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Dec 03, 11 at 5:38am ^[Companion Story][M] Deeper
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This is a mini-project to work on while I start draft two of my recently completed novel, Schizophreak. I'm sure many of you are familiar with it. If not, then I would suggest reading Schizophreak, the whole thing, before reading this. This story, Deeper, will be a companion story to Schizophreak, some of the events happening at the same time as Alyx.
This story will be written in point of view of Cameron, a character in Schizophreak. Please read Schizophreak before reading this. Or you can go ahead and read this w/o reading Schizo, it's up to you whether you want to listen to me or not.
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Dec 03, 11 at 5:40am ^re: [Companion Story][M] Deeper
Sometimes, things start to spiral out of control. Out of your own control. And there’s no way to stop it. Things are always normal, at first, perhaps happy or sad or even neutral—a normal feeling you can properly identify. Then, perhaps something happens to you that brings your world down, brings you down. Death, a break-up, abuse. Something that traumatizes you for the rest of your life and no matter what, you will never forget about it. Those kinds of things bring an endless spiral of darkness into lives.
But in some cases, nothing too traumatizing ever happened. Like me, for instance. I wasn’t beat as a kid. I was bullied, but knew how to stand up for myself. I had friends, a couple people I could trust. I had a girlfriend in middle school. My parents loved me, more than they should have because I was an only child.
Once high school hit, things started getting stressful, but I could still control them. Schoolwork, teachers, peer pressure. Smoked my first cigarette when I was fourteen, was hooked ever since. Tried a few drugs, too, that took the stress away, at least for a little while. I could control the drug use, stopped hanging out with those guys, decided to focus on school, instead.
Even though the drugs went away, worse things started coming to me. I couldn’t think clearly most of the time, started hearing things that weren’t there, shadows in the corners of my eyes. I detached myself from my peers, slacked off in school. I just wanted to be alone, in my room, music blasting through my stereo. I was tired, tired of everything and everybody. I just wanted to sleep for a few days, then wake up and feel refreshed. Took some time off school, but it didn’t help.
Every part of me, the real me, was spiraling down in an endless, black hole. I couldn’t sleep properly, couldn’t eat, couldn’t do my school work. Mom tried a therapist, didn’t really help because I didn’t know what could have caused this.
Things were just beyond my control.
I was only a fourteen year old boy, what could I do about everything spiraling, spinning farther and farther from my grasp? I didn’t want to die, but I didn’t want to be here, on this earth, either. I didn’t see the point in waking up, getting out of bed, getting dressed, because there wasn’t really anything I needed to do. I didn’t need to eat, didn’t need to drink, and didn’t need to go to school or learn.
They put me on anti-depressants that made me fat, but happy. I went back to school, joined the fitness club. Worked out, ran the fat off. Started being friends with people again. My best friend, since kindergarten, we bonded again, he was sad that I was sad. For about a year, everything was okay again. Maybe that darkness was just a phase. Part of puberty.
Then, almost two years ago, my father decided he would shoot somebody. Kill them. No one ever told me the true story of why he did it, but he pleaded guilty at his trial three months after the incident and was put in jail for eighteen months. I shut down again. Stopped taking my meds, stopped talking to people. Couldn’t function.
Things were out of my control, once again. My world was falling deeper and deeper into that endless black hole. The depression was coming back to me. I heard the strange whispers again, saw the shadows. I wanted to join the darkness, the dark side this world was offering to me. The voices in the shadows beckoned me to open up the imaginary door that led to the black hole. I was invited to the dark side. And I was stupid enough to join the party.
Dec 03, 11 at 6:42am ^re: [Companion Story][M] Deeper
I've only done the first draft of Schizophreak. I want to at least 3. And plus I'm only 15 so I don't think anyone will take me seriously.
Dec 03, 11 at 7:20am ^re: [Companion Story][M] Deeper
meh, I'll keep it in mind, I'm getting it proofread by the ex librarian at my school who has published some stuff, so yeah idk. I definitely want to publish it but I'm scared haha
Dec 04, 11 at 3:34am ^re: [Companion Story][M] Deeper
thank you peter!
Thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts thoughts.
Do you ever have those nights where you just can’t sleep because your stupid brain won’t shut up? Yeah, I get that just about every night ever since he went to jail. I had those nights during my unexplained teenage moodiness, too. But ever since he got locked up, it’s been getting worse. I’ve been having nights where I don’t sleep at all; I just lay there in my twin bed staring at the ceiling. I’ve counted sheep, tried drinking hot milk, all kinds of teas, even sleeping pills (over the counter, of course. Can’t have poor Mom worrying about me when her husband isn’t here to support her). One night I tried running, from two until dawn, but even that didn’t exhaust me. It just gave me an adrenaline rush and a heart that wouldn’t stop pounding.
Sometimes, those thoughts that wouldn’t go away disturbed me. The thoughts were scarier than anything I’d seen before, even in those cheesy horror movies. Images of me, harming myself, were brought into my view. Drugs, skin picking, even the special C word. I had thoughts that made me fear myself. I don’t know why they made me afraid to look in the mirror, they just did. I had thoughts of myself doing things I didn’t know I could be capable of doing—harming someone, killing someone, killing myself. The visions were vibrant, mostly red and bloody.
Blood. Bloody, red blood. Crimson, scarlet, dripping into the water, staining the white porcelain red…
I was so desperate to get those thoughts out of my head that I tried the C word. One night when I was shaving up my face, since I wasn’t sleeping, I accidentally nicked myself on the cheek. The blood slid down my face, and a single drop splashed into the white sink. I was so fascinated that I wanted to do it again, so I tried to purposely cut my face with my shaving razor. Of course, since I was paying so much attention to my face, I didn’t end up cutting myself.
So when I was done, I cleaned up the sink and put on my coat, found my car keys and drove to the nearest drug store that was open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. I tried to act as innocent as possible—I mean, what kind of guy just walks into a drug store at three in the morning?—as I headed towards the men’s aisle. I looked at all the boxes of blades, all the brand names and shaving creams. They weren’t straight blades, not what I was looking for. I headed towards the stationary aisle and found an Exacto knife, with three extra blades. I found a foam board, like the kind you’d use for a display at a school science fair, so I wouldn’t look too suspicious. The cashier barely acknowledged me.
When I got back home, trying not to wake up Mom, I took the package apart and stuffed the knife and the blades under my mattress. It wasn’t until a week later that I caved in and put the knife to good use. Those visions appeared in front of my eyes again, bloody red and had a smiling man in it, a psychopath, perhaps. There were voices, though very faint. They weren’t in the vision, they were there with me, in my bedroom. It was as if they were standing beside my bed, stroking my hair like mom did when I was little and had a nightmare. “It’s okay, Cameron,” she’d say softly. “It was just a bad dream, honey. Go to sleep. You’ll be okay.”
But these voices weren’t as soothing as Mom’s. They were harsh whispers, like two girls gossiping and glancing back at the girl they were talking about, then they giggled. I was that girl being gossiped about, except I’m not a girl. Those voices all sounded the same. At first I thought it was only one voice, like my Voice of Reason or something, but then they started talking over each other, at least ten voices at the same time.
That night, they were whispering gibberish, at first, so I didn’t really acknowledge them. I, of course, was laying in my bed, the lamp turned on so I could read my Chemistry textbook. Then, all the words and pictures and diagrams turned fuzzy, so fuzzy it was as if I was nearly blind. I tried blinking, shaking my head vigorously, but that didn’t work. The words were just a big clump of fuzz.
Then, the whispers started getting louder, too loud for me to block out, but I still couldn’t understand them. I closed up my textbook, closed my eyes, put my hands over my ears. It was a wonder that Mom didn’t barge into my room to tell me to shut up; the voices were so damn loud!
Then, it hit me—only I could hear these voices. During tests in school, where everyone was quiet, no one else looked up when I did, when I heard those stupid whispers. Not even the teachers, who all had bionic ears for some reason. It freaked me out at first, hearing all those voices, but lately I’ve been getting used to them. They were a part of me.
