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Never Again

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Blaire sits in the dark, familiar attic, listening to the scuttle of tiny feet, some abruptly stopping as a snap sounds, and then the squeal. The squeal is the definition of the sound of agony- the rats in the traps watch as their rat friends and rat family scurry past, not caring that one of them, one who just a few minutes ago was their same, is slowly dying. She tightens the scratchy blanket around her bony shoulders. If it was anyone they would have been crying and removing the rat’s tiny feet from the trap’s clutches, but her matured mind is blank from all emotion. One more adventuresome rat climbs up her knees, which are drawn to her chin, in search of food. Realizing Blaire has none to give, none even for herself, it hurries back down, not bothering to think of anything but survival. Its life is focused on getting food and having sex with whatever rat comes in its way, hoping to pass on its sorry genes, genes that are practically indistinguishable from any other rats in the world. Rats and humans aren’t so different, she guesses. Their only real objective is eating and getting laid, too. Everything else is pretty much just steps in that direction. She must be doing a real crappy job of these two seemingly simple things, her ribs stick out of her thin shirt, and no boy has ever even so much as looked her way. She can’t even manage the steps in between, like having friends that introduce her to guys, or getting decent grades which lead to making more money and getting more food. No, all she does well is sit in the attic and stay out of everyone’s way.
When Blaire was five, she was playing in her room with some of her Barbie dolls. They were having a campout, and she had already set up the pink trailer and fastened the pink adventure outfits onto the dolls. Dancing around and singing silly songs, Blaire was making the dolls have the best time ever. The only thing that could possibly be better, she thought, was if they could roast marshmallows. She remembered the time her dad had set up a fire in the backyard and how yummy they had been, an experience she wanted to share with her dolls. Blaire sat her Barbies down and quietly opened her door. She tiptoed down the stairs, past her mom and dad who were taking a nap on the couch, and grabbed the lighter and S’mores supplies. She didn’t know why, but she knew that her parents would be mad at her if they saw her with the lighter. When she made it back to her room, she grabbed some notebook paper, like her dad had done, and lit it on fire. She set it down on the carpet and began opening the bag of marshmallows. When she looked down, the carpet had erupted into crackling flames, rapidly consuming her entire floor and all of its contents. Blaire grabbed her Barbies and ran downstairs. She glanced over to her parents, but for reasons she still doesn’t know, left them there sleeping and made her way out of the house and went to hide in the woods. Their house was out in the middle of nowhere, so no one saw the smoke and called 911 until a couple of hours after the house had initially caught on fire. Red, shiny trucks with very helpful firemen arrived too late, the house was already unrecognizable.
They found Blaire hiding in the woods, playing quietly with her Barbies and sobbing. Knowing not to barrage her with questions yet, they asked her if she had any family in the area she could stay with for the time being. The young family had just moved cross country for her dad’s new job, so she replied that no, she did not know anyone here yet. They decided to take her to the hospital and let them decide what the best route would be for her. She got to ride in the front of the fire truck and she remembers laughing the entire time, so excited to be sharing this experience with her Barbies. The fireman whose lap she was sitting on held her very tightly, in a fatherly sort of way, and sobbed. Blaire remembers thinking that was weird, how could anyone not enjoy riding in a fire truck? Thinking back, all of the firemen were somber. Blaire didn’t even think of her parents until she got to the hospital, and she was sitting in the psychiatric ward waiting to talk to a grief counselor. Her first impression was that the counselor was very pretty, with really soft looking hair. She didn’t look real; she looked like someone Blaire had seen in a magazine. The counselor, whose nametag said Mrs. Amy, grabbed her hand and led her into a room that tried too hard to be happy. Mrs. Amy tried to take Blaire’s Barbie dolls away from her, which resulted in an all out brawl. Which Blaire won. Blaire laid face down on the couch and completely ignored everything the counselor said the entire time they were in there. The only part she did hear was when Mrs. Amy murmured something to a man about mental retardation, and then a whisper of agreement. She didn’t know what that meant at that point, but knew by the tone of Mrs. Amy’s voice that she was secretly pleased in her diagnosis.
Blaire stayed at the hospital for a couple more days, denying any more types of counseling the adults tried to provide, no matter how creative or fun they tried to be. They never gave up, but on the third day told her to pack up her few things- some outreach clothes that were too small, a toothbrush, and her Barbies. Blaire complied, happy to get out of the everyday routine somehow, and followed Mrs. Caroline out to the lobby. A very ugly woman with stringy hair and an extremely oddly shaped body stood there awkwardly, like she wasn’t sure whether to sit, to stand, to run and hug her. Mrs. Caroline led her over, and told her this ugly lady was going to be her new guardian. Although it had been in the back of her mind, it was then that Blaire realized that her parents really were gone forever. She knew that when she left them there sleeping so peacefully to hide in the woods that would be the last time she ever saw them. She knew that no one survived fires. So, without resistance, she was handed off to the ugly lady. As she walked out of the double doors of the hospital to start her new life, she dropped the Barbies onto the ground. Although many saw her perform this act, no one ran after her or tried to give them back.
