The Stacy Project | Teen Ink

The Stacy Project

January 13, 2014
By BringMeThePiercedSiren PLATINUM, Fairfax, Virginia
BringMeThePiercedSiren PLATINUM, Fairfax, Virginia
24 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There's nothing like a sore stomach from laughing for all the right reasons."-Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Stacy Project
Rebeka Tate-We’re here because you four girls volunteered to participate in The Stacy Project. Is that correct?
April- Yeah. I mean, I guess so.
Rebeka Tate-I’m going to review exactly what the project is all about again. Just so we’re 100% clear. The Stacy Project was started after Stacy Michaelson, a student at Wilbert Tucker Woodson High School in Virginia committed suicide last year, in 2012. Several of her classmates formed a group to research into the lives of teenage girls between the ages of 13-18, and learn the roots of social issues and situations. You five have been chosen because you’ve been referred as having tried to commit suicide at least once, yet you all come from very different lives and backgrounds. We will be asking you questions that make you uncomfortable. You might not want to answer some of them, but they are all incredibly important to the study that is being conducted. We would like to start this off by having each of you give a thorough background on your lives. Any questions?
Cassie- No, no questions.
Jal- Not really.
Jenna- Whatever.

April Fordyce
I don’t want to be known as the girl who got high in the school bathroom. Or the kid who stayed in the mental hospital for the week. Or the chick who wears skimpy swimsuits to boost her self confidence. For once, I just want to be known as the real me. Not Skinny-B****, not Cupcake, not even Loony-Bin. But this is how it works; people like to put labels on other people. After a while we all start to see human beings as objects. There’s no difference.
They say 14 is a good age. I say that’s based on books and movies about philosophical stuff. Everyone tells me the same thing: You’re supposed to be “good”. What is good? Maybe that’s what I was…before I turned into this. When we’re baked as a cake, we try to drown ourselves in fake lust that somebody actually gives a dang. That’s why drugs are bad. Not because they’re bad for your health and they shrivel your lungs, like the teachers always say in health, but because they take all your sanity away. They make you think, hear, see, and believe things that aren’t there. Soon you become a withered bag of bones that just makes groaning noises. None of the pictures in magazines or movies are true. No, pretty blonde girls with G-sized chests don’t dance around when they’re high. It doesn’t get them in the arms of a cute boy. In reality, it makes you roll over vomiting, with your stomach half in your mouth, and makes you look like a fool. It’s just like posting a naked picture on Facebook. Once it’s out there, it’s never gonna come back.
I ended up being a little screw up for the rest of my life. This is how life works for me: you lose your braids for breasts. You don’t try to dye your hair, you just try to die. Forget a meal instead of homework. Cut your wrists, not your hair. That’s how it is now. And there’s no turning back.
I really try hard. I promise. I’m trying as hard as I can.
I want to make people smile, but most of the time I just end up wrecking everything I touch.
Oh, what? Oh, yeah, sorry. I’m supposed to be telling you the facts.
I’m 14. But I already told you that. Is that important to this study, anyway? Because I’m pretty sure Stacy was 17 or something. I’m only a freshman. But whatever. I was asked to participate in the Stacy Project because I attempted suicide at least once. And the other four girls doing this study have also tried to kill themselves once. Or twice. Or…nevermind.
Other than being high and drunk and cut up all the time, I do enjoy other activities. People don’t think I’m normal. But other than the bad stuff… I guess I’m ok. I really like writing songs and playing them on the piano. I was on the field hockey team, but then they kicked me off because, well, you get the point.