Anyways, I eventually took my hands off of my ears and all the noise stopped for a minute. I looked around my room, but nothing had changed. I sat there for a minute, everything totally quiet. Then, one of the voices started whispering in my ear, clear as day. “Why don’t you put those blades to good use, you *bleep*ing *bleep*?”
My heart skipped a beat. None of the voices had ever called me something like that before.
“You heard me. It’s under your mattress. Pick it up and bleed.”
“Leave me alone,” I whispered, pulling my knees to my chest.
“Come on, Baby,” the same voice taunted. “I’ll leave you alone, I promise. I’ll let you sleep tonight.”
The Exacto knife suddenly appeared in my right hand, the sharp, virgin blade sticking out, beckoning me to use it, hold it over my skin, press down and swipe. I closed my eyes.
“Why are you wimping out? You like the blood. You know you do. Do it. Now.”
I didn’t even think about it. I was wearing a white wife beater, so I placed the blade on my left shoulder, pressed down and swiped, just like that. I did it four more times, and blood trickled down my arm. I was fascinated by the way the blood, type B positive, trickled down my skin like tears, or raindrops against a window.
When I was five years old, I was left with a babysitter from down the street while my parents went to dinner to celebrate their eighth wedding anniversary. I don’t remember too much about that day except the babysitter took me out to her backyard to play with the dogs. But I wandered over to her pond, and swimming in the water was a bunch of weird-looking fish. They were red and white, with tails that looked like ribbons.
“Koi,” she told me. “They’re from a faraway country called Japan. Aren’t they pretty?”
The blood trickling down my arm reminded me of the tails of those koi, flowing prettily as the fish swam. Of course, there were no fish on my arm, but the blood was the same color as the fish tails. I finally felt calm, felt five years old and innocent again. I went into the bathroom to clean myself up, clean off the knife and put peroxide and a large band-aid over my cuts. When I was in the bathroom, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.
Stubble was growing back over the lower side of my face, and there were dark circles and bags under my eyes. My hair was messy and getting too long. I looked like a homeless teenager. I brushed my teeth, even though I had done that a few hours earlier. I brushed and brushed until my gums bled. I washed out my mouth, then went back into my room. I placed the knife under my mattress, cleared off my bed, and collapsed, my head falling against my pillow. I slept better than I had ever slept before—over twelve hours. I ended up missing school, but that didn’t particularly matter.
I remember the dream I had while I slept. I was there, surrounded by total blackness. I tried running around in the space, but couldn’t find an exit. There were no floors, walls, ceilings, doors—nothing. For twelve hours I was trapped in darkness. Until, finally, there was a beam of light coming from somewhere. I ran to it, but the light kept moving farther and farther away from me. I ran as fast as I could, until finally the light stopped moving away from me. It got closer and closer, until I reached it. Under the beam of light was a wooden chair. I stepped onto the wooden chair, and somehow, I wore a noose as my necklace.
Dreams are things you can’t control.
I gave in, stepped off the chair. Right as I stepped off it, I woke up in a cold sweat, and the clock read three in the afternoon.
Dec 14, 11 at 12:42pm ^re: [Companion Story][M] Deeper
Jan 17, 12 at 1:47am ^re: [Companion Story][M] Deeper
When I was six years old, my father and I went on our first-ever fishing trip. Mom wanted the weekend to herself and her girlfriends from the book club, so Dad phoned up on of his buddies who would lend him his cottage for the weekend. So that Saturday morning, I packed a backpack full of clothes, my toothbrush and my Gameboy.
The drive to the cottage was one hour long, and we stopped at a McDonald’s drive-thru along the way for breakfast, even though there was a cooler full of food in the trunk. I ate my breakfast, some kind of English muffin with eggs and sausage, then fell asleep in my car seat.
