Cassandra fell to the floor, clutching at her stomach, the sobs coming out in muffled, painful chunks. She wanted to be strong like they all thought she was, but she couldn’t. The volume slowly climbed until she could hear loud, ugly sounds screaming from her gut as the tears flew freely down her cheeks. They didn’t even feel like individual tears anymore, it was like her eyes were exploding in every direction, covering her face in moisture. She slid her body down and curled into herself, sobbing into her carpet and begging her mind to stop, pleading that the feeling would go away. She clawed at her arm with her long, sharp nails, but it wasn’t an itch. It felt like one, but this couldn’t be scratched. In that one spot, it felt like her blood was boiling under her skin, begging to be let out. She couldn’t take it. She felt her chest get heavier as she choked down the sobs, storing them there. Forcing her eyes to contain whatever tears they had left in them, she pulled the dead weight of her body off the floor, and crossed the room to her bed. Her pillow sat, taunting her, until the moment when she reached into the pillowcase and removed a small, flat wooden box. Sliding the piece of wood that acted as the lid apart from the bottom piece, she stared into the endless gap of nothing. Her thin fingers reached into the box and plucked out the small, thin silver blade. She could feel the sobs training up her throat, begging to be let out, but she choked them back again. By now her eyes were dry, staring into the air in front of her, and she could feel the moisture being sucked from her body. She felt chills brush over the surface of her skin as her heart slowed to an inhumanly slow pace. Her fragile bones curved under the hem of her sleeve, lifting it to reveal rough, jagged lines of broken promises, lies, and abuse. Finding a clear spot, she dug in the relief, and felt the last of her emotions drip out of her skin.
The impact struck Jordan hard, like he’d been running downhill as fast as he could and suddenly his legs disappeared from beneath him. There was a sharp throbbing motion in the base of his jaw, creeping up towards his eye. He hadn’t expected such a fight in this one. He felt his eyes crease in the corners, an impact of the smile that was spreading his face. It had been awhile since he’d found himself a decent opponent and he’d almost forgotten why it was he did this in the first place. He staggered forward, letting his head fall in what would appear to his opponent as defeat, but was the furthest thing from. He aimed the apex of his skull towards the other boy, and charged forward, suddenly and quickly so to not give his opponent time to predict or react, his desired result being achieved. The smooth bone that shaped his head smashed into the ribs of the second fighter and he curved into himself and fell to the concrete with a solid ‘unf’ sound. Jordan dropped his entire body’s weight onto his knees, which landed firmly on his enemy’s arms, pinning him to the ground. He reached into his pocket and pulled out two lighters, which he placed firmly in both of his palms as he formed to solid fists around them. He then used all of his force to drive his anger, contempt, pain, and fear into this stranger’s face. If you asked him what this kid did to deserve the bones in his face being crushed beneath the weight of Jordan’s knuckles, you wouldn’t get an answer. There was no answer, except that Jordan simply loved to fight. There were plenty of ways to exert his anger, but this was by far the best one he’d tried yet. You could give him boxing gloves and a punching bag and it was a great activity, but it was nothing compared to the pure, ruthless aggression of having a real live person beneath you, writhing, hoping to get away with some of their dignity, or even just a piece of their original facial features. It didn’t matter who was really under Jordan, because it would always be the same. It wasn’t a person, it was his life, and everything that came along with that. Everything that had shaped him into this person he was, or what most people liked to call a monster, and he would make his way through the faces one by one, until all of his demons were destroyed.
