Authors: Tiffany King
Tags: #Juvenile Fiction, #Social Issues, #Suicide
Cover design by Okay Creations
Copyright © 2012
by Tiffany King
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The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or
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the answer, no matter how serious or hopeless a problem feels. Please seek help if you feel lost. There are people who care.
Trust me. You do matter.
Contact: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
Thank you so
much for all your support. Big chocolate kisses to you all.
Mitch Johnson died last night.
He killed himself. I wasn't sad or heartbroken when I heard. I was pissed. Stark raving pissed. I didn't know Mitch well. He was like me, a shadow that floated down the hallways, unnoticed and seemingly nonexistent among the crowd. I knew my attitude seemed callous, but I didn't care. Mitch stole my thunder.
It should have been me.
Mr. Wilson, our douche bag principal, decided to inform us of Mitch's death between news of an upcoming carwash fundraiser and a threat to crack down on student littering. How he had reached the conclusion that this was the best spot for an announcement like this was beyond me. I was doodling in the margins of my World History book, trying to ignore the annoying squawk of the intercom, and the droning voice of Mr. Wilson, when he suddenly slid Mitch's suicide in so quickly that I was momentarily confused by the words. I wasn't even sure I'd heard him right until the entire female population of the class gasped at once. The rest of the announcements were quickly drowned out by an eruption of chatter throughout the room. It was glaringly obvious the news had just added excitement to a drab Tuesday morning.
The reactions ran the gambit from feigned grief to jokes about how Mitch may have "offed himself."
As for me, I was pissed and confused. Why do it on a Monday night? There was nothing significant about a Monday. My friend James, aka "suicide buddy," and I had given the subject a great deal of thought, and had decided that a Thursday was the best day. If you did it on the weekend, it would add drama to everyone's Monday, giving them nonstop gossip for the entire week. Tuesday held the same risk. Wednesday was a little more desirable, but Thursday was ideal. The student body wouldn't find out until Friday morning, and most of them would be too hyped up for the upcoming weekend to give a shit about the demise of a fellow student they never cared about in the first place.
The squawking of the intercom cut off abruptly and was replaced by sobbing. I twisted around incredulously, searching for the person who Mitch had meant enough to that they'd break down in class. What I saw was disgusting. It wasn't one individual, but three. "The three clones," as I liked to call them. Every school had their prestigious groups. They were the cheerleaders, the jocks and the charismatic kids everyone wanted to be. One of the criers was on our Squadets Team which was our school's version of a pep squad. The student body got the privilege of watching the Squadet team shake their asses during pep rallies and any other event the school felt was ass-shaking worthy. Of course, now the normally perky, I-wish-it-was-legal-to-stab-them popular bunches were sobbing on each other's shoulders as if they had just heard that
The Vampire Diaries
been cancelled. What a bunch of phony assholes. Go figure they would use this opportunity to steal attention for themselves.
I bet if asked at
gunpoint they wouldn't have been able to tell you what Mitch looked like, what kind of clothes he wore, what types of music he listened to—nothing. Not that I knew anything about him either, but you didn't see me with false tears running down my cheeks. Their over-the-top performance hit me hard and heavy, leaving me gasping for my own breath. Never in any of my contemplations about how
go about ending my own worthless existence did I ever consider my passing being a bonding moment for those who would step over anyone and everyone. I had expected gossip and speculation and the clucking of ignorant tongues, but not this crap.
It was like a slap in the face. Ms. Jones handed out tissues to the sobbing girls and offered to send them to the counselors. All three gathered their belongings, excited at the idea of attending something as soul-searching as grief counseling. Once they made their grand exit, Ms. Jones closed up her lesson plan book.
"Does anyone else need to see the counselors?" she asked compassionately, sitting on the edge of her desk and swinging her feet lightly.
Of all my teachers, Ms. Jones was my least favorite. She was young, which equaled "still gave a shit" in teacher code. She was fresh out of school and convinced she could change the world. Five years from now she'd be jaded, bitching about us students to her peers any chance she got. I disliked her because she was convinced she could save me.
If I had a sense of humor, I would have laughed. Save me from what? Perhaps from my parents who forgot they'd had a daughter almost from the moment I was born, or maybe from the students who whispered behind their hands about me, or maybe she thought she could save me from myself. All were laughable if I had a sense of humor, but I didn't, so it wasn't.
No one responded to Ms. Jones' offer, so she decided to make her own amateur attempt at counseling.
"I know the death of a fellow student is rough," she said in a voice that seemed overly patronizing. "High school is a tough hormonal roller-coaster ride at times. It may become or seem unbearable," she added, looking at me directly.
I looked down. How dare the whore cat draw attention to
She didn't know me. This was why I didn't like her. I didn't need her to save me. Mitch had unintentionally done that by taking his own life. Observing the aftermath of his death had left me shuddering at the gloried tear-fest I'd be providing for those who passed by my shadow each day.
