The Beginning of the End
I hummed to my music as I walked towards the bridge. I only had to walk two blocks to get there. My steps were jovial and my strides were long. I couldn’t wait to see him! The wind swirled around me, whipping my hair about my face and making bare tree limbs shake. Leaves hadn’t yet started to bud and the grass hadn’t turned green. I had to cross main street and I just made it to the other side as the light turned red. My music was up loud and I felt like nothing could stop me, nothing could get in my way. I was going to see my Mattie. My Mattie.
I looked ahead and saw him standing there texting. I could only imagine who it was too. But it didn’t matter. Whoever it was wasn’t here, walking alongside me, greeting him with open arms. It was me. Just me. Matt looked up and smiled, tucking his phone away into his front pocket. I gave him a hug and held onto him tightly. I wondered suddenly why things hadn’t gotten awkward between us yet. I had always heard horror stories about friendships gone sour after going all the way. Perhaps this wouldn’t be one of them.
“So how long do we have?” I asked, as we walked under the railroad bridge and to his house. I had been to his house only once about two years ago when he didn’t even live there. Matt was a foster kid and had moved three times since he first came here. Two years ago, I was running around with my then boyfriend, Noah and his three friends, Dakota (Matt’s now foster-brother), Chris and Nick on Halloween night. We raided Dakota’s house for candy. That’s the only reason why I knew which house Matt lived in.
“Well, it takes what, twenty minutes to get to Rapid and twenty minutes back, so like forty minutes,” Matt answered.
He was wearing a green t-shirt and jeans. I remember that because my favorite color is green. His is blue. We started to talk about little things, like school and work. He worked at McDonald’s just three blocks away from my house, one away from his girlfriend’s. Stop thinking about her. She is absolutely no better. Matt led the way past broken down cars in his front yard. I noticed Dakota’s car with a flat tire.
“I thought no one was here,” I commented, motioning to Dakota’s car.
“There isn’t anyone here. His car broke down last week…it’s been sitting here ever since,” Matt answered. He dashed up the steps that led to the blue trailer’s door. It was an instant flashback to Halloween night. I could hear dogs barking from inside.
“You might wanna back up,” Matt warned. He opened the door and four pit bulls tried to spill out, yapping and snapping at each other.
“I’ll be right back,” Matt told me before stepping in and shutting the door behind him.
I waited and glanced around the porch. There were old couches and broken armchairs around me. I walked to the steps and stood, hands on my hips, waiting. I smiled at remembrance of Wednesday, once more. The thrill of not being caught and getting away with murder was slowly wearing off, I realized. I’d have to replace it with something new, starting today.
Matt opened the door and glanced out, his blue-green eyes playfully studying me. He nodded his head and I walked through the doorway, under his arm that held the door open. He shut the door behind us and I looked around. It was cramped and messy. You could tell that his foster-family wasn’t very clean. The living room smelled suspiciously like pot, but I kept my mouth shut. I’d been in these situations before where I had opened my mouth and lost a friend.
“Aren’t pits illegal?” I asked referring to the dogs that were barking outside.
“We have insurance on them,” Matt replied. “C’mon,” and with that he led me to the back of the trailer to the first door on the left. He opened it and inside was even more cramped. There was a dresser to the left, a small television to the right and in front of us was a bunk bed. Matt turned away from me and began to empty his pockets.
“I had intended to come over to your house, but since my dad said I couldn’t I might as well empty all this stuff out,” Matt said. I smirked at the thought of him coming to my house. My mind instantly started to wonder how in the heck we were going to manage anything on a bunk bed.
“It’s alright,” I said. I placed my MP3 player on his dresser. “Don’t let me forget this, ok?” I asked him. He nodded and pulled open the top drawer to his dresser. He pulled out a long, thin box made out of wood. He opened it and pulled out an incense stick.
“Smell this,” he waved it slowly in front of my nose. It was something I recognized but didn’t know the name of. I smiled.
“It’s great isn’t it?” he asked me.
“Yeah,” I nodded.
“This other one is sandalwood. It’s my favorite,” Matt said, putting the first stick back and pulling out another. I watched, fascinated as he put it on the incense holder and lit it.
“C’mon, we’ll wait while this does its thing,” Matt said, herding me gently out the door and shutting it tightly. He led me back to the couch. The big living room television was on some kind of movie that I had seen before. Matt and I sat, followed by his black cat that jumped onto his lap. He began to pet her and we talked about how she had become his when he moved in. The cat was very sociable and climbed onto my lap to get petted. I laughed and scratched her behind her ears. She began to purr and dug her claws into my jeans.
“Sorry about the dogs. The little one doesn’t know how to welcome people very well. Her idea of greeting someone is to jump on them,” Matt explained.
“It’s fine,” I answered.
“She jumped on me and her claws left a trail all the way down my chest,” Matt said, demonstrating using his hand going down his chest. I smiled, but not about him getting raked by dog claws. I imagined that he still had claw marks of a different kind on his back. Matt looked at me and in the silence, I studied his eyes. There were flecks of gold surrounding his pupil. They were the most beautiful eyes I had ever seen. His eyelashes were long and his brown hair was short. I struggled not to reach out and touch him. Matt must have known because he chuckled. With dismay, I watched him grab his phone and he started texting someone.
“What other scars…or marks do you have?” I asked him.
“Well, I got stabbed in the fourth grade right here,” Matt pointed to his inner thigh. My heart sank. Every time I heard about his past, I felt so sorry for him. I pushed the cat aside and broke the barrier between me and him. I grabbed his hand and held onto it. I remember when he told me so long ago—it seemed, at least—about the time when he came home one day and couldn’t find his mom. He searched the house and found her in a bathtub, her wrists slit from side to side. Matt had been eleven years old.
