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I felt the blood drip down my finger. I pulled my hand out of my pocket, and the sharp b.u.t.terfly fell into the palm of my b.l.o.o.d.y hand. Mr. Sharp stayed crouched up on the seat. He looked at my hand and his shivering lips would not give me that smile I was waiting for.
"What's wrong? I need you! Help me!"
He bit down on his lip and kept his head low. He wouldn't let me see his eyes.
I pressed the sharp b.u.t.terfly wing to my hand and twisted the wing into my palm. I screamed in pain as I twisted and made the blood squeeze out.
"You said you'd be there for me! You said you'd help me breathe! I need to breathe! Mr. Sharp! Mr. Sharp, please don't leave me!"
"You have to stop," he whispered hoa.r.s.ely.
"You have to stop," he repeated.
"I can't! I can't breathe. The ball keeps turning, and it's hard for me to breathe."
Mr. Sharp turned away from me and, without opening the door, he stepped outside into the pouring rain. He started walking towards the bridge that led to the highway. I began to open the driver's side door when Mom's cell phone rang. I looked down and saw that Mom was calling from her office. The phone rang continuously. She was calling because it was after 3:00pm, and Nick had promised he would call her if I wasn't there on time. I looked at the phone, and then out the window that had begun to fog. Mr. Sharp was still on the path to the bridge.
I slammed the door shut when I was out of the car, and I ran as fast as I could in the pouring rain to get to him. When I caught up with him, he was at the top of the bridge, looking down from the overpa.s.s.
Mr. Sharp kept his head low as he yelled over the noise of the traffic. "Jack was right!"
"No! He was never right!"
"Yes, he was! You got what you deserved, Kristen, because you failed! He's going to come back and he's going to show you! You'll see! She's going to take him back!"
"She wouldn't do that!"
"Yes, she would, if she knew that it would get rid of you! You are useless! You are ugly! You are a loser!"
"Why?" I screamed out to him.
A car horn honked loud enough to make me jump. I had somehow walked out into traffic. The car swerved and pa.s.sed me.
"No!" I called out, even more afraid. The metal ball in my chest turned mercilessly. It was getting harder to keep my breath.
Rain poured down on me, and I shivered from the cold. I didn't care about the cars that were honking at me. I didn't care about the sounds of traffic that should have scared me off that bridge. Mr. Sharp was wrong, and he needed to know it.
Mr. Sharp stood near the edge of the wall that bordered the bridge. He leaned over the top of it and looked down. He turned towards me, and this time he lifted his head. His eyes were red and wet with tears and rain. He reached out for me.
"Come with me," he said.
"Where?" I walked towards him, afraid.
"Take my hand," he said.
I approached him. He looked over the wall again, and I looked down, too. We could see cars, trailers, trucks, campers, and other vehicles pa.s.sing under the bridge down below us on the highway.
The car that had almost hit me had stopped up ahead, and it looked like it was trying to come back. Two more cars stopped and shined their lights on us. Someone was running towards me, but I couldn't hear what that person was yelling.
Mr. Sharp climbed up to the top of the wall. He reached out to me one last time. "Take my hand and take a deep breath," Mr. Sharp calmly said.
I was shaking, cold and afraid, but then he smiled at me. That convincing smile appeared on his scared face. I climbed up and stood next to him on top of the wall. Even though it hurt to breathe, I took one deep breath and I grabbed his hand. The moment when our hands touched, life became surreal. The rain fell at an unrealistically slow pace. The drops were so big and detailed that I could see the exact shape of each one. Mr. Sharp and I were lifted into the air in one high jump. The air beneath me grew steady and my breath became still.
We went up into the air together outside on that bridge, and when we came back down our feet touched the surface of a cold, tile floor. Dry, calm, and warm, we were inside of the old house again. I looked at Mr. Sharp, ready for what was to come this time. He put the knife into the palm of my hand. The tears fell from his vulnerable eyes.
He said, "This is where it ends. You have one last chance not to fail, Kristen. Take it."
