Tami McDonough didn't want to go to class. She licked her lips which were cracked and dry, the skin peeled in red scabs. The inside of her mouth tasted of raw skin, her own. She had chewed the insides to the point of bleeding. Her knuckles were crimson and bruised, the wounds still open, she licked one and picked up a leftover salt packet, she sprinkled it over the cuts. It seemed to sizzle and she winced in disgust at her own behavior. "I hate you." She said.

"Excuse me?" A girl in purple high heels wearing a halter top and mini jean shorts who was walking by turned around to look at her. Tami lifted her chin from the plastic table and stood up. She saw the girl slow and begin staring at Tami. She knew this girl. They were friends. "Yeah, you, big fat ass bitch!" Tami picked up a full cup of iced coffee and tossed it at the girl. It smacked her chest and drizzled down in filthy tears.

"Fuck you!" The girl said and grabbed a napkin from the dispenser and began blotting at her shirt.

"Why does he text her?" Tami ripped open another scar and sprinkled salt inside. "Ahh!" She wailed in anger, not pain.


2 months earlier

It was March. The boy that sat next to Tami was writing his name on the sign in sheet because the teacher didn't bother to learn their names. In pencil he put Adam Felix. He handed her the yellow legal pad and smiled at her. The curvature of his lips was immense and she sensed something in that statement. She got an urge to guffaw and instead stifled herself and filled out her name, including the I in Tami with a heart and she signed her last name with the H ending in a flower. She passed the legal pad to the girl behind her.

"I wish we were taking the test today. I studied for 2 hours last night."

"Get it over with?" Tami asked. He nodded; she turned and felt her hands move from the keyboard to her hair. It was a perfect ponytail and yet she discovered need to smooth it down.

He observed her shirt, "You wear that yesterday?"

She shook her head, "I have a lot of pink shirts." He shrugged.

"Hey, Adam." Another boy beckoned him.

"See ya," Adam waved to her and she found her neck lengthen itself to see where he was going.

Ten minutes later class was over and Tami sprinted out of the class to watch Adam running up the stairs.

"You've got it bad!" Tami turned around to see her friend Vanessa.

"What is 'it' ?"

"You've been bitten by the bug of romance and young blossoming love." Vanessa clenched her hands together and leaned back, her brown heels barely maintaining the balance of the girl who normally stood 5'0. Tami shook her head but felt her face become hot. "Admit it, you like that dude. He's the one in your Ethics and Biology Class?"

"Yeah. He's okay looking."

"He's hot. I love that curly hazel hair. Our kids would have a nice honey colored hair with maybe sunflower highlights." Vanessa pushed her naturally colored platinum hair behind her ears.

"I don't like him."

"You don't?" Vanessa laughed, "Yeah, that's good, I'm going to get him to ask me out."

"What?" Tami felt some jealously rise into chest, it blocked her air passage.

Vanessa noticed Tami's red face matching her short strawberry blond hair. "You just said you didn't like him."

"Yeah." Tami lied, "I mean, he's, I think it would be wrong to get involved with someone who is in both my classes."

"Wait, what? You have 3 classes!" Tami was shaking her head, "What happened to English?"

"I dropped it," Vanessa's mouth was agape, "I couldn't handle the essays," her friend's hands went on her hips, "don't look at me like that, I was going to fail!"

"So you're just going to drop the hard classes to keep up your 4.0!"

"Uh-huh."

I DIDN'T THINK MY FRIENDS COULD HURT ME LIKE THIS!

Vanessa pulled the car into a space on the side of the road and veered to her left. "It's him!" She squealed quietly.

Tami sat in the passenger seat pretending not to care, "I can't believe you followed him home." She scoffed.

"If you go to the cops, I'll say you were in it with me." Vanessa joked. She ducked as the curly haired boy turned around. He stretched his arms upward and his shoulder blades protruded through his salmon colored shirt, she shuddered and exhaled raggedly. Tami turned away from him. Inside she was just as lured by him as Vanessa. "I want him." Vanessa whispered. She returned her gaze to Tami. She saw a longing in her friend's eyes. She lost eye contact and furrowed her brows, "You…"

"What?" Tami was being too obvious in avoiding her stare.

"I got dibs."

"Fine."

"Promise me I get him." Vanessa stated tersely.

Tami pretended not to care. She nodded her head in agreement, as she looked out the window she felt a prick in her finger, she turned to see that her friend had jabbed her finger with a safety pin and was mixing her own blood with that of the freshly wounded digit. "What the hell! Are you fucking crazy?" Tami yanked her hand away as Vanessa sucked on her index finger.

