• Chapter one

    It was cold but I didn’t mind. I needed to think and sort things out. With my earphones in, I kept walking, making my way through the woods. Whenever I need time alone I go for long walks with no companion except my music. I’m the type of girl who likes solitude. I’m not shy; I just prefer to keep to myself. It’s how I like it.

    I was getting closer to the house and still felt irate. So I sat down on a bench in the park across from my house to think. I lived in a poor neighborhood in Aurora, Nebraska so the bench was in pretty bad condition, it wobbled as I put my weight on it. Right away my pants were wet. I had forgotten it had rained and the bench would be wet. It was only about 5:30 but the sky was dark. I slouched on the bench and laid my head back; I closed my eyes and got lost in my music.

    I woke suddenly and checked the time. 6:47. I got up, zipped my jacket up all the way, put my hood up and started for the house.

    I walked in and hung up my jacket. As I was headed for my room my mom called to me.
    “Bailey where have you been? You were supposed to be back almost an hour ago”

    She always got herself worked up over things like that.

    “Sorry Jenny. I fell asleep on the park bench.”

    Jenny. My mother. I loved her to death but she’s more of a friend then a mom. If anything, I should’ve been her mother. She’s the one always getting into trouble.

    “Just don’t be late again. I’m going out tonight. There’s food in fridge so don’t order anything. Stay in tonight. Keep the doors locked, answer the phone and you have my cell if you need me.”

    “Kay Jenny. Have fun. Be safe.” I murmured as I headed up the stairs to my room.

    This had been her typical night since I was old enough to take care of myself. She’d find some guy to go out with and wouldn’t come home until early morning the next day. I’m amazed I’m still an only child. But she’s young. She deserves to have fun, right? I didn’t mind though. It gave me more time to myself.

    When I got to my room I took off my hoodie and laid it on my desk with my headphones. I kicked off my shoes and picked the towel I had used that morning off the floor and went to take my shower. [We only had cold water this month]

    After my shower, I put on blue pajama pants with stars and a blue tank top. I had forgotten socks. I brushed my hair and went downstairs to get some dinner.

    I opened the fridge expecting nothing but a couple of sodas and some Chinese from the night before. And that’s exactly what I saw. I went to the freezer and got a TV dinner. I put it in the microwave and ran upstairs to get one of my hoodies.

    Forgetting all about my dinner, I picked up the picture I had on my desk of Jenny, Jason and I. We were all sitting by the Christmas tree in our old house. Jenny in the middle taking the picture. (We had to take it at least 3 times before she got us all to fit.) I laid on my bed and thought back to the days where we didn’t have to live in a bad neighborhood, with no money, a beat up car, no hot water. When we were all happy.

    Suddenly I heard the microwave. I ran down to get my dinner and returned to my room. I put in a DVD in and turned on the TV. (Candy is my favorite movie) I got under the covers with my dinner and watched my movie.

    I was standing in the middle of a road. There were no cars, no people, or houses on either side of me. The only things near me were trees. I started running, panicking. I didn’t know where I was. It was cold. My face was being stung by the freezing air. My hands felt like they were frostbitten. I ran even harder. I didn’t know where I was running to or why. But I couldn’t stop. I was breathing heavy and my legs started to cramp. I had to slow down. I couldn’t take anymore. Just as I was about to stop I looked up. I saw two figures. One looked like a boy, the other a man. Despite my fatigue, I ran as hard as my legs could take to get to them. I was almost there. And the two turned and walked away. I ran after them and though they seemed to only be walking, I couldn’t catch up.

    “Bailey Mae, if you don’t get up soon you’ll be late again.”

    I sat up quickly. I was sweaty and out of breath. I nodded to Jenny and she shut the door. Who were those two people in my dream? And why did I want so bad to catch them? I laid back down and tried to wake myself up by rubbing my eyes. I turned over and almost stuck my face in my half-eaten TV dinner.

    After my shower, I pulled on my jeans and pink t-shirt. I went back to my room and put on some socks and my shoes. After a minute of staring into space, I got up, and fixed my hair.

    My hair is the worst. It’s brown, medium length, just past my shoulders. It’s always straight and the worst part: My bangs. They do a little swoop thing to the left side of my face. I love how my hair looks, I just don’t like taking the time every morning to dry and straighten it. Not to mention all the product I have to use to keep it like that all day.

    I went to my closet and grabbed a hoody. My usual ensemble included jeans, a shirt and one of my many hoodies. Today was a black hoody with neon color paint splatters on the bottom right-hand side. I grabbed my messenger bag and slung it over my head so it would hang at an angle. I grabbed my music, shoved it in my pocket and went downstairs. Jenny was asleep on the living room couch again. She must have had a bad night.

