A Light For Seymour and Other Stories
It was a cold, dark day. I watched from my window as the fog rolled above the houses, dotting the window with mist. It was my favorite kind of day; bleak, gray. I pushed myself back from the window and crossed the room to the white desk awkwardly placed in between the dresser and the bed. I sat down on the matching white chair and spread my arms over the smooth, clean surface. My black, long sleeve t-shirt contrasted against it and I rolled my sleeves up, feeling my skin on the cool desk. The red scars of my past went up and down my forearm reminding me of those times, sitting with him, in the dark with the knife. A sharp knock startled me from my thoughts. The door opened and a nurse came bustling in with a tray.
“Here is your medicine. Drink all the water.” She said, setting the tray down on the table at the end of the bed. She left without another word. Before, they’d wait for me to take the pills, making sure I didn’t flush them down the toilet or drop them down the sink. I would ask for more water to make them leave. It worked. I waited to take the pills, resting my head against the desk, closing my eyes.
I wake up with a start. I must have been moved because I was in my bed.
I sit up, feeling a sharp pain in my shoulder. I look over to see a bandage wrapped around my shoulder. They must have given me the shot version of the pills I was supposed to take. I swing my legs over and stretch, getting up. I walk to the bathroom and stare at my reflection. I can barely recognize myself. My skin is pale with red blotches on my skin and my hair looks stringy and greasy. My lips are chapped beyond repair and my eyes look beady and swollen. I then realize that I can’t remember the last time I’ve taken a shower. I strip down and turn the shower on as hot as the water can go. I hop in, having to grind my teeth together to keep from screaming from the heat of the shower. After my skin adjusts, I scrub my body down. When I get out, I am a pink, raw color. I wrap one of the white towels around my bony body and walk out into my room, looking through my dresser. I find a ill fitting sports bra and some plain black boxers along with a gray t-shirt and some sweats. I pull the pitiful clothing on and dry my hair off with the towel. I lay down on the bed afterwards, and curl up in a ball, rocking back in forth. I try hard not to think about him, but the thoughts kept creeping in.
“What’s your name?” I looked up to see a boy, hovering over me.
“Why?” I said, getting defensive.
He sat down next to me.
“It’s a nice day, today.” He said, smiling at me. His smile was beautiful yet with an indistinguishable sadness.
“Yeah. It is.” I looked around the park, the trees swaying in the wind.
“I’m Darren.” He said, looking at me, his eyes meeting mine. We stared at each other for what seemed like forever until I looked away, embarrassed.
“I’m Janie.” I said, rubbing my arm.
“I like that name. Janie.” He said, leaning back against the picnic table, spreading his arms behind him.
Two nurses come in, looking tired and annoyed, disturbing my thoughts.
“Janie. You didn’t take your medicine yesterday like you were supposed to.” One of them said. She was one of the nicer nurses. The other nurse stared me down like a hawk hunting down its prey.
“I fell asleep.” I shrugged, getting up and going to the window. I look up to see several dark clouds forming together, threatening to rain.
“Janie, you know the rules. If you don’t take your medicine, we have to give it to you in a shot. Luckily you were asleep when we gave it to you.” The nicer nurse said. I turned around and crossed my arms.
“Fine.” I say, crossing back over to my bed. I turn the television on and turn my back to them. They linger for a moment longer before leaving, softly closing the door behind them. I lay down on the bed and stare out the window, a few drops of water hitting the pane.
“I do that too.” He had said one night, when we were alone in my room. He brushed his fingers against my wrist, tracing the scars from past and more recent cuts. I pulled my arm away.
“Do what?” I said, my face burning up.
I swallowed, hard.
“Hey, it’s okay.” He said, wrapping me in his arms. “Sometimes, we need to be reminded that we can still bleed.”
We sat there together the rest of the night, in each others arms, not saying anything, just listening to our messy heartbeats.
