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Nov 11, 11 at 5:45am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
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Nov 16, 11 at 1:33am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
Smileygirl, whoops i didn't see your comment before! thank you very much. i talked to a teacher at my school about getting published and after about ten billion drafts i might look around and see if anyone wants this little baby. :3
and...omg you guys. this is the second-last chapter. one more chapter and it's over. it's going to be over. in one more chapter it will all be over. i can't believe it either. im so happy, so sad, so anxious. and i WILL be making a thank-you video because my mic works now, so stay tuned! in the meantime...
When I open my eyes, I find myself in a white room. There are walls, a ceiling, a floor. There are objects in the room—a bed with me in it, some stands with bags of clear liquid or red liquid. There is a machine beeping somewhere nearby. The cabinets and sink across from me are white and steel. There is a closed door, also across from me, but I can hear things from whatever is on the other side.
The hospital. I’ve landed myself in the hospital once again. Great.
I close my eyes.
* * *
A little while later, the door opens and wakes me up. A man in a white coat walks in with a lady also wearing white. Why is everything white around here? It hurts my eyes after spending what felt like a century in a living, white coma. The man nods to the lady. “She’s awake.” He looks at me. “Alyxandra?”
I open my mouth but nothing comes out. It hurts to even open my mouth. I point at my throat and shake my head. He nods and hands me a notepad with yellow paper and a pen.
“Glad to see you’re awake, Alyxandra. My name is Dr. Thomas and this is your nurse, Holly. Do you know why you’re here?”
No, I write.
He nods. “You were reported missing 24 hours after you ran away from home Friday night. The police found you five hours ago—today’s Sunday. You were found unresponsive and in a catatonic state. I understand that you have schizophrenia, am I right?”
I ran away? Oh, yes, I did. I ran away when I learned Tyler Richmand was killed in a car accident. I was screaming a lot, screaming even more when I sat outside of my ex-best-friend’s house like some kind of stalker. Then I sat near the train tracks and the woods and burned myself with cigarettes, spent the rest of the night sitting backwards in the truck.
Twenty-four hours until I was reported missing? I’ve been here for five hours? I must have been in a white coma for thirty-six hours. Thirty-six hours in a catatonic state. That’s the longest I’ve ever been still.
“Um, I don’t think she would know,” Holly whispers to him.
Dr. Thomas blinks, then nods to himself. “Oh. Right. Erm, yes, your parents are here in the hospital and they have confirmed your condition. You were found with second-degree burns on your arm, which have been treated and could take up to a month to heal. Your parents and a psychotherapist, Mary Gill, have spoken and I’m going to bring Mary in right now.”
I nod, and he leaves. Holly looks at me. “Um, would you like something to eat?”
I shake my head and she leaves after the doctor. A few minutes later, a woman enters my room—short blonde hair, rectangular glasses and a black work outfit with black high heels. She really must be a Psycho Therapist—wearing all black instead of white like everyone else. “Hello, Alyxandra,” she says. “I’m Mary Gill from Willow Pines Psychiatric Facility.”
Psychiatric Facility? My eyes widen a bit. Mary Gill, psychology PhD takes in my reaction. “I understand that when you arrived here a few hours ago, the burns you made on your left arm were self-inflicted. The doctor who attended to your wounds also found scars in various other places on your body. I understand that you suffer from schizophrenia, which is quite rare for someone your age.”
I don’t know how she wants me to react, so I just stare at her.
“I won’t lecture you about how dangerous self-harming is, because that is not what I came here to talk to you about. This might make you a little bit angry, but I’ve already discussed it with your parents and they have agreed to have you transferred to Willow Pines for a maximum of ten weeks.” Mary Gill sits down in the plastic chair that is beside my bed, against the wall, keeping her icy eyes on me.
Why are you taking me to a looney bin?! I scribble on my notepad and show it to her. She doesn’t smile.
“Willow Pines is not a looney bin, Alyxandra. It is a psychiatric facility for children and adolescents, one of the top three facilities in the state.”
But why are you sending me there?
“Your parents are very worried about you, Alyxandra. Running away for thirty-six hours is very serious, especially for you. Self-harming is also serious. I know you’re going to tell me you weren’t trying to kill yourself and I understand that. But, regardless, your parents are very worried and don’t want to lose you. There is treatment for you—psychotherapy, art therapy, music therapy and group therapy. Self-harming and running away is not the solution to your problems.”
I stare at the foot of my bed.
“Even though your parents have already agreed to send you there, the final say is yours, Alyxandra. I know you’re a bit overwhelmed right now, having just woken up and me barging in on you, but recovering from self-harm and emotional battles are not something to procrastinate over. What I’m here to ask you is, are you willing to get better? Please remember that if you choose to get better, you are recovering for yourself, not everybody else.”
Do I want to recover? Am I willing to get better? Do I want the crazy out of me? Maybe, maybe and yes.
I don’t want to be crazy anymore, don’t want to hear those stupid Voices. Mary Gill here is being very direct about everything, not trying to sugar-coat it like Jessica Varner PhD would. If anything, Jessica Varner PhD made me worse. She never got to the point, didn’t make me feel welcomed in her office. Mary Gill doesn’t take her eyes off me and has some worry lines around her mouth. She’s probably in her mid-forties, early fifties. More experience with crazy people. She works for one of the best psychiatric facilities in the state, too.
My parents have already agreed to it. They’re not in the room, but in the building somewhere. I bet they’re so angry at me—no, disappointed in me. What kind of daughter runs away for thirty-six hours and cuts and burns herself? What kind of daughter do they want? A perfect one. If I can be that, maybe they wouldn’t give me weird looks all the time. Maybe they wouldn’t hide the knives or the medication from me, in fear I’d try to kill myself again (I didn’t try to kill myself Nineteen made me do it shut up Alyx Nineteen isn’t real you told yourself to do it). If I learn how to be normal they wouldn’t be so ashamed of me, especially my sister.
I’ll go, I write on my notepad. I hesitate for a second, but then show Mary Gill what I’ve written. She smiles, not showing her teeth, then nods. “Thank you, Alyxandra. I think you’ve made a very sensible decision.”
I nod, trying to smile like she does.
“I will inform your parents and contact Willow Pines to conform your intake. You’ll be transferred tomorrow, Monday. Nine o’clock in the morning. Your doctor wants to keep you here for the rest of the day to assess your burns properly and make sure you’re fed and hydrated. Whether you want to eat or not, I’m going to find your nurse and make sure you eat something. Until then, I’ll see you tomorrow, Alyxandra.”
Thank you, I scribble, to make sure she doesn’t leave before I can show it to her. She smiles again and leaves my room. Two minutes later, Holly arrives with a cart that holds hospital food.
“Um, would you like tuna, beef or chicken for your sandwich?” she asks.
Chicken, I write. Holly presses a button on the side of my hospital bed, which makes a tray slide out in front of me. She plops two chicken sandwiches, cut into halves, on my tray, along with apple sauce and a cup of water. I thank Holly by writing on my notepad, and she nods.
“I have to make sure you eat it all,” she says, sitting in the chair Mary Gill sat in. “Since you didn’t eat or drink for a long period of time.”
I take a sip of the water, and it cools my burning throat. I must have lost my voice and strained my throat when I screamed all of Friday night. It hurts to eat the sandwich, but not if I chew a lot and make it mushy. The apple sauce feels nice as it travels down my esophagus.
Holly takes my tray away when I finish everything. She tells me she’ll come back in an hour with water and a snack.
