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But Not Her
No one knew that she was gone. How could they? The pretending and faking and acting, it was flawless. They thought everything was fine. That’s the problem with people, isn’t it?
No one knew that there was a voice whispering instructions and lies. How could they? It wasn’t real.
No one knew what she stashed in her backpack that day. How could they? It was stashed, after all.
No one knew that everything they knew was about to be shaken at its very core. How could they? It was unpredictable; without warning. People can’t look into the future, but oh how they wish they could have that day.
Fine, a word she became use to uttering. Fine, fine, fine, fine. School? Fine. Friends? Fine. Dinner? Fine. Life? Fine. Every time she said the word, another boulder lay on her shoulders. The pile on fines followed her everywhere. They made it hard to sleep, hard to eat, hard to tell any truth, hard to live. Being okay became a second language.
Somehow she managed to make it look just right. Her grades didn’t slip, she didn’t drop a single activity, and she did everything just as well as she always had. But sure enough, there were changes. Like how she didn’t make eye contact anymore, or how she left the house as early as she could and came back as late as possible. How did she spend those hour? No one was for sure, but they had never worried about her before so why should they start now?
She left the house at 5:12 that morning. The school didn’t open until 7:25 and school didn’t start until 8:30. She didn’t want to spend time in those hallways anyway. Even as she thought about them she saw the blood run down the white walls.
She got in her car and left the driveway. She drove out to an empty part of town. It was once packed with beautiful life. It was where civilization met art. There was a shop for making pottery, one for painting, a little store of tiny gardens, a record shop, a dance studio, buildings of inspiration and creativity. Now they were all empty. She wished that they were full again. She wished that the murals were not faded, that the pottery left was not shattered, that the records were still there to touch, to feel.
That one part of the city in which she lived was the best part of town, but in time, people became too busy for the arts, their lives got filled with business and order and rules and the city lost its reputation for those brick stores of imagination and became known for its stock of lawyers and doctors and headquarters of industries.
Maybe she went with the last store to leave, maybe she went with the first, maybe they built a skyscraper on her.
The parking lot was filling with cars while it was emptying of students. However, she would not get out of her car until 8:25.
It would take her exactly five minutes to get from her car to her first period seat, she had timed it.
Anxiety filled the pit that was her. She hadn’t felt this much in so long. It was amazing, that’s how she knew she would go through with this. She wanted to feel more of that. Sure, it was probably normal people's least favorite thing to go through, but she was nowhere near normal. If she could feel anything, even something negative, she wanted to. Something like joy would’ve been preferable, but how do you just get that?
8:25, time to go.
Every step she took toward the front doors added more and more of that sweet, sweet combination of fear and anticipation.
She smiled a twisted smile. It was sick, but it was genuine, she couldn’t say the same for a single smile she had put up those days.
As she sat in her seat in her first period class, the bell rang and the thick wooden door clicked shut.
Every time she opened her bag she checked. It was always there, always ready. She felt a rush every time she got a peak of it. Surely someone caught on to her obsessive bag checking, but no one would’ve guessed it. Not her, not this.
People like assumptions, don’t they?
Not her, but yes, her.
Not this, but yes, this.
Do people really know anything at all? Are they just spouting words of false knowledge every time they open their mouth? So many would say they knew her well. They would be wrong, wouldn’t they?
Did she even know herself?
No, there wasn’t a her to know. That was the sad part, she didn’t even have a chance to figure it out. She had all the time in the world, but there was no possible way. She was just sifting through broken clay reaching for something that wasn’t there.
Almost, almost, almost.
Soon, but not now, soon.
A voice spoke hushed orders and promises. She urged the voice to let her go sooner, but it would not. There was a plan. She had to follow it to a tee.
The longer we wait the longer you get to feel like this.
She agreed. That was very true.
She almost felt bad about who she picked, but the rush, oh the rush. What a perfect choice. And it was even more unpredictable than what she was doing.
At lunch she sat where she always did, with the person who had been her best friend for so long. Were they really friends though? No, she wasn’t the same person, but her best friend did not know this.
The conversation went as always: fake smile, short commentary, false laugh, contentless story, pray the lunch period ends soon.
What a flawless routine.
She was so good at it. Still, almost everyday her best friend asked if she was okay. Fine, she said it with such conviction. She could even fool her best friend for a moment, just a moment though. Then she would have to say it again, and again, and again, and again.
There’s always something. Something that throws a wrench in the smooth repeat. Her best friend made it harder to pretend, but not impossible, she took it as a challenge to fake it better. Clearly there was still work to do because like clock work, her best friend tried to get her to open up.
Did it work? That depends.
A smile was glued to her face, a real one. Her hands shook with anticipation. She was ready, so ready, more ready for this than she had ever been for anything.
Why was she ready? Because it made her feel.
Was she proud of herself? No, of course not. But she had traded her morals to get rid of the numbness for a moment, just a moment, that was all she needed. She was fog and mist disguised as a happy, teenage girl.
How deceiving disguises can be.
Maybe if she had gotten help earlier, she wouldn’t have to do this. Maybe she would be right, maybe she would know what joy feels like, how life really is when you’re not simply floating around with the crowd because you can’t control yourself. Maybe she left when the wind blew too hard.
What would it have been like if there was intervention? Could someone have actually done something? Would she have been categorized as helpless from the beginning, or would there be medication, sessions, something?
Could there still be something now, even this far gone? Could someone still help her?
Could she still make her own mind?
Could she put down the bag, leave it somewhere and never go back and touch it again?
No, no, no. There is plan.
Maybe she could’ve done any of those things, but we’ll never know.
She stood in a school bathroom with her one other person. She reached in the bag. She was asked a question about what she was doing.
And it there it was.
A gun. Where did she get a gun? Her parents didn’t own guns. People around here didn’t own guns. But there it was, pointed, loaded, ready.
Fear. Watching someone else’s fear was even better than her own.
What did she say? Even she doesn’t know. The other person will never say either. No one will ever know.
Begs and pleads and cries. Perfect, exactly what she wanted. She had the power, she could do this to anyone. The first was the best. The first was the most surprised.
Wait, wait, wait.
She wanted to do it, but the voice said no, so she listened. If only she would have listened to the other voice, the voice of the person in front of her, with tears and mascara falling, asking her to put it away.
No, she would not put it away. She wanted to do this, no one could stop her.
The blood, the blood she saw that morning when she thought about the hallways, there it was, dripping just like she imagined. She found herself quite drawn to the color. She wondered if different people had different colors, she had to find out.
She marked the deep red on her arm, swatching.
She went on a spree that day.
No one knew, how could they? Fine, fine, fine. Maybe they built a skyscraper on her. She hadn’t felt this much in so long. Not her, not this. But the rush, oh the rush. What a flawless routine. Her hands shook with anticipation. Could there still be something now? A gun.
No one would be asking her everyday during lunch if she was okay, no, they went first.