"It's a sworn contract that he's mine!" Vanessa glared, her eyes glowed bright red, then black as her voice turned demonic, "If you break the contract, your soul will be immediately transported to Hell and your body damned to walk earth forever and never being able to rest or die!"

"Ahh-" Tami began to scream but her voice went silent but her mouth was still in an "O" shape screaming with no sound. Vanessa's eyes returned to her ocean blue and she rested back against the seat. Tami closed her mouth. "He came back again."

Vanessa began to hyperventilate. "I thought we got rid of him."

"She said if you stopped doing witchcraft you'd lose your power and the ability for him to possess you."

Vanessa averted Tami's glance and veered to Adam in his yard. He eyed a very scrawny alley cat and sprayed it with a hose.

"You did a ritual for Adam didn't you?"

"No."

"Liar. Your fire eyes gave you away. Give it up, nothing but trouble comes from your powers!" Tami's voice turned to a whisper as a man walked by the car.

"I wasn't gonna get him on my own, was I?"

WHY? WHY FOR EVERYTHING? WHY?

Tami put her forearms on top of the table and laid her head down. "Did you bring your paper, Tami?" The professor asked. Tami lifted her head and nodded. "Exchange it with someone?" She shook her head. The class was focused on Tami. She pretended to be reading her paper. She then saw Adam stand up and walk across the room. He handed his paper to her and she gave him hers. She read over the paper very slowly and watched as he was reading hers.

"HE'S MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNEEEEEE!" Vanessa's voice screamed and Miss McDonough stood up straight.

She reached in her pocket and pulled out her rosary, "Our Father…"

After class, she tensed her neck muscles so tightly as not to watch Adam leave class.

"Here, I made you a copy of the notes you missed in Ethics and here's the study guide for Biology." Tami gave Adam several slices of paper.

He smiled a big smile. He was flawless. "Thanks." He said and she found herself standing in that same area for awhile. "Do you need something?"

"Uh, no." Tami moved and went back to her desk feeling as if everyone was staring at her.

She believed herself safe when she reached the parking lot but was frightened by a hand grabbing her shoulder. "Adam?"

"Hey," Adam smiled. They were the same height, their eyes met, she was afraid she wouldn't be able to find her way out. She moved her stare to the concrete, the sun draping its rays onto her epidermis. "I saw this," he pulled out of his pocket, a small charm bracelet, little pink flowers surrounded diamonds embroidered into the chain.

"OMG" The girl let him put it around her wrist. "No, I-I-can't."

"Yes, you can, I owe you for my midterm grade, if you hadn't given me the notes to study… I'd be applying to truck school right now."

"Oh, my, fucking God!" Vanessa watched from the second floor through the window. "I told you he's MINE!"

Tami fell to the concrete covering her ears although it couldn't block out Vanessa's scream. "Are you okay?" Adam asked.

"Yes." She lied.

"Oh," Tami looked at the book. One of her favorites which was no longer in print. "I'm sorry, I can't take it, here," she returned it to Adam's hand.

His face was an expression of awe and disappointment. "Why can't you take it? It's a gift from me?"

"I can't." She turned away, a nervous fluttery feeling all inside. She hated herself. She felt like a jerk. She wanted the present, not because she wanted it, she wanted it because it was from him. She couldn't help feeling it.

IT HURTS!

Days elapsed, time was getting more difficult to worry about, it hurt her so much, every day as he brought her more gifts, handmade things, special things, she refused everything.

As she sat inside the lunch hall waiting for Vanessa, she saw a familiar set of scratched up shoes, his. She wanted to scream at him to go away.

He sat himself across from her, "Why are you doing this to me? All I've done is pour my heart out." Inside of her rib cage, hers hammered against her sternum.

With a freezing ice, she turned to him, "I-" she stood up and walked out of class. She felt herself unable to breathe and she attempted to search her lungs for the remembrance of oxygen. She heard Vanessa's voice screaming in her head and wanted to stop it. Her head was throbbing with remorse. She didn't want to leave him; she didn't want to ditch class.

She ducked into the computer lab. It was a reflex but she checked her student email account and found a page of emails from Adam. "OMG!" She stifled a sob. She wasn't sure if she was being stalked or he was in love with her. She didn't know what love was. Was there an answer or was she dying already?

"Hey, Girl in The Pink Shirt!" Adam was yelling. She couldn't maintain her balance.

She sobbed; she sniffled gasping for breath, "Go away, Adam!"

