I hate you, who are reading this. You have no right to have this notebook. You are going to read this, and you are going to judge me for it. You will sit there and read my words and think in horror how you would never think those things let alone do them.
What if you had to to survive? Until you can say that you are where I was, you can’t judge me. Unless you can say that you know exactly how I felt, you can’t judge me. I’m willing to bet that none of you can judge me. At least, not yet.
This is my story.
Dark, bright colors. Dark, bright colors. Dark, bright colors. The disorientating headache of light. A sleep hangover colors my thoughts, perceptions, and mood.
Blink, blink, blink
“You’d better wake up in the next five minutes, or you can walk to school.”
Are you giving me a ride? I knew even as I said this that I should have looked at her first.
“Ha. No. Brian can give you a ride.” As she answered me, I could see the alcohol in her eyes. It was only 8:20. Had she started drinking already?
Did you even go to bed?
“Get up or walk.”
A clean t-shirt, jeans, and a piece of toast later, Brian was dressed and ready to drive me over to school. Brian was a nice guy in public, but at our house he wasn’t. He was my mom’s new boyfriend. He actually slept at night, so he was only hung-over instead of drunk. Too hung-over, it seems, to beat my mother for not making his breakfast. He just grunted at seeing no eggs, bacon, and orange juice. I grabbed my coat and bag, and we walked out to the car.
I was fourteen back then. I was doing my best. It wasn’t enough.
We got into his nearly broken down Pontiac Grand Am. I always pulled out my headphones at this point. There is nothing worse than the painful, uneventful, superficial, wasteful conversation with my mother’s new lover. I had recently developed a taste for the worst in pop music. I won’t bother to name what artists there were in my tape player. Naming people would not only date me, but it would perhaps embarrass me.
He would always talk, headphones or not. He would spill about whatever stupid things he had to do that day, or how much he really did love my mom and how I should judge him by what he does to her, everyday. I had listened the first day my mother was too inebriated to take me to school. I hadn’t listened again.
It was winter now. Today was not particularly bad, weather-wise. It was still winter, and I still hated it. The snow had started to melt around town, leaving unsightly brown puddles for one to step in. The cars looked so ugly stained with brown. I would sometimes watch Brian, checking to see if he was human or not. I would wait for his skin to start to peel away from the sides of his neck, where he had used some handy theatre glue to put it on. I watched and watched. I’m sure I looked interested in him, and maybe that is why he would always talk to me. Maybe he thought I could hear him.
The car stopped. “Here we are, kid.” I didn’t turn off my music. I had gotten good at lip-reading Brian’s speech. I zipped my bag up and got out. I didn’t wave at him, I didn’t say ‘goodbye’, because I didn’t want Brian in my life.
I wanted my dad. The problem is that I don’t know my dad. I’ve never met him or seen him. My mother doesn’t even have pictures. She won’t even tell me about him. “When you’re 18, then you can look for him, but I won’t help you.” Sometimes, I really hate her.
I walked to my favorite bench. This is where I normally met Ruth every morning. We would, one of us, sit here until the other showed up. Usually, Ruth was first, because usually I was late. It didn’t matter if school had started, we would always wait for the other. If one of us missed school the other one would miss school, too. Ruth wasn’t there yet, so I sat and waited.
At noon, I was sure that she wasn’t coming. I was hungry. I was not very upset at missing school, but missing lunch was starting to get to me. I would give her two more minutes, then I would go in and eat, then I would come back out. It was simple plan. It would –
Dark, bright colors. Dark, bright colors. Dark, bright colors.
Blink, blink, blink.
I was on the ground, staring up into the chilly blue of a clear winter day, covered in my own saliva. What was that? What had happened? It was like a voice had come into my head. Not only that, but the voice had carried with it the violence of a struggle. The pain of it wasn’t in the words, but it came on the wind like a pair of malevolent hands. I felt them grab a hold of me, shake me, push me.
I rolled to my stomach to get up. As I did, blood came trickling down my coat-covered arms and spilt out onto the pavement and over the backs of my hands. I couldn’t help but scream. I pulled off my jacket and looked at my blood-covered arms. There were words cut deep into my forearms. It wasn’t my doing. It wasn’t me, I swear. The right arm said “dirty” and the left one said “filthy”. It was done in careful, scripted lettering. I felt nauseous.
Then, for some reason, I thought about Ruth. Ruth’s house was a good walk from school. Was it her voice that I heard? Was it her that had somehow left those marks on my arms? I left my hunger behind me and began walking. I had a feeling I would find an answer there.