hey guys, i’m planning on self publishing and i would appreciate any honest feedback to fix anything. thank you
©2015,Abigail Badertscher, all rights reserved
Lena stared into the mirror with tears in her eyes, brushing her hair violently. She wished that she could just fade into the darkness and never come back. She was bombarded with flashbacks from not even 20 minutes ago, when Joey had broken up with her. They were toxic memories, and she tried to get them out.
“Joey stumbled through the front door, obviously under the influence of something. He pointed a finger in Lena’s direction and slurred loudly, “I’m done with you, you stupid bitch. You don’t deserve love.” Lena, confused, jumped off the couch and backed away, scared.
“Joey, what are you talking about? What did i do?”
Joey slapped her to the ground and yelled, “You’re never good enough, just because you’re a stupid virgin. I’d rather date a hooker.” Then he spit on her and walked out the door.”
Lena threw her hairbrush to the ground and crumpled to the floor, crying. She couldn’t stop, and she wanted to just die so she wouldn’t feel all this pain. She opened her pill cabinet and knocked all the bottles into the sink in a rage. Then she got an idea. Pulling up a random bottle, she started to shove them down her throat. Bottle after bottle, she filled her stomach with the deadly mix of chemicals.
Lena started to feel weak and everything was blurring into a dreamy trance. She crawled wobbliy in the direction of her bed, but she swerved and accidently knocked over a glass vase. It crashed loudly and the pieces flew everywhere. Lena felt a shard penetrate her hand, but couldn’t feel the pain. And she didn’t care.
Keilyn (“Lynn”), Lena’s mom, was laying in bed listening to classical music through her headphones, when she heard a faint sound of crashing glass. She threw off her headphones and heard glass crunching and the faint sound of vomiting. She suddenly realised that the only other person in the house was Lena, since Rob,her husband, was on a business trip in Florida.
Lynn shot out of bed and ran down the hallway. The sounds were emitting from Lena’s bedroom, and she threw the door open as fast as she could. It was probably the worst thing she had seen in her 40 years. Lena was on all fours puking with blue shards of glass in her hands and knees.
Lynn looked through the ajar bathroom door and saw the pile of pills in the sink and pills on the floor. She pieced it together quickly and rushed to pick up her daughter. She used every bit of muscle and strength she had to drag puking Lena through the house and into the car. She cursed God and shoved her into the front seat, not caring about the puke that was spewing everywhere.
Lena sat in a red, not-so-comfortable chair, picking at the bandages on her hands. A tall, bald man with a bushy mustache walked through the door carrying a clipboard and a pen.
“Hi. My name is Larry. I’m a social worker. I’d shake your hand, but from the looks of those bandages…” He laughed at his own dumb joke and sat in the identical red chair in front of her. He showed the same discomfort she was feeling, and she almost felt a little bit of empathy.
“So”, he started, “I need to ask you some questions. The one i always start with is ‘Why did you attempt suicide?”
“Because my boyfriend broke up with me in a very horrible way,” lena answered.
Larry thought for a minute and got serious. “Did he hit you? Drugs? yelling?”
Lena held back the tears that the memories brought her, and replied, “all of them.”
She couldn’t hold the tears back anymore, and she turned her head in shame as they flowed down her cheeks. Larry handed her a box of tissues and waited until she had calmed down a bit to keep asking questions.
“Are you going to have to see him again? Like at school, work, those kinds of things?”
Lena sighed, “Yes. I’ll have to see him every period, every sports club, and whenever i go to the store on weekends. I can’t get away from him.”
The bald man wrote something down on his clipboard and scratched his beard, “Lena, I’m going to talk to your parents about moving cities. We’ll provide them with some resources for help with money until you guys get it under control. Anyway, who doesn’t like a fresh start?”
Lena didn’t care. she didn’t have any good friends, nor did she like her town. A fresh start sounded fine. Her and Larry discussed therapy appointments, safety plans, and he handed her a copy of the teen crisis lines.
“Well, it was nice meeting you Lena.” He stood up and held open the door for her. She thanked him and met her mom in the lobby.
She was sitting in a red chair with a worried look on her face. (Or was it discomfort from the chair?) Larry talked to her about the scheduled therapy appointments and the expenses for treatment since their insurance didn’t cover it. Her mom’s face went white. $85 per session, and 3 sessions a week? That was $225 a week!
