The Things You Leave Behind


Her friends came by the next week, unannounced and giggling, they came. They marched to the front door in a pack of theirs, one brave one reached out and rang the doorbell as I was walking past and when I turned the lock to open it, I was met with their wide eyes all staring at me, taken aback for a second before they recovered.

I didn’t say anything for a moment of course. I just stood there and stared at their wide eyes until it became apparent that none of them was going to break the ice. I was tired, nightmares had kept me up the entire night before, and we had run out of my favorite breakfast cereal and no one was going to bother to run to the store to get a new box for a long time, and my sister was dead, so I wasn’t exactly in the best of moods as my mouth opened to talk to them and my voice came out icy.

“What do you want?” I asked, my eyes narrowing slightly on them, my T-shirt hanging down over my thin legs, the morning breeze snaked in between them and made Goosebumps rise on my bare skin and I resisted the urge to shiver and slam the door in their faces.

“We were,” one of them stammered, trying to be brave and start. But then a second later her face fell and her sentence ended and she sank down on her heels into the crowd. It was another moment before a braver sole took her place and finished her sentence, even though her voice shook slightly. “We came by to get Natalie’s stuff.”

This didn’t register with me for a moment and I stood there and stared at them blankly. I held my half-filled mug in my hand where my coffee was cooling in the breeze and my bed upstairs was calling for me. I could practically feel myself tumbling down onto the mattress, pulling the soft downy white covers over my head and disappearing for yet another day. It had been days since I had showered last and before I opened the door I had been wondering if I should possibly do that today, but now that they were here, Natalie’s followers with their wide eyes and good intentions, it made me sick all over again and all I wanted was the comfort of my bed. My bed, which had seen no tragedies and had no blood spilt in it.

A girl towards the back cleared her throat, and then another spoke up again, “We though, since Natalie was gone now, we would come and take her stuff, to remind us of her.”

Yet another girl piped up, “Yeah, just her clothes and jewelry and posters, the stuff you guys don’t need,” she said, her voice far too happy for me to believe she was ever upset about Natalie dying. The Natalie that they had all eagerly followed around school like lost puppies, the one who they worshiped as if she was a goddess.

I snapped to attention and my eyes focused again on the group of them, who had all been giggling moments before. The girls who were asking to take Natalie’s things out of her room, with its shut bedroom door and clothes strewn all around the floor exactly as it had been the last time she’d been in it, exactly the way she had left if for us. I thought of them suddenly, up there in the room, pawing around her things, taking it greedily, stuffing it into their pockets, parading around school the next year in her clothing, the clothing of a dead girl they had once loved and it made me sick for completely different reasons.

“You want me to let you into my house so that you can go upstairs and tear apart my dead sister’s bedroom?” I asked my tone flat and void of all emotion, where on the inside I was shaking, both from cold and from anger.

They were silent for a minute, mulling over my question and considering their answer, and the same girl who had tried to be brave in the beginning finally found some of her courage and spoke up, “Yeah,” her voice was soft as if she was unsure of it herself.

I looked at them all for another moment, I thought of the closed door upstairs, I thought of those strangers in it, the people who didn’t even love her in the end. I gripped my hand on the edge of the door; let my fingers dig into the wood there, enough to leave little crescent-shaped indents in the wood.

“There’s no way in hell,” I said, rolling my eyes on them and letting my glare become icy and their faces fell. “Don’t even bother coming back either. All of Natalie’s things are staying exactly where she left them. You don’t get to have them just because she’s not using them anymore. God if she were here right now she’d be so fucking disappointed in all of you,” I practically spit, the words feeling sour in my mouth as their faces fell even more, a few even crumpled near the end, but I didn’t stick around long enough to see the rest of the show and instead firmly shut the door in their faces and turned towards the staircase behind me, and let my legs race up the steps two at a time.

“Who was at the door?” My mother called from her bedroom, her voice thick with sleep.

“Nobody, just some jerk trying to sell something,” I lied as I flitted past the closed doorway that had remnants of tape still stick to it when there was a sign that declared it to be Natalie’s Room. It was easy enough to push from your mind with the door closed like that, but now I imagined it propped open and filled with those girls from downstairs, who were now probably jetting away in their cars, giggling about something completely new that Natalie would never know, and suddenly it was too much and I dove into my room and into my bed where the comforter was there to greet me and the sheets were familiar with me and I was left to wallow in peace.


The red was still there. But this time it was different, I could see other things too, details coming into focus that were blurry before, sounds and feelings that I didn’t know existed in the first place, but it was all just as painful, knifes stabbing up my back, screeching in my ears, tears down my face—awful, horrible, alive, breathing, twisting. It was my nightmare, a scream clawed its way up my throat but I made no sound even though I was desperate to.

I saw a tree branch above me now and even it too was spotted with red. I saw the twisted hunk of metal underneath me, swallowing up my body. I saw dark shimmering hair to my right and no, I couldn’t look there and see the face that I knew was there, I couldn’t see the body, the red that would surely be spilling from her. Then there was the screaming sound that came last, piercing screams that could curdle your blood, the kind that made you wince in pain for the poor creature making such a sound.

