"Oh terrific!" shouted Phoebe in a sarcastic tone as she hung up the orange pay phone.
"No answer at your house either?" I sighed.
"Nope, none. Sally my friend, we are officially stranded!" Phoebe laughed as she collapsed to a bench covered with bags of our shopping.
She only called me Sally when she thought something was really funny or when she was annoyed with something. Everyone usually calls me Sal, except for my English teacher I had in year 5, but I think he had a stutter and found it hard to say, but that's beside the point.
"Well, we just have to wait until the next train then. Come on, lets go get some frozen coke from the candy bar at the cinema to pass time", I said to Phoebe as I watched her slowly sink into the shopping.
Shopping was a start of the holiday's tradition for us. We had been here the entire day though, and just wanted to go home. Having missed the last train connection for an hour or so and with no answer at either of our homes we had no choice but to wait. As we climbed the stairs up to the candy bar, I stared at Phoebe's dark drown hair. It was almost curly, bouncing as she walked. I couldn't understand why she always wanted to straighten it, it looked lovely on her.
"Hey", greeted Phoebe to a girl from school.
"Hi", she replied nervously biting her nails which were painted a shiny black.
As we reached the top of the stairs I got a better look at her. It was Izzy from school. She was a gorgeous girl with straight brown hair and deep chocolaty eyes to match. She continued to chew on her nails nervously as we approached her. Phoebe hugged her as I stood there smiling awkwardly. She and Phoebe were best friends, had been since primary. I had only spoken to Izzy a couple times at school though, so I didn't know her that well. She seemed nice, and any friend of Phoebe's is a friend of mine.
"You okay?" asked Phoebe looking her up and down.
"Hey isn't it your first date with Rob today!?" I interrupted as Izzy looked more and more uncomfortable.
"He's a bit late, isn't he?" exclaimed Phoebe, confused.
Just as those words left her mouth, Izzy's lip began to quiver and a single tear crept down her cheek. It was then we realized that he wasn't coming. Izzy began too cry softly, tears smudging her makeup.
"It's okay sweetie", Phoebe said comfortingly as she took Izzy in her arms.
"I just feel so stupid, why didn't he come?" Sighed Izzy, softly, as she hung loose in Phoebe's arms.
I knew exactly how Izzy felt. Rob was a bit of a player and every girl in our grade was after him. He and I had a bit of a thing, a while back now. He said he loved me and we would always chat online and stuff, but he didn't tell anyone we were going out. I thought it was so we wouldn't have the pressure of everyone knowing; turns out he was embarrassed or something. He ended it even before our first date. I wanted to tell Izzy when he asked her out, but I didn't feel it was my place.
Izzy collected herself, and we went and got coffee. I told her about Rob. We laughed about him for a bit and she cheered up. We hung around with Izzy till the shops shut. I felt so close to her already. We had arranged a sleep over for this Saturday at Phoebe's and I couldn't wait to get to know her better.
"See you later." Said Phoebe, as she turned the corner.
We lived a few blocks away from each other and often walked back from school together, sometimes stopping to get ice creams at the local supermarket. I really shouldn't have today, though. We'd only been back at school a few days and already I was so behind in my home work. As I walked along the pathway past the dry hard earth, I noticed how the concrete reflected the suns rays. The weather was steamy and the earth was cracked and brittle. My phone buzzed in my pocket. It was still on silent from school, my science teacher is famous for confiscating phones and never returning them. I took it out from the blue and white striped pocket of my uniform.
"Hey Izzy", I said panting in the heat.
"Hello, my lovely" She giggled.
"So, what's up?" I asked, slowing the pace I was walking at.
"Well, my dads business is having some big Christmas party thing at Luna Park. He said I can take two friends. Wanna come?"
I could tell she was almost bouncing with excitement.
"Of course! When?" I asked as I turned the corner, my house just in sight.
"This Saturday, you can sleep over before, if you want."
"I take it your inviting Phoebe?" I laughed.