I wake up exhausted. I blink a few times to adjust to the still dark room, seeing the same plain, boring furniture in the same boring spots. I start to roll over when something catches my eye. A small out of place trinket was shining from the desk. I slowly get up and stumble over to the desk, struggling to see in the dark. I reach out and pick up the object, testing it in my hand. I nearly fall over when I find out what it is. I hold it to my chest, carefully shielding it from view even though I’m the only one in the room. I roll the blade over to test its sharpness. It was incredibly sharp. I looked towards my door, making sure no one was watching. I slowly turned and held the blade above my arm. Shakily, I pressed the blade down on my arm and sliced from my wrist to my elbow in a more or less steady line. When I’m done I realize I’m crying, not with pain, but with relief. I wipe my eyes and go to the bathroom, suppressing the bleeding with a wad of toilet paper. I rinse my arm off and use toilet paper as a makeshift bandage. I tip toe out into my room and crawl back in my bed. I stare at the ceiling and smile softly, drifting off into dreamland.
“Janie Masterson, please report to the front office.” A loud voice over the intercom said. I looked up to my teacher, who nodded for me to leave. The snickers and “ooh’s” of my fellow classmates made me burn inside, making me want to yell or scream at them, but I didn’t. I walked numbly to the office, seeing my parents and another couple talking quietly with our principal, Mr. Herald.
“Mom? Dad? What’s going on?” I said, an uncomfortable eeriness rushing over me.
“Janie!” My mother rushed to my side, holding me to her. My father walked over and hugged me as well.
“What’s going on?” I repeated, feeling scared. Had a family member died? Who are these other people?
“Janie, a very concerning issue has come to our attention,” Mr. Herald said grimly, “are you seeing anyone?”
I looked at my parents.
“Is this a joke?” I laughed angrily.
“Janie, answer the question.” My father said firmly.
I sighed, flustered.
“Yes. I am. Why?” I yelled, on the verge of tears.
“Was it Darren?” The woman asked stepping forward.
“W-what, how did you know?” I asked, flabbergasted.
The woman leaned into her husband, visibly crying.
“Will someone please tell me what’s going on?!” I screamed, causing everyone to stare at me with concern.
“Janie, has Darren hurt you in any way?” Mr. Herald asked, peering at me over his bifocals.
My mind races to all the times we spent together in his basement, the kissing, the cuddling, the sex, the cutting...
“No.” I say, a little too quickly.
“Janie....Darren is in a lot of trouble. You need to tell us what happened.” My father said, gruffly. I gulped, contemplating whether or not to tell them. They stared at me with concern and anger.
I slowly turned to them and rolled my sleeve up, showing the deep cut scars up and down my arm. My mom gasped at the sight.
“He did this to you?” My father whispered in shock.
“No!” I yelled, tears rolling down my cheeks, “I did. We both did...together.” I looked down at my feet as a terrible silence ensued, the occasional uneven sob of Darren’s mother breaking the silence every few seconds.
“Janie,” Mr. Herald started to say after what seemed like hours, “Darren has committed murder.”
I looked up in shock.
“Murder?” His mother started to cry harder.
“Yes.” Mr. Herald said uneasily. Every single emotion I could ever feel started to well up inside me. Old tears continued streaming down my face and I started laughing. Darren’s parents looked up in complete horror while my parents glared at me. But I couldn’t help it, these people were insane! Darren would never kill anyone. He was happy. We were happy. I was now on the floor, I had stopped laughing and was now full on sobbing. I quickly tried to wipe the tears away, embarrassed that Darren’s parents had to see my broken down in such a way. Darren’s father approached me as my sobbing decreased, “Janie. When we found that Darren had left, we found this on his desk.” He placed a folded piece of paper that had clearly been opened and creased many times in front of me. I quickly snatched it up and opened it, almost tearing it down the middle.
Remember me as I bleed for you was all it said. “Does that mean anything to you?” I looked up to see Darren’s father staring hopefully at me. I shook my head solemnly, knowing I could never make them understand what Darren and I had.
I wake up in a puddle of blood. My makeshift bandage had fallen off in the night, the blood starting to seep from my arm. I felt weak. Weaker than I ever had before. I stumble to my feet and barely reach the bathroom before crashing to my knees. I groan in pain and grasp desperately for a towel before I collapse completely on the white tile floor, my blood slowly forming a small puddle by my elbow. My breaths become shallow, my chest heaving up and down for more air, my heart beating wildly. My eyes flutter as I feel my heart getting slower and slower. I stare up at the ceiling light and wait for me to bleed out when a dark shadow appears before me. The shadow turns darker and I see a face, Darren’s face. I struggle to keep my eyes open, try and reach for him, call to him for help, but he does nothing, watches me squirm. The last thing I see before blacking out is his crooked smile.