Hello! My name is Matt, and I hope you enjoy this first chapter of MENTAL.



I rolled my eyes at the stares I received while walking down the hallway. It had been a year ever since the incident, yet people still thought that it was true. My mom and dad didn't believe me when I told them what happened. When I began to be called names, they didn't believe me about that, either. They said that if it was true, they would say that it would 'blow over in a few days or a week'. It started in early eighth grade. I'm now in late ninth grade.

I wasn't entirely sure what they were staring at me for anymore. The rumor was constantly changing — it started with me having consensual sex when I was thirteen. At that time, I had been dating a guy for over a year, and everyone accused us of having sex. Okay, yeah, we did have sex; just not necessarily consensual on my part…

Then, the rumors changed again. They began saying I had consensual sex with not only him, but with other jocks of the school — Aaron, Dustin, Lucas and Zack. But that was a complete lie.

Of course, nobody knew the truth. Everyone began teasing me, particularly with name calling — slut, whore, skank, twat, easy, and so on.

And then, the rumors changed again. The rumors never seemed to affect him, or Aaron, or Luke, or any of the boys that were accused of having sex with me. I had expected one of them to have been rumored to have 'gotten herpes from Bella', but naturally they didn't. This time, it was Isabella Botticelli is pregnant. Then it was Isabella Botticelli has Chlamydia. The rumors were always changing, and because of that, I never knew what they were staring at me for. I didn't know if they thought that I was banged up the night before or if they were questioning as to why I would go to school with a baby growing inside of me.

I thanked God an uncountable amount of times for not receiving an STD or getting pregnant. Obviously, I had broken up with him the same night he did that to me.

It had happened when he had convinced me to finally come to one of his football games, even though I wasn't very interested in sports. His team won, and then he came over my house, while my parents were out of town. We did a lot of kissing, and we did go into third base, but I refused to go any higher despite his begging. He told me that he had condoms with him, but I wasn't ready to lose my virginity yet.

I lost my virginity the very next day.

I suppose I should've expected that he was up to something. It would definitely fit his persona. But I was in love. Or at least, I thought I was in love. I thought I had the perfect little life with the perfect little boyfriend. I thought that he'd accept the fact I wanted to remain a virgin for a while.

He invited me over the next day. He told me that he saw a doe in the forest, and deer had been my favorite animal at the time. Right when I was about to tell him that I didn't see any deer, he pushed me onto a little clearing in the ground. Deer then became my least favorite animal — because they are what lured me into the trap that forever changed my life.

All I could remember was simply begging him to stop. At one point, he did, but he seemed really tired. I was able to get away because he barely made an effort to make me stay.

I heard the garage door opening in my house that same night, which signaled that my parents were home from their trip to New York. Immediately I ran down the stairs and cried to them, telling them what happened. But they refused to believe me. I wondered if they thought I just wanted attention, or if they were just mad at me for sneaking out of the house when they told me not to do so.

After that, I kind-of just stopped telling things to my parents; I didn't really trust that they would believe me.

So, yeah, I didn't entirely know what the stares were for.

"Bella!" Hazel called. I looked at my friend as she sprinted towards me, her long brown hair flowing behind her. She hugged me.

Hazel Fletcher was one of the few reasons I got out of bed in the morning: her and Paige Marcolini. They were my two best friends, and they stuck by my side when I least expected to, when the rumors had just started. I was always afraid that rumors would start about them, just because they were my friends, but it never happened.

Of course, Hazel and Paige knew about the rumors. I didn't have the heart to tell them what happened, though. I thought it would be unfair to put that kind-of information on somebody, especially when I was only thirteen at time, and so were they. Hazel and Paige were both convinced I was still a virgin. Though, it was painful whenever they made jokes about me getting pregnant at sixteen whenever they were talking about "how pretty I was" or whatever. I tried not letting it bother me—they were pretty much the only friends I had ever since the incident and I wasn't going to ruin that.

When I was walking home from the bus stop, walking through my community, I saw a few cute little kids playing in a lawn.

