Mint green walls crept onwards, some turning right or left or continuing straight. I dragged my hand across its length, causing a rhythmic vibration to travel through my hand, and into my arm.
I leaned my head against my hand and turned towards the wall. I am invisible. No one can see me.
Ironically, I heard the soft patter of someone’s feet, and then the quiet voice of Anna, my nurse, calling out to me: “Olive, what are you doing against the wall?” She reached out to me and peeled me off the wall, comforting me, as we walked back down the hall to my room, 407.
“Do you want to talk about what you’re thinking right now?” I shook my head, I was tired of the therapist, Mr. Smith asking the same questions. It only brought back scary memories, and I could feel the fake sympathy oozing out of his body. He only cares about the paycheck that comes with me.
Everyone pitied me. They all gave me that sad, worried look. But it was all fake.So I kept to myself. They would all be happier if I was gone.
Anna walked to my bed with her arm resting on my shoulders. I climbed onto the sheets and she covered me with the thick blankets given by the hospital.
I felt my body relax once resting my head on the three pillows, when Mr. Smith walked in and I tensed up again.
“Ah, here you are, Olive,” He smiled.
“Here I am,” I whispered, giving my best try of a smile, but only ending up in a smirk.
I snatched my iPod and Beats off of my bed-side-table and set my headphones over my ears to drown out Mr. Smith’s chatter.
I closed my eyes and released the tension once the music started to play.
“Give a little time to me or burn this out,
We’ll play hide and seek to turn this around…”
“I thought you might do this, ignoring my questions,” Mr. Smith gently pulled off my headphones, and smiled, again.
I glared back.
“I’ve prepared a set of questions for you, if it makes you more comfortable to write than talk, and Olive,” He sat on the edge of my bed, and I withdrew my feet, so to get the farthest away from him, “your going to have to answer these questions if you want to get better, and get out of here.” He handed me a packet of questions attached to a clipboard, signaling the end of the discussion.
“Alright, but only if I get to listen to my music!” I said, not letting him get the last word. I slammed my Beats back onto my head, and pressed play, sinking back into my bed, wishing they would just swallow me whole.
“Give a little time to me or burn this out…”
“Don’t burn yourself!” Maurine—my best friend since the first grade—shrieked, laughing.
“What happened to the usual lighter?” I asked sucking on my new burn.
“Too hard to get, so I just use matches to light mine. Remind me why you’ve suddenly become so interested in smoking?” She asked after taking a drag from her smoldering cigarette.
“Just wanted to try it out, you know? I mean, ever since you started I was kind of intrigued.” To be honest, that wasn’t entirely the truth. Anyways, I knew I could get away with it, my dad doesn’t show any sign of caring, and is busy with his job. So whatever.
“Go on, try it,” She signaled to my own fuming cigarette.
“Pretty good,” I coughed out, after pulling it out of the corner of my lips. I grinned, and tried again after glancing to see if anyone had seen us.
“Here. Take another pack for later.” I snatched the Marlboro box out of the air, and hid it in a compartment of my bag, under my pile of books.
I shook my head, as if the memory would disappear just by the simple shake. Olive, get to these stupid questions, so you can leave this prison, I told myself.
“Question one: How are you feeling right now?” I read, rolling my eyes. Annoyed. I scribbled on the lines below. And lonely, I added quickly.
“Question two: Who do you trust most?” Easy: Max, my seventeen-year-old brother. After eight more similar questions, I stopped.
“I’m done for today.” I set the clipboard on the table beside me, and turned on my side, my back to Mr. Smith.
“Ok,” he sighed, “but let me just warn you that the longer you take answering these questions, the longer you will be staying in the hospital. And you will have to talk at one point.”
Cold wind and rain whipped me from the side as I raced for my home. Water soaked through my converse, and I was chilled to the bone.
The rusted gate creaked as pushed it open, and rushed towards my front steps. I rung my doorbell impatiently, and a minute later Max came bounding to the door.
“Oh my god you must be freezing!” He exclaimed, as I stripped myself of a soaking sweatshirt and my shoes and socks. Max attempted to warm me by rubbing my arms, but it did little to help, and I pushed his hands away.
“That is not going to help–,”
“What’s that smell?” He smelled my breath, and I cursed silently.
“What do you mean?” I looked up at him innocently.
“Have you been smoking?” Shoot.
“What are you talking—,”
“Don’t give me that crap! You were, weren’t you?” He dropped down to where my bag lay, and nearly ripped it open in his haste of finding my cigarettes.
“No! Max!” I cried. He held up my pack of Marlboro, and just shook his head.
“I’m telling Dad,” he said with a look of disappointment. I sprinted to my room, tears streaming down my cheeks, and dripping down my chin. At least maybe Dad will notice me for once.
I slammed the door behind me, and threw myself onto my bed, nursing myself to sleep.
After dozing off, the darkness had started to creep closer, until my room was completely engulfed in black. Without turning on the lights, I padded quietly around my hospital room, trying not to bump into any furniture, although there was so little, that I easily found the light switch to the bathroom, and its doorknob. Glancing at the mirror I noticed the tear marks on my face. I must have been crying in my sleep, I realized. There were only two times I remember ever crying. When I had almost comm–Olive, stop, don’t think about it– and when I had found my mother dead.
I stood next to my second grade teacher, my school’s playground getting emptier by the second, as parents picked up their children. My mother was nowhere to be seen, and the eerie silence enveloped me in full force.
