Fifteen Reasons Why
If there was one thing Georgie hated, it was feeling weak. When her bones physically ached and her mind couldn’t think about anything besides what was upsetting her, was when Georgie was at her worst. Being alone was the first thing she knew. Not only was the room hospital room eerily empty, but her brain and heart felt the same and she simply could not bring herself to care. All she could see was a TV on the wall opposite of her, the screen showing two people talking, but no noise emitted from it. She lifted her arm, and a dull shock of pain erupted from her wound. She had almost forgotten about the encounter with the man-wolf.
When Georgie came to Thespianora, she wanted to be introduced to a life style of rich and extravagant people and watch shows under twinkling lights and maybe even meet some of the local celeberties. She took a wrong turn right off the monorail platform and ended up in an alley. There, a man with a gruff voice and jagged teeth attempted to--Georgie dared to think-- kill her, even though he seemed to have good intentions before. He had used his teeth to maul at her arms and render her useless before she got away.
She looked at her left arm and saw it was wrapped in gauze. She glanced at the arm that she feel on when the man dropped her, and wasn’t surprised to see it covered in pink gauze as well, held up with a sling. There was no doubt in her mind she hadn’t broken it.
She tried to sit up but both arms rendered useless, so she wiggled out of the blankets that were weighing her down and swung her body around to sit on the edge of the bed. Her feet hit cold, marble tile. Her body shivered a bit, having been dressed in a gown thinner than a tissue.
She closed her eyes and allowed the medications to wear off. The tingling numbness that coursed through her body was now replaced with building pain, like a snowball rolling down a hill. She waited for most of the pain to take over, and soon enough it came. She bit her bottom lip, and waited for the pain to die down. But it didn’t.
She forced her eyes open. Her father was in front of her. Georgie suspected he knew all about the attack, and had snuck in when Georgie was wishing the pain away. His greying brown hair hung limply in his freckled face, but his smile was as radiant as ever. He too was wearing the same type of gown. Of course… Georgie thought, Dad is in the hospital too… How did he know I was here?
“Dad.” Georgie croaks. The man smiles and nods his head lightly. “What are you doing here? You should be in bed.” Georgie’s dad nods and points to her arms. Georgie looked down at her gauze. “I got my arms mauled apart by this weird dude… Dad are you okay?”
Georgie reached out for her father’s hand, which had froze in mid-reach. Instead of grabbing the warm, calloused hand of her father, her hand hit cold dead flesh. She yanked her head back, the bed shaking from the sudden movement. She looked up in horror to see her father’s skin had turned grey and was cracked and dry in recent death. His lips were purple, his eyes still open. His pupils were cloudy and white.
Memories flooded through Georgie’s head- phone calls with Oliver explaining about how he tried to help but he couldn’t, pictures of her father in a rotten album, collecting dust, Georgie padding through the hallways of their empty home in Pariville, the way his old suit felt cold and rough in her hands, trying to remember a shining moment in her relationship with her father but only thinking about empty beer bottles and red, angry faces shining from the light of broken ceiling fan lamps.
Georgie closed her eyes again, attempting counting to ten. One, one death, two, two deaths, three, three missed calls from a frantic brother, four, four days it took for Georgie to crawl out of her hole and pack her bags, five, five rounds around the house--
“Yeah, I know!” A pause. Georgie opened her eyes and her father was gone. The voice continued once more, “No, I told you that the surgery was a big deal, and that they had no right- Yes, I know. You told me that! I realize that, I’m not some slumsucker!” Georgie turned and saw a man pacing around outside of her hospital door. It was the same tall man she had seen at the dome building before she passed out, but now she could see him better.
He was a towering man. Her estimate still stood without doubt, he was something of 6’3”. Every time the man passed her room, she heard heavy footsteps and a fast, rapid voice chattering into a phone. She attempted to turn her body fully in order to see the man better. She hit her arm on the metal railing of the bed- and yelped in pain.
“Wait, Peyton, I’ll talk to you later. Alright, uh huh, buh-bye.” There was a clicking sound and a shadow fell over Georgie. “You’re awake!” Georgie turned her head to face the man and looked at him helplessly.
