You cling to the toilet, keeping back the vomit that lies resurrected in your throat. Head bent down, facing the bile that sits in the placid water. The stench sticks in your nostrils. Fingers shake as you press down the lever, watching your last meal disappear into the abyss. Pull sweaty hair away from your eyes, sit back against the wall.
It wasn’t real…No, it couldn’t be.
Slow dizziness washes over you. The image flashes every time you close your eyes. You twist violently, but the body won’t go away. Sweat beads cling to your facial bristles, dripping onto your shirt. Running your index finger along the scratch marks, you feel the sting.
It’s a blur – a moment that came unexpectedly and vanished, leaving nothing but the haunting body. You cringe and immediately thrust forward; stomach convulsing as it tries to discharge the sickness your mind can’t escape. You spin uncontrollably, losing sight of everything except the body. Hands covering your face in anguish, you collapse on the floor.
* * * *
“That was brilliant Steven! - Riveting and so raw. That, class, was an example of true drama. Throwing down your armor and baring it all – putting everything into that moment. That’s what I would like to see you all reach at the end of the semester with these final projects. A quick reminder: I would like a written description of your scene and a brief explanation as to why you’ve chosen it. Drop it off at my desk before the end of next week. You have three weeks to prepare this so I’ll be expecting the very best from all of you. Oh, and those of you slagging behind in this class, prove to me that you want to pass and maybe you’ll have a chance. Alright – class dismissed.”
Everybody filed out of the humid room as Professor Wickens called ‘Steven’ to his desk to discuss his ‘undoubted talent’. Jeremy watched Stacey and Derrick clasp hands as they exited. She flashed a quick glance over her shoulder in his direction and sort of smiled, or maybe it was a smirk, or maybe it wasn’t for him at all.
“Give it up Jeremy, you don’t exist to her.”
Janice Bea jostled his shoulder, intentionally knocking Jeremy out of his fiction. She was a sweet girl, those big green eyes and long, straight brown hair. They’d grown up on the same block and always had a connection. Lately it seemed like she’d been vying for his attention more than ever.
“You can forget about that dream of yours,” she said as she grabbed his arm and stepped forward into a brisk stroll. “She’ll never be your leading lady, and if you don’t pass this class you may never see another script.”
She was right. According to Professor Wickens, Jeremy had talent that only liked to come out when pushed to the limit. Sometimes he felt so indifferent to other people’s opinions. Nobody understood that he couldn’t just act on cue, he had to immerse himself in the scene and really feel it. That may sound a bit schizophrenic, but actors are all full of multiple personalities - using them to hide from their true selves – his own personal hell.
“God! You’re such a brooder Jer. I wish you would say something once in a while!” Jeremy lightly grabbed her hand before she slumped away.
“I’m not going to fail.” He smiled his usually silly smirk and after a brief pause, she revealed her dimples.
“Let me know when you’ve decided on a scene, ok,” Janice called back. She didn’t ask him to do a duet because she thought he wanted to work with Stacey. A part of him did want to be with Stacey, but an even bigger part of him wanted to be someone else. Anyone else.
* * * *
A limousine speeds across an open highway carrying two men, two women, and a few party favors. Glasses cling in between laughter and kisses. After a pause and deep exhale from a cigarette, one of the young ladies speaks up.
“So Sean, how do you like it? I mean, isn’t it all dreamy?”
“Yes darling, dreamy it is sometimes,” laughs the man beside her, his hand generously searching under her blouse. Across from them sits another man, black hair falling over his piercing eyes. He sighs heavily as his lady presses her hand between his legs.
“Yea, I would say it’s much like a dream I once had. But then, we’re all so fuckin’ brilliantly high, why wouldn’t it be!” They all fall into wild giggles.
“But seriously now. If you mean this whole movie star lifestyle – the fame, the money, the access to anything you want – then yes, it is like a dream. A very real dream, or perhaps, like a movie.” She begins to undo his pants, his mind continuing with its current string of thoughts. “I mean, this scene, everything right here and now – we could all be acting. I know that’s not true, but maybe some of us act more than others, you know.” He trails off then, eyes rolling back in ecstasy.
“Don’t get philosophical on us, Sean,” smiles the man across from him. “Enjoy the ride while it lasts.”
* * * *
I wake to the sounds of voices, familiar and yet so far removed. They’re yelling, squabbling no less about something piddly, like when the base boards will get painted or how the car’s costing too much in repairs. That’s what the Lemon book is for, I‘d tell him. It only gets me a shower of verbal nails and a new bruise to hide from my friends.