I had always loved kids and wanted children of my own, but after what happened, I wasn't sure if I ever wanted to even have sex again.

I walked into my house, went to my room, and slammed the door shut. I locked it, and let my fake smile fall. I threw my backpack onto my bed, and slumped down in front of the door and began crying.

I was used to this occasion. There didn't ever necessarily need to be a trigger. I was just so emotionally destroyed that I could become depressed in seconds. Sometimes I was sad for no reason, and I didn't know why. I tried standing up off the ground, and then walked over to my bookshelf.
Hidden between my history and math textbooks was my razor. I had stolen it from the Tech Ed Room one day when nobody was looking. It was easy.

The first cut I made was the night he violated me. I did it on my thigh. It hurt. But it was also soothing in some way. It calmed me down, almost. It distracted me from the emotional pain, I guess, because all you focus on when you cut is the pain and the blood. At that time, I had done it with a kitchen knife, and I only done it because I felt worthless and as if I deserved the pain, but eventually I started using a razor because they were just easier to hide and easier to carry around, and cutting became my way of coping.

Where've you been, Bella? I could almost hear the razor calling out to me. I missed you.

I remembered all of the words I've ever been called — so many horrible names: slut, whore, skank, easy, twat, bitch, and so many more. I was truly so sad on the inside, more than people thought. Every day was another day of faking smiles and simply just repressing my feelings. That, and along with the fact that I felt so worthless: I had been used for sex, after dating a guy for over a year, during my childhood my parents only paid attention to my sister, and music and friends were my only saviors. It was really very depressing.

I pretended it had actually spoken, and formed a reply. "I missed you too." I said through choked sobs. "But we're together now. Wanna meet my arm again? Or would you prefer to go somewhere else? My hips? My thighs? My legs? My throat?"


Please don't blame me because of my addiction; it was stupid Eric and Sophie's fault.

I don't even know why they did drugs in the first place. Yeah, Jessica moved to Texas. Sophie didn't have to turn to drugs. Did she?

I suppose I could take some of the blame — after all, I didn't have to try it. I thought that I would be able to fight the addiction with ease. But my health teacher was right: it only takes one time to get hooked.

In a way, it started when I was just starting kindergarten. The first three people I met quickly became my very best friends — Eric Warren, Sophie Cincotta and Jessica Maher. We always did everything together. We were always hanging out; going to the mall and to the movies; spending time together in the center of our town and getting pizza and ice cream; sledding and snowball fights in the winter, going to the beach in the summer. To sum it up, we were practically inseparable.

But then, it all fell apart in fifth grade.

Jessica and her family had always been dealing with poor financial situations, but during February of 2008, Jessica didn't seem the same as she always had been. It was as if something was bothering her, something she didn't want to talk about.

It was May 7th when Jessica first told us the news. She was moving to Texas because her dad got a job offer. Eric, Sophie and I tried hanging out with Jessica as much as we possibly could before she was forced to move to Dallas.

But unfortunately, that one day in August came very quickly, and I watched sadly with Sophie and Eric as the U-Hauls pulled out of Jessica's driveway. It was very sad — Sophie was crying, and even I could feel a few tears slip down my cheeks. Eric generally didn't show his emotions because he didn't want Jessica to feel bad, but I had the feeling that the first thing he would do when he got home was go into his room and cry.

And we never saw Jessica again after that. Of course, we had hugged and kissed her goodbye. We all missed her, a lot, but we didn't even have any special way of communicating with her. None of us had cell phones at that point, and even if Jessica had gotten a cell phone when Eric, Sophie and I did, we didn't know her number.

For a long time, Sophie was depressed and it was rather obvious. Her grades were falling. She was losing weight by not eating the same. She wasn't her old talkative self.

I didn't know she had turned to drugs, though.

It happened when Eric and Sophie invited me to hang out with them after school, two years after Jessica moved. And that's when they pulled out the syringe. I asked what it was. When they told me it was heroin, I laughed. Eric and Sophie looked at each-other confused, as if wondering why I was laughing.