Blaire found out on the car ride home that she was to call her Miss Bertha. Blaire stared at Miss Bertha with wide eyes, surprised that someone could possibly be this ugly. She looked as if a steamroller had come through but missed her very large hips, and her hair was hanging limply in patches all over her head. She missed the beauty of Mrs. Caroline, even if she was fake. Miss Bertha’s house was just as ugly as Miss Bertha- the walls had peeling paint and the obnoxious designs all over the furniture didn’t cover the numerous stains and burn marks. Miss Bertha got a big smile on her face and beckoned for Blaire to follow her down the hall. They came upon a closet sized room painted in all white. There was a single mattress with unclean looking and sloppily made up sheets, a couple of clear plastic bins, and a window overlooking an overgrown, tiny lawn. Miss Bertha told her this was to be her very own room, that she wouldn’t have to share it with anyone. Blaire knew this; she never had had to share a room with anyone. She didn’t know why Miss Bertha was so excited about that simple fact. Blaire sat down on the mattress and Miss Bertha closed the door and locked it, telling her to yell really loud if she had to go to the bathroom. Blaire sighed and laid down, knowing she would not be able to sleep in an ugly house with an ugly person and an ugly new life.
The sun rose before her eyes, eyes that had seen every phase of the night due to her lack of sleep. Miss Bertha finally came and knocked on the door, telling her to come to the table. Blaire followed her out, and saw a glass of orange juice and a piece of bread placed on the unclean surface. As Blaire ate, Miss Bertha explained that everyday Blaire would get three meals-no more, sometimes less-and four bathroom breaks. Due to Miss Bertha’s time consuming job, Blaire would be locked in her room at all times except those designated ones. On certain days, when people from agencies came to visit, Blaire would get to come out and she would have to lie that she and Miss Bertha always had great times learning and playing. Wanting as little to do with this ugly house or its ugly owner as possible, Blaire agreed and went back to her room after using up her first bathroom break.
Blaire’s life went on like this for years, forgetting what it was ever like to smile. She found out that she loved drawing and coloring, and spent most of her time doing just that. On an hourly basis, she thought of her parents and the fire. One day, when she was about nine and a half, she sat on her dirty bed in the ugly house and thought of how she left her parents to die that fateful day. Her parents had always been great to her, filling her with the love and stability every child on earth craves. Blaire loved her life, her new house, her parents, and even the baby inside her mom’s stomach no one was supposed to know about yet. Yet, although she would like to think it was all an accident, Blaire knew she could have saved her parents and the baby. There was absolutely no reason they had to die, her dad probably could have even put out the fire himself and they still could have slept in their new house that night, all snuggled up together in her parent’s bed. But Blaire had not saved her parents, and she still felt no regret about it. That day in the ugly room when she was nine and a half, Blaire realized and impounded into her head what a horrible person she was, that she would be going to hell, and that there was no way anyone would ever be able to love or trust someone who had killed their own parents.
When Blaire turned ten, Miss Bertha died. Doctors said it was because of a heart attack, but Blaire knew it was just because God couldn’t handle how ugly one of his followers was anymore and had to kill her. The agency had stopped coming to check up on them a long time ago, so Blaire had no idea what the next route for her would be. No one ever came to get her, and she ran out of food after a while, so she decided to just leave on her own and start her own life. She had become ugly from living in the ugly house- Miss Bertha had shaved her head and she had grown extremely skinny from the small amount of rations and regularly skipped meals- so she tried to keep her head down as she made her way out into the world alone for the first time. Plus, she hadn’t interacted with other people at all except for the occasional outing to the store since arriving at Miss Bertha’s house years ago, so she would most likely just scare away anyone she attempted to talk to. Because they had diagnosed her with mental retardation, Miss Bertha was allowed to just keep her at her house and ‘teach’ her on her own. The point was for the child to develop a loving relationship with the guardian, Blaire guesses. After wandering and scavenging off the land for a few days, she came upon an abandoned house in good enough shape to live in and moved in. She goes and gathers sustenance from trash cans and the wild every day, always returning to her solitary house to be a horrible person who killed her parents sort of purposely at the end of the day.
Blaire goes about this lifestyle for years, losing track of the days and her age. Her hair has now grown just past her chest, but she has no means to cut it. Every day she returns to the house’s attic, her only companions the rats. She hasn’t spoken to anyone at all since Miss Bertha died, and Miss Bertha had been the only one she had spoken to since her parents died. She had started to forget words and how to speak, her actions becoming almost animalistic. She wears no clothes, using only a few blankets she had found in the house as warmth during the long winter days. She obsesses over her parents, thinking about them every second of every day and feeling heart wrenching pain at all times. Life will never get any better, she constantly reminds herself, because she screwed it up so much when she was five. All Blaire has now is herself, this house, the rats, and the soul and life consuming knowledge that she, Blaire Waldorf, murdered her parents.




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