Brief note: this ended up not being the last chapter, oops! One more.
A phone rings.
In this room, a phone rings. It’s a quiet tone, so soft and melodic I almost mistake it for the music from the TV. Except that music stopped playing over an hour ago.
This is something else.
When I look around, Chase is sitting cross-legged before the window, his body silhouetted by the streetlight, his face lit by the ringing phone in his hand. He tilts his head up, eyes meeting my own. How mine must glow for him, here in this dark room.
“You have her phone,” he says.
“You’re the blocked number,” I say. There’s a pause, a tense, heavy breath held between the two of us. He averts his gaze.
“You’re not telling me something, Chase,” I push. “I don’t know what you’re hiding, but I know you and Audrey lied about why Emily attacked Lissa.” I hang up the call and wave the phone in his direction. “Now I know Lissa didn’t want to see you, and you went to her house anyway. What did you say to her—what did you do to her?”
Content warnings for alcohol, suicide, allusions to sexual violence.
If there’s one person I never want to see when I wake, it’s Sam. So when I open my eyes to her sitting at an unfamiliar desk in an unfamiliar room, her back to me, my first reaction isn’t confusion. It’s a sudden exhaustion at the unfairness of the world to place me somewhere so obviously hers.
The room is a mess. Creased clothes tossed over every surface, at least three mugs on the desk, photos peeling from where they were stuck to the wall with gaps showing where pictures have already fallen into the chaos of the room. What sticks out most of all is a jar filled with half-dead flowers beside Sam. There’s enough life in them still to justify keeping them, but I can’t help but feel that the room itself is pulling the flowers closer to death. The limp, purple blossoms lean away from Sam as if trying to escape her anger—her room’s atrophying presence.
Or maybe that’s just how things are when you’re organic. Flowers die. Sam loses Lissa. I continue existing.
“I’m so tired, all day, every day. I could sleep for a week and still need more. It’s as endless as the night sky, and about as bright. Everyone’s always like, ‘Wow, you look so tired!’ Yes, well, I sure feel tired, too. Even moreso now.
Today was the day: I got my results from school. Guess what? I failed! I completely blew my chance at getting into biomed next year. Completely knocked myself off of my future path in one fell swoop. All at once the ground is falling from beneath my feet, and I—
I don’t know what to do anymore. What do I do with myself now? This is everything I’ve been working towards, and I couldn’t even do it. I couldn’t do it!
On the way home I bought a bottle of rum from the store. Don’t judge me—what else do I have going for me now, anyway? I won’t drink much, I know I’m already spiralling. I’ll be good, I’m even going to Chase’s later, and he’ll cheer me up and make sure I don’t accidentally hurt myself. So much for Sam saying he’s a terrible influence, at least he tries to help me. What does she do? If I tell her about failing my classes, she’ll just rub it in my face, maybe start another fight with me. I don’t have anyone left to turn to except Chase and Audrey, not even my parents. It feels so long since Grey was Dad and we could actually talk about things that made me sad. Now, I’m just scared of him.
So, I don’t know, I’ll tell him later. Next week, when I’m feeling better, maybe. If I ever feel better again.
What do I do now? Where do I go? How do I fix this? I know I can fix this, if only someone would tell me how.”