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Reaching the Bottom
The hours tick away as I sit in this room, this desolate place to which there is no escape. Why am I still here? Why won’t they let me out? It’s been almost three years since the incident and I’ve only hurt myself maybe five times since I’ve been here. Being on lockdown and twenty-four hour suicide watch for three years seems a little drastic for one little failed suicide attempt. I wouldn’t even be here if I had never met him.
It was the summer of 1992 and I had landed a job waitressing at my friend’s uncle’s bar. I had just turned sixteen so I could finally work. One day, this gorgeous young guy came into the bar. He took off his hat and took a seat in a booth by the window. I walked over to him. “Hi,” I said, “uh, can I take your order?” He looked up at me and smiled. “I take it you’re not from here.” He nodded. “Let me guess. New York, right?”
His eyes widened. “Yeah, Queens,” he finally spoke, “how’d you know?”
I smiled and shrugged. “I don’t know,” I said, “I guess I just have a gift.” We both shared a laugh. “So,” I continued, “what can I get you?”
He looked over the menu. “Let me get a coffee.” He smiled as he handed the small menu back to me.
I nodded. “Coming right up.” I got his coffee and took it back to him. I smiled at him, not wanting to walk away but not knowing what to say. I just sighed, gave him another smile, and started to walk away.
“Hey,” he said, stopping me, “do you think you could sit and talk to me for a while?”
I smiled and nodded. “Sure.” We talked for a while and he was really nice. He had an interesting life, moving all over the world with his father who was in the Army. I smiled as he told me about his life but felt like he was leaving some parts out. I just shook the feeling and listened.
“You want to go somewhere with me?” He asked.
I smiled. “Really?” He nodded and I thought about it for a minute. “Okay,” I replied and checked my watch, “Well my break’s over and I get off in about a half hour. You mind waiting on me?”
“Sure, I don’t mind.” He answered sweetly.
Thirty-five minutes later, we left the bar together. As we walked down the sidewalk, he turned to me and offered me his hand. “Jason Carter,” he said, “pleasure to meet you.”
I smiled and took his hand. “Claire Lennox,” I replied, “and the pleasure’s all mine.” We shared a smile and a couple minutes of silent eye contact. Finally, we started walking again and I clutched his arm as we went.
“So,” I began, “what brings you to the windy city? Why’d you leave New York?”
He looked down and then at me. “My father died last week,” he said, “I moved back to be closer to my mother.”
“Oh, Jason, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
He smiled, making my heart melt. “Don’t worry about it. You didn’t know.” We started walking again. “So how old are you?” he asked.
“Sixteen,” I answered, “what about you?”
He hesitated slightly but I didn’t think anything of it. “Nineteen.” He finally said.
We arrived at a hotel and he said, “You want to come up with me?”
I knew what he meant but I was a little confused. “Well yeah,” I said, “but why don’t we just go to your place?”
We walked inside and he said, “I’m staying with my mom since I just moved back and haven’t found a place yet.
I nodded. “Oh, okay.” We walked up to the desk and got us a room. We stepped into the empty elevator and as soon as the doors closed, his hands were on me and he was kissing me.
We got to the room and he picked me up and laid me on the bed. He wasn’t wasting any time and I could tell he knew what he was doing. Before I knew it, our bodies were intertwined and he was inside me. I had had sex before, but never like this. This guy wasn’t some fifteen year old boy truing to feel his way around. He was a man who knew exactly what to do to drive me crazy!
I woke up the next morning in bed. I heard the shower turn off and the water in the sink turn on. I saw our clothes on a chair by the window so I got up to get dressed. When I grabbed my clothes, his jacket fell and a gold band came out of the pocket. My eyes widened as I picked up the ring. As I was staring at it, he came out talking about things I wasn’t even listening to. I turned and held up the ring, giving him a look.
“What is this?”
“Nothing.” He said.
I shook my head and rolled my eyes. “You’re married?”
He sighed. “Yes.”
I threw the ring at him. “Oh my God, Jason! I can’t believe you! What else don’t I know?”
He hesitated and finally said, “Well, I wasn’t exactly honest about my age.
My eyes widened and I stepped back. “What?”
“Yeah,” he said, “I might be just a little bit older than I said I was.”
“How much older?”
My heart dropped. “You’re twenty-nine?” I exclaimed. He just nodded. I huffed angrily and started getting dressed.
He came over to me and took my arm. “Claire, listen to me.”
