Read Forget Me Not Online

Authors: Carolee Dean

Forget Me Not (10 page)

ALLY

Yeah, but you’re not sure, are you?

The Hangman strides over to stand in front of me.

HANGMAN

You simpleton. You still don’t get it.

(pointing out the window)

Those stupid little bastards think what they have is a life, but they’re dead wrong. It’s so pathetic watching them day after day, making their little plans, staging their little dramas. They think they’re gonna live forever, but they’re already rotting. They’re just too stupid to know it.

SISTER

Leave her alone.

HANGMAN

Why should I? The sooner she faces reality, the better.

JULIE

You think this is reality?

HANGMAN

(turning back to me)

What did you want when you came here?

ALLY

I don’t remember.

HANGMAN

Of course you do. When you were standing on top of that building thinking about how pathetic your life was, what did you want?

I wince, expecting the pain of his words to hit me all at once, but they don’t, and I am relieved to find that I really don’t care anymore.

ALLY

I must have just wanted to stop hurting.

HANGMAN

And . . .

ALLY

And now I don’t feel anything.

The Hangman turns and writes B-I-N-G-O on the wall.

HANGMAN

Rotceo and Julie Ann wanted to be together forever. Our little sister wanted to not drown her baby. I wanted to be king of the crap hill. What do they call that place where everybody gets what he wants?

The Hangman draws an
H
on the wall followed by five blank lines:

H
 
  
 
  
 
  
 
  
 
  
.

HANGMAN

Who wants to buy a vowel?

No one answers.

HANGMAN

Must I do everything myself?

He fills in the letters.

HANGMAN

H-E-A-V-E-N. That’s what they call it.

I stand and walk over to the window, where I see Elijah down below on the quad. He looks like a salmon swimming upstream as he pushes his way through the crowd toward the steps of Humanities. He glances up at the second-floor window where I stand and there is something frantic in his eyes.

ALLY

I wonder where he’s going.

The Hangman joins me at the window.

HANGMAN

Well, well. If it isn’t Sleeping Beauty. I wonder if he has any more pills in his pocket.

Elijah breaks through the crowd. Once he is past the other students, he runs up the steps, taking them two at a time. The girl in black turns and whispers to me . . .

SISTER

He’s coming for you.

ALLY

What do you mean?

HANGMAN

(turning on Sister)

Don’t you dare say another word.

(to Rotceo)

You know what to do.

Rotceo springs from his seat and moves toward me.

JULIE ANN

No, baby. Just let her be.

He ignores Julie Ann, grabs me, shoves me into a corner, and then shields me with his body.

I feel like I’m suffocating as I try to push him away, but he’s as solid as a mountain.

ALLY

What are you doing?

ROTCEO

It’s for your own protection.

His arms have me pinned to the wall. I look over his shoulder to see Elijah opening the door that leads onto the H Hall. He stands there but doesn’t come in.

ELIJAH

Ally, where are you? I know you’re here. Oh, God. I hope I’m not too late.

My body feels light and heavy at the same time. My brain, or what used to be my brain, is pounding against my skull in revelation. Elijah knows I’m here! I try to call out to him, but Rotceo puts a hand over my mouth.

ELIJAH

(more urgently)

Ally, if you hear me, let me know.

JULIE ANN

Baby, let her go.

ROTCEO

(to the Hangman)

What do I do with her if he tries to come in?

HANGMAN

He wouldn’t dare.

But even as he says it, Elijah takes a cautious step onto the H Hall. He hesitates and then jumps back as if his foot is on fire.

SISTER

She should have the chance to decide.

HANGMAN

She made her decision when she jumped.

Elijah tries again to move onto the hallway: He takes three quick steps inside and then doubles over like someone has punched him in the gut. The Hangman hurries over to him, grabs Elijah’s hair, and lifts his head. Terror fills Elijah’s eyes.

HANGMAN

I warned you not to ever come back here.

He pushes Elijah against a wall and forces his forearm against Elijah’s throat. Meanwhile, Julie Ann tries to pull her boyfriend off me, and the girl in black rocks back and forth, mumbling the Hail Mary.

ELIJAH

Ally, you’re not like the rest of them. If you come with me, you’ve got a chance.

I look at Julie Ann for an explanation.

JULIE ANN

You’re not dead yet.

My heart, or what used to be my heart, pounds like a freight train. I’m not dead. Is there hope for me? Do I want there to be?

The Hangman shoves Elijah out onto the G Hall with such force that he hits his head on the far wall and crumples to the floor. As the door begins to close, Julie Ann is finally able to pull Rotceo off me. I run to the exit. The Hangman lunges for me but falls facedown on the tile. Somehow his feet have become entangled in pink yarn. The girl in black smiles.

