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Hi, my name is Elizabeth Parker. My friends call me Ellie. I’m seventeen years old…and today I’m going to kill myself…
My heartbeat was erratic and my footsteps haphazard…a lethal concoction.
“Stop, just stop here and it’ll all be all right.” My mind begged me. “Your life is too precious to throw away.”
“No, it’s not!” I fought back the tears vehemently. My life was nothing special…It is a curse. Everything I touch, everything I love turns to dust. I am tired of the pain. I just want it to go away…and now I am going to make it go away.
Gripping the jacket even tighter, I moved on quickly, the turmoil in my head threatening to tear it apart.
The pharmacy was just a few blocks down.
Alexis’ words burned inside my head. “You’re nothing but a burden on our lives. You should really just go away.”
Yes. I was going away. Forever. It was the only place I wouldn’t be a burden on anyone. Not even me.
Suddenly my legs bickered to a halt. The pharmacy was in view. It was the only beacon of light in the dark neighborhood.
“Having second thoughts?” my mind taunted, but I wasn’t going to listen. I didn’t want to seem exasperated that’s all. It would be a clear giveaway.
Wiping the dry tear stains off my face, I ran my trembling fingers over my eyes hoping they weren’t swollen anymore. It was useless.
This was it. All I had to do was, go inside and get something to make the pain stop. Simple enough.
My hand pushed against the cold metal handle invoking a small clang from the bells overhead. The sound drove like a wedge inside my stomach. Instantly I was the center of attraction of the entire store.
Please, please help me do this, I begged providence.
“sith od nac uoy.” You can do this. I whispered softly, speaking the syllables in reverse. It’s something I like to do when I’m nervous. And right now I was positively terrified.
The store clerk, who till now was ruffling through pages of a women's fitness magazine, snapped into attention. Aside from him there were only two other people there, a middle aged man and an old lady, both of whose eyes I could feel boring accusingly into me. They all looked at me suspiciously as if expecting me to pull out a gun from underneath my jacket. They didn’t know that if I had a gun I wouldn’t even be here!
Walking quickly, I immediately took a place in the back in the aisles where it would be nearly impossible to notice me. Even as I turned the corner I could see the shopkeeper stretching his bony neck to catch a last look.
Huddled against several rows of medicine, I tried to calm my panting breath. The adrenaline was bursting through my body, making me gasp for air. Even in the cold night my body was drenched in sweat but my throat had long ago lost all traces of moisture so even mouth breathing was a tough ordeal for me.
Twice I saw the man casually pass near me to see if I was stuffing anything into my jacket, but he turned away when I caught him looking my way. All this attention wasn’t going good, absolutely not good.
Finally, deciding that I wasn’t half as interesting, both of them lined up for purchase. Peaking faintly through the side of the aisle I could see the old woman staring my way exactly as the clerk had before.
Please go, please just leave me alone. I pleaded, fighting against the volley of tears seeping slowly through.
It was only after the bell clanged again, confirming their departure, I managed to gather enough courage to enter the more visible part of the aisle. Even then, the mere thought of coming forward drove a stake through my dangerously rapid beating heart.
You have to do this. It’s the only way. I convinced myself.
“Hi.” I said, offering the clerk a weak smile.
The clerk flashed me a look of disregard and went back to his article.
“Would you happen to have some aspirin?”
The clerk, for the first time realizing I was actually going to by something, looked at me with a marginal sense interest.
“Aisle two.” He said, pointing somewhere behind me.
My gaze followed his pointer but I wasn’t there to buy aspirin. Not even close!
“And what about some acetaminophen?” I asked, my twitching voice barely being able to piece the syllables together.
I could see that the name aroused his suspicion but he refrained from saying anything.
“That really what you want?” He inquired, sensing through my farce.
“Actually, I really am looking for something with benzodiazepine.” Sleeping pills. Yeah, I’d done my research. Figured if you were going to die, it wouldn’t hurt to make it through…relatively.
I might as well have said ‘bomb’ because that was exactly the way his brows jumped at the word. Reaching back, he pulled out a small white bottle and placed it warily on the counter.