The hand struck Annah’s cheek with astonishing force, leaving a sharp sting tickling the side of her face. Her neck craned to the side in a desperate attempt to protect her from the blow, and her body crumpled to the floor. Her father’s foot soon dug into her rib cage, not in a kick, but in using his foot to roll her over. “Disgusting,” He spat at her. “I’m surprised my foot came back out of those rolls.” He said. She looked up helplessly. Every part of her ached to curl into herself, but she knew moving would only make things worse. She looked into the once loving face of the man who’d raised her, and felt her hands start to shake in fear of what he might do next. He shook his head at her slowly, making it clear how repulsed he was with her, and walked away. She stayed shaking on the ground for at least five more minutes, until she was sure he was gone, and quietly slinked up the stairs to her bedroom. When she was within the comforting familiarity of her own four walls, Annah began to pace back and forth with rage. With every pace, she passed her full-length mirror, only angering her more. No matter what she tried, she couldn’t make the rolls of fat disappear, and she hated herself for it. She hated how worthless she was and how she was so disgusting that even her own father hated her. She made her way to the front of the mirror and stepped onto the scale she’d kept in front of it. The numbers flashed by rapidly, climbing to the nauseating number that was her weight: 92 pounds. A sob got stuck in her throat, choking her as she coughed it out, tears falling from her eyes in single lines. She’d gained eight pounds. The thick flab of skin that encompassed her knees began to shake with shame and horror. Her mind flashed by a thousand images of her father; her father’s hand in the air above her, poised to strike, her father’s arms, strong and lean, a genetic trait she didn’t inherit, her father’s face twisting in disgust as he towers over the pile of lard that is his daughter. Her feet seemed to carry themselves from there as she walked absently to the bathroom across the hall and locked the door. The thick fingers sticking awkwardly out of her pudgy hands reached out in front of her and turned both of the taps on as high as they would go, before moving to the bathtub and turning it on as fast as it could go as well. Dropping to her knees, she felt the entirety of her weight pushing down on her frame, as she positioned herself in front of the toilet. She lifted three thick fingers in front of her face slowly, and let her tears drop to them, before shoving them as hard as she could, straight down her throat. There was a burning sensation in her lungs and throat as she gagged and choked, her lungs begging for air. She shoved them down further and started to wiggle them, trying to block off any tunnel that may allow air to flow, and she felt something thick touch her fingertips. She knew from experience that if she ripped her fingers out of her throat now, the fluid would just fall back to her stomach, so choking and gagging, she violently shoved them in further, ripping the skin of her knuckles with her teeth. The thick liquid seeped in between her fingers and she pulled them back by no more than two inches, letting it past a little further, and felt another spurt shoot up and hit her fingertips. Satisfied, she pulled back a little further until she felt one more spout of vomit, and ripped her hand out, letting it fall into the toilet in front of her. She coughed hard at each boat of puke, making sure to get out as much as she could, spitting and forcing her throat to release anything it may contain. She fell to the floor, satisfied in the slight change in weight she could feel on her body.
Aiden’s mother scoffed and shook her head slowly in disgust. She didn’t say a word, and she didn’t have to. She didn’t have to say he was worthless, for him to know it was true. She didn’t have to say he was a disappointment, for it was written in her eyes. And she didn’t have to tell him of all the flaws he never even knew he had, because he’d heard it all before. With that one little sound and motion, she let him know all of that. She was disgusted with him, he was good for nothing no matter how hard he tried. He hung his head and trudged toward the stairs, knowing he owed his mother that much to not put her through the pain of making her look at the son she’d always wanted, and regretted every day since. He tried his best to get good grades; he was even on the honour-roll. He never got in fights and was always polite. He did, said, and wore whatever she told him to and always came straight home after school. He knew he was doing something wrong, but he couldn’t for the life of him, figure out what. He just knew that he was a failure and it was completely his own fault.
“Useless fucking kid.” He heard his mother mutter to herself as her old worn slippers slid across the linoleum of the kitchen floor, making their way to the familiar comfort of her lazy boy chair in the living room.
