Sprucewood High School changes everyone. The girl with sad eyes who walked out of the bathroom stall; she made herself puke. The star basketball player can’t read an entire sentence, so he takes his anger out on the introverted kid after third period. His face turned purple and blue.Olive was just a girl. Fletcher was just a boy. And there they were, together, wandering in the chaos of it all. Their paths crossed, all because of fate. She was the lost girl who wanted to love, but she also wanted to die. He was the mysterious new kid with golden eyes that held a story she wanted to know.Together, they attempt to figure out a way to numb themselves from the pain of finding out who they are in this world, where they belong, and how to handle the memories that haunt them in their nightmares. Addiction in its nastiest of forms torments them, threatening their false paradise as they attempt to escape their pain.Will their self-destructive ways be too much for the love they start to feel? Or is it even love when it is clouded by the H they shoot into their veins? Hearts break and souls get crushed at Sprucewood High.
The Day Death Welcomed Me
The Day After Love
I sat there with a silent jar of thoughts, which was consuming every ounce of myself that I had left. My long, unkempt black hair dangled annoyingly across my face as I laid atop my tiny safe place with my knees pulled up to my chest. The creaking of the ground sent dust up into the humid spring air from the thunderstorm the night before, and my attention span was that of a fly. My window air-conditioning unit was useless during the grueling Kentucky weather. I couldn’t help but dazzle my stare with the dirt that danced just before me. It was strangely calming as I sat there, half-naked with my still developing body in nothing but underwear and a button up flannel, wondering if I would have the balls to die today.
My life was different. My life had changed. I was not going to make it until tomorrow. My script had been altered, it was re-written due to fate. The sirens of my heart were singing and screeching the highest they ever had. I was off track and at the most desolate place I’d ever been in my life. Isolation isn’t true when you are unsure about the thoughts and feelings in your head. I had ten-thousand emotions taking up space in mine. I wasn’t alone. I was in the presence of things that didn’t make sense. Truths had yet to be revealed.
I wanted to fall into a tunnel where the pitch black of night could suffocate me, just like it did in my head. I wished I could dance over the moon with the stars in my dreams where nothing else mattered, where pain didn’t exist, but the world was turning more hateful every single day that I woke up. As time passed, I would often stare at things, not understanding why my knees would buckle as my tongue would tie itself to the syllable before making me stutter like a little kid who was called out during class. Weird instances and feelings occurred more often, and over time, my teenage self couldn’t wrap my brain around my frame of mind. I started to make choices, self-destructive choices, which sent me closer to the edge of hell after things happened and nightmares were the result.
I never said much. Talking wasn’t something I was used to doing. I became an expert introvert. I never thought I would’ve been able to come up with the right words if I decided to talk to my mother, so I did what I did best. I stayed quiet until my will found a way.
‘Hey, Mom. Not sure why I feel weird when I see or smell certain things, especially old trucks or walk past the cologne aisle at the convenience store. I’m feeling a little down. I’m not sure what’s going on inside my head.’
I don’t even remember the day I started to change. It’s ironic how phases meld together like colors from paint swirling about in water. I muddled around, leaving pieces of myself behind. I regularly hurt myself, toying with the idea of suicide, but the definiteness of death was something I needed before the puzzles from years ago came together to haunt me with a pain that would no longer be tolerable. And then fate had to come in and hurt me even more. Who would have guessed, as much as I prayed for death, I was too much of a coward for it. Well, apparently I prayed hard enough.
“Branch. You up and ready? We need to leave to get to Dr. Sarya’s office.”
That’s what I was to my mother. Her little olive branch; the peace offering of her life that fell apart before it could come back together and fall apart one last time. My parents divorced when I was six, and my father never took time to look back. I remember little about him except his dark hair and deep voice. He walked out of our two-bedroom country house and never looked back with his torn leather suitcase in tow, staring at me with sad eyes. I remember that moment, but never one with him before. Now, I understand how bizarre his behavior was, and mine was even more peculiar. I was never able to recall a birthday celebration, Christmas, or Thanksgiving with him.
