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The Day I Returned This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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Fifty-three missed calls. I looked at my phone for the first time in two weeks. The hairs on my neck rose when my mother peered cautiously from the passenger seat of my father's car. I strained to read message after message of friends' questions and concerns, not daring to look at her. With a delicate sigh, she turned to focus on the street and watch the yellow lines flash by.

The nervous clearing of her throat started as it always did when she felt like an inadequate parent. No words were spoken as we rounded the corner and pulled up in front of the school. The once-friendly ivory doors now glared at me with uninviting intent. My father cut the engine. This was it. My signal to open the car door and step back into a world I felt I did not know anymore.

“No one knows anything,” my father reassured me. I nodded and reluctantly opened the door without a word. He warned me not to reveal the truth to anyone. With each step, my knees became weaker. I reached for the door handle, ignoring the red marks on my hand from clenching my spiral notebook. With a heave, the door swung open and I stepped into the setting of my teenage personality, though I had not exactly returned with eagerness to my old high school life.

I ducked by the attendance office and climbed the three flights of stairs to my locker. As my shaking fingers twisted the combination, I looked at the clock. The tension in my neck began to build as I saw that class ended in less than five minutes.

I opened the rusty, green metal door and stared at my books. They were exactly as I had left them, piled in the same slouching manner. I reached for my U.S. history text and placed it in my arm with the spiral.

The moment I shut my locker, students began to flood out of their classes. I let out a breath, stared intently at the floor, and began walking toward history. Without warning, the hall became silent. I glanced up to find most of the student body staring at me, critiquing my every move.

I clenched my notebook tighter, feeling as though the wires might break my skin. I caught sight of my old friends and smiled in hopes of beckoning them to my aid. They were huddled around the window where we always converged between classes.

My crooked smile dwindled as they turned their backs on me. My heart screamed in agony. I had been betrayed – used and thrown away. As I quickened my pace, whispers trailed behind me.

“I heard she tried to kill herself. She cut her wrists” … “Well, I heard that she lied about it just to get attention” … “You guys are nuts – she just got back from rehab” … “For what?” … “I heard it was heroin” … “Well, I heard anorexia” … “She does look disgustingly thin.”

I waited for the assaulting word that to this day makes me cringe helplessly. But as this gossip party passed, they never mentioned anything close to what had really happened. There was nothing about that crummy apartment, the asylum-white door locked tight, the curly blond hair that torments my dreams – nothing. His nameless face flashed suddenly in my mind, halting my footsteps.

My hand clenched brutally tight around my books as I struggled to stop the memory from coursing through my head: the darkness of the abandoned room, the unexpected haze from my drink, and the blond hair that is branded in my mind.

I passed my classroom and bolted for the theater. As I neared the doors, my sprinting feet broke down. I entered the pitch-black room, looking for any signs of a teacher or student. My pace slowed as I approached the stage.

Setting my books down, I sat on the edge of the stage and peered into the pitch black. It was the same blackout color of that night. If anyone had been in the room, I wouldn't have been able to make out the face. I gazed down at the spiral marks on my hand. Feverishly I tried to rub the indentations from my skin, but they refused to go.

I glanced at the door again, praying that someone would enter. My eyes watered from restraining the urge to raise my voice, to yell for help. I realized that the one thing I wanted wasn't possible. I was praying for someone to hear my nonexistent cries when I could do nothing more than talk with silence.

In an attempt to release the tension, I shook my head repetitively. I glanced at my free hand and saw it pulling down the pleats of my dress with clenched fingers. I released the garment and cradled my cramping fist in my lap, stroking the indents that now seemed permanent.

My eyes looked toward the edges of the room. Each empty seat seemed to symbolize the friends, family, and peers sitting opposite me, waiting for the mental breakdown they were all so sure would come. Looking to my right and left, despite the size of the stage, it was clear that there was no room for anyone but me and my ominous memories. I was alone, utterly alone. And the worst part was that no one knew.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 34 comments. Post your own!

trblue said...
Oct. 1, 2010 at 10:59 am:
your good and edgy
 
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moonpetal said...
Jul. 15, 2010 at 7:29 pm:
I can relate, you get to school and know what every one thinks but they don't know. And you can't tell a soul, writing in any fashion is a great way to vent. Letting it out to friends normally only leads in you getting burned every one finding out and the relization further of how horible some people r.
 
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Isawyouyesterday said...
Feb. 6, 2010 at 9:03 pm:
I can definitely relate to feeling alone and nobody understanding...just like this inner restlessness. I think writing down your pain is a very positive approach
 
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Emma L. said...
Jan. 14, 2010 at 8:27 pm:
Absolutely phenomenal! One of the best articles I have read in a long time! Your voice certainly lures the reader into the story and in your shoes. I feel as if I could almost feel the piercing glares of high school students and feel the loneliness of the dark room. I truly hope you find that one thing that comforts you and makes you not feel alone. Congrats on making the printed magazine! :)
 
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SloaneaminSticks<3 said...
Dec. 31, 2009 at 12:29 am:
Wow, I think that's the best thing I've read on this site. Your a complete natural. Your style and voice is amazing, I wish I had even a little bit of the talent you have. This is really good. :]
 
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Natasha M. said...
Dec. 15, 2009 at 12:04 pm:
wow....this has to be one of the best pieces I've read on this website.
I think everyone has felt like the eyes of their high school peers were piercing their skin (at least once) -- so you're certainly not alone.
 
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babybunny94 said...
Dec. 1, 2009 at 11:44 pm:
i think i know what your talking about and if i do then ive been thru it too... i know the feelings of walking into a school and feeling like everyone knows what happoned to you and the rumers they spread make u sound bad but they arent even close to what really happoned
 
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urgrass said...
Dec. 1, 2009 at 12:05 pm:
wow what happend while you were gone tho a big mystery there
 
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guitar4life said...
Nov. 14, 2009 at 10:51 am:
I can really relate to how that feels. I ended up missing a week or two of school from trying to kill myself. Great story :)
 
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tony said...
Nov. 12, 2009 at 11:11 am:
Amazing diologue and word choice. Very touching story, makes the reader feel like they wanna be there with you, amazing piece.
 
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Lilx21 said...
Nov. 10, 2009 at 2:18 pm:
Wow...that was really good. I'm in tears just reading. I wish I could be there for you tooo. I know how you feel tho...sometimes i feel like im truly alone. I hope you find what youre looking for....someone to be there for you...someone to hold and comfort you. Thats what I wish I had.
 
Xela13This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Sept. 7, 2010 at 2:45 pm :
THATS WHAT I FEEL WRITING IS FOR  NOT BEING ALONE WHEN YOU ACTUALLY ARE. 
 
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jlovey23 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 7, 2009 at 9:10 pm:
wow. thats really moving. your words really made it feel as if i were you. i long to be a person who could comfort you. amazingly written.
 
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DarkHearts said...
Nov. 4, 2009 at 3:35 pm:
Woah...Thats rly good
 
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