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Ready, Set, Let Go

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Lexi sprinted into the bathroom, black flip flops smacking the floor, covering her mouth with her left hand, shoulder-length auburn hair flying back behind her head in every direction. Her favorite novel fell out of her green tote bag to the floor. She threw her bag into the corner, along with her field hockey stick, her senior prom flyer falling to the blue tiles, ran into the stall, and locked the door behind herself. She dropped to her knees, gripped the toilet seat with one hand, and pulled her auburn hair back with the other. Her head over the toilet, she vice-gripped it so tight her veins bulged out of her hands, and she threw up. She sat back and her hair fell while she grabbed a piece of toilet paper from the roll. She wiped her mouth and threw the stained paper into the trash. She whipped her head back to the smooth porcelain and threw up again. She wiped her mouth with the back of her hand, stood up, and walked out of the stall. She picked her green tote and hockey stick up out of the corner, and her novel and crumpled prom flyer off the floor. She unzipped the inner pocket of her bag, took out her Orbit gum, and chewed a piece. She walked out of the bathroom, stopped in the open doorway, looked down at her stomach, and touched it with her left hand.

“How could I have done something so stupid?” She thought.

“Why is this toilet so cold? Didn’t we used to have a toilet cover? One of the purple, furry ones?” She thought. “My hands are shaking WAY too much. I need to calm down, open these pills, and just take them. That’s it, just take them and get it over with. It won’t take long. Just swallow and wait.---But I can’t just wait to die. Then I’d be exactly like Mom,” she thought. “I’d be killing myself to escape something. Hannah might’ve died but Dad, Cayden, and I are still here. Why would she just leave us? I mean, we need her more than Hannah does. We’re the ones living in this hell hole of a world while Hannah’s wherever three year olds go when they have a seizure and die,” She thought. “Come on, you can do it, Lexi. Just take a handful of them. The Ambien’s already in your hand. Just breathe. No. No. They need me. Mom’s gone, Hannah’s gone, you can’t leave them, too. It’s only been two months. Dad can’t deal with this all at once. But I want to see Mom. I need my mom. I mean, I’m only thirteen. How the hell am I supposed to be a normal teenager without a mom? Come on, stop crying. What if Dad comes in and sees me like this? What if Cayden does? How’s my sixteen year old brother going to react to this one? I wouldn’t have to kill myself, I know that for sure. Cayden would be doing that much for me. I have to be strong for them. They need me. I can’t leave them like Mom did. I can’t abandon them,” she thought as she looked down at the inscription her mom made in her novel, Crash Into Me. It read “Lexi, don’t ever give up. You can do anything you set your mind to.”

“Yeah,” she thought. “Kind of like how you never gave up on us.” She closed the book.

“Oh, Hey Jake.”

“Lexi, get away from me.”

“I need to talk to you.”

“What? Couldn’t have waited three more months?”

“I didn’t mean for it to be that long. I just didn’t know how to tell you. I’m sorry.”

“And that’s s’possed to fix it?”

“No, but…”

“I want to get out of this friggin’ school, and I still have to grab my Pre-Cal book. Move.”

“What the hell? You made me drop my book. Keep your hands off of me.”

“Why should I?”

“’Cause I’m your girlfriend.” She looked up into his big blue eyes, the reason she had fallen for him in the first place.

“Used to be. You avoided me for three months, remember?”

“Whatever. Keep your damn hands off me, Jake.”

“What the hell you gonna do about it?” He paused; She didn’t answer. “Exactly.”

“Don’t shove me into friggin’ walls. What are you trying to do? Kill your own baby?”

He froze. “What did you just say?”

“I didn’t mean to say it like that. It just came out. Don’t just walk away. That’s not going to help anything.”

“Nothing is, Lexi. You screwed yourself.”

“I screwed myself? We’re both screwed.”

“I don’t think so. You have the evidence.”

“What?”

“You’re on your own with this one.”

“Don’t walk away. Jake?”

“Hey Cayden., thanks for picking me up.” Lexi dropped her hockey stick and bag to the car floor, her BlackBerry falling out of the side pocket, and kept her novel in her hands.

“No problem. What else are big brothers for?” His smile stretched across his whole face, reaching from hazel eye to hazel eye.

She laughed, her mind preoccupied.

“What’s the matter?”

“Nothing. I’m fine.”

“No you’re not. You’re crying. What the hell’s the matter?”

“Cayden, I can’t-”

“Can’t what?”

“Nothing. Never mind.”

“Lexi, you tell me everything. What’s so different now?”

She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Cayden, if I tell you something, will you promise not to get too mad?”

“Depends.”

“You have to promise.”

“Lexi, I can’t-”

“Cayden, please?”

He gave in. “Fine. What is it?”

“If you were me,” She sobbed, “how would you tell Dad,-”

“Lexi, just spit it out.”

She closed her eyes. “If you were me, how would you tell Dad you’re pregnant?”

“What?”

“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have told you.”

“I would have figured it out eventually.”

“I should’ve told you differently.”

“You were going to get the same reaction either way.”

“I know, I just-”

“How could you have been so stupid?”

“I don’t know. It was Jake and he-”

“I don’t care about Jake. I care about my baby sister having a baby.”

“Cayden, stop yelling at me,” She paused. “You told me you wouldn’t get mad.”