I took the knife from him. If I were gone, Jack wouldn't have to come back. He wouldn't come back and hurt them in order to hurt me. It was Jack's entire fault. Jack was the devil, and he had taken my daddy away. He'd taken my family away. I did not want him to come back to hurt any of us. If I went, then he would have to go. I wasn't going to fail this time. I gripped the knife tightly in my hand and turned towards the dark hallway.
Mr. Sharp grabbed my arm before I could walk away from him. He looked me straight in the eyes. In one smooth movement, he leaned in and kissed me gently on my lips. With that virtuous kiss, he whispered without pulling his lips from mine, I love you.
I closed my eyes, took his kiss into my heart, and let the painful tears fall out. I had loved Mr. Sharp, too. He knew it.
When I opened my eyes, Mr. Sharp was gone. All that remained with me was the knife in my hand and the door that stood closed in front of me. The sickening sounds of Nick's cries and screams were seeping out from behind the other side of that door. I had had this dream too many times before, since the devil had made it reality. I knew exactly what I had to do.
I opened the door and saw Jack standing in front of Nicholas. Nick lay still on the bed, belly and face down. His eyes were closed, and tears streamed down his face. He was never going to cry again because of this demon, and we were never going to be afraid of it, because I was not going to fail.
As Jack approached me, I raised the knife. Instead of taking it to my own skin, I punctured it deep into Jack's bare chest. No, I did not run this time. I pulled the knife out of the wound. It bled smoke and black tar. As was expected of a demonic creature such as Jack, he cried out in shrieking pain. It was the sound of music to my ears. I could no longer hear Nick crying.
I raised the knife and stabbed him again in his chest once more. The knife came down into where his heart would have been, if he'd had one. This time the tar and smoke swelled up into his eyes, turning them completely black. The smell of soot filled my nostrils. Jack threw his head back, and the sound of his screeching cries was smothered by gurgling. He was trying to breathe.
Hot, lava-like tar burst up into his throat and drained out of his mouth. This was the killer blow. I pulled the knife out and watched Jack fall to the floor. When he hit the floor, his body shriveled up and turned to ashes and smoke. Looking down at that pile of waste made me feel sorrow. It didn't have to be that way, but, yes, it did. I raised the knife once more and then pressed it to my arm. If I could just see Mr. Sharp one more time...
When the blade touched my arm, a scorching sensation went through my skin that made me immediately drop the knife. Scared, I reached for the knife and grabbed it. But before I could try to reach Mr. Sharp again, I began to cough. My chest felt like something hard was ripping away at my lungs. Breathing was harder than ever, because whatever was stuck in my throat would not go down or come up. I coughed uncontrollably and pounded my fists on my chest. I kept on coughing until what was keeping me from breathing finally began to come up. I coughed and coughed until that evil metal ball choked up out of my mouth and landed in the pile of Jack's ashes.
I looked down at the metal ball. The ball was large, round, black, and full of sharp spikes. The ball was gored with pieces of my heart and chunks of blood. It didn't frighten me that it had taken a costly piece of me with it, because I knew that I was still alive, and I knew deep in my soul that it was only for the better that I finally let that part of me go.
I walked over to Nick's bed, but he wasn't there. I hadn't seen him leave the room. The door to his bedroom was open. He must have slipped by me while I was choking up the metal ball from my chest. I went over to the door and looked out. Nick was standing in the hallway with Mom, Alison, Dr. Cuvo, and Dr. Pelchat. They were all smiling and applauding for me. Nick was happier than I had ever seen him, and Mom looked prouder than I would have ever imagined her to be of me.
As they applauded, I could only feel sadness. Shouldn't I have been happy? Shouldn't I have been proud? I saved them. I did not fail this time. I looked down at the tarred knife. Mr. Sharp was really gone. He'd said that I had one last chance not to fail. Then why was I being sucked into darkness? Why was I allowing the door to close on my life?
