"You are free to leave," the lady sitting at the front desk informed me. "Congratulations on making a smooth recovery."

"Thank you." I didn't look at her as I loudly clunked toward the exit.

I needed to get away from this place, fast.

The lady suddenly spoke up. "Your leg was amputated?"

My footsteps slowed. "Yes." I continued on, my metal right leg dragging behind me, scraping across the floor.

I could feel the lady's gaze piercing my back. I swallowed and didn't say anything.

A blur registered in the corner of my eye, and I turned around, catching sight of somebody familiar. "Thomas," I acknowledged the passing blur. "What are you doing here?"

He spun on his heel. In one hand was a clipboard, and his other hand was rubbing his eyes. "Oh, hi," he said weakly. "I'm actually really busy at the moment. Can we talk later?" He hurried off, the tail of his white doctor's coat flying behind him, not even waiting for an answer.

I frowned, watching him round the corner. "Thomas is a doctor here?"

"He's Dr. Weckson to you and all the other patients," the lady sniffed.

"Oh." There was a crease between my eyebrows. "But Thomas...he always said that he would never be a doctor. Not on his life. He always hated hospitals-"

"Darling, this isn't Kansas anymore." The lady spoke abruptly, in clipped tones. "War forces everyone to do things they don't want to do."

I turned to the exit and clumsily stumbled out, trying to hold my breath.

Outside the hospital, the streets were a sprawled, broken heap. The sidewalks were cracked and the roads slumped to the side. I averted my eyes and stumbled toward home.

It was a cracked, destroyed shack now. The glass windows were shattered, and the glass fragments still perched precariously on the windowsill.

Before I realized what I was doing, a glass shard was in my hand and blood oozed from the red cut.

I heard the crack as the glass shattered against the peeling wall. Looking away, I tried to focus on my destination. As always, the dark gray clouds floated around in my brain, blurring my thoughts together and making them incoherent. If I didn't keep control of myself, I might do something rash and stupid. I couldn't afford to be stupid, even though I was tempted to. The throbbing pain in my hand kept me awake. I grabbed a ripped cloth from the ground, pressed it to my hand, and headed into what was left of my bedroom.

My photos lay face-down on the floor, and I knelt down to pick them up. I didn't have to look at them to know what they held on the other side. The small one was six year old me, smiling at the camera. The large one was me and my best friends: Mindy, Holly, Ben. The last one was me and the rest of my family.

Without looking at the faces, I ripped the photos up, one by one. The pieces fluttered to the ground, face-up. Colors swarmed before my eyes. There was a hint of Mom's smile, a bit of Ricky's shoe. I saw a lock of Ben's dark red hair. Holly's nail polish winked at me. I slapped a hand over my mouth to stifle the scream.

I scooped the pieces up and flung them everywhere. The scraps floated through the air, some landing in my hair. The piece with Mom's smile fell into my hand, and this time, I didn't try to stop myself from screaming.

The hollow sound echoed around in my ears. Go away, go away, go away. I shook my head to chase out the gray storm clouds. I gasped with shuddered breaths, over and over. I can't, I can't, I can't.

I couldn't stay here, either. My breath caught in my throat. I had been wrong. I hadn't been strong enough to come home.

I rushed out of the room and raised a glass shard in front of my face for evidence. There it was, my pupils dilating crazily. My hair was crazily tangled. I could see the fear and panic written all over my features.

Letting out a shriek, I slumped to the floor, breathing irregularly. My eyes flitted around wildly. They landed on my metal leg.

I can't ever run again. I'll just fall. I can't run fast. I can't. I can't. I can't do this anymore.

I sobbed breathlessly as I clutched the wall, bringing myself up. "I can't," I sobbed, the tears sliding down my cheeks and falling onto my bloody hand. The blood mixed with the salty tears and turned dark pink. I scraped the hand across the leg of my pants. The pink streak stood out from the white.

My hands landed on my metal leg. I can't ever run again. So what's the point?

I bashed the leg into the wall. I screamed again out of the pain, my eyesight growing fuzzier, my leg covered with red pools of blood. The dark red color swam before my eyes until all I could see was red, red, red. That and Mom's smile.

I don't know how I made it back to the hospital. I can't remember anything but the buzzing in my head, the blurriness in my eyes. All my senses failed me as I tripped and stumbled over debris. Ghostly smiles and laughs echoed in my ears, and I clapped my hands over my ears to block out the eerie sounds.

It took me a while to realize that I was the one crying, sobbing, shrieking. My own pain was the only thing that accompanied me along the familiar broken road, back to the hospital.

I pushed the doors of the hospital open, breathing fast, my hair in my eyes. Tears streaked down my face.

The lady at the desk gasped when she saw me. She rushed over to me, wringing her hands wildly. "Dearie, you're tracking dirt in. And...and..." Her face paled. "Is that blood? Darling, what..." She seemed to be at a loss for words. Her large eyes stared at me with confusion. "What happened to your leg? Oh dear, oh dear, we need to get a doctor to see you right away!" She took a step toward a telephone on the wall, and I instinctively grabbed her arm.

"I don't want to see a doctor. I don't need to." The words came out in a rush, melting together. My eyesight grew fuzzier, and my thoughts became consumed by the clouds in my head. "I mean, I just can't be locked up in a hospital room again. Because there are all those people, every day, and they have all these machines hooked up to them and I see their injuries and people die, these people die right in front of me and I can't-"

"You're obviously not in your right mind," the lady snapped at me. "You're being ridiculous! You're bleeding. How on earth did your leg end up this way? Were you run over by a car or something?" She strode toward the phone.

