inspired by but not based on a true story
“Melanie, please tell me.” Nick pleaded.
“I... I can’t.” I sobbed.
“I’m taking you to see Jeremy. If he can make you talk about it, then I’ll wait my turn.”
“How do you know him?” I asked trying to stop my tears.
“He’s one of my best friends. We knew each other in high school, but he graduated a year early.”
“So, you guys are the same age?”
“Nick, I know that you want me to come to you, but I…can’t. I want to, but I’m not ready to have my family know everything that’s going on in my head.”
“It’s not the whole family though, Mel. It’s me. We have always had closeness; I just want you to know that you’re not alone. Even if our parents aren’t here for you, I am.”
“I know that Nick, but please understand, it’s harder for me to express the pain I’ve been through to you, because of how close we are.”
“That makes no sense.”
“To me it does.”
“Okay, I’ll drop it. But Mel?”
“Let Jeremy in. If I can’t help you, let him. He’s a good guy.”
“Are you trying to hook me up with your friend?” I say jokingly to clear the tension.
“No. See, if you two were to get together, I’d kick his ass.” He jokes back. We arrive at Jeremy’s place twenty minutes later. It’s a two-bedroom apartment on the third floor with a nice view of the city. Nick knocks on his door.
“Hello.” Jeremy answers.
“Melanie, Nick? What are you guys doing here?” He let us into his apartment. I make my way over to his window, to look out on the city.
“Jeremy, Melanie cut school today. I found her at Lomitas Middle School. She won’t open up to me; maybe she’ll open up to you.” Nick says, trying to be quiet, but I hear it.
“Okay. I’ll talk to her. Do you want me to bring her home or do you want to pick her up?”
“You should bring home. I need some time to think about all this, whatever ‘this’ is.”
“Okay.” With that Nick leaves and Jeremy comes to sit next to me.
“Melanie, why’d you cut school today?”
I think about whether I should answer or not. I decide that I really don’t want to let him in. He only ends up hurting me, just like everyone else. So I say, “I wasn’t feeling good.”
“Why didn’t you call your brother to pick you up at school?”
“I felt like taking a walk.” I answer simply.
“Why’d you go to Lomitas Middle School?”
“Just reminiscing.” Shit. Wrong answer.
“Reminiscing over what?”
“Well, not really reminiscing, more like thinking.” Great! Now he’s going to ask about what.
“What were you thinking about?”
“You.” Shit. Why’d I have to say that? Fuck. UGH!!!
“Why were you crying?” He shows no emotion to what I just said.
“I, uh, I… saw a dog get hit by a car, and felt bad.” I’m a terrible liar. Or, at least I am to him.
“You want to know what I think.”
“Do you really want me to answer that?” ‘Cuz of course I don’t want to know what he thinks.
“I think you cut school, because something terrible happened. You didn’t call your brother, because you just needed to get away. You ended up at Lomitas, because that’s where the trauma started. And now, you don’t want to talk about it, because you’re afraid. You’re afraid of reliving all that pain, even though you relive it every time you close your eyes. You’re afraid of letting someone in, because you don’t want to get hurt. You’re afraid of happiness, because if you’re happy, you have nothing to hide behind.” He pauses to let this entire sink in. How the hell does he know this? He can’t know from my face and I know Nick didn’t tell him. So, how can he know this? “Melanie, I know I’m right. But I need you to tell me yourself. I need you to let me in and let all the pain out.”
I stand up and walk over to the window. “I can’t.”
He walks over to me and turns me around, “Can’t? Or won’t?” I look up into his hazel eyes; mine are searching and terrified, his are also searching but understanding. “I told you once before, I want to help you, but you have to let me. Let me replace the ones who hurt you.”
“No.” I say curtly.
“Why not?” He asks gently.
“Because what doesn’t kill me makes me stronger.”
“But that’s just it. This pain is killing you. It’ll keep bending you more and more until you finally break. And you will break.”
“I want to go home.”
“I said I want to go home.”