"Wait…" I said. "You're not serious, right?"

Then they laughed.

"We're serious, Jason…" said Sophie.

All I could think was: What the fuck is wrong with you?

I didn't even know how they got it, or why they chose to do drugs.

"Why are you doing this?" I remember asking.

"Because it's the answer to all our problems," Sophie replied. "It helps us escape. Just try it. If you don't like it, we'll never make you have to try it again."

I had always assumed that Sophie had turned to drugs because of her depression. It definitely wasn't a smart choice on hers, which I found weird considering her name meant 'wisdom' in French, even though names didn't give you any special abilities. Eric explained to me that when Sophie first wanted him to try it, he was afraid too, so he said he 'didn't blame me'. I was so hesitant, I wanted to just scream and run. My entire body was trembling.

But finally, they convinced me. I thought: Maybe Mrs. Harrington is wrong. Maybe it takes more than once to get hooked. She's probably just trying to scare us into not doing drugs. I'll never have to try it again.

Unfortunately, I was wrong.

I don't even know why I became addicted. I guess heroin was kind-of like my coping skill, and it helped me to escape the expectations my parents set for me. I was only trying it the first time, after all, and I was trying it only to prove to Eric and Sophie that it wasn't worth destroying their lives…only to find out that I liked it.

I tried controlling the addiction. I started by limiting the amount of time I spent with Sophie and Eric. For a while, I only did drugs once about every four months.

But one day, the three of us were partnered together for a school project, so we had to hang out more frequently. I tried convincing them to come over my house, so they couldn't hook me more, but one day; we ended up going to Eric's. I almost began to hate them, for bringing this new hell into my life; but at the same time, I loved them for bringing such a miracle into my life. It was like the pure definition of happiness; the colors of a rainbow; like candy. I began doing them only once or twice a month, but slowly, the drugs got the better of me. I started doing drugs at least three times a week.

My parents had always wanted a perfect family. Both of them were perfectionists. They wanted the perfect little house with the white fence and the dog and the perfect green grass. Perfect, perfect, perfect. It was one of the things that had stopped me from telling them when I wanted to most — I didn't want to ruin their so-far perfect lives.

I wasn't telling them for their sake. Sure, I guess I needed help, but I didn't want to make them sorry. So was telling them that I was addicted to heroin really a good thing, or a bad thing?


As a little kid, my parents always taught me that I could be better if I tried.

I remember the first time I read the words. I remember the exact minute I read them, seeing as I had checked the time just before I had logged onto formspring. Fat cunt. I had been overweight at the time, and I admit that — after all, I had inherited my father's eating habits. Before that, I always ignored the insults I'd get in school. I was aware of who my friends were and weren't. Could it have been the fact that the person who called me that was anonymous? And I didn't know if it was one of my friends or not? I didn't know, but it felt different on the internet somehow. I mean, I had always been insecure about my appearance, but I always tried brushing it off because I hated how insecure I was about myself, even if it ran on my mother's side of the family. There was always a part of me that felt like I wasn't good enough; like I needed to do everything perfectly; like I needed to attain perfection. And finally, I decided I wasn't helping myself by just letting all of the people's mean comments get to me.

I began dieting, exercising and not ordering desserts at restaurants. I even skipped some meals, but my parent didn't really like that. I lost a lot of weight in a matter of three months. My friends complimented me on how good I looked. I even got asked out by boys a few times. And that's when I decided: more skinny = more beautiful = more perfect.

I felt the need to impress everybody. When I weighed myself everyday and saw that I lost weight, I was happy and giddy and excited that I weighed less.

But then it happened again. I logged onto formspring, only to find 'fat' written to me in my inbox — anonymously, of course. I remember springing up from my laptop, removing my clothes and examining myself in my full-body mirror. I remember thinking, Is that how they really see me? Fat?

I thought of the formula again. Maybe continuing to go through the same process was a good idea. If I did continue, I'd look less fat and I'd look prettier. If this is fat then I have extreme work to do, so I better get started!

