The light was blinding at first, I was in an inch of water but my clothes weren't wet.
“Artemis,” the most beautiful, feminine voice I’ve ever heard called my name.
“Face me.” I sat up and saw her, she had my hair, long and silver but she wasn’t old. She had a young face and silver eyes just like mine.
“Don’t let the light go out.” Her voice was both booming and a whisper, scary and soothing.
“What? Who are you?” my voice sounded foreign in my own throat. She responded but I couldn't hear her over...piano music?
My eyes drifted open, soft piano music wafted through the air. I roll over and turn my alarm off. I tumble out of bed struggling to remember if I had a dream last night. Whatever, it doesn't matter. I need to get ready for school. I meander into the shower, the hot water works wonders to wake me up. I look in the mirror my silver hair extra shiny today, kids always made fun of it when I was younger, but now all the girls think otherwise. Moms not home, probably passed out drunk somewhere. I’d be worried if she actually cared about me. I grab my backpack, walk out the door, and drift into thought.
I’ve suffered with depression for a year now. It started around the time my mom started beating me, that pushed me over the edge. I don’t think its a normal kind of depression, it feels like there is this darkness inside of me. This darkness wants hatred, wants to give up and be just be like my mom, just turn my back on the good in the world. There is also light inside of me, it loves everything maybe even Mom, the light wants me to devote my life to everyone else and I agree, the light is what I want to embrace. But the darkness keeps coming back, keeps taking control. I try to stay out of my home as much as possible, away from my mom, she powers the darkness, every time she hits me I can feel it grow. I try to stay with my best friend Diana as much as possible, she’s the exact opposite. She reminds me that the world is a great place and she makes the darkness recede. When I'm with her, I'm the person I want to be. I’d do anything for her. I’m divided, a constant battle in my head.
I arrive at school, Diana waiting out front like always, the wind messing up her almond hair. “You didn’t have to wait out here, I’m not worth the trouble.” I say jokingly but in my head its painfully true.
“Don’t say that, you are worth the world, Artemis.” Her voice is so graceful, so nice.
“Whatever. It doesn’t matter.” I'm desperately trying to get off the subject.
“No it’s not whatever!” She stares me dead in the eyes the niceness disappearing in an instant, “You are a beautiful, smart girl and you need to stop beating yourself up.” I shrug it off, I can tell she wants to continue, but she doesn’t. I hold the door for Diana and we walk in together. I stay silent as we walk down the hall in fear of the topic coming up again. Diana doesn't know about my depression or my mom and she doesn’t question why I never want to go home but she’s smart enough that I bet she knows somethings wrong. We both have first hour english, so we sit down and wait for class to start.
I was chatting with Diana when the teacher came in and said it was time for 15 minutes of writing. I was never good at writing and I never did anything for those 15 minutes. I hold my pen over my paper and blank out. I have to go shopping tonight or mom will be pissed, she always make me do it. New York City isn’t the safest place especially when my mom doesn’t offer a ride anywhere. Even if it's 12pm and she wants something, so a few weeks ago I bought myself a knife to defend myself. I hate her. No one should have to experience that kind of fear. The teacher said time is up, I looked down at my page but it wasn't blank, there was one sentence: Don’t let the light go out. What does that mean.
“Artemis?” The teacher noticed I wasn’t paying attention and called me out. I closed the notebook and put it away.
The bell rang for the end of eighth hour. Now I have to go home, great. I can't go to Diana’s house today, her parents have a wedding to go to and she can't have me over, So I begin to walk home. It was extra sunny for a winter day but it is supposed to rain later tonight, so I thought I’d make the best of it. There is this beautiful willow tree on the outer edge of the park that Diana and I occasionally sit and read or talk. I sit down and lay my back against the tree, I pulled out my book and read, my eyes started feeling heavy and before I could turn the page I fell into the abyss.
“Artemis.” Diana called my name. I was in an inch of water but my clothes weren’t wet.
“Artemis please.” I get up and face her, we are Diana’s room now. White light streaming through the purple draped windows. Diana was sitting on the light purple sheets of her bed
“What?” I ask, something feels, off.
“You are not alone, people can help you get rid of this darkness.” She has a certain swagger to her voice that I’ve never heard her use.
“I know Diana, but I don’t want other people to waste their breath on me, I’m not worth that much trouble, I’m just a girl with a messed up head.”
“You know that’s not true Artemis.” It almost sounds like the way I talk. The door to the right of her bed slowly drifts open only a black abyss on the other side. “Sometimes you may have to go where you fear to tread.” She pointed at the open door and winked. That definitely wasn’t Diana’s voice.
“Who are yo-“
Distant thunder cracks. My eyes snapped open, no piano music this time. I need to get home and go shopping. Moms going to beat the hell out of me. I sprint home meriting a few odd looks, I run up the apartment stairs and quietly open the door. I slip inside and she was right there, I see the malice in her eyes
“Where were you, idiot!” just her voice gave me a headache and the insult didn't help either.