I jerked away and finished getting dressed. “No!” I screamed in his face. I grabbed my things and looked back at him. “Goodbye Jason.” I said, “I never want to see you again.” And with that, I stormed past him and out the door.
A few weeks later, I was locked in the bathroom, listening to my younger sister bang on the bathroom door and scream for me to get out. I sat on the closed toilet, staring at the pregnancy test in my hand. My whole world was completely shifted and changed by this one little, eight-lettered word: PREGNANT! I started crying and didn’t know what to do. I stood up and opened the door.
“Well it took you long enough.” Emily said before noticing the test in my hand. She shut up immediately and her eyes widened as her hand clapped against her mouth to muffle her gasp.
“What’s wrong Em?” Mom said as she walked around the corner and had a similar reaction. “Claire,” she said, “why do you have a pregnancy test?”
“It’s a long story Mom.” I said softly.
“What does it say?” she asked. I looked down disappointingly. Her eyes widened slightly and she snatched it from me, her eyes widening even more when she saw the results. She covered her mouth, muffling a sob. “Oh my God.” She cried softly. I tried to explain to her what happened but nothing helped. When Dad came home they told me to leave. They kicked me out. I left and went to my friend’s house. After I told her everything, she told me I had to tell him. I didn’t think so but she finally convinced me. I found his address and went to his house.
When I got there, I walked up the sidewalk and saw a light coming out of a large window. Inside, I could see Jason and a woman I assumed was his wife. Seeing them together made me wince. Then, I saw her; the little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl sitting in between them. She couldn’t have been more than four or five years old. They were all playing some kind of board game and laughing. They seemed so happy it hurt. He leaned forward and kissed the woman as he held her hand. I turned around, tears forming in my eyes, and walked away. I just couldn’t do it. I decided I’d just have to do this on my own.
About two and a half months later, I woke up in a cold sweat. I turned on my bedside lamp so I could get up and when I did, I saw a pool of blood. I woke up my friend, who I was no living with, and she rushed me to the hospital. There, they told me that I had miscarried. I cried my eyes out. I had finally accepted the fact that I was having a baby and then I lost it. The doctor said it could’ve been stress. I had been incredibly stressed lately. My parents had kicked me out, I lost my job, people at school had found out I was pregnant and they were drilling me for answers, my schoolwork was piling up, and my ex-boyfriend was giving me all kinds of grief about getting pregnant. So I was not surprised I had miscarried.
The hospital released me the next day and I went home in a fog. I took some time off from school, thinking I would get better but I only got worse. I just sank into a spiral of depression and couldn’t pull myself out. One day, it had just gone too far. I was at home alone and I was more upset than I had ever been. I had lost the will to live. In my last limb, I got up and retrieved a knife from the kitchen. I went to the bathroom and sat in the big shower then turned on the water. The warm water streamed down on me. I gripped the knife tightly in my hand as I sliced my arms. I sat there under the water as my blood, my pain, and my life slowly poured out of me. I started to feel woozy from the loss of blood but before I could fully slip into unconsciousness, I heard the front door open and my friend entered the bathroom. Within two minutes, she was turning off the water and calling 911. The ambulance got there so fast it was like they were right next door. They took me to the hospital where I was treated for my cuts. They called my parents who came and fussed me out for doing such a stupid thing. They decided that they were going to send me somewhere that could help me and since I was a minor, I couldn’t stop them or refuse. I was sent to a home for troubled teens but to me it was the loony bin for young people.
When I first got there, I was very resentful. I didn’t want to be there nor did I think that I even needed to be there. Then, my outbursts started. Small things would trigger something in me that just made me emotional. I started attacking others and hurting myself. I would pull my hair, scratch myself, and try to cut myself again. They put me in solitary lockdown after eight months and that’s where I stayed. But I still tried to hurt myself. They wouldn’t even let me eat with a fork and knife anymore from fear that I would use them to harm myself. Eventually, I calmed down and they let me out every once in a while but I stayed in solitary most of the time.
Now it’s almost three years later and I’m still here. I’m finally an adult but they still won’t let me out of here. I’ve been talking to the doctor assigned to my case and he claims things are coming around smoothly. He still has to present my case to the board and get approval for my release. So for now, I am behaving and really trying to get better. I’ve been going to the church services the home has every Sunday and I’m getting right. I feel like I’ll be better, not completely the same, but better. I’m just waiting, waiting for the day when I can go home and become myself again.