~1~

I opened my blue slender locker and recited the smudged words written up my muscular arm: 'you only get one shot for your goal.' My hands reached for my swimsuit and yanked it on in one swift movement. I kept my head held high as I walked out of the wet bathroom and onto the white slate pool arena. The pit in my stomach was swallowing me up whole making my whole body shake, which caused the constant rolling of the shoulders and head back. My legs forced my skinny body forward, following my teammates to the bleachers where we sat until it was our time to go.

I grabbed my slick black phone out of my swim bag and looked at my messages: No new messages, it read to me. I sighed and placed my phone back in the side pocket. My eyes looked around trying to spot him, but there was no sign of him anywhere. The nervousness was getting worse as I continued to look around for him. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath, trying to focus on what was important.

I opened them and started to calm my muscles, repeating my motto in my head over and over until I believed it. Coach Maggie shouted 'Leah Remmings!' and I got up. Trying to keep the calmness in my body, I thought of happy thoughts. As I frantically searched the bleachers for my brother however, I started shaking like a scared rabbit.

He is in some deep shit when he gets here.

Walking up to my coach with a serious look on my face, I closed my eyes and focused. My chest expanded as I took another long breath before opening my eyes and placing my hands on my curved sides.

"Alright Leah, this is it. You can do this..." I heard Coach Maggie give me a pep talk but I wasn't listening. My mind was focused on where my brother was. Last night I made him swear he wouldn't ditch today's meet to see his girlfriend, Rachel. He shook on it, saying he would be there. By the looks of it, he must've forgotten.

I sighed; he did this every time. Everyone counts on him to be here too! Sometimes I wish I was the only sibling in my family; it's like Jake isn't even my brother. Coach shook my shoulders and patted my back, telling me I was ready. I rolled my head around once, twice, three times, before shaking my fingers and staring down at the familiar blue water. It seemed as if the water tried to intimidate me, but I wouldn't let it happen.

I tried to make swimming the only thing I was thinking about, but Jake was still in the back of my mind. My brain was screaming for me to go get his ass over here. I would have done just that if I knew exactly where he was hiding.

I shook off my school jacket, fixed my forest green colored cap, and placed my jet black goggles over my eyes. Coach nodded her head as I looked back at her, telling me to head up to the platform. Following her instructions, I walked gracefully over to the onyx square while I rushed all thoughts out of my head and steadied my beating heart. Soon after, my body took shape of the ready position. As my teammate tagged the end of the pool, I flew in.

The impact of the cold water sent me shivers of exhilaration throughout my body. Kicking my feet furiously, I moved my body forward in a quick motion. I kicked harder and swung my arms down again and again while my body sliced through the shards of ice-cold water. My head lifted for a quick breath and then back under before placing my hand firmly on the other side of the smooth granite tile. Flipping and continuing at a fast pace, I willed my body to push harder.

I could hear cheering, but it wasn't really telling me who was winning. I pushed myself harder and harder, faster and faster. I had to win. I had to win. I had to win. Those words fluttered around in my head as I swam to the end of the deep pool.

My fingers curved around the top circular part of the pool and my body shot up. I looked up at my coach who was leaning over the edge. She grabbed the stop watch and showed me my time. My eyes widened as I read the numbers over and over again. I looked back up at Maggie with a smile plastered onto my face.

My teammates were cheering and the announcers were going off, telling of the victory. I laughed and pumped my fist in the air. My tired arms pulled my weight up and I got out of the pool. While my coach praised me I wiped the dripping water off of my body.

Remembrance of my brother made me frown instantly. He couldn't of wasted four minutes of his precise time to support his team? No one even considered him a teammate anymore because of his lack to actually show up! I grabbed my phone from my bag and looked at its screen. There it read, 'one unread message'. My hand frantically opened it, my heart lifting, but as I read its print, my heart dropped to my stomach.

Jake- Sorry I couldn't come today, too much stuff to do. Love you.

I should be happy because of what I did, But I wasn't. The worst part was that my best friend, my brother, didn't get to see me break the school record.


The small white car stopped in front of my house and I sighed. I was in no mood to go into that miserable place. Jake was probably fucking Rachel at this moment, and my Mom was probably drinking our bar dry.

Kyle faced me and smiled. He was hotter then most of the guys in our school, but not the hottest. He was slightly pale, but not ghost like, and had sea colored eyes. They matched mine almost perfectly. His brown hair was short, but long enough for me to grip onto.

Kyle bent over to the passenger seat and kissed me on the lips while he grabbed my head to pull me closer. I reacted instantly to his movements, pressing up against him and tugging on his soft blue cotton shirt. His lips curled into a devil smile and pulled away, leaving me hanging. I smacked him playfully and rolled my eyes, telling him I knew what he was doing. He came back for seconds but I avoided him and grabbed my shoulder bag while opening the door with my legs.

My gray sneakers landed onto the road before I forcefully closed the door and smiled back at Kyle. He waved goodbye and sped away from my house, honking his horn before totally disappearing. The beat of my chest was pounding and I grinned.