“I gotcha.” He rushed over and hooked both of his hands under her armpits. In one fluent motion, the man had lifted Georgie onto her feet and helped her steady herself. His hand lingered on her waist in case she fell again. Georgie took a long look at the man, her lips zipped shut. He was a bit handsome, olive-skinned with light blue eyes and spiky pink hair. Every few seconds he blew a strand of hair from his eyes and huffed, as if trying to express to his own hair how distressing it was.
“Where’s my father?” Georgie looked at the man again and he straightened out.
“Well, I’m Tatum Clay, nice to meet you too.” The man, Tatum, had a chipper laugh. Georgie kept looking at him and he scratched the back of his neck with his free hand, his eyebrows bunching together. “Uh, I don’t know where he is… Nobody has come to see you. Except me! I’ve been here the whole time!”
“Thanks, I guess.” Georgie flopped back on the bed. Tatum sat in a chair and scooted so that he was sitting across from her.
“Well, that’s probably because nobody knows you’re here. A few days ago, you collapsed in my arms, and you’ve been in and out of conciousness since then.” Tatum chuckled. Georgie glanced out the window and frowned. Streaks of golden light were peaking over the high-rise buildings of Thespianora, and morning mist was thick in the air. “One minute, I’m holding back crazy fans from the Mavlyn Twins, next thing I know I’m staring you right in the eyes, with your arms all ripped up and bloody…” Tatum trailed off when he noticed Georgie wasn’t paying attention. “Who are you looking for again?”
“Bau Tailor.” Georgie looked right at Tatum and he quickly looked away, his fingers messing with his phone.
“Well, what is your name?”
“Georgianna Tailor. And you’re Tatum Clay.” Her voice was somewhat dull.
“Correct. Tell me, G, have you ever been to Thespianora before?”
“No, I’m from Pariville.”
Tatum heaved an irritated sigh. “No wonder you’re so boring.”
“Boring? What the hell do you mean boring? At least I don’t talk a million miles a minute, and have pink hair!” Georgie shouted, stumbling up. Tatum gently pushed her back down.
“There it is! That’s what I wanna see, G! Now, let’s go see your dad.”
“Don’t call me G.” Georgie got up again and this time Tatum didn’t protest. Instead he held out his arm to help her.
“Chivalry isn’t dead.” He laughed when Georgie accepted his arm.
“It is if you keep calling me G.”
Georgie and Tatum appeared at the front desk a few minutes later, much to the surprise of the front desk man. “Oh no, you’re supposed to be in bed right now.” He said sleepily when he laid eyes on Georgie. She was leaned against Tatum, who shook his head.
“It’s okay Walter, she’s feeling good enough.”
“She’s ready to visit her father!” Georgie nodded, her eyes set in stone.
“She just got her arms mauled by a lunatic.” Walter stared at her with heavily lidded eyes.
“She knows that. She’s not stupid.”
“She talks in the third person.” Tatum muttered.
“Listen, I just want to see my father, is it too much to ask?” Georgie knew she was being rude and unreasonable but she couldn’t force the words down her throat. Walter blinked once, glanced at Tatum, then looked at his computer screen. The bright light reflected in his tired eyes.
“Alright… Wait, are you looking for Bau Tailor? I dunno if he’s still here.” Walter’s fingers clacked at the keys quickly as he eyes skimmed across the screen. Tatum began to lead Georgie away, but she wasn’t moving. She stared straight ahead, right at Walter. Her hands shook lightly and her bottom lip quivered.
“What do you mean see if he’s still here?”
Walter looked up and his bushy eyebrows bunched together. “What do you mean? You didn’t know?”
“Didn’t know what?”
Six, six moth-eaten suits...
“Your father passed from a heart attack earlier this morning…”
Seven, seven years of Hell on earth…
“Stop lying, you’re not allowed to lie. You have to tell the truth.”
Eight, eight years big brother had lived in East Fort with a nice lady who rejected Georgie at the door...
“I am telling the truth, young lady.”