Lena thought for a minute. her mother couldn’t afford it, and Lena couldn’t get a job until her grades went up. Also, she didn’t feel she needed to go through therapy to get over her deadbeat boyfriend. That’s something a lot of people have to live with.
She spoke up, “Actually, i changed my mind. I don’t want to go through therapy.”
Larry looked at her funny,”But i can’t change anything. not unless you refuse treatment! which is pretty drastic.”
Lena didn’t understand why that was drastic. “I refuse treatment.” She exclaimed. Larry furrowed his brow, threw up his papers, and left through the staff door. Lena’s mom was dumbfounded.
“Lena! Why did you refuse treatment?”
Lena looked at her mother, “I’m not willing to make you pay that much. Also, i don’t need therapy to get over Joey. I’m ok.”
Lena and her mom loaded the last couple boxes into the family truck and stepped back. “Too bad Dad isn’t here right now. We would have finished a lot sooner.” Lena stated. Lynn nodded and they both climbed into the truck.
The ride was silent, and lena looked out the window at the rolling water outside. She was glad she lived in Washington because the oceans were so beautiful. They sparkled in the daytime and reflected the stars at night.
The new house was a normal two story with shuttered windows and a wrap around porch. It was almost identical to her old one. The town was a little different, with the smell of the ocean in the air and a yard full of deciduous trees. They spent 4 hours getting everything in, and all silently.
They finally talked when they were eating dinner and her mom talked about her new school in her thick German accent. “it’s a regular high school, and I’m pretty sure you’ll have a good time. You even have free period for 5th period, just like before.” Lena nodded and continued eating her soup in silence.
The next morning, lena pulled into the school parking lot on her bike, locked it up, and went to find her locker. It was tall and a little slimmer than her, with a built in combination lock.
She got the lock opened on the first try and put in her helmet and backpack.
Her schedule had all of the class numbers but it was still pretty challenging to find them with the swarm of high schoolers crowding the halls. Lena remembered last year when she was a freshman. The halls were like a deathpool then.
By third period, Lena needed a break from the noise and the crowds, and she just hated school in the first place.
She slipped out the door and around the corner to the ledge by the football field. Another girl was sitting there, smoking a cigarette. She had a boyish haircut and was wearing a blue and purple flannel, and if she wasn’t so well endowed then Lena would have thought she was a boy. Lena stopped about a foot away and asked, “can i sit here?”
The girl looked over and replied, “Sure. You skipping class, too?”
They sat in silence for about 10 minutes, and Lena secretly looked her over. She resembled a pretty boy, with her short brown hair, blue eyes, dimples, and manly build. She even had one earring stud in her right ear.
“So,” said the girl,”When did you get here?”
Lena wiggled in her spot and sighed,”Yesterday. We moved from Seattle, all the way down into Olympia.”
The girl nodded and asked, “Why did you guys move?”
Lena started to clam up, but hesitantly told her the story about her boyfriend and her suicide attempt.
The girl’s face stayed calm, and she said,”Wow. I’m sorry that happened, but I’m glad that you got out of that toxic relationship.”
Lena looked down. She pushed back her searing baby tears and looked back up,”Me too. Thanks.”
The girl’s face went from serious to soft, and she reached out her hand,”My name’s Kyli, but everyone calls me Ky. What’s your name?”
Lena shook her hand, “my name’s Lena. Nice to meet you.”
They talked about music, school, and anything else they could think of until the bell rang. They both stood up, brushed the dirt of their butts, and arranged to hang out during free period. Then they parted ways.
When Lena walked into 4th period, her geometry teacher stopped her on her way to her desk. “Lena Fischer” she said, “the principal wants you in his office right away. I suggest you go.” She looked cross, which just annoyed Lena.
She nodded and irritably made her way down the hall. Mr.Meyer’s office was bright and blue, totally opposite from himself. He had a sour look on his face, and he stomped into his office with his dark dress shoes. Lena wondered why teachers wore dress clothes to school. What statement were they making?
Mr.Meyer sat down, “Lena, your 3rd period teacher noticed that you were absent for his class. Is that right?”
Lena started to feel a little embarrassed, “Yes, that’s true.” She twiddled her thumbs to distract herself from his menacing glare.
He nodded, “Well, you do know that you’re supposed to be in class at all times, right?’
Lena refused to back down and lie, “Yes, I did know. I skipped class and I knew not to. I’m not going to do it again, if that’s what you’re wondering.” She crossed her arms and sat up straight, confident and careless once again.