Aiden trudged slowly and silently up the stairs to his bedroom and felt his throat close in on itself as he locked the door. Once the small knob was turned, he kept his hand there, frozen on the door handle, and closed his eyes tight, feeling small, quiet sobs emanating from his chest and out his mouth. He stood there in that spot, crying, until he finally decided to do something about it. He was still looking for the thing about himself that made his mother hate him so much; maybe he would always be searching for that. But that didn’t mean that he couldn’t help himself take away the pain of it for right now. Moving to the back of the room, he yanked the closet door open, pulling it free from the door frame that was too small for it, stepped inside the small space, and pulled it shut behind him. He kicked aside the clothes and books to make a small space for him to sit. He pushed himself into the furthest corner of the dusty square and sat cross legged, starting to move aside the piles of his belongings which sat in front of him. Slowly a view of the mossy wood that formed the closet floor began to emerge, and he instantly grabbed at the piece of wood he’d been looking for, yanking it free to reveal a large box sitting in the concrete hole beneath it. The box cradled in his lap like the familiar warmth of a mother’s touch- or at least that is how he would think it would feel. He hoped that someday he would know for sure. With that in mind, he removed the heavy lid to the metal box and glared in at the only flaw in his perfect exterior. He put the floor board back in the pattern and smoothed it down to create a platform, and began to unpack the contents of the box. He removed at tall, half-full bottle of José Cuervo and set it down on the loose board. He removed a thick, strong plastic shot glass and set it down beside the bottle. Next, he took out one of the five small plastic bags of thick white powder. To the naked eye, it could be perceived as flour- or even sugar, but Aiden knew better. The last item in the box, partly camouflaged under the pile of baggies, was a thin plastic straw. Aiden looked down at his pile, took a deep breath, and decided he was done crying for the night.
Cassandra had been drifting in and out of consciousness for quite a while now, and each time she felt her body go back under, she could tell it was a heavier sleep. Soon she would be gone. She could hear the doctor talking quietly to her parents.
“Yes, we did see that she’s done this before, but it seems to me that Cassie knew what she was doing. There’s a growing epidemic with this, it’s become a coping method for teenagers across the country. It seems that for what looks like at least a year’s time, that’s what this was for Cassie. But it was no accident that this is the one that went too far. The cut that has us here today, is at least three times deeper than the other mutilations, and it was vertical, running straight down her vein. We can’t stitch that up, and well… I suppose what I’m trying to say is, you should take this time right now to say your goodbyes to Cassie.” That was all she heard. She didn’t hear any muffled sobs or angry lashes against the doctor or pained moans, she just heard silence. She knew her parents would be as relieved by this as she was. If they were going to try and put on a show for the doctors and nurses and write some heartfelt goodbye, she didn’t want to hear it. Cassandra closed her eyes, and let herself drift off to where she knew she would never have to hear their lies again.
Jordan could feel the lumps of the dirty hospital bed beneath him, and couldn’t stop the tear from running out of his swollen eye. The doctors were doing everything they could to save him, he knew they were, and he hated them for it. Didn’t he get a choice? Wasn’t he allowed to say no? He wanted to scream at them I don’t want to be saved! But somehow he knew that would only make them try harder. As he lay uncomfortably on what barely passed for a mattress, pretending to be asleep, Jordan heard the doctor speaking to his parents.
“After speaking to his friends, and teachers, and looking into his records and past, we’ve discovered what we think might also be a suicide attempt. I don’t know if you’re aware, but Jordan has a history at school of getting into fights with, and sometimes just brutally assaulting, other students. When asked repeatedly about why he insisted on doing this, Jordan would simply repeat ‘because it’s how I feel.’ Now, for a long time, this didn’t seem to make any sense, but I believe that this may have been Jordan’s way of taking out his anger and dealing with stress. Jordan is sick, and if we’re able to walk away from this, he’s going to need a lot of help, but-“ The deep, caring voice was cut off by a more frantic, high-pitched one, just as Jordan felt the air travelling to and from his lungs get thicker.
“Doctor, we’re losing him!” The woman’s voice yelled. And that sentence, was the last thing Jordan ever heard.
