Alissa Bennett

 

I've got this thing for make up, and I don't even know if I can explain it. It's kind of like, I just stare at myself in the mirror, but I look through my reflection so it's not even me anymore, and I'm putting it on and putting it on until there's so much that it starts coming off, you know? Like excess of it all is just bringing me right back to where I started, and the whole time I'm talking inside my head, and I'm saying "You're fine, it's ok, I'm ok," but I know that as soon as I'm through the door and in the real world, it's all just gonna fall apart and everything will be wrong. Things can go so wrong sometimes that you can't even imagine how it started, and when I look down, all of the eyeliner that I tried to get on my face will be smudged on my fingers, and I'll have to start all over again.

Jim's coming over, gonna go pick up Erin and, I don't know, go try to find something to do. I'm not complaining. Everywhere is just like this, except for that the high school has a different name and a different guy works at the gas station or whatever, and who cares, right? I'm so tired of listening to how bad things are here because it just makes everything harder to live with. She's so stupid sometimes that I can't believe she's even my friend.

Makeup done as soon as I hear the car horn downstairs, look over on the wall and see the picture of my Mom, and I know that she knows every thought I have now, and that kind of scares me. Donny says that she's just rotting in the ground at Furlawn Cemetary, but it's not true, I mean, she is and she isn't, cause sometimes when I look at her eyes, I can..... I can hear her, and it's not like she's happy about what I am, or what I'm gonna be cause she wants to be the only one.

Downstairs, and my Dad's gone out somewhere. It's kind of weird when he goes out, cause I can't imagine that he has any sort of agenda other than just being totally fucked up. Getting old is really sad for him cause I guess he used to be some kind of cool guy and now he's just like, he's watching everything he was supposed to work for leave him. Maybe he's fine, though- I don't know cause me and my Dad, we don't really talk that much.

Walk out the front door and into the outside, and the car is there and it's waiting for me and so is Jim Carlon. Jim's pretty cool, I mean, he's kind of dumb, but he'll always wait for me in front of my Dad's house and he'll never ask me what took me so long or what happened to my hair- it's always just "Where do you wanna go?"

I answer "Let's go get Erin and then figure it out. Are you wearing a mechanic's suit?"

"Yeah?"

"But you work at a sandwich shop. Is your radio still broken?"

"Yeah?"

"So we have to talk?"

"I don't know. Whatever."

And then it's quiet, and I listen to the wheels until they're playing 99 Red Balloons, I mean the 7 Seconds version, and everything's the same as always, like time isn't progressing in my life at all cause I'm still finding the same song I found last week, and I'm wondering who's gonna take my place in the passenger seat when I'm gone, and by then I bet the radio will be fixed, and it will be warm enough to go outside without a coat. It sounds perfect, like the first day of summer vacation, but I know it will only happen if I'm not here.

I've really thought about that, like how every single person who was ever in my life is gonna think that if they'd just found the right word, or if they'd payed more attention during ninth grade suicide prevention class that they could've stopped it, but it's not like that.

I have to talk to the school psychologist twice a week now, but I never really listen to what she's saying, I mean, I listen, but her advice only makes sense for a second, like when I'm in that office it's a different universe where I could salvage my life and my academic career, and there's a chance that I will have some control over what happens in my life, but as soon as I leave, all I can think about is that the prospect of having to brush my teeth for the next sixty years is just too disgusting and awful for me to deal with.

Everybody wants to think that suicide is this dramatic event, and it's not. It's like you're walking on top of a roof, and you have about ten seconds to decide if you want to stop, or you want to keep going, and you decide to keep going. Sorry I'm always talking about this shit- it's boring, but it's not like, a cry for help of anything. It's just the truth, and the day I die, the sun will come out, whole world's gonna smell like green. There's a bee in the classroom, so I'll turn out the light, shut my History book, and start summer vacation that lasts for ever.

Sitting in the car with Jim, the windows are all rolled up cause it's still a little cold, and he always smells like soap and cigarettes. There's a cup of soda from McDonald's on the dash board, and he's kind of my boyfriend, so I know I can have as much of it as I want. I don't want any, but I'll drink some to show him that I didn't forget, and we're still together. His hand's on the stick shift, and I'll cover it with my own while I stare out the window, and there's no way he could ever imagine that all I'm thinking about is how I could never do this for the rest of my life. He kind of looks at me for a second, and he's so nice to me and he'd never ask me for gas money and for now I'm really happy just to sit in the car and watch the trees.