* * *
The next morning, at eight-thirty, my parents pick me up in my room so we can leave and I’ll be transferred to a looney bin. Lynda hands me some clothes, which I put on after taking my hospital gown off. They have already signed me out of here, so we head out to a parking lot and they stuff me in the back of Lynda’s car. I don’t have any bags or suitcases with me, so I guess I’m going to Willow Pines without any belongings.
The ride takes about twenty minutes with all the morning traffic. Neither of my parents talk to me, probably too embarrassed to do so. I guess I wouldn’t talk to me, either. They don’t talk to each other. The radio is off. The only sound I can hear is the cars outside, driving to their destinations.
After more silence, Brian pulls into a parking lot, as close to the front doors as he can get. I get myself out of the car and shut the door. Willow Pines Psychiatric Facility is a one-story building, but takes up a large amount of the area. The building is made of white stone and looks relatively new. Respectively, there is a willow tree on one side of the front door, and a pine tree on the other side.
“Come on, Alyx. I don’t have all day.” Lynda crosses her arms over her chest and almost stomps towards the front entrance, like a kid with a temper tantrum told to go to their room. I follow my parents into the building.
In the front foyer, there is a large desk with three receptionists on the other side. Two of them are on the phone, one of them reading a thick book. My parents stand in front of the receptionist with the book until she looks up, startled. “Oh, h-hello, I’m so sorry. Um, is there anything I can h-help you with?”
Brian hands the nurse, whose nameplate says Annie, a bunch of papers from Mary Gill. Annie nods and starts typing into her computer. After a few seconds, Annie stands up and looks at me. “Come with me, p-please, Alyxandra,” she stutters. “Um, we have to go through s-security before your psychotherapist picks you up.”
I follow Annie to a room behind the desk, a sign above the frame that says Security. First, I walk under a metal detector and it doesn’t beep. Then, to make sure, a security guard pats me down all over. Then I have to take my sweater and pants off. Neither Annie nor the guard gawk at the gauze wrapped around my left arm, or the various pink and white scars on my thighs. I guess they’ve seen worse. The guard nods and hands me my clothes back. “You’re clean,” she says. I put my sweater and pants back on.
Annie leads me out a door and we end up at the front desk again. Mary Gill has appeared, wearing a gray suit. She gives me a smile. “Hello, Alyxandra. Great to see you. Your room is ready.” She turns to my parents. “I suppose this is time to say goodbye, Mr. and Mrs. Sawhill.”
Lynda gives me only a nod. Brian hesitates for a second, then gives me a one-armed hug. “Good luck, kid,” he whispers. He gives me a tight smile before leaving the building, one hand on his wife’s left shoulder. I watch them leave, go out to the parking lot and get in the car. It doesn’t upset me.
Mary Gill waits until the car has left the property. “I’ll show you your room and give you a tour of the facility, Alyxandra.” I nod and follow after her. She leads me down a hallway and turns right, into a hallway with two signs on the wall. One of them points left (Behavioral Issues) and the other points right (Food Issues). I am led down the Behavioral Issues hallway, and I pass five rooms on both sides until we stop in front of 11B. The room has two empty beds, two dressers and a big mirror on one side of the room.
Mary Gill explains to me that since I just arrived at Willow Pines, I am a level one. Level ones are not allowed to have roommates or go to the cafeteria, therapy, laundry room or bathrooms without someone to escort them there. There isn’t really much I can do while I am a level one, but if I open up in therapy within one week of my arrival I become a level two. Level twos are allowed visitors every Saturday, and are allowed to start art or music therapy, but still have to be escorted everywhere. Level threes can take themselves to the bathrooms and therapy, and have a roommate. At level four, you can go outside, supervised, and once everyone in your group therapy reaches level four you get to go on a hike. The last level before graduation is level five. You get to spend a weekend at home and attend a school event, like a game or prom, if applicable.
When graduation comes around, you have to take some kind of test. Since I’m not even close to graduating out of here, Mary Gill doesn’t explain it to me. After I get a proper look at my room, she shows me around the rest of the facility—the gym, the cafeteria, the library, the infirmary, the therapy rooms, the game room, the phone room. There are offices where patients aren’t allowed. The tour takes about an hour.
After my tour, Mary Gill says I can unpack and hang out in my room until lunch, and I’ll start Psycho Therapy then. I unpack my suitcase, which someone must have brought over from the hospital. I put all my clothes in the dresser, set my school things on top of it. Apparently, my school has agreed to fax in my assignments every day so I won’t have to take summer school. Fine by me.
My parents bothered to pack me a few books, too, so I set them on the dresser with my school supplies. I’m done packing, so I sit on my bed and stare at the wall for a while.
* * *
It takes a week for my throat to heal up after I spent so long screaming at the top of my lungs. Group therapy is hard, especially when you can’t speak properly. Mostly I just write my responses in my notebook with a felt-tip pen (regular pens and pencils aren’t allowed because they are sharp) and the girls in my group nod encouragingly. My group consists of five other girls, all level one or two. There are two other cutters, Riley and Haylie, two druggies and one mute, Katie. Since we’re all beginners, we mostly talk and write about why we’re here, how we can improve ourselves. Our group leader is Opal.
Two weeks after getting my voice back, I become a level two. Every day for the past three weeks I whispered or wrote to Mary everything she asked me, wrote about the 205 voices in my head, how they hurt me and scared me. I told her a bit about my family, about my crazy grandparents. Since I am a level two, I can go to art therapy and music therapy. I paint pictures, draw things with charcoal, play with clay. It reminds me of art class back in school, because Mary lets me listen to my music while I work. In music therapy, she lets me connect my iPod to the speakers and I let her listen to my favorite songs. I also try out an acoustic guitar and the bongo drums. She takes notes of everything I do, and talks to me when I don’t have my music playing.
One week after becoming a level two, Mary hands me the magic, diploma-like paper that makes me a level three. A couple days later, Riley from group therapy becomes my roommate. I guess they paired us up because we both cut ourselves. Riley doesn’t really talk much, but I see a bunch of scars all over both arms, pink and white. She spends most of her time reading books and doing her homework whenever we don’t have meals or therapy or study hall.
The nurses here give me my medication, as well as some special kind of oil for my scars. I rub the oil on my arms every night, and within a few weeks the scars fade. The burns on my left arm are getting better, as well as the other scars I have inflicted on myself.
Three weeks later, I become a level four. I have to wait a few days for the rest of the girls in group therapy to catch up before we all go on a big hike in the woods behind the facility. Tanasha, an overweight girl who abused marijuana, huffs and puffs for most of the trip, but I try to focus on the beauty of the woods. There are so many trees, all kinds of them. Willow trees, pine trees, maple trees, evergreen trees. All the green of June is kind of overwhelming. The next day, in art therapy, I use every shade of green and brown Mary has to paint all the trees as best as I can. Mary always tells me I do a great job in art therapy, even though I don’t really feel like I can. When I finish my tree painting, I want to splatter black paint all over it because it doesn’t look as good as it did on the hike. “I suck!” I scream. “I can’t paint! I can’t f-cking paint!” My eyes stray to the cabinets where they lock all the x-acto knives and other sharp objects patients can’t use unless supervised.
I get easily irritated by the littlest things, sometimes. I don’t like the way Tanasha is always snapping her gum really loud during group therapy, or how Riley always cracks her knuckles before speaking. The mute in our group, Carolina, has learned to whisper now, but not make eye contact, which annoys me. If she agreed to go here, then why wouldn’t she be trying harder to make herself better?
