Read Forget Me Not Online

Authors: Carolee Dean

Forget Me Not (15 page)

no one will miss

when she is gone.

AFTER THE SHOW

Mom took me out to dinner

at Le Chantilly to celebrate

with a bunch of her theater friends

who she had brought to the performance.

As we were eating our crab ravioli,

one of the guys put his arm around Mom

and said, “Ally was phenomenal. A chip

off the old block. Raw talent.”

Everyone around the table agreed.

It felt good to have adults,

people who knew

what they were talking about,

admire me like that.

“Wouldn’t it be ironic,”

he told Mom,

“if Ally made it to Broadway

before you did?”

The chatter around the table

fell silent,

the room grew still,

and the whole world

seemed to hold its breath.

At that moment

I saw something die

in my mother’s eyes.

The man dropped his hand

from Mom’s shoulder.

I could see he wanted

to take back his words,

but it was too late.

He hadn’t meant to be cruel,

which made it worse,

because you can

disregard cruelty.

We all ate baked Alaska in silence,

and two weeks later

Mom packed her bags

for New York.

She promised she would

come back for me.

But she never did.

And now I know

she never will.

THE LOTUS EATER

“What do I need to do

if I want to stay here forever?”

“First, you have to forget.”

The Hangman opens his hand

and there is a pale pink flower

sitting on his palm. Each petal

has a name written on it.

Megan, Darla, Bri, Davis

“Eat them

and the memories will vanish

like falling petals

blown away by the wind.

Eventually a few of them

will come back,

but by then it won’t matter

because you won’t feel

a thing

when they do.”

I place Megan on my tongue

and let her dissolve.

She’s bittersweet,

but when she is gone,

I don’t feel guilty anymore.

Next is Darla,

acidic like aspirin,

but when I swallow

her I swallow my shame.

Bri nearly

gets stuck

in my throat.

Next is Davis,

sweet at first, but then

turning suddenly sour,

and when he’s gone,

I’m surprised to find

that I don’t miss him

at all.

A wonderful calmness

settles over me and I sit

down on the bench and smile.

AM I A FOOL

I won’t lie

and say it didn’t hurt

to see you with Will.

I won’t claim

I didn’t feel ashamed

for having such a stupid

crush on you.

I won’t pretend

being your friend

doesn’t leave my heart

black-and-blue.

But I will argue

in spite of it all,

for some crazy, stupid reason

I don’t understand,

I still love you.

Is it too late?

Have you made your choice?

Is there anything I can do

or say

to make you want to stay?

THREE MORE LOTUS PETALS

Their names are

Mom, Dad, Elijah

I put Mom on my tongue

and she is gone before I know it.

Dad lingers longer than I expect.

As for Elijah, I try to take him in,

but can’t get him past my lips,

so I fold him in my hand,

saving him for later.

Why didn’t I call you

after that night

under the tree?

Things might have turned out

so differently.

I can still feel your arms

around me, and the softness

of your cheek

against mine.

I can’t think about you

anymore, or I might want

to leave this place,

and it’s all I have left.

Oh, Elijah, why couldn’t

you have stayed

on the hallway?

Then I would have had

an eternity

to get to know you.

ALLY, DON’T GIVE UP

I go back to the school and walk across

the parking lot. I’m heading to the hall,

but when I reach the gate, I find it’s locked.

I walk around until I see a wall

I can climb, and then I’m on the quad.

I take the stairs two at a time, ’cause all

I can think about is you. I’ve got

to try to reach you. Have to make you see

staying on the hall simply is not

all the Hangman says it will be.

He’ll promise you a world that’s free of pain,

but that’s because a dead girl cannot feel

anything. You might not hurt again,

but you will never feel the summer breeze,

a snowflake, or an April-morning rain.

You’ll never smell the forest, touch the sea.

You’ll never get beyond the school, and you’ll

wonder why the music has all ceased.

You’ll never taste the kiss of someone who

loves you . . . the way that I do.

ONE LAST THING

“There’s one last thing

you have to do,”

the Hangman tells me.

“What?” I ask.

“Follow through

with what you

tried to do last time.”

“What do you mean?”

“You have to fall.

But don’t worry.

I’m here to catch you.”

JUST FALL AGAIN

The Hangman says I only have to fall again.

I’ll drop into his arms and it will end.

All I have to do is take the plunge.

The girl in ICU will cease to exist.

I’ll drop into his arms and it will end.

Nana can stop crying and move on.

The girl in ICU will cease to exist.

My father will go home and line up pens.

Nana can stop crying and move on.

I won’t steal any more air from the world.

My father will go home and line up pens.

The line up on the screen will flatten out.

I won’t steal any more air from the world.

It’s time for me to end that life of pain.

The line up on the screen will flatten out.

I’ll close my eyes and listen to his voice.

It’s time for me to end that life of pain.

All I have to do is take the plunge.

I’ll close my eyes and listen to his voice.

The Hangman says I only have to fall.

WHY?

So why

is it

that I

hesitate?

LISTEN

The door into Humanities is locked

and so I pound my fists against the glass.