I shivered at the thought. Suicide was such a horrible concept. Matt’s fingers grasped mine stronger and I could tell we were thinking about the same thing. With my free hand, I drew circles on his fingers. He began talking about something, but it seemed as if I was distracting him. I was good at distracting him. I had learned to do it over time. It was a time consuming process, but I had learned.
“What time did I call you?” he asked me.
“Uh, I dunno, about twenty minutes ago,” I said.
“We’ve got fifteen minutes until I gotta take you home, ok?” he said. I nodded, disappointed. That was in no way a good amount of time for anything to happen.
“Yeah, that’s fine,” I answered dismally.
“What’s the matter?” he asked. I didn’t want to say that I was expecting us to do something. That would have been shameful and embarrassing…and ultimately brash. I didn’t want him to think that all I wanted him around for was to sleep with him. That’s not how it works.
“Nothing…I just figured…never mind,” I said.
“Yes—no—I don’t know,” I said.
We talked some more about petty stuff I can’t even remember. Being with him was bliss. Suddenly, though, his phone rang. The look on his face was panicked. He showed me the screen of his phone:
“Shit,” I cussed. This wasn’t good.
“Shh,” Matt put a finger up to my lips and answered the phone.
“Hello?” he asked. There was a heart-wrenching pause. Then he handed the phone to me.
“He-llo?” I asked hesitantly.
“Sam?” a small voice asked.
“You’re in big trouble! The parents just came home!”
“What?” I asked, more confused about why he was calling if they were home.
“They just came home and wondered where you were. We told them you went for a walk…they said you were in big trouble,” my little brother, Dylan said.
“Really? Where are they now?” I asked.
“They went back out. They said they’d be home around one-thirty. You’re in trouble, Sam,” he went on, catching his breath.
“Oh. Ok, yeah…I’ll be home in a bit,” I said and hung up the phone.
I looked down at the phone and balked at Hailey’s face grinning up at me from the background. I handed the phone to Matt who had an expression of concern.
“It’s ok…I’m in trouble…my brother’s covered for me though.”
“Are you sure?” Matt asked.
“Yeah, everything’s cool…I’ll be fine…they can’t get on me too much for going on a walk right?” I asked him. He shrugged. We both knew how my parents were. Matt was the only friend that I had ever had who had ever stood up to my dad. But that’s another story for another time.
“Well, we should get you home anyways, my dad could be here any minute,” Matt said, standing up. He grabbed my hand gently and helped me off of the couch, although I didn’t need it. I pulled on my shoes that I had forgotten that I had taken off. I followed him back to his room and grabbed my MP3 player and he grabbed a bag of Sour Skittles. I led the way outside and turned to watch him shut the door.
“You don’t have to come with me, ok?” I said.
“No, it’s cool.”
“Look, Matt, I’m already in trouble…I’m not worth you getting in trouble for walking me back. I’m a big girl…I can go back alone,” I said.
“Sammi, it’s fine!” and with that, Matt opened his bag of Skittles and walked down the steps. I stood there, staring after him. He paused and looked up at me.
“Are you sure?” I asked.
“It’s not that far, I’ll be ok. Let’s go,” he said.
I bounded down the steps after him and we walked slowly back to the bridge—my drop-off point. He offered the bag to me.
“No thanks.” I said.
“Why not?” he asked confused—I normally didn’t turn down candy, especially from him.
“I’m on a eating strike,” I said simply. Dark thoughts started to swirl around in my mind. I needed to shake them off.
“Really? Why?” he asked.
“Because I can,” I said simply. The empty silence between us was unnerving.
“You know, I think I’m going to be gone…I’m done,” I said suddenly.
“What do you mean?” Matt asked. He stopped on the curb for a second to look at me before going on.
“I don’t want to be here anymore. I’ve gotten done with what I wanted to get done. I’m just…done with everything. I don’t think I’m going to be around much longer.”
“Sammi, you are not talking about suicide—are you?” Matt demanded.
“Well, I guess…”
“No! You’re not! Sammi, no!” Matt said, stopping in front of me on the other side of the bridge we’d just gone under.
“You’re a hypocrite then,” I commented calmly. Matt had attempted suicide at least three times since I had known him.
“Yeah, but…you can’t. For me. I’m your friend and you’re not going to do anything of that sort. Do you understand?” Matt asked me. I looked up sadly into his eyes. His eyes…so full of concern…so full of life. So full of what I had always wanted. Full of what I’d gotten a taste of, but not something I can have for keeps. I blinked rapidly to fight back tears. I smiled to get him off of my case.
“Ok,” I answered.
“Ok. That’s good.”
“Well…I’ll leave you here, I guess,” I said.
“Are you going to make me leave without anything?” I asked.
“What do you mean?” Matt asked, his playfulness overriding concern.
“Do I get a kiss goodbye?” I asked.
“Of course,” he answered. He wrapped his arms around me and I looked up into his eyes for the last time. The last time that I would ever see them. I knew that now. I knew it. I fought back more tears as I kissed him softly, the taste of Sour Skittles lacing my tongue. I broke away from him with all of my power and smiled one last time.
“Goodbye, Matt,” I said.
“See ya, Sammi,” he said with a playful smile. “Live life, and have a fun walk home. Don’t give up, ok?” He called after me. I nodded and put my headphones into my ears and played a song that I don’t remember the name of. Tears streamed down my cheeks. This would be the last time I ever saw him. I was determined to end this pain. I was determined to take what I had and to make the best of it. I was done.
© Copyright 2016 Jenalie Stanson. All rights reserved.