I’ve been at the facility for seven weeks now. The Saturday before I’ve been here for eight weeks, Collin visits. We hug, I cry. I’ve missed him so much, and he’s missed me, too. He’s brought me a box of assorted, large chocolate bars and a hand-made get well soon card. He’s allowed to visit for an hour, so I take him to the game room even though we just sit on the couch. He fills me in on school, all the drama I’ve been missing. Psychology, Art and Math are lonely without me, he says. Ashley and Bruce are still together, Cameron is in physiotherapy. I miss Cameron, too, but I haven’t spoken to him in forever. After Collin leaves, my parents visit me and bring me a bunch of new books. Afterwards, I call Coldgrove General Hospital and reach Cameron. He’s surprised to hear from me and we talk on the phone for an hour. Turns out in a couple of weeks, he’s going to start a program on the boy’s side of this facility.
On the day the eighth week starts, a Monday, I tell Mary Gill something important in her office for regular therapy. Usually, either one of us starts talking right away when I come in, but I’ve been sitting there for five minutes straight, picking at my nails and staring at my feet. Finally, Mary asks, “Is there something bothering you, Alyxandra?”
I close my eyes for half a minute, open them. My hands are wringing like they did when I had frequent panic attacks. I open my mouth but nothing comes out.
“Would you like to write it down?” she hands me my notebook and a felt-tip pen before I can answer.
I hesitate for a long minute before writing it down. I was raped. I hesitate even longer before showing her what I’ve written. When I turn the page in her direction, I immediately regret it. But she’s already read it. All she does is nod. After a silent minute, she starts talking to me. I can’t really understand what she’s saying because my ears have closed up. I drop the notebook and pen, curl up in a ball on her couch, crying silently. It was hard to talk about it. Ten minutes later, after trying to collect myself, I told her about the party. How I kissed my ex-best friend, Tyler, Tyler’s brother and a girl from the school newspaper. How Damian had a panic attack when I tried to take his shirt off, how Autumn and I re-enacted the scene from Titanic. I told Mary every detail of the rape, even though she might not have appreciated it.
That Saturday, visiting day, Mary meets with my parents before they’re allowed to hang out with me in my room. I know she tells them about what happened to me. When they are escorted into my room, Robyn is with them. Mom throws her arms around me and apologizes a million times. Robyn cries, which is her way of apologizing for treating me like crap for the last year. Brian hugs me and doesn’t say much—he’s probably too shocked.
Two weeks later, on a Thursday, I become a level five. Mary and my parents have a phone meeting and I’m allowed to spend the weekend at home with my family. Riley, my roommate who is still a level four, looks terrified as hell when I pack my suitcase the morning I’m being picked up, because she has a phobia of abandonment. I hug her. She looks a bit better from when I first met her—most of her scars are fading because she gets special scar oil, too. My own scars have faded completely, so I can wear t-shirts. That’s a good thing, because it’s the middle of June and it’s hot even in the facility.
Mom picks me up and signs a bunch of forms at the front desk, then walks with me out of the facility. Mary smiles and waves goodbye, Annie at the front desk waves, too. I’m surprised to see that instead of her little silver car, Mom has a giant Hummer. On the way home, she explains that they traded in her car and the truck for this. I guess it’s fair that they put my truck away. I wouldn’t let me drive, either.
Coldgrove looks different from the last time I was here. It’s not cold and wet, it’s warm and humid. Everything is green, like the woods behind the facility. Dad greets me with a hug and takes my suitcase up to my room. Robyn waves at me, but keeps watching her shows on the TV. Mom tells me to go see my room, so I do. The walls have been painted a very pale shade of lavender and I have a new bed set. I thank my parents and gawk at how different the room is. I used to have newspaper taped to the window to block out every bit of light, but now a ray of sun shines through the purple curtains and into my face. It’s too bright, but it makes me feel cozy and warm inside.
Mom says that we’re going shopping, just us two for some quality time. I say okay, and we take the Hummer out to a big mall in Seattle. We don’t talk much in the car, but the radio plays some nice jazz music and she hums along. I look out the window at all the cars on the highway. An hour later, we arrive at the mall. Mom lets me buy a couple of shirts and a pair of jeans from stores that most teenagers shop at, and we have a sushi lunch together. When we finish eating, she drops the bomb. “Alyx, I wanted to take you shopping for something very special. A dress.”
“What for?” I ask, dipping my last piece of a dynamite roll into the soya sauce.
Right. Junior prom. It’s next Friday at school, held in the gym like a middle school dance. Of course, you couldn’t really expect much from a small town high school. I say okay, and we leave the food court to the fanciest dress store in the mall with a French name.
“Can I help you ladies with something?” a middle-aged lady asks the second we step foot in the store. Mom politely says no and drags me to the area of the store where all the purple dresses are.
“Robyn and I went shopping yesterday for her middle-school graduation dress, and I saw this one that would look perfect on you. Hold on, let me see if it’s still here…”
While she paws through the racks, I look around at all the dresses. There are white dresses with colorful sashes around the middle, tight dresses only petite girls can pull off, strapless dresses, dresses with various straps, ball gowns and short dresses.
“Alyx!” Mom waves me over. “Try this one on. Purple looks best on you.”
She hands me a purple dress. It’s strapless, and has a zipper on the back. The top has little white beads that create a spiral pattern, and the skirt is poofy and long enough to go past my knees.
“Would you like a dressing room?” the lady from earlier asks. I nod, and she leads me to the very back of the shop and unlocks a room for me. I thank her and lock myself in.
I strip out of my clothes and into the dress. It’s a size ten, surprisingly, and it fits me perfectly. I guess I must have gained weight at the facility. I can’t zip myself up, so I hold the top of the dress and look at myself in the mirror. My hair has grown out, a nice chestnut color, and almost reaches my shoulders. My skin is still pale, but the scars on my arms have faded perfectly. I look…pretty. My lips curl into a smile. I step out of the change room and Mom covers her mouth with one hand, her eyes smiling.
“Alyx! You look…beautiful!” She zips me up and I look in another, larger mirror. Mom stands behind me, grinning like a fool. “I love it!” she cries. “I love it! Do you love it?”
I nod, staring at my reflection. “I love it,” I say.
The store clerk smiles at us. “It looks lovely on you,” she tells me. “It’s the one.”
“We’ll take it,” Mom says to the clerk. To me, “Take it off and we’ll buy it.”
I head back into the change room and take off the dress and change back into my regular clothes. I grin like crazy, though I don’t really know why. I think I’m excited, happy. I must be—smiling is what regular people do when they are excited and happy. Mom pays for the dress (since most of the prom dresses have been bought, this dress was on sale, fifty percent off), $233. I carry the bag out of the store, look my mother in the eyes and thank her.
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Nov 16, 11 at 1:50pm ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
Yayayayayayayay! Is she going to.go to prom with Colin? Actually dont tell me aha. I love your writing. If this ever gets published, I will buy it.
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Nov 21, 11 at 3:13am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
beccyorange thank you very much!
okay guys, I don't have a chapter for you yet but I will tomorrow (the 21st), hopefully. I'm so excited! I'm going to make the special thank you video next week or this coming weekend so if anyone has any questions about me or Schizophreak then PLEASE PM me and I'll answer your questions in the video.
ahhhh!!! im so excited, so so so excited!
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Nov 22, 11 at 2:54am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD. OH MY GOD.