Nine, nine years to understand why daddy was so angry all the time…
“Georgie, let’s go…” Tatum’s voice grounded Georgie back to earth. Her head rushed and twisted like oil and water fighting for empty space in the same glass. She whirled around and came face to face with Tatum and saw, for a split second, that oil and water were fighting behind his own eyes.
“Go where, exactly? I want to see my father.” Georgie looked back at Walter and the man looked back at the screen, his eyes suddenly awake now.
“Georgie… Your dad…”
“I know my dad’s dead, alright? I broke one arm, had the other mauled, and I look like shit. But if I want one thing, I just want to see my father even if it means it’s at his funeral… Alright?” Georgie shouted, before realizing the entire area had gone silent. Tatum’s hand was outstretched, but no sign of life was in his smooth, light complected skin. His face was still twisted in the same sorry, worried expression, and the water had won, for his blue eyes had choked with tears. But when Georgie touched Tatum’s arm, she felt cold dread settle upon her.
Wheeling around, Georgie ran to the front desk. Walter was slumped over his computer, his tongue lolling from his red lips, purple and swollen. His eyes were open as well, but nothing was in them- they weren’t even the least bit sleepy. They had entered a total state of afterlife.
Georgie stumbled away from the desk, and turned her attention to the waiting area. Instead of the usual hubbub that she’d expect, everybody was piled atop each other, skin grey and peeling away in layers. If Georgie went to touch one now, she might get dried blood upon her hands. Her hands… They were shaking, as well as the rest of her body. She turned, Tatum had moved and he was now leaned against the wall, his pink hair fading and giving way to auburn roots.
Time always catches up in the end- it saps the color from your hair, causes your fingernails to start peeling, paves wrinkles under your nose and eyes, leeches the life from your body.
Georgie wondered if her father felt all of it work into his broken body as he sat in his hospital bed, staring at his monitor beep beep beep his life out of existence. She wondered if her father ever felt bad for all that he did, she wondered if her father would have liked it if Georgie dreamt of Hell every night and saw people drop dead before her eyes, even though it’s not real, it’s never real, it won’t be real, it can’t be real…
Georgie wondered if her father thought of her as his life flashed before his eyes.
Once more, she woke up in a strange bed, and once more, she had to check her arms. Both were wearing new bandages, and with a shock, Georgie realized she too was in different clothing as well.
Her cheeks burned to think somebody changed her when she was… passed out? Knocked out? Unconscious? Possibilities skated along her mind like mini ice skaters as she tried to process what happened. Georgie was still thinking as she kicked her covers off and chilly air hit her bare legs. Whoever dressed her had the decency to keep her old undergarments on, but Georgie hadn’t worn skirts in eight years, and the T-shirt she wore--Go Wakefield Wolves!--seemed a bit out of her character.
She inspected the room around her. Soft amber rays of light filtered through the white curtains, and an idle breeze induced more chills on Georgie’s skin. Even her freckles had goosebumps. Walking along the edge of the bed for balance, Georgie nudged the curtains away with her head. More light bathed the room. Georgie scanned Thespianora. It was blooming under midday sunlight. Cars scuttled down the busy roads, monorail tracks crisscrossed between high-rise, sleek skyscrapers. Brightly colored and lit stores lined the streets below, all covered in smiley advertisements. A large billboard faced Georgie from across the street showing a pair identical twins posing together, the female wearing a curve hugging black dress, while the male wore a matching dark tuxedo. Two pairs of steely eyes peered at Georgie, then faded away to show a message stretched across the board-
“Have you smiled today?” Tatum’s voice once more interrupted Georgie. She yelped and stumbled away from Tatum, only to see him do the same. Georgie peered at him. He looked like he rolled right out of bed, clutching a mug of steaming coffee with his hair spiked in bedhead and his eyes lidded down with exhaustion. “Don’t act too surprised, skipper. Walter made me take you home after you shitted out- said you were good enough to go home, we gotta keep an eye on your broken arm though, because--”
“So you dressed me up like a dolly?” Georgie interjected.