I pretty much skipped meals and became a vegetarian to give me more of an excuse not to eat, but then I became a vegan even though my mother said that was unhealthy, and then, finally, I only ate apples, carrots and strawberries. I refused to drink anything except water. If it meant I would be thin, it was worth it, right?

But then I fainted in school one day, during gym. My parents sat me down at our dining room table, fully knowing that the reason I fainted was related to my diet. They made me eat steak. Meat. And mashed potatoes. A starch.

Both fattening foods.

They forced me to eat it. They put the plate in front of me and watched me eat. I cut it up into little pieces and pushed it around my plate. I felt so disgusted with every bite I took. Even when I was full, which didn't take long to accomplish, they made me eat until the plate was clear.

But they went grocery shopping right after I finished. It didn't take long for the voices to invade my head, telling me that I had done wrong and reminding me of how much of a failure I was.

I had remembered something I learned in science, when we were studying the human body — that touching your uvula could make you throw up.

I have to lose this weight, I thought to myself as I tied my curly brown hair into a pony tail, so I wouldn't puke onto my hair.

I went to the bathroom, and looked at my reflection in the toilet water as I lowered my face towards it. Luckily, it only showed my face. I couldn't bear looking at myself in a full-body mirror. God knows how much weight I gained, I thought.

I looked at my gray-eyed reflection in the water. I remember when I was able to look at my reflection and smile. I would do something silly, like stick my tongue out and laugh. And even though at this point it was only one person calling me fat, I still wanted to be perfect. I would do anything to at least feel perfect. And I would make sure my weight continued to drop until nobody called me fat anymore.

No more fooling around, I thought.

I shoved my fingers down my throat, and I watched my reflection dissipate with a splash.

Back when I was starving myself, there was a part of me that developed, telling me whether or not I could eat or something. I had named her Ana. But Ana wasn't with me anymore after I threw up that one day — it was somebody new. I named her Mia.

Look up 'obesity' on Google images, she said.

I did, and looked disgusted at the images that were displayed.

That is ugly, isn't it?


Do you want to be that?

"No! Of course not!"

Then simply do what I say, and you won't have to be that. I have this friend named Ana; I think you've met her before. She convinces you to starve yourself. That must be horrible! Ana really can be a bitch sometimes, can't she?


I know that you used to love food. I bet you still miss it.

"I do."

Then I'm going to do you a favor. You can eat, but you have to get the food out. You can have the pleasure of food in your mouth, the wonderful tastes of different kinds of things you can consume—Italian food, Chinese food, Mexican food, any kind of food. But you have to get rid of it afterwards, okay? Make yourself throw up. Eat laxatives. See how much better I am than Ana? I'm giving you the gift of food. You can eat, AND be skinny. Sounds wonderful, don't it?


Of course, it wasn't necessarily like that. I would reward myself with food whenever I was hungry, or in a good mood, and my parents were overjoyed that I was eating. But I felt so guilty afterwards and the only way to feel better again was by purposely vomiting. I knew there was no actual girl telling me that, even in my head. I wasn't schizophrenic or anything. But it was like fighting an addiction — I was telling myself it would be worth it if meant I was going to be thin.

Then I remembered that was the addiction talking. But I couldn't control it.

Mia told me I'd be Beauty, and unfortunately, I was falling in love with the Beast.



I'm not exactly sure why everything bad seemed to happen to me. It happened very quickly though. Everything was happening all at once.

Everyone in my family is a Christian; my mother, my father, uncles, aunts, grandparents, cousins, cousin's aunts' and uncles' — everyone.

All of us were pretty religious, too. We went to Church every Sunday. We prayed. We sang songs about the Lord. We did many religious things, and everything seemed almost perfect.

Of course, it was ruined just like everything else in my life.

School wasn't the best place. I acted somewhat "girly", I guess. I was passionate about fashion, but everybody has their hobbies, right? I despised sports, unlike most of the guys at my school, just mainly because I wasn't good at them because I had barely any athletic skill. I was worried about my hair and the way I looked, too. Most of my friends were girls, mainly because of the fact I didn't get along with most guys at my school — they never understood me, but I guess I never understood them, either.