What an obvious answer that question had! We were all the best of friends now, who else would Izzy take.
"Duh! Okay, well ill talk to you later honey. Bye", she said as I searched for my house key, most likely buried deep in the bottom of my school bag.
"See ya later".
I pulled my key chain from my pocket, realizing it had been there all along.
My keys shone bright in the light as I brushed my fiery red hair from my sight. I had just dyed it for the second time and it looked really good. I liked it, but I wasn't so fond of the insults that came with it. I had just put my key into the lock when my sister burst through the other side.
"Whoa!" I shouted, surprised to see her.
Renee was always going out. She had just finished TAFE and couldn't seem to nab a job, I can't remember the last time she was home.
"Hey, I'm going out. See ya" She said over her shoulder as she rushed down the steps.
"Where's mum?" I sighed, what a stupid question.
My mum was never home any more. I mean, she had always gone out a lot, even when I was a little kid. I think dad leaving hit her pretty hard, but I just wish that sometimes she would stay home, like all the other mums.
My question went unanswered as my sister drove off. I guess it was just another night home alone in this big empty house. I climbed the stairs up to my bed room. I felt like I was alone in this world, with no mum, no sister, no dad and no friends. Well I have friends, but just the two. I don't think I would be able to cope without Phoebe and Izzy. They're the only people on this earth I can relate to.
As I sat on my bed with only the sound of my breath as company and the echo of foot steps on the street to hear, I wondered if every family was like this, or if it was just mine. I had often asked myself this question and could never find an answer. My thoughts were interrupted by the phone echoing through the house, like a lost hikers screams for help in the woods, droning into a meaningless noise. I felt so far from earth and so out of reality, so lost in my own thoughts. I lay on my bed and listened to the message being recorded on the answering machine. It was my mum. Maybe she was coming home early! Maybe she would be here to say good night to instead of good morning, for once.
"Hey, just wanted to tell you girls that-",
I'm coming home soon! I thought happily to myself.
"I'll be home after midnight. So, see you tomorrow."
The recording finished and I felt tears well up in my eyes. I curled up into a small ball and hugged a big teddy bear she'd given me before dad left as I cried, tears rolling down my cheeks, splashing into my hands like rain drops.
It seemed as though it had been hours since the message my mum left, but I still lay there, lifeless, numb, without feeling. It was as though I had died. The tears had stopped but I still hurt. It had become dark out side by now and the black sky had some how appeared like a big shadow cast over me, removing all emotion left with in me. I was no longer human, my mind had stopped. I turned to my dresser and tried to force my weak, brittle fingers pick up my nail scissors. I managed to grip, bringing them closer. I propped myself up against the wall and sat there with the tears starting again, fogging my vision. I opened the scissors revealing the blade. It gleamed in the dull light of the full moon and as I looked away through my tears, I dragged the blade along my wrists over and over and over. Just so I could feel something, anything. To show myself that I was still here. The red blood fled from my veins and seemed almost excited to escape. I dropped the scissors, to weak for one more cut. As I felt the pain throb throughout my body, I thought how good if was to have regained my feeling.
The jagged notes of my alarm tore me away from my dreams. Overnight, blood had soaked through the once white sleeves of my school shirt. I peered down at the torn flesh of my arms, and felt like crying at the sight of what I had done. I pulled on my uniform and tugged a sweat band over my throbbing wrist. As I walked down stairs I noticed no one was home yet. Figures, why would anyone come home to see me? Its' not like I'm pretty to look at, or funny, or even a good cook. I don't blame them. If I had a choice I wouldn't even come home to see myself. I just wish I could fix how awful I am. Then maybe they wouldn't feel chased from their own home. As I stumbled out the door nibbling on some crisp brown toast, I caught sight of myself in the neighbour's shiny car door and realised how disgusting I looked. I dropped the toast to the asphalt below me. Fat girls shouldn't eat breakfast.
