Wednesday, October 28, 2009

3:42am, November 21st, 2002

It's dark. Why is it so dark? Oh's night is my window glowing?

"Nadine! Get the kids dressed and get them out of the house!"

My dad rips the front door open, pulling on his big leather dogsledding mits. I watch through the crack in my doorway, the light from the front hall somewhat blinding me as I cling to my blanket.

"Amanda, get dressed right now! We have to get out! It's ok baby sshhh," my mothers voice cracks as she tries to comfort my little brother. I'm standing on my bed, not knowing what to do. The dogs are howling, my brother is crying, and there's a strange roaring sound coming from outside.

"Mommy! What's wrong!"
She enters my room, takes my hand and pulls me into the front hall, feverishly stuffing my arms through my jacket; Kyle is sitting on the front bench, already suited up. He doesn't seem to understand what's going on - he's only 5. But then again, I'm 11 and I don't understand what's going on either.

We all trek outside into the snow, the cold and the dark. At least it would have been dark if not for one thing.

The garage is on fire.

It is a giant orange inferno. My mom puts my brother and I into the back seat of the car, and she stands outside with a phone in her hand. She is trying not to cry all the while. Then she hangs up; covering her mouth with an empty palm, unbelieving of what's happening. I don't know where my dad is.

All I can do is watch.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Dark Side of Life

*Names have been changed for privacy protection

"*Sam? What's wrong?"
"I-I can't...I'm g-gonna be f-fire-ired! And he does-doesn't w-want me! Oh god. Manda? I did something bad..."
"It's ok hun, take a breath and calm down. You're ok. What happened?"
"I'm stupid 'manda. Oh god. Shit. There's blood everywhere! Oh god..."

It figures the middle of a drug store is where my heart would stop. I snap my fingers to get *Jack's attention and mouth the words "First Aid Kit", handing him a twenty. I stride away and out the doors, my phone pressed tightly to my ear. The air is cold but I don't notice until I'm leaning against my car.

"Sam keep talking to me ok? Where did you cut yourself?"
"Oh god, Amanda? I have to go to work! I have to get ready...But it won't stop bleeding!"
"It's ok Sam, don't worry about work right now ok? Now where did you cut yourself?"
"M-my leg..."

I feel relief spreading through my blood. It's that lukewarm feeling of nerves calming down just enough to let your mind wander to other possible calamities.

So now I'm dodging through traffic in my little Chevy, trying to keep Sam calm and on the line until I get an address out of her, and Jack is fiddling with his first aid kit and mumbling to himself. Sam decides to hang up on me to call her not-quite-boyfriend and Jack looks at me as I close my phone, laying it in my lap.

"Is this normal for you?"
"What do you mean?" I ask, gunning the accelerator up a hill.
"Saving the world? You seem ridiculously calm about all of this."
I smirk and glance at him, cutting through an intersection, "You're nervous."
"I am..."
"See, you've had the benefit of living a sheltered life, Jack. How many of your friends have killed themselves?"
He can't answer me.
"That's what I thought..."

I pull in behind a white ford pick up truck. Sam is standing on the steps of her front porch.
Jack and I follow her inside and sit her on the couch. I play my role - the best friend - and let her vent and sob and incoherently choke out everything that happened tonight. Jack is dressing the cuts and trying to pretend he isn't listening. The blood is all over the floor and dripping down her leg as he tries to clean the open wounds.
I excuse myself while Jack bandages her, following the trail of blood to the bathroom. I find a bloodied facecloth and broken razors on the floor. I look at the blood streaked down the sides of the tub and sigh, pushing memories out of my mind.
I come back to the living room and Sam starts getting ready for work. There's no arguing with her about going. I take the spare key I find on the table and tell her I'm keeping it. She doesn't argue; she knows better.
Before I know it, we're standing outside next to her car and I'm leaning down in the window to talk to her.

"Call me when you get there ok? I'll come see you in a bit to make sure you're doing ok."
"Ok...Thank you...for saving me...I love you."
"I love you too, hun."

Jack and I walk towards my car and get in, watching as Sam drives down the street.


Her car turns the corner and both Jack and I bolt for the front door.
Jack goes to the kitchen and I go to the bathroom. I gather all the razor blades, both broken and unused and shove them in a bag. I start cleaning the floor and tub with papertowel and disinfectant. I am running the tap over the bloodied facecloth when Jack comes in.

"I cleaned up the blood in the kitchen..." He stops and watches me. "Do I wanna know why you're so good at this whole cover up thing?"
I smirk and laugh softly just once, "Lot's of practice..."