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CHAPTER THREE: FIFTEEN YEARS

Ryan forgave me. I could never forgive myself. She would not let me. I didn’t want her to. I needed to feel the hate, I needed to feel the disgust of what I had done. Without my pain I was alone. I hated to be alone. She saved me from that. Her words were the only ones that I heard. She was the only one who would never leave me. She knew the nothing that I was and She held me just the same. She was it, all there was for me. Her sting made me feel alive.

She’d been right about me all along. I had nothing to offer this place. I had nothing to contribute to anyone. I was the embodiment of destruction. I ruined everything I touched. Everywhere I went, pain followed me. I used people, and I broke them down because I was weak. In all that I did, my weakness was there. I had clung to Ryan in an attempt to escape it all. I rode on her shoulders so I wouldn’t have to face myself. It was only a matter of time before I caught up with myself. It was only a matter of time before I tore it all apart. I had returned to my parents home without saying goodbye to Ryan. I couldn’t face her again. I didn’t deserve her. Still, she forgave me.

A year had passed since I’d spent the summer with Ryan at her parents cabin. By her strength, we had managed to keep in touch, to work through what I had done, and to rebuild all that I had deconstructed. We never spoke of Ben, or the continued relationship he and I shared. Still, the pressure of life was weighing heavily on both of us. Adolescence takes its toll on everyone, most are lucky to survive, for Ryan and I it was harder. While others discover themselves as they grow, I grew into emptiness. There was nothing inside of me, no goodness, no hope, nothing. Ryan spoke of incompleteness. The optimism of being “healed” had long faded for both of us. I was not healed, and every remedy seemed so temporary. Nothing kept her at bay anymore. She was there in full force, always berating me with her accusations and her insults. Looking in the mirror she was all I saw. Her hatred was written all over me. She and I were locked in battle, there was never a doubt that she would be the victor. I was weak, and tired. I didn’t want to fight anymore.

* * *

 

You will look at me here and think me selfish. Please don’t view this that way. This is not selfishness, this is weakness. This is an inability to continue, an inability to be. I do not want to be here. I want to be in the world with al the shiny illuminatingly beautiful people. I want to have the will to stand up and take my place in society like I was meant to. Instead I am here because I cannot stand. I will not ask you to hold me up any longer. You cannot carry me through life while I prey on everything you are. I cannot take from you the pieces that I cannot find in myself. I am lacking. Please let me go.

* * *

 

You shouldn’t be here. She was with me as I made my way up the steps to Ryan’s home, a place I’d been invited to by Ryan’s twin sister, Jordan. What good are you to her? What have you got to offer her? You think you can help her? Do you think you can save her? You can’t even save yourself. You have nothing to offer here. Go away. Let this go. Let her go. She was the voice of my fears. I’d come here to help. Ryan wasn’t eating again. This illness was killing her, and I had been the one who’d invited it back into her life. She’d been so strong, stood so tall, before I’d come back to tear her down. What was I doing here? What had I come here for? To prey on her some more? To build myself up at her expense? I stood at her door wishing that I’d not come, whishing that I’d spared her. My absence could have saved her.

“Ves? Oh my God!” The front door was opened and I was in Ryan’s arms before I had a chance to act on my dawning humanity. I hugged her back. She was so tiny, her ribs dug into me as she squeezed me to her. Her hair was ratty and unkempt, she’d let it grow into dread locks. She seemed so frail, like a thin weak shell. I had done this to her. I had driven her back to this place. She’d given me so much and all I did was take what she offered and then I took some more. I clawed away at what fragility was left of her. I broke her down, and this was all that was left, this tiny little girl, wasting away in front of everyone who loved her because I had made her nothing.

“I can’t believe you are here! Look at you,” Ryan pulled away from me to examine the ways in which I had changed since the summer at the cabin. My body was softer. All the places that had once been jagged and bony where hidden by flesh. The disappointment registered on her face. This was not something we shared any longer. She was alone in her struggle now. I was not there with her. This was another way in which I had failed her, but she said nothing.

* * *

 

I took her from you. She should be here today, and it should have been that left. I am the waste, not her. She was beautiful, so kind. She was so much while I am empty and nothing. Somewhere someone made the gravest of mistake and it was her who left. I would give anything to be able to give her back to you. Instead this is my consolation. I am finally gone. I am finally over.

* * *

 

We discussed it that first night, the feeling of truly being awake, of really seeing this life for what it was. We both felt the burden of knowing, of being aware of the futility under which we toiled. Fighting against it all was exhausting and worthless. We would never be good enough to break free of the endless internal torment that now governed our lives. It was time to go. It was time to free ourselves. It was time to rest and escape the endlessness of the hatred that was there every second of every day beating us down with it‘s consistency.

