Curled in the stairwell, pathetic, typical, hysterical, as the only light source comes from a crescent moon outside the large glass window above the foyer door, which laughs and exposes you. Bloody hands with white knuckles tighten around white painted, red dripping wooden bars that form the grip of your hand restricting blood flow, and fades into a numb surge of pain. Arms closed attempting to support the heaviness weighing down your chest. Your hunched back struggles to support the mass, and aches from the heaving of your constricted lungs. Every breath is a battle for life to travel in your veins. The pressure in your head increases from your clenched teeth, and the lump in your throat sends a piercing pain around the back of your head, and travels down your neck. Your face rests between the wooden bars: pale, swollen, and emotionless. All you can see is a blur of darkness and the luminescence of the moon as you are unable to configure the moment or what had led to it.
- - - - - - - - - - -
You know the feeling of someone staring because it happens everyday. In class, you sit, and there it is. The eyes burning on the back of your neck. You can’t escape from it, and the sensation never feels to withhold. You’ve tried discussing it to Corby before…
“Corby, I need you to stop staring. I know you are and it’s distracting,” you say.
“You need to calm the fuck down. Almost every day you say some shit,” Corby says.
You reside and admit for what feels like the hundredth time, 'calm the fuck down'.
You’ve known Corby as far as you can remember, and for a while now, you’ve become paranoid that Corby has been watching you as if a spotlight were stuck on you. But every time you gain the courage to tell Corby, you’re shut down, looking like a dumbass. You describe the uncomforting lack of privacy as if your every move and breath were being watched and judged silently. The awareness raises sweat on your back and arm pits. You attempt to not notice or care, but the intense sentinel stare is driven on top of you, and domains in the pit of your stomach. You find ways of distracting yourself by drawing, writing, or reading print on notebooks, yet, they can only consume time for so long. Perhaps the feeling may never subside.
You know the bell is about to go off to dismiss for the weekend, and your blood pressure slightly kicks up with adrenaline. A quick rush through your veins becoming impatient with how much time has slowed down. But without further adieux, the bell goes off.
Rounding around the doorway and starting down the hall, Corby sneaks up behind you and wraps an arm around your shoulders. You gasp from being startled and then sigh foolishly; you should’ve assumed it would be Corby.
“How was class?” Corby asks.
“I felt it went pretty fast,” You reply trying to keep small talk. Walking forward, looking forward, waiting for the next smart remark Corby deems necessary to say.
Corby chuckles, “Yeah, I noticed you getting all excited like a little bitch.”
“At least I do shit,” I sass back.
“It’s worthless. You’re not going to get anywhere in life. I know where I’m going in life: I’ll be dead,” Corby taunts the words around and you know there’s no joke behind them.
You stop at a fountain to take a moment to break from the conversation with Corby. Corby, reading your mind, teasingly stands over you attempting to push you farther, “Could I have a glass of water, please? Where is my water? I am parched and I am dead.”
You suddenly wonder if you and Corby are even friends or if this is some game. You’ve never noticed Corby interacting with any other students, or teachers, or people along the streets. Corby’s more quiet and isolated than open, it seems you’re the only exception. You start wondering to yourself, 'why me?', then shake off the thought because you and Corby have had every waking moment together. Not even a single moment had gone by without thinking about Corby. The crazy thing you think about is how you have known this person your whole life, and you can’t help them to interrelate with other people. Eventually, you gave up trying to interact Corby with anyone because Corby wants nothing to do with anybody. Corby shies away from social interactions or any other type of activities that involve being around people. Most of the time, Corby wants to lie around, go for a walk, write or draw, or any other interest that can be done alone.
A chilly walk from school, as the two of you walk in silence- nothing but the sound of scuffing from your shoes on the sidewalk. Side by side, you and Corby start approaching home. You cut through the grass, heading towards the front door, as Corby follows behind.