“Before I found out how stupid you were.”

“I’m sorry.”

“And that’s s’posed to fix it?”

She paused. “That’s exactly what Jake said.”

“Well, screw Jake. Oh wait. You already did.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You already said that.”

“What else am I supposed to say?”

“That you never did anything.”

“But then I’d be lying. Cayden, you’re gonna miss the driveway.”

“Mhm.”

“I thought you’d take it a little better than Dad, that’s all. I need help telling him.”

“Get your a** out of my car.”

“Bye Cayden.”

“Good luck with Dad. Tell him I said hi. Talk to you later.” He drove off.

“Hey Dad, you home?”

“Yeah Lex. In the kitchen. Come on in.”

“Do you need any help?”

“Wanna peel those carrots? I’ll cut these.”

“Yeah, sure,” She dropped her bag and hockey stick to the floor, put her novel on the table, picked up a knife and started chopping. Neither one spoke.

“Lex, you alright? You were crying.”

“So. I’m a girl. We cry.”

“I’m your father. You think that’s really going to cut it?”

“It’s just some stuff between me and Cayden.”

“Your brother made you cry?”

“Yeah but-”

“No buts, Lex. He’s your older brother. He’s not supposed to make you cry.”

“It was my fault, though.”

“He’s never made you cry before. What happened?”

“Dad. It was my fault. Not Cayden’s. Okay?”

“What happened?”

“I told him-” She paused. “Wow, I’ve already told two people today and I still suck at this.”

“Lex, just tell me.”

“Dad, I- I’m,” She paused. “Dad, I can’t.”

“Alexis Morgan, stop the crying and spit it out.”

She closed her eyes and breathed threw her nose. “Dad, I’m pregnant.”

His breath caught in his throat. “What?”

“Can you stop cutting those carrots so you don’t hurt yourself, Dad?”

“My baby girl’s. Pregnant. Damn it Alexis, how could you have been so stupid?” He pounded his fist on the granite counter, his hazel eyes closing as his glasses jumped on his nose.

“I’m sorry, Dad.”

“That’s not going to fix it, now is it?”

“I know that.”

“Obviously not ‘cause you wouldn’t have done anything in the first place.”

“I’m sorry.”

“Okay. Why don’t we both just calm down. Breath.”

“What? You were p***ed three seconds ago. What the hell happened?” She ran her fingers through her auburn hair.

“My baby’s pregnant. Flipping out’s not going to help her.”

“I’m confused. You’re okay with this?”

“I’m sure as hell not okay with it, but screaming at you’s not going to do anything right now.”

“Dad, what do I do?”

“Go upstairs. I have to make a phone call, and I’ll be up in a little bit.”

Lexi walked over to the mirror, lightly touched her reflection with her left hand, and cried to herself. She punched the wall, her knuckles swelling, and scuffed her feet across the floor, kicking up the carpet around the toilet. She grabbed a fistful of her hair, and pulled at it with force, auburn strands glistened as they fell to the white tiled floor. She threw her novel across the room, cracking the window next to the sink. She sat on the toilet, hands still tangled in her hair, feet wrapped around the base, rocking back and forth the way she used to comfort herself when she was little.

Her breathing erratic, hair in a knot on top of her head, Lexi untangled her fingers and walked over to the sink, gripping the edges until her knuckles turned white. She let out a deep breath, blew loose strands of hair out of her mouth, and looked at her puffy, red eyes in the mirror, tears streaming down her cheeks.

“I hate bathrooms,” she thought. “They’re cold. Lonely. Especially ours. There’s nothing in here but that stupid green carpet. Plus, they’re kind of like how I’m feeling right now. I don’t have a boyfriend, my brother who I thought would never hate me does, and I don’t deserve my dad even trying to be nice to me. I screwed everything up and I know it.

“So why not just end it? Leave it all behind. But if I do that, my baby never gets the chance to live. Their life’s going to be screwed up, anyway. I’ll be saving it from all kinds of pain this way.

“So do it. End it. It’s not like Jake wants me around. Cayden can’t stand me. If my brother hates me, I know I really screwed up. And Dad being nice to me just adds to it. He knows I screwed up. So why didn’t he stay p***ed? He deserves a better daughter than me.

“But I’ll be leaving everything else behind like my acceptance to BC. Well, I can forget that, anyway. Having a baby and going to college all the way across the state really
don’t mix that well.

“Just take the razor and cut. It doesn’t take that much energy. I can do it. Grab,
slice, and done. It’s that simple. Come on, you can do it, Lexi. Stop crying. Breathe.
“Ready. Set. Let go.”

Cayden and Jake stood by the open casket. Neither looked up to face the other. Cayden let out a breath, put his hand on the edge, and balled his hands up, lightly tapping the cherrywood with his fists. He turned around, bit his lip, and let a single tear roll down his cheek.

He looked into Jake’s eyes for just one second before turning to his father, who handed him his sister’s novel. He looked on the inside front cover, read the note, and closed the book.

Cayden turned around to face Jake and glared at him. Realizing Jake‘s pain, he automatically softened his gaze a little, but not completely. He looked down at the book, ran his finger over the quarter-sized blood stain, handed the book to Jake, and turned away without saying anything.

“Hey Cayden,” Jake said. “I’m just as upset as you are, you know. Those are my babies in there.”



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