“February 10th”, by Olivia W., Horseheads High School

9:23. Too early, too late. Can’t go to bed yet; need to sleep. But sleep, like love, like life, works only in theory. And I have bled, splintered, scarred, so many times that there’s no point anymore. I lay here thinking far too much: my mind races from a standstill, treadmilling like sanity depends upon it.

But that’s another thing – sanity, like normalcy, like sleep and love and life, that I’ve lost. And even as my mind races, it slows to a backward crawl, agonizing, remembering, every little detail: a wrong note, the wrong jeans, the wrong time, when I should’ve stopped, when I should’ve gone, when all of the words were wrong. I’d like to believe I at least have these to my name – those wrong words. All my life, all I’ve ever really had were words.

Inventory:
skeleton, 1, shattered.
Muscles, many, weak.
Eyes, 1 pair, closed against the light.
Mind, almost 1, currently out.
Blood, quite a bit, disposable. I’ll just make more, right? So what’s it matter if every time my pitiful heart ekes a pint from atrium to ventricle, every wash of plasma, a little bit slips out? I lay back, feeling every degrading ounce of this…this serum, echoing through veins that are tired and leaking, and wonder just how much of it I could live without.

All I really have are words. And the words hurt, they force their way out of every inch of skin, crawling from scapula to collarbone to cranium like some vile, alien being, dampening my lungs, suffocating what little piece of me I had left. But the words are all I have, and so I let them destroy me.

All I’ve ever wanted to do was make the words the right ones, but wrong seems to be more suited to me. Wrong fits like a glove, it answers before I can; sometimes, it drags the ink for me, spelling out curses and reminding me so much of me, all flaws, outside’s okay, inside’s okay, no it’s not – inside’s a nightmare with spies all over.

My mind isn’t mine anymore, it belongs to wrongs, to 9:50pm, to the dripping veins that I wish would stop working so damn well – all of it, everything, belongs to the words.

Make them stop, they’re taking over, there’s too much space between me and my body, my brain’s in on it too, all my nerves like flares, there’s so much metal in my veins, I’m losing the faces of everyone I once knew, of everyone who said they loved me, lights won’t work, it’s so bright it’s dark, solid opaque suffocating whiteness, there is nothing left, my mind is not mine.

I want so badly to stop it, to pull this house down on top of me, to learn to fly, to kiss the sweet, sweet ground, to pull the metal from my veins and let my life flood from the wounds, to open all the old scars and watch them fall apart.

I want to sleep. Maybe this was all an insomniac’s dream. I want to believe I’ll wake up from this somewhere else, but I also know that this was only dress rehearsal for the grand finale. Something so much worse than the words is coming, and I can feel it in my shattered bones, every step it takes. And I am not afraid. I am terrified.

Morning. Barely. Hours are small. Long. But small. Like breaths, shallow, fleeting, slipping by without regard for my…my…what’s left, anyway? Seconds are needles, minutes are knives. I can’t tell the time anymore – time to stay? Time to leave? Forever? But even if I wanted to – and maybe I do; maybe – but the words hold me back. There’s no way I could leave these words, my words, wrong and terrible and all that I have left. My words, my precious words; someone save me from these, my worst triumphs, my wretched children. They will not kill me. They will do so much worse.

I have begun to hear my name, or what it used to be, in every echo, every shadow, every funeral march.

Make the pain stop, make the world pause, everything’s happening too fast, what is happening? I can’t tell, I can’t breathe, nothing is okay, I think I’m crying, because my hands are damp, but that could be blood, too, and I can’t tell the difference.

I wonder if I once could, if my thoughts were ever solidified into the blameless children I remember them as, smoke on their clothes, dirt on their hands, blood on their knees, and words on their lips, like tomorrow will come and I will live to see it.

Like tomorrow will come, and I will live to see it.

I can’t even begin to wonder what in me broke, that I am lying on rooftops, skyscrapers, my mind and my heart dragging my body across the edge, jagged edges digging in, talons, claws, impossible, but they hurt more than anything else, because they shouldn’t be real, because my mind, my own mind, and my own heart have conspired to bring me down, because the shattered pieces are my words. They are all I have left, and they are trying to kill me. They are winning.

The bloody pieces of trust I can’t unbreak lay at my feet. I need to cry, even though I don’t want to I have to, and I can’t tell you why, because I myself don’t know. I am pretending to be okay. But I know I’m not. Every step is dizzy, every blink is hot and dry. All I can hear is my heartbeat quickening and my breath fading shallow. I am not prepared for any of this. I’m scared. I’m alone. I need someone to teach me to be brave, but I would fail that class.
Not worth the heartbreak. Not worth my tears. Not worth my time. Not that I’m worth anything. I am a train wreck, a loose cannon, a stray arrow. I’m not okay. I’m not brave. I’m not safe – not safe from myself. I am not okay. I need to escape. I need to run.
I need to cry, to break apart and break down and bleed; I need to step away, from everything, run away, sprint, fly. Every time I stand, I bleed, and when I fall, I heal, I scar and I grow calluses. I try to forget, try to leave it all behind. I try to walk away. But the only things I have left are my here and my now, and my beautiful, beautiful, sharp-bladed words. They cut through my veins just enough to make it hurt, tiny cuts that bleed like a freak show, not enough, never enough, to let me die. It is too late for mercy. My pain is reaching its climax, my mind is shutting down, all I can feel is my heartbeat, I am numb, I don’t know if I’m breathing, can’t tell if I’m crying, can’t remember the voices that go with the fading faces, can’t stop it, the words are coming, there is no avoiding this, it is almost here and then it will all be over, but this is the worst part, I don’t know if I’ll make it, I don’t think I’ll survive, I can’t tell if I’m already gone.

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