Jal Engelhard
My name is Jal. Full name Jallette. I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah. I moved to Cedar City when I was four.
Lately I’ve discovered that life isn’t as pretty as I thought it was. I grew up thinking girls were supposed to love boys, and stealing is illegal, vandalism is bad, and killing yourself is a sin. Unfortunately, I’ve ended up breaking at least one of those standards for my life.
I love art. That’s what anchors me to the world. If I let the brush slip out of my hand I will lose my grip on life. There are unsaid things about me that are hard to understand. People assume that if you’re diagnosed with depression that you’re sad all the time and you cry over little things.
But really, when you’re depressed, it’s just because you’re tired. You’ve worked so hard in all the wrong ways, thinking you’d get results out of what you’re doing. Depression is the ability and curse to overthink things and overanalyze life.
I’m a lot happier, though, now. I don’t steal or shoplift. I’m ok with myself liking everybody. And I really don’t mind attending therapy once a week.
RT- Our oldest participant, Jal Engelhard, has given the Stacy Project an inside look into her social network Facebook page. From her profile, we’ve gathered this information about her and her lifestyle.
Name- Jallette ArtsyDancegirl Engelhard
Age- 18, attending Canyon View High School
Location- Cedar City, Utah
Interested in- Men and Women
Likes- Blink-182, Green Day, Lana Del Rey, The Art of Getting By, The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Bio- hey its jalllllll!! I love everything art. i got a show planned with sum of my latest works in there. come see it next Wednesday at the southern Utah urban art fest!!! i believe in the divine art of love. so go ahead and make fun of me but i’ll kick u hi and dry into the sky if you dare. Luv ya!!!
Relationship status: currently in a relationship with Chloe Stanton Jacobson
Timeline- broken up with Decker Scott, broken up with Andrew Clinton, Broken up with Clara Beaumont

Jenna DuBray’s account of her Friday Night Life
JD- You want me to explain what I do on a Friday night for fun, right?
RT- Precisely.
JD- Alright. Nothing really exciting, I guess. I don’t really have a ton of fun anyway. I’m only 15. I mean, like, sometimes my friends come over and we play Mario Kart on my older brother’s Wii. Most of the time I babysit. I do it for money. My parents think its good for me to get out and earn my own cash instead of getting everything handed to me on a silver platter. So I’ve never gotten an allowance. I’ve been homeschooled since I was a little kid. Homeschooling isn’t very common in Florida, you know. So most of my friends are from the neighborhood. Sometimes I just really want to go to a normal school. Public school, I mean. Because even after I tried to end my own life, I still feel really isolated from the real world. Sometimes, when I go to the beach or I’m on my way to the town square, on like a Friday or Saturday night and I see all the public school kids from Seabreeze High having fun together it makes me sad.
RT- Why does it make you sad, Jenna?
JD- ‘Cause sometimes I just want to do some normal high school girl stuff. And eat normal people food. My mom and dad and David and me just grow our own crap in the backyard. We don’t even get junk food. I only get candy and cookies if I’m hanging out with the other neighborhood kids. I think I’m the only sophomore in Ormond Beach who’s homeschooled and doesn’t know how to surf. Or swim.
RT- Jenna, I’m going to ask you a really personal question.
JD- Nothing gets more personal than this, mam.
RT- Why’d you try to commit suicide?
JD- Because I thought there was a higher value to life. Then I was disappointed when I found out that life wasn’t everything I wanted it to be.
RT- What did you want life to be?
JD- I wanted to be perfect. Even when you’re squished in a beach house all the time, things still happen. You’re stuck with only yourself for company. It gets really tough. I wanted it to be where I was the perfect daughter…and then there was Johnny.
RT- Who’s Johnny?
JD- I thought he liked me. I know. Stupid to kill yourself over some guy. But it felt real. He’d hang out with me and he’d teach me things my parents never taught me about life. Like how to tie a fishing knot. Or how to balance spoons on your nose. He was going to teach me how to swim. Then he moved away, and now I’ll probably never know how to swim unless I take lessons. My parents don’t really have the time to drive me to the community pool. Before he moved, and by the way; he never told me he was moving, he told me to meet him at the beach so he could teach me how to build the perfect sandcastle. But that didn’t happen. Instead, I saw the moving truck. And then he was gone. So to answer your question, Miss Rebeka, about what I do on Friday nights, I stay at home and write stories about how I wish I had never tried to kill myself.
Here, I’ve interviewed 14 year old Cassie Murray.
RT- Cassie Murray, is it?
CM- Yup.
RT- What got you interested in The Stacy Project?
CM- I never knew Stacy Michaelson personally. But I read about it online. And I started to think back to when I tried to do the same thing. I regret it, but then I don’t regret it. Because I feel better being alive. But then I feel even better because going through that stage was a learning experience.
RT- Have you ever smoked, snuffed, inhaled, or chewed marijuana, pot, nicotine, cocaine, or meth?
CM- Um, gross, no,
RT- What about engaged in sexual activity? Have you been assaulted?
CM- Double no.
RT- Have you received any federal issues to go to court, or illegal offenses?
CM- Sounds fun, but no.
RT- I heard your friend, Matthew, recently passed away. I’m sorry. Were you two close?
CM- Very close.
RT- According to our notes here, he was shot in a fight.
CM- Well it wasn’t really a fight, now, was it? I mean, the kid’s only 100 pounds. Those other guys jumped him in an alley. Oh, wait, he WAS only 100 pounds. He’s dead now. But you had to bring it up.
RT- What qualities do you admire about yourself?
CM- Um, I think I’m pretty persistent. And I’m loyal. Like, seriously, nobody messes up my friends because then I’ll come after them. True story.
RT- Do you consider yourself popular?
CM- (snorts) No. I write poems, not statuses.
RT- Just to be clear, you’re still attending East Montauk Middle School, 8th grade, correct?
CM- Correct.

