Copyright 2015 Brisa Ramirez
Published by Brisa Ramirez at Shakespir
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Table of Contents
To Live Or Die
My name is Alexia (Lex) Gonzalez, and I tried and failed to commit suicide. Truth be told, I wish I had succeeded. And truth be told, I wish I had never tried. Most days, I don’t know which of these I wish more. But anyway, I guess I’m living for now. I’m going home today – if the place where I’ve lived the past few years can really be considered home. Sure, I’ve been staying there for a while now. I should be more comfortable considering it my home. I just don’t feel like I fit in anywhere anymore. Actually, I don’t know if I ever felt like I truly fit in anywhere. Either way, I’m going back, and I don’t know how to feel about that.
I closed my journal and looked down at the suitcase sitting by my bed. It was all ready to go. I was just waiting on my uncle Zack to get back. He had gone off to talk to someone – exactly who, I wasn’t sure. I also wasn’t sure why Valerie hadn’t come along with him. Normally, she would have been the one responsible for this sort of thing – not that this sort of thing had happened before. She tried to be the one to manage all my doctors’ appointments, parent-teacher meetings, and any other sort of serious “parent” thing. She might not have been my parent, but we were blood related. I had always assumed that was her reason for feeling so commited to me.
On this day, though, it was her husband, my uncle Zack that arrived to pick me up.
“Ready to go?” he asked as he walked back in.
I nodded, and he picked up my suitcase.
“Let’s go then,” he said. I stood up and followed him out. Zack was in his late twenties. He was tall and had shaggy brown hair that he would shake away from his eyes every now and then. He was a really easy-going guy, and I was actually pretty happy he picked me up instead of Valerie. Valerie was too dramatic.
“So… did you make any friends?” he asked as he put my suitcase in the trunk. I got into the passenger seat.
I smiled at his question. “I think the question that Valerie would want you to ask is if I’ve gotten better,” I replied.
“Oh that’s a given.” He got into the driver’s seat and started the car. I closed the passenger door.
“You think so?”
He nodded. “You look so much better already. I can tell.”
This, though somewhat comforting, made me feel a little guilty. What right did I have to look better? I felt like I was lying to him without even trying to. Zack hadn’t done anything to deserve that from me.
It had been five months. This was the first thought that had entered my mind as I unpacked my bags. Five months since the incident that had caused me so many problems.
I looked in the mirror, staring long and hard at my own reflection. I was about five-foot-ten and slim. My long legs had always been my favorite feature, and they were now accentuated by the sundress I was wearing. I had found it in my closet and had decided to try it on. It had been a while since I had worn a dress, and I wondered what I would look like. The form of the dress made me appear thinner, which I liked. Although I already had a small waistline, I liked outfits that made me appear even smaller. I was not the kind of girl that wished to be thinner in general, but it was a nice thought.
I wasn’t self-conscious about my body in general. I liked my form, and I didn’t even have a problem with my height. Yes, sometimes it was hard to find outfits that I would feel comfortable in, but I really didn’t have a huge problem with it.
But then I saw my arms reflected in the mirror. I looked down at them. I touched the scars that were there, tracing my fingers over them one at a time and eventually found myself gazing down at my left wrist where the decision I had made was pretty clear to anyone who looked. Why had I made this decision? These scars were not going to disappear, and now I would have to live with them.
I would have to live.
It had been a long few months, and I was tired. I was tired of trying. I was tired of thinking so much. I was just overall exhausted. And soon, I would be back to school and have even more reasons to be tired.
I couldn’t stand to look at my own reflection anymore, so I turned around. After putting on my jacket, I looked at the various outfits I had laid out for myself. I was so nervous about returning to school after everything that had happened. If I really must go, I at least wanted to give the right impression. Perhaps covering myself up wouldn’t do that, but I didn’t know what would. I was so aware of what my arms looked like and didn’t want people to stare at them. Even if I was the only one that noticed them, I didn’t like the idea of having them exposed.
The doorknob was turning, and someone was about to enter my room. I looked in that direction in anticipation.
“Hey,” my older brother Ricky said. “Is it okay if I come in?”
I looked around at the mess I had already created in my room. I had only been back for a few hours, and already this room was such a disaster. It made me feel a little bit embarrassed. “Sure,” I said, even though I didn’t really want to talk to anyone at the moment.
Ricky walked in and stayed standing by the door. “How are you?” he asked.
“Could you shut the door?” I asked him. For some reason, having it open really made me feel uncomfortable.