Your family welcomed Corby for as long as you could remember. Corby’s family is absent, and you have never met any of them; and Corby doesn’t want you to. You’ve asked about them before, but the subject would slip out of conversation so you stopped asking. Corby primarily lived with you and your family: fed, bathed, and slept, in addition to your other siblings. Your parents greatly care for Corby and have never brought up family or home outside of our own.
Corby wasn’t home all the time though. There would be times where Corby would seem to vanish off the face of the earth- sometimes for an hour or days. Sometimes a week. When Corby disappears, there’s no sign or warning, so you don’t know where or how long, but Corby can be so predictable that you can feel the return approaching. You wonder if Corby goes back home to family, or runs away into the woods wanting to escape from civilization. It’s strange when Corby leaves because no one seems to notice. Your family, friends, teachers, no one says anything, as if Corby never existed. You don’t say anything though because you feel to enjoy Corby gone and don’t want to be reminded of the return that is soon to come.
Late Sunday night, you sit in bed wondering how many more hours you can procrastinate before starting your research paper. You glance left at Corby’s bed, but it’s empty, so instead you grab your things and put yourself to work. Now is the perfect time with no distractions, or being told that doing the work is pointless. You organize your focus and zone yourself out from the world. It’s so peaceful. The closer you inch to the end, the less stressed you start to feel. Everything in your head reads so clear, like water flowing down a stream, and you’re able to process and put information together so quickly that it feels automatic. Typing swiftly but you freeze when you hear Corby sneak into the room and shut the door. Without a word, Corby slips into bed, fully clothed, and doesn’t move.
The air falls thin and you stop everything to stay quiet. Tension creeps down your spine from fearing to disturb Corby, so to avoid confrontation, you pack your work away, shut off the light and sink into sleep.
The next morning, you struggle your heavy eyes open looking at Corby’s bed, which is empty. You then sit up and know that Corby had left. You know because you are always the one who has to wake up Corby, and whenever the bed is empty the next day, there will be time until Corby returns. You slightly smile, even with your eyes, and you suddenly don’t feel as tired anymore. You walk to the bathroom and start the shower. The shower feels refreshing and you catch yourself humming while you bathe. As you’re rinsing body wash, you notice tones of blue and purple on your legs. Bruises. Large and small bruises in a bunch on your calf. You examine them for a minute then brush it off.
Bruises aren’t uncommon. You’ve been waking up with them for multiple years now and figure that something must have happened the day before, or you just beat the hell out of your leg while you sleep. Either way, you know you bruise easily so you don’t think of it much at all.
You jump out of the shower, dress, and get ready to walk to school. On the way out the door, you grab a breakfast bar and you say goodbye to your parents. The walk feels exciting and inviting, as you step down to the walkway and close the door behind you without a single glimpse for Corby.
Days go by and you start getting the feeling that Corby will return within the hour. A feeling so strong that your heart slowly sinks down to your gut. You sigh. You’ve been sitting outside of the school for hours, thinking, and you feel as though things were going so well being able to focus on yourself and pay attention to responsibilities day to day, or even enjoying activities that Corby had always held you back on. You felt good to not be chained down.
Standing up to head home, the sky is getting dark and the wind picks up momentum. You feel a gust and suddenly afraid like you are being watched. You look around and don’t see Corby anywhere and so you begin the walk home. Briskly stepping, jogging across streets, and the feeling deepens and deepens. 'Why does this keep happening? When will Corby just leave you alone?' You’re done with this. You want peace within yourself. You’re tired of being drowned from living. Always dead inside, and maybe Corby is right, you’re not going to get anywhere in life. You stop walking feeling like collapsing to the ground. Everything hitting you at once. 'Will anything ever change?'
