Status: active;;

Right Now

It's Time to Make My Way

Anna turns on her heel and stomps back up the stairs. Though her words are muffled by the floor, her irritation is audible in her voice. Something deep in my chest twists in remorse, but it does nothing to push me to move. I just stay curled up on my bed, staring blankly at the wall across from me, and wonder once more when I’m going to feel better. When I’m going to feel whole again. When I’m not going to see his face whenever I close my eyes. To appease my mother’s worry, I’ve made sure to eat the meals she or my sister brings down, and I even talked to my dad on the phone the other day. He’d sounded worried, but he hadn’t pushed me to talk; I’m thankful for it, no matter how badly the words are burning like acid in the back of my throat. Brianna has sent a few text messages, but I still haven’t read any of them. I’m sure it’s bothering her - I just… really don’t care. Not right now.

My routine over the next few weeks doesn’t change much. Sometimes, I lie in bed for an extra thirty minutes before I finally get up to use the bathroom, but for the most part, I stay cocooned in my blankets whenever I’m alone. Anna tries to come down a couple of times to spend time with me, to get me out of my head; she ends up storming away, throwing her hands up in anger and muttering under her breath, each time. The fact that she doesn’t give up, though, warms my heart just a little. My mother learned long ago how to get me to comply with her wishes: Stand over me and fret until I cave and do what she wants. Which is basically the only reason I’ve showered and brushed my teeth recently.

My phone vibrates on the bedside table, and I stare at it. My body ignores the signals my brain is sending, my hand stays loosely curled against the mattress and my arm doesn't move from where it's pressed into my side. The call finally goes to voicemail; I breathe out shakily and close my eyes. Unfortunately, ignoring my phone doesn't work - it starts buzzing and scooting across the nightstand as another call starts up. It takes far more effort than I want to expend, but I manage to pick the device up. Max. I sigh and accept the call.

“Hello?”

“Holy shit, girl, where you been? Sonia and I have been worried.”

“I'm at home.”

“Yeah, we figured. Why haven't you shown up to class?”

“I, uh, I dropped out.”

Max goes silent on the other end, and I can almost see the way her brows are furrowed over dark brown eyes, how her lower lip is sucked in between her teeth. After a moment, her sharp exhale crackles down the line. “What happened that night?”

I don't even stop to reconsider before ending the call. I stare at the screen as my chest tightens, and bile creeps up my throat. I swallow thickly and toss my phone away from me. It clatters against the wall, and I tug my blanket up to my chin, ignore the bright light coming from the lamp on the table, and try my best to quell the thoughts struggling to break loose. There’s no success - my brain is suddenly flooded with the memories, and I shove the blankets back, stumbling to my feet and toward the bathroom. Only stomach acid comes up when I try to vomit, then I’m left to dry-heave. I lean against the wall, press my forehead against the cool plaster. The floorboard creaks above me as either my sister or mother move around upstairs. In the five years I’ve had my bedroom in the basement, I have never felt more grateful for the seclusion it provides; if I still shared a room with Anna, I would have to deal with questions - or worse, their concern - more so than I already have been.

“Okay, I’ve had it,” Anna announces after three days of my isolation, before her footsteps thunder down the staircase; I look away from the cobwebb in the corner of my ceiling as she appears in my doorway. “You need to get out of bed right now.”

“I’m fine where I am.”

She throws her hands into the air, groaning, and moves to sit on the edge of my mattress. “Look, Deej, I know I don’t know what happened that night, and you don’t have to tell me. All I know is, is ever since you came home from that party? We haven’t really seen you.” Anna sighs, wraps her fingers around my ankle. The comfort is appreciated, even through the thick blanket. “You’re not acting like yourself. You aren’t my sister any more, and God, DJ… that really scares me.”

The silence once she finishes speaking weighs heavily, almost tangible in its deafening existence. My vision blurs, but I can’t blink away the tears. Words well up in my throat, desperate to get out. No matter how hard I try, they won’t be corralled. I sniffle, drawing in a ragged breath.

“I’m scared of myself,” I finally manage to whisper, and the admission hurts more than I feel it should. “I’m scared of my thoughts when I’m alone.”

“You don’t think about killing yourself, do you?” she asks quietly after a long pause.

I immediately shake my head but then pause, thinking. “Not really, no.”

“Maybe you should go live with Bri for a year, find yourself again.”

“Banana…”

“No. I’m serious. Obviously, getting out of this town is the smart choice, the miracle cure. I mean, look at Brianna. Look at what she’s done with her life since she escaped. Look at how happy and strong and full of life she is now that this place is no longer holding her back or dragging her down. Just six months, okay? That’s all I ask. Don’t worry about me or Mama or Daddy. Focus on you. Focus on becoming DJ again.”

My sister stands then, rounding my bed to kiss my cheek; she doesn’t make a comment about the stickiness of my skin from sweat or the filthy state of my hair. I listen to her make her way up the stairs, the door closing with a soft click, the steady quiet thump-creak-thump as she heads toward the living room. My mind mulls over what she said - she’s certainly right about Brianna. Ever since Bri left Tennessee behind, she’s done well for herself. And maybe Anna is right about it possibly helping me more. Unfortunately, I don’t think I’ll be the same DJ that I was before that party - Hell, before my parents announced they were divorcing. The DJ I’m becoming, however, is frightening enough that it’s easier to consider the suggestion.

The thought of being over four thousand miles away from him is a pleasant one. The tightness in my chest eases just a little, the vice-like feeling I’ve grown accustomed to no longer suffocating me completely. I roll onto my back and stare at the ceiling. I gave up on a dream because of that asshole. Do I really want to let him control my future by remaining in my hometown, by maintaining my status as victim?

..................


Brianna is breathing steadily, evenly, as the video call connects. I brush a lock of hair out of my face and force a smile. Her hazel eyes glitter in the glare from her computer screen, and my chin wobbles at the sight of the tears.

“Don’t you dare cry, you bitch, or you’ll make me cry.”

She lets her head fall back, and I watch her scrub her hands over her eyes. “Sorry, sorry. I just… I’ve missed your face. I’ve been so worried about you.”

“I’m, I’m okay. I think. Anyway. Uh, I have a question.”

“What’s up, buttercup?”

“Is that offer of me coming to stay with you still valid?”
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title credit jump madonna