But that’s how it’s always been around here. I’m not used to it physically, but I’ve grown emotionally desensitized. This house is a prison, with walls built high on words and fists. One day I’ll leave and never look back. I have to just bide my time, play the game a little bit longer. Take the threats, and lies, and abuse. I’m very cunning under this bland persona. They won’t even notice that I’m gone, except he’ll need a new punching bag.
I can almost scoff at it now; their noise is just background buzz that’s barely noticeable, at least when it’s not directed at me. I rub the sleep out of my eyes and stare at the clock until it comes into focus, 7:32 AM
“Jeremy, get your ass down here before the damn bus leaves. I ain’t driving you again!”
My mother’s voice is rigid ice down my spine. I try to think of happy things, the dreams that I have, like being famous… being with Stacey. That’s what motivates me to get through the day. I slide to the edge of the bed, reach for my jeans and begin to pull on my character face – just enough to get out the door without a scratch. Acting’s not a hobby; it’s a way of life.
* * * *
A layer of black slowly peels away, consciousness reviving. The light is bright and you struggle to gain focus. You’re in a small room, a washroom. You can see the door to your right just out of the corner of your eye. You pry yourself up with your forearms, and are viciously stung in the temple. Like lead your cheek smacks the floor, your head still swooning from the sickness it keeps trying to reject. Close your eyes and the vision returns – her body limp and lifeless in your arms. The details are still blurry, but its there, like fresh wet paint. No blood anywhere. One minute you were going through the script, so focussed, as if the balance of life depended on your drama. The next thing you remember is her dead weight against your chest. How you wished you could share you’re pounding heartbeats, anything to bring her back. But you’re still missing the action, how she came to that end. Try as you might, your conscience continues to hide the answer to protect you from the sheer horror.
She’s gone, gone forever. You did it. Your hands are all over it. They’ll know. They’ll find her. It will be over soon…soon.
Shaky fingers loosen your collar. Feel the dampness begin to permeate on your forehead as you try to get up again. Making it to your knees, you turn and use the toilet for leverage, recoiling slightly at the stench it still emits. You finally stand upright, body tense, and head swimming. Shuffle toward the sink and turn the tap on. The icy water awakens your fingers, numbs your eyes. Tilt your head up and he is there, staring back quizzically. Dark eyes searching for something, boring into you like a stake. You feel as one, and then it’s gone. He’s distant yet familiar in a way you can’t comprehend. His arm suddenly snaps out, trying to reach you. Shield your face from the shards of glass; smell the blood on your knuckles. You’re chilled to the bone, trembling frantically.
You shake it off. She’s still out there; you can’t just leave her like that. You walk back into the living room and turn away instantly at the sight of her crumpled form. You left her on the couch, lying in a cold peacefulness. Your prints are everywhere. Cautiously, you pick her up, carry her into the bedroom and lay her down. Without stopping, you go back to the washroom and quickly rustle through the medicine cabinet. Finding a bottle of Valium, you dump most of it in the toilet, one hand covering your nose. You flush and go back to the bedroom with a handful of pills remaining. Scattering those on the floor beside the bed, you drop the bottle also. You take a long look at her; get close enough to smell the beauty of her one last time.
Then you leave, racing as quickly as you can. The wind whips through your tousled hair in the chill night, and tears blur your vision.
* * * *
‘Thank you John. I’m just in front of the Avalon Theatre here in Los Angeles where they are going to premiere the movie About Fausto starring Hollywood’s newest heartthrob Sean Ramsey. Yes, you can hear the crowd behind me waiting to get a peek at him tonight. This young, talented actor has become the talk of the town, gaining recognition for his breakout role in Fiasco, and of course his stellar performance in the film Whose got the gun? which he was recently nominated for by the Screen Actor’s Guild. And here he is now, Mr. Ramsey! Hi, Mary from E!”
“Hello Mary from E! Please, call me Sean!”
“Alright Sean, how does it feel to be the hottest new actor in Hollywood?”
“Well, the attention is certainly overwhelming…I’ve been a bit lucky lately. I guess I’ve hit it off here!”
“How do you feel about your nomination for Whose got the gun?”
“I was astonished, to be honest. I worked so hard on that film, we all did, the whole cast and crew. I mean, it was such a brilliant script and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to bring that character to life in just the right way. I credit director Mauro Treza for boldly supporting me in that role.”
“Did you ever think you’d be this successful?”
“I’ve always dreamed of it…being an actor I mean. I guess all the extra stuff is nice, but when it comes down to it, what makes me happy is the work. I love acting, being able to switch personalities and take on different roles. It does feel good to be recognized though, I’ve worked a long time for this.”
“And can you tell us a bit about your new film premiering tonight, About Fausto?”