Enclosed is Cassandra Alison Murray’s account of the event when her acquaintance, Matthew Jackson, was shot on 54th street in New York City on July 15, 2012.
It was just another normal summer day like usual. Nothing really happens down here in Montauk. Everybody here heads up to the city, where the real excitement is. Matthew came over at about 2 o clock. We were watching Ridiculousness on MTV, like we usually do since it was fun, when he said he needed to head into the city because he was going to meet his mom, so he’d take the metro. So we said our goodbyes and he headed out, on his way to the station. And everything was ok. He said he’d drop by again when he got back with a box of donuts. He knew I loved those donuts from Fractured Prune.
So I spent the rest of the day watching TV and listening to music. Just a beautiful day. Nothing more, that’s what I thought.
Matthew didn’t come back at all. I figured he just forgot. But when I got that call from his mom at 8 in the evening and she said,
“Cassie, is Matthew at your house? Because I’m still in upper Manhattan waiting for him to pick me up. I’ve been here for hours.” I knew something was up. I kissed my mother and father goodbye and told them I’d be back soon. So I went into New York City, and found Mrs. Jackson.
“I’m worried,” She mumbled.
“Me, too.” I said. We kept the radio on to calm our nerves as we swerved through streets all over Manhattan, looking for Matthew. ‘He’s fine’ I told myself. ‘Your best friend is just lost.’
But when we heard the wailing sirens and ambulances down five blocks from where he was supposed to pick up his mother, I knew there was something tragically wrong.
She drove up to the scene. I felt Mrs. Jackson’s nails digging into me, her eyes filled with fear. I wanted to cling back, because I had no one to hold on to. And when we hopped out, ran to the scene that was sectioned off by tape, we both screamed. Because there were three thugs in handcuffs, and one brown-haired boy being zipped into a body bag. And his green-blue eyes were permanently open, blank, staring at the sky.

We asked her later how her friend’s death affected her. There has been universities that have conducted studies that showed the effects of death on a person’s mental growth. Here we are trying to determine how Mathew’s passing affected Cassie.
His funeral was two weeks after they conducted the autopsy. I didn’t want to go, because I was afraid that as soon as I looked into the casket I’d fall apart. So I went, but I promised myself I wouldn’t approach the coffin.
You want to know how I felt? I felt like I had a ton of bricks dropped on my chest. It wasn’t like he had a disease or condition where I knew dying was a possibility. Not that people who die of cancer is any easier. But the shock of losing your best friend faster than a snap of your fingers is unlike anything else. One minute you’re sitting on the couch watching Rob Dyrdek. The next thing you know, you’re sitting at his funeral.
But I didn’t really feel like going to school anymore. And it was even harder after I found out exactly what happened. Apparently Matthew was on his way back from Fractured Prune, to buy MY DONUTS, when he had to pass through the alleyway. And that’s when the thugs found him.
I’m clinging on to every single person in my life right now. I’m so afraid that at any second I’m going to lose them. Like when my mom and dad leave our house, I insist on watching them leave. For a whole month after he passed away I’d call my parents every 2 minutes to make sure they were alive.
I’ve taken away some good things from this bad incident, though. It was tough but I found that I need to appreciate the little things that come and go. You never know when one person walks out a door if they’ll ever come back again.
So all I can really say, to answer your question about how that situation affected me, is that he said he’d be back with a box of donuts. After the investigation and autopsy I finally got ahold of the donuts he bought. They were long stale, but they’re still sitting on my dresser, in the plastic container, 9 months old, with Matthew’s name scrawled on the order slip attached to the side.

