How Rare and Beautiful it Truly is that we exist | Teen Ink

How Rare and Beautiful it Truly is that we exist

April 8, 2014
By Arianaaaaa, New York, New York
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Arianaaaaa, New York, New York
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Author's note: My English class was assigned to write short stories that had a journey motif.

“Would you keep it down!” Alice yelled through the rusted bars next to her. Her eyes were red and puffy from her lack of sleep. Her once light red hair had become a dull brown and her bouncy waves flattened and frizzed at the ends. The girls on the other side of the bars gave her a look of annoyance and went back to yelling at each other.
“Are you okay?” I asked. She nodded slightly, shrugging her shoulders. I took her hand in mine; it was ice cold.
The bland uniform that was a shade of depressing grey was similar to Alice’s complexion. I remember when she was vibrant, her skin glowing and a smile constantly spread across her heart shaped face. Now I only saw her smile when they had pizza in the cafeteria, and it was small, almost unnoticeable.
“You’re cold,” I said quietly.
“I’m always cold,” she whispered.
“Say it to my face you piece’a white trash!” Someone shouted. Alice covered her ears, her eyes squeezed shut.
“I don’t gotta listen to you!” Someone else shouted. Alice pulled her legs into her chest, humming, drowning out the screams of the girls around us.
“I want to go home,” Alice muttered.
I patted her back, “You will, we will.”
“Now.” She demanded, clutching her knees so tightly to her chest her knuckles became white. It was hard seeing her like this but I was used to it and I knew how to help her through.
“Just go to sleep,” I took the itchy brown blanket that lay at her feet and placed it over her body. She did as I said and kept her eyes closed, her hands still covering her ears.
Her body stopped shaking despite the continuous screams coming from around us, that’s when I knew she was asleep. I sat back against the cold wall staring straight ahead between the metal bars that concealed us from the world. I turned around on my butt and looked at the grey wall I was sitting against. The tally marks that Alice had etched with a pencil she found went on for what seemed like forever. That’s how long we have been here; forever. I traced the lines with the tips of my fingers; my hands were not as cold as Alice’s and my skin had kept its peachy tone, but mentally we were on the same level.
The sound of a key clicking got my attention and I quickly turned around. Alice was not aroused by the noise; she was a heavy sleeper. Sean walked in just as he did every day at the same time. He was the third floor’s head guard. He towered over Alice’s dainty frame and his uniform was tight around his muscles. He shook Alice, her eyes fluttering open. They were, like the rest of her body, dull and lifeless. That’s what this place will do to you.
“Alice, we have to go get lunch now,” I said to her as she sat up.
“Come on Ms. Ivan you need to go eat now,” Sean said taking Alice by the arm.
She looked at me, “Are you coming Mae?” She asked me. I nodded my head slightly, smiling in response.
“We can’t wait for your friend Ms. Ivan, come on.” Sean helped her stand up. She wobbled, her legs were so skinny I was surprised they could still support her weight. She held her hand out for me and I took it, feeling the cold shoot up my arm once again.