I FINISHED IT. I FINISHED SCHIZOPHREAK. I FINISHED SCHIZOPHREAK. I FINISHED SCHIZOPHREAK. I FINISHED SCHIZOPHREAK. I FINISHED SCHIZOPHREAK. I FINISHED SCHIZOPHREAK. I. FINISHED. SCHIZOPHREAK.
oh my god you guys i am seriously crying right now, oh my god, i finished it. i've had such an awful day today but i finished it. i cant freaking believe it, i finished it. oh my goodness, i cannot thank you all enough. I COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT YOU. SERIOUSLY. oh my goodness, i know im making a huge deal out of this but you dont understand how happy i am right now, or maybe you do. i just cant believe i actually finished this. oh my god. i am so happy, so so so happy. thank you, every single person who has posted in here or lurks in this thread, thank you so much. i cannot express how greatful i am for every single one of you for reading this. all i want is someone to read it, i am so thankful you guys have read it even if you havent commented. thank you, thank you, thank you. bless you all. omg. i am so happy right now, thank you all so much. oh my goodness.
342 pages, 160,750 words. we *bleep*ing did it, you guys. we did it.
Six days later, it is Friday and the day of junior prom at Coldgrove High. It’s only ten in the morning and I am in art therapy with Mary, but in three hours, after lunch at one o’clock, my mother will pick me up and drive me home and prepare me for prom, which is from five o’clock until ten.
My parents had to fill out a report for Mary after my weekend stay at home. I didn’t get to see the report or even what was on it, but Mary hasn’t mentioned anything. I can’t tell if that’s a good sign or a bad sign. After Mom and I went shopping, she insisted I model my dress for Dad and Robyn. Dad nodded approvingly and Robyn looked jealous that my prom dress was better than her middle school graduation dress. Mom said my shoes didn’t really matter, so I looked through all my shoes and decided that my black high-tops were clean enough. When I modeled the dress with the shoes she didn’t even bat an eye—she just nodded and grinned.
Today, though, I can’t really think of what to paint. I have regular talking therapy later, so I don’t know if I can talk to Mary about what I’m feeling right now. I have a paintbrush in my hand, a bunch of colors on a tray and a blank canvas in front of me. After a minute of staring at the endless white space, I dip my brush into the purple paint. I cover the entire canvas in purple.
Mary analyzes my artwork. “You’ve painted your canvas purple.”
I nod, try out sarcasm. “What does it mean to you?”
“What does it mean to you, Alyxandra?” she asks.
I look at my purple canvas for a minute, then shrug. “I don’t know. I really don’t know.”
“Is purple your favorite color?”
“I guess so. My prom dress is purple.”
“Ah.” Mary nods, keeps squinting at my canvas. “Your prom is tonight, isn’t it? How do you feel about that?”
“Nervous.” I dip my paintbrush into a cup of water, ridding the brush of the purple. I dip it in black and paint a line that takes up three quarters of the length of the paper—a tree trunk. I add branches, but no leaves. The purple background looks like a lightning storm, the flashes brightening up the sky. I wash off my brush, dip it in white and add a couple of lightning bolts to my painting.
“Is that supposed to be a tree that was hit by lightning?” asks Mary.
“It’s very sunny outside, Alyx. Supposed to be a perfect day.”
“I know.” I add another lightning bolt to my painting. “You know how trees this time of year are full of leaves and beauty?” Mary nods. “I feel like that kind of tree when I’m here at this facility. It was really scary having to go out into the real world this weekend, with my family. And now tonight, I’m going to school where there are going to be almost two hundred people crowded into the gym. I’m scared.”
“What scares you? Are you claustrophobic?”
“I feel like something bad will happen at prom—a lightning bolt hitting me. Not literally, of course, but something really bad and then all I’ve worked so hard for will slip, and everyone will see me for who I really am—an ugly, sad, naked tree. And I can’t bloom again because lightning will kill the tree.”
“Wood doesn’t conduct electricity,” Mary says.
“The lightning sets fire to the wood. Burns it. Kills it. Burns it beyond recognition.”
She says nothing, just watches as I add another layer of purple to the canvas. Finally, “remember what we’ve been working on the last few weeks? Trying not to let other people get to you.”
“There are rumors going around school about me,” I whisper. “People know where I am.”
“Do you know that for sure?”
“Collin must have told somebody.”
“Collin, your friend who visited a few weeks ago. He’s your best friend, isn’t he?”
I think about it for a few seconds, then nod. “Yeah, he kind of is.”
“Best friends don’t spread rumors about their best friends, do they?” Mary asks, a smile in her voice.
“I guess not.” I sigh. “But what if people do find out that I’ve been here the last eight weeks? Being treated for self-harm and my disease? What do I say if someone asks me where I’ve been?”
“I don’t know, Alyxandra. That’s entirely up to you. If there have been rumors, you know you can’t disprove them. But to spite whoever is asking you, you can tell them ‘I’ve been getting help,’ or something along those lines.”
I keep painting, being careful around my white lightning bolts. “I guess so. It just feels weird, you know, going out into the real world after being cooped up in here for the last nine weeks.”
“You’ve been making lots of progress, Alyxandra, despite everything that’s happened to you. You’re one of the few patients here who is actually trying to get better and that is fantastic.” She smiles.
I stop painting for a minute, take in what she’s said to me. “But when I go home, what if I relapse? Start hurting myself again?”
“Remember your page of alternatives to self-harm? You try out whatever works best for you until the feeling passes.”
“What if I start hearing Voices again?”
“Alyxandra, stop playing ‘what if.’ You’ll only be more stressed out about tonight. Just take it easy.” Mary watches me for a full minute over her glasses. I look away and start painting again, another layer of purple. “Your voices aren’t going to go away forever, Alyxandra. You can’t completely get rid of schizophrenia. You know that. You could start hearing them whenever you switch medications and there’s not much you can do about that. However, you have to remember not to listen to them.”
I keep adding more purple to my picture, painting over my lightning bolts. Endless amounts of purple. Purple skies, purple lightning, purple tree, purple prom dress. I add more black paint to the tree to make it stand out more. I shouldn’t have added so much purple. Now the painting looks ruined. I grip the paintbrush, contemplating splashing my dirty water all over the canvas board. My jaw clenches, my teeth grind together.
“Alyxandra, you’re not going to ruin your painting, are you?” Mary asks. For a second, I want to splash the water in her face, but I don’t. I loosen my grip on the brush.
“Can we stop now? Or do something else? I don’t want to paint anymore.”
During lunch, the girls from Group keep staring at me with envy that I get to go to prom. I’m the only level five in our group. Tanasha gives me a stink eye, Carolina tries to smile at me but her lips can only purse together. I guess that’s a start, for her. Haylie, a cutter who apparently relapsed this week with a staple from her therapist’s office, pretends to pick at her salad, but stares at me.
“So, um,” Riley says, cracking her knuckles. “Alyx is going to her junior prom tonight. Isn’t that right?”
“Yep,” I say, stuffing a piece of lettuce in my mouth.
“Do you have a dress?” Riley asks.
“Yeah, it’s purple. My mom and I bought it last week when I got to stay home for the weekend.”
Jenna, one of the substance-abusers (crack), blinks at me. “Are you staying home for the weekend again?”
I shake my head no. “I’m coming back here tomorrow morning. On Monday I get to take the graduation test.”
“Wow,” Carolina whispers, staring at her plate.
“I can’t believe you’re graduating,” Tanasha mutters. “You were the last one to join our group and you’re the first one out. I was there for a week before you came and I’m still a level four!”
“Carolina was there for a month before the rest of us,” Haylie says, looking at Carolina, who shoves a cherry tomato in her mouth. “She’s been at level for four how many weeks now?”
“Stop being so rude, Haylie.” Jenna gives Haylie the stink eye. Haylie rolls her own eyes and takes a sip of her water.
Riley looks at me. “I hope you have fun, Alyx,” she says, trying to smile. “I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to wear a dress.”
