A/N: Sorry I was gone for so long. I would give you all the reasons why, but I'm sure you don't care about that. I was reviewing other people's stories, though! (Again, if anyone wants me to review their stories, just tell me.) Anyways, so glad to get this updated and I hope to get After the Storm's first chapter up later, too. As for Emerald Spirit, I'm experiencing writer's block right now and am always open for ideas, for any of my stories even. Well, I've probably talked enough, so enjoy the story! :)
December 19, 2010: I have scrapped the prologue and just put some good chapters of the prologue on the first chapter under the requests of Nakehaton and melanie27. So here is an opener and I hope it's better than the prologue was!
May 18, 2011: Another update! I decided to make a few changes to this and Oakley's POV because I felt they were too vague. You didn't get enough insight into their lives to really form much of a basis for either of them as characters. Also, I was getting a lot of traffic to these first two chapters and not to the later two, so I suspected that meant they sucked and were due for some editing. So please tell your Fictionpress buddies out there about this story and to review it. I really need constructive criticism right now. P.S. I also made a full summary, but I'm not sure how good it is. (Look below)
SUMMARY: Five teens. Three girls, two guys, one gay, four straight. All united by one word—suicide. Five lives collide at one place, a suicide rehabilitation center in the surrounding countryside of Chicago, Illinois under the name Octavion Meadows. While there, these teens might just experience first-hand that Octavion cannot help all its patients. . .
PROLOGUE: With every day that goes by, we get up, go to school or work, and settle into the same routine we've been doing forever. We continue the things we left yesterday, without a question or complaint about the way things work. Days just pass, with points of light and reason to look forward to.
But there are the people who question the system and long for a better place. These people are sometimes rare or plentiful, depending on where you look. When you see them on the street, they look like everyone else. But their smiles are more forced, like it takes a lot of effort to put it there. The brightness in their eyes and the skip in their step is all a lie. Do you know the saddest part of all? The fact some of them don't even try to look happy, and yet people still don't care. They are worse than the tormentors. They are the criminals that never get caught, but they commit the worst crime: inflicting that wound that stabs you deeper than the others and begs you to go over the edge.
So cut a little deeper. Swallow the extra pills. Jump over that ledge. Hang the rope. Pull that trigger. And give in to the temptation you can't resist any longer.
One more day. One more day. I've been repeating this to myself all through school, hoping it will be some kind of incentive. And it has. Surprising as it sounds, I am actually more at ease than most other days when I would be frustrated with questions I will most likely never find the answer to. Now it is like I'm at peace with things I will never know and things I will never see.
I get home after picking Molly up from the daycare she goes to during the week and she runs to her room, probably off to play make-believe with her favorite toys. After scoping out the house I'm shocked to find Elaine isn't already home. Usually by the time we walk in the door Elaine is there with a smile and snacks for Molly. But this gives me plenty of time to do what I need to do, though I will have to find a way so that Molly doesn't run out of her room and be the first to see me, with nobody home to help her or comfort her. I look over my last note as I stride to Molly's room and silently lock her door from the outside so she won't be able to get out.
You're a great person, really. Don't blame yourself for this. You're actually one of the reasons I haven't done this sooner. Let's both face it—my mom's not coming back. I'm just holding Molly away from a good family. No one wants to adopt a little three-year-old if her dysfunctional older sister comes with the package. No one really benefits from me being on this Earth anymore.
Tell Molly what you will about my death. I don't know how much she'll see, but I know this note is safe because she can't read yet. Whatever you do, tell her I'm sorry. I hope Molly will forgive me for this.
If you haven't gathered much about my life at this point, I'm an orphan. My pathetic excuse of a mom dropped me off here when I was young, but not young enough that I didn't remember blurry fragments. I can just barely recall mundane features of my mother's face that don't quite make sense when you put them together in a face. Thinking about it, I really hope Molly doesn't look back on me one day when she's older and remember me like I do my mother.
I guess that's why I take so many pictures, why I'm so into photography. I want to leave a legacy when I die, even if it's as simple as a sunset or a snapshot of me doing my best to smile for the camera. Oakley, my best friend, always thinks about it as my last stand. If you're going to die, Oakley would say, at least do it with a fight. Don't just leave as a face. But she doesn't know about what I'm about to do. She will soon enough.
God, I hate my mother. She's messed me up in so many ways, in forms I couldn't put into words even if I tried. I probably couldn't put it into colors either, which is what we have Molly do whenever she gets too flustered by what she's trying to say for words. If I had to, however, I would probably describe the color as red. Who leaves their daughter in the hands of people she doesn't even know, and then is stupid enough to do the same thing years later with another innocent girl? Because of this woman I don't even know, I look at mothers with envy in my eyes. Because of her, I have to fumble for an excuse to tell Molly whenever she asks where her mother is.
Just then, I hear a garage door open. Crap. Elaine's home. What I'm about to do will have to wait until I can get away from Elaine's always-watching eyes.
"Annaleigh?" she calls in that tone of voice she only uses when she's worried or has bad news. I open the door and rush down the stairs to meet her, the note in my back pocket.
"It's Oakley," she says, her mascara running down her cheeks. "She jumped off a bridge today. She's in the hospital now, but there's not much the doctors can do."
"Oh, my God," I say, too stunned for tears I thought would come if I ever heard news like this. "What can we do?"