Hand clapping starts, 99 red balloons go by.

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Third attempt: April 19, 1992

Dear Diary,

I'm so sick of being fat and ugly and stupid, and my skin is bad, and someone drew a picture of me picking my nose and stuck it on top of my desk yesterday and I want to die. My Dad yelled at me because I got a bad report card again, and he told me that even retards can pass seventh grade, and then I went in my room and tied some nylons around my neck and tried to strangle myself, but they just got all stretched out, and I know my Mom's gonna yell at me for that because I went into her drawer to get them and now they have a big hole in them. Love, Kathy

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When a kid dies, you have to save everything that kid ever touched. You've got to clean the dirty dishes that are still in the sink from her dinner the night before and you've got to figure out what to do with her shampoo and her phonebook, because she'll never make a mess again and she'll have a super memory or x-ray vision like ghosts do for telephone numbers. Probably a couple of times a week, you'll eat off that plate, and probably twice a month the phone will ring and nobody will be on the other line.

Someone's gonna have to clean out her hair brush, but there's always the option of sealing off her bedroom for the rest of time because it's just like outer space in there anyway, but her towel is still damp from the day before and that's a kind of proof, right?

My advice is to at least get rid of all the food in the house because it's probably contaminated anyway, and maybe chuck out her diary too, because you don't want to read the page that blames you for everything you've ever done wrong. Everyone that ever knew her already knows it's their fault anyway. Throw out the soap in the bathroom too.

When a kid dies, you're gonna want to save everything that kid ever touched, but don't do it. Just back away really quietly and let somebody else deal with the wreckage.

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Go pick Erin up, Jim says he knows some guy who's having a party, so we're gonna go sit by the river and smoke for a while until it's late enough to go, and under the street lights I can see that gross blush all over her face and her hair is kind of poofed up in the back, and I'm so sick of trying to keep her that I'm just gonna let it happen.

Sit on a bench and we watch the boats go by and it's cold and I feel pretty lonely at some points, but it's just like, whatever. A boat passes us and through the windows I see the bride and the flowers and the guests and I hear their stupid music for a long time after they're gone cause there's a tunnel up ahead of where we're sitting and the boat is passing through it right now and it's turning all of the words into this huge fucked up cone.

I'm staring across the river at this old guy, and I feel like he's trying to get my attention, or maybe he's even talking to me, and I kind of wave at him, and he waves back with this rolled up news paper that he's holding in his left hand, and then he turns around and walks towards a little red car which he gets into and then leaves. I keep my eyes on the tail lights until they've disappeared into that hill over there, and I imagine that he's a pretty nice guy.

Jim and Erin are fighting, arguing over where the lowest drinking age in America is, and I'm shutting everything out except the song, We've Got Tonight, that's floating down the river like it's finally the end of the world.

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I let Erin sit in the front on the way to the party and I stare out the window cause the heat blows right in my eyes if I look ahead, and I feel...I don't know, like Jim's probably right and it is Kentucky.

The party is at this guy Chris' house, which is kind of in the woods, and driving down the driveway, I spill my Dr. Pepper all over the seat, but I don't tell Jim that, and I put a bunch of shit over it so no one can see.

The house is kind of like, not really a house at all- it's teeny tiny, but perfect, like a house for dolls if dolls were kid sized. I guess it used to be his Grandma's or something, and there are all these little statues of fake animals in the front yard and people are kind of drunk out there, breaking them, and I mean, I'm not even inside yet and I totally want to cry, cause it's like the Grandma is still around some how and it's all just gone wrong.

Go inside little perfect house, beer cans everywhere, Donny's on the couch. Throw my coat down next to him, "Hey." "Hey," and that's it cause everythings all wrong with us and we both know it, go to the refrigerator and drink someone else's beer, there's a little plastic bear head by the sink, pick it up, carry it around.

Erin in my ear asking if I think Chad Stewart is hot, go along with it for a while, cause sometimes I can change my mind and things can seem ok, but it's not today. Get another beer, someone's taking my coat and I watch him look around before he leaves with it and I say "Hey, that's my coat," but really quiet and even Erin doesn't hear me. Look at Erin and tell her that I don't know what I'm doing anymore, and that even the bad shit just seems like nothing. Keep going until she looks at me and says "Maybe you should grow your hair."

Listen to the words coming out of the stereo, teenage boy voice telling me "Go Go Go!", and all I can do is lie back and feel what it's like for a ship to sink, silent, under the ocean.