The Sunshine Clinic

By: Lexi Ronevich

Ink splattered across my notebook as the pen broke in my grip. Black liquid stained my fingers in the process, which did not help to lessen my anger. I held back a curse and focused on the floor, counting to ten as my counselor had advised. The sleek white tiles were scuffed with dirt, but they still gleamed in the artificial light. For some reason I found that funny, and a strangled laugh escaped my lips. What has this place done to me? I thought in horror. It had been so long since I had gotten trapped in this forsaken place. This "clinic" had been my prison for nearly a year, and they still wouldn't let me out.

The people here told me I was sick; that I could leave when they finished helping me. I scoffed at the thought; I wasn't sick, nor did I need any help, in my opinion. The counselors and nurses would never truly help me. Their idiotic exercises, the dumb anger management courses, or the dreadful medications could help. Being here at the Sunshine Clinic wasn't my fault in the first place. The name of the place was absolutely moronic, because no sun ever shone here.

The rooms were white and the windows were non-existent, which prevented the more sensitive patients from plotting an escape. The only lights in sight were the blinding fluorescent bulbs that lined the halls. This was not where I, Ally Ward, should be. Ally Ward was the daughter of rich investors, a millionaire since birth. Fellow teens used to want to be her. That past Ally had been everything she wanted to be; she had gotten everything. The best wardrobe, perfect blue eyes, flawless brown locks; it all used to belong to her. Boys would fall at her feet, and she would reject every one of them. That was who I was supposed to be, who I used to be.

Now I was nothing but a broken record, tossed into the trash by everyone I used to love. My eyes were now bleak and my hair was loose and brittle. I had spent my sweet-sixteen in the clinic's lounge, and I hadn't seen a fellow teenage girl for eleven months. The only other teenage in this clinic was a boy named Dylan, and he was neurotic in every way possible, so I stayed away from him. Yes, I was alone, and I was sad. I felt abandoned and useless because that was what I was; it was who I had become. A tear rolled down my cheek, shocking me out of my stupor. I would not cry; my mother didn't deserve it. If I cried about her leaving me here, it would only prove that I was helpless. With my eyes closed, I sighed and tried to control my breathing. After a few minutes, I heard the unmistakable sound of five-hundred dollar high heels and cringed. Oh no, not her. I thought, shaking my head. She hadn't come in over six months, and I had thought she had forgotten me; but no. There she stood in the doorway, the same grim expression on her perfect surgically-altered face.

Dianne Ward, my mother, had come. Her skin was still a perfect tan mask, powered and smooth. Her hair was a replica of mine, but hers was curly and healthy, a ferocious chocolate mane down her back. Those green eyes analyzed every part of me with distaste; she thought I was a disgrace, which was the reason for my being here at the clinic.

"Hello Ally, how are you?" Dianne's clear mocking tone rang in my ears like a bell. I gave no reply, and instead retrieved another fresh pen from my bedside drawer. My fingers drove the ink across the page rapidly as I continued scribbling. Dianne tapped her foot with impatience as I ignored her.

"Ally," She snapped suddenly, "pay attention to your mother this instant!" The hair on my arms stood up as her voice edged toward shrill.

"Why should I?" I mumbled, mentally slapping myself for talking back to her. This was how we always fought, and I wasn't in the mood for another verbal battle.

"Just listen to me, please Ally. Can't I talk to my daughter for once? There is some good news, and I wanted to share it with my little princess." Dianne replied with partly locked teeth and then sighed.

"Fine," I tried not to hiss, "Let's talk." The venom in my voice betrayed me and I waited for my mother's rebuke. The next thing I knew however, my mother was crying.

Tears streamed down her face, shocking me. Mascara made lines down her cheeks and ruined the perfect mask of makeup. For the first time in almost three years, I could see her real face. Purple circles showed lightly under her eyes and age lines had begun to be more prominent. Dianne wasn't as perfect as she seemed to be, and I had known it all along. Why she was crying I had no idea. She had never cried in front of me, not even when my sister Lindsay died.

"Why are you crying?" I asked cautiously, cringing. Dianne laughed for a moment and let out a large breath before composing herself. She dabbed her face with a Kleenex before replying.

"I was going to tell you that the doctor recommended you could go home, but since I can't even talk to my daughter without a fight, then I guess you can just stay here."

The words rolled off her tongue slowly, but I could barely understand their meaning. They were letting me out? Would they really do that? Thought raced through my head as I envisioned being in my house again, sleeping in the mansion in my huge bedroom on my soft bed. I could go back to school and finish the tenth grade; finish high school. The possibilities were endless!

"You mean… you came to take me home?" My voice had turned small and I tried to raise it.

"Yes, I did." Dianne looked at me for a moment, only pity in her eyes. "Do you want to go or what?" The words were said with a smile, but her eyes contained pity, a hidden evil. I knew what would happen if I went back to that house, to my old life. She would torture me the same way she had before: with her expectations, her commands. I didn't want to be sucked into that prison again; I wanted to escape my current prison. To be free; that was all I wanted. Choosing my words carefully, I replied as my mind formed a plan. It was a twisted plan, but I was sure it was the right thing to do, in my mind anyway. I had gotten eleven months to let my anger simmer, and it was finally time to let loose.

"Yes! Please, let's go mom." The tone of my voice was purposefully sweet, and I hadn't called Dianne mom since the eighth grade. A smug smile appeared on her face, and I knew I had succeeded. Dianne gave me her best smile, which I could tell was fake, and ran out the door. A grin spread across my face as the details to my plan fell into place. I was going home: I was going to be free.

The smell of fresh paint wafted from my mother's new yellow Porsche. She drove over the speed limit, but only a small hum came from inside the vehicle. My nails tapped restlessly on the window as we reached closer to the house. Dianne made no effort to make conversation, and for that I was grateful. The less she talked, the easier this would be. Luckily, it had started to rain, and water slammed against the windshield, falling in rivets along my line of sight. Just a few more miles, I thought with anticipation. The lake was right by our house, off to the side of the road. As I saw the blue water of the stream, I grabbed the wheel from my mother's grip.

"Hey what are you—"Shut up." I hissed, turning off my façade.

Without hesitation, I turned the car toward the water. The vehicle slammed into the lake and began to sink. For a moment, the only sound I could hear was my mother's frantic screaming. The windows were closed, but a small stream of water had begun to fill the car. I unbuckled my seatbelt and locked the doors, ignoring Dianne as she screeched at me.

"Why did you do that?" She yelled, "What have you done? We are going to die!" She yanked on her seatbelt, but it had locked against her small form. The corners of my lips rose, threatening to form a smile.

"We aren't going to die." I whispered, my mind becoming foggy in my sudden rage. "Only you will die." With a single click, I unlocked my door. Tears were streaming down Dianne's face once again, but I ignored them. As I opened the door, water surrounded me, and I struggled to hold my breath. I didn't even look back as my mother drowned, water filling her lungs and suffocating her.

The coughing began as I reached the surface of the lake, and I clumsily swam ashore. My breathing slowed as I lay on the rocky sand. My legs felt limp, but I managed to stand. My eyes lingered to the sandy floor as I struggled to look away from the water. She was gone. My mother was gone forever, and she could never hurt me again. A twisted grin formed on my lips, and I walked away from the shore, away from my old life.

This was where I, Ally Ward, was now. Ally was a girl who was free of her mother, free of commands, free of being controlled. In Ally's opinion, although she never told anyone, Dianne deserved her death, because it was revenge for what she had done to Ally. Dianne had locked Ally away in the clinic, abandoned her.

Now I had abandoned Dianne, and she was out of my life forever.