"Right now?" Elaine says defeatedly. "Just wait for an update."
"I'm going to my room until supper," I blurt out suddenly, racing up the stairs and slamming the door to my room as soon as I'm inside.
Oakley tried to kill herself. It doesn't make sense! Despite having a terrible past, she's the most happy-go-lucky person alive, despite her sarcastic rudeness and blunt nature. What happened? Oakley lives with me in this foster house along with Molly, and we're practically sisters! How could I have never known?
It hits me, though, in that moment, that there's so much I don't know about Oakley. I've only known her for two years, after her parents died and she was left without any guardian that could raise her. I didn't even go to this school, I just moved here the same time Oakley moved in because Molly and I had a transfer. She could have so many buried things that have held her down and haunted her for the past two years that I never even suspected. It would explain why she tried so hard to shelter Molly and I, even though I insisted there was nothing she could possibly protect me from at this point in my life.
I decide to go into Molly's room, partially for comfort, partially because she'd be up with all the noise anyways. Sure enough, Molly is sitting up on her bed, playing with her Teddy, her stuffed bear.
"Molly?" I say.
"Sissy!" she replies excitedly. She hops off the bed and hugs my legs with such force I almost topple over.
Molly is my three-year-old little sister. My mom dropped her off with me three years ago. Apparently she's my half sister, unless Mom had a chance meeting with my dad. Molly has my curly dark brown ringlets and my hazel eyes. Unlike me, however, her skin is creamy, fair, and flawless. Mine is slightly tanned, with a splatter of freckles across my nose and a few pimples on my nose that I hide behind my hair. Molly's attitude is also different than mine, because Molly is bubbly and innocent. I wish I could be like she is, even though it seems kind of stupid to be envying a three-year-old.
Molly looks up at me with big eyes. "Where's Jessie?"
I sigh and smooth back her hair, noticing the name Oakley let only me and Molly use. (I, just like Oakley, like the use of her last name better.) "She's . . . running a little late." I say, hoping to stall for however long it takes for Elaine to think of something to tell Molly.
Molly buys it like only a little girl can, and drags me over to her bed. I half-heartedly play with her toys with her for ten minutes until she's yawning constantly and her eyelids droop.
"You look like you need a nap," I tell her.
"No," she whines, struggling to stay awake.
I laugh at her losing efforts to fend off sleep. "Yes you do." I lie her down and put the throw blanket over her. Knowing she won't go to sleep unless I stay, I sit down on the bed.
Molly's room is perfect in its own way. It's about medium sized and has an underwater theme, with little painted fish swimming in a baby blue ocean. Molly's bed is a canopy with thin green curtains to pull around her. Elaine spoils us, so Molly also has a TV and a bathroom that connects to Oakley and I's room.
When I look down at Molly, she's sleeping. I study her flawless beauty and innocence. She has to be my half sister. I look nothing like that. Molly starts to softly snore after short minutes of watching her, so I know she's sleeping deeply. A gunshot could go off and she'd have no clue.
Which brings me to my new idea. I tiptoe quickly down the stairs and look hesitantly around the corner, breathing a sigh of relief when I see Elaine isn't in there. I walk to the kitchen window and see she is out tending to our large garden, which means she won't be in for a while.
I walk up the tan-carpeted stairs for the last time, taking in everything about the grand two-story house. Goodbye, I think, but then I mentally slap myself. Stop being so melancholy.
I go to my room and get the silver hand gun from its hiding place. I grab the note and a pencil, too. After I'm in the other bathroom in Elaine's room, I get my pencil and add this to the note:
I hate to leave you so soon after what Oakley has done, but you must know that my mind was already made up before this happened. I had no idea she would do this, and I just want you to be aware that I am truly sorry.
It's sad, probably more so than it should be, but I don't think I should change it. I wrote down what I wanted to say, and there really isn't much of a way to make a suicide note not sound depressing. At least it isn't corny like the soap operas Elaine watches.
I make sure the gun has ammunition and has the safety off. If you're wondering where I got a gun, let's just say the kids at school that don't beat me up have serious connections. It's not like they particularly like me either, but they have a strange infatuation for Oakley so they'll do almost anything to please me, and in consequence her.
I put my finger on the smooth trigger and put the round barrel up to my chest, where I estimate my heart is. I know I will have to make this quick, so in case it does wake Molly up I will already be too far gone for anyone to save me.
I take a deep breath and let it out as a sigh. It's too bad I'll get crimson stains all over her big, pearly white bathroom. Perfect, just like everything else on this world except me and my lying, Godforsaken mother. Before I can think much more and talk myself out of this, I pull that shiny trigger and hear the loud explosion and the bullet connecting with its life force target.
At first, there's just pain. Agonizing, mind-blowing, gut-wrenching pain. This is the place I learn pain is red. Pain disrupts the space-time continuum and makes everything slower and more drawn out than it needs to be. Pain drips out of your body along with every bit of soul and energy in your being and lands on the floor like water from a leaky faucet.
But after the pain, it's surprising comfort that comes next. Comfort is white. Comfort is like lying in a field of soft flowers with the sun tickling your face. Comfort is what people say being kissed feels like, though I've never experienced it. I feel the cold, wet tile underneath me, but I'm unphased by its uncomfortableness. I'm in my happy place. I'm drifting away, and when I look back just a second, I hear a three-year-old scream.