Mr.meyer stared at her for a minute and grabbed the phone,”Well, then you should also know that i have to call your mother and inform her that her daughter skipped school on the first day.” He picked it up and dialed.
“Oh dammit,” Lena thought, as he started to speak into the phone.
Lena timidly walked up to her porch. She knew her mom would be waiting for her, and she would probably get mad enough to yell in german. She pulled open the door as quiet as she could, only to see her mother at the kitchen table with her arms crossed.
“god dammit,” she said under her breath as she walked into the kitchen. Her mom motioned for her to sit down, and she hesitantly did so.
Lynn looked up, “So, i hear you skipped class today. Is that true?” There was an edge to her voice. Lena nodded and looked back down.
“And why did you do that?”
“because,” Lena answered,”I couldn’t handle being there for so long.”
Lynn shook her head angrily, “Lena, sie erwachsen werden mussen!” (You need to grow up) She yelled.
“Oh no,” Lena thought,”Here comes the German.” She yelled back, “But mom, I’m 15. I can make my own decisions!”
Her mom slammed her hand on the table, “You are a child! You can hardly decide what to do with your hair!”
Lena had had enough, “”Ich bin kein Kind mehr!(I’m not a kid anymore.) I’m not doing it again, so just leave me alone!” She jumped out of her chair and ran up to her room.When she got there she slammed her door and threw herself onto her bed. She new it was stupid to skip class, but she didn’t get why everybody made a huge deal about it.
Her phone vibrated and she pulled it out of her pocket. Ky had texted her. When they had met during free period,they had exchanged contact info.
It read, “Hey, bro. what’s up?”
lena answered with, “Nothing, just lying in bed pissed at my mom. i got yelled at for skipping class.”
a minute later her phone buzzed again, “Sorry, Lena. Maybe during free period tomorrow we should go outside and just tune everybody out. It’s not against the rules.”
Lena thought that was a good idea, and answered, “Yeah, sounds good.”
For the next 4 hours Lena slept. She didn’t even dream, she just slept. When she woke, It was 7pm and she was groggy. She almost went back to sleep when her phone vibrated. Who was calling her this late at night? She answered, not even looking at the caller ID.
for a second she thought about hanging up, but a voice answered,“Lena? It’s Joey.”
now Lena really wanted to hang up, but he kept talking.
“Babe, I’m sorry i hit you and yelled at you. I was high, and i didn’t mean to. do you want to get back together?”
Lena almost laughed. Did he really think she was going to get back with him now? “Joey, what the hell. You have been saying you’re sorry since the first time you hit me 2 years ago. You know what? I’m done backing down to you. I will never get back with you. And don’t ever call me again.” Then she hung up, pleased with herself.
The next morning, lena woke up an hour early. She decided to take a shower and wash her frizzy hair. When she got in she grabbed her soap and started to scrub her scalp. It was calming, and allowed her to think about things that she didn’t normally think about.She thought about the call last night. Oh, the nerve of some people. She was glad she had ended that conversation confidently.
She thought about her new friend, Ky. She was a nice person to talk to, and she gave support to anybody who needed it. She thought to herself that she was cute, but immediately took it back. She couldn’t like a girl, she was straight. Or was she? She asked herself questions.
Am i attracted to girls? sometimes. Would i date a girl? If she was nice. Would ii kiss a girl?she didn’t know the answer to that one. she was a virgin, and had only kissed her boyfriend twice. She started to question her sexuality. Then the water went cold.
Ky was casually leaning next to Lena’s locker, waiting for her, “You ready to go outside?’ she asked. Lena nodded and they made their way through the door. They sat on a wooden bench and ogled the beautiful washington view of…traffic.
Ky was quiet, and she looked lost in her own mind. Lena wondered if something was wrong, “Ky, are you okay?’she asked.
Ky looked down then back up, and Lena could see the tears rimming her eyes. “I had to break up with Jen, my girlfriend.” The tears let loose and she covered her face. Lena patted her back and tried to comfort her.
“Why did you have to break up with her?” she asked empathetically.
Ky calmed down a bit and was able to talk. She answered, “I found out that she had been cheating on me with a stripper for 3 months. It hurt to find that out, so i told her we were done.” She ran a hand through her hair, “She expected me to be excited, just because i’m a lesbian. But that’s just not how i am. I hardly care about sex, because it’s the last thing to think about if you’re in love. the most important part is giving your whole to somebody and being able to feel comfortable with that person.”
lena gave her a side hug and said, “That’s a great definition. I agree. we all have bad relationships, but someday we’ll all find the right person. or cat.”