I noticed that he did not take his hand very far from the bottle.
“Yes, that’s it.” Almost there.
My wavering hand moved ahead to grasp the bottle but the clerk beat me to it.
“I’ll just need a prescription.” NO!
He didn’t even try to hide the smirk on his face. He knew why I was there and was playing me all along.
Every single instinct in my body was telling me to run away but my mind had almost blanked out.
“No, you don’t understand, I really need that bottle, please.” I was on the verge of tears. He couldn’t do this to me, not when I was so close!
My hand darted forward but the clerk had already stuffed the pills behind his chair.
“I have the money.” I insisted, throwing a couple of bills on the counter.
But the shopkeeper wasn’t amused. “Look lady, you want me to lose my license? I’ve already told you, no prescription, no pills. Now get outta here, you junkie!” His hands refused to touch the bills on the counter but his eyes were locked at them.
He was mocking me, humiliating me but I couldn’t turn back.
“I’ll…I’ll pay you extra.” I said, pulling out more of the crumpled bills I’d stolen from my aunt’s purse. Grabbing the scraps of paper with his free hand, the clerk stuffed them into his back pocket with a sheepish grin on his face.
Good. He took them. Now I’ll finally be able to get the pills.
But I was in for a crueler joke than I knew. The pills still stayed behind his back.
“What about the pills?” I yelled in disbelief. My breath was out of control and the tears were unstoppable. Please, don’t do this!
“What pills?” The man asked in the same mocking tone. “You know, somehow I don’t think you’re the kinda girl who goes running to mommy and daddy.” He added chuckling, showing the full glory of his twisted teeth. “Now I said it before and I’ll say it again, get outta here or I’m calling the cops.”
I wanted to scream, I wanted to shout, I wanted cry but my mind had gone numb. The bright lights in the store were spinning. I was about to faint right then and there but a small shadow caught my eye. I turned around and in a flash my heart stopped beating completely…
…It was Jake!
Newboy Jake, as he was called. He and his sister had just moved here about a week ago and yet he had the eye of every single girl in the school and some of the teachers as well. 6’3, saddle brown hair, eagle green eyes and a face like a chiseled sculpture. There was only so much a girl could resist.
I didn’t even have to look for long. I knew all his qualities off the top of my head. I guess anyone would if they spent their entire day hoping to catch a faint glimpse of his face, stealing glances near the lockers. I know…pathetic.
He was standing cross armed, barely a foot’s length away, staring at me with his stone-calm expression, wearing the same pale grey T-shirt and blue jeans he’d worn in school…and he’d heard everything!
I tried to scour my mind for something to say, something to do, but the words were crushed inside my throat. Forgetting everything, the pills, the money, everything, I dashed out of the store, running as fast as my sneakers would allow. The dam of tears had burst and I gave up on every effort trying to rein them in.
How could Jake have been there? He wasn’t when I went in and I didn’t even hear the storebell ring!
I don’t think I ever ran so hard in my life. My heart banged against its bony confines, threatening to break out. Please, please let this be a dream, I pleaded.
I don’t know how long or how far I ran, I just did. I ran as far away as I could, hoping to outrun the pain, hoping that if I were tired the hurt would go away…but it didn’t. Nothing could take the pain away.
My weak body collapsed against an alley wall and I sank down towards the ground, embracing my knees and doing what I always did…I cried. Why did you do this to me? Why give me a life if all you filled it is with pain? What have I done so bad that you’d punish me so? There are so many people who die every day, so many innocents, why not take my life instead even if to spare only one of those!
The look on Jake’s face was still entrenched in my mind. It wasn’t an accusing stare. No, it was the lack of it that hurt the most. How could he be so calm? Why didn’t he look at me with the disgust that I deserved? Why didn’t he laugh at my pitiable state or call me hurtful names like everybody else? Why was he so…perfect?