RT: So, Jal, what is depression like for you?
JE: Depression… am I depressed?
RT: I suppose so. You’re doing this because you want to help us realize what makes people tick. What makes you tick, Jal?
JE: What makes me tick? My parents. They don’t get what it’s like to like both boys and girls. They don’t always accept my love for art. I used to be a dancer, you know, when I was younger. I hate dancing, especially tap. My parents are always like, “Oh Jal, you were so talented, blah blah” and I’m just like “Mom and dad. I hate dance. I’m never doing it again.”. Also, the kids at school kind of suck sometimes. Sometimes life is like that. They look at you the same way all the time: you do one thing, they hate you. You do another, they still hate you. That’s why you have to pick the right people to hang out with.
RT: Who are the right people to hang out with?
JE: They’re the ones that make you smile. They’re the ones who make you feel good about yourself. If they’re good influences…wait, no. I take it back. There are people who are good influences who shouldn’t necessarily be your friend. But all of your friends should be good influences. Does that make sense? The right people to hang out with won’t put you down for what you love to do. They’ll pull you out of a dump when you’re in one. Friends make mistakes so you can learn from them. When you make mistakes, your friends learn, too. And these are the kind of people who won’t push you into a hole when you’re not ready to jump.
RT: Wow. That was very philosophical.
JE: I know. I say it so often in my head, that way, it kind of sticks in my brain.
RT: How do you deal when you make mistakes?
JE: Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t. I mess up a lot. I used to deal with things very badly. I’d vandalize things. Or I’d shoplift.
RT: What’s different now?
JE: You know, it wasn’t the hospital that saved my life. It was surrounding myself with positive things. I found a better canvas for my art instead of brick walls. And I’m not klepto anymore. I thought stealing things would make me feel like I had more possessions, but I found that art is a better outlet. Mostly because it’s not illegal.
RT: Do you feel less depressed?
JE: Yeah. It comes back sometimes. Technically, I’m still clinically depressed. But I regulate my feelings. It’s not a matter of getting rid of depression.
It’s about overcoming it.

Dear Vienna,

Hi! It’s Jenna DuBray from Camp Green Brook. How are you lately? My fifteenth birthday just passed. Homeschooling is going ok. I wish I had more friends. But I guess I can’t really get around that.

I’m sectioning off a part of my parents’ garden to start growing my own roses. I think roses are gorgeous flowers. I’m a little nervous because I don’t really garden, but my older brother David does. Maybe I’ll ask him about it.

I did make a new friend, though. His name’s Johnny Hecht, and he’s 16. I think he goes to Seabreeze High School. I think he’s one of the only kids in Florida who attends public school and still hangs out with someone like me. At first I thought he was really cute, like, as in CUTE cute, but then I decided I just want to be friends. I haven’t ever really had a crush on someone except movie stars because I don’t go to regular school. I did see a really cute boy at the market once, though. So I accidentally kept staring at him until I slammed into the vegetable tubs and the tomatoes tumbled everywhere. By the way, he says he’s going to teach me how to swim.

David comes back from college tomorrow.



Dear Vienna,

Jenna again! Hi! I have really good news. My mom let me tour Seabreeze High School!! She says if I’m good I can maybe attend there next year when I’m a junior. You won’t believe how cool regular school is. Actually, maybe you do. ‘Cause you go to regular school. I forgot. Oops.

I’m not getting better. I’m sorry to tell you that. I’m still too sad.

It feels like I’m falling. Falling fast. I just know I’m going to hit the concrete and splat open. Just like the tomatoes I knocked over at the grocery.

Best wishes.

Jenna DuBray
Jenna and Johnny’s chat log
Ormondbeach1997- hi johnny
Seabreezestars- heyyy
Ormondbeach1997- whatsup
Seabreezestars- nothing much, r u gonna come to the beach tomorrow? I wanna teach u how 2 surf.
Ormondbeach1997- idk. I was planning on picking up fertilizer for my new rose garden
Seabreezestars1997- ur growing roses? Thts way cool. Can I com over and help?
Ormondbeach1997- ill ask my mom. Probs. Look I need to tell u somethin
Seabreezestars- kk what is it?
Ormondbeach1997- im sick.
Seabreezestars- like CANCER sick?!
Ormondbeach1997- lol no. not like that. Im mentally sick. Theres something wrong with me. Im too sad. And im telling you cuz maybe u don’t wanna be my friend if theres somethin wrong with me
Seabreezestars- I wouldn’t even think bout not bein ur friend. No matter wut ur still cool and even if you are sad like that ill still accept you.
Ormondbeach1997- r u sure
Seabreezestars- duh
Ormondbeach1997- I kno I just met u but can u be my best friend I know that’s weird but I don’t have friends ur the first real world friend ive ever had
Seabreezestars- its not weird, Jenna. Im definitely ur best friend. And ur mine.
Ormondbeach1997- gnight johnny.
Seabreezestars- goodnight jenna.
Seabreezestars has logged off.
Ormondbeach1997 has logged off.