No memories would be recalled until years later.
As time passed and I entered the gates of hell, also known as Sprucewood High School, the invisible crack was pried open. I was forced to face the girl who I was destined to become. The more I tried to understand the change in my head, the more I attempted to find an answer. But the harder I looked, the more I was hurt.
That day, I was done trying. My body was too tired to fight anymore.
I laid in bed, my sweat clinging to my comforter like Saran Wrap. My eyes made their way over to the corner of my room, and I smiled at the only constant in my life that laid crooked in the corner. I imagined them, the worn pink fabric pointe ballet shoes, still remembering how my feet felt in them when I would leap across the floor without any care. I used to point my foot, inserting it until they were laced up perfectly. I would do the same with my other foot when I could still dance. My feet used to feel like heaven. If only my heart and body could join them, then life would have been easy for me.
I grabbed the remote to my stereo and turned my CD player on, which had a tendency to skip anytime you put in anything except my Ani DiFranco or Janis Joplin. Ani started belting out in her deep, raspy tone and I daydreamt about my feet gracefully sweeping across the floor as my eyes remained closed. I was trying to find my heaven, convinced I could change my mind before it was too late. Time, to me, had been wasted. It did nothing but hurt. I let myself smile as I continued to imagine myself standing in second position, my arms out to my side as I prepared to pirouette and dance until the sun burned the pain away; the same kind of discomfort I failed to understand, the type that was thrown my way at that hell-hole where perfection and pain walked down the halls like yin and yang.
I saw goodness for a little bit. He was the boy with golden eyes and brown hair that hung above his eyes. He had pain like me. I could see it. Fletcher was hiding from the ugly, trying to comprehend his own demons, but he’s gone and it’s too late to get him back. He was sucked into the same kind of fucked up shit that I was. He lost. I was losing, too.
Thinking of him made my heart ache as silent tears started to fall from my eyes. The girl I had become was unrecognizable. My hair was disheveled, my hips wider with weight, and my eyes sunken in from either lack of sleep or too much; there was never an in-between. My heart was tired of working so hard. I was tired of living.
A year before, from the outside looking in, my world looked fine. I was the ordinary girl with supposed friends and decent grades. My crooked-tooth grin was deceiving, though. My brown eyes were sad, and even more so since I lost the only boy who had a chance of understanding me. I hurt him, and now he’s gone. My eyes were growing too tired to care anymore. I felt it coming, the end. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t scared. Who would have guessed I would be just a girl about to die alone?
I wished I could still punish myself for hurting Fletcher. He was the only decent thing I had and I fucked it up. There was no going back. It was too late.
I pulled his handwritten goodbye letter from underneath my pillow, sobbing at his message, understanding that I needed to be with him. My tears stopped in that second when I reached the clarity I had been searching for through the murky misunderstandings of my so-called life. It’s ironic how one can reach such a conclusion when death is sure to greet you.
I remember gazing out my window, imagining it open despite the heat from the unapologetically warm summer day, remembering how Fletcher would look at me from below with a pebble in his hand and a sparkle in his eye.
The ghost of my yesterdays floated away as I continued to remember the lattice that led up to my window, the same thing Fletcher would use to climb up to see me, but he wouldn’t be seeing me anymore. Instead, every day, I would be reminded as little pieces of him were left behind with evidence of my mistakes.
My eyes grew too heavy as echoes from my mother’s voice screamed. She was an ocean away and it was too late. I was too far gone to be saved. I closed my eyes as visions of better times washed away the pain. Finally, I would be able to dance over the moon and the stars would be my friends. They could shine for me and love me, despite the darkness I never understood.
Mary E. Palmerin is an internationally bestselling author of The Monster Series, Redeeming Rhys, and half the madness behind The Red Market Series. She currently resides in Indiana with her husband and two boys. She enjoys writing raw, taboo tales that strike various emotions in her readers. When she isn’t busy writing, she usually has her nose in a good book. Mary loves spending time with her family and friends, being outdoors, cooking, art, tattoos, red wine, traveling, and anything that makes her laugh. She loves to connect with her readers!