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The Journal (Part 6)
“Let me get this straight,” Phil, the boy, said, concentrating on his feet, “you’re sleeping in a tree house tonight?”
I nodded, glancing at the clock and preparing to get off the floor, “It’s a tradition.” A tradition I refuse to give up.
“To sleep in a tree house on Halloween?”
I laughed. That does sound a little weird. “Yeah.”
I made my way off the floor, sitting down by my stuff and starting to pull off my skates. He followed, practically face-planting but stopping himself on the chair. I laughed as I pulled on my shoes, especially when he started blushing. Finished, I gathered my things, said farewell to Phil, and made my way out the door. Behind me, I heard the DJ call, “Time for the Cha Cha Slide!”
Once outside, I started walking. I hit the end of the parking lot before I couldn’t stand it anymore. I pulled on my skates slowly, listening to the traffic passing by. I imagined Zelda’s laugh beside me. I imagined the sound of her skates on the pavement. I remembered the many times we’ve take this route together.
As I made my way through the streets to Zelda’s house, I could barely see through the tears.
I wish I could ask you whom you thought the whisper came from, but I can’t, so I guess I have to tell you that Zelda wasn’t the one going against his predictions this time. This time, I was the one to catch Monty off guard and render him speechless. Zelda didn’t say anything. She just stared at her high-heel-wearing feet, silent. I held my head high, even though the chains were rattling slightly from the shaking in my hands.
Monty stared at me, his eyes curious. Yeah, I would be too.
Then, he walked out of the room and closed the door behind him. Randomly. What in hell goes through his mind?
I turned to Zelda, trying to lighten the mood, “I like to touch and be touched.”
She cracked a smile, but it faded quickly. We fell into awkward silence.
Time passed. I’m not exactly sure how much. The door opened. Monty came in, released me, and led me out of the room. Zelda fought the chains, screaming. He led me through the rooms, passed the stairs, and passed door after door. Finally, he pushed me in one room. At his motion, I sat on the bed in the middle, a sinking feeling in my gut.
Jack stood leaning against the wall, smiling in anticipation. I looked at Monty and shook my head slowly.
The door closed and the lock clicked. Things just went downhill from there.
It was different, being here without Zelda. I probably should’ve gotten another friend to stay up here with me. I was lonely and simply stared at the wall, music blasting in my ears from the CDs Zelda left up here. The wind gusted through the trees. I shivered, pulling the blanket tighter around me, and settled in for the night.
Next year, I would get someone else to stay up here with me. If there is a next year.
I picked up a pen and started drawing on my hands, doing Zelda’s favorite stitch pattern on both. I then proceeded to take off my shoes and socks despite the cold, and draw stitches all over them, too. I sighed, dropped the pen, put my shoes back on, and pulled out a photo album. I flipped through the pages, looking at picture after picture of me, Zelda, and a bunch of our other friends.
Zelda dressed up as Belle, and me dressed up as the Beast.
A bunch of us in a line, all of us wearing tie-dye t-shirts, and all of us with handprints on our boobs. Zelda has one at the very bottom of her shirt. Guess where.
The same group of people, only this time we’re not facing the camera. We all have handprints on our butts.
A group of us covered in pudding. That was a fun day.
A picture of Zelda and me with five other friends, all of us holding some sort of weapon, a shovel, or a garbage bag in front of a No Trespassing sign. We looked as if we were going to kill someone that day, but we were actually doing an English project.
A picture of Zelda and me with a kid we met while camping on Memorial Day weekend last year. I wonder what he would say if he knew….
There were pictures from bowling.
There were pictures from Long Island.
There were pictures from Halloween when Zelda was Theodore, her cousin Holly was Simon, and I was Alvin.
Zelda and I as Thing 1 and Thing 2.
Zelda and I as Pebbles and Bam-Bam.
Zelda and I as a devil and an angel.
Zelda and I as pixies.
Zelda and I as a vampire and a werewolf.
Zelda and I as Cinderella and Prince Charming.
Zelda and I as Pocahontas and John Smith.
Zelda and I as Danny and Sandy from Grease.
Zelda and I as Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger.
Zelda and I….
Zelda and I….
Zelda and I….
Zelda and I….
I hurled the album across the room with a cry of rage, and destroyed the tree house. I tore everything from the walls, threw everything at least once, and tore at the pages of the album until pictures were scattered across the floor. I ended up on my knees in the middle of the floor with hands covered in cuts and scrapes. I stared at them, shaking slightly.