I didn't want their tears.
I didn't want them to think of me.
I wanted nothing from them.
That asshole Mitch Johnson saved my life today. What a prick.
James Isaac Garrison
III, my best friend/suicide buddy, met me outside by the portables the school no longer needed. Tax money from hardworking taxpayers had finally allowed for the construction of our now rival high school, five miles away. We lost half the student body when the new school opened, along with the only decent teachers we had. Who could blame them for jumping ship? The new school had state-of-the-art equipment, brand spanking new classrooms and a teacher's lounge that was any teacher's wet dream. I'm sure when faced with staying behind in our shithole, with its endless sidewalks covered in fossilized gum, crappy air conditioning and smelly cafeteria, it was an all out race to see who could leave first.
James, my best friend, my only friend, was perched on the slanted walkway of one of the abandoned portables studying a rusted-out hole roughly the size of a softball when I joined him. If it was possible for me to love anyone, I would have loved James. I was fascinated with his blemish-free, mocha-colored skin that seemed to be as smooth as satin. I had spent hours daydreaming what his skin felt like, but had never given in to the urge. I had a strict "
do not touch
I'll always remember the last time I'd willingly touched someone with shocking clarity. I was thirteen, and it marked the end of my life as I had once known it. I didn't have some bullshit paranormal anomaly that prevented human contact, although that might have been easier. I just didn't like to be touched anymore, not since that day. I'm sure when I was little I must have felt differently, right? I mean, babies liked to be held and snuggled, so obviously, I must have liked it at one point, but no longer.
"You heard?" James stated.
"Yeah, it's horseshit. Some of the
started crying. Can you believe that? They're not supposed to mourn us. They're not even supposed to think about us," I said, agitated as I
up and down the metal ramp. "How can they miss something they never knew? They've effed up our plan," I said as the ramifications tore through me. In one swoop everything I had counted on had been pulled out from under me.
"I know. A couple chicks in my physics class did the same thing. It doesn't mean anything. We could still do it. We wouldn't be around to see their reactions…" he started to say, but I was already shaking my head.
"And give those drama-loving glory-hounds something to falsely mourn over?" I said, plopping down next to him. "We were supposed to disappear without a single ripple. I've given people enough reasons to talk about me. This was going to be my clean break," I said, fighting back the sudden moisture that had popped up in my eyes. We'd spent endless hours discussing disappearing from the land of the living, and now it felt like all that time was wasted.
"I guess," James said, digging around in the rusted-out hole with a stick.
"We could just leave," I said, looking for an alternate solution.
"Yeah, because I'm sure we'd be the cream of the crop for any company looking to hire, with no high school diploma or work experience," James said sarcastically.
"Truth," I sighed, lying back against the metal ramp. "I guess maybe I can make it to grad. Can you?"
He shrugged. I didn't push it. James's demons were different than mine. Being gay in a household with a domineering, ex-jock father wasn't easy. I'd seen the dark bruises James had to prove it. He could have turned his father in. Hell, I could have turned his father in, but we didn't. Abuse came in all kinds of forms. The sad thing is that there was a time I would have envied the attention he got. That's the sick kind of person I was. I mean, what kind of effed up person envied physical abuse as a form of desirable attention?
Me. That's who.
When I was little, I'd hoped my actions would get the reaction I craved from my parents. My attention seeking first started when I was four. I was sick of being stuck in the church daycare every single night, so I showed my displeasure by biting everyone I could sink my teeth into. I think I was hoping my actions would get me booted out and I could stay with my parents, but instead it earned me a one-way ticket to solitary confinement. They fenced me off in the far corner of the room, like a shark that couldn't be trusted with the other fish. My parents had been so unhappy with my sudden need to gnaw on other people that they even carried out the punishment at home by sending me to bed every night the moment we got home from church. Solitary confinement became my normal.
Once I realized gnawing on humans wouldn't get me the attention I yearned for, I tried my hand at destruction. Unfortunately, I underestimated the ramifications of flushing the heads of Barbie dolls down a toilet. At first, I enjoyed watching their heads circling the bowl, but instead of riding the circular wave to oblivion, they simply clogged the pipe and the water in the bowl proceeded to rise. In hindsight, I should have told my mom, but she was by the front door hollering that we were going to be late for, you guessed it, church. I guess in my five-year-old mind, I thought maybe the problem would somehow fix itself while we were away. That would be a resounding "
." We arrived home three hours later to a foot and half of water throughout the entire house. I got spanked for that one, and for a moment, I was almost happy, thinking they did actually care about me. My destructive nature was short-lived when everything in the house below the waist had to be replaced—furnishing, carpeting, drywall and all my toys. I didn't miss my dolls with their freaky happy faces or my now decapitated
, but I mourned the loss of my picture books that I would leaf through for hours at a time. Damn those fat Barbie heads. I blamed them for my loss, and to this day I can't walk down the sickeningly pink Barbie aisle of any store.