Authors: Nancy Beaudet
A spike of pain runs my heartbeat dull.
I stand in the shower for a moment or two, back against the waterfall. I felt Flo. Felt her cold hands against my chest. Finger nails are digging in to my flesh, seeking out my bones.
I saw her, and I don't know if it was in my memory or not at all. Her skin was breathing earth. Like dirt and summer and fall. I could almost taste her sweet mouth before my mind started to backpedal on itself.
That wasn't possible. I couldn't feel Flo. That wasn't real. Shaking my head and looking down I step out of the shower and reach for a damp towel. I haven’t done laundry in a while.
I tie it around my hips and wipe steam away from my damaged reflection. I blink. I could be going crazy.
That would be cool. It would be something new. Mal, the golden boy, forced to chain himself against white padded walls.
My bathroom is small, so I don't have to take more than a step or two to get right out. I wait for a moment or two before heading back down the hall. Not bothering to turn back towards an empty shower expecting to find my soul. Something in there was comforting though and for half a second I felt even more alone.
I felt the turmoil, and I do not think that it was my own.
I need to get dressed. I should go to school. Pretend to care about the real world. It didn't stop when I lost Flo and I feel like that makes every other human undeniably shallow. Everyone should be highly aware of the pain flushing through my body and pushing at my skull. If I'm miserable, I want everyone else to be as well.
I swagger into the hall and down to my bedroom. It’s small but dark. I always keep the curtains closed now.
The sunlight hurts my soul. Also, I'm an asshole, and I like to brood. I cannot brood amongst the sun’s healthy glow.
I grab some grey underwear and drop my towel, tucking my junk away before grabbing for a pair of black jeans. Shirt? I have always been vain and shallow. My body is the result of working out and eating well. I look at it now and feel nothing but guilt. Did you feel bad about yourself because I was such an asshole? You always thought I was hot, and I am sure you would be drooling right now, Flo. But I know that me always liking the super skinny girls annoyed you.
You didn't always feel good about yourself and my being such a vain jackass was a sore spot for you.
I liked my body. I went by looks alone. You thought I was giving you a dig when I made a comment about someone eating too much junk food. That's not true. I would happily lick whip cream and cookie crumbs off of you. I loved you for you.
Did you secretly love me as well?
I pull on a hoodie and skip throwing on a shirt. I roll some pit stick under my arms and head downstairs. Two steps at a time.
The door to the bathroom has closed itself. Oh well. It's still empty in my living room. I didn't lock the door behind me last night, and I don't lock it now. Grabbing my car keys, I head out into the cold. It's grey out. I look up at the clouds before turning back around.
My eyes find my bedroom window. For a second the curtain is no longer closed and for a second I think I see you looking out. Brown eyes. Dark green hair. Sourpuss mouth. God, wouldn’t that be cool? Wouldn’t just make everything worthwhile?
I start to smile without meaning to. The odd feeling drags my mouth back down. I don’t see you. That's not possible. I turn back around.
I don’t need to drive. I live within walking distance of the actual college but walking right now would mean thinking and going over what may or may not have happened a few minutes ago. It would only give me time to feel bad about myself.
Do you remember the first time that we made out? Ha. Of course you do. You always were a dirty girl. It was so easy to make you smile. You could light up the entire world. All I had to do was touch you. Get you alone, it was so easy to get you under my control. Pinning you against a wall or corning you in your bedroom.
I miss kissing you. I miss getting that first taste of you when your whole body just went wild. It was like uncorking a champagne bottle. Everything about you just flooded right out. Your lies. Your truth.
I already knew everything about you, but I wanted to know more somehow. I wanted to meld your heart with my own.
You made me whole.
Driving does not chill me out. I hate everything on the radio. Every song and melody only reminds me of you.
I jam my finger into mute.
Silence is not solitude.
I was never alone with you. You remember that feeling don’t you, Flo? See I know you do. You have to remember it because going through this alone simply isn’t possible. I know you miss me too.
I can still feel you.
Of course, I miss you, too, Mal, I mean God! How stupid are you? Are you just fucking figuring this out?
I followed you. Of course, I followed you. I will always follow you. That’s like my only job now. It is the only thing that I still know how to do without coming across like a total asshole.
I totally look like an insane person right now.
I’m still soaked. I ran away from this school. A good-old college dropout who couldn’t even take three weeks of being bossed around and corrected in class. I don’t like to listen.
You knew that, and yet you were the only one who looked disappointed when I showed up to tell you that I quit. I quit college, and I quit my classes. My heart wasn’t in it.
You said that you understood that but still, you were against it.
“I want you to have a future kid,” you said, and I screamed something rude at you for calling me
. “If the teacher is saying that you’re doing something wrong, fix it.”
Mal’s wise words of wisdom: fix it. Just like that.
As if I had any control of the situation. The prick teaching English told me to write, so I did. I wrote an essay that ended up being a column because my voice just flows like that. I can’t help it.
help it. Not can’t. Once again not to point out the obvious, but I’m dead.
I can’t write anymore because it’s hard to turn on a laptop when you’re dead. I don’t know what happened to my laptop.
I don’t want to think about any evidence of my heart and soul being neglected and or tossed into the trash.
Writing was my thing, is my thing. Fuck I can’t get this past tense thing right. I’m still here aren’t I? Still feeling and screaming and following you like a lost, love sick puppy.