I’m not sure how I managed it, but next thing I knew, I was waking up to a beautiful day.
The door opened, and I heard Zelda grunt as she hit the ground. I forced myself to reach for my dignity and discipline, to stop shaking and tear my mind from what happened in the last hour. It took a few minutes, but I finally managed to sit up. I managed to crawl over to Zelda, who was the newest addition to the room with the mattresses this round. So far, it was me and her.
I managed to shake her slightly and whisper, “Zelda….”
I spoke in monotone, moved as if I was simply going through the motions. Every part of me ached, even places I never knew I had. My mind flashed back to Jack’s face, to the look in his eyes, and a shiver shot down my spine. I swallowed my rising fear and shook her a little harder, “Zelda…?”
She groaned quietly and turned to face me. Her eyes were closed, but her eyelids fluttered slightly. I brushed her hair out of her face and whispered, “They beat you, didn’t they?”
She nodded and whispered breathlessly, “After they found out….”
I closed my eyes, thrown back to when I sat on Zelda’s front porch, waiting for her to get home. She was ten minutes late, and as more time passed, I started to get more and more worried. She hadn’t been answering her texts. She wouldn’t pick up her cell phone when I called. I fidgeted on the porch for an hour before she finally came home, but that only made it worse.
She was running up the street, eyes wide with panic, tears streaming down her face. She ran right inside and right up to her room, and I followed closely. Once up there, I held her while she cried and calmed down and put on music and sang to her until finally, an hour later, she told me what happened. Then, when she was fully calm, I sent her to shower.
She had been raped.
Monty, Jack, and everyone thought she was a virgin. When they found out, I’d have to guess they were p***ed, and this was the result.
I opened my eyes to find Zelda staring at me. She blinked slowly once, “You’re in bad shape too, Sheik.” I nodded slowly and whispered, “Not really physically, though….” She ignored me and closed her eyes, “So much for holding the V-card until your honeymoon.”
I lay beside her, closing my eyes as well, “Never again, though. Never again.”
“Sheik,” she said slowly, carefully, as if she was choosing her words well, “don’t think that way, just choose who you trust carefully. Please…don’t rule something out because of one experience. Where would we be if we stopped trying to ride a bike after one try? Where would we be if, after one experiment failed, we stopped trying to make an airplane?”
I opened my eyes, staring at the ceiling. She had experience with this, so I had to trust her. It’s not as if I could argue and say my experience was worse. I had nothing with which to compare it. She spoke again a few minutes later, “Promise me that, one day when it’s acceptable, when you know he’s the right person, you won’t let this stop you.”
My eyes drifted shut again, “I promise, Zelda. I promise.”
I’m not sure how I managed it, but somehow, the next thing I knew I was drifting in my dreams.
Mom and Dad knew better than to ask what happened when I came home and walked right up to the bathroom to shower. The soap stung a little on my hands as Zelda’s favorite songs drifted through my mind. I pulled a towel around me, and flashed back to when five girls in towels, including Zelda and I, had to march through her entire house to get up to her room after the pudding episode. Once in my room, I let the towel fall and saw the scar on my side from when she decided to run with scissors. I pulled on my undergarments. I dug through my drawers and pulled out the shirt she wore to bed at least twice a week for four years straight. I pulled that on. I pulled on the pants I stole from her when she realized they were way too big for her. Catching a look in the mirror, I saw the little figurine Zelda gave me for Christmas last year.
For the second time in the last twenty-four hours, something inhuman took over. I walked over to the figurine, picked it up, opened the window, pulled out the screen, and dropped it to the sidewalk below. It smashed into a million tiny pieces. I put the screen back, closed the window, sat on my bed, and calmly brushed my hair. No one came upstairs to check that I was alright. Dad had seen me drop it.
I didn’t leave the house all day.
Actually, I didn’t go downstairs all day.
The only reason I left my room was to use the bathroom.
Other than that, I lay on my bed, listened to the silence, and stared at the ceiling.
I kept my door locked.
I didn’t eat or drink anything.
I didn’t think.
I felt like a zombie.
Nothing could make me want to live anymore.
I had a dream last night. Zelda stood in front of me, perfectly healthy with a smile on her face. She started singing, repeating the same thing over and over.
“So you see, I never loved you, like the turkey loves the clock cuckoo, and the jell-o loves the pudding, yet I’ll see you at the wedding, and we’ll say no way in each others arms, monkeys on our backs causing harm….