HANGMAN

I’m warning you. Don’t go out there.

That’s hell. This is heav—

But I don’t hear the rest of what he says because I’m standing on the G Hall looking at Elijah, and the door has slammed shut behind us.

PART NINE
B
 
  
 
C
 
K
 
I
 
N
T
 
H
 
E
   
R
 
E
 
  
 
L
W
 
O
 
R
 
L
 
D
Ally
IT HITS ME

as soon as

I step off

the H Hall.

The air

feels like a thousand

razors

cutting my skin,

filling my lungs

with pieces of glass.

The weight of it

is too much.

I can’t walk.

Can’t speak.

All I can think about

is returning

to the safety

of the hallway.

I turn back.

Elijah tries to grab

my hand,

but his fingers

go right through me.

“Run!” he yells,

and the force

of his breath

pushes me outside.

Then we’re racing

side by side,

down the stairs,

across the yard.

The sunlight

burns my eyes

and the noise

is deafening.

It’s like coming

out of the safety

of the womb

to face a cruel,

inhospitable world.

I DON’T KNOW

where we’re going;

I just keep following—

running or gliding

or whatever it is

I’m doing.

He keeps looking

behind him to make sure

I’m still there.

The pain throughout

my body is

unbearable,

crushing,

suffocating.

We approach a

line of yellow

school buses,

exhaust fumes

pouring out their

rear ends.

The smell of it

is fire in my nostrils

and down my throat,

or what used to be

my nose and throat.

Elijah stops,

turns away from

the buses

so no one can see

him talking

to a ghost or spirit

or whatever it is

I am now.

“It’s gonna be crowded,

so you’ll have to sit

on my lap.”

“What?” I reply.

He points to Will Jones.

“Unless you want him

walking through you.”

I nod my consent.

Will has a pickup,

but he likes to ride the bus

sometimes, so he can

torment the freshmen.

Elijah gets on

and sits in the front.

I slide onto his lap

and he feels warm.

I wonder if he can feel me.

Probably not, but

I almost hope yes.

The bus begins to roll.

There is laughter

and shouting

coming from the back.

Rave on wheels.

I wonder how

the bus driver can

stand it.

Then I see

the earphones.

He’s rocking out

to tunes on his

iPod just like

everyone else.

Q & A

“Can you see me?”

 

 

“Yes.”

“Can you hear me?”

 

 

“Yes.”

“Can you feel me?”

 

 

Pause.

 

“Yes, but it’s different.”

That makes two of us.

I can suddenly feel everything

with painful clarity.

 

“Why does it hurt so much?”

 

 

“Because it’s life. It’s intense.”

“It sucks.”

 

 

“Not all of it.”

THE BUS

comes to a stop

in front of a sign that reads

Riverview Estates,

only there are no estates

and no view of the river,

just a bunch of ramshackle houses.

When the county sold the old buildings

to the school district, they subdivided

the surrounding land and put up cheap housing.

We get off and

walk to a house

with broken-down

cars parked all over

the front lawn.

“You live here?” I ask Elijah

as we walk toward the door.

“I prefer to think of it as serving time.”

I hear a man yelling from inside the house.

Elijah stops walking.

“Damn. What’s he doing home?”

He looks at the front door.

Looks at the cars parked on the lawn.

Walks over to a Camaro

badly in need of a paint job

and opens the door.

Fishes under the

floor mat for a key.

Starts the engine.

“Get in,”

he tells me.

“I didn’t know you

had your license.”

“I don’t,”

he says as we lurch

over the curb and down

the street.

“Where are you taking me?”

“To the hospital, eventually.

But we need to go somewhere

so I can explain things.

Prepare you.”

“For what?”

He hesitates.

“For what?” I ask again.

“You’re in a coma, Ally.

You’ve shattered both your legs,

and you might have brain damage.

You’re going to have

to make some big decisions.

You need to be prepared.”

“Why?”

“It’s life. There are no guarantees.”

I slink down in the seat of the car.

I’m off the hall, but not

out of the woods.

OSCAR’S HOUSE

We park in an alley

and Elijah opens the gate

to a yard filled with brown

grass and leafless trees,

except for a lone pine

sitting in the middle of

it all, the great green hope.

Elijah walks to the back

door, and I’m surprised to

discover that Oscar’s orange

pencil is keeping

the door ajar.

Elijah stoops to pick it up

and I see the words

FREE YOUR MIND

stamped on the side,

right next to the eraser.

“Very funny, Oscar.”

“What?”

“Just a reminder

that you can’t walk through doors.

Somebody has to leave

one open for you.”

I follow Elijah as he walks

down the hall. Hear a woman

in the kitchen singing.

The smell of fried

chicken fills my nostrils.

It’s heavenly.

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