Just one more drink. That one more drink is all it took. Her mind tumbled into the fog. The spinning room taunted her balance. She walked up to the bathroom mirror and tried to gain focus. An unrecognizable pair of green eyes were staring at her. She could see the tears fighting to come out. But she promised herself she wouldn’t. Not now. Not here. Not tonight. Her eyes were glued to the ground. She willed one foot in front of the other. Left foot. Right foot. Left foot. Right foot. Her strategy didn’t work for long. The world spun in circles around her as she fell to the ground. Her knee scraped across the pavement. Someone grabbed her arm and helped her up. She thanked him as she tried to carefully walk away. The police offer simply shook his head. That wasn’t how it worked. She lost control as her friends were called to the scene. She felt the eyes staring at her rip her dignity into pieces. Their silent judgments began to tear at her heart. She’s heard it all before. Loser. Crazy. Idiot. Insane. Stupid. She was stripped of her flask, concert ticket, and pride. She and her friends were escorted out. Apologies and tears filled the car ride home. Once again she had made a mistake. Once again she had ruined something good. Once again she had lost control. Nothing she said could make the situation better. Tonight was supposed to be a night of friends and fun. Tonight was supposed to be all about seeing her favorite country singer. Tonight was supposed to be a good night. Her last good night. Her last night. // I thought I had the planned perfectly. I had done my research. I had picked what I imagined would be the perfect last night. A concert with two great friends,Carebear and Smokey. They would never suspect a thing. I only allowed myself a few extra pills before leaving. Just enough to help me relax. I decided to sip on some alcohol to give the pills a little push. Just to be safe, I stuffed two flasks in my bra in case I needed more. I discretely hid my orange prescription bottle in the drawer next to my bed. I knew they would be waiting for me. To take me far away from this world. To take me home. It seemed like the perfect ending to a less than perfect life. // Her plan was completely ruined. Regrets and guilt tore at her heart. Why couldn’t she just be normal? She didn’t ask for this. She didn’t want any of it. She shouldn’t have to deal with the pain. This life was not the one she asked for. She let herself lie down in the backseat. Her eyes closed as she let her world go dark. The ride home was a lost memory. Somehow she had ended up in her bed. She instantly regretted opening her eyes. The pictures on her walls blended into abstract art. She sat up and her head went straight into the trash can. Her throat burned as the poison came out. She heaved and willed time to rewind. But she was stuck in this moment. This moment packed full of agony and heartache. Feelings that never seemed to leave her alone. She was stuck with these consequences. And worst of all, she was stuck with this life. She felt someone rubbing her back. She didn’t need to look to know who it was. She hated how much he cared about her. They both cared about her even though she was undeserving. A burden was a better way to describe how she felt. Just a useless burden the world was stuck with. She was a rose bush with only thorns. They told her she would blossom someday. But she knew the truth. She would never be the rose everyone needed her to be. She had nothing more to offer. Nothing more to give. She was broken, but they needed her whole. It was around midnight when she insisted they go home. They didn’t want to leave her. But letting them stay was out of the question. She needed them gone. She reassured them she would be able to handle herself. She insisted she just needed sleep. She flashed them her perfected “I’m okay” smile. Just like normal, they didn’t see past it. They left her alone. Walked out the front door without looking back. They had no idea who they had just left her alone with. She was alone with her own worst enemy. She was alone with herself. It didn’t take her long to find them. She always kept an emergency stash in her desk. She opened a new package. The razor blade was cold between her fingers. She pressed it firmly on her forearm and held her breath. She felt a slight release as a crimson line began to form. Just a few more, she told herself. But it wasn’t enough. The emotional pain was unbearable. She took a deep breath and just started cutting. Again… and again… and again. Her entire forearm was painted red. Her heartache was so strong that she felt nothing on her arm. She was furious. She tried so hard to run away. But she always ended up at a dead-end street. She needed the torture to end. She needed the emptiness inside her to be filled. She needed to heal her aching heart. She struggled to breath. The pain in her chest was unbearable. Her heart was literally in pain. Years of bottled up distress began explode. They to began release surges of anguish throughout her entire body. A damsel in serious distress. Nothing mattered anymore. She let her head rest on her pillow as her breaths shortened. No matter how hard she concentrated, she couldn’t prevent the attack. Her struggle to breath continued. Flashbacks played in her head like a projection show. She could feel his hands gripping her arms. Trying to hold her down. Her swarm of emotions held her back from screaming. Concentrating solely on her breathing, she opened her eyes. Just as she expected, she was alone. She had no idea how much time had passed. The pounding in her head quickly reminded her of forthcoming hangover. The guilt and regrets flooded her mind. Her chest began to tighten again. Not again. With desperation, she grabbed that orange bottle. Her dissociated mind wouldn’t allow her to think logically. She could think of nothing but the pain. How she longed for it to be gone forever. She opened the bottle. The tiny white pills spilled into