“Then you shouldn’t have started cutting yourself in the first place,” Tanasha says, rolling her eyes and taking a bite of her dinner roll. “That’s such a gross thing to do.”
Riley’s face flushes—with anger or embarrassment, I can’t tell. Jenna’s eyebrows meet together like they do when she gets mad. Riley’s lips tremble like she’s about to cry. I look down and eat my salad. Carolina looks extremely uncomfortable, like she wants to run out of the cafeteria. Haylie is seething.
Jenna stands up and pushes Tanasha out of her seat and to the floor. Tanasha gets up and pushes Jenna by the chest, and Jenna throws the first punch. Carolina, who is on my right, grabs my hand, then lets go just as fast. Haylie’s eyes boggle, Riley grabs my left hand with both of hers.
Tanasha starts screaming obscenities at Jenna, who screams them back—calls her ignorant and fat and the N word. A cafeteria attendant, Candace, runs over and tries to break up the fight. One of the correctional officers runs over and succeeds at breaking up the fight. Both girls are escorted out of the cafeteria by different correctional officers.
“Oh, God,” Haylie whispers. “She’s so ignorant.”
Riley lets go of my hand and hides her face with her hands. “I’m disgusting!” she cries.
Carolina is shaking her head no. “No,” she murmurs. “No, you’re not.”
“Tanasha made a bitch move, Riley. Don’t listen to her. She’s stupid.” Haylie walks around the table to give Riley, who is crying, a hug.
“I have to…go.” Riley stands up and walks out of the room, one of her hands hiding her trembling lips. No one runs after her, because she can escort herself and lunch is almost over anyways.
“That was awful,” Carolina whispers. “So awful. I can’t…I just can’t.”
Haylie shakes her head, then looks at me, looks at my arms. “I hope your dress doesn’t have sleeves, Alyx. Scars are beautiful. Scars tell stories.”
When I return to my room to pack my backpack with clothes and toiletries, Riley is sitting on her bed, back against the wall, rocking back and forth. She’s not crying anymore, but her eyes are red and swollen. I stand still, just watching her. She doesn’t take her eyes off the wall across from her.
I slowly head towards my bed, where my backpack is sitting, slowly so she won’t startle me if she screams or something. I keep one eye on clothes and toiletries and the other eye on her. Everything is quiet except for the thumping of her back against the wall. I zip up my backpack, then sit on my bed with it in my lap, watching her.
Five minutes later, she speaks. “Alyx, please get me a piece of paper.”
“Just get me a piece of paper from your notebook, Alyx. Please.”
“Only if you tell me why.”
“Paper cuts.” She doesn’t look at me, just keeps her eyes on the wall behind me.
I shake my head. “No.”
“Give me the *bleep*ing paper, Alyx!” she puts her hands over her ears. “Give it to me! Now!”
I keep shaking my head, unable to say anything because my heart is pounding too loudly. Watching her scares me. Her knees to her chest, hands over her ears, back bumping against the wall. She reminds me…of me. “No,” I whisper. “Riley, stop doing that.”
“Please, Alyx. Please. Something sharp, at least. Please.”
“Riley, why are you here?” I inch towards her side of the room, slowly.
“I don’t know.” Her voice is robotic, automatic. My eyes widen. “Because I’m a freak, that’s why I’m here. I’m a freak—a stupid, stupid freak! A stupid, stupid cutter! Stupid cutter!”
“Riley, what did they say you have?” I inch even closer, until I’m at the side of her bed, close enough to sit on it.
“Manic depression. I’m bipolar.” Her eyes look fiery now, angry. “Disgusting little freak, I’m a disgusting little freak.”
“Riley,” I say, grabbing my backpack and inching towards the doorway, “I have to go. I’m going to get you some help, okay? Please don’t do anything stupid.”
Riley’s eyes turn to me. “Did you just call me stupid?”
“No! No, no, of course not!” I back away. “Please, just stay here, okay? I’ll come back tomorrow, okay? Please, stay!” I run out of our room and into the hallway. I see Mary Gill, who is supposed to escort me to the front desk. “Mary!” I yell. “Mary, please, she needs help!”
Mary frowns and walks past me, pokes her head into my room. “Oh, dear,” she murmurs, pulling out her pager. She presses a few numbers and a minute later another Psycho Therapist runs into the hall and into my shared room. “Let’s go, Alyxandra,” Mary says, putting her hand on my shoulder and leading me out of the hallway.
“Is she going to be okay?”
Mary doesn’t answer me, just keeps staring straight ahead.
“Has it happened before?”
Still no answer. I give up on asking questions and just keep walking with her until we reach the front desk, where my mother is talking to Annie, signing me out for twenty-four hours. Mom waves at me, grinning. I wave back. Mary hands me over to my mother, whishes me luck and to have fun tonight. I thank her, Mom thanks her, and I leave the facility.
I sit beside Mom in the front passenger seat, backpack in my lap. The air conditioning is on, jazz music on the radio. Mom tells me how excited she is, how proud of me she is. Junior prom isn’t really a big deal, senior prom is, but she talks about it like it’s of equal importance. She boasts about how she’s going to do my hair and makeup and I’m going with Collin and Ashley and Bruce—
Wait a minute—I’m going to prom with Collin? My eyes widen. “What? He’s—we’re—we’re going to prom together? Me? Collin? Together?”
“Yes, Alyx, that’s what I said!” Mom replies in a sing-song voice. “He begged me over the phone the day before he visited and I agreed to it. He bought the ticket and gave it to me so you wouldn’t lose it. I think he wanted it to be a surprise, so that’s why this is all so last-minute.”
“Mom, that’s weird.” I shudder. “Why would I go to prom with my best friend as my date?”
“Why wouldn’t you?”
I pinch the bridge of my nose, breathe in and out. Mom turns the radio up and to a pop channel, humming along to the noise.
Two hours and forty-five minutes later, I am all dressed and ready to go. I am wearing my dress, a strapless bra, ankle socks and my high-tops. Mom did my makeup—purple eyeshadow and a little bit of eyeliner and mascara. My hair isn’t that special, just kept down like it usually is.
Mom and Dad are freaking out about how nice I look, taking lots of pictures—me and Mom, me and Dad, me and Robyn, me and my parents, and they set up the camera with a timer so we can get a family picture in. Just as the flash goes off, there is a knock at the door. I run to get it, and open up the door to Collin.
Collin is wearing a white dress shirt with a black tie, and fancy black pants with dark grey stripes, and fancy shoes. His hair looks like he tried to comb it, but the curls decided to rebel against him. As he takes me in, his eyes widen, his lips pull apart into a grin.
“W-wow,” he stammers. “You look really, really pretty, Alyx!”
I smile. “You too—I mean—uh—you look nice, too!”
“I, uh, I got this for you.” He holds out a white box and takes the lid off. Inside is a purple corsage. “Can I put it on you?” I nod.
Out of nowhere, Mom and Dad and Robyn appear and start snapping pictures of Collin putting the corsage on my wrist. I try to ignore them and focus on the flowers. They’re fake, but made out of purple silk. When it fits around my wrist, I look up at Collin and smile.
“I knew your dress was purple so I just bought this one,” he says, running a hand through his hair nervously. “Uh, do you like it?”
I nod. Before I can say anything, Dad says, “Let me take some pictures of you kids!”
We spend five minutes taking various pictures—in front of the rose bushes, in front of the tree in our front yard, on the porch, on the porch swing, with Collin’s mom, with my parents. Finally, we can leave. Collin’s mother is chauffeuring us to school. After my parents finally stop taking pictures, Collin and I get in the car. His mother compliments my dress and says she wishes her prom dress was that lovely. We talk together the whole ride, Collin contributing once or twice.