When I got to school, Izzy and phoebe were all excited about Luna Park. They were both talking non stop about each ride to go on first and what food to eat. I smiled weekly in greeting, dumping my bag next to theirs.
"Hey, we were waiting for you. Did you miss the bus?" They were eager for my answer.
"I walked, figured I could use the exercise." I replied tugging on my sweat band hoping it covered the cuts.
"Needed the exercise!?" They both burst out, alarmed. "You're the thinnest out of all of us! Aren't you a size 8?!"
I wasn't really listening to what they were saying. I knew I was fat. I also knew no one would say it to my face. It was sweet of them to try but I knew they were just saying it to make me feel better. Instead I took this time to examine Izzy's womanly shape and silky hair. She was beautiful. I wish I looked like that. I also looked at Phoebe, her messy hair was wild and bouncing about as she talked. Phoebe had the nicest nails and was so thin, too. It was hard to be friends with these two sometimes. They were so much prettier than I and I couldn't help but feel insecure sometimes.
Luna Park was great! We went on every ride for what seemed like a million times. We were there practically all day, from the moment the open signs were put out on the rides to when they were flipped over to 'closed'. My mum has been coming home in time for me to say goodnight instead of good morning, as well, and the holidays are coming up! I felt great. For the first time in my life I was actually happy, I felt as though things were how they were meant to be. Easter break is coming up this week end and Phoebe, Izzy and I all agreed to hang out as much as possible. Maybe my mum will actually hang around these holidays too. The last break we spent together was when I was seven, with my dad. I'm just so happy to think of having her around for this once. Things are changing, and for the better this time.
I opened the house door and walked in, dumping my school bag on they way. My mum was actually home and sitting on the sofa. Smoking, but still there. I had begged her to quit before, but she never paid any attention to what I said. That didn't matter now though, because she's been home more often. Trying to make it up to me I guess. She even said she'd be home for the start of the holidays tomorrow. She'd mentioned going to the movies with my sister and I. I couldn't wait, it would be great.
"Hi mum." I said, greeting her happily as I slipped of my shoes by the open door, the warm breeze tickling my toes. I turned my back to her and began unpacking my schoolbag.
"Hey Sal, I'm going out tonight, okay?" I heard her say faintly over the noise of the roaring television set. For a second I didn't believe what I'd heard. Then I remembered it was my mum, and the smile wiped off my face.
"Do you have to?" I sighed, trying to think of a way to change her mind. "I was hoping I could try and cook dinner for you. We learnt how to make this really nice pasta today in cooking and I know you'll just love it."
Something inside me already knew the answer, but I hoped it was wrong.
"Yes, I do actually." She said, eyes not leaving the TV. "I met this new guy Peter at the pub the other week and he's taking me out, we might go away this Easter break together if all goes well".
"Oh, okay." Just as the neutral answer I had given her left my mouth, I began to cry. Her eyes stayed fixed on the TV. I ran up the stairs, tears streaming down my face. She said she would be home.
Great. I thought to myself, as I wiped away the constant tears that didn't seem to stop, no matter how hard I tried to hold them back. Another drunken slob that will come and bash me up when she's out, then tell her I slipped if she notices the healing bruises on my face. I ran faster to my room, pushing the door shut vigorously behind me. I felt so let down, so dumb for thinking I would be able to spend Easter with my own mother. I was so confused. I struggled out of my jumper and fell to the ground, tears still pouring. Then all of a sudden that feeling came again, the same one I had when the recording my mum left on the answering machine played weeks ago.
The feeling of hollow existence over took my very being. I felt the same dry, hot, burning sensation in my stomach. I peered over to where my dresser was, but didn't see anything there that could help me regain my feeling. I lay on the floor, numb and weak. I felt metal touch my finger tips. It was the nail scissors. I reached over, my fingers slipping on the glazed wooden floor boards. I clutched the scissors tight, pulling them towards me. But then, I paused. I tried to relax, to convince myself not to do it. I knew it was wrong, I knew that I shouldn't. But everything seemed to be screaming at me, telling me my blood would fix it all. The scissors slid open so invitingly, revealing the sharp metal blade once more, and as it shimmered in the light, I pushed the blade into my wrist. I tried to stop but the urge was to strong. I felt as though I would die if I stopped. I sliced deep into my pulse and as soon as I saw the red blood dripping free from my veins, I felt as though all was at peace. It was all okay again, I was okay again.