Dad gently shook my shoulder to wake me up when we arrived. My eyes opened and we were parked in front of a cute little house made out of wood. Inside, there were three bedrooms, a kitchen, two bathrooms, a living room and a dining room. Dad told me it was so big because his work buddy had a big family. The smallest bedroom had a bunk bed in it, so I decided I would sleep in there, on the top bunk. I could pretend I had an older brother; I’d always wanted one. For the last three years my parents had been promising me a little brother or sister for Christmas. But when I was six, Mom lost the baby and they didn’t try again.
I helped Dad put the food in the fridge and freezer, then went to my room to put my stuff in the empty dresser like a good boy. I chilled on my bunk playing Pokemon for a while until Dad asked me if I wanted to go fishing. It was about seven in the morning. I should have still been sleeping if I was at home, but Dad told me later the fish bite more in the morning. I agreed to go, and he handed me a kid’s fishing rod he found in a closet.
The morning was cold and a little bit misty. Not much you can expect from living in Washington, though. The lake was a five minute walk away. We found a little canoe, which belonged to whoever owned the cottage. We put life jackets on, and Dad let me climb in the boat first. I begged to help paddle, so he let me hold one of the oars. We paddled for a few minutes, but Dad paddled more because I was so amazed by the scenery.
“Cameron, do you want to take some pictures?” Dad asked, pulling out the disposable Kodak from his backpack.
“Yes, please!” I said, grabbing it. It was a new camera, and it could take twenty-five pictures. I took a picture of Dad rowing, the trees, a little island about a mile away. Eventually, dad stopped paddling and picked up his fishing rod.
“Watch me,” he instructed. He pulled put a Styrofoam cup of worms that was sitting at his feet. I liked worms, particularly picking them up and chasing girls around the playground with them to freak them out. He stabbed the worm with the point of the hook, and tossed the line in the water. I mimicked him. “Now, all we have to do is wait,” he said. “We have to be quiet or we’ll scare the fish away.”
I stayed quiet for five minutes before I felt a small tug at the other end of my line. “Dad!” I whispered.
“Wait a sec—make sure he doesn’t swim away!” Dad grinned at me.
I felt another tug. I reeled in the fish, and it appeared before me, its body flapping and flopping. “I got it!” I screamed excitedly. “Look, Dad, look!”
“Whoa! It’s a sardine!” Dad put his rod between his knees and whipped out the camera. “Say cheese!”
Later, I let the fish go because it was really small and not big enough to eat. I helped Dad catch a big trout, which we fried up for dinner. While he was working the barbeque that evening, I was wandering around the cabin taking pictures of everything. I took a candid shot of Dad while he was leaning over the deck railing, smoking a cigarette. His icy blue eyes were glazed over, staring at something that wasn’t visible in the picture. He looked thoughtful, as if someone had asked him a question that needed to be thought over before answered.
I took another candid of him, when I was hiding in the bushes. He wasn’t the type of person who liked having his picture taken. In this picture, he was still holding the cigarette between his fingers, but hadn’t flicked the ashes off. His mouth was open as if he was answering a question someone had asked him, one of his eyebrows raised.
When I got those pictures developed, I hadn’t really noticed that picture where his mouth was open like he was talking to someone. In fact, I thought it was really funny because I was only six years old. Now, twelve years later, when I’m putting my crap inside cardboard boxes, I’ve come across an envelope that I haven’t seen in forever, buried in a box from deep within my closet.
Cam and Don’s fishing trip, 1998, is written on the front of the envelope. I pick it up, take the pictures out and flip through them—twenty five Kodak moments. I look through pictures of the cabin and trees and me with a fish and Dad with the trout and me with the trout, then the picture of him leaning over the railing, then a picture of a chipmunk. Finally, the picture of him talking to nobody in particular.
Twelve years later, I don’t laugh at the picture. There’s something in his eyes, those icy eyes under thick, stern eyebrows. Anger, annoyance? I turn and look into the mirror that I haven’t taken down from the wall yet. I have his face, the facial structure. I have the same eyes, except mine are more grey than blue. I have the same stern eyebrows, same lips. I even have his sarcastic, snarky personality. I’ve got Mom’s hair color and knack at creative writing.
