everything. The entire story of Nevada’s awful childhood and what happened as a result. That day, ten years ago.
“Sir!” There is a frantic yell and a teacher runs in. “There is an extra student in the classroom. We’ve identified him as Seth Stapleton.”
“What do I care?”
“Well I wouldn’t have thought it so urgent; it’s just that he is approaching the subject as we speak.”
He’s up out of his chair and out of the room in a heartbeat, leaving me to worry alone.
“Seth,” Nevada says coldly “You shouldn’t be here.”
“What is going on Nevada?”
She flinches and her lip curls. “Don’t call me that! It’s not my name.” She cackles disgustingly. “There are two sides to every story.”
“So what?” someone says quietly, thoughtfully, “You’re saying she is… two different people?”
“More than one personality,” someone else whispers.
“Bingo!” she yells twirling around. “I am the better half.”
I take a seat as she begins to move down the aisle. She stops next to Sabrina, a girl in my math class. She places the scalpel against her cheek. “Nevada likes you, ya know?” she says. “she likes that you’re outspoken and aren’t afraid of anything. You can tell her that’s not true when she gets back.” A drop of blood trickles down like a tear.
“That’s enough!” I yell standing too quickly, my chair smacks too loudly against the tile.
She turns sharply, threateningly. I step forward and she steps back. I motion with my hand for the kid behind me to make a run for the door. I can’t see his reaction but I hear no sound.
“What are you doing?” she asks. She doesn’t sound as confident.
“I am getting all of these kids out of here.”
She shakes her head viciously.
“GO!” I yell and everyone move at once. She steps toward the nearest student scalpel at the ready and I throw myself at her, tackling her to the ground.
As we all watch the students run from the room we jump up to meet them in the hall. I am trembling but my maternal instinct is to see these children safely away from danger.
Eyes are huge, tear tracks on their faces impossible not to see.
“Every is fine now. Just find a seat against the wall somewhere and relax. It’s over,” the chief speaks up above the din of noise. The crowd fans out and he motions for the men to approach the room.
“I’m coming with you,” I say.
“No Janice you need to stay here.”
“That is my child in there. She is at risk just like these children were.”
He nods and we move.
As we come close to the door I hear crying. I push through the police and enter the room first. There, sitting with Seth’s head cradled in her lap, is my Nevada, tears streaming down her face.
“I didn’t do it I swear. He needs help,” she moves her hand to reveal the small but deep cut to his side, blood covering the both og them.
“I know you didn’t honey. I know. You have to let go of him now. These men are going to take him to get some help.” She releases him slowly and then he is gone. “Lets get you home so you can rest.”
As if I could sleep. I left the house as soon as I cleaned myself up. I was at the hospital now.
“Nevada,” I look up. It’s Seth. I jump up and hug him gently around the neck.
“Seth you saved them, all of them. And you saved me. I swear she’s gone now. You make me stronger. You saved me. You’re my hero.” I keep saying it again and again. He gently reaches up and strokes my hair.
“Shh, Nevada. It’s over now.”