Ky laughed and they got up to go to 6th period.
When they were grabbing their backpacks out of their lockers Ky asked Lena if she wanted to come to her house and meet her mom so they could hang out. Lena agreed that it sounded like a good plan , and texted her mom to let her know where she was.
ky stood with her bike while Lena struggled to unlock hers, and then they were off. lena loved the feeling of the wind in her hair as they biked downhill towards Ky’s neighborhood.
They stopped in her driveway and unclipped their helmets. Ky led her up to the door, “don’t worry, my mom isn’t that bad.”
The inside of her house was nice and modern just like Lena’s house, but instead of smelling bratwurst or knodel, it smelled of cookies and bacon. Ky’s mom was in the kitchen with a plate of cookies in her hand and an apron in the other. “Hi girls! Want some cookies?”
Ky and Lena each grabbed a cookie of the plate, and took a bite. the cookies were really good, and Lena complimented her cooking.
“Aw, thanks. cooking is my specialty, along with painting.”
Lena stuck out her hand, “My name’s Lena. I’m a friend of Ky’s.” Ky’s mom set the plate of cookies on the counter and shook Lena’s hand.
“My name is Joy. I am the cook and enforcer of rules.” She laughed at her own joke, and lena giggled a bit.
“Well,mom,” Ky said with her hands in her pockets,”me and Lena are gonna go hang out in the rec room if that’s alright.” Joy let them go and they both ran downstairs.
Ky went over to the large radio and said, “Let’s turn on some music.” Then she cranked up the dial. Hip hop blasted through the speakers and they started dancing and singing.
Lena grabbed a pillow off of the red sofa and threw one to Ky. They stared at each other for a minute then Ky yelled, “Game on!”
The pillow fight commenced, and Ky won with an ultimate pillow smackdown. She knocked Lena onto the soft sofa and threw her arms into the air dramatically, “I won! i have beaten the master!”
She collapsed on the couch and they both laughed, red in the face. Lena finally stopped laughing and said, “Jesus, Ky. You sure know how to pillow fight.”
Ky went up to the tv and picked out a movie. Then she sat down with Lena. The movie was about two girls finding love, and a crazy mother who hated gay people. Halfway through the movie, Lena started to get really tired. she felt her head teeter to the side, and she fell asleep on Ky’s shoulder.
Lena woke up in her bed covered in blankets. There was a piece of folded up paper by her head, and she picked it up. It was from Ky.
It read, “Lena, we both fell asleep during the movie and my mom woke me up when it was over. she said you looked really tired, so we drove you home and your mom put you in your bed. Love ya bro,-Ky”
Lena folded it back up and put it on her desk. She needed to just lay down and think. She thought about her dad, far away in Florida for 3 months. Then she thought ,”maybe i can write him a letter.” She grabbed a pencil and some paper and went to work.
In the end it read, “Dear Dad, How are you doing? Probably good, on your business trip in Florida and all, without your family. Anyway, i just wanted to catch you up on the family biz since you never gave us your business number and you never answer your own phone. We’re all fine. 2 weeks ago my boyfriend broke up with me and he hit me, so I attempted suicide. Now i have identical scars in my hands. We also moved to Olympia (Address) so now you know how to come home, if you do. I also have a best friend for once, and i think i’m starting to like her….but that’s beyond the point. Anyway, mom’s lonely and i’m corrupted. Hope you’re having fun in florida.-Lena
She read it over. It was angry and mean, but he deserved it. He wasn’t ever there for his family,and if he was it was only a couple days at a time. She noticed that she wrote that she liked Ky. She was confused that she was able to write that to her dad without even thinking, but she couldn’t admit it to herself.
Putting her thoughts out of the way she sealed the envelope,stamped it,wrote the address, and popped it into the mailbox. She flopped on her bed and let her anger towards her father brew. She never wanted to see him again, not that she really would have that issue. All he cared about was work, and he was never there as her father. to her, he was just some guy in suit who sat at their dinner table 4 times a year. She started to cry.
Lynn eventually came in to check on her, and saw her bawling into her pillow. She sat at the edge of the bed and touched her back,”What’s wrong, honey?”
