Aimee's returned to school and faces her year as a senior
“Look at her! Like, all her skin’s covered in scars!”
“Damn! That’s sick”
“What happened? Do you think she did it herself for attention?”
“Eww, don’t look!”
The whispers followed her down the hall and through her classes. Even the fact that she was a senior, thus normally making her untouchable by all the younger students had no effect. The teachers looked upon her with a mixture of disgust and pity as they spoke to her with the voice reserved for the dying. Aimee tried not to care, but after 2 weeks of whispers, something was going to snap.
One day in drama, the yoga preaching, karma loving, contempory dancing drama teacher Ms Parker tested Aimee’s patience.
“Sorry miss, I can’t do yoga, I might rip my scars open,” Aimee said happily,
“Oh, yes, your scars. What a terrible thing to happen to a member of our class. Tell us about it, Aimee dear, how did it feel?” Ms Parker pried.
Aimee felt the blood drain from her face. How dare this bitch probe into what happened to her? She looked around; everyone wore the same avidly curious face, as though Aimee was merely a creature in the zoo to ogle.
“Do you really want to know what it was like?” she asked through white lips
“Well. Try holding a lighter near your hand; keep it there until it begins to burn, really hurt. Now, imagine that flame not near your hand, but on your hand, on your entire body and the flames are being fed by a gallon of gasoline.
You can’t even imagine the pain.”
As the lump in her throat strangled her last words, Aimee grabbed her bag and stormed out of the drama room, face white, eyes glittering with fury. She ran to the cafeteria, passing the art rooms on her way, and approached the astonished lunch lady, panting. She ordered a large, greasy carton of chips and inhaled deeply. Carrying them reverently to the same table where she had met Gerard, she stared at the yellow batter and the grease stains that turned the paper carton translucent.
“Are you going to eat them?” A familiar voice made her look up into Gerard’s hazel eyes
“Don’t lie” Gerard sighed, “I know you aren’t going to eat them, I know Aimee. Why won’t you eat?”
Aimee looked at the lunch table, tracing the engravings 'witty' students had left. She didn’t say anything, but a solitary tear splashed onto her hand, she blotted it quickly. Sighing, Gerard opened his art book and show Aimee the pictures. No one was allowed to see Gerard’s art. Aimee’s eyes flicked quickly to Gerard’s, checking for permission. He nodded.
The pages showed the same girl, over and over; in charcoal, pastel, oils. Initially she was vibrant and filled with life, happy and carefree, but, as Aimee kept on turning, she found the girl getting thinner and thinner, she lost all life in her eyes and her mouth became down turned, she looked as though a wind would knock her over, a handshake would break her. The last page showed a skeleton, with Aimee’s features superimposed over the bones, the eyes sunken and dulled. Then, with shaking hands, Aimee flicked to the very back of the book. A coffin in a half dug grave displayed the same skeleton as before, above the grave was a headstone
Here lies Aimee Callen, Beloved
“I don’t want this nightmare to come true Aimee, but when I open my eyes, it’s right before me. I don’t want to be too late to save you.”
Gerard took the book from Aimee and closed it on the inked grave. He looked up, eyes over bright, to see the retreating shadow of his friend escaping the café, cold, greasy chips flying.
Gerard found Aimee two metres off the ground in an old oak on the outskirts of the school. She was scribbling in her own notebook, flecks of ink patterning her face as she scrunched herself into a tighter ball at Gerard’s approach. Silently, he began to climb until he was squished on a branch beside her.
“Why won’t you eat Aimee?” he pleaded
“Because it hurts.” The reply was so quiet, Gerard almost missed it.
“It hurts to see my mother worrying, it hurts to see you and Mikey always watching me, it hurts to lie to you, but it hurts to eat more. I hate myself enough as it is, please don’t make it worse by making me eat.” She whispered, Gerard had to lean forward to catch every word.
“It hurts yes, it hurts me and Mikey to watch you waste away to nothing, it hurts that mid-conversation, you will space out and watch Frank eat for 10 whole minutes without saying anything, it hurts that you don’t trust us, and, if you think you hate yourself, can you imagine how I feel? I am watching my best friend kill herself, and I’m just standing by. I don’t want to speak at your funeral Aimee!”
Gerard’s voice cracked and he unashamedly let the tears fall thick and fast. Aimee was crying too, little gasping sobs that spoke of pain and fear.
“Will you try?”
Aimee’s problems were far from solved, but it was a start.