Your classmates are staring. I guess the hot moody guy is a real sight to see. I can’t stop looking, any other face is a mystery to me.
Mal looks terrifying. Strolling beneath beautiful trees, one foot in front of the other. His hands and arms are swinging. He walks like a machine.
I walk like a baby deer ready to be hunted and eaten alive. I keep ducking away from stray eyes that look right through me. My clothes are still dripping water, and I’m freezing. I walk close behind Mal, trying to absorb his body heat. It isn’t working.
“Hey, Mal,” a beautiful girl speaks up suddenly. Her bright eyes say everything, she’s a busybody, blond haired, blue eyed and tiny. I envy the fact that she’s wearing leggings where she can be seen by anybody. I can’t even wear those things in front of my parents without cringing. Skin tight and revealing isn’t my thing.
She’s totally Mal’s type: obviously pretty without loads of makeup and a smile that blinds, her cleavage on full display.
My body isn’t wonderfully curvaceous or anything, I’m kind of scrawny and average looking. Boring.
My hips are wide and full of potential for child baring.
Mal always liked girls from a size zero or a size three. Even though he kissed me and touched me, I still kept waiting for me to leave me. I never believed that he could love me.
“Hey, Casey,” Mal looks at the blonde with a dead gaze that kills me, well metaphorically speaking obviously.
Geeze. I roll my eyes.
“What you been doing?” Casey tucks her hands in the pocket of her red hoodie. It looks fuzzy and comfy. I cry a little on the inside. I miss shopping and being able to change. I miss sweat pants okay? Scratch that. I miss leggings. Oh God. I would kill for a pair of leggings.
“I’ve been busy,” chuckles Mal, scratching at his face. That shave did nothing.
The three of us have stopped walking. I’m still stalking.
“Oh yeah?” Casey takes a sip of the coffee that I didn’t realize she was holding. It smells somewhat minty. Suddenly I wonder what would be the harm in me doing something, I don’t know, A little creepy?
“Yeah,” Mal shrugs. He’s only wearing a hoodie and the skin around his ears is getting red. He doesn’t look angry, just annoyed.
Mal has never been overly friendly, he doesn’t have to be. He’s popular and good looking, girls fell into his arms easily. With girls like Casey he was usually just smooth enough to get his way.
He’d get what he wanted and leave. That was just his way. I stop listening to Casey because looking at her with jealously is a waste of time. She’s already winning while I rot away in a garden across from a lake.
“Do you mind?” I ask while reaching and concentrating, aiming for her hot coffee. It feels like forever since I’ve eaten or had anything to drink. That is such a strange feeling. I’m not hungry, but my throat is dry from aching.
I'm polite about it anyway. Sort of I think. Slowly skimming my fingers along the lipstick stained lid, I’m right next to her. My elbow hits her chin. She doesn’t feel it. She just keeps looking at him.
“I heard about your …. your friend. I saw the announcement in the paper. It sucks what happened.” Casey’s face looks genuinely sad. “Did she leave a note at least?”
She asks and that nagging guilt is back. I did this.
“Did she what?” My aching heart says. Mal’s face is no longer a careful mask. His eyes blaze with death. Anger. Hurt. I did this.
The pain in Mal’s voice, I did it. I caused it. I put it there, and I made a show out of it. I zoomed the camera in on his expression. Would having left a note or text have lessened this? I doubt it.
“What kind of question is that? Are you interested so that you’ll be the first to know what it said? Do you want to write it online where everyone can like and comment on it
” Mal demands. Casey is silent. I realize her coffee is hot chocolate that smells deliciously like mint. I stop trying to steal it.
“It’s not like that.” Casey starts to defend, but Mal cuts her off by simply raising his hand. I doubt that she fears him. Mal has never been a very gentle man, but he’s not one built of violence.
Still, Casey falls silent.
“Yes, it is.” Mal’s voice falls flat, and he just starts off. It takes me a minute to shake my head before I take off after him. Relentless when it comes to keeping an eye on him. Three Hill is peaceful looking from the outside in, completely perfect with burnt red trees and a mailman grinning behind every hedge. Everyone looks pleased with some mass secret. I was never good enough to be let in on it. For me, this place was a prison.
You were different. You always had the chance to be different, to be perfect. You had it, why did you try to destroy it?
“Mal come on slow down.” I try to catch up. He just keeps his head down, his long legs moving faster than I will probably ever be able to go. “That girl didn’t mean anything bad; she was just trying to talk to you.”
“It’s normal, my death was kind of wild and people want to know the details. That’s understandable, but I’m sorry that I’m the reason that people are bothering you.” This is totally the truth.
“Mal?” he doesn’t even turn around. The side entrance to Three Hill community college is open, and Mal is an avalanche pushing through it.
The walls are all made of brick. The front entrance is massive, six doors spread out for going out and in. I was glad when I heard that he enrolled here as a student, but I was still confused by it. Mal never loved anything enough to stick to it. Girls or classes. Music or drawing.
He was so God damn good at making music. I used to watch him humming along creating a rhythm. He always had the lyrics just ready in his head, already full of passion. He stopped writing that first time that I kissed him, and I couldn’t help but notice it. Did I kill something inside of him? Trying to smother him? All I wanted do was touch it. Feel it.
I wanted to experience it, and instead I killed it.
“Mal stop it!” Again I reach out for him, but I must not want to touch him because my grip on his sweatshirt just slips. He disappears down the hallway, and I’m alone again.