We reach Coldgrove High after ten minutes of driving. The front doors are busy, lots of girls and boys dressed up for the big show. Mrs. Ross parks the car in the Kiss N’ Ride lane. “All right, you two. Don’t have too much fun!” she winks. Collin kisses her on the cheek and gets out of the car, rushes to my side and opens my door for me. I tell Mrs. Ross goodbye and head towards the front doors of the school with Collin. He pulls two tickets out of his pocket and hands me one.
“Alyx!” I hear a voice yelling. I look over and see Ashley running towards me. “Oh my god, you came! Look at you! Look at your dress!” She wraps me up in a hug, and Bruce walks over.
“Hey, Alyx! Long time no see!” Bruce gives me a nod.
Ashley is wearing a tight, red dress with no straps, which makes her boobs almost pop out. Her shoes are gold and flat, her honey blonde hair in a French braid down her back. Bruce has a buzzcut, which makes his diamond stud earrings stand out more. He looks more mature than I remembered him. He is wearing a black and grey striped suit with a tie the same color as Ashley’s dress.
“You two look great together,” I say, smiling at them. “Wow.”
“So do you!” Ashley looks at Collin and me, then nods in approval. “I missed you so much, Alyx!” she hugs me again.
“Where have you been the last two months?” Bruce asks.
I blink at him. “On vacation.”
Ashley nudges him with her elbow. “Have you guys seen the cafeteria? It doesn’t even look like the cafeteria! It looks incredible!”
“You already got in?” Collin asks.
“Yep. We’re going to have a banquet in the caf for an hour, then we’ll dance in the gym for the rest of the night.” Ashley pulls out her purse and takes out her camera. “Let’s take pictures!”
“Right here, in the line?” Bruce asks, rolling his eyes.
“We’re not the ones in line,” Ashley replies, shrugging. She pulls me over and we take a few pictures together. Then she takes pictures of our dates. Then, she asks a random girl wearing a pink dress to take a group picture of the four of us. Eventually, Ashley puts her camera away and Collin is next in line to get into prom. We show our schools IDs, and we’re allowed to go inside.
Ashley was right—the cafeteria doesn’t look like I remembered it. Sure, the tables and chairs are the same, but the decorations are wonderful. The whole room is decorated with balloons and streamers of our school colors, navy and blue. There are ten tables lined up near the windows with enough food to feed the army—pizza, chicken fingers, burgers, fries, salads, various drinks that are probably spiked with vodka, and ten large cakes for dessert.
“Wow,” I murmur.
“Come, Alyx, let’s sit where Ash and Bruce are sitting!” Collin takes my hand and practically drags me to a table near the stage. There aren’t any fancy nameplates on any of the tables, so I guess everyone can sit wherever they please. I sit down at the table beside Ashley, and Collin sits on my other side. Bruce is across from me.
On the stage, the principal taps the microphone, making it screech into everybody’s ear drums. “Excuse me? Hello? Oh, good, it works!” she clears her throat. “Good evening, ladies and gentlemen! The annual junior prom at Coldgrove High will officially commence in seven minutes. Please seat yourselves wherever you wish!”
There is an excited buzzing throughout the cafeteria. Ashley grins and pulls out her camera again. “I’ll be back!” she sings out. She skips away to a nearby table to take pictures with the people sitting there. Collin and Bruce talk about stuff that I don’t pay attention to—I look around the whole room, wondering if any teachers I know are on the prom committee.
“Speak of the devil,” I murmur as Ms. Carmona waltzes into the room through the double-doors near the stage. I stand up and leave my table, start walking towards my Psychology teacher, wondering if she’ll recognize me. It seems kind of silly, just walking up to one of your favorite teachers after being away from school for nine weeks, but Mary said I have to be more confident about talking to people, whether I know them or not.
“Alyx?” Suddenly she stops waltzing and spots me. “Oh, wow! I didn’t expect to see you!” since hugging students is an out-of-bounds thing, Ms. Carmona shakes my hand. “How have you been?”
“I’ve been good,” I reply, smiling.
She smiles back, looking pleased. “I’m so happy to hear that, Alyx. A lot of your classmates were wondering where you went. I was informed of your situation and I’m just so glad you made the right decision. Not too many people are brave enough to do that.” She looks into my eyes. “I’m really proud of you, Alyx. I know it sounds weird, coming from me, but I’m really, really proud of you.” She squeezes my hand. “I have to go now, but I’ll be around tonight if you ever need to talk.”
Ms. Carmona hurries away towards the stairs that lead backstage. I smile to myself and head back to the table. The microphone screeches again, commencing the evening. The principal and Ms. Carmona and a math teacher give speeches, thanking the prom committee for organizing all the bake sales, and everyone for donating to make this amazing event happen. With that, the music starts and we can pig out.
Everyone lines up at the tables by the windows, grabbing plates and forks and knives and cups. To be on the safe side, I grab a can of Coke. The punch bowl has probably already been spiked with vodka. On my plate, I pile up pizza (Hawaiian and vegetarian), chicken fingers, chocolate cake and a bit of fruit salad. Collin gets pizza and fries and cake and a cup of punch. Ashley gets a slice of pizza and a bunch of salad, Bruce gets chicken, fries and two slices of cake. We sit back down at our table and dig into our food for the first fifteen minutes of prom.
Collin finishes his plate first and goes back for seconds, even though there’s not much food left. Bruce follows him. Ashley rolls her eyes. “Boys,” she says, stabbing a piece of lettuce with her fork. I smile in agreement and continue eating my cake. Ashley stops eating and starts staring at me, my arms, specifically. “Wait a minute…what happened to your scars?”
“I took care of them,” I reply.
“How? Remember when you showed me them in February and they were really bad?”
“I’ve been in treatment for the last nine weeks,” I reply, calmly, putting a piece of cake in my mouth. “So I wouldn’t do that to myself again.”
Ashley blinks, then smiles and doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t have to.
The gymnasium is packed with bodies. Girls in fancy dresses, guys in fancy dress shirts, pants or shoes. Bodies dancing together, butts grinding against each other. It’s making me nervous. Collin looks uncomfortable, too—his hands are in his pockets and he looks like he wants to vomit. “Do you want to go outside?” I shout to him over the terrible music with amplified bass. Collin nods and I drag him past all the dancers, past the drink table. The double-doors lead to the track outside.
It’s cooled down a bit since we arrived here for prom. Collin takes a pencil out of one of his pockets and puts it between the door and the door frame so it doesn’t shut completely and we can go back inside if we want. The music blasts, as loud out here as it is in there. Collin looks at me, smiles and shrugs. “I’m kind of claustrophobic,” he tells me.
“Me, too,” I reply. “I’m glad we got out of there. That music is giving me a headache.”
Collin looks towards the doors, like that’s going to make the music stop. It continues. “I don’t think we can turn it off. I guess we’ll just have to deal with it.” He pauses. “Wanna dance?”
I nod. Collin moves closer to me, awkwardly. He places his hands on my shoulders, I wrap my hands around his waist and now we are chest to chest. My heart starts pounding hard, and I think he can feel it. I’ve never been this close to him before, my breasts against his chest, my hands around his waist. His heart is beating as rapidly as mine—two hearts become one. This scares me a little, but Collin is my best friend. I have to trust him. He isn’t going to hurt me.
