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Authors: Laurie Gray

Maybe I Will (6 page)

BOOK: Maybe I Will
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It smelled just like the stuff I had earlier, so I drank it. It tasted just like the other stuff, so I poured some more in the glass and took a big drink. It felt like a cleansing fire. Totally relaxing as soon as the burning passed. It looked like water.
Fire water.
I laughed and poured myself another glass. By the time I finished the bottle, I was feeling pretty good.

I decided to refill the empty bottle with water and put it back in the back of the cabinet where I'd found it. I'd be old enough to buy some real schnapps to refill it in five years, and my parents would probably never know. It seemed like the perfect plan, only while I was in the kitchen trying to refill the bottle, I got it too full, and while I was pouring water back out of it and checking to see how full it still was, I accidentally dropped it, and it shattered all over the kitchen floor.

Normally, I'd be upset that I had a mess to clean up, but the broken bottle actually cracked me up. I couldn't stop laughing. It was like when I was full of water, I was breakable, but now that I was out of tears and full of schnapps, I was shatterproof, and the bottle filled with water, well, of course, it had to break in my place.

It was quite a production cleaning it all up, though—the mop, the broom, lots of paper towel and—oh sorry—no recycling this glass and paper. I wrapped all of the broken glass and wet paper towel in a brown paper grocery bag and tied that up in a plastic grocery sack, and hid that in the big garbage can out in the garage.

There. Just like it never happened.

I went to my room and flung myself down on the bed.
Bam! Shatterproof!
I closed my eyes and laughed like a maniac. When I opened my eyes, the room was spinning. I closed my eyes again, but there was no stopping the spinning. I started to feel so dizzy and nauseated; I knew I was going to throw up. I tried to stand up
to walk to the bathroom, but the spinning only got worse. I fell back down to my knees and crawled to the toilet where I threw up. And I just kept throwing up. Even when there wasn't anything left inside me to throw up, I still kept throwing up. I flushed my guts down the toilet.
Nothing left but the empty, shatterproof bottle.

I needed a shower, but the idea of standing up for very long seemed impossible, so I filled the bathtub with hot water.
Only hot, no cold. Scalding hot. Fire water.
I struggled into the tub and sub-merged myself in the boiling water to sterilize myself. It burned, but it felt good. I let myself sink all the way down until the water covered my mouth and the steam filled my nostrils. As the hot water relaxed the knots in my stomach and released the tension in all of my muscles, I felt like I might fall asleep.
To be or not to be. Just go to sleep. To dream… or not. Off to Neverland. Never-again-land. Let your body slip down a couple more inches and never wake up . . . Maybe I will.

9

“It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

—Macbeth
, Act V, Scene v, Lines 26-28

I
AWOKE WITH
a start. The water had cooled almost to the point of chilling me. When I tried to stand, my head pounded and my eyes burned. I sat back down and splashed the cool water on my face.
Just get yourself dried off and back to bed before Mom and Dad get home.
It seemed like a simple enough plan, but it was all I could do to roll myself over the side of the tub and out onto the bathmat. My head pounded relentlessly as I dried myself off, pulled on a pair of sweats, and finally escaped into my bed.

I felt my mom's hand on my forehead, then on my cheeks. “No fever.”

I rubbed my eyes and tried to sit up. A sledgehammer smacked me right between the eyes. I winced and fell back. “I don't feel very well,” I mumbled.

“I guess not,” Dad said. “It's almost noon.”

“Maybe it was something I ate.”
Or drank. Let's not go there.

“Are you sick to your stomach?” Mom asked. “What did you eat?”

“Last night? I don't know. Stuff at Cassie's.”

“How do you feel now?” Mom asked.

“My head hurts. My stomach hurts. I just want to sleep.”

Mom nodded. “Let's get you some Tylenol for the headache and some ginger ale to hydrate you and settle your stomach.”

“Sounds good,” I said. So I took my Tylenol and several sips of ginger ale and went back to sleep.

