She imagines fairies – ugly, emaciated furry little things, glowing with inner fire – coalescing into the hollow of her heart as she sits in her trademark position, hunched over with her head between her bent knees, spine sticking out, as she scribbles nothingness into a battered notebook.

She extends her legs and takes a good look at her work: a hurricane of ballpoint pen scrawled across the page, telling a tale of fairies and love and loss. It's terrible, she thinks, slamming the book shut. Terrible terrible horrible.

She sighs. What is she trying to do, anyway? Her plan will never work. She aspires to write, to be an artist living on book sales from her many adoring fans, but it'll never happen. She lies back and looks at the sky above her, or rather, lack thereof. It's a ceiling, not a sky; this is a mental hospital, not a field of flowers like she wishes it would be. But why? Why does she wish for this when the sky is too blue and the grass is too green? They never mourned her mother like they should have, the grass and the sky. They weren't wilting or gray on the day her mother died, nor were they gray or wilting on the day of Mother's funeral. They were just as vivid and colorful on the day she had been admitted, kicking, screaming, and crying against the orderlies. Nature mocks me all the time, she thinks.

Alaina looks somberly over at her sleeping roommate. She's a too-pretty girl with silken blond tresses flowing to the middle of her back, the kind of girl that ends up in a psych ward like this because she isn't what everyone says she is. Alaina wishes she could be like her, because Alaina is everything they said she was. They said her body was cheap, and it had turned out to be just that; they said she would die, and she is doing just that. She's in the process of a slow, painful evanescence from the world as she writes in her journal.

After mother died and father went cuckoo-bananas nutso crazy insane, she ran. She ran and ran and ran until she found her savior in the slums, her personal Jesus in the man with the hard-drug face. She had known the intentions behind his bright white smile, of course, but part of her loved him all the same, trusted him when he said he'd let her go if she ever wanted to go.

He didn't.

She had been through encounter after encounter with dirty John after dirty John, up against walls and asphalt and Dumpsters, until eventually, she decided that she'd had enough. She had wiped off her harlequin makeup and put on a big, baggy shirt over her fishnets and tiny tiny dress, and told him that she was done, that she was going home. He had smiled and locked her in his basement, promising to let her out when she was ready to be a good girl again.

She had cried and cried, just like the day Mother had died. Eventually, he let her out, but made her promise never to try and leave again. It turned out that she didn't have to – the police had come to his house one day, flashing the colors of patriotism with their shiny white cars. They'd found copious amounts of drugs and prostitution, the man's niche. And she had been saved.

"Saved" is an odd way to put it, considering her subsequent suicide attempt. She takes out a stained-glass coloring book – what she considers to be the "coolest" thing she has ever seen(!) – and begins to color. Of course, her coloring pencils had not been allowed in the hospital, but she had chosen to sneak them in. She kept them hidden under her pillow, little glimmers of light in a world of darkness. Her roommate would toss and turn and occasionally scream in her sleep, and Alaina would color, color, color. Acting childish was all she could do to calm down, because even through the haunted look in her eyes, she swears on her broken fingernails and the mosaic of scars on her thighs that she's young at heart.