Tatum’s cheeks went as pink as his hair. “No, that was Melanie, my personal room service assistant.” he raised an eyebrow. “Yes, I do have a maid before you ask, and no, we do not have a saucy affair. If you wish to see my saucy affairs, contact my good old friend--”
“Where am I?” Georgie didn’t want to hear about his saucy affairs. Tatum paused, his eyebrows bunching together in a teensy frown.
“The Mavlyn Tower.”
“Oh you poor thing, sit down.” Tatum sat on the edge of the bed and Georgie followed suit, sitting next to him. “The Mavlyn Tower is a tower created for the celeberties of Thespianora. Actors and actresses from Grand Avenue Theater and Celeste Opera House reside in the Mavlyn Tower, along with models, musicians, and many other mini local cleberites-- Like me!”
Georgie stared at her hands for a few moments before she looked at Tatum. “A local celeb?”
“I’m the gossip of Thespianora! I have dirt on everybody who even dares to step foot in this place. If you wanna know stuff about Levi Warton, I’m there for ya, if you wanna know stuff about Knoxville, I can tell you who to look for and who to look out for, I know everything.”
“Okay, tell me about Oliver Tailor.”
Tatum paused. “Ollie?”
“So you know him?”
“Ollie is a good person to be around but he doesn’t go by Tailor anymore. Wait… Oliver is your brother?”
Georgie nodded and stood up. Tatum scrambled over to help her but she shook him off. “Yeah, he’s my brother.”
“If you don’t mind me asking, why don’t you live with him?”
“Why should I tell you, for all I know, you’ll be yapping about my personal life to the next saucy affair you have.”
Tatum’s face went stony. “I would never do that to you.”
“But you’d do it to the owner of the VENUS Assosication? I’m not going to tell you.”
“Levi is different and you know it--”
“Do I really?” Georgie turned to look at him but he wasn’t looking at her. He paced the length of his bed, his hands running through his hair. She felt a pang of guilt stab at her heart. “I’m sorry Tatum…”
Tatum stopped pacing and looked at Georgie incredulously. “Don’t be sorry, you’re absolutely right.” Georgie glanced at her feet, wringing her hands as he continued, “If you tell me why you don’t live with Oliver, then I double promise not to tell anybody.”
“But you have to promise to tell me something too.”
Tatum hesitated, then nodded. “Alright. Sounds fair.”
The two sit on the bed again and Tatum looked at Georgie expectantly. “Alright alright…” She took a deep breath. “It all started when my brother started to cry to my aunt about my dad.”
“One story at a time.”
“Forgiven. My brother told her that he wasn’t happy with his home life. He was only ten at the time, but he was surprisingly intelligent for a boy his age and he snuck my dad’s phone out of his room to call my aunt. He said he wasn’t going to school anymore because he was scared and hungry. Which was partially true.” Georgie figited with her hands. “But my aunt said that she’d come to pick him up and eventually, through a series of court cases, she won custody of my brother. My other aunt was supposed to take me but she died before she could and my dad didn’t bother to reach out to Oliver’s new gaurdian.” Georgie glanced at Tatum, he was listening closely.
“So I tried to travel to East Fort when I got old enough, but my aunt rejected me at the door… There was something different about her than before. She was heartless. And I had to travel all the way back to Pariville and keep living…” Georgie paused, and Tatum frowned. He rubbed her back gently as if to comfort her.
Ten, ten years Georgie had grown up and avoided her father for…
Tatum’s hand grew colder.
Eleven, Eleven new mommys…
His voice shattered the pounding of her eardrums and the acclerated rush of her blood. “... Afraid of vacuumm cleaners. Whenever one gets close to me, I feel the urge to run away. It scares me so much. I know it’s an stupid fear, but imagine this.” He turned to face Georgie and she quickly looked at him, trying to zone back into present time. “Imagine you’re two years old, and you’re sitting on the ground, when suddenly, you hear this loud sucking noise, and the rug tugs out from under your feet and bam!” Tatum clapped his hands. “Your face is on the floor and the noise is so overpowering you can’t move. It’s terrifying.”
“It’s irrational.” Georgie says shakily.
“I mean, yeah, but I’ve never really taken time out of my day to get help for it.” Tatum joked. “It can only get worse if you don’t get help right?”