I’ve done plenty of strange things in life.
Meeting a therapist was not one of them. Well, now it was, because I was sitting in Dr. Shriver’s office talking about myself.
One thing you should know about me is that I really, really don’t like talking about myself. It makes me way too uncomfortable, and besides, my life is too complicated. As soon as I started explaining the bathroom incident, I knew I would have to tell my life story. Dr. Shriver just nodded her head like she understood. Maybe she did, maybe she didn’t.
When I got home, my mom grabbed my wrist. I thought she was going to yank me down, but she twisted it around. And then I knew what she was doing. She was looking at my cuts.
I winced as if in pain, the same pain I had been through when I used to hurt myself. My mom started crying, and it hurt just as much to watch her as it did when I was sad.
“I love you,” She kept repeating it over and over again, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
For a while after, my mother would treat me gingerly. Like I would explode or something. I remembered Dr. Shriver saying,
“I’m not going to challenge you to stop drinking. I’m not even going to ask you to give up drugs or cutting your wrists. All I want you to think about is; in the long run, will you look at the scars on your arms and say, ‘they were from hard work’? Don’t you want scars on your knees, instead, Jenna? Don’t you want scars from climbing hills, falling off your bike, and riding a skateboard?”
“I don’t know…?”
“You’re too beautiful and too precious to hurt yourself like that. Think about it.”
So I did think about it. I had trouble staying away from bottles. It hurt not to go in the closet to get the lighter. But it felt surprisingly a little better to go outside and lie on the grass, staring at the clouds.
So this morning I did something that surprised myself. I drew a sharpie butterfly on the inside of my wrist.

Dear Journal,

Yo. It’s Cassie. Did you know that today is Matthew’s birthday? I celebrated by taking the Metro over to Fractured Prune and buying Maple Donuts. He would want it that way.

I recently got out of the hospital for the second time in my life. This time is different somehow.

I had a dream that Matthew was talking to me. And when I woke up, I thought back on the good memories I had with him. I cried and cried and cried. But cried in a good way.

I’m going to do it for him. That’s what I had told myself before, but something told me I hadn’t gotten it quite right. I’m doing this for myself.

I don’t think I want to die anymore. It feels a lot better to breathe clean air. I have a list of coping skills now.

I don’t need to die. I just need to breathe.

Jal Englehart’s Poem
I just need
Some breathing air
It feels like I’m suffocating
Surrounded everywhere
I’m getting a lot better
But it’s still kind of tough
It feels like stormy weather
And the tide is sort of rough
I used to be suicidal
And very in the dumps
But now I’m not as idle
And I’m not a lazy clump
Sometimes I still wonder
Why people can be so cruel
Then I know its their attempt
To make themselves look cool.
I used to turn to cutting
As an outlet for my pain
I’d cry so much I dried up
A year without wet rain
I was a vandalist
And a kleptomaniac
Stealing made me feel prized
But it wasn’t a real fact
I’m trying hard to realize
My worth to the universe
My name is a blessing
But I can be a curse
Jenna DuBray’s Hospital Admission
Name: Jennifer Hope DuBray
Age: 15
DOB: 7/10/1997
ADMISSION REASON: Overdose on Lithium tablets. Swelling of the throat and brain. Excessive vomiting. Internal bleeding.