"No!" Without thinking, I slapped the phone out of her hands. "You can't!" I gasped, sucking in a dizzying breath. "You can't. I want, I want-"

She turned to me, her eyes wide and scared. Her fingers trembling, she knelt down to pick up the phone and pushed some numbers. "You're insane," she whispered. "You've gone mad."

I made a move to knock the phone out of her hands but suddenly stumbled, falling to the ground. I coughed dizzily, lying a trembling hand on my forehead. Blood pooled on the floor.

Out of the corner of my vision, I saw a figure in a white doctor's coat stride toward me. I tried to edge myself away. The figure held a single needle. "This won't hurt at all," the person whispered.

"No!" I screeched. They were going to knock me out. They were going to fix me up. They'd keep sewing me back together for as long as they needed to. "No," I sobbed. "Don't fix me."

The figure only gave me a confused look. That was the last thing I saw before the needle plunged into my arm, my vision turned red, and I blacked out.

When I woke up, my leg was in a thick bandage, propped up in a sling. Needles were taped to my arms. "You'll be fine," I heard someone say. "You didn't lose too much blood."

I blinked and my vision cleared. Thomas looked at me questioningly. "What exactly happened, Rosalina? I don't think you were run over. Your leg looks like-" Realization dawned on his face. "You wouldn't," he breathed. "You wouldn't be that stupid, to inflict that sort of harm on yourself."

I looked away, and I heard him suck in a breath. "Rosalina, you'll have to stay in the hospital for another few weeks, so you can heal."

My eyes widened. "NO!" I shrieked. "You can't. You can't lock me up in this hospital. Again. You can't keep me in here. I'm not coming back. You-"

"You're not thinking straight," he cut me off tersely. "You're obviously not thinking at all. Why would you try to destroy the metal leg? Out of frustration?" He sighed disappointedly, shaking his head. "That's a waste of the hospital's resources and money. We're barely getting by as it is. There are too many patients, pouring in by the hundreds. We can't afford to waste."

Guilt seeped in. "I'm sorry." I averted my eyes. "But it wasn't my intention to have the hospital heal me up and repair the metal leg."

"Then why did you return to the hospital?" He blinked dizzily, and I realized that he had dark shadows under his eyes.

I swallowed and looked away.

"I'm waiting for your answer," I heard him say.

"Give it to me," I heard myself reply. "I didn't come back to the hospital to be healed. Don't heal me. Don't waste your money on me."

He tensed. "Give what to you?"

The words felt right on my lips. "Give me a bottle of cavile."

He stared at me, long and hard. "You're kidding."

"I'm not kidding."

"Then why would you throw away your life like that?" he burst out. "How could you, why would you ever-"

I slumped into the pillows. "What's the point? Of living? Everyone I love is dead, Thomas. Don't you understand that?" My breathing grew shakier, and fat tears rolled down my cheeks. "They're dead," I sobbed. "They're not coming back. So why should I live? Why do I deserve to live?"

"Rosalina, what you did was very brave," he said gravely. "You tried to save them. You sacrificed your leg for Ricky. If you hadn't done that, he would have died, right then and there."

"He still died. I didn't do anything. I couldn't stop him from dying," I choked. "It wasn't fair. He was only ten. He still had his whole life ahead of him."

"So do you. Your parents wouldn't have wanted for you to take cavile, just because you couldn't take being alone," he said severely. "They would have-"

"What do you know?" I whispered. "Your parents are both alive. What do you know about being alone?"

He recoiled, and I saw the deep hurt in his eyes.

He stood beside my bed for hours, it seemed. I knew that in reality, no more than five minutes could have passed, but the silence was deafening.

"I won't give it to you," he said. He rubbed his eyes constantly, and he looked skinny. Too skinny. "You've been through so much emotional trauma, and that's why you feel the need to take the cavile. You'll regret it if you take it."

"I have to take it." I looked out the window. Darkness engulfed the city. "I've already gone mad. I'm mentally unstable."

"We have doctors for that. You can meet with a therapist to deal with your mentality. You'll recover."

"I won't." I looked at him, really looked at him. "I'm so tired, being me. I'm so tired and sad and just so worn out. I can't take living like this. I can't live alone, by myself, without my family," I said softly. "So give me the cavile. I want a shot at happiness. Even if it won't be real."

He narrowed his eyes at me. "If you take the cavile, you'll be living in an alternate reality. You'll be happy, but it'll just be the drugs. Can you really live like that?"

"Anything's better than this."

"Cavile's a drug, Rosalina!" he exploded. "You'll feel happy, yes, but the cavile will slowly kill you. Your body will wither. Are you going to throw your life away?"

The stars twinkled outside my window. "Yes."

He slumped, defeated. He spoke softly. "You're only fourteen."


"The cavile will kill you. I'm not exaggerating. There's no way that you'll live through more than three months of taking it.

"You will die, Rosalina."

A star winked at me. "Yes."

"You haven't been sleeping," I noticed. "Is the hospital work hard?"

He didn't answer. Instead, he thrust a jar of pills into my hand.

We stood in the ruins of my house. Clasping the jar, I gently eased myself onto what was left of the couch. I propped my bandaged leg up on a stool. Carefully placing the jar on the small table beside the couch, I spoke again to fill the silence. "What time do you usually go to sleep?"

He didn't answer, and I didn't press him to speak. Instead, I posed a statement. "Don't overwork yourself. You're only fourteen."

His lips tightened, and he stalked out. I watched his tense steps. Finally, at the door he turned around.

"You're a coward."

There was nothing in his last words to me but coldness.

So, how do you guys like my new story? Please review and give me feedback!(: