Dun, dun, duuunnnnn.
She couldn’t make sense of what was going on in her head, couldn’t clearly remember what had really happened, so she resolved to move past it, to get back into her life. She didn’t believe in making things more than what they were, had been brought up to believe ‘shrinks are what’s wrong with the world, the ideas they put in people’s minds’, ‘go hard or go home’, ‘you reap what you sow’.
And there was the new boy.
Kind and quiet and reliable. Close in age. Liked beer and his family and going to the movies.
But still, her skin tingled when he brushed past her.
But no, she could sense him.
Then there was the flowers, gifts.
The realisation that she still wanted him.
When he pushed up against her in a dark parking lot one night, it set her skin on fire even as she pushed him back.
‘What’s your real name?!’ was the first thing she thought to hiss.
He stuttered, off guard. That was enough confirmation.
‘Fuck you. Don’t come near me. Don’t even fucking think about me.’
‘I love you. He doesn’t’
‘This is your last warning’
He just smiled and held the door open for her.
When she went to the police station, it was worse than the time before.
‘So what has he actually done?’
‘He sends me things. Leaves them on my car. Flowers and jewellery mostly. I think he follows me. I think he gave me a fake name. I’m starting to get worried’
‘Has he threatened you?’
‘No. He’s just fucking stalking me.’
It went on, until she couldn’t remember what it was like to feel unmedicated. She took pills to sleep and pills to wake up. She kept a diary, changed her number, reported everything.
And it stopped.
Instead of being relieved, her mind found it couldn’t cope. She spun around and around with theories, drove past his place, picked up the phone and slammed it down again.
When she finally saw him, she just froze.
He was him, but not him.
Thin, unshaven, bruised.
They looked at each other, and everything was there. Everything between them.
‘I was in the hospital. You know. God. I really fucked up. I lost myself.’
Tears dripped off her chin. She wiped her nose with her sleeve.
‘Will you leave me alone now? Please. You scared me.’
‘Of course’, she heard the quiver in his voice. ‘Could we talk at least? When you’re ready.’
‘Sorry. I just can’t. I’m sorry, god, I hate myself. I have to go.’
A few days later, she woke up and didn’t immediately reach for her medication. She lay quietly, trying to put her finger on the change.
When she saw the box on her car, she felt like there was a brick in her chest.
As she scanned the poem, she thought about putting it in the bin, going inside and pretending she had never seen it.
Instead, she got in the car and drove.
She could smell whiskey and tobacco the second she opened the door, and for a minute she was disoriented and her mind couldn’t make sense of the seemingly disconnected shapes in front of her eyes.
The creaking seeped through the numbness into her conscious mind.
Her first coherent thought was that it couldn’t be real, because his feet were just touching the ground. She touched his hand, recoiled from the cool. Looked up at his face, just once. Lit a cigarette. One of his.
She died too, for a little while. She just didn’t lie down.
If anyone had told her she would be able to continue with her life, go to work that very afternoon, she would have told them they were mad. She had always imagined death, seeing a dead body, as a traumatic event, but instead she felt…still. Just still. Afraid to move.
She was ok.
She couldn’t write anything, ever again. She didn’t sleep very much. She kept seeing the nice boy, who was kind and patient when she would flinch away from him, and that was enough.
It was years later she heard his voice.
‘So, will you write about me someday?’
‘Write something just for me now. And then something when I’m long gone.’
It seemed long enough.
Thanks to anyone who stuck with this. I do feel better having finished it. Obviously I’ve left some things out (I *may* have tried a banishing spell from one of those ‘teen witch’ books once…) but that’s the basic story, to me.
I kind of wanted to make myself into this horrible character the whole time I was writing, and while it’s true I could have done some things differently, I’m not. I wasn’t. I was young and not equipped to deal with anything like that. And really, he was young too. Younger than I am now, anyway.
Next time I’m feeling all ‘wanting to make a positive change’ and ‘sort things out in therapy’, at least I’ll have it written down. Because I’ve tried a few times, and I’ve never been able to verbalise my way through this. I can talk about the flashbacks, the nightmares, the feeling of not being in my body, but I can’t talk about the cause.