April Fordyce
I’ve learned to like Dr. Shriver in the past few sessions. Well, at least, I’ve learned to take her like a pill: chew and swallow.
I went shopping yesterday alone. Something I never do. I usually have someone there to reassure me that something looks good on me. But as I tried on the twentieth pair of booty shorts and looked in the mirror, I decided it was a no. There was something about the way the outfit hung on me that made me decide I didn’t want all of my skin exposed.
So I bought jeans instead. I had forgotten how long it was since I’ve worn long pants, and it felt weird.
I’m suffering from withdrawal sickness right now. Life is a witch sometimes. Half of the time I’m leaning over the toilet dry retching.
“…in order to separate and isolate the variables from both sides of the equations, you have to combine like terms before solving the problem.” Mr. Finch drawled during Algebra. I was hardly paying attention. My head was lolling over the side of my desk. All I wanted was a good fix, but I knew that it wouldn’t help me. It was so hard being sober. I don’t know how everyone did it. But facing your problems on your own without a substance is difficult when you’re a morphling like me.
“Ms. Fordyce, are you alright?” I felt my stomach coming up in my mouth just as the class turned to stare. I didn’t even respond. I just got up and dashed to the girls’ restroom.
A group of lipstick girls came into the bathroom, giggling and swaying their hair around like a shampoo commercial. When they saw me, they backed up, walking straight out.
When I stared up at my face, I nearly whimpered. No wonder people stared at me. My eyes were sinking into their sockets. No amount of makeup could’ve possibly brought life back into my cheeks. I looked exactly like a corpse.
“I’m getting better,” I said aloud, trying to reassure myself, “I’ll never have to look like this again. I’ll never touch another cig, not another bottle. I swear.” Then I barfed back into the can.
Sometimes I have to reassure myself before I can believe anything anyone says.

Dear Vienna,

I’ve been to the hospital. Not for the same reason you’d think; I didn’t break my ankle or arm. But I did something highly stupid. I don’t think I can be the same to you or David or my parents or even Johnny.

The nurse and doctor suggested I get a therapist. My parents think that’s a bad idea; maybe they want to get me better themselves. Or maybe they don’t want to acknowledge that there’s a problem to take care of.

I wanted to go to sleep forever, but I didn’t. My mom found me on the floor. I couldn’t understand what she was saying, except for, “Oh my god, David. Get an ambulance for your sister.” Next thing I knew, the Ormond Beach Paramedics were loading me into the vehicle and I thought I was half dead. I wasn’t even close to dead, though, because once I was awake, the medical people told me I vomited up all the bad stuff.

Johnny doesn’t know where I’ve been. I saw him today. I think he knows that something is up, though.

“Do you wanna shoot hoops?” He asked.

“No, that’s ok. I have to tend to my rose garden.”

“Oh. Well, are you ok?”


“Where were you last week? I didn’t see you outside or at the beach at all.”

“I was at school.”

“You’re homeschooled, Jenna.” All of a sudden I just started to cry. And then Johnny was hugging me. And I realized I kind of liked him. In that way.