In the mirror, I frown. Now I look exactly like my father. My father, who shot some guy over a poker game and pleaded guilty and only got eighteen months in jail, something I will never understand. I look down at the picture again. His eyes stare straight at me, though unfocused and glazed over. It’s like he wants me to know something. Like he knew we would all end up like this one day—him in jail, me diagnosed with a “mental illness,” and Mom hysterical about us, on top of a new job. I don’t even know why Mom kept these pictures. After he went to jail, she took down most of the pictures of him in the living room, like he died or something.
I shut my eyes, shake my head, like I’m trying to get rid of all those thoughts. Of course, they never will escape me. They’ll always be bottled up inside my mind.
I put the envelope back in the box, grab some duct tape and tape it shut. I hear a knock on the front door—must be Mom’s brothers, Frank and Paul, ready with the U-Haul. This isn’t the first time we’ve moved, but it’s the first time we’ve moved to a different city. Mom answers the door and starts directing them on how to move everything. I keep packing in my room for the next thirty minutes. I should be out there, helping my uncles move the couches and the tables, but no one has called me to help yet.
My room is filled with cardboard boxes. I stack two boxes of books on top of each other, and carry them out of my room. I maneuver my way down the hall, careful as I go down the stairs, head out the front door and to the U-Haul.
“Hey, kid!” Uncle Frank greets, giving me a punch in the arm. I wince—cuts from three days ago haven’t fully healed yet. “Let me help ya with those, kid.” He takes the top box and throws it into the truck. I want to kill him for treating my chemistry and anatomy books so poorly, but I just give him a tight smile and push the second box into the truck, which is half-filled with our furniture.
“Hey there, Cameron!” Uncle Paul says to me, carrying one lamp in each hand. “Mind helping us with your mom’s bed?” He tosses the lamps into the truck.
“Sure, Uncle Paul,” I reply. Frank follows us back into the house and up the stairs into Mom’s room. Not much has been cleared out in here, except boxes, because there are none.
I take the mattresses out from the bed frame. Instead of dismantling the frame, my uncles pick it up and flip it so it can fit through the door. They head out for the truck. I flip a mattress over and push it out the door.
* * *
Two hours later, we arrive at our new house in a smaller town called Coldgrove. Sounds like a place in a horror movie, full of fog and crazy residents. The house is smaller than the old one—only one floor, but the window shutters are forest green. There’s a sold sign on the front lawn. It looks like it belongs in a movie.
“Isn’t it adorable?” Mom coos, clasping her hands together. “A new house! A new town! A new job! It’s a fresh start for the both of us, isn’t it, Cam?”
“Yeah, it’s pretty nice,” I agree.
“Why don’t you go in and have a look around?” she hands me a key.
I get out of my car—hers is already parked in the driveway. My backseat is filled with more boxes, but I don’t pick them up on my way to the front door. I glance around, taking in the other houses in this neighborhood. They are all built the same way, but the bricks and doors are different colors. Typical suburban neighborhood.
Buying this house was a last minute decision for her—she did it on impulse, I guess. Just like getting that new job working for some lawyer. After several weeks of sulking around after dad went to jail and Eddy killed himself, she finally got off her ass and looked in the newspaper and all over the internet for a job, then a new house. Moving didn’t really bother me because I didn’t have any friends in Tacoma anyways. Kind of distanced myself from the guys I used to hang out with. Started studying chemistry more, reading more books. You do have to have some knowledge of chemistry when you want to be a funeral director.
I put the key in the lock and turn it to the left. I hear a click; I put my hand on the doorknob and step inside our new house. It’s empty, of course, and kind of spooky. As I walk through the front hall, my footsteps echo through the whole house. It’s only one floor, but there’s a basement, I think. I enter a hallway and find a large bedroom—for Mom—and a smaller bedroom, for me. There’s one bathroom, a decent kitchen, a large living room, and a couple of little closets. I find the door to the basement and head down.
It’s a finished basement, with painted walls and carpeting. There’s a door that leads into a laundry room. I head back up the stairs to the first floor, thinking. Pretty decent house. I head back outside to the moving truck, and the cars. For the next few hours, my uncles and I transfer furniture from the U-Haul to the inside of the house. Mom carries boxes and instructs us on where to put everything. While my uncles help out in the living room, I arrange my furniture in my new room.