    I put on my jacket, along with my blue and black stripped gloves, and my black beanie, I grabbed a cereal bar for breakfast, put on some music and headed off to school.

    I took the long way today. I didn’t have the mental stamina to listen to my cousin’s rants and gossip. Alex was your typical 17 year old girl. She was shorter then most of the kids around here with blonde hair and blue eyes. She made it her business to know everything that happened in school. And she was my one and only best friend.

    School doesn’t start until 8:44 so I sat on the steps to past the time with music. I listened to Motion City while observing the front courtyard of the school. (People watching was a hobby of mine.)

    I caught a glimpse of Mason Atkinson. He always had to be the center of attention. He was always goofing off or cracking jokes to make people laugh at him. I hated Mason’s personality but he was easy on the eyes. He was tall, well built but not bulky and his hair was jet black, just past his eyes.

    The first bell rang and I went to put my things in my locker. I spun around to go to my first block class and nearly fell on top of Alex.

    “Hey Bailey, where were you this morning? I had to walk to school alone this morning.” Unlike me, my cousin didn’t like to be left alone for too long.

    “Sorry. I was late.” I lied, hoping she hadn’t seen me outside.
    “It’s okay. I forgive. Did you hear about Ange and Mike? Apparently last night….”
    As she went on about her two friends I tuned her out until I got to my class.

    School was the same everyday. It took every ounce of energy in me to stay awake but somehow I always managed. My mind would always wander off and go swimming through my thoughts as I fought off my fatigue. I sat in the back of all my classes and my teachers always refrained from calling on me to answer a question. At lunch I’d always sit with Alex and her group of “close” friends. I’d keep to myself but I’d reply if I was spoken to. Overall my days were full of silence. That’s the way I liked it.

    After school Alex and I went to the coffee shop down the street. She’d always bring her laptop and take advantage of the WiFi while I stared out the window.

    “So what are you going to do after high school Bailey Mae?” Alex asked.
    “Huh? Oh well, I don’t know yet Alex. Are you ready to go home?” We had been there for almost an hour and I was out of coffee.
    “You go on. I’ll see you tomorrow Bailey. Tell Jenny I said hi would you?”
    “Sure Alex. She’ll be happy to hear from you. Bye.”

    For some reason I was anxious to get home that night so I decided to cut through the park. As I was walking home, I noticed all the little kids playing with their parents or older siblings. I sighed and gave a little girl a slight smile and kept walking.

    When I got home, I found Jenny in the kitchen with a bottle of wine. She wasn’t much of a drinker so the wine told me something was wrong.

    “Alex says Hi.” I told her while I slung my bag on the table.
    “Oh. Ok. I miss her. Tell her to come by soon.” She took a big gulp of her wine.
    “Jenny, what’s wrong? Did something happen last night?”
    “No, Bailey. I had a great time last night.”
    “Then what’s the deal Jen. You hate wine.”

    She looked up at me for the first time since I got home. Her eyes were red and swollen. She looked like she had been crying all day.

    “Nothing, sweetie. I’m just missing him a lot right now.”

    She was referring to Jason.

    “I know Jenny. I miss him too.”
    I walked around the table and gave her a long hug.
    I gave her a kiss on the forehead and went upstairs and laid down on my bed.

    Jason was my older brother. He committed suicide a couple years ago. He was dating some girl that had it out for me. One day he caught her pushing me around and broke up with her. “If she doesn’t have respect for my little sister, she’ll get none from me.” He had told me. About a month later he got news that she had hung herself. Apparently she had a bad home-life. She left a note for Jason saying she loved him. “Forever and always”. It also said Jason was the only one who cared about her and that since she had lost him, she didn’t want to keep fighting. Jason took it pretty hard. I would try and talk to him and make him feel better but he never wanted to talk to me after that. He didn’t even want to look at me.

    One day, while Jenny was at work, he came up to me and hugged me. It a was long hug, as if he were making up for the weeks he wouldn’t even look at me. He whispered in my ear that he loved me and that he’d always have my back. Then he added “ No matter where I am.” I tried holding onto him but he pushed me away.

    Mom kept a gun in her dresser. She didn’t keep it because she thought she would need it. She kept it because it was the gun she used to get us away from our father. One of her only accomplishments she says. She kept it as a trophy.

    Jason kissed my forehead and left. He told me not to follow him but I didn’t listen. I followed him to the woods behind the park begging and pleaded for him to put the gun down and come home. To talk to me. He started running and I ran after him. “Please. Go home Bailey Mae. Please.” He yelled back at me but I kept chasing him, screaming for him to stop and come back with me.

    He stopped, turned around, winked at me and with a smile he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

    Jason and I were as close as a brother and sister can be.