There was light where they were standing, and there was only darkness where I was standing. I heard Alison's voice calling out to me. I saw Nick waving his hands in the air. Mom screamed my name.
She said, "Open your eyes! Come out of there! Come back to us!"
The door began to close. They stood in the hallway, waving and calling out to me. I wanted to stop the door from closing me in the dark room, but I was almost afraid to step into the light and be with them. What would I do now that I had saved them? Did they really need me? Did they really want me now?
"Please, Kristen," I heard Nick cry out.
His voice sounded so far away as the door begin to shut me in. The door creaked when it was only an inch from the latch. I saw the light on the other side of the door peek in through the crack. Nick cried louder and harder. Mom screamed.
Darkness filled the room and shut me in. The smell of smoke and fire filled the black air, and I grew afraid. A loud noise that sounded like a long beeping siren filled my ears. The piercing sound frightened me even more because I could not see where the sound was coming from in the dark. The siren grew louder, and the smell of the smoke became intense.
With the sound of the siren fading in and out, there was a jolt of electricity that turned the whole room red and then black again. My body was being electrocuted, and with each shock, a red light blinked from above my head. My heart was racing so fast that I could hear it pounding in my brain. My veins felt like they were on fire. The whole scene was frightening.
How do I let go? How do I make this stop? I couldn't figure it out. What I did know was that I wanted out of the darkness. I wanted the electricity, the red blinking lights and beeping sirens, all to stop. I wanted my heart to stop burning rapidly inside of me. It hurt too much.
The room was dark, but I stuck my arms out. I felt the hard, shut door. With all of my might, I pushed my arms forward through the darkness and painful electric shocks. Pushing all of my weight on that door made my skin burn. I continued to push and push until it began to break apart. Cracking and crumbling, that door was breaking down. I did not stop pushing. The hurt in my veins became almost unbearable just before the door finally burst to pieces. When the wood crumbled beneath me, I fell through and hit the floor. The door faded to ashes, and the darkness seemed to wither away. I lay still, and the pain drifted away as I began to open my eyes again. The brightest and most blinding light I had ever seen suddenly filled the room. I could not see clear enough to make out where I was.
The world was completely white.
"She's awake! Mommy! Mommy! Her eyes are open!" I heard Nick's voice so loud and clear.
The sound of his feet pounding on the floor made me cry.
"Her eyes are watering!" Alison said with fear in her voice.
I did not move. I lay still on my back, staring up at the bright lights and white ceiling above me. I couldn't see anyone's face. I could only hear their sweet voices. Nick and Alison's sweet voices made my heart beat steadily again.
Mom was there. I could feel her hands touching my arm and rubbing my hair gently. I heard her crying and sobbing. Real tears seemed like they were actually falling from her eyes. I saw her leaning over me, almost like a shadow. The tears that fell from her eyes landed on my face. It reminded me of the rain.
"Oh, baby," Mom cried from over me. "I'm so sorry. I'm here. It's okay."
"Is she awake?" an unfamiliar voice asked.
Mom looked away from me towards the voice.
"Her eyes are open, and she has tears in her eyes. Does it mean that she's awake? Does she know that we are here?" Mom asked.
Mom was pushed out of the way, and someone else stood above me. It was a woman dressed in a white coat. Her white coat almost blended with the white ceiling above. The bright lights made it hard to make out her face. She shined a circle of light into my eyes from a pen she pulled from her almost invisible coat pocket. It made me blink. She gasped happily.
"Kristen is awake and alert!" The woman exclaimed. "Get Dr. Grayson. Quickly!"
I couldn't hear Nick and Alison anymore, but I heard Mom still crying. I did not know what was going on. All of the excitement from the moment I opened my eyes was exhausting and scary. I closed my eyes and pushed myself away from the white lights and the confusion.
Hospitals have a smell to them. The sickening smell lingers to make you always remember where you are and what you've done. The smell was too familiar. The white, thin blankets were too familiar. I lay in the bed with three of the white blankets spread over me.