When everything is in its place, Mom gives her brothers $125 each.
* * *
Several hours later, at night, Mom tells me to go pick up some stuff from a convenience store a couple blocks away. I don’t take my car, since the walk could do me some good. The February air is cool, but humid because of all the fog we get in this part of Washington. I don’t know what direction the store is in, but I assume it is West, so I turn left when I exit the driveway. It’s ten o’clock on a Saturday, so most of the lights in the neighborhood are on inside the houses. The driveways are mostly filled up with vans, so there must be a lot of kids in this neighborhood. I look through front windows and see the glow of televisions.
Streetlamps light my way to the convenience store. It’s quiet out here, too quiet. How many people does this town have? Twenty-thousand? It shouldn’t be this quiet. There must be teenagers somewhere. There are two high schools, a regular one and a Catholic school. Mom says we’ll go to the regular school for my registration on Monday.
Why am I even wondering if there are any teenagers around here? Everything will be the same as it was at my old school—floating through it and ignoring pretty much everybody. Having to ask the teacher if you can work on an assignment alone because no one is reliable enough to be my partner for a project. I’m already set on whizzing through school, excelling in Chemistry and technology and other subjects nobody really enjoys.
I find the store after ten more minutes of walking the street alone. It’s in a little plaza with a hair salon and a drug store, both of which are closed. The convenience store, however, is open. I let myself in and the guy behind the counter doesn’t look up from his book, even though the bell above the door chimes as it opens.
* * *
“All right, Cameron, here’s your schedule,” the secretary of Coldgrove High School says Monday morning, handing me a sheet of paper. “I’ll escort you to your locker and your first class, Advanced Psychology.”
I nod. “Thanks, ma’am.”
“Trudy, could you take over for a few minutes, please?” she calls over her shoulder to a woman feeding the fish inside a large fish tank. “Come with me.” She stands up and goes around the desk and leads the way out of the main office. We go through the halls filled with graduation pictures from the last twenty years, and a nearly-bare trophy case. We go up a flight of stairs, walk a bit, and she stops in front of a locker with no lock. “This is your locker, Cameron. Have you brought your own lock?”
“Yes, ma’am,” I reply. I hand her a scrap piece of paper with my combination written on it. I take off my bookbag and jacket, stuff them in my locker and take out the binders I’ll need for the morning, Psychology and French, empty but full of clean lined paper. I shut the locker and follow the secretary to Psychology.
The hallways are filling up with students—the first bell is supposed to ring in five minutes, according to my schedule.
“Good morning, Maara,” the secretary says to the teacher inside of the Psychology room.
“Hey there, Irene.” The teacher looks up from papers on her desk and smiles at the secretary—Irene. “You have a new student, Cameron Hill transferring from blah blah blah…” Irene rattles on for another minute before she finally shuts up and leaves.
Maara, also known as Ms. Carmona, smiles at me when Irene leaves and hands me a bunch of papers, for my binder, I guess. “Welcome, Cameron. Have you taken Psychology before?”
“Yes, in my old school,” I reply.
“Great! We’re going to have an independent workday today—writing an essay—so I suppose you can do it with everyone else if you’d like to. We’re starting a new unit after today, which is perfect since you’re new. You can have a seat over there.” She points to a table group, four tables together and one on the end. There’s another student already sitting there, a girl with long, chestnut hair that hides her face.
I sit. “Hi, I’m Cameron.”
The girl looks up at me with wide eyes and blinks—must have startled her. “Hello. I’m Alyx.”
“Cool. I’ve moved here from Tacoma.” Why the fuck am I even doing this, introducing myself to somebody else? I’m just asking for a punch in the face. Stop it, Cameron! Idiot!