“Okay.” He backs away and heads to the door. I follow behind him. Once in the car, we ride in silence. We get to my house in twenty minutes, and as he parks, I get out and slam the door. He gets out as well, but not as forcefully. Nick is there to meet us, but I just brush past him.
“I take it, it didn’t go well.” Nick says to Jeremy.
“I don’t know what made her cut school, other than something terrible happened. She almost opened up to me, but it’s going to take some time. I have to show her that she can trust me, before her problems come out.”
“How can she open up to you the last time, but refuse now?”
“Because last time, wasn’t in detail. What happened today would have required her to go in detail, but right now she’s too afraid.”
“What can I do? Man, she’s…she’s my baby sister you know? I hate seeing her like this. I want to see her genuinely smile the way she used when she was little.”
“Just do what you’ve always done. And, hopefully, I can do the rest.”
“Why do you want to do the rest?
“Look, you want to know why she can’t open up to you? In a way that it makes sense?”
“Of course I do.”
“She didn’t say it directly, but speaking from experience, it’s easier to open up to someone outside the family, because most of the time, that person’s opinion doesn’t matter, but your family’s opinion, means everything.”
“She’s afraid I’ll judge her?”
“I think so. But, I should go and you should get to her.” I hear them exchange their goodbyes as Nick closes the front and comes to me on the couch.
“I’m sorry.” I tell him.
“I need more time okay. Things are just…complicated andI don’t understand it all.”
“Well, let us help you understand.”
“But, I don’t want to understand yet. I’m not ready.”
“Okay. Well, when, both Jeremy and I are here.”
“Thank you. I think I’m going to go take a shower.”
“And after that, get some rest. I have to get back to work and work overtime.”
“Okay.” With that, I head up to my room, grab my PJs, and into the shower. I sit in the middle of the tub, letting the water pour over my body. Letting it wash away my tears. I look up and pray to God: Dear Lord, I know that I haven’t talked to you in a while. But I’m talking to you now. Lord, I am asking you to rinse my soul, and make me tainted no more. Our Father, who art in heaven, Hollowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on Earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread, and forgives us our trespass, as we forgive those who trust pass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. Amen. I do the sign of the cross, and look up once more. Before you ask, I am Catholic. Anyway, my shower is now done and I’m tired from all the crying. So once I’m in my PJs, I crawl into bed and let sleep rule my entire existence.
The next morning is now Wednesday. It’s funny how so much can happen in two days. I wake up as usual and tend to my routines, but Nick is not here to take me to school. He left note saying that he was sorry, but he had to fill in at work for some other guy. I decide to walk to school, instead of taking the bus. It’s all going good, until I reach 8th Ave. Larry’s there, standing right by the sign. He’s alone, but his face tells me that he can do just as much damage as the other two put together. I’m tempted to turn around and go home, but then I’d just have to explain myself to Nick. So I walk to him in attempt to walk past. But that’s never how it goes. I was on my way past him when he grabbed my wrist and turned me around.
“If it isn’t little Melanie.” He says with a sneer.
“What do you want Larry?” I ask trying to muster all of my strength as little as it may be.
“Isn’t that obvious?” He looks at me then says, “I want to play our little ‘game’, just the two of us this time though.”
“Let me go.” I say, my voice cracking.
“Now why would I do that?”
“Because she said so.” I hear a familiar voice say from behind me.
“Why don’t you mind your own business?”
“She IS my business.” I know I’ve heard the voice before, but I still can’t place the person.
“And who the hell are you?”
“Someone who cares. Now let her go.” Jeremy. It’s Jeremy!
“I don’t think I will.” Larry takes out a knife, pulls me into homeland puts it to my throat. “I think I’ll have my fun with her.” Jeremy takes a step forward, we take a step back. This happens for four more step before Larry says, “Take one more step and I'll give her one hell of a happy face.” Jeremy takes a step forward, but instead of slitting my throat, Larry plunges the knife in my stomach and drops me. All I hear is footsteps, my back crashing onto the concrete, and Jeremy screaming my name. Soon everything goes black and I fade into bliss.