“I’m sorry, I fell asleep at the park. I’ll go shopping in a minute.” I got to the point quickly trying to shorten the time in this room, the time with her.
“Like I’ll believe that!” She hissed. She swung, open handed, too quick for me to react, the pain rippled through my face. I held back the tears, grabbed my wallet, and started out the door but she wasn’t done with me. She grabbed my shoulder and slammed me against the wall, knocking a mirror down and shattering it. She kneed me in the stomach I fell, my head slammed into the ground. She’s never beat me this bad. She was saying something but I couldn't hear it over the ringing in my ears. She kicked me in the shin, I barely felt it over the pain in my ribs. If I don’t get out of here she will kill me. I braced myself against the wall and stood up, the pain echoed through me, ice flowed through my veins. I could feel the darkness, Stronger than ever. I let it take control. I could see she was about to hit me again but I pulled the knife out of my jacket and pointed right at her.
“Don’t touch me!” I saw the fear flicker through her, she opened her mouth but I already limped out the door.
It’s pouring down rain but that was the least of my problems. There is blood on my hands but I don’t know where it’s coming from. I need somewhere to go. Diana. She’s home alone. But that would raise too many questions. My secret doesn’t matter anymore I could die out here. The thoughts raced through my head.
Diana’s house isn't that far but it felt like an eternity, the rain was numbingly cold, it only embraced the pain I limped up a few stairs and knocked on the door as hard as I could. Diana opened the door and pulled me inside
“What happened!” I could tell she was trying not to yell.
“You have to promise you won’t tell anyone.” I can barely whisper, I feel queasy and weak.
“You know I can't promise that, your bleeding a lot you need to get a hospital!” she was trying not to cry.
“I’ll tell you just please no hospital” I say pleading. Then I explained everything: my mom, my depression, the darkness I felt.I can barely stand.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she was definitely crying now.
“You are always so happy, I didn’t want to burden you with my problems.” she didn't say anything she just looked at me, the tears flowing down her cheeks.
“Your and idiot!” her words didn’t sound like an insult.
“What?” It was so hard to keep my eyes open.
“Don’t ever think that you would burden me, I would do anything for you. Anything. Im calling 911 we will talk about this later.”
“No, please!” I begged.
“Why!” she yelled her hands were shaking, “Why don’t you let me help you!”
“Because they’ll put me in a orphanage” Every word was a struggle.
“So!” she was angry now.
“I’ll have to go to a different school and I...I-”
“What! What’s so important that your willing to bleed out in my living room!” there was caring behind her sour tone.
“I’d kill myself without you” the truth stung in my throat “I’d rather bleed out right here than not see you every day. You are the only thing I care about...I...I love you.”
She just looked down and cried “Don’t ever say that again,” a long pause, a pause that felt like an eternity, “I love you too.” it was just a whisper. Everything went black.
The light was blinding at first.
“She’s suffered a lot of blood loss, what happened?” a man’s voice. I can’t sit up, I’m too weak.
“I don’t know, she didn’t have time to tell me before she passed out.” Diana lied for me.
“I'll talk with her when she wakes up, can I ask why her hair is silver.” his voice was strict but worried.
“Uhh…It’s a birth defect.” She’s used to explaining that.
I tried to talk, say something. Anything. I sunk back into the darkness.
I’m in a bed, there are bandages on my head. What happened?
“Artemis,” a female voice...Diana’s voice, “are you awake?” She was quickly above me, in tears. “Are you ok?”
“I’m fine ju-” She wrapped her arms around me, her warm tears soaking into my shirt.
“You’re ok! I thought you wouldn’t wake up, you have a concussion and two broken ribs,” she lowered her voice, “Why would your own mother do this to you.” Her tears intensified.
“It’s not that simple, it’s beyond mother and daughter, she’s...I can’t talk about this right now, can I have some water?” My throat was dry how long have I been asleep?
“No problem.” She walks to the door and starts to turn the doorknob.
“Diana?” She pauses, “Thank you for everything you’ve ever done for me, I love you.”
“...” She turns around and looks me straight in the eyes, “I love you too...no matter what happens you will always be my best friend, I will always love you”
“I love you too...no matter what happens you will always be my best friend, I will always love” I give Artemis a sweet smile, wipe some tears from my eyes, and head out the door. I hope she’s ok, she said a lot of scary stuff last night. Kill herself without me. The thought makes me shudder. I approach the nurse’s station. “Can I have a glass of water for my friend please?”
“Yes give me a second,” she walks out of sight and comes back with a plastic cup of water, “Here you go dear.”
“Thank you very much” I rush back to the room. I just hope artemis will let me help her. The door is cracked open, I push it open and walk in. Its empty, The water drops to the floor. There is a note on Artemis’s pillow I run forward drop, to my knees, and snatch it:
“Please don’t freak out Diana, I need to go for a while, I can’t let them take me away from you.
Don’t tell them what happened.
Mine might be gone, but don’t let your light go out.
I love you, no matter what separates us I’ll love you,