“Time will pass leeches will bite, they’ll give us blood out of spite, and things will change when the sun goes black, when tigers purr and butterflies attack, when the man will stay home, he’ll cook and clean all alone, the woman hunting to provide, enjoying it under cloudy skies, and like the jell-o loves the pudding, they’ll see each other at the wedding, saying no way in each other arms, with monkeys on their backs causing harm….”
After repeating it for the thirty-seventh time, she started again. This time, blood started running down her neck, her arms, and her legs. Soon, she was covered in red.
“Time will pass, leeches will bite, they’ll give us blood out of spite….”
White mixed with the red, until she was an evil clown, her face mocking the smile she had worn a minute earlier. A red hand reached out and clamped around my throat, and in a quiet, creepy voice the clown said two words.
I can’t do this. I just can’t. I’m falling apart….
Christmas is the happiest time of the year, with Christmas carols and all. There’s Santa and all his elves. There are the movies, and the increased feeling of belonging throughout the world. Everyone is happy, and those religious ones are at church at midnight. Children flock around the trees for presents, and bundle up for snowmen and snowball fights. Families gather for huge dinners at various houses, and everyone’s prepared for a day of festivities.
Everyone in my family meets at my grandmother’s house for dinner. For the past five years, Zelda had come to the dinner. I didn’t want to go, since she wouldn’t be there. We arrive late, since it took them an hour to coax me out of my room. Then, they argued with me for a half hour on whether or not I would be wearing the dress shirt and skirt Mom had picked out for me. Eventually, they noticed me completely guarding myself, not saying anything, just standing there and blocking them out as I waited. They let me go in my pajamas. Once there, I was passed from person to person in hugs as they said that they were so glad I was alright, and that they’re so sorry they hadn’t come to see me sooner.
They weren’t even coming to see me now. They were coming for the 5-star cooking.
After a half hour or so, I managed to disappear. That’s where I am now, hiding from a family I once looked forward to seeing, and continuing a story I have been putting off for over a month and a half.
As soon as something brushed against my arm, my eyes opened. However, I was confused, because everything was still pitch dark. I immediately felt around me, hitting at least two different people before sitting up and backing into the corner.
“Sheik,” Zelda hissed, “relax! They just blocked the light.”
I nodded, even though I knew she couldn’t see me, “I’m sorry.”
“Relax,” she repeated, “just remember that I was watching the radio the other day, and I saw a voice that looked familiar.”
I smiled, and even though she couldn’t see me, I knew that Zelda knew I was. A silence fell on the room, and it eventually took the better of me. I couldn’t stand the images flashing against the dark, so singing, speaking, or starting a conversation seemed to be the best way to rebel. I decided on singing.
“Caterpillar in the tree, how you wonder who you’ll be, can’t go far but you can always dream.”
I heard a few different people shift, and there was definitely more than just Zelda and I in here. I’m not entirely sure why I chose the song, or why I didn’t start at the beginning, but whatever.
“Wish you may and wish you might, don’t you worry hold on tight, I promise you there will come a day, butterfly fly away.”
“Butterfly fly away.”
A split second later another voice joined in.
“Butterfly fly away.”
It didn’t exactly surprise me that Zelda was taking the part of Miley’s dad.
“Got your wings and you can’t stay. Take those dreams and make them all come true. Butterfly fly away.”
“Butterfly fly away.”
“You’ve been waiting for this day, all along you know just what to do….”
I stopped singing. Zelda and someone else finished with all the “butterfly”-s and stuff. It took me a few seconds to realize that it was Esme. Silence filled the room again. I fell back into the memories, everything that happened since Dorothy started singing playing over and over in my head like a broken record. On the third or fourth time through, I had a question.
“What happened to Dorothy?”
The silence seemed to deepen. Finally, Rosalie whispered, “They killed her, SweeTart.”
Zelda’s hand found mine, and she tried to give me a hug. She must be feeling better. I pushed her away and whispered, “Don’t.”
I didn’t try to stop the guilt. I just let it flow through me in the dark, in the silence. I didn’t make a sound. I didn’t cry. I just sat through the torture of feeling, of simply knowing, that you killed someone. It might be indirect, I hadn’t been trying to kill her, but it was still my fault.
I prayed that it was at least painless, but in the back of my mind, I knew I was praying for a miracle.