Carbon

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Chapter 61

I stood before the medicine, staring up at the numerous prescription bottles that lined the mirrored cabinet. I turned back to the entries for the kitchen, and then I faced my demons once again. Jennifer had built a trust in me after the delivery, and she believed I had hit a point in my life where I could handle doing my own medication after achieving a routine. I laced my fingers around a large orange bottle and pulled it down. I read silently the narcotic’s label carefully, knowing that I could abuse it so easily.

I stood before the mirror in the community bathroom, noticing the black circles under my eyes were no longer present. The separation from my past and my future at college was treating me well. The fact I was ripped away and miles away from the personification of all of my failings saddened me but also allowed me to regain my cheeky smile. I bared my teeth and scratched away at a stain from the tea and coffee I had been imbibing during study sessions. I snatched my toothbrush from the caddy and drug it across my teeth slowly, no need to rush because my next class was in an hour.

I pulled on the bathroom door to a close as I slid across the hearth. I popped open the white cap and eagerly glanced down at all of the white tablets shifting in their container. I shook it quietly, wondering how many I needed to consume to remain asleep forever. I let a tablet slither into my palm, and I caught my reflection in the mirror again, noticing the deepening black circles and the shallow cheeks becoming more deflated. I clenched the tablet in my palm before shoving it in the back of my throat and swallowing hard. I popped several pills into my hand and stared at them, wondering if anyone would truly care if I died.

Because, honestly, I wouldn’t have.

I pulled on a pair of jeans, readying to go on a date with a girl from my Philosophy class. I couldn’t tell you the name of the girl now because I was merely using her as a distraction like nearly everything else in college. I was just working towards escaping my past in various pathways. The social events, the study groups, the exams, the assignments were all ways I could detract from the reality of what happened to me.

I think I attended the school counselor once the first month of school, explaining that I could possibly have an episode, maybe. Terror cascaded over me as I wondered if I had changed as dramatically as Devin had, and I was afraid I would succumb to the demons in my own mind much like Devin. However, as the semester wore on, I realized I had enough strength to fight back the memories with new ones, and I could force on as a normal, productive member on campus. A part of me swelled with pride upon realizing I was able to confront my demons and move on, but another part of me deflated knowing that I could never be truly empathetic to Devin. Her mind just worked totally on different cylinders than mine, whirring away with worry and anxiety polluting her soul.

Sadly, I didn’t think of her often because I found this was just too painful.

I dropped the pills into the toilet, and I watched them slowly wade down to the bottom of the bowl. I then dumped the whole bottle of narcotics down the toilet, believing that I could function without them like a normal human being. I could possibly work my way through the anxiety, but maybe I was wrong. I just couldn’t indulge in the idea anymore that I needed to just sleep it off.

With court slowly approaching, I knew my witness testimony would be scrutinized if I continued to be dependent on sedatives. I knew I would be scrutinized for merely being a female in a rape, abuse, kidnapping case. I knew just my being involved with Jude previously would allow for me to be scrutinized. I would have to admit to the crime I committed as a minor to protect myself, and what would that do?

I dropped my Abnormal Psychology course after the first week when the class began to dissect Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and I recognized several instances of Devin’s episodes and outbursts as perfect examples. The professor eventually confronted me via email why I decided to abandon this venture, and I generally made the inference that it was too gruesome. The subject matter was extremely interesting and alluring, but I couldn’t allow myself to be able to dissect Devin as a mental case. I couldn’t allow myself to heighten my stigma and other’s stigma regarding mental illness, specifically all of hers. One girl mentioned the first day that she was excited to learn about “crazies.” Most of the disorders consisted of ritualistic anxiety disorders as well as highly depressive disorders. Suicide was even in there.

I just wanted to learn about unusual diseases like multiple personality disorders—not about someone I loved. Not about someone I couldn’t live without. But that class would mean I would have to confront my unresolved emotions involving her.