“Is there Pizza today?” Alice asked slowly walking out of the quaint room and into the hall.
“No I think today they have sloppy joe,” Sean said guiding us to the cafeteria. Her face dropped, but then again that was her signature look.
The cafeteria was the same as usual, a crowded yet silent room full of unhappy people. The outfits did not vary in color, everyone had the same drab gray scrub-like uniforms and the same straight face. I stood next to Alice in the line for food, Sean on the other side of her. I found her hand and held it in my own.
Alice didn’t like the cafeteria, there were too many people. She liked when we were alone, and so did I.
“What’ll it be today?” The woman behind the shatterproof plastic partition asked.
Alice eyed her options, “What do you want Mae?” She always asked me what I wanted before she made her decision.
“Nothing today,” I smiled slightly.
“Come on miss you’re holding up the line,” The woman picked at her hairnet.
“I’ll just take that,” Alice muttered pointing to the steaming assorted vegetables. She held out her plate as the woman piled on the smelly vegetables. Alice scrunched her nose, we were similar in that way.
We walked over to our usual small table near the only window in the cafeteria. Alice liked the sun light; it didn’t hurt her eyes like the fluorescent lights that watched over each skinny girl that sat alone in this room.
It had begun to snow. I didn’t even know it was winter. Alice gapped at the sight of the pristine white fluff that concealed the entire grass yard behind the facility. “Let’s go outside and play in the snow!” She said happily, a smile appearing on her face.
“We… We will, later, we will. I promise,” I smiled slightly. Her grin faded and her eyes fell to the plate of greens in front of her. “You should eat,” I added.
She shrugged her shoulders; that meant no.
Sean walked over, blocking the sliver of sunlight that had warmed Alice’s neutral expression. “Alice, you need to eat,” He demanded.
“No, no I don’t. If Mae isn’t eating I won’t.”
“Alice,” Sean sat down on the bench next to me, “We have discussed this. Mae cannot eat but you can.” He said slowly.
Alice hung her head and shook it slowly her hair falling in front of her face.
“Well then why don’t you offer Mae some?” He suggested. I knew what I had to do, she didn’t have to offer, this happened every day. I took the fork and forced a piece of broccoli down my throat.
“Not bad,” I said cringing a bit in reaction of the intake of food.
Alice picked up the fork and repeated my actions until the whole plate was empty.
“Alice you are going home later today,” Sean said standing.
Her face was still blank but her eyes lit up at the words- no, just one word; home. “What, why?”
“For Christmas,” Sean took her plate of food, “You get to go home for a week. You need to pack your things, your mother should be here soon.”
At that she was up and running back to our cell. I got up ran after her, but I was fast and soon I was ahead of her. She got to the cell out of breath but still eager to pack her few things and go home. She pulled her backpack out from under the bed and pushed all the things on her nightstand in to it, her two pairs of pants, socks, and two tee shirts followed.
“Slow down Alice, they aren’t here yet.” I laughed slightly. She was always so excited to go home, but I knew what this meant. She was going to come back miserable. She was going to realize why she was here, why she left. She would forget me. They would make her forget me.
“Which dress should I wear?” Alice spun around waving her 2 dresses in my face. One was a pale blue with little white beads along the neck and waistline, the other was bright yellow chiffon that swooshed with each turn she made.
“The yellow one.” I said leaning against the cold metal bars. She clapped her hands and pulled off her uniform then putting the dress on. It was strange to see such a jubilant girl now after witnessing her tears and anger just this morning. I loved seeing her happy like this and I wasn’t going to waste it by telling her what it was really like for her at home.
“Why aren’t you packing? Come on Mae we finally get to go home!” She ran over to me, spinning me around. We both spun and laughed until our faces hurt.
The ringing of the metal bars interrupted our world of smiles and happy tears. “Alice, your mother is here,” Sean said opening our cell door. Alice slung her backpack over her shoulder and took my hand walking out the cell door. I looked back, staring at the tallies on the wall through the metal bars. Tomorrow would just be another tally. Another day of our life. Even though we Alice would be home and I would be here, we would be together. We were always together. The snow covered parking lot was empty except for a single Range Rover, Alice’s mother walked out of it and I some of the broccoli rise in my throat.
“Mommy!” Alice yelled. Alice began to run towards her but Sean grabbed her by the arm and made her face him.
“Wait here.”
My hand was still intertwined with Alice’s as we watched her mother approach us. She was tall and beautiful, just like Alice. Those were qualities I never obtained. Once she was close enough you could see the glisten of tears in her eyes. She breathed deeply creating a white cloud, “Do you have her medications?” She asked. Sean handed her a large paper bag, you could hear the pills jiggling inside. “Is she still seeing… Where is Mae?” Her mother breathed deeply.
“Yes, just give her the medication once you arrive home and everything should be fine,” Sean said. “See you after Christmas Alice,” He shook her free hand before walking back into the facility.
We stood there for what seemed like forever. Alice’s mother’s eyes just looking up and down her not so little girl. “You’ve gotten so big,” She wiped a tear from her cheek. Alice held her arms out for a hug but her mother just turned her back and walked towards to car, Alice and I following.
Once we arrived at the small but cozy house, Alice wasn’t as excited to be home. She squeezed my hand tight as we walked through the somewhat unfamiliar door to the house.
“Alice you need to take these,” Her mother said once she had taken her jacket off. She tossed two small pills out of the orange bottle and placed them in Alice’s hands. The red pills contrasted her pale complexion. As her mother went to get her a glass of water we sat down on floor in the living room. The fireplace warmed our cold hands and melted away our smiles.
“I’ll see you soon, okay?” I said.
“Where are you going? We just got here,” Her eyebrows furrowed. I hated confusing her like this. I hated it.
“I’ll be back before you know it, don’t worry,” I smiled slightly looking in to her green eyes that appeared orange at times from the fire.
“I don’t want you to leave,” She began to cry.
“I ‘m not leaving. I’m just going away for a little. I would never leave you, never.”
The click of her mother’s heels on the wood floor got our attention, “Here Alice,” She handed her the glass of water.
“No I can’t take these, I don’t want Mae to leave,” She stared at the pills in her hand, tears falling over the brims of her eyelids.
“Alice, I don’t want to fight, just take them, please, for mommy.”
“I love you,” Alice said turning her attention to me, her red eyes staring straight through me.

“I’ll see you soon little sis,” I smiled. Alice put the pills on her tongue and after she took her first sip of water, she began to fade. She was sheer, so was the house. She was gone, so was the house. I was alone, with my thoughts. Alice may not have been as dead as I am but mentally, we’re on the same level.

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This book has 1 comment.

Maiam said...
on Apr. 13 2014 at 10:52 pm
This was great!!! Loved it