Inside the gym, the music changes to a slow song, perfect for our little dance. Except we’re not really dancing, just stepping in a square. I slightly recognize the singer’s voice, and this song is from a heavy metal band. Kind of unusual for such a band to make slow songs, but nothing is impossible.
“Alyx?” Collin says.
“If I tell you something, do you promise not to freak out on me?”
“Pinky promise?” Collin pulls away from me and holds out his hand. I roll my eyes, but smile and lock pinkies with him. “Good, ‘cause I want to tell you something and I want you to listen to me.”
“Okay.” I look at him, right into his eyes which are round with seriousness.
“Alyx…I know I’ve told you this before but you didn’t listen to me the first time. I think you’ll be more accepting about it if I tell you now.” He swallows. “Alyxandra Sawhill, I love you. And before you ask me why, I’ll just tell you right now—I don’t really know how to explain it. It’s just one of those things that happen and there’s no explanation for it, you know? I know you don’t feel the same way, you only think of me as a friend, but you need to know this.”
I stare at him, my eyes starting to water a little. Such a sap.
“Alyx…how do you think of me?” he asks, staring down at me.
“You’re my best friend, Collin,” I tell him, not letting my eyes stray away.
He grins. “You’re my best friend, too, Alyx. But…uh, um…would you ever let me be more than that?”
I don’t answer him right away—I blink, then my eyes shift to his tie.
“Oh, no, I knew this was a bad idea,” he murmurs. “I’m sorry, Alyx. Bombarding you like this. You’re probably really stressed about having to come to prom and be in the real world—I’m sorry, Alyx, why wasn’t I thinking?”
“Shush,” I say. “It’s okay, Collin. I’m okay.”
“Are you going to answer my question?”
He blinks. “Yes?” his face breaks out into a grin. “Yes?”
“I think I can handle relationships, now that I’ve been working on myself,” I tell him, looking into his eyes again. “I trust you, Collin.”
His grin reminds me of a kid on Christmas morning. “Really?” he whispers. I nod. He takes my hands in his, looks into my eyes. “Alyx? Will you…um…be my…girlfriend?”
“Yes,” I whisper, nodding excitedly.
“Can I kiss you?”
I keep nodding, too nervous to say anything. He leans in close, presses his slightly chapped lips against mine. His kiss tastes like fruit punch, no vodka. Fruit punch from the box that kids drank in elementary school—sweet and innocent. He pulls me in so our chests are touching again, and we dance.
And in that moment, I believed everything would finally be okay.
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Nov 22, 11 at 3:53am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
I don't remember reading past chapter 8 on my alternate account, but bravo on completing your story.
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Nov 22, 11 at 5:04am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
thank you! and I remember several pages back you commented as DC Sniper...so idk hah but thank you!
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Nov 22, 11 at 9:58pm ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
OMG OMG YOU FINISHED IT. CONGRATS MARIE : D
used your real name, what a rebel i am
anyways THAT WAS AMAZINGNESS. What an awesome ending. (: Although I was hoping for another mention of or visit to Cameron. other than that, though, fabulous. (:
quote Name Undisclosed
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Nov 23, 11 at 3:10am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
I personally haven't read this story, but I definitely should. I'm here to ask if you'll create a small review, sort of, Vena, for the Neo Newspaper. It'll get you some publicizing, and a few more members may stroll in to read this amazing story.
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Nov 23, 11 at 3:55am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
Isn't an excerpt the way to go, instead of a review by the author? Justin
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Nov 23, 11 at 3:57am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
I just don't think an excerpt would summarize the piece well enough to hook a reader. Either or is fine, whatever the author wants in the article, but I think a quick review or summary would work better.
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Nov 27, 11 at 12:09am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
okay hi guys I MADE THE THANK YOU VIDEO, WHOOPEE
if you cant hear me, understand me or im talking too fast here is the thank you-letter and what other crap im saying
IT IS 12 MINUTES LONG so if you dont want to watch it then read
Hey everyone! This is Vena, also known as Marie or even harvest hunny. I just wanted to start off by saying thank you to EVERY SINGLE PERSON who commented in this thread. I don’t care if you commented once, five times, or whether you’re still active on Neo or not. I just want to say thank you because honestly, I couldn’t have done this without you guys. I also just wanted to say that finishing Schizophreak is the biggest accomplishment ever, and I have really mixed feelings about finishing it. I’m really happy, but also kind of sad because starting draft two is going to be a pain in the ass, and I won’t be as eager and excited like when I was writing the first draft. But yeah, I’m just so greatful for all of your support—even if you didn’t have any constructive cricitism to offer, your nice comments really kept me going. And to those of you who gave me constructive criticism, THANK YOU! I really appreciate it and I’ll keep it in mind for draft two. I won’t be posting draft two because it won’t be as exciting and some of the changes will be realy minor—a couple of name changes, a setting change and stuff like that, nothing too extravagant.
So, as I was saying, this is a really big accomplishment for me and Schizophreak is the best thing I’ve ever written. If you’ve known me for a few years you would also know I have a longer piece of work called Bloodthirst. I had writer’s block when I was working on Bloodthirst and I wanted to write something else and maybe I would come back to it later. I had been toying around with the idea of a mental illness for about three weeks before I started writing Schizophreak. Back in 2008 I wrote a short novel called I’m Not Okay. I was only 11-12 at the time and I didn’t really have a good understanding of what schizophrenia actually was—my character in INO possessed the features of multiple personality disorder. So when I started writing Schizophreak, I researched as I wrote, and researched before I wrote, too. I don’t really have an explanation for why I specifically chose catatonic schizophrenia for Alyx, I guess I liked the image of someone being completely still in a weird position, then suddenly going into a manic or excited frenzy, which is catatonia. I have an interest in serious mental illnesses like schizophrenia and I was confident that I could start writing about it.
So one day, I was talking to somebody that I had a big fight with and things were awkward between us. I have a habit of talking to myself as a character in my stories, so I felt like I was Alyx when I was talking to this person. I felt like…I don’t know how to explain how I felt. I just felt kind of cold and empty and distracted. That’s when it hit me—Schizophreak. The title came to me just like that. I got so excited that I started a new thread here in the writer’s lounge because I always post my stories in here, you guys know that. Then suddenly, my mom comes along and tells me to get off the computer. I was really annoyed because I wanted to start writing right away, so I just put the first post as “Tomorrow. It will come tomorrow.”
So, the next day I started writing Schizophreak. I had the image of the Voices taunting Alyx and I thought having her hallucinate would be a good opening. I wanted it to be disturbing, a disturbing opening and a disturbing story. Because schizophrenia is a really serious mental illness. It’s scary, to say the least. The hallucinations some people get are totally insane and they end up doing crazy things, even committing suicide. I wanted to like, show the dark side of schizophrenia and how it isn’t like “ooh look at me I hear voices and I can’t make up my mind between things blah blah,” it’s so much more than that. I can’t explain how much really goes on, but I wanted to portray that in this story. Teenage schizophrenia is a really rare thing, and I am aiming this story for the young adult reading group. I wanted people to understand what really goes on in a schizophrenic’s head. I don’t exactly have a “moral of the story” or anything, but I guess the message I wanted to send with Schizophreak was, don’t be oblivious and don’t call mentally ill people crazy. In a few parts of the story, Alyx is really sensitive to the word “crazy” and it really bugs her because most of the time she doesn’t understand what’s going on.