“Thanks,” I said when he closed it.
A moment of silence passed by. “You didn’t answer my question.”
“How are you, Lex? How are you feeling? How are you holding up?”
“I’m fine,” I said simply.
“What?” I took a seat on my bed and looked at him, truly unsure of what he wanted me to say. Did he want me to tell him that all the time I had spent away had been a waste? I was sure that wouldn’t be of much comfort. Saying I was fine was the closest thing I could think of that would be of much comfort. And it was kind of true, after all.
“Come on,” he insisted. “Tell me.” It was kind of annoying how much he cared sometimes. I felt like if I did the wrong thing or felt bad or upset I would be disappointing him. I didn’t want to do that after everything he had done for me. It wasn’t fair to him, but then again, it wasn’t really fair to me, either.
I shrugged. “I guess I just don’t know what school will be like now. I don’t really want to find out, either.”
“It probably won’t be as bad as you’re anticipating it’ll be.”
I didn’t respond. I didn’t know what to say to that.
“Are you going to be okay, though?”
“I’ll be fine. I just have to figure out what kind of outfit to wear and… I need pencils.”
“I need pencils. I used all of mine. I… I’m not ready to go back to school, Ricky.” I tried to push the tears away, but she just couldn’t do it.
Ricky took a seat next to me and pulled me into a hug. I had always felt safe with him by my side in the past, but somehow his hugs weren’t quite as comforting as they had been back then. After a moment, I pulled myself away and started to wipe my tears. I had to pull myself together if I was going to make it through all of this. I had to keep moving forward and stop dwelling on the fact that life was tough.
“I’m fine,” I said. “I’ll be okay.”
Ricky nodded. “I know you will be,” he said. “I just want you to know that you can always call me. It doesn’t matter what time it is. If you need someone to talk to, just call me. Okay?” He was leaving for college, so he wouldn’t really be around me for a while.
“I’ll try to check in occasionally, too.”
He sighed. I knew I wasn’t really talking much, but I wasn’t in much of a talking mood. I felt uncomfortable, and I didn’t really know what to say to him. “Alright,” he said, “well, I need to finish packing I guess. I’m leaving tomorrow morning.”
I just nodded. I was barely listening anymore.
After he left, I continued to sit in silence for another moment.
What would it be like, this next school? I had wondered this for a while now and didn’t have any real hint for an answer. I would be attending the local public high school for the first time, which was a little hard for me to picture. Boarding school had been fun and everything, but it was pretty obvious why Zack and Valerie wouldn’t be sending me back for another year there.
I wondered what being the new girl would be like. What would the classes be like? What about the teachers and students? Where would I sit in the cafeteria? That question in particular was one that I worried about. If there was anything I knew for sure it was that sitting alone in the cafeteria was lonely and awkward. I dreaded the lunch hour more than any other time of the day.
And that reminded me.
I knelt on the ground and looked under my bed. The box was still there, right where I had left it, pushed up against the wall and out of sight. That box had all my journals from the past five years. It had some photo albums. It had the only things my mom had left with behind for me – the wedding ring my dad had given her and a little stuffed teddy bear. And at the very bottom, there was a tiny black box that I had placed there a few months back. It was the newest addition to my box – one that I hadn’t thought would still be there after all this time. It was at the very bottom, so it took me a moment to find it. In that box was that same Ziploc bag from before. I counted.
Twenty. They were all still there.
I looked down at my arms, which were now covered by my jacket. I pulled up my left sleeve so she could see her scar. I wouldn’t make the same mistake I had made before. I would give life another shot, even if I was a little bit hesitant about this upcoming school year. I had failed before, but maybe that was a good thing. That was what I had been trying to convince myself of over the past several months.
The pills? Those were for a rainy day – just in case staying alive didn’t work out as planned.
I wake up slowly and feeling a bit out of it. It takes me a second to realize where I am – in my family’s blue minivan. When I closed my eyes earlier, it was still light out, but right now it’s completely dark and eerily quiet. The only sound is that of the tires on the road. There is no music playing, and no one is speaking. Snow is now falling from seemingly every direction as I begin to notice that we’re spinning. Trees, road, and sky all blur past me in a whirl of white as I sit quietly in the backseat.
I look in front of me at both of my parents. It’s dark, so I can’t tell exactly what their expressions are, but they are both looking ahead without saying a word. My dad is the one driving. Earlier, my parents were talking casually, keeping each other company. The atmosphere is no longer light, but rather it is quite noticeably heavy.