Eventually, I realized I would have to come out to my parents at one point. I refused to do it during any holidays, considering I was afraid of what their reaction would be — I didn't want the holiday to be ruined because of me.

When I told them, their reaction was completely unexpected. My parents weren't mean. I didn't necessarily expect them to be all like "You are going to Hell for replacing a woman in a romantic relationship with somebody of the same sex!" or yell at me or anything like that. They just looked…disappointed.

I tried avoiding them at first; I didn't know what I felt. I didn't know if it was guilt, or sadness, or something else, I just didn't feel like interacting with them. I guess I just felt like a burden. Everyone else was a Christian, destined to go to Heaven, and I was the 'perfect' son, as they used to call me, who suddenly wasn't so perfect anymore.

There were a few times we would talk. The first time was just the question of "Are you sure?"
I replied with "Yes."

Then I started just regularly staying in my room. I missed meals. I didn't go to Church with them often. I didn't fall asleep until about one in the morning, just because I couldn't. I would sit in bed for three hours just staring at the ceiling or the wall, wondering why I couldn't be the perfect little boy they wanted me to be.

School was almost worst then home. Tons of people were ridiculed there, for all different types of reasons. There were people who were racist or xenophobic. Black; Asian; Mexican; Muslim; Arab; fat; short; stupid; blonde; ginger. People stereotyped you or ridiculed you, even your friends, even if they were just joking, if you fell under one of those categories. It was worse if you were gay, though. Everyone hated gays. And suddenly, I was the fourteen year old boy who was no longer closeted.

People I considered were acquaintances didn't talk to me anymore. Most people backed away from me when I got near them. People refused to partner up with me in class, and they would roll their eyes or moan when I was forced to work with them. The popular guys were the worst, of course. They would have their constant insults. They would say I needed to hang myself. Or one of them would say "So, who brought the disinfectant?" or something like that.

There was Gym. In the locker rooms, all of the guys who had lockers around me moved to the other side of the locker room to get changed with the other guys, or went into the changing rooms, afraid that I was checking them out.

One day, coming into school, I noticed there was a big crowd of people surrounding my locker. I pushed through the crowd and suddenly everyone was looking at me, and pointing, and laughing. I didn't notice any teachers — I guess they were all in the classrooms. The group was too small to be noticeable, I guess. But there were a good ten or so people, and with a somewhat-small hallway it seemed kind-of big. I looked at my locker. In big letters, in black sharpie, "FAGGOT!" was written. Beneath it, in red sharpie, "FUCK OFF AND LEAVE!"

Eventually, a teacher did come. They contacted the janitor. The guidance counselor said they were going to try finding out who wrote the messages.

That didn't help. The bullying continued. I started skipping classes. My grades were falling. I wasn't getting changed in gym. I stopped doing my homework. At home, I would just go right up to my room, lock the door and listen to sad music all day. I stopped eating. Everything that used to interest me seemed boring.

Every day had become torture.

When my mom took me to the doctor's, I wasn't sure if it was because she was actually a caring mother, or if things were just too big to ignore any longer. The doctor's gave me a 'surprising' diagnosis according to my mother: I was depressed and had anxiety.

My mother tried getting me medication. The doctor suggested Zoloft, and that was what we ended up getting me. It made my life a living nightmare, as if it wasn't already terrible enough. I just felt numb all the time, and feeling nothing was almost worse than the anxiety and depression. My mother tried finding me a psychiatrist, but none of them would take me because of my age.

I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. Instead of skipping classes, I just started skipping school in general.

All of this, because I wasn't the perfect little Christian boy I was supposed to be.


To be honest, I wasn't sure what was so great about living. All the time, I always hear the same things: "Don't you want to get married? Have kids?" and "Don't you want to be able to walk in the morning sun and smell fresh baked cookies?"

It's hard to have things to look forward to when you want to die.