The next time I woke up, I felt a little better. My head had stopped pounding, and I just felt really thirsty. I chugged the glass of ginger ale, then made my way to the bathroom. I held my thoughts until I was once again safe in bed. Then it all came back to me. Aaron. Walking. Aaron's car. Drinking. Shattered glass. I rolled over and buried my face in my pillow. After a while I turned over again, but I somehow felt more suffocated with my face out of the pillow. I stayed on my back, and put the pillow over my face. That seemed to be just the right amount of suffocation for me to start to think clearly.

I had promised to call Cassie. If I didn't call her, she'd know something was really wrong.
If I call her now, I can just tell her I got sick last night. I'm still not feeling well today. I'll see her tomorrow at school. Short. Sweet. Just enough to get by. Texting would be even easier.
I got my phone and sent the message.

Only Cassie didn't text me back. She called me. Immediately. If I didn't answer, she'd know I was blowing her off. So I answered. “Hey.”

“Hey, yourself. Are you okay?”

“I threw up last night, but I feel better today. I just want to sleep.”

“You threw up?” I could almost hear her mind calculating how much I drank from the bottle of schnapps she handed me—which wasn't much compared to the bottle I drained at home.

“It wasn't that,” I said hoping to reassure her.

“I know,” she said.

I felt myself panicking. “What do you mean you know?”

“I mean Aaron told me what happened.”

No. No way.
No words came.

“And Aaron wanted me to tell you he's sorry.”

Aaron's sorry? Just like that? He sexually assaults me and tells his girl-friend who's supposed to be one of my best friends in the world, and he's sorry and what? I'm supposed to say it's okay, no problem, let's just all be friends? This isn't making any sense.

“Sandy? Are you there?”

I think I liked it better when we were pretending nothing happened.
“I'm here.”

“It was all a big mistake. When the two of you were wrestling on the floor, Aaron said he all of a sudden thought you were coming on to him and it freaked him out, so he just pinned you, really hard and really fast.”

I struggled to find my voice first and then to form the words: “He thought I was coming on to him?”

“I told him that was crazy—you're not like that. Anyway, he's sorry if he hurt you or scared you. He didn't mean it.”

I came on to him. My fault. His mistake. He's sorry. He didn't mean it.
I tried to wrap my mind around what she was saying, what Aaron had told her. What I was supposed to say? There was nothing I could say.

“Sandy?”

“Yeah?”

“Say something.”

“What do you want me to say?” Anger spontaneously combusted in every cell of my being.

“Look, I know you and Troy don't like Aaron. I'm not asking you to like him. Just don't be mad, okay?”

“Don't be mad?” I knew I'd better choose my words carefully. “He … assaults me, and you want me to say I'm not mad?”

“He didn't assault you!” Cassie's frustration was becoming evident. “Maybe he insulted you. But at least he didn't mean to, and he said he's sorry. What more do you want? A personal, written apology?”

“I don't know what I want,” I said finally. There was a long pause. I wanted to tell her what really happened and what a snake Aaron was, but somehow I knew she wasn't going to believe me. Her words were still ringing in my ears:
He didn't assault you!

“So what am I supposed to do?” she asked.

I felt myself losing Cassie. Not just in this conversation, but really losing her. “Just let me go back to sleep.”

“Fine. You go back to sleep.”

“Bye.”

I could hear her saying, “I hope you feel better . . . ” as I hung up the phone.

I did not feel better. In fact, I felt decidedly worse with no hope of ever feeling better again. So much for pretending nothing happened. My whole life was suddenly swirling around in the toilet bowl. All that was left was the
glug, glug, glug
of being washed down the drain and into the sewer forever.

Aaron might as well have cut out my tongue and cut off my hands.
Shakespeare.
I pulled out
Shakespeare: The Complete Works
and started reading
The Rape of Lucrece
. I was thinking it was a play, but
it was a poem, based on a Roman legend. I skimmed through the 22-page poem looking for the part where the rapist cut out his victim's tongue and cut off her hands so that she could never tell or even write about what had happened to her. It wasn't there. Instead, Lucrece tells her husband General Collatine what happened, makes his armies promise to avenge her honor, and then stabs herself in the heart.