"Just so you know," he turned his back and she turned hers, attempting to conceal her sadness, "I'm not calling you one but you're being a bitch!" She was so young but she was feeling old and disintegrating with dust emitting from her pores, her bones tightening and her skin lightening from the blood draining from her system. She ran out the door just shaking her head and wanted to scream out how much she loved Adam. Her eyes aching, her feet slapping the ground and her body about to disappear from existence. She couldn't go on. She sat down on the grass and closed her eyes, though she could see the sun through her shut optical lenses. It pierced her skin, it reddened the pale that had been her demeanor and she didn't care.

"What are you doing out here?" It was Vanessa's shrill voice, for once it was on the outside of her head.

"Why?" In one motion Tami stood on her feet and asked her friend.

"Why what?"

"Why did I have to know you?"

There were notes, there was candy, there was jewelry, there were things she liked, and there was a lot of stuff. She put it in a shoebox until it had been filled. She was currently filling the fourth jewelry box. Stupid little things, stupid little notes, stupid, stupid little stupid things and she didn't want to throw them out. She had known him for two months now, she had transferred from another class and he was just in there, then she had to endure seeing him. Every boy with curly brown hair she veered from so wouldn't have to face the reminder. Boys with sandals, boys with glasses, she ran away. She began to look like a lost mentally disturbed person. Another tear dripped onto the off-white piece of paper.

"I don't want anything from anyone right now. Please understand that I don't want to hurt you. I really don't but I can't be with anyone. This is the part of my life that I want to focus on finding out what I want to do with my life and what to do with myself. To figure out how I am going to contribute to the world and to my family. I am very sorry but I can't be anything more than you want me to be, Adam."

Tears streamed from Tami's eyes. They seemed to be filling up the room. The room was dark and dreary. She visualized the walls turning black and the curtains burning. Vanessa's cackling filled the room.

"Your fried," Tami chuckled, "I forgot the n," she scribbled out the word. Her cursive was in swirls, but the ink was smearing because of her dripping eyes.

"Oh my God! What the fuck!" Tami saw her scanned note on the MySpace page of Adam Felix, his nickname Crashing Sorrow. His mood was depressed, a sad little face with tears was displayed, "Hate life, don't want to live anymore, brokenhearted," a moving image of a sword stabbing an avatar in the chest repeated over and over. Comments were displayed of her note.

"What a bitch!"

"You're better off without her!"

"You can do better! Fuck her!"


Adam,

I really don't know what to say. This is not meant to hurt you. This is to inform you. I really am not interested in you like that. How you want me to be. I can't be anything else than your friend. The time in my life is not right at this moment and I don't need anyone. I need to be on my own. I need to figure out what I want. Though I really do like you, it's just not in a romantic sort of way. That's the way it'll stay. I'm sorry.

Your Friend,

Tami


"I really can't take this." Tami clicked the X on the Internet tab and found herself deleting everything in her email.

"What did I tell you?" Vanessa was chatting with her MySpace friends and then turned to Tami. "I told you to stay the fuck away from him!"

Miss McDonough veered to Vanessa, "I did." Her eyes were beginning to shimmer. "I-" she couldn't even finish, her arm began to burn. She ripped her arm away and saw several blisters forming where Vanessa had held her. She stood up. She leaned down and whispered, "You should be burned on a stake, you evil bitch!"

Vanessa chuckled wryly. Tami went through the aisles of the academic library and pretended to search for books although her head was so empty she didn't believe she could read anymore. She wandered into a section and then saw the title Inferno. "Huh." She laughed and pulled out the book. Something fell from behind the book and hit the bent down, it was a folded paper. Her curiosity drew her to unravel it. She didn't know how it was possible, but it was for her.

I HATE YOU! I HATE YOU!

As hard as it had been for Tami to write her note, it must've been more difficult for him to read. She never wanted to hurt anyone. Every television show she watched seemed to possess someone who resembled Adam Felix and every situation seemed like her worse. Why was the world ridiculing her situation? She realized he really was in pain. Not that physical kind that was evident. Not the kind where you knew they would die if they didn't get help, it was the kind that you knew would get worse if not dealt with.

Tami rode her scooter home from college and heard her phone ringing. The irritating familiar tone of a text message. She witnessed a large semi truck roaring down the road, penetrating the black tar, she screamed, the voice completely inaudible with the truck's. Her left arm stretched behind her and then hurled the small piece of plastic into the truck's metal external. IT hit the crenulated sides, then hit the street and slid under the tires. It smashed; it was obliterated, "Like my soul." Tami muttered and kicked forward on her scooter.