Annah could hear voices buzzing around her, and it felt like a dream. It didn’t matter to her weather or not it was, she was beyond caring about that. She was just glad it would soon be over. If she strained her ears, she could even hear the doctor telling that to her father.
“Annah isn’t well. I don’t know how you haven’t noticed the problem at home, but we’re not here to place blame. What you have to understand is that Annah’s body is starved of nutrients, and almost every other dietary need it has. We found scarring in the back of her throat and on her knuckles, which leads us to believe she has a fairly serious problem with bulimia. I want to tell you that we can save her, force feed her, do something. But she’s much too far gone for that. I recommend that you take this opportunity to say any final goodbyes to Annah. I can’t guarantee she’ll hear you, or talk back, but I can guarantee you’ll regret it if you don’t.” Annah thought about her father and all of the words he’d said to her in her lifetime. Not one of them had come even close to being loving, and she could hardly picture him doing so now. It didn’t matter. Annah felt a smile cross her lips as a thick overwhelming darkness came over her. She could finally be what her father had always wanted her to be- dead.
Aiden’s head was pounding so loud from the substances he could feel buzzing through his veins, he could barely make sense of his surroundings. He’d come close to going under multiple times, but kept himself up, having a feeling that if he fell asleep now he wouldn’t be waking up. Not that he cared, he just wanted to hear the end of the speech he could hear the doctor giving his mother.
“Ma’am, I don’t know Aiden, or what goes on in his life, but I can assure you that our tests don’t lie. They show traces of cocaine in his system as old as three months, I’m sure it’s been going on longer, but that’s as far back as we can test. There is enough drugs in his system right now that I’m nearly positive he won’t make it. I think you should…” The doctor’s voice got distant and echoed, before finally disappearing. Aiden was gone.
Valerie didn’t know how she got here, and she didn’t know what was wrong with her. She only knew that she felt sick in every sense of the word, and knew she was dying. She could hear voices vibrating off the walls of the room and had pin pointed them as belonging to her parents, and a stranger who she was sure was a doctor. She’d never been so confused. She recognized her name of course, but couldn’t make sense of the rest of what he was saying. She didn’t know a Cassie, or a Jordan, or any of the other people he was talking about. She wanted to scream and cry but her body wouldn’t allow her any movements, so she settled for listening to the doctor speak and hoping to make sense of something.
“I still don’t understand what you’re talking about!” Her mother exclaimed angrily. “I don’t know any of those people!” There was a long sigh from the doctor.
“Ma’am, I’m going to be really honest with you and you’re not going to like it.” His voice had suddenly become stern, edging on cold and cruel. “If your child weren’t already on the other side of this curtain, dying, I would report you. Because there is no way any devoted parent could live with a child with this disorder and not notice. I’m going to explain this to you one more time. Multiple personality disorder occurs when a person experiences something so traumatizing, which in Valerie’s case, I’m assuming, is severe ongoing mental abuse inflicted by her guardians, the mind creates multiple personalities in order to protect itself from enduring the trauma of the incident or experience. It appears that with Valerie, each of these personalities created was assigned one of the many addictions and/or disorders that she’d been using as coping methods, as her mind couldn’t handle having them all in one place. Now, why we’re here, I’m not exactly sure, it could be one of two things. Either Valerie had had enough of whatever it was she was trying to protect herself from, and tried to take her own life, which would lead each of these personalities to end their own lives in their own way, explaining the multiple methods inflicted upon her body. Or, she finally came to terms with her other personas and became scared, and tried to kill them off one by one. If that’s what happened, then for the most part, it worked. Unfortunately, this took down Valerie as well. Your daughter is dying. I can’t put it any other way. We can keep her comfortable for as long as she needs, but there is no way we can help her. I suggest if you want to say goodbye, you say it now.” The doctor’s voice had a finalized tone and Valerie felt weak from straining to hear his whole speech. The last thing she heard was the sound of his footsteps stalking out of the room.
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