My blanket is wrapped around me. I’m holding my favorite teddy bear, which I squeeze very tightly as I take in my surroundings. My brother is sitting next to me. He is wide-awake and looking straight ahead without saying a single word. We all watch in anticipation. It is clear that we are no longer in control of this car. We wait as we feel the car spinning, spinning, spinning before it stops, just barely missing a tree.
I fall forward a bit, my seat belt stopping me with a jolt. Some branches above us from the tree we nearly hit drop snow on our windshield. I process. The car is okay. We are stuck. We are going to be okay. I take a deep breath as the night continues. We are going to be okay.
“I Love You”
“Callie, I have a present for you,” Jason told me. I smiled. Nothing made me happier than spending time with him. We’d been dating for about four months now, and nothing had ever felt better than this. I guess he could have been considered my first “serious” boyfriend, whatever the heck that meant.
“Really?” I asked, biting my lip. I still occasionally got nervous around him, especially when he was being extra sweet or paying me compliments. Or when we were alone, like in that moment.
“Well, yeah, it’s your birthday, silly,” he replied. “Boyfriend guidelines clearly state that on birthdays and anniversaries, I’m supposed to buy you a gift.”
As he spoke, he pulled a small box wrapped in brown paper out of his backpack and tossed it back and forth between his two hands. He was so casual about everything, and I admired that about him. I was the type of person who would freak out about even the smallest of decisions. He, on the other hand, seemed to always have an answer for everything and to always be in complete control.
“Open it!” He handed it to me and looked at me expectantly.
We were sitting on the floor in my living room. It was my birthday, and my family would be home soon. For some reason, my parents had actually really grown to like Jason. It was a bit of a surprise to me at first because of his tattoo and because of his shabby brown hair. He wasn’t the type of person my parents normally grew fond of, but somehow Jason had won them over.
I opened the box up slowly. “Shouldn’t we wait for my family?” I asked. “They said we’d open presents whenever they got back.”
“Just open it,” he replied, shaking his head like I was being particularly difficult today.
It was a charm bracelet. And the charms were in the shapes of all the states I’d lived in – Texas, Nebraska, Minnesota, and now Missouri.
“Thank you,” I told him and leaned over to give him a hug and a kiss. “I love it.”
“I figured you would. I thought you could always keep adding to it while you travel and move around or whatever. I mean… I hope you don’t move away,” he added. He seemed so nervous and flustered, which was pretty unusual for him. “But if you do, this is a good reminder that every place you’ve been has made a difference in your life. And I just want you to remember that.”
“Thanks,” I told him. It was no secret that my family was always moving from one location to another. I had lived in four states and seven different towns throughout my sixteen years of life. Still, this was the first town where I had really started to feel at home. And the thought of leaving it, although very likely, was very frightening to me.
He hugged me and kissed me on the forehead. “I love you. You know that?” he said suddenly.
I pulled away from him.
“What?” was all I could think to say. I was in shock, to say the least.
“I love you,” he told me again, his long hair getting in his face for a moment before he pushed it away again.
I just stared at him, dumbfounded. Sure, we had been dating for a few months now, and we had gotten to know each other really well. We both spent time with each other’s families. But to say he loved me? I wasn’t sure I was ready to say it back – not yet and maybe not ever.
There was an awkward silence between us, then. We stared at each other for a long while, him probably hoping I would say something back, and me wishing we could just start over.
“Callie?” He looked at me expectantly, silently begging me to say it back.
“Guys! We’re back? Ready for some cake and ice cream?” That was my mom walking in through the side door along with my entire family. They were all chatting loudly as they came in with presents and cake and party favors. But I just kept looking at Jason, wishing I could say it back. Wishing, daring myself to say something… anything.
But those words just wouldn’t come out.
About the Author
Brisa Ramirez is a college student and blogger who is about to graduate from a college in her hometown. She has always loved writing and hopes to continue doing it for a very long time. When she isn’t writing or studying, she is probably spending time with her friends, hanging out at Starbucks, or playing with her dogs Gatsby and Atticus.
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Decisions & Moments is a collection of three short stories - each taking place over the course of less than a day. Each story is about a different person and a moment in their life. To Live Or Die: Lex has struggled with depression for a while and is returning from rehab after a suicide attempt. She is trying to pick up the pieces and start leading a positive life, but she is still hesitant. And Swerve: This story is about a short, intense moment in time right before a car accident. "I Love You" is about a young relationship. What happens when you're not quite ready to say those three words?