Georgie nodded slowly. “So you’d need closure…?”
“Exactly. Like you walk up to a vacuumm cleaner, look it in the eyes, and say, I’m not afraid of you!”
Georgie nodded again and looked away. “You’re right… You’re totally right.”
Tatum grinned but Georgie didn’t grin back. She looked out the window. The Mavlyn Twins were back on the billboard, wearin red glittery outfits now. She knew then what she was going to do.
“Tatum. I need closure.”
The two sat in silence as the driver steered the smooth black limo down the road.
“I still don’t understand why you had to order a limosionue.” Georgie broke the silence, watching the world through the tinted windows.
“You deserve the best, my lady.”
“Are you trying to prove chilvery isn’t dead?”
“Hey, I stopped calling you G.”
The limo rolled into a dark paved parking lot and silently stumbled to a stop in front of the giant fixture. “Thank you, Valerie. I hope the kids are doing alright.” Tatum lobbed a wad of cash to the front of the limo and got out. Georgie waited patiently for him to open the door on the other side and when he did, she nodded thank you and let him help her out.
Her arms still throbbed but little by little, pieces of the pain chipped off.
Tatum opened up a map and looked at the amusement park in front of them. “We have a few hours until White Willow Memorial park is open for visitors, so why don’t we kill some time?”
Georgie watched Tatum scan the map. After a few moments, the amusement park grabbed her attention and she looked at it. Unlike the quietness of Pariville, Wonderventures Amusement Park was much more flambouyat and exciting. Voice and screams of joy filtered through the gates to meet Georgie’s ears, and her nose was piqued at a variety of smells- hotdogs, tufts of cotton candy, popcorn dunked in butter, ice cream with chunks of cookie dough and peppermint in it. Rollercoatsers rose high into the sky and dipped down low, twisting and churning and shooting carts along the tracks. Music from overheard speakers also helped Georgie deconde the atmosphere- over the rythmic tune of a merry-go-round, Georgie could hear a hip pop song on the radio.
Tatum shoved his map in his pocket and began to dance. “Bit day baby yeah, have you--” He pointed at Georgie, “--bit dat baby, you gotta, bite dat baby, yeah!”
“Are those the words?” Georgie watched him dance and he nodded through his subtle head banging.
“Bite dat baby girl, you know you gotta, bite dat baby!” Tatum reached his hand out as if he wanted to twirl Georgie then he remembered she couldn’t move her arms. Instead, he just danced to the gates of the amusement park and waited for Georgie to follow him. Taking a deep breath, Georgie walked after him and into the amusement park.
“Thank you for visiting Wonderventures Amusement Park, we hope you had a nice time,” An AI sounding voice drones from the speakers, “Mayor Matthias Wakefield wants to remind you- have you smiled today?”
Georgie strolled out of the amusement park with Tatum and saw that the limo was waiting for them. She had had a great time with Tatum and for a second, forgot all about her problems and worries. Thoughts of closure bubbled out of her mind when Tatum was telling her funny stories about his childhood and daily adventures. He told her about the time that he warded off loads of crazy fans with just his voice, and about the time that he first moved into Mavlyn Tower and lost his key.
Tatum also had skip cards, so him and Georgie skipped the lines for rollercoasters and got in the best seats. On one rollercoaster, Georgie went through a tunnel and got dipped upside down. She ended up getting so scared that Tatum ordered they take a break and they got ice cream.
But when Georgie saw that limo, her heart sunk again. She had so much fun she had forgotten why she was out and about in the first place- to get some closure.
Tatum bounded out of the gates and smiled. Somebody had offered to paint on his face for half off because they knew him, and he said that he wanted Georgie’s name across his forehead. She knew he only did this to annoy her, so she had told the painter to spell her name wrong and now Tatum has the words Gorge Me across his forehead. And he had no clue.
“So, my lady, do you wish to go somewhere else, or to White Willow Memorial?”
Georgie looked at the running limo. Her mind said to run, but her heart said closure. But when she looked at Tatum, he looked so happy. He looked so pure and imaginative and she knew he didn’t want to sit there and watch Georgie gain closure at her father’s grave.