Tami opened the front door and felt a cold breeze slap her face. Her anger seemed to die in the cool air. "You check the mail!" Her dad's voice bellowed from his bedroom

"No!" She replied

"Check the goddamn mail!" She sighed and trotted down to the mailbox to open the metal box. There was an envelope with only the return address as a familiar looking heart being stabbed with a knife. She not only tore it open, but shredded and turned the paper into confetti.


To Tami

From Adam

Something about me you're going to have to realize is I'm stupid. For every moment of everyday when I realize I'm alone and someone saw how stupidly insane I was becoming over them, I feel it all over again, the frustration. I haven't been able to cry, I just laugh or I scream at the emptiness around me. Rejection is a part of life and it doesn't hurt, it just… bothers me. I was a puzzle that got mixed up and there are pieces just everywhere. One part asks you why? Another asks what makes you think I wanted a "relationship"?

Letters and letters could be spilled across the page in cursive, in printing neat or messy and you'll probably never give me the answers and I'd still be here recovering from you, "girl in the pink shirt, no not girl in the pink shirt, you're Tami, and you'll always be the girl who broke my heart first.


May

Tami McDonough sat down at the table wanting to sprinkle some more salt in the open sores on her hand. She had punched the walls of her room; the hard lead pain had cracked in her wounds. She had picked up her shoes and smacked the back of her hands. She even bit the back of her hand and pulled a piece of her skin out. That scar was black and had since healed in a rippled purple contorted scab. The holes in her knuckles bled and she picked up the pepper and poured a small mound of it on the table. While cringing she held open a wound on her left ring finger and twisted her hand so it was upside down, the sore was hovering over the pepper and she slammed it down. "Ahh!" she screamed in rage. She leaped on top of the table, and then raced after the girl in the purple halter top, her shoes clicking with her progress toward the main campus buildings. She bounded on her back smashing her to the concrete, she yanked the back of the girl's hair and tried to lift it above the gray below her to force its collision but Vanessa was surprising strong for a petite girl. She jabbed Tami in the stomach with her heel and then crawled to her knees. Tami couldn't feel any pain.

"He's mine, he made his choice!" Vanessa yelled.

A casual crowd gathered. "He settled!"

Vanessa socked Tami in the face. The blow debilitated an already weak Tami; the crowd grimaced and groaned as the sound of broken cartilage penetrated their ears. "Stop!" Security had arrived and pulled back Vanessa by her arm that was cocked back for another strike.

Tami was unconscious. Another security officer lifted her in his arms, her limbs hung limply over, the crowd worried she was dead.

I DON'T WANT TO LIVE ANYMORE! I'M SO TIRED! I'M TIRED OF THIS! I'M TIRED OF LIVING!

"Where did she get them, Vanessa?"

"IDK!" the girl responded just before the man's open palm slapped her makeup dusted face.

"None of that instant message, texting shit!" Mr. McDonough yelled at her. He held up the red bottle, a torn prescription label on it.

"I didn't kill her. She killed herself!" Vanessa said.

"She overdosed on antidepressants that weren't prescribed by her. She'd been on it for months, where'd she get it?"

"You're supposed to be her father!"

"And you were supposed to be her friend." He opened up a composition book. The inside cover had pictures of Vanessa and Tami together.

The book was full of letters all in uppercase.

The last entry:

"I'LL BE IN HELL WHERE VANESSA WILL BE. SHE CONJURED UP A DEMON AND HE LIVES IN HER BODY. WE WENT TO THE WITCH LADY. SHE COULDN'T GET RID OF HIM. THE WITCH LADY SAID IF VANESSA STOPPED DOING SPELLS, HE COULDN'T TAKE OVER HER BODY ANYMORE. I SAW HIM. I KNOW SHE DID A SPELL FOR ADAM. SHE ALWAYS WANTS WHAT SHE CAN'T HAVE. NO ONE CAN LIVE WITH A DEVIL. I CAN'T LIVE ANYMORE. EVERY DAY IT GETS WORSE AND I DON'T THINK IT CAN EVER GET BETTER. VANESSA GAVE ME THESE AND THEY ALWAYS MAKE ME TIRED. IF I TAKE ENOUGH, I CAN SLEEP 4EVER."

"She'd lost her fucking mind!" Mr. McDonough showed her the entry.

"Exactly, because I didn't give her those pills."


"Hi, Adam." Vanessa kissed her boyfriend and then stepped back and blew a kiss at him. The boy froze and she leaned forward the pulled out several strands of his curly hair, she reached in her pocket pulling out a small bag of herbs, she tucked the strands over them:

"Adam Felix, forget about Tami McDonough,

Adam Felix, let your love grow for me,

With the gift of his dark powers,

so mote it be."