Now…for some background stuff and reasons why things in the story are the way they are. I didn’t have Alyx’s name ready when I was writing the prologue, I was torn between Alyx or Vanna, but was leaning towards Alyx. I got some opinions and they all chose Alyx so I went with that name. I just took a bunch of random names in my head for her family—Brian and Lynda for her parents and Robyn as her sister. The other characters, I just pretty much took random names that I knew. Collin was one of my favorite characters. He is LOOSELY, just loosely, based off of a character from a TV show called Cold Case. There was this one episode about a kid named Collin Miller and he carried a stuffed rabbit with him everywhere. They didn’t say what was wrong with him, he was probably autistic or something. I was so in love with Collin Miller and I couldn’t get his character out of my head. So I asked around for a character name—Collin or David. I went along with Collin but tweaked his character a bit so he would have Asperger’s but still carry around that rabbit. As for Autumn, Alyx’s ex best friend, I don’t know where I came up with that name. I wanted names of typical ex best friends, like Rachel or something but that was too common so I just chose Autumn because I pictured her with wavy red hair, the color of the leaves during the autumn season. Cameron was just a random character. I originally named him Jamie but then I remembered that one of Alyx’s Voice was named Jamie so I changed it to Cameron. I don’t really know the real reason why I put him in there. He wasn’t there for comic relief or anything but I felt like Alyx needed someone she could relate to. I was really attached to Cameron and it was hard for me to write out the chapter where he drove his car off a cliff. He’s just the type of character that’s there for the background, I guess. I don’t know how to explain it!
And while we’re on the topic of suicide attempts, it was also hard for me to write out the chapter where Nineteen tells Alyx to overdose on her sleeping pills. I don’t have a reason for writing that chapter, I guess. I knew I needed some sort of climax because it was mostly I do this I do that blah blah. Alyx is a very self-destructive character and as you can see, she is easily manipulated into doing things her Voices tell her—cutting, overdosing. I guess I just wanted to portray that suicide is never the answer for your problems. Let me just say that overdosing rarely works. You’ll most likely throw up the pills and feel crappy for a few days, or you get liver/kidney damage and will probably need a transplant. However, if they suspect it was a suicide attempt, you won’t be getting that transplant. You’ll writhe in pain for a month or do, then die. It’s not a great way to go. I didn’t want to portray Alyx as a Mary Sue like her life is so perfect, but I made her survive with just a coma for a reason. That she could overcome her illness and learn to accept it. There are three climaxes in Schizophreak, btw. The first one is when Alyx overdoses, when Cameron drives his car off a cliff, and one of the last chapters when Alyx burns herself and goes into a catatonic state for 36 hours.
The setting in Schizophreak is a fictional town called Coldgrove. I wanted it to be in Washington state because it’s pretty rainy and dreary there. There’s no real significant or symbolisms for the setting so don’t get yourself worked up over the setting. I’m going to change it in draft two, the town will still be called Coldgrove but it will be set in Canada next time because I’m not familiar with American stuff.
So, enough background information. I’m going to start the thanks yous now. I’ll only be mentioning people I know IRL who gave me support and people who posted in this thread, otherwise, yeah. But if you’ve been lurking this thread and haven’t commented, thank you, as well! I really can’t express how much every comment in here has meant to me, whether it’s just been “cool, great, keep going!” or giving me constructive criticism. So thank you all, every single one of you. I honestly COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS WITHOUT YOU. I MEAN IT.
First of all, I want to thank Anime Gurl for making the great picture in the first post! She’s improved so much in her artwork but it’s still a great picture and it captures how disturbed Alyx can be.
Thank you to Summer Breeze for being the first person to comment! I’m sorry that your brother is schizophrenic. I hope he’s doing well.
Thank you to iCloud as well, for being the second person to comment.
Thank you to Bleeding Rose for supporting me throughout the last year and ten months and taking such an interest in Schizophreak.
Thank you to Cerulean for your comments and criticism!
Thanks to RebeccaScene for commenting.
Thanks to Xenophilia for commenting.
Thanks to Heartless for commenting.
Thanks to IronFistQueen for the comments and support.
Thanks to oscar71298 for all your comments, support and enthusiasm!
Thanks to musicchic123891 for your comment.
Thanks to Stainless for your comment.
Thanks to Purple Haize for your comment.
Thanks to Skater Girl for your comments, support and sharing your own story with me. I really appreciate it!
Thanks to XxAlexxxS for all of your comments, support and criticism.
Thanks to Indigoboots for your comment.
Thanks to Anime Ashley for your comment.
Thanks to Kaiti for your comment and support.
Thanks to The_Fallen for your comment.
Thank you Zerevor for your comment and support and telling me I have improved.
Thank you to Neon Rainbow for all your comments, criticism and support.
Thanks to Im NOT Insane for all your comments and support.
Thanks to blackrose84 for your comment.
Thanks to leotaylor92 for your comments and support.
Thanks to Alex0 for your comment.
Thanks to Lullabye (aren’t you skater girl? Lol) for all your comments and support and sharing your story with me!
Thanks to Johnathan Morris for all your comments and support.
Thanks to Millenium Master for your comment.
Thanks to Classical for your comment.
Thanks to DC Sniper for your comments and constructive criticism.
Thanks to BJ McDonald 19 for your comment.
Thanks to Triforce of Wisdom for your comments.
Thanks to king ganondorf for your comment and input.
Thanks to srkiser2 for your comment, but the last thing I want is to make money off of this. I just want people to read it.
Thanks to Liveslikebeth for your comments, support and constructive criticism and going through the whole book to find every mistake!
Thanks to ShadowSpectre21 for your comment.
Thanks to LillieBeeXD for your comment, and I feel flattered that you chose to cover schizophrenia because of me! Im really flattered, omg!
Thanks to Soda for your comments and support.
Thanks to Salvation for your comment. I’m glad that Schizophreak taught you not to make fun of schizophrenics. That’s really glad to hear.
Thanks to Sullyone for your comment.
Thanks to Prince of Ice for all your support and comments.
Thanks to beccyorange for your comments.
Thanks to Smileygirl for your comments, support and helping me chose names—Alyx, Collin, Mr. Lenhart and probably a few other characters.
Thanks to everyone else in real life and on facebook and other websites for all your support. I want to thank my facebook friends Faith and Dominic for all their support and comments.
I also want to thank all the musicians who helped and inspired me with many parts in this story—Marilyn Manson, Buckethead, Coheed and Cambria, Papa Roach, Nine Inch Nails, Dream Theater and all the other artists I listened to while writing this story.
So, this is the end of my little thank-you letter and once again, thanks to all of you. I couldn’t have done this without you, really. Your support is amazing and I don’t deserve such incredible people like you helping this get finished. I love you all! If anyone has any questions or comments or you want to share a story, feel free to talk to me! Keep writing and keep reading!
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Nov 27, 11 at 12:50am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
OH THAT'S REALLY LONG BUT I'LL WATCH IT TOMORROW.
and yay for me getting a mention! tyvm :3
quote Name Undisclosed
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Nov 27, 11 at 10:28am ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
I DIDNT READ THE LAST CHAPTER UNTIL AFTER THE VIDEO BUT HOLY JESUS IT ACTUALLY MADE ME CRY ;_;
lol nice pun at the the end.
♡ C A N D Y I S D A N D Y B U T L I Q U O R I S Q U I C K E R ♡
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Nov 29, 11 at 10:06pm ^re: Schizophreak [COMPLETED!]
Damn girl, you actually finished it. I'm so proud. (L)
So I've got a few chapters to go before I finish, and since I have no internet, I just saved the last few pages to read at home. I dunno if I'll make criticism or just go OMGSOGUD but yeah, just letting you know that I will finish reading this
I also loved the thank you video. I hope that one day I'll get to make one for the like, 2 people that read my stuff. And I loved being mentioned, even though I didn't really do much. :3
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