“That’s interesting, Alyx says, looking down at her desk, then back up at me, but not meeting my eyes. I look into hers—blue-grey, kind of green. Bags underneath, purple shadows like she hasn’t had a good sleep in a while. And suddenly, I know what’s up with her. The bags under her eyes are not normal—I’ve seen them before…in my own reflection. She blinks and her eyes shift somewhere else, like someone has called her name.
“And just so you know, I’m a guy,” I tell her, smirking, since she was staring at my too-long hair that I’ve never bothered cutting.
“I, uh, I didn’t say I thought you were a girl,” she mumbles, looking down at her desk again. “Sorry.”
“It’s okay. I just don’t appreciate people staring at me.”
I keep looking at her, even though more students are piling into the room in pairs or in singles. “So your name’s Alyx, with a Y?”
“Cool,” I say.
She fiddles with her pencil and drops it, then reaches down to the floor to pick it up. I watch as some of the students arriving head towards a spinning bookcase at the back of the room, but they aren’t filled with books—a bunch of paper bags. I think I saw Alyx looking at the bookcase when Ms. Carmona was talking to me. I want to ask Alyx what the bags are for, but she’s staring at the door.
A girl and a guy arrive at our table—Ashley and Bruce. A bell rings, and another guy sits at the table. Unlike Ashley and Bruce, he doesn’t greet Alyx. Must be in a fight.
Another bell rings and they play the national anthem or the pledge of allegiance—whatever, same thing. Then the announcements come on. They finish, and the guy who arrived last at our table starts talking to me—“Hey what’s your name my name is Collin are you new here?”
I answer his questions, trying not to be annoyed. He’s not like a regular guy—talks too fast and excitedly. ADHD? Perhaps.
Ms. Carmona starts talking and introduces me to the class—thankfully I don’t have to stand up and say three things about myself like we had to in middle school. She also talks about the essay we’ll write today about schizophrenia—ha!—and since it’s independent work, we can listen to music as long as it doesn’t disturb anyone else. The students in this class take out paper and their notebooks, some of them fish out their cellphones or MP3s from their bags. Ms. Carmona walks up to me and explains about writing the essay—what I’ve learned about schizophrenia, has the unit inspired me in some way? How will I keep it in mind for the future?
Back in Tacoma, we just finished up the schizophrenia unit. I tell Ms. Carmona I’ll write the essay to the best of my ability. I take out my black binder and a pencil. I see Alyx poking Collin with her pen.
“What?” he asks, in an annoyed tone.
She frowns. “Bipolar, much?”
* * *
My next class is French with Madame LaBlanche. She says, in French, that I can sit with Alyx at the back because it’s the only free seat. She gives me about fifty handouts which I stick inside my red binder. I know some French, so I try my best at doing the handouts she assigned for the period. Alyx doesn’t talk to me, or do her work. She just stares at the desk.
After French, the whole school has lunch because there are only 800 or so students. Alyx is in a hurry to leave after French, but I have to follow her. I find my way to my locker and take out my jacket and put it on. I don’t really need to eat because I’ve got a couple of cigarettes in the pockets. I wander around the school for ten or so minutes—I find the library and the cafeteria, but Alyx isn’t in either parts of the building. The caf has doors that lead outside to the track and the football field, and some bleachers. Sitting near the top is a girl with long, dark hair—Alyx.
“Hey!” I yell. I start walking faster, towards the bottom of the bleachers. “I’ve been looking everywhere for you. Come here for a minute.”
“Just for a minute!” I start walking towards the parking lot where my assigned parking space is. I hear Alyx clumping down the metal bleachers and following after me. In a couple of minutes, we arrive at my two-door, three-colored wonder car. She gets in, wordlessly. I put the key in the ignition, pull out of the lot and start driving, erratically, towards a place I had time to explore yesterday, Sunday.
“Why the hell am I in here?” Alyx asks, her voice trembling.
“I’ll explain when we reach our destination.”
“Are you crazy or something?”
I wince. I make a sharp left turn and Alyx bangs against the passenger door. “Put your seatbelt on,” I mutter. I make another turn and we have reached our destination—a hiking trail. Rather, a the parking lot of said hiking trail. There is only one other car, parked at the other end.