“Where is my mama?” I whined, pulling on my teacher’s skirt.
“Come.” She peeled my hand off of her, and held it. She had not spoken of where she was taking me, but I knew it was the Main Office. She traveled across the playground with swift movements, and I followed, scurrying behind her, each of her steps, equaling to 3 of mine. She pulled me up two flights of stairs and into the office.
“Do you know your home number?” I nodded, and I carefully recited each digit. I waited silently as the phone rung multiple times. My teacher noisily placed the phone back on its receiver.
“No one answered.”
“I can go home by myself,” I squeaked. I was a big girl. I could do things on my own. She just laughed and took my arm, again, beginning to pull me out into the hallway and down the stairs. I wriggled out from under her, and raced down the stairs.
“You cannot go home alone, you are only eight years old!” She shouted, but I didn’t listen, she only gave me the motivation to run even faster.
And I smiled to myself.
Once from a good distance, I slowed to a walk. I turned the doorknob to my front door—which was always open when someone was already home—and sauntered upstairs, to my parents’ bedroom.
I always noticed that my mother wasn’t very happy. That’s why everyday i brought her something special. Today I had a drawing.
The door creaked as I pushed it open, and I smiled down at my picture. She was going to love it! My eyes glanced up, expecting the usual: “How was your day?” questions. But none came.
I saw my mother hanging, her body swinging calmly from side to side. Her mouth was open, as if crying out. A noose was wrapped harshfully around her neck.
Tears welled up in my eyes as my drawing dropped to the floor. And I did the one thing I did best.
Someone knocked on my open door. I briefly looked up and then went back to reading my book.
“What book are you reading?” Mr. Smith asked, curiously.
“Perks of Being a Wallflower,” I mumbled.
“Well, can you put it down for just a bit? Would you like to keep writing, or are you comfortable enough to talk to me?”
“I’ll talk.” I crossed my arms. If I’m going to have to talk at one point, I may as well get it over with.
“Ok, so I reviewed your answers from yesterday, and spoke to your brother and father, and they’re both extremely worried about you.”
“My father? Sure…” I scoffed, my voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Olive, your father does care about you.”
“Olive,” I heard the deep voice of my father. Surprise of his attention being directed at me, drove me to jump out of my bed, and answer with a high-pitched: “yes?” He was still dressed in his business clothing, although he always was.
“Max mentioned that you have an addiction to smoking,” he said holding up my stolen box of cigarettes. When did it come to an ‘addiction’? What was Max thinking? “All I am going to say to you is that you keep it out of the house. I don’t want anyone seeing you do this. You’re ruining our family name, and our reputation. You hear me?” He raised his eyebrows, and I nodded numbly. Did he not care about me at all? The first time he had talked to me in weeks was about smoking, and he hadn’t even yelled at me. He hadn’t given any effort into the situation
“And a few months ago, I would’ve been happy that he had let this slide, and thought I had missed a big blow, but this… I couldn’t even process my thoughts at that point,” I recalled, the words spilling out of my mouth, with no sign of stopping.
With a swipe of my hand, my books, and objects lying on my desk tumbled to the ground. I quickly tied my hair in a ponytail and sat in my desk chair, breathing heavily. I held my head in my hands. Does he not care about me? That’s it, I’ve tried everything to get his attention, and for him to show he cared, but there’s not hope. He doesn’t love me. And neither does anyone else. Not even Max, or Maurine. They both betrayed me. I’m all alone.
“Uhm, by this time, I had already crawled into a ball in the corner of my room.” I played with my hands nervously. Mr. Smith just nodded his head.
On my hands and knees, I crawled to my bathroom, and struggled to stand up. No one will care if I’m gone, I whispered to myself.
By then tears had cascaded in a constant stream, and my nose had started to run.
I looked at myself in my mirror, and opened the cabinet door. I swung at all the medications, and creams that were silently standing on each shelf until my hand grasped the sleeping pills. No one will care if I’m gone, I repeated to myself.
I spent two minutes trying to open the medication, groaning in frustration, until I read the instructions, and realized I had to “press down hard, and turn”.
“I remember hearing the footsteps of my brother coming towards my room, and I trying to swallow the pills faster…” I whispered, hoarsely, as my eyes filled with tears. By now, Mr. Smith was by my side.
“And then what happened?” He asked quietly. I took a deep breath.
“I had poured every single sleeping pill into my mouth, and was trying to swallow them when my brother… b-barged i-in…”
Hearing Max’s footsteps coming, I stumbled to the shower, and turned the showerhead on, and brought my head up, gulping down the water as fast as possible, and the pills with it.
I fell on my knees and rocked myself side to side, my arms hugging my knees. My mouth was empty of pills, all settling in my stomach.
Max crashed into the bathroom in his haste to see what the problem was, and saw the small plastic, orange capsule that had held the medication, and quickly glanced at my state.
“Olive? Oh my god, Olive. Olive! Are you alright?”
“And that’s all I remember.” I said, rubbing my eyes.
“Thank you for telling me this, Olive, it makes my job much easier, and will make yours, too.” Mr. Smith explained. “Your father does love you, he’s been trying talk to you, but Max hasn’t given him permission yet. Now what I want to do to help you is to—“
“Is to what?”
“Escape. Escape from that prison that has been forming inside your head for months now.”
Manon Achard, Age 13, Grade 8, The Clinton School For Writers and Artists, Silver Key