There were smiles, and there was laughter, but it was pretend. It hid from others what was true, what was honest in who I was, what I was. I played human in hopes that one day it would go away, that life wouldn’t lead me here, that this wouldn’t be my end. I hid among those who were oblivious, those who didn’t see what was real and inescapable. Those who didn’t feel the suffering. Nobody was ever truly with me though, and there was no getting away from myself. There was never anything better no matter how long I waited. I could not carry myself through the shit any longer. The end was all I had left. Death was the light to which I walked, it was my only hope.

Ryan laboured under the same futility. She too saw the hopelessness in it all. She too felt as though she were waiting, always blindly hoping that someday she would move passed this and finally join the living, the world everyone else was worthy of. She also knew this was not for her. “Don’t think of it as weakness,” she had told me. “This is enlightenment. We were born more awake than most other people. Maybe it is unfair, but this is the reality of what we are, of what IS.”

“It shouldn’t be like this. I want so much more. I always thought I would have more, like this was just something I had to over come.” Even as I said the words I knew better. I knew Ryan was right. I could wait forever, I could fight forever and still be nothing. I was empty. There was no point in trying anymore.

* * *

 

I couldn’t do any better. I didn’t deserve better. You gave me things and I ruined them. I ruined you. Thank-you for trying. I love that you tried. I am sorry for the years that I have spent pushing you all away. I am sorry for the bitter words that I have slung like mud so effortlessly without thought only to come back to you for retribution. I do not deserve your forgiveness. I do not deserve you.

* * *

 

I held the pills in my hand. This was finally real. Salvation was finally here. I looked to Ryan. She was the only piece of this that seemed s wrong. She didn’t belong here, yet I didn’t want to be alone. I’d spent my life alone in my inescapable solitude. I needed so much to share the ache with someone, with anyone. She was the only one who cared. She was the only one there, so I did nothing to help her. I didn’t tell her this was a mistake, that she deserved so much better, that she was better. I didn’t tell anyone. I did nothing, and here we were, huddled together on the bathroom floor with relief finally at hand.

“I love you Ves,” she squeezed my hands between hers.

“This is it then?” I smiled. It felt so genuine.

“This is it,” she nodded.

“I am just so tired. I can’t believe through all of it, this is it. Why is this it?” I’d been so calm until now. The pain was still there. I’d sat back and watched while others moved through life with such ease, I stumbled when I tried to follow. I struggled and failed where others walked on victorious. What was so different about me? What was so wrong with me? Why? There was no answer. There would never be an answer, I would never have peace, I would never have the comfort of understanding. It was all so wrong, and despite the reason, things were the way they were. The ‘why’ didn’t matter anymore.

“Life isn’t fair.” Ryan dry swallowed her handful of pills.

I did the same.

* * *

 

Something inside of me is missing. Deep inside where the human parts are supposed to be, I am empty, I am without. Where others have love, goodness, hopes and dreams, I have only an insatiable pit of nothingness. My emptiness and my worthlessness have been my only companion, the only things that truly understand me, the only things to never leave me. I have hidden here, coddling what was left of me the tiny bits that I could call ‘me’ all the while I have been nothing., too afraid to do anything.

* * *

 

No. This isn’t supposed to happen. This is wrong, all wrong. It was difficult to see through my head ache. Where was I? What had happened? The floor was cold, my hair was wet with vomit and tears. I managed to crawl to the toilet and purge again. The putrid taste lingered in my mouth and I wiped my face and took in the destruction that lay all around me.

Everything was so muddled. I wiped at my eyes trying desperately to see through the lingering affects of the drugs which held me just below the murky surface of what was unfolding before me. Ryan was gone. Where had she gone and why had she left me here? “Shit,” I whispered, my throat too dry to managed anything louder. My first thought was of myself and what her parents would say when they found me here on the bathroom floor covered in my own bile. On the heels of this thought came concern. Where the hell had Ryan gone?

I struggled to my feet, clawing at the bathroom sink for purchase. I closed my eyes waiting for the world to stop spinning. When I opened my eyes I found her in the mirror. “Ryan!” It should have been a scream. I whirled around to face her. The dizziness overtook me and I was on my knees once again crawling across the floor, through my own vomit to get to her.

“Ryan?” I reached for her hand. I gagged as I fought back the urge to vomit again. She was so limp, so cold. Her skin was almost green, and a deep stink had already settled around her. Her eyes were open, that was the most haunting of all. Her jaw was slack. She was gone, and I was still here holding her hand. “Ryan? Ryan. Come on.” She wasn’t dead. She couldn’t be dead. “Come on Ryan. Wake up!” I was shaking her now. “Oh my God, wake up. Please wake up.” It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I had been so ready to give up. I was ready to go. I needed to go.

“How could you leave me here! How dare you! How fucking dare you!” I’d finally found my voice, and my screaming roused the rest of her family.

Ryan’s mother rushed in sleep instantly leaving her as she took in the scene in front of her. “Ryan, baby!” She pushed me away. “What happened? Oh my God, what happened?”

“I don’t know,” I lied. I always lied. “I found her. I’m sorry. I couldn’t’t save her. Tried. I couldn’t’t. Oh my God. Oh my God. Oh my God….”

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