“So?” Alyx says. “Why the fuck am I in your car?”
My grip on the steering wheel gets tighter. I take a deep breath, then turn to face her, my eyes looking straight into hers. “Alyx, I’m going to ask you something and I want you to answer it in all honesty.”
She looks uncomfortable. Her eyes jump to the left, avoiding my gaze. I keep looking at her until she looks back at me. “Uh, okay,” she says.
Straight to the point, “Do you have a mental illness? Or something wrong with you?”
She stares at me, panic in her eyes. They widen, as round as plates. Her mouth twitches for a few seconds until she finally replies, “Why the f—”
“Just say yes or no.”
Alyx looks out of the passenger window. A squirrel runs by, an acorn in its mouth. “Yeah,” she finally mutters. “There is something wrong with me, but why do you want to know? You’re new to Coldgrove High—you don’t know anything about me except my name, so how are you able to judge me so quickly?” She takes a breath—she must be the type to usually answer with a couple of words.
“I’m not judging you, Alice.” Alice in Wonderland—drugs, hallucinations, mental illnesses.
“Alyx.” I nod. “I’m not judging you. It’s just…I can tell if there’s something wrong with a person just by looking at them.” Her bloodshot eyes, dark circles underneath, few-word answers, looking away when I try to catch her gaze. In French class today, all she did was stare at her desk without doing her work, and the teacher didn’t even say a thing.
“Can you, now?” she rolls her eyes.
“I’m not bluffing.”
“All right, then. So you can tell what’s wrong with me?”
I nod. “Can I tell you what I think?”
“I think you’re a fellow Phreak, Alyx.” A Schizophreak. A crazy, mentally ill, unstable Schizophreak. “Do you know what that is?”
Her eyes are full of panic again; her right hand inches towards the door handle like she’s going to run away. Fuck! Fuck, Cameron, keep her in here! What the hell are you doing, stupid freak? “How…the…heck…do…you…know…these…things?” she whispers.
“Don’t worry, Alyx. Let me tell you something.” I put my hand on her arm, and she doesn’t smack it away like I thought she would. She’s shaking, shaking so badly. Dear God, what have I done? “I know how you feel, because I’m a Phreak, too. Disorganized schizophrenia.” It feels weird just saying that to someone. I was told by some psychiatrist that I shouldn’t let my illness define me. But here I am—I’m Cameron and I have disorganized schizophrenia, pleasure to meet you!
Alyx looks straight into my eyes for once without letting hers jump somewhere else. “You can’t tell these kinds of things when you have disorganized schizophrenia. What in the world are you talking about?” She’s shaking even more, like she thinks talking to me will kill her. Like I’m going to kill her.
“I know a Phreak when I see one, Alyx. Dear God, why are you shaking so much? Here, this’ll calm you down.” I reach over into the glove box and take out an almost empty box of my cheap cigarettes. I light it up and hand it to her. She looks like the smoking type. She sticks the orange end in her mouth. I reach over to my door and press the button that rolls down the passenger window. She takes a long drag of the cigarette and exhales out the window. “You all right now, Alyx?”
“You startled me! Dragging me into your car! Driving like a maniac into an abandoned parking lot! Th-then confronting me, asking me straight up if I’m a Phreak…” she shakes her head and takes another drag, blows it into my face. “I’m sorry. You just scared me.”
I light up another cigarette and spend the lunch hour bonding with a fellow Phreak. Haven’t met one since my last visit to the hospital when I had an episode and Mom got all freaked out. They sedated me and brought a psychiatrist in when I was all hopped up on drugs. Threw them up afterwards, at home, like those bulimic supermodels.
Alyx and I talk about meds, our Voices—she has over two hundred!—and I learn she has it worse than I do. We drive back to school, the radio on full blast. It turns out we have Art together, too. We laugh at her friend Collin, the weirdo from Psychology. I think I’ve won Alyx over. For the first time in a while, I think I have a friend.
Jan 20, 12 at 12:13am ^re: [Companion Story][M] Deeper
cum on yall this went up 40 views where r my comments n praze <3 ?
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