It’s raining as you look down at the sidewalk zoning out in panic. Your heart races with the pitter patter of the droplets on the hood of your jacket. In your pockets are your hands in fists. Breathing slow, trying to keep a steady pace, trying to relax, trying to not think, but the thinking echoes. Your thoughts are a long narrow hallway with mirrors and doors. The mirrors block the thoughts from escaping your mind, and most of the doors open to the same narrow hallway of mirrors and doors. The hallway seems to never end. As you think, you try to keep looking forward, but you keep glancing at the mirrors or try running through different doors to escape, but eventually there’s no use to try so you just lay on the ground and suffer in silence. You don’t even know what you’re thinking about, and every time you try to focus on a thought, it vanishes. Your head starts to throb with pressure building in the back of your head. Corby echoes. Corby’s speaking to you. You can hear every word like it’s being whispered over your shoulder into your ear. You shiver and shake your head, but nothing works. Corby speaks, 'you weakling… why do you even bother… nothing’ll ever change...' but you squeeze your eyes shut making your head throb even more, the pain distracts you from the voice. The voice in your head.
You open your eyes and look ahead, and there Corby stands across the street. Hands in pockets, face covered by the hood of the jacket, and you swallow a lump in your throat. Sweat and breath picks up, you’re scared. 'You will not look away', you tell yourself a few times. Corby looks at you, glaring, and does not move, waiting for you to. Waiting for you to lose focus and look away. 'You will not look away', you tell yourself again. The rain falls steadily, dripping from the tip of your hood onto your face. You don’t want to blink as you concentrate your eyes on Corby. A water drop falls in your eye and as you quickly go to wipe it, Corby disappears.
Then you run, as if running were the only option right now. Running from the fear, the judgment, the silence, from Corby. Slipping on gravel scattered on the sidewalk and splashing in puddles from the rain. Your hood falls of your head and you look across the street, and Corby looks back, running. You fix forward and slide across the grass to the front door. You plunge through the door and close it behind you, and call out for anyone, “Mom?... Dad?” but no one is home so you go up to your room to try and put yourself together.
You strip in your room and jump in the shower. As the water gets hotter, you feel burning sensations on your ribs and arms. You look down, and there are cuts, bunched in areas like a pattern of tracks. You groan to the intense burn and turn off the shower. From the bathroom you lie on the bed exhausted. You look to your left at your reflection in the mirror, and there you are, Corby, looking right back at you.
In anger, you stumble and grab the lamp off your desk and repeatedly hit the mirror until the cardboard behind became visible. The shards stabbed at your hands and arms; you start to bleed. Corby whispers, “What have you done? Are you stupid? What a disgrace.” With the lamp grasped tightly in your hand, you run from the mirror into the hallway, drop the lamp and collapse onto the staircase.
Curled in the stairwell, pathetic, typical, hysterical as the only light source comes from a crescent moon outside the large glass window above the foyer door, which laughs and exposes you. Bloody hands with white knuckles tighten around white painted, red dripping wooden bars that form the grip of your hand restricting blood flow, and fades into a numb surge of pain. Arms closed attempting to support the heaviness weighing down your chest. Your hunched back struggles to support the mass, and aches from the heaving of your constricted lungs. Every breath is a battle for life to travel in your veins. The pressure in your head increases from clenching your teeth and the lump in your throat sends a piercing pain around the back of your head and travels down your neck. Your face rests between the wooden bars: pale, swollen, and emotionless. All you can see is a blur of darkness and the luminescence of the moon as you are unable to configure the moment or what had led to it.
“Corby, shut up! Shut up,” you weep, “Go away! Things will never change. It’ll never change.” From the stairwell, you stand up and grab the lamp laying it on the floor by the bars. You jump on the other side of the bars and begin to tie the cord firmly around your neck. Double knotted and it already choking tightly. You release from the bars, letting yourself fall. Falling feels like floating like you could just fly away, fly off to another place, away from family, from friends, from Corby, from yourself.
You remember the time you were playing double-dutch with friends from elementary school. All the boys and girls running in and out and trying new tricks, the rope like waves on the concrete. All your friends singing while you ran with the rhythm, 'Cinderella, dressed in yella, went upstairs to kiss her fella…' the sun shining, a smile on your face, and the smell of school lunch escaping from the cafeteria windows, 'by mistake she kissed a snake, how many doctors did it take? 1… 2…'