Flushed, the water clouded in the toilet bowl from the tablets. I continued to flush the toilet until the water no longer was white and opaque, repetitively pulling down on the handle as if it would make a difference. I gulped as I turned back to the cabinet. I snatched a bottle of anti-depressants and stared at the yellow pills, wondering if they were really making a difference.

Dr. Haven mentioned if I ever felt this way I needed to go to the Emergency Room; I needed to tell someone.

No one would care anyway. No one would believe me.

Flushed, I sat across from a girl in my Intro to Engineering class, noticing the hazel flecks in her chocolate eyes. She leaned on the heels of her hands and stared at me longingly. She murmured under the dull lights in the restaurant in her white dress, “What are you thinking about?”

I gave her a smile and lied, “You.”

She meekly grinned and giggled, twisting a tendril of her hair around her finger lazily. She noted, “You know, I like you a lot.”

I lied again, “Me, too.”

When we left, we went back to her dorm room, and she managed to smuggle some pineapple vodka into her room. We drank and drank until we were both drunk on our freshman year and our new independence.

I sat in the bathtub of the bathroom, my clothes folded neatly on the sink. The water rose and rose as I just stared at the linoleum. I couldn’t handle any of this, and I didn’t know why. I glanced down at my stomach, scarred and deformed from the pregnancy. I remembered how she felt in my arms, and something pulled at my heart. The water crept to my chin as I sunk further into the bath. I held my breath as I descended into the depths of the water. My vision blurred.

I sat in the girl’s bed, my clothes neatly folded at the foot of her bed along with hers. I twisted my neck and stared at her while she slept, her warmth still present against my skin. I ran my fingers through my hair and felt repulsed and disgusted with myself. I don’t know what I was searching for this semester, but I noticed I wasn’t filling the void in my chest, in my brain. Perhaps I couldn’t fill it.

“I love you.”

“What?”

“Ned, I love you.”

I quietly pulled on my clothes and observed the sleeping being, trying to furtively excuse myself from the mistake I made. I glanced at my watch and then scurried from the room, embarrassed I couldn’t fix myself like I thought I could.

“I need you,” I whispered. I couldn’t function anymore—my drug of choice was gone, and I didn’t think he would ever return. He was always explaining to his parents that he had an event to attend to or he was invited to a friend’s cabin for their breaks. I thought to myself, Maybe if I left, he would visit his family. I’m the one separating this family. I clenched my eyes shut and rose out of the bathtub, wrapping myself in a towel.

I marched to the guest room and plopped on top of the bed. My fingers traced the seams of the quilt, following each curve and line. It was unusual that he had not been home for so long, but everything still had his scent trapped in it. I gently rubbed my face against the quilt, and then I felt a tear slither down my cheek.

I need you, I thought. I plopped down atop my bed, my roommate nowhere to be found yet again. I was beginning to wonder if he just moved out and forgot all of his crap. I glanced at my bed stand, noticing the pictures Heath took began to bleach in the sun. I gently faced them down. I remember suddenly praying for something to take me home, not the physical home, but a mental home. I just wanted to go home, but I didn’t know where that was anymore.

I needed her, and I could no longer smell her sweet scent on my clothes or belongings. I began to become troubled in remembering what exactly she looked like—the shade of her tawny skin, or the softness of her blonde, well, brunette hair. I couldn’t remember if she was warm or cool to the touch. I couldn’t remember if her icy blue eyes were dark or alight. I couldn’t remember if her lips… I couldn’t remember.

I buried my face into my pillow, the flowery scent of a replaceable girl still present. I sat up and tore the sheets off of my bed, throwing them across the floor. I ripped the pillowcase from the pillow, and I then whipped the pillow against the wall, receiving some strange satisfaction from the aggressive outlet. I destroyed some figment I was fighting against, some invisible being that deserved to be pelted with downy feathers. Pissed, I marched to the laundry room and washed the scent of new friends and new memories from my sheets.

I didn’t understand. I had such a scarred heart and a curious brain, but all of my judgments were beginning to fall behind a haze of medicine.


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