Liar, Liar This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

May 6, 2013
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She comes home from college with a nose ring, a tattoo on her collarbone, and a new scar that snakes along the blue vein in her wrist. Her eyes light up with memories and she always has another story to tell, but when she is alone she thinks about next year and it makes her sick with dread. She laughs off her B’s and C’s, says she could get the A’s if she tried, slips in a knowing wink and says really, aren’t there better things to do than study every night? She reads the course catalog and her stomach sinks looking at the lists of prerequisites and assigned textbooks.

She goes out with friends from high school sometimes, sneaks back into the house early in the morning, exhausted and still drunk. Her parents wake her up the next day and she drinks coffee, waiting for the caffeine to flood her system so she can laugh and say what a good time she had, no of course she didn’t do anything stupid. She did not drink. She did not take drugs. She did not sleep with a guy she had never met before. She did not climb a roof and run along the tiles slick with dew, alcohol coursing through her veins, feeling alive for the first time in months, even – especially – knowing that one misplaced foot could kill her.

Her parents tell her to get a job. She laughs and says she’s looking. Her parents want to know if she has picked a major yet. She laughs and tells them there are so many interesting things she doesn’t know what to choose. Her parents ask if she has made friends with any professors. She laughs and says her philosophy professor really enjoyed having her in the class. She throws out the job applications when no one is home. She hasn’t looked at the list of majors in months. She never did her assigned readings for philosophy or went to lecture.

She goes to the mall, tries on expensive clothes and laughs at tacky accessories. Her purse slowly fills with stolen items, slipped in when nobody is looking. She laughs at the middle school girls, identical in their skinny jeans and flavored lip gloss. She watches the high school couples, holding hands, believing they have found their true love. She is the college girl, cool and mature. She is what they all want to become.

She goes home. She drives too fast, runs a red light, gets honked at by a mom in a minivan. She courts danger in a million small ways every day. She lives. She dances with death so that they can all shake their heads sadly and say oh what a terrible accident instead of oh she was the girl who killed herself. She didn’t jump off that roof, she fell. She didn’t run into that other car on purpose, she was just sleep-deprived. She didn't do it, it did her.

She sits alone in her room at night, headphones on to drown out the world. Her family goes to bed. She says goodnight. She says I love you. She says see you in the morning. She smiles.

She drinks soda, coffee, energy drinks, until she feels as if all her blood has been replaced by caffeine. She sneaks downstairs to take her parents alcohol, drinks until her room is spinning and her skull is slowly crushing her brain. She takes painkillers, lots of them, washed down with more alcohol and energy drinks. She can’t see, can’t think, can’t focus. She is so close but she still knows when to stop. She is so close but she isn’t there yet. She is the center of the world and the world is whirling around her, faster and faster. She opens another drink, opens her window, opens the blade of her knife. She climbs to the highest point of the roof, not even stumbling. She can do this right, if nothing else.

She sits cross-legged on the roof. Her mind is a blur but it’s still there. She can still feel the hate clawing at her. She’s not good enough. She’ll never be good enough. Her freshman dormmates saw it, but somehow her parents are still oblivious, still happy and delusional and thinking their daughter will do something productive with her life. She is lost, she is drifting. She is floating through empty space and only the feel of her knife’s cold blade on her skin is tying her to the earth. She slides the knife over her arm, savoring the feeling of her flesh opening, relishing the wetness of her blood as it runs down her arm. She closes her eyes, lost in the moment. She makes another cut, then another.

She doesn’t go back inside until the sun begins to show faintly behind the rooftops. She is cold now, stiff from sitting so still for so long. Her blood is caked dark and dry on her skin and the blade of her knife. Her arm throbs and the pain is like a second heartbeat because the one she has isn’t good enough, just like her.

She slips back through the window, a silent ghost. She washes the cuts until all the dark blood is gone, changes into a clean shirt with sleeves that hide her upper arms. She crawls into bed, wrapping herself in a cocoon of blankets and darkness. She tries to forget. She remembers.

She gets up the next day and acts like nothing happened.

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ChrisJ This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
May 24, 2013 at 6:16 pm
This is very detailed and compelling, really great job!
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