Authors: L.L. Collins
Copyright © LL Collins 2016
All Rights Reserved
Cover Design by:
Marisa Shor at Cover Me, Darling
Interior Design and Formatting by:
Christine Borgford, Perfectly Publishable
Photography by Darren Birks
Models: Mike Dolbeare and Joanna Warner
No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Contact Author LL Collins
Table of Contents
To anyone who has ever struggled with mental illness. It may be an invisible illness, but you aren’t invisible and don’t suffer alone. You are beautifully and wonderfully made, and your life has purpose.
This book contains adult content and language. It also contains topics that could be difficult for some readers, including but not limited to mental illness, mental abuse, and suicide. Please take these sensitive topics into consideration before choosing to read this book. Also, be ready. Beau may wiggle his way into your heart and won’t let go. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
~Author L.L. Collins
Beau ~ Age 5
I ZOOMED MY
cars down the long hallway, loving the way the tires sounded on the wood floor. I glanced back to see where my mom was; she didn’t like it when I pushed too hard. I didn’t hear her in the kitchen or see her in the living room, so I was safe. “You’ll put scratches in the wood, Beau Oliver. Be gentle or don’t play,” she’d always say to me.
I used all my strength to see how fast I could get my favorite car to go. It was a red Camaro. I knew that because my daddy taught me all about cars, just like he’d taught me all about drums. I loved playing drums with him. Mommy said he was very talented and I was a lot like him. That made me feel proud because my daddy was awesome. When he was happy, he was so much fun. But right now, he was sick. To Natalie and me, sick meant that Daddy had to be left alone. He didn’t get sick like we did with a fever or a tummy ache. He got the kind of sick that meant he sometimes went away for a few days, or he had to stay in his bed. Sometimes we heard him crying, other times we heard him yelling. Our mom would always have red rings around her eyes like she’d been crying, but she’d never admit to it. She would say she was tired from taking care of Daddy. I didn’t get it, but then again, most things adults talked about I didn’t get. Like my teacher, Ms. Hamilton, trying to teach me how to read. So confusing. Who could understand that all of those letters together made words? Kindergarten was hard work.
My favorite car hit my parents’ bedroom door just a little too hard, and I gasped at the loud sound. My insides felt like ice as I waited for someone to yell at me. Where was Natalie? She was always mothering me, too, even though she was only two years older than me. She always let me sleep with her when I was scared, though, so I couldn’t be too mad.
The car had pushed the door open a little bit. It must not have been shut all the way. I reached my hand through the small crack and yanked the car back into the hallway. My hand hit the door and pushed it open farther. I held my breath, waiting. The room was dark, and I didn’t hear anything. Maybe Daddy wasn’t in here anymore. Mommy had told us that Daddy was resting and to leave him alone.
I stood, my heart thumping so loud in my chest I swore it was going to explode. I had just reached out for the door handle to shut it so I wouldn’t get in trouble when I saw Daddy. He seemed like he was swinging on a homemade swing. Except it was around his neck. He was hanging from the closet door. His eyes didn’t see me. His arms didn’t reach out to me. His mouth didn’t move. His feet dangled in the air. A piece of paper with a lot of letters laid at his feet. I knew all my letters, but I knew I’d never be able to read what it said. Daddy had bad handwriting.
My hand was frozen on the door handle. My mouth opened and closed, but no sound came out. I needed Natalie. Or Mommy. Or both. Daddy was stuck and needed help. He was too still, though. Someone needed to help him down so he could smile at me again.
And that was when I started to scream at the top of my lungs, my head understanding what my heart wouldn’t accept.
Beau ~ Age 12
I fought as the guys in white held me down. My head thrashed and my legs kicked, but nothing kept them from injecting me with the needle they’d been holding. My vision blurred as the drugs coursed through my veins. I couldn’t remember what had gotten me here, but I knew I didn’t belong here.
“Let me fucking GO! There’s nothing wrong with me!” I slurred, hating that it now seemed like the two of them had turned into four. I lifted my hand to try to get away, but it was too heavy to budge.
You’re a fucking monster, just like him
, the voices screamed in my head.
You deserve this. To be locked up like the animal you are. What did you think, that you were going to have a psycho’s blood running through you and not become just like him? You deserve to die. I hate you. I can’t even stand looking at you.
I bit my lip so hard I tasted blood, fighting against the black hole that threatened to suck me down into its abyss.
A blurry face appeared before me. It was my mother. Her beady eyes narrowed. I tried to fight against the restraints, but it was futile. I couldn’t move. Maybe she could finish the job and put me out of my misery. I hated my life, anyway.
“You should’ve died with him. You’re a monster, Beau. You’re a piece of shit, just like your father. You’re dead to me. You and your worthless sister can have a nice life. If you aren’t too fucking crazy, that is.” Her voice was just low enough for me to hear, because I knew she wouldn’t let anyone else hear the words she spoke. Not even Natalie knew how vicious she was to me.
Just as her figure moved away from my bed, I lost the battle with consciousness. The voices subsided from my head, and I succumbed to the relief of blackness.
I was twelve years old.
My mother hated me.
And now I was locked up in a mental institution.
Beau ~ Age 18
“I LIKE YOU,”
Robyn whispered against my lips. I was frozen, my heart hammering so hard I swore it was going to come out of my chest. My hands clenched into fists, not knowing what I was supposed to do with them.
“W-why?” I’d never kissed a girl before. I’d never let another girl get close enough to even try. Robyn worked with me at the fast food restaurant where I was a cook, and we’d become friends. Well, as much of a friend as I let anyone be. My only friends in the world were Natalie, my sister, and Bex, my foster sister. We lived together in a shitty trailer in an even crappier neighborhood, but it was ours, and we didn’t have to fear anyone would do anything to us inside our walls. It was home. None of our neighbors cared that we wailed on our instruments into the wee hours of the night. We stayed out of their business, and they stayed out of ours. Bex swore we were going to make it someday—out of that trailer park and doing what we loved. I wasn’t sure I believed it, but I never told her that.