Read Forget Me Not Online

Authors: Carolee Dean

Forget Me Not (6 page)

his arm around her waist.

He doesn’t look miserable

and unhappy.

She was waiting for him,

not me.

To her I am dead.

To him I am dead.

It doesn’t matter.

I’ve decided.

I’m

never

ever

ever

going to leave

the hallway.

PART FOUR
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F
Elijah
THE FAB

You can get to the roof of the FAB

by way of a fire ladder left from the days

when the building was a dormitory.

Or you can go inside the building,

find the unmarked door by the janitor’s closet,

and just walk up to the top. The door is

supposed to be locked, but the knob is old

and rusted and it doesn’t take much

to push your way through.

Bri and I opt for number two.

We don’t talk about it, we just walk

in silence to the FAB

when we hear the last bell ring.

When we get up on top, I look around

for hidden surveillance cameras. There

aren’t any, but I do see smashed beer cans,

a broken bong, and assorted condom wrappers.

I go to the edge and look down

at the yellow tape,

wondering why it’s there,

when the real tragedy

happened up here on the roof.

I smell something burning

and turn to see Bri sitting

by a metal box, lighting a cigarette.

“When did you start smoking?”

“What does it matter?”

“Seems like a strange habit for a health nut.”

“Just because I don’t want to consume

the rotting carcasses of dead animals

doesn’t mean I’m a health nut.”

As if to emphasize her point, she

picks up a tequila bottle and drinks

the dregs. She tries to look tough,

but her hand is trembling.

“We should have done something,”

I say, looking back at the quad,

where half the kids are scurrying to

buses. The other half don’t seem to be

in a hurry to leave. After all, this is where

the social scene is going down.

“What could we have done?”

“I don’t know. We should have been there for her.”

“I’m not the one who dumped my best friend to become a

Ravenette.”

“Were you jealous of her?”

“Not anymore.”

She flicks her cigarette away

and joins me at the edge of the roof,

looking down at the yellow tape.

“There isn’t a lot of room at the top,

and the farther up you go, the more

you have to decide which friends

you’re gonna leave behind. I didn’t

bail on her. She bailed on me.”

She turns and looks at me.

“For that matter, so did you.”

I take a step back.

“You were better off without me.

I was pretty messed up after Frankie died.”

Bri shrugs. “You dumped your friends

to be pathetic and depressed. I’ll give Ally credit.

At least she did it for popularity.”

BRIANNA LEAVES

and I sit down on the ledge to

think about what she said

as I watch kids scurry

to and fro.

A fight breaks out

near Vo-Tech.

Two girls make out

secretly.

A dead boy stands

yelling in the midst

of it all, and nobody

sees him but

me.

BIRD’S-EYE VIEW

The main campus is an octagon

of eight brick buildings

with the gym at one end

and Watchdog Tower at the other.

Humanities, the library,

and the cafeteria are to the north.

Sci-Tech, Vo-tech, and the

FAB are to the south.

The quad is a patchwork

of sidewalks and grass.

The dead boy stands on the circle

in the middle of it all,

on top of the big, black bird

painted on the concrete.

Seniors beat you up

if you step on the mascot.

They think they’re teaching

the freshmen school respect.

There are way more

buildings than necessary,

lots of empty rooms,

and half a dozen locations

where no one ever goes.

Kids make up great stories

to explain the reasons why.

Nobody understands

that it’s because

those places are dead zones.

I’M STILL PRETTY MESSED UP

How can I explain to Bri

that I distance myself because

if I get too close, people will think

I’m crazy and I’ll get locked up again?

If the doctors knew the truth

about me, they might not

let me out next time.

I’m not crazy, but I can’t tell

anybody except for my new

best friend, Oscar Smith.

He sees dead people too.

This school is full of them.

THE NINE CIRCLES OF RAVEN VALLEY HIGH

There’s an abandoned football field

up on the hill that looks down

on the new stadium.

It’s filled with soldiers from some

obscure Civil War battle that didn’t

make it into the history books.

Day after day,

boys barely older than me

fight the same war.

Night after night,

they lie bloody on the grass.

Every now and then,

when one of them is ready

to cross over,

a raven comes

to take him

to the next world.

There used to be a courthouse

where the old gym stands.

They hanged murderers

and horse thieves

on the steps.

That’s where the

violent offenders go.

As for their victims,

they occupy the

dusty prop room

in the basement

under the theater.

There’s a dark corner

in the cafeteria

reserved for those

who starved to death.

Two members

from a family of early settlers

who didn’t store enough

food for the winter

and an anorexic cheerleader

from the nineties.

An abandoned ropes course

is home to the foolhardy,

and the weight room

at the back of the gym

is for the jocks

who still can’t believe

they died in their prime.

The administration building is

a melting pot

of those who succumbed

to fatal diseases,

broken hearts, and

people who just got stuck

for no apparent reason.