It seemed as though hours had passed. I looked down at my open flesh, revealing the pink tissue in my body. Only instead of crying at what I saw, this time I smiled. I was still here. I was alive. With an eerie smile upon my face, I climbed over to my desk where my computer was, and searched for my pale blue school jumper as I turned on the computer. It was cold; I felt shivers all over. My computer grumbled as it started up, it had needed repairing for a while now but my mum hadn't saved enough to get it looked at. She was too busy wasting money on her countless cigarettes and endless visits to the pub. I signed into MSN Messenger, and a conversation popped up. Hannah from school was saying hello. The blue glow of the computer screen filled my dark room with light, and the humming of the hard drive echoed through out my mind. Hannah was saying something about cats. What a strange girl. She was a bit plump with a lot of freckles and strawberry blonde hair; no one really liked her all that much. I peered over at the conversation window, still trying to piece together why my mum was leaving me again for some stupid guy she barely knew.
"Phoebe doesn't like you, you know. She told me she thought you were ugly and fat. She doesn't like the colour you dyed your hair, either." Read the conversation with Hannah.
"Don't be stupid! I don't believe you! Were best friends, she would never say a thing like that!!" I replied, tears starting again.
I held them back, trying to make myself believe what I had said.
"Fine, don't believe me. Ask Izzy. She'll tell you".
I ran from the computer, searching wildly for the phone. It gleamed a subtle white in the bright blue glow the computer screen had cast over my dull room. I picked it up hastily and dialed Izzy's number. The phone rang, once, twice…
"Hello", answered Izzy's dad in a polite voice.
"Hey, can I talk to Izzy? It's important." I said, too fast for the words to catch up with the movement of my mouth.
"Okay", he replied cheerfully.
I walked over to my bed and sat down, staring blindly at the floor, where blood from my freshly cut wrists trickled astray.
"Hey gorgeous, everything okay? My dad said you were a bit frantic." She asked in her sweet, calming voice which usually soothed me, but not now.
"Does Phoebe hate me?!" I gulped air as I spoke loudly into the handset, unable to think straight.
"What! No of course not! What gave you that idea!?" said Izzy confused.
I hung up the phone, the thoughts swirling in my head blocking the truth in her voice. I dialed Phoebe's number. Perhaps she wouldn't lie to me. The phone rang, on and on for quite some time. Then finally I heard Phoebe's happy, loud voice.
"Hi Sal." She said, chewing on some gum.
"Hannah said you hate me! And Izzy lied to me when I asked if you did!!" I burst out, tears still tumbling down from my eyes.
"What?! I don't hate you! Everyone knows Hannah is a nasty girl who lies about everything! Calm down, its okay". Phoebe spoke calmly and softly for once.
But it didn't affect me. I was too consumed in the burning sensation of pain and tears.
"So now you're lying to me too? Are you!!" I shouted hysterically over my shallow breaths and blind state of confused fury.
Before she could answer, I hung up the phone and before I could think, I grabbed the nail scissors, and before I could stop myself, I collapsed onto my bed, just as Phoebe had collapsed into that pile of shopping bags the day we met Izzy at the movies. As I cried, my eyes red and sore, I heard my mum yell to me from downstairs.
"I'm going out, be back later tomorrow."
Her screams seemed to echo louder than humanly possible. The door blew shut behind her. I bit my top lip and stabbed as hard as I could into my wrist, dragging the blade of the cold, metal scissors across.
And as Sally cut too deep into her still pink scars, she felt herself slipping away into happiness, just as it used to be.