He smiled at her, waiting. Georgie felt herself smile back, but her heart was empty. She knew she could go alone, but closure took time- and she knew that it wouldn’t all happen at the graveyard.
“I want to go to White Willow. To my father’s funeral service.” Georgie watched Tatum so see if he semeed dejected, but he simply walked towards the limo. She knew that only three people would be there- Georgie herself, Oliver, and the most recent mommy. But there was a more underlying reason as to why she didn’t want Tatum there…
“Alright, then we shall head to White Willow.”
“No… Tatum. I need to go alone.”
Tatum paused, then turned. Now his face had deflated and he looked crest-fallen. “Oh, okay. When do you want me to swing the limo by?”
“You’re gonna walk all the way back to Mavlyn Tower?”
“I live in Pariville, the memorial is just a few blocks away from my house.”
Tatum started to put the pieces together and his face fell even more. Georgie’s heart started to crack. “You’re not coming back?”
“I need closure, Tatum, I don’t need three hours at a cemetery.”
“But you can stay as long as you need at the cemetery, you don’t have a time span. You can stay for days if that’s what it takes.”
Georgie looked at him helplessly and she noticed him staring back with the same pleading expression. For a moment, she wondered why he felt so strongly but then it came clearly- Tatum just wanted a friend. Judged on the way he was alone, the way he bided his time, the way he told stories about others, the way he was so interested and obsessive over Georgie, she could only conclude that she was the only one who treated him like a human.
…Twelve, twelve months in a year, twelve fresh starts at a new life…
The sky started to grey and the speakers droned out. Valerie in the front seat of the limo seemed to have slumped over the steering wheel. The voices slowed down and droned on only slightly. The blood rush began and Georgie forced her eyes shut.
… Thirteen, thirteen bottles a day...
What if her father was a ghost and was trying to haunt her? Is this the payback he wanted for her running off? Is this what she deserved? Are these visions just her own guilt or her fathers?
She opened her eyes and saw Tatum standing there. He was still alive. His hair was still full and pink as well as his cheeks. His skin was bright with life. “Georgie, why won’t you please just come back?”
“I’m living in Hell Tatum, and I only felt alive when I was distracted. But when I’m not distracted, my mind goes places. I’ve seen you die multiples times since I’ve known you. I’ve seen my dad die, I’ve seen Walter die, I even saw the limo driver die, and I can’t--”
“Shhhhhhh… It’s okay.” Tatum was hugging her now.
“No, it’s not! Tatum, I have to go or I’ll never be happy You make me happy and I don’t want to use you as a crutch.”
“You can use me as a fucking wheelchair as long as you come back.”
“You and I both know you’re not suited to go out there alone, an emotional mess with no working arms. What if you trip and you can’t get up, or if you fall down a hole or into a lake?”
“I’m not that clumsy.”
“You can’t take the risk.” Tatum muttered forcefully. Georgie yanked out of his grip and breathed heavily. Her chest felt like it was still being pressed down on.
“You’d rather me live like this everyday?” Georgie shouted. Tatum paused, staring at her. She looked away. “I may fall into a lake, but it’d be better than staying here. I need closure, and I need it now.”
Fourteen, fourteen years old is never too old to run away...
“Do you promise to come back when you have closure?” Tatum said quietly. Georgie looked back at him.
“I do promise, but I don’t know how long it’ll take.”
“Well, you’re my… friend. And I’ll wait for friends.”
Georgie smiled. Her heart fluttered a bit then she felt the dawn of tears rising in her eyes. “Thank you.”
Tatum hugged her again and this time, she did her best to hug him back, resting her head on his shoulder. When Georgie pulled away, Tatum quickly planted a small, sweet kiss on her forehead. “Stay safe, G, okay?”
Georgie nodded. “Until next time.” She smiled once more before turning her head and walking down the stark white sidewalk. Her heart thudded painfully against her ribs. As she stared at the asphalt, the name of her father curled along the white pavement like she was walking on his grave.
Fifteen, Fifteen times she had put her well being before others.