I shout and scream. I plead and beg. I walk

the whole length of the building yelling at

the top of my lungs, just hoping you will hear

what I have to say. I’m praying

it’s not too late. I know you fear

life is just too hard. Not worth the fight.

I have to go. Security is here.

But listen to this last word of advice.

The Hangman’s solitude comes at a price.

FALLING

Each time I close my eyes it feels like I’m falling

into feathers scattered on a cloud of white.

But far away I hear a soft voice calling,

telling me that pain may seem consuming,

but
dead
is one long, dark, eternal night.

I close my eyes and picture myself falling

into the grave. There’s danger in recalling

what it felt like when he held me on that night.

And now his voice keeps calling, calling, calling,

telling me to wake up and quit stalling.

It’s time to make a stand and face my plight,

but each time I close my eyes it feels like I’m falling.

He says to fight the fear, but that’s no small thing

when you’re paralyzed and crippled by the slightest

thought of facing all the people who’ve been calling

you things anyone would find appalling.

And you know there’s no way to make it right.

So I’ll close my eyes and let myself keep falling

and I’ll close my heart so I won’t hear him calling.

NOT TONIGHT

But not tonight.

No need to rush.

For just a few

more hours,

I’d like

to keep

his petal

in my hand.

A LITTLE LIGHT

The sun comes up and I’ve wandered through

the city half the night thinking about

you, Ally, wondering what I can do.

Can I go to the hall and make it back out?

It nearly killed me last time, but I know

you’ll die if I don’t try. Another route

is what I want. What can I do to show

you, Ally, that hope is never lost? When it’s

hardest to find, that’s when you have to go

out looking for it. Just a little bit

will get you by. I’ve found it’s just like light.

One tiny candle is enough to rid

the world of darkness, but you have to find

the flame, and I know that can be a trick.

Keep moving forward and don’t look behind.

You have to keep on following the flicker.

Sometimes it’s the hardest thing to do.

And here’s the part that really is the kicker—

Your family can’t always be there for you,

but if you have just one friend in the crowd,

that can be enough to see you through.

I must go in again. No path around.

It’s the only way to get you out.

PART ELEVEN
F
 
A
 
L
 
L
 
  
 
N
 
G
INT. HALLWAY—MORNING

I stand in front of the window and listen as the bell rings. Watch as the students all start scurrying to class like mice, trained to race through the maze, hoping for a little bit of Cheez Whiz at the end of the day. I’ve got news for you folks—there’s no cheese at the end. There’s just another pointless day ahead. You string these together and you call it a life, but it’s not.

The Hangman stands behind me. He’s watching them too.

HANGMAN

You’re lucky you found your way to the hallway.

ALLY

I know.

HANGMAN

Are you ready?

ALLY

Yes.

SISTER

There’s really no rush.

I ignore her.

HANGMAN

Remember what I told you. Just close your eyes.

I close my eyes.

HANGMAN

And fall.

I lean backward. I’m about to let it all go and drop into his arms when he says—

HANGMAN

And then you can stay here forever.

I stop myself. I don’t know why. Something about the way his tone suddenly changed with that last word. It makes me recall what Elijah told me about pain being temporary and death lasting for eternity. Damn him for getting inside my head! I should have eaten that Elijah petal. It would have made this so much easier if I could forget him. I open my eyes and look at Julie Ann. She shakes her head in silent warning.

HANGMAN

Fall, I said!

I feel his rope slip around my neck and tighten. I gasp for air and start to panic.

ALLY

I can’t breathe.

HANGMAN

You don’t need to breathe. Just fall.

There is nothing reassuring about him now. I turn to look at him and see that his face has changed to a ghastly shade of crimson. A rope burn appears around his neck, raw where the skin has been rubbed away.

Rotceo strides toward me. His jacket flies open and I see that the shirt underneath is stained with blood.

ROTCEO

We can make you fall.

JULIE ANN

Don’t, baby. Let her choose.

HANGMAN

The time for choosing has passed.

The red scar on the Hangman’s neck turns black. As Rotceo gets closer, I see a gaping hole in his chest. Julie Ann tries to stop him. Her hair is on fire. While the Hangman pries her fingers off him, I feel someone tap me on the shoulder. It’s the girl in black. She’s soaking wet and her face is dark blue. She doesn’t say a word. Just points at the doorway.

And there stands Elijah.

Wonderful, beautiful Elijah. Alive and whole and breathing like he’s just run a mile through hell to get to me. Wet ringlets of hair cling to his forehead and his blue eyes are the color of forget-me-nots.

And that’s when I recall . . .

a bracelet made of flowers

given to me on the night

of my first kiss.

And I remember

that I loved Elijah first.

ELIJAH

Ally!

My heart, or what used to be my heart, maybe it’s just the memory of a heart, is beating so fast I feel like I’m going to explode. Elijah came back for me, even after everything he knows about me.

I pull the rope from my neck and try to go to him, but Rotceo blocks my way.

ROTCEO

You’re not going anywhere.

ELIJAH

Leave her alone!

Elijah steps onto the hallway, and the Hangman is suddenly on top of him, pushing him to the floor.

HANGMAN

So you finally decided to come back and join our happy little family.

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