The thing is: the things that most normal people look forward to in life aren't even guaranteed to you. Who's to say it was a requirement to get married? Who's to say you're not infertile and will definitely have kids? Who's to say you won't be homeless one day and will definitely have a well-paying job? Who's to say you'll have a wonderful, beautiful life?


The depression haunted me constantly. I had at least three nightmares a week that they were going to come back into my life. I hated them so much. Those two were at least half of the reason I am what I am.

Mom, I can't stand it when I'm reminded of you.

Dad, I can't stand it when I'm reminded of you, either.

I'm really glad I don't have to see either of you anymore.

The first orphanage was horrible. I was about six years old, I think. I couldn't stand it there, and I ended up running away.

Most people think that little kids never really successfully run away; it's more of an "I'm running away" and they come back in an hour.

But I didn't want to go back. I never was going to go back.

Eventually, another orphanage took me in. This one was a lot better, a lot nicer. I loved it there. But of course, the happiness didn't last. Happiness never lasts for me. It almost makes me scared to be happy, because it doesn't last.

Jeffrey and Stephanie are okay. They aren't the most amazing parents in the world, but they're alright. I sometimes kind-of feel like they just adopted me because of what happened with baby Danielle — I mean, yeah, they had a miscarriage, but still, it made me question whether or not they truly loved me, or if I was just a replacement.

Hannah was a complete bitch to me. She didn't help at all being in my life. Sometimes, I questioned whether or not I hated her as much as I hate my parents.

Hannah and I never really liked each other — I think she hated me from the start because she thought Jeff and Stephanie would pay more attention to the "freaky, adopted daughter" instead of their own.

It began by calling me names. Doesn't seem like much, I know, but as I grew older, the words became harsher and I began to believe them. Hannah was only two years older than me, but I still felt scared of her and was always uncomfortable around her.

From time-to-time, Jeff and Stephanie would sometimes catch Hannah and they'd make her apologize, but that barely did anything.

After that, she would still call me names, except she'd do it front of her friends and they would laugh, which would cause me to become more embarrassed.

School was almost just as bad as home, because I was the awkward new girl that nobody liked. I was incredibly shy, and I was never good at making friends, at all. So, naturally, I got bullied in school, too.

Then things became physical with Hannah and I — she'd tell me I'm fat, ugly and stupid, then she'd push me and kick me, dig her nails into my skin, and so on. When I told on her, she'd put on her little cutesy act and say "We were just rough-housing; I didn't know I was hurting her. I'm sorry Ade."

Then she'd hug me. Ugh, how disgusting.

Unfortunately, that wasn't all of it. In between all of it, I still had the nightmares, the bullying at school, and believing all the words I was called.

Food was sort of my comfort, so I would often eat a lot when I felt sad (which was frequently) but then Hannah would call me fat and I'd believe her and I'd go for days without eating.

I didn't like to go to sleep at night either, because of the dreams. God, I hated my parents so much for what they did to me…

Why am I still alive, you ask?

I don't even know.

Life was a nightmare, and I just wanted to wake up.


The first time I heard them, my parents just thought I was joking.

Well, parent technically. My father, Joseph, was off fighting in the war during the time. He was a soldier, a member of the troops.

It started with just voices. I was just sitting in my room, and they just started talking to me, unexpectedly. Maybe my depression was what triggered it. My dad had left for Afghanistan a couple of days beforehand, and I had been crying for at least thirty minutes.

"Bryan? Can you hear me?" a voice said.

Fear and sorrow stung my eyes with hot tears. "What is it, mom?" I said, choking on my voice, gasping for air.

It was then that I realized that the voice definitely didn't belong to Eleanor McIntyre — it sounded more like a teenage boy, maybe fifteen or sixteen, but with the sound of my crying, I couldn't tell at first.

Then I remembered my mom wasn't home — I think she was out with her friend Sandra or something like that. I thought for a second it was my half-sister, Piper, from my dad's previous marriage. She often stopped by at the house, and considering she was old enough to drive, she could've decided to come here to, I dunno, comfort me?