her hand. No hesitation. With a one sip of water it was done. She draped herself across her bed and reached for her phone. The brightly lit screen blinded her. Her coordination was just about gone. She had to make it fast. With shaking hands, she started making those necessary phone calls. Two voicemails completed. She dialed the last number on her list. After only two rings she heard a tired “Hello?” Panic paralyzed her as she immediately hung up the phone. It was supposed to go to voicemail. Why did he answer? This was not part of the plan. Why do her plans never work out like they are supposed to? It was supposed to go to voicemail. Why did he pick up the phone? Her phone started to vibrate in her hand. One missed call. Two missed calls. Then three. The phone rang and rang, but she was already gone. Any coordination she had disappeared. It wasn’t a question. She knew what was going to happen next. He was coming over. Why did he have to care about her so much? She needed to finish what she started. The room was spinning. She was spinning. She wasn’t sure which way was up. Stumbling, she attempted to navigate across the room to her desk. Any control she thought she had was gone. Somehow, she felt the corner of the desk hit her thigh. Utilizing all the strength she had left, she pulled the top-drawer open. She tried to reach for another orange bottle to save her. But with a thud she hit the floor. Someone was rubbing her back again. She was lying in her bed. He must have felt her move because he spoke. She couldn’t understand the words. But she didn’t have to. She knew what he was saying. She knew where he wanted to take her. She begged. She pleaded. She didn’t want to go. She wanted her nightmare to end. “Please, just let me go,” she whispered as she began to sob into his chest. Carebear stroked her face as he said, “You know I can’t do that.” The automatic sliding doors in front of her opened. The air was stale and dry. The cold draft sent goosebumps down her spine. She could recognize the smell of a hospital even in her sleep. She collapsed into the wheelchair. There were so many questions. She just stared at them. Who were these strangers acting like they cared? The choir of voices bounced around in her head. They sang her to sleep. She woke up with the feeling of suffocation. She arched her back with an attempt to take a breath. She heard the beeping of her oxygen monitor. The caring man called out for help. She heard rapid footprints. She felt someone’s cold hands adjusting her oxygen tube. The cool air filled her lungs as she sunk into bed. She turned her head and allowed a tear to hit her pillowcase. The room faded out as her world went black once again. She blinked as her eyes adjusted to the light. There was a woman beside her bed. The woman’s eyes were wet from tears. Her face was pale and filled fear and panic. This woman looked broken, hurt, and lost. That woman couldn’t be her mother. Her mother was the strongest woman she knew. Tears were not commonly found in her eyes. // I can only remember seeing my mother cry on one occasion. I remember listening to her beg as tears slowly fell down her cheeks. She was pleading with my father. Tears continued to spill out even though she tried to hide them. I watched as my father turned his back on her. He didn’t want to hear another word she had to say. My mother had asked him to consider letting me transfer to a public school. She wanted to help me escape HIM. She wanted the bruises to stop reappearing more than I did. Switching schools seemed to be the last option. My father tuned my mother out as she tried to explain. He stated firmly that I would not be leaving my Lutheran high school. That was the end of the conversation. Something inside me told me it was also the end of them. Shortly after this incident, my mother began sleeping on the couch. // That’s when it hit her like a train. Her body went numb as it all started to sink in. She was the reason her strong mother broke down. She was the reason for her pain. She’s been causing her mother pain since at least high school. Her mother was currently looking at her like she was a stranger. Her mother didn’t recognize the girl on the hospital bed. This girl was broken and scared. This girl was hurt and saw no other way out. This girl had tried to kill herself. She hid it for so long. This was the first time her mother was seeing her real daughter. They looked into each other’s eyes. No words were said. No words needed to be said. Her mother embraced her and they allowed themselves to cry together. There was so much she wanted to say. There was so much she needed to say. But all that came out was “I’m sorry.” She wasn’t even sure what she was sorry for. Was she sorry she caused her mother so much pain? Was she sorry she hid it for so long? Or was she sorry that she didn’t succeed? Sorry that she was alive? Sorry that she was going to be an even bigger burden than before? Her mother assured her that everything would be okay. She reminded her that love was unconditional. There was nothing she could do that would make her mother stop loving her. The case worker came in and asked her to go to a room down the hall. The case worker grabbed her IV bag and began to lead the way. She tried to keep up, but the case worker was walking too fast. She shrieked as she felt the strong tugging on her IV. She decided at that very moment that she hated this woman. There were so many questions. She told them what they wanted to hear. The last place she wanted to end up was at a mental institution. Her acting skills were finally going to be put to test. And she knew just what to say. She told them it was a one-time thing. She told them it was a moment of weakness. She told them it would never happen again. She told them she was fine. She flashed them her perfected “I’m okay” smile. And they believed her. They believed her every single word. She was discharged a few hours later. She left with a forced, yet believable smile.