I went into the city today to treat myself to a day in Central Park. I haven’t really spent any time to myself, since I’ve been really stressed out with final exams.
The bitter, hot New York air baked my skin as I walked through the busy streets. People stared at me knowingly; knowing that I’m not a city girl, I’m from the Montauk coast. And for once I didn’t mind. They could stare all they wanted. I was still recovering from losing my best friend and just being depressed and suicidal altogether. I was so caught up in my thoughts that I didn’t notice I was standing in an intersection.
“Hey, bimbo, get out’a the street! You’re holdin’ up the traffic here!” Some taxi cab driver gave me a rude hand gesture so I ran off the street.
I was trying to keep my mind off of exams. I couldn’t afford to have another mental breakdown, this time, right in the middle of the street. I jogged into the park. Here’s the thing about Sundays in the park: Old ladies like to do Tai Chi on the grass, and little kids like to run up the hills and rocks playing tag.
I put on my sunglasses, opened Tan Zu’s Art of War, and started reading. And then was shortly interrupted by someone tapping on my shoulder. I turned.
“Excuse me, but is that book good?” A skinny girl with blue eyes asked me.
“Who are you?” I asked her.
“?? ????? ??? ????? Mellie, ??? ????? ?? ?????? ?? ???? ??? ???????,.” She said in Greek. I had no idea what she said.
“Mon nom est Mellie, et je peux parler toutes les langues,” she repeated, this time in French. I had no idea what she was saying. I must’ve looked pretty stupid, with my mouth hanging open like that. The girl sighed patiently. “It means: my name is Mellie, and I can speak every language.”
“Oh. That’s cool. I wish I could speak French.” My face burned. Mellie smiled.
“I could teach you how to. You don’t look like you’re from the city. You must be a Montauk Coaster.” She said. I nodded. “Do you want me to teach you French?” My face lit up. I’d always wanted to learn another language. And even better: maybe I had gained a new friend.
“Yeah. That’d be really cool. Do you have a cell phone?” Mellie whipped out her iPhone faster than I could blink. In a few minutes, we had exchanged phone numbers and promised to keep in touch.
Jal Engelhard
Today was really not a good day. It’s amazing how the world is so effed up sometimes and we can’t do anything about it. I mean, I’ve tried to do stuff about it, but I just couldn’t. Not here. Not now.
I drove out to Salt Lake City Comic Con today to attend. Everything was great until my mom texted me at 4, telling me to get my “ass” back here and if I didn’t I would be in so much trouble. So, yeah, I literally turned around and drove 3 hours back home.
When I got there, my mom was already waiting for me in the front lawn. She looked pretty pissed. She took her hand and smacked me sky high into the air right in my cheek. And then I said, “What the hell was that for?” and she turned and there were these horrible, horrible tears of anger in her eyes. One of those times when you see your folks cry but it’s just because they don’t know what to do. And she said,
“What do you think, stealing things and cutting yourself and spray painting people’s property is alright?!” It was then when I realized she had found out about my past. “I didn’t grow up to raise a b****! And that’s what you are!”
“Ma, I’m not a b**** and you know it. Don’t even try to curse at me. Get yourself together. It’s in the past.”
“Past doesn’t mean s*** if I didn’t know about it!” Her voice was so urgent and scared, I couldn’t even be mad at her, even though I could already feel a welt the size of a plum rising on my cheek. And in that moment I stared straight at her and tried hard to think about what I’d feel if I were her. What would I feel if I found out that less than 6 months ago, my daughter was the poster child for disaster. But she was better now. Still. She lied and hid it from me.
“I wanted to let it go.”
“You can’t just let it go! You can’t let something that crazy go. You know it and I know it! I find out a f*ing half year later that you shoplifted nearly every store in the mall! How do you think it felt when I got a call this morning from American Eagle, telling me that it’s alright for you to shop in there, because your ban has been lifted? And I’m like, ‘well, why did my daughter even have a ban to shop there in the first place?”
“And you know what the guy says? He says, ‘Jal shoplifted a pair of jeans and a jacket six months ago, and she was banned from shopping at our store.’ Are you kidding me? Then later, I go to clean up your room for you and I find vandalism crime reports stuffed under your bed! And then I find your journal.”
My face burned hot with fresh anger. “Ma, you did not-“
“Oh, yes I did! I read it! And you hurt yourself on purpose?! Are you an idiot?”
“MA, it’s in the past! I’m better now! Do you see scars-“ I showed my mother my arms, “No, right? Just let it go!”
I marched past her wordlessly and slammed the door.
My mom will not decide how I begin again, because I’m my own person. It kills me, it really does, when she has to be so afraid of everything that she can’t love me like a normal mother.
But beside the point, she won’t stop me from growing.

Dear Vienna,

Johnny left.

He’s never coming back to Ormond Beach, Florida.

-Jenna DuBray

I never really told anyone about what happened.
It was cold outside. I felt like I was dragging boulders. I wasn’t sure if I could handle everything/
Just like that, one twitch of an ankle and I was sent sprawling off of the Manhattan Bridge.
Then someone grabbed my wrist and I stopped falling.

Dear Vienna,

I’m really sorry for not explaining. I’m not good at being explanatory, am I? I must’ve really scared you.

Johnny moved to California. He told me to meet him at the beach, and when I reached there, he was in the moving truck. He said that he would really miss me but he couldn’t tell me before. When I asked him why he couldn’t tell me, he started to cry and said he couldn’t hurt me. I got really mad because that hurt worse.

The good part is that he kissed me on the lips.

The bad thing was that it was before he told me he was moving.
I miss him. He was the closest I’ve ever had to a friend. Maybe now I’ll learn to be independent, but for the time being, I need time. Time to heal, because quite frankly, I don’t know how hard this is going to be.
I need to get better before I can send you any letters. I miss you a lot but I can’t. I can’t talk about this anymore until I find myself. Have fun. Remember me.


The beautiful, indecisive, confused, mentally disturbed,

Jennifer Hope DuBray

My withdrawal sickness is gone. Right now, I’m in a residential treatment center in Southern Utah getting help. It’s really hard because I’m working to get better but I don’t know when I’m getting out. I just hope things will turn out alright, because I really think I deserve to be happy. Yeah, I said it. After everything I’ve just been through, I think I deserve to relax a bit.
I want you all to know what it’s like to go through hell. But I always want you to know what it’s like to feel a touch of heaven.
This time, life will be different.
April Carnation Fordyce

The author's comments:
It took me a month to put together everything for this story. Although fictional, it is a moving piece that inspired my friends. I hope it inspired you, too.

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