That day when I'd followed Mr. Sharp onto the bridge, I knew that we did not intend to ever get off the bridge alive. We'd jumped over the wall to die so that there would not be any time for regret, no way of turning back, and no way for us to be saved.
Or so I'd thought.
After I'd climbed up the wall and had stood next to Mr. Sharp, we had decided we were going to jump. I hadn't looked behind me, and I hadn't looked down. My chest had been tight, but I'd taken the deepest breath I could take and I'd jumped. I'd gone up into the air, but I'd never felt myself go down.
I was told that I had pa.s.sed out, possibly from fear or shock once I had actually jumped, but, before I could launch myself completely forward, someone had caught me. I never made it to the bottom of the highway where I would have, without a doubt, died. If the 100-foot drop down to the highway below wouldn't have killed me, then I was sure that a pa.s.sing car or semi would have done the job.
My limp and unconscious body had been pulled back by the person who had been there and quick enough to grab me. When I had been pulled back over, I'd fallen back to the ground and had hit my head on the concrete ground. The person who had saved my life was a man who had been driving the car that had almost hit me. He'd parked his car right there on the bridge, and when he'd seen me climbing up the wall, he'd started running towards me. He had been screaming out to me, but I couldn't understand what he was saying.
As I had been launching myself off the wall with Mr. Sharp, I'd grown light-headed, and then I remembered only seeing black. That's when my savior had gotten a hold of my shirt. He'd told the police that he barely got a hold of an inch of my shirt, just in time. He said that I had been so heavy because I was pa.s.sed out and unable to move myself or take control of my own weight. He didn't think that he was going to be able to keep me from falling. I was told that he had almost lost his own life trying to save me, because he'd really had to pull to get me to fall back and not make us both go forward and down. He certainly had pulled hard enough, and he'd been able to let me go before we could fall over. That was when I'd fallen backwards and had landed back on the concrete ground of the bridge. I had suffered a serious concussion, but the doctors had said that I was lucky that a concussion was all I had.
I woke up from that concussion a few days later. Mom, Alison, and Nick were there beside me. Mom told me that they would not leave my side until I had woken up. I did not fully regain consciousness for three days after I woke up for the first time. After those three days, I did not have any more blackouts. Coincidentally, the day that I regained full consciousness was the day of Jack's parole hearing. To my surprise, Mom, Alison, and Nick were there at my side. Mom promised me that she was not going anywhere.
She said, "I am right where I am supposed to be."
"What about the parole hearing?" I asked her.
Nick and Alison stood next to Mom, one twin by each of her sides. She squeezed them tightly with one arm each as she smiled down at me. Genuine tears fell from her eyes and, one by one, they made me happy.
"That's not important," she said. "Our family is what is important right now. You are important to us."
I knew that this was certainly not a dream. I was wide awake, and what was happening was for real. Everything that Mom was saying was true. Her tears were not fake, and her actions were not of my imagination.
Every tear that was shed between the both of us that day proved that I didn't fail this time. I was given the strength to push myself back into the light. I could not stay in the darkness and let myself rest eternally in h.e.l.l where I did not belong. That was where Jack belonged, and that was where he was going to stay.
Dr. Pelchat's office was terribly familiar. I sat in the same chair opposite his as he sat behind his big, wooden desk. He had my same familiar chart open with a pen in his left hand. He and I were alone together in that familiar room with the same familiar window that I had a habit of staring out of when I felt too closed in.
"You're a strong girl," Dr. Pelchat said.
His voice crept in and disturbed my silent thoughts.
"I didn't think that you would want to see me this time," I admitted to him.
"I don't know. I just didn't think so. After all, I did become a statistic."
"No," he corrected. "You would have been one of those statistics if you had actually succeeded in killing yourself."
"Do you remember what happened that day?"
"Yes," I told him. "I let him go. Mr. Sharp is gone."
"How do you feel about that?"
"I'm taking it one minute at a time."
Dr. Pelchat nodded.
"There are times when I wish he would appear again, but I know that he won't. Especially now that you put me back on Risperdol."