I flipped back to the beginning and read the poem all the way through. The rapist was Tarquin. He was the son of the Roman king and a good friend of Collatine's. It's all about Tarquin's lust and Lucrece's beauty and honor. In the end, though, there's no real revenge. Lucrece is dead, Tarquin is only banished, and Collatine seems more upset by the loss of his rapist friend than the violation, torture and death of his wife.

That wasn't what I was expecting. I felt so confused by everything. One thing for sure: This was definitely a bad omen. Cassie would choose Aaron over me. She already had. Troy hated Aaron, but in the end, he would choose Cassie over me. There was a sense of finality in the realization.
It's a done deal. No matter what I do, I'm bound to lose.
I closed the book.

One line from the poem stayed with me, though, haunting me—taunting me: “Then where is truth, if there be no self-trust?”
Where is the truth? Can I even trust myself?

I lay back down on the bed. Never in my life had I felt so lost and all alone. I wasn't just empty. It felt like I'd swallowed a black hole that was gradually sucking me into its cold, dark nothingness.

As I lay there, the only thing I could think about was having another drink. Not peppermint schnapps and not as much as I'd had last night, but just the right amount. A comfortable amount— somewhere between relaxed and numb, but nowhere near the
head-spinning, gut-wrenching drunkenness. I needed to learn to pace myself better.

I started thinking about all of the bottles in my parents' liquor cabinet. Which ones were oldest, which ones were farthest toward the back, which ones were clear like water. Two came to mind. One was a bottle of rum that was at least as old as that bottle of schnapps had been. The other was peppered vodka that my dad had bought for Bloody Mary's that neither one of them particularly liked.

Both looked enough like water that I could empty them into water bottles and stash them in my room. Then I could refill the real bottles with water for now.
Just a couple of bottles, just to give me some time to sort everything out and find a way through this.

10

Oh, unseen shame! Invisible disgrace!
Oh, unfelt sore! Crest-wounding, private scar!

—The Rape of Lucrece
, Lines 827-828

“H
EY
, S
ANDY
,” T
ROY
said as I climbed into the car Monday morning. “What's shakin'?”

“Now is the winter of our discontent,” I replied, quoting the first line of
Richard III
. I positioned my backpack between my feet on the floor in front of my seat.

“Yeah, well, only three more days 'til spring.” Troy pulled out of my drive and onto the street. “And only three more weeks until spring break!”

I nodded. “Where's Cassie?”

“With Aaron, I guess,” said Troy.

I nodded again. I didn't trust myself to say anything, so I just stared out the window.

“Did you guys have a fight or something?” Troy was trying to look cool, but I could tell he was feeling pretty uncomfortable by the way he gripped the steering wheel and avoided looking my way.

“No,” I replied. “When have the three of us ever fought?”

“I don't know. It's just she's acting all weird, and you're all ‘winter' and ‘discontent.' I'm just trying to figure out what's going on.”

I tried to let out a normal, even sigh, but I could feel my insides trembling. I sucked in as much air as my lungs could hold and tried again to release it steadily. Then I said, “Well, if you figure it out, you let me know, okay?

“Right.”

He turned up the stereo, and we didn't say anything else all the way to school. I had taken a shot of the vodka just before I left home and had some more in a water bottle in my backpack. I was really tempted to take another swallow right there in the car with Troy just to calm my nerves, but I wasn't sure whether he would be able to smell the pepper in it or even if I could take a swig and make it look like it was only water.

Fire water. Guaranteed to burn the pain away. Disinfect me. Keep me sterile. Sterile? Not that kind of sterile . . . okay, maybe that kind of sterile, too.

I admit that I did take a little “shot of courage” over the lunch hour to get me through the afternoon. Then I could stop being Sandy and start being Peter Pan.

Shanika and I were supposed to be rehearsing together, working on the part where Peter Pan says if he ever gets in trouble, he'll just send for Tiger Lily, and Tiger Lily says she'll just send for Peter Pan. I started wondering if maybe Shanika might be willing to help me. She's a senior and probably knew people over 21 who might buy alcohol for us if we paid them.

BOOK: Maybe I Will
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