Not good. Not bad.

Just too mediocre

to continue on.

The Raptor Circle is home to the one person

who died from an act of God.

As for the H Hall,

I spent a week there last spring,

when I went up to the old football field

and swallowed that bottle of pills.

When I was in middle school,

Frankie used to take me

up on the hill

to see the games.

Now all I watch

are dead people.

From this perspective,

it’s like viewing

a theater in the round.

THE STAGE

If it’s true

that all the school’s a stage

and we are merely players,

what’s the purpose of our plans,

of our struggles, of our prayers?

And is there any chance that

we might get to write the script?

Even just for one last scene.

To have a little bit

of self-determination.

Could that have been your goal?

Reaching for the one last thing

that put you in control

of how the story ended.

If I could plan our lives,

it wouldn’t be a tragedy.

If I could pen our lines,

it would be quite different.

I’d give you another chance

to throw away the sloppy copy

and write a second draft.

But I don’t get to write your story.

I must leave that up to you.

I just hope you understand,

it isn’t through.

PART FIVE

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Ally

CAST OF CHARACTERS

Ally . . . . . Me

Sister . . . . . Quiet Girl in Black

Julie Ann . . . . . Doomed Lover

Rotceo . . . . . Another Doomed Lover

Hangman . . . . . Ruler of the Hallway

INT. HALLWAY—EARLY MORNING

I wake to the sound of birds cooing. Sit up. Look out the window at the awning to see the pigeons huddled together against the cold. Remember I’m still on the hallway. Must have stayed here all night, though I don’t remember anything beyond the last bell.

I wonder what would happen if one of the birds got pushed out of the flock. I see the raven sitting on the railing and I know the answer. The world is a cruel place for those on their own.

Slowly, dawn approaches and kids start arriving. I rub my right shoulder, stiff from sleeping all night on the tile bench.

SISTER

You get used to it.

I jump, surprised to find a girl dressed in black sitting on the tile bench and knitting. She’s wearing a long-sleeved dress that looks like it went out of style in the 1960s, or maybe even the 1860s—if it ever was in style. There are flowers braided into her hair: white narcissus and blue forget-me-nots from down by the river. Something about the blue flowers tugs at my memory, but I don’t know why.

SISTER

After a while you don’t feel a thing.

ALLY

What are you talking about?

SISTER

The pain.

I’m irritated at the intrusion. The hallway is my haven. But I also get the feeling from her tone that this girl knows something I don’t.

ALLY

You spent the night here too?

SISTER

(without looking up from her knitting)

I spend every night here.

I wonder if she’s homeless. Am surprised to find I really don’t care. The hallway feels as cold as ice, but the cold doesn’t bother me. Nothing bothers me, not even the strange girl in black. Let her sit there. I don’t care.

A teacher hurries through the hallway carrying a stack of copies from the workroom. Almost runs into me. I have to jump out of the way to keep from getting run over.

SISTER

To them we’re invisible.

ALLY

Yeah. Tell me about it.

It reminds me of my father’s golden rule: Kids are meant to be seen and not heard. Preferably not seen, either. It’s why Dad built me my own entertainment room on the back of the house. He doesn’t care what goes on in there as long as he can’t see it or hear it or smell it.

A dozen teachers hurry through the hallway with their stacks of copies, and I sit on the tile bench to avoid getting trampled.

When the tardy bell rings, I’m irritated to see an ROTC guy and his girlfriend making out at the other end of the hallway.

ALLY

Hey! Get a room. If everybody starts ditching here, security is gonna notice.

The ROTC dude doesn’t hear me. His girlfriend tries to answer but she can’t. The guy’s tongue is too far down her throat. And what’s with that outfit she’s wearing? Is the hallway some sort of hideaway for the social misfits of Raven Valley High?

ALLY

I said . . . security is going to notice.

HANGMAN

Nobody’s going to notice.

I turn to see a guy in a thrift store coat two sizes too big hovering over me. His jeans are full of holes. Not stylish Hollister holes. Someone has tried to patch his up, but even his patches have holes. If he’s embarrassed by his appearance, he doesn’t show it. He towers over me like he’s trying to intimidate me, which isn’t working.

ALLY

Can I help you?

HANGMAN

Yeah. You’re sitting in my spot.

Now I’m really irritated.

ALLY

Do you own this hall?

HANGMAN

Actually, I do.

He puts his hand on the wall above my head and leans over me like he’s trying to use his size to scare me.

ALLY

I don’t see your name anywhere.

The girl in black looks up like she’s surprised to hear someone talking back to the Hulk. In truth, I’m surprised too. I’ve never stood up to anyone. Never sassed my parents. Never confronted the guy at Pizza Barn when he gave me incorrect change. Never told Brianna I wanted to play Guitar Hero when she insisted on DDR. I don’t even recognize the voice coming out of my lips. I like it, though. Something about the hallway has made me bolder.

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