My eyes moistened to welcome another wave of tears. My fingers dug deep into the roots of my hair, gripping them in anguish. The physical pain seemed to blur out the emotional one. The physical pain was bearable…the emotional one was not. My eyes instinctively searched for anything to harm myself with something to end my life without considerable pain. Alternatives flash before my eyes. There was nothing to cut my wrists with and a collision with a car would have more chances of injuring me than death itself. And then of course was the fact that sleeping pills were entirely out of the question.
God was punishing me. He was turning my life into a torture and at the same time wasn’t allowing me to escape from it. He wanted me to suffer for a reason I’d never know.
Putting two fingers to my eyes, I squeezed out the lingering drops of water. The view in front of me was fading. I wanted to sleep, I wanted to go home. Home! The word seemed so distant and unfamiliar. Pressing a hand against my forehead I wondered where I was. Slowly regaining my balance I managed to stand on my feet, searching for some signs of civilization.
A small simper gleamed inside my heart. At least I’m a good runner, I consoled myself.
But my self-glorification was put to a halt by brash noises in the vicinity. A couple of large shadows materialized out of nowhere, followed by a foul-smelling convoy, which by the looks of it, was enjoying the last remnants of their alcohol.
Wanting to avoid even the slightest hint of confrontation, I instinctively tightened the jacket around my body and quick stepped back the way I’d come. Every instinct in my body told me to run but I was too tired to. My body had exhausted itself completely, even walking sent waves of pain through my legs. And then of course there was fear, least they were attracted by the sound of my footsteps.
You’re just being paranoid. They’re probably not even going to notice you. I tried to convince myself but all my feeble arguments and reassurances were shattered by just two simple words.
The stupor-filled words hit me like a bucket of ice cold water. No, please no, I begged hopelessly.
There was no doubt that the question was directed towards me. After all, there was no one else there… monophobia rung through my mind like a hundred alarm bells.
My heart was throbbing so hard I could feel the blood pumping to the tips of my fingers. Adrenaline was surging through my veins, blotting out the pain in my calves and yet I didn’t run. There was no doubt that if I ran they’d follow. Like predators after their prey they’d instinctively follow and I knew I couldn’t get far. It would be a lot worse if they caught me running…or so I thought. Stupid, stupid girl!
Before I even knew what was happening, two of them took a detour and burst out from a back alley directly in front of me.
“Where’re you going, cupcake?” One of them croaked, throwing off a strong pungent odor in my face. Elbows close to their waist, both of them held their arms wide enough to block my path across.
Footsteps broke out behind me informing me that two other guys were closing in.
“Now that ain’t very nice is it?’ A thick voice brimming with the smell of alcohol erupted from behind me. ‘We try to be polite, and this is how you behave!”
All of a sudden a glass bottle shattered at my feet, sending my entire body convulsing in fear.
“You know, we might just have to teach you some manners.”
You just try. I challenged him mutely. I couldn’t dare to speak the words out aloud, being the dead coward I was. The use of ‘dead’ was of course allegorical…at least for now.
All of a sudden the man’s nose wavered near my neck, sniffing loudly like a pig. My adrenaline went into overdrive, noticing any and every detail of my would-be attackers. Focus on the statistics, my mind recommend. There were four of them, two in front and two at the back, including the one snorting behind me. Not good odds.
“Please let me go.” I breathed in a barely audible tone, drawing a row of laughter from the mongrels.
Gripping my shoulder the man at the back turned me towards him. “Say that again.” He called, scratching his bald head. I heard my words being repeated mockingly by a shaggy haired fellow next to him but the man knew exactly what I had said, he was just waiting for me to say it again.
“I said, please let me go.” I spoke, even more softly this time, my chin digging into the hollow of my neck. I could feel the blood flowing to my cheeks, lighting them up like apples.
“One more time.” The man said, bringing his ear closer to my lips.
Every part of me felt like crying but I held the tears in. I wasn’t going to let them see me weak. No, I was going to fight. For the first time in my miserable life I was going to fight!
With a silent war cry my body exploded in rage and my leg lashed out, trying to hit anything it could. I felt something connect at the tip of my knee and instinctively ploughed my way through. The very next moment the bald man fell back howling in pain. It was only when he was lying on the ground that I saw my handiwork… I’d hit him square across his volatile area.