I managed to get up from my feet and opened the door to my room. I stepped out into the small hallway.

"Bryan," the voice continued. "Bryan? Bryan!"

"Hello?" I called.

I searched the entire house, but I didn't find anyone. I was home alone.

"I'm waiting, Bryan."

"What? Hello? Waiting for what?" I shouted.

"I'm waiting for you, Bryan."


"Yes, Bryan. Waiting for you."

Suddenly, a deeper, manlier voice joined. This one could've been the voice of maybe a man in his late teens or early twenties. "Both of us are waiting for you, Bryan."

"Just ignore them!" said another voice. This voice sounded much kinder; sweeter; angelic, even. "They are just trying to scare you!"

The voice continued talking, but so did the other two. They talked over the nice one, drowning out her voice. There was a new voice after that, too, because I didn't recognize the sound of it.

"How many of you are there?"

"Sixty nine."

"A couple thousand."

"Ignore them!"

"A trillion."

These voices were getting scary. I began to scream. I started banging my fists on the wall. I fell down to the floor, crying.

"Shut up! Shut up! All of you!"

The newest voice jumped in. "How darest you child, defy us? You cannot just tell us to shut up!"

"Go away!"

"Just ignore them!"

"I can't!"

"We won't leave, Bryan. We're here to stay."

I was talking at the same time as all the voices. At this point, I couldn't tell what voice was mine, or which voices were the mean ones, or the nice ones. All I knew was that I wanted them to stop.

"What are you?" I screamed. My throat became sore from choking on my words.

"Monsters, Bryan. Ghosts, Bryan. Demons, Bryan."

I could barely stand it anymore. I stumbled in my attempt to get up from my feet. I clawed the walls in the hallway in my attempt to get up.

I needed sleep. Lots and lots and lots of it.

I went into the kitchen, and I grabbed a water bottle. I went back into my mother's room. If I was going to sleep, I needed it immediately. I knew I would never be able to sleep with all of these voices.

But maybe I don't need sleep? Maybe I just need to wake up.

I put the water bottle down on the bureau of her room. I pinched my ears. I pinched my arms.

"Harder," a voice said.

"Just a little harder, Bryan. A little harder."

"Hurt yourself, Bryan!"


"DON'T DO IT!" the softer voice tried saying.

I cried even more. I went searching through all of her drawers, just trying to find it. And finally, I did.

A little, orange container, filled to the lid with her sleeping pills.

I struggled trying to take off the child protected cap, and when I succeeded, the cap fell to the floor.

"You need to feel, Bryan, you need to feel, you need to feel."

My trembling hands dropped the container, and several pills fell onto the floor. I wiped the tears from my face, popped two pills into my mouth, grabbed the water bottle, and swallowed. Then another two. Then some water. Then three.

Gulp, swallow. Gulp, swallow. Gulp, swallow.

I trudged into my room, voices chanting at me.

"We'll be back, Bryan! Because you need to feel, Bryan, you need to feel, you need to feel."

"And we can make you feel, Bryan."

I crashed into my bed, and waited for sleep. I needed sleep. Sleep needed to come. Sleep sleep, sleep, sleep, sleep.

I was eating dinner with my mom a couple of days later. She had made her special spaghetti. I didn't want to tell her at first. I was afraid she might yell at me, or judge me, or something. What she really did was almost worst. I knew I couldn't keep the secret from her forever, after all.


"Yes, honey?" she said, twirling some spaghetti with her fork and shoving it in her mouth.

"Sometimes I think I hear things."

She laughed. "Oh, Bryan! I'm glad to see you're feeling somewhat okay enough to be trying to make me laugh. I know this must be hard for you."

"Mom, I'm being serious."

She paused. "Well…are you sure you weren't dreaming?"

"I dunno."

Dinner was silent for a while except for the clinging of forks. Finally, I decided to ask her the question I've been wondering longest.

"Mom, do you think I'm crazy?"

"No? Of course not, honey!"

"Oh. Well, I do."

So, what did you think! Please comment/review!