Lena just kept crying until her tears ran dry. “I’m just so confused and angry,” she said, after she sat up. Then she spilled, “Dad is never home and i feel like we need a father figure in the house and he never calls to check on us because he’s so involved in his work. Joey called last night to get back with me and i told him to get a life and never call me again. Also, I think i have a crush on my best friend but she’s a girl so i’m afraid to tell people and i’m confused because she’s a lesbian and I think i might be bisexual.”
Her mother just smiled and said, “Lena, about your father.we didn’t tell you yet, but we’re getting a divorce soon for those exact reasons. I want you to have a father, so i’ve started dating. I’ve actually met a very amazing man named Dan, and he’s going to meet you next week. And the girl, I don’t care who you date. I won’t even ask questions except the normal mother questions, as long as you’re happy. And you know what? I’m also bisexual, so i know what you’re going through. Just let your heart find it’s way. And if Joey calls you again, threaten to call the police. I’m proud of you for standing up to him.” Then she hugged her tightly.
Lena felt supported and happy for her mom’s new life. She couldn’t wait to meet Dan, and she couldn’t wait to discover herself.
Lena and Ky walked down the street feeling the fall breeze. They rounded the corner and entered the community park. it was empty except for a couple dog walkers. Ky ran over to the swings, and lena happily followed. They both swung gently side by side,looking at the sky.
“Hey, Lena.” Ky said.
Lena looked over at her and answered,”Yeah?”
Ky looked straight ahead and asked,”What’s your sexual orientation, if you don’t mind me asking.”
Lena, now confident in her answer replied,”I am bisexual.” Ky nodded. They swung and talked about how love hurts and they shared all their previous love stories.
lena laughed and recounted her 7th grade boyfriend, “I once dated this guy in 7th grade named Dale. He had a bunch of acne and smelled like old salami. but for some reason i liked him. he had pretty eyes. i broke up with him when i kissed him and his breath stunk so bad.”
Ky laughed, “middle school memories. This one time in 8th grade I dated a girl named brittany. She was really pretty, but she was a downright bitch. She would mouth off to everybody and caused so much drama. Then she broke up with me and told me she only did it to cause drama. glad that’s over.” she rolled her eyes and slid off the swing.
“Do you wanna go on the slide?”
lena was game, and she jumped off of the swing to follow Ky, “Let’s go together and see if it works.”
Ky laughed and agreed to her faulty plan. They climbed up the rubber covered metal stairs and positioned themselves awkwardly so they could go down together.
“Ok, ready?”Ky asked,”1…2..3!” She let go and they slid and spun strangely until they fell off the end. Ky landed on top of Lena in a pushup position and Lena landed sprawled on the ground.
“That hurt a little more than I thought it would” she said, giggling. Ky smiled and they looked into each other’s eyes. There was a certain spark, Ky leaned down, and they kissed. It was long and soft, and Lena felt better than she ever had.
They pulled apart and stood up, brushing off the bark. “Wow.” Lena said,still gathering herself.
Ky nodded,”That went better than i expected.”
They walked awkwardly back in the direction of lena’s house. “So,” Lena said, breaking the silence, “do you want to spend the night?”
Ky looked up, “Are you sure? After that dumb move of mine?”
Lena gasped, “It wasn’t dumb. I rather enjoyed it. Anyway, it’s time you met my mom.”
They kept walking in silence, until Ky asked, “So…then are we officially dating?”
Ky and Lena walked into the house where her mother was reading a book at the table. “Hi,mom.” Lena said, waiting for her mom to look up.
She eventually did , and placed a bookmark in her spot, “Hi, honey. And who’s this young lady?” She smiled and stood up to shake her hand.
Ky smiled back and shook her hand, “My name’s Kyli, but everyone calls me Ky. I’m Lena’s girlfriend.”
lena’s mom nodded and said cheerily, “My name is Keilyn, but everybody calls me Lynn. I’m lena’s mom.”
She sat back down to read her book and told them to go hang out in the living room. Lena grabbed them sodas and they sat on the black leather couch, lena’s legs crossing over ky’s so they were touching sides. lena put on the movie that they never finished, and laid back.
The mom ended up softening and growing open to their love, and they got married. So, it was a pretty happy ending. Ky grabbed Lena’s left hand with her right, and whispered, “I love you.”
Lena squeezed her hand and whispered back, “I love you too.”
The credits came on, and it played a nice love song. They hummed along until it was over, then they just sat, soaking in the silence.
Ky’s head started to teeter, and eventually she rested it on lena’s shoulder and fell asleep.
It was at that very moment that Lena felt at peace, and she knew she was in the right place.