For the first time in my life I could feel a wave of happiness wash over me. The three still standing backed off a little, fear visible in their eyes and hands lingering near their crotches. No one was laughing anymore…they’d just realized that this cat fought back!
Somewhere in the back of my mind I was acutely aware that this was only temporary, but the feeling was just so great that I felt utterly and absolutely engulfed by it. That is, until the man found his voice again.
“Grab that b**ch!” He cried, still reeling from the shock.
I didn’t even notice as the two goons in the back grabbed hold of my arms. It was only when I saw the man back on his feet that a feeling of dread washed over me. From then on everything happened in slow motion. I saw him mouth mutter something in anger and his fist curling into a ball. The last thing I thought before closing my eyes was, please don’t let it hurt that bad. And then I braced for the impact…
…but the blow never came.
All I heard were gasps from the ones next to me and when I opened my eyes, there was Jake! He was standing tall behind the man, holding his wrist, stopping it from straying anywhere near me. There was no expression on his face, no sign of him putting any effort, only scorn.
The man tried to pull away his arm but Jake held him in perfect suspension, not moving even an inch back or forth. It was then that I heard an almost inaudible ‘crack’ and realized what had happened. Jake had literally crushed every bone in the man’s wrist. A sudden chill rose from the base of my spine. Not because of the horrific blood curling scream that man gave, but because I could clearly see Jake flexing his fingers, mashing together the broken skeleton inside the wrist.
The bald man, who till a second ago was threatening to teach me manners, was now on his knees crying like a child. He couldn’t even muster the strength to stand up straight. Whenever he’d bring his left hand closer, Jake would crush his shattered wrist even harder, throwing him in bouts of excruciating pain.
“Shoot him!” He managed to whimper through the wailing.
Alarm bells sounded and my mind was suddenly in a heightened state as I saw the shaggy haired boy pull out a small sliver object out of his sweatshirt. He was going to shoot Jake! It didn’t take much to throw off my captors who were already stunned seeing this god-like man dominating their leader so easily.
Without thinking, I hurled my body in front of him. I couldn’t allow him to hurt Jake, I wouldn’t allow them to hurt my Jake!
“Ellie!” I heard his sweet voice call out my name. It was the last thing I heard before the shot was fired and I collapsed on the ground.
If you’ve ever wondered what a gunshot sounds like up close, I can confidently tell you it’s nothing like in the movies. It’s loud enough to nearly split your eardrums and the numbness it leaves can only be compared to the feeling you get when slapped hard across the ear in full force.
My ears were still ringing with static as I waited for the pain to come. I’d read it somewhere that it takes a while for the body to realize that it’s been shot and to register the pain of it but something was wrong. There was no pain, or any feeling for that matter.
“Ellie! Can you hear me? Ellie!” As the shock subsided I heard Jake chant my name in panic, cradling me in his rock-like arms. A part of me wanted to touch his face, telling him I was okay but a more devious me wanted to lie there and hear him call out my name again and again.
But as I heard the concern in his voice, my body refused to let me torment him any further and I finally opened my eyes to his divine face.
“Ellie!” He screamed, a wave of relief washing over his perfectly chiseled face.
“Are you all right?” He asked as his fingers went over my face, touching with the most gentle care and attention. “What the hell were you thinking? You could’ve gotten hurt.”
“They were going to hurt you.” I mumbled, noticing faintly that everyone had run off after the shot. The shot!
“I was shot.” I garbled, still recovering from the daze.
“No you weren’t, he missed.”
From that range? No way! “No…no he didn’t miss, I…I should be dead.”
“Ellie, how could you even think I’d let anything hurt you?”
A befuddled look overcame me, “What do you mean?”
A small musing smile crossed his perfect lips. He brought himself impossibly close to me, our lips only separated by a thin veil of air and spoke in his captivating voice,
“Haven’t you realized it yet? Ellie, I am your protector…I’m you guardian…I’m you Angel.”