“About Fausto was a different kind of role for me. Certainly very challenging and rewarding. It’s such a touching story and I hope everyone can learn from it.”
“Great! Thanks Sean, enjoy the evening.”
“Thank you E. Goodnight!”
“That’s it, a few words from Sean Ramsey, star of the film About Fausto premiering tonight. From the Avalon in Los Angeles, I’m Mary Yanice. Back to you John.”
* * * *
Rain patters against the window in front of my face. The mug is burning my hand, steam fogging my darkened vision and soothing the swelling. My muddy, soaked clothing repels people in the shop. Not even this much rain can completely wash the blood away from my face and hands. But at least its quiet here, this refuge is irreplaceable. The chimes bang into each other violently as someone barrels through the shop doors to the surprise of all except me. She’s careful not to spray anyone as she removes her hood, brown hair out of place but dry. She comes straight for me and slides into the opposite seat.
“Oh my God Jer! Let me see your face,” she pleads, bringing her wet hands up in front of my eyes. She touches my chin and reaches for my glasses, but I wince and jerk back. I don’t want her to see me like this. I don’t want anyone to see me like this. Why had I called her?
“Jeremy, you’ve got to get some help to clean that up. Let me help you, Jer. Please!” A crack in my ice finally gives way.
“I’m sorry, Janice. I didn’t want you to see this. But I had no one else…no one to call.” This stings – any movement of muscle, jaw… heart. It’s all I can do to hold up my front, to not break down.
“I know you’re a stubborn shit, Jer, but please. Let me clean you up.” Her eyes well up and gleam tenderness. “Who did this to you? Did you see anything, remember a face? I just want to clean you up.” Never has anyone been so giving to me, and I want to reciprocate. I can’t sink, can’t let this happen. But I need her; something in me knows she’s right. She reaches for my face again; damp fingertips gracing battered stubble, and I ease into her care. This isn’t suppose to happen, no one is supposed to know this. I want to say something, try to move, but it hurts.
“Don’t speak, Jer. Just let me take care of you.” Her words are like a warm soaking bath, cleansing the aching and reaching me inside. I release the mug and remove the glasses from my face. The swelling is a clammy discoloration, but she doesn’t flinch at the sight. She is all heart, stretching towards me. Each touch washes away blood and fear, her fingers soft and endless.
“It’s okay, Jer. You’ll be okay,” she whispers. “I’m going to the counter for a first aid kit. Just sit tight.” She gets up and moves away from the table. I want to break; tell her everything. Tell her what it’s like inside that house… inside me.
* * * *
Running; spinning towards a vast emptiness waiting to swallow you. Nothing is straight; your mind tattered and frayed. You turn down dark streets, twisting through a maze of memory and shadow. Feet heavy like cinder blocks, you trip and fall headlong, scraping your arm. You stop on your knees to watch the blood; its descent dislodging dirt and bits of gravel imbedded in your wrist. Feel its warmth roll down your fingers and watch it drip, drip to the ground. Someone exits a building behind you.
“Hey buddy, you all right? Hey!” Without looking back, you get up and move away, shoes hitting the pavement in rapid succession until you reach the end of the block and turn a corner.
No one knows me… no one knows the truth. I’m not lost… not lost.
You’re fleeing something, trying to get away from it all. Its memory has stained you; flashing before you in brief stills. You stop in an alcove to catch your breath.
It’s not me…not me anymore. It’s over.
You lean heavily against the wall for support, your mind desperately clinging to whatever scraps of sanity it can find. Kick your toe into the ground a few times and hear something – a broken bottle, piece of glass. You bend down and stare at it, examine it carefully searching for some secret. You cautiously pick it up, turn it over, and suddenly he is there again. Staring at you; trying to tell you something with his eyes. You cry out, a helpless howl in the thick night air. Dropping the glass, you retreat, running faster, looking behind. He’s following you, always there. You’re breathing hard now, coughing, sputtering. And he is following, gaining with every step.
* * * *
“Alright, Miss Bea, Mr. Vickers, you’re up next.” Jeremy’s left ear perked up; his right somewhere else as the bud firmly wedged in it took him on another rock and roll fantasy. “Mr. Vickers,” Prof. Wickens repeated, clearing his throat emphatically. A hand reached over and tugged on the chord, pulling the plug on Jeremy’s brief vacation.
“C’mon Jer, you need these marks,” breathed Janice into his ear. She dragged his arm; he raised his head and their eyes locked for a brief second. Then she turned away and smiled awkwardly. “C’mon,” she pleaded, tugging harder. “Don’t tell me you’re not in the mood. Let’s just do it.” He began making his way to the front of the room, looking over his shoulder to briefly catch the eye of Stacey. Jeremy and Janice had worked this scene a few times but he had never really gotten into it, until now. In front of that class he suddenly became someone else. And this was a scene he knew too well.
“Proceed. I don’t have all day you two.”
Jeremy shoved his hands in his pockets, a nervous habit.
“George, George!” Janice yelled. How many times have I told you to take Freckles out when I’m not here!” She motioned towards the invisible dog.
“Sally,” Jeremy started, removing sweaty palms to get more into the act. “I just got home twenty minutes ago and I needed to relax.”
“All you do is relax around here! You come home and sit on that couch; you don’t lift a finger when you walk in that door. He needs to be taken out first thing, George! How many times do I have to tell you before you get it right!” Her voice was shrill as she stepped into the part, feeling the power in her lines.
“Oh that’s it! I’ve had it!” Jeremy exploded – sheer rage engulfed him. “I’m sick of this shit! I’m tired of your little fits, coming home after a day out spending my goddamn money.” He felt it burst forth, throwing lighter fluid on hot coals. “The next time you come home after slaving away in a dank prison of a factory, swimming in sweat, your muscles aching and ears pounding from all the fuckin’ machinery! Listening to them demand higher productivity after they axe three of our hardest workers! Telling us the new owners plan to wipe out the union! You tell me the first thing on your mind when you get home is walking that little piss-head of a dog!”
Jeremy fed off real anger, using it as an outlet. “All I want is some fucking dinner on my plate, a cold beer, and a few minutes to blow off some steam! Can you do that for me! Do you think you could play the sympathetic housewife for once?” He was livid. Blood rushed to his eyes, hands quivered. Janice cowered in fear, real or not, he was uncertain. He closed his eyes and slowly breathed in - out. He simmered; the fire subsided.
Someone began clapping and it got louder as more hands joined in. Jeremy shook his head, and turned to look at the class. Prof. Wickens was clapping but not smiling. Then he remembered Janice; she was still crouching beside him. He reached down and grasped her hands, pulled her body up. She looked at him, face disheveled, eyes teary.
“Well done, well done. That was certainly something Mr. Vickers. I suppose there’s an actor in you after all.” This was quite a compliment from a man who never had anything good to say without first condemning.
They passed nods of approval on the way back to their desks. Even Stacey flashed him a smile that briefly lit his hope. But Jeremy was worried, all he could think about was whether, for a brief moment, Janice had been truly afraid, seeing his genuine anger.
* * * *
‘Dissociation is a mental process, which produces a lack of connection in a person's thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of identity. During a traumatic experience, a person may dissociate the memory of the place and circumstances of the trauma from their ongoing memory, resulting in a temporary mental escape from the fear and pain of the trauma and, in some cases, a memory gap surrounding the experience. Because this process can produce changes in memory, people who frequently dissociate often find their senses of personal history and identity are affected. When faced with overwhelmingly traumatic situations from which there is no physical escape, a child may resort to "going away" in his or her head. Often, even after the traumatic circumstances are long past, the leftover pattern of defensive dissociation remains. Chronic defensive dissociation may lead to serious dysfunction in work, social, and daily activities. Repeated dissociation may result in a series of separate entities, or mental states, which eventually take on identities of their own.’
Suddenly the phone rang, echoing long and loud throughout the dimly lit apartment.
“Hey Sean, its Jay. Drop whatever you’re doing, were going to that new club, Fuel.” A hesitant pause hung in the stale air.
“Jay, I can’t tonight.”
“Oh, is it a girl? …It’s a girl. Don’t worry about her. There’ll be plenty more at the club. C’mon, man! It’ll be hopping tonight!”
“Sorry Jay, thanks for including me, but I can’t, not tonight. And it’s not a girl.” Sean knew his friend would be persistent.
“Not a girl? What’s wrong with you? You never miss a chance to party! What else could you be doing? Just make an appearance for the ladies. You’re a star now, Sean.”
“Listen, Jay, I’m sorry, I really can’t. I’m working on a little something here. I’m on a role and I don’t want to mess with the momentum.”
“What are you – oh, shit! Don’t tell me you’re working on that script again. Listen, you’re an actor, not a writer. Forget about that shit, it’s no good.”
“You don’t get it, Jay,” replied Sean, using his free hand to prop up his forehead. “There’s a story here that I really have to tell. This is important. I’m actually doing some research for one of my characters, and everything’s starting to flow.”
“You won’t even give it a rest for a few hours?” Jay could tell it was no use, but he thought he’d try anyway. “C’mon Sean, you love going out. What should I tell all your fans? That in the early hours of a Saturday morning, Sean Ramsey is book worming for a potential script?”
“Tell them whatever, I don’t know. This shit’s important to me. I gotta do it now while it’s fresh in my head. I’ll make it up to you next week. Just count me out for a while.”
“Alright, bro, do what you gotta do. It means more lucky ladies for me. Just make sure you think of me when you write that damn thing. I want a starring role.”
“Yea, don’t worry, I owe you. All right, enjoy yourself. Talk to you later.”
“See you, Sean.”
Sean sat still while the other end went silent, then put the phone back on the receiver. He pondered the notion of partying with Jay at the club. After a minute of deliberation, he took the phone off the receiver; no one would bother him for while. He turned towards the monitor, glare wavering against his glassed vision. He focussed on the words again, and searched for more information that would help build his character sketch. Around this the story would finally take shape, emitting from a place and time he knew existed, but wanted desperately to forget.
* * * *
Jeremy sat and stared out the school bus window as it turned the corner.
“What do you think we’ll have for a snack today, Tyler? Does your mom have wagon wheels? I never get those.” His friend sat beside him, short legs dangling over the seat.
“I don’t know.” Tyler replied before sniffling loudly. “Hey wait, we’re supposed to go to your house today, remember?” Jeremy turned to look at his friend quizzically.
“Oh yea, I forgot.” He stared blankly for a moment, then returned his gaze to the window.
“What do you have at your house for a snack, Jer?” asked Tyler anxiously.
“I don’t know,” Jeremy began, letting the silence linger for a bit. “I don’t know, but I’m sure there’s something in the cupboard. We’ll have something good.” Jeremy was quiet the rest of the ride home.
“C’mon, it’s our stop,” said Tyler as he tugged on his friend’s shirt. They both left the bus and walked towards Jeremy’s house. They got to his yard and he stopped to pull out his keys.
“We should go around the back. Sometimes my mom sleeps in the afternoon. We have to be quiet so we don’t wake her.” Jeremy slid the key in the hole and cautiously turned the lock. He pushed his way in the door and Tyler followed. “Okay, Tyler you go downstairs and turn the TV on, I’ll go to the kitchen and bring down a snack.” His friend asked no questions and went downstairs. Jeremy made his way to the kitchen and went into the cupboard. He pulled out a bag of chips and noticed the half-empty bottle of gin hidden behind the syrup and peanut butter. He took the chips and went back down the hall, stopping at the living room. He looked in and his mom lay asleep on the couch. An empty glass rested sideways on the carpet where it had fallen from her limp fingers. Jeremy picked up the glass and placed it on the coffee table before heading downstairs.
“I found some chips,” he said, handing the bag to Tyler. “I’ll get some pop from the cellar.” Suddenly there was a loud knock from upstairs.
“Is someone at your door, Jer?” Tyler asked. The noise got louder as someone entered the house. A gruff voice began talking loudly.
“Nina! Nina, where the hell are you! Nina, I want some damn dinner, NOW!” Jeremy swallowed hard; he hadn’t expected his step-dad, Rick, to be home so early.
“It’s okay Tyler, it’s just my step-dad. I’ll go talk to him.” Tyler watched as Jeremy disappeared up the staircase. Rick had gone into the living room and found his wife sprawled on the couch.
“Nina, get up! Get up, you worthless drunk! Look at you, you’re a disaster! You waste all my money on your booze! Get up and make me something to eat!” He heard footsteps behind him and whirled around to find Jeremy standing in the hall.
“Jeremy, what are you doing here? Don’t you go to your friend’s house after school? What the hell are you doing here?”
“It’s Tyler’s turn to come here today. We’re in the basement watching TV.” Jeremy was nervous but the words came out clearly.
“You brought a friend over here? I never said you could bring a friend over here. Who do you think you are?” He began moving forward, growing taller with each step. His big, callused hands reached out and grabbed Jeremy’s collar, fingers reaching around his neck. “Did I say you could bring someone over here, into my house? You never listen to me you little shit! You always have to cause trouble! I’ve had it!” He brought his hand up and held it briefly in the air, like the sun just before dusk. It came down hard, open palm smacking Jeremy’s face.
“No!” his mother cried, awakened from all the noise. Two more shots rained down before she gained her feet and threw herself in front of her husband. “You animal! Get away! Stay away from my baby!”
“Shut up, bitch!” He yelled, knocking her down with one swing. “Your worthless, both of you! This is my house, my house! No one listens to me in my own house. Who the fuck do you think you are, you worthless shits!” He threw them both to the ground and stormed out.
* * * *
Sean blinked once, twice before