I looked behind my shoulder towards the Devil's house and groaned before walking into its fiery barrier. Quietly, I closed the door shut and tiptoed up to the long narrow hallway that consisted of my mother's room, my brother's room, and my boring old room. My head poked around the shortened wall and saw that the coast was clear. I felt the need to drop to my knees and scurry to the other side of the room, and quickly after, up the stairs.

I was almost to the door that was carefully named 'Leah', when I heard someone clear their throat. My shoulders dropped as I realized I failed my mission and turned my head to face my mother. I gave her a small wave, but she didn't return it. She just stood there with her arms crossed, and a scowl plastered onto her face.

"Where have you been young lady?" My mother's voice boomed throughout the whole house. I grabbed onto the edge of the stairs railing in case the house shook because of her. I felt completely shriveled and exposed. The zipper on my jacket started to undo and I focused all my attention on trying to zip the jacket up. A huge lump formed in my throat and I tried to force it down.

"I went to, uh, Kyle's house after the swim meet. Was I not supposed to?" I spoke in a weak voice. My mom shook her head and placed a hand on her forehead. I frowned, hoping whatever I did I wouldn't get in so much trouble this time.

"Aunt Annabelle's wedding was today," She stated and I froze. How could I forget my own Aunt's wedding?

"Mom, I didn't mean to..-"She cut me off before I could finish my apology.

"You have no right calling me your mother right now," She snarled at me.

My heart shattered even more than it already was. I knew my mother wasn't that fond of me, but it felt even worse that I was her disappointment child. I could never do anything to please her either. It's like she only wanted one baby, but on accident she got twins. She got one perfect baby, but then she got the terrible child too. I was a punishment to her because of the lovely gift she got: Jake.

I rolled my eyes and walked into my room silently praying that she wasn't going to follow me, but my prayers were unheard. She stormed in after me while pointing one long sharp fingernail at me. I was afraid she was going to dig her catlike nails into my wrist like she did last time. The wounds still haven't healed since then.

"You better realize this means you're grounded!" I looked up at her in disbelief. I tried to hold my mouth from yelling at her, but it didn't work.

"I bet Jake didn't go either." It was a rhetorical question; I knew Jake didn't go. Her bulging eyes looked at me in shock.

"Jake had a reason to not go," She shot back at me.

My mouth fell open and my brain conjured up nasty things to say to her, but I kept them in my head. I would write them down and use them on someone else, or show Jake the nastier sayings I created because of mom... again. I kept a journal of all the things I wanted to say to my mom ever since I was seven. Age seven was when this all started.

Every time she yelled at me, or blamed something on me, I would snatch a pen and furiously write something meaner and meaner every time. By now I was an expert at being a bitch. However, every sentence that I've ever created or written about my mom had never been used. Never.

I'm a professional at makeup too. All the marks and bruises she decided to print on me were carefully sealed up with concealer and with hand crafted skin tone makeup. I would call myself an artist, but that just sounds messed up.

She slammed the door, and locked the door from the outside. Guests never understood why the lock was on the outside instead of the inside, but it's because my mom likes to keep me a prisoner. Not a single person knew how devilish my mother is- besides my brother- and it's because of how good I am at keeping my emotions mutual. What's the point in asking for help when all it does is make you seem weak?

I grabbed the nearest pillow and shoved my face into it, muffling out my screams. When I was done I chucked the pillow at the door and jumped onto my bed, grabbing the edges and hugging them tightly. It was hard to keep the tears that were threatening to spill from escaping. I rested my head on the soft fuzzy comforter and breathed in the smell.

Last week I was locked in my reformatory for four days. I'll probably be locked in my room for longer this time. Sometimes my mom forgets I'm even up here. The only reason I'm still alive is because I made a hole into my brother's room to crawl into during desperate times. If my mom ever found it, I would probably be choked. She has choked me before, but if she ever found my escape route, it would be 'til death.

I hopped off of my small bed and moved to the side that wasn't visible. Once my body managed to crawl under its border I inched forward towards the gaping hole. Jakes' room smelled a lot worse than usual. As I got through the hole my nose crinkled at the smell. It reeked as if a corpse was being hid in here.

It's kind of ironic when you say something as a joke and it actually turns out to be true. I looked up at my surrounding and almost screamed from the sight. I spotted only a little bit of it, but I knew right away what it was. My body moved me closer to the bathroom and I peeked into its white slender frame. I covered my mouth to muffle the cries as I finally confirmed what it was.

My brother was hanging lifelessly from the shower head. Tears leaked from my eyes down to my cheeks as my body gave up, making me fall inertly towards the hard tiled floor. I closed my eyes and once again covered my mouth and nose. It was as if I suddenly forgot how to breathe.

As my body started to twitch I rolled up into a ball and positioned my head upright to stare into my brothers' empty eyes. I found it hard to grasp the fact that my brother, my best friend, just committed suicide. Jake out of all people, the one who was always happy and cheerful. The one who wasn't the abused one in the family. The one who actually had friends.

I had just lost the only thing that was keeping me strong. The only thing I truly loved in this word. Now I was here, alone, staring at his vacant body silently wishing I could join him.