It took me a moment to realize the screaming was coming from me. My mouth opened in shock, the scream finally spilling forth, the earth trying to realign itself back together and Natalie’s dead body beside me.

Then there was light splitting the world in two again, the light grew, swallowed the horizon and was replaced by white. It was a white blanket, soft from years of wear, a pillow in the corner, the edge of a window that let in light. I sucked in a deep breath to my lungs, I let the air sit there and I looked around at my surroundings and tried to shut out the terrible nightmare that had overtaken me. I buried my face into my pillow and let it swallow my face so that I couldn’t see anything outside of the blackness the pillow offered me, this blackness devoid of red for once and I welcomed it, tried to drown in it, stay in this blackness forever.

There was the shuffling of feet on carpet, unsure steps and the sound of a throat being cleared. I was slow to lift my head from the pillow, my sandy hair fell in a knotted curtain over my face, my eyes sagged with sleep and my heart pumped wretchedly in my chest, screaming to be relieved of its duty and a boy stood in my doorway, his hand halfway reached to uncertainly knock on my half-open door before he saw me moving in front of him and froze.

There was a moment when I remembered my bare legs and my dirty body and I felt ashamed, reached for the blanket to cover myself up, my legs tangling beneath it and the rest of my body soon disappearing behind it until I was just shoulders and a head under the whiteness.

Of all the boys in the world, it was Tate that I least expected at my doorway, and who was standing there. It was a moment of disconnect in my brain, the moment, I couldn’t quite figure out where he was from and why he was here until it all clicked, my brain flashing an image of the closed door just a few feet away, the room on the other side of the far wall.

“Hi,” Tate said, his voice shaky and new, like a baby deer standing.

“How did you get in here?” I asked, my voice catching in my throat and I brushed a hand across my face and through my hair to hide my embarrassment.

“The door was unlocked,” Tate said, and I could tell under any other circumstance that sentence would have come with a small smile, but now his face remained the same slightly frightened expression as it had been.

“Why are you here?” I asked, my tone not unkind, but at the same time I was acutely aware of what a mess I was at the moment. Unwashed and dirty, tangled and lazy, lying in bed in a messy room, the room of a killer, and I stared at him standing there in my doorway with his jacket drawn tightly over his shoulders and his hair matted down still like he too hadn’t washed in days.

“I left a message on the phone,” he muttered quietly, looking around at my room the slightest of seconds before ducking his head back down. He rubbed the back of his neck with one hand and swayed back and forth slowly like he was drunk.

“We didn’t get it,” I said, stating the obvious, wanting nothing more than to shove him out of my room and continue on in my sad pathetic existence.

“Well I came by to get my stuff,” he said, much like the girls downstairs had done this morning, only this time the way he said it was different. His body was hunched over like it was about to be broken, his voice strained, his hand rubbed harder at his neck and his other fist was clenched tightly at his side. He was nothing like those girls from downstairs, the ones who laughed and had joy in their lives, who wanted a dead girls things simply because they were beautiful like the girl had once been. He was broken, sad and sorry, like his entire world was crumbling apart around him. He looked like he would rather be curled up in his own bed, left to sit and sulk in his misery.

“What stuff?” I asked, propping up on my elbows for a moment before they gave out and I fell back against the sheets once more. I could see the window now though, just in the corner, the sliver of a blue sky, a puffy edge of a cloud, green canopy tree tops, it was all too joyful.

“Just stuff she borrowed,” he said, kicking the doorframe absently, “I figured if I wanted it back I should come get it. It’s not like she can give it back to me now.”

I sighed, glancing again at the far wall where my sister slumbered and whispered with her friends. Where she would sometimes take me if she was going to let me borrow a shirt of hers, and even then I was only allowed to sit on her bed and look, but not touch anything.

“Go ahead,” I said; staring intently at the ceiling, wondering if there was a hidden message there that would tell me how to get out of this bed for a day. I was still trying to figure it out when there was Tate’s uncertain footsteps moving away, the slow, tentative opening of the shut door next door and finally him entering the room that no one had dared to go in since the accident.

I shut my eyes, and when I did, I could see that sliver of blue again, the one on the corner of my eye, the green canopy, the swooping wind all around, the golden sun beating down. There were cotton clouds and blooming flowers and on the edge of the sky, in the very corner, a girl’s face leaning over mine, her eyes scrunched up, laughing a joyful, musical laugh. I knew the face well, for I had seen it every day of my life. Natalie sighing in the sunshine, laughing and running and alive and well in the blue sky and the grass and those cotton clouds she loved to make shapes with. There was no sign of the broken, bloodied girl that I had last seen, or of the cold stiff one at the funeral. It was Natalie in all of her perfect glory.

A sob escaped my throat then, for it had clawed its way up from the depths of my broken heart. That Natalie though, did not exist anymore. And as she twirled on in behind my closed eyelids, my heart broke over and over again and the dams of sadness opened up and let the waters loose on my unprepared soul.
♠ ♠ ♠
Okay so some of you may be wondering why this main character is so depressed, and let me tell you. Her sister died a week ago, her older sister she loved dearly and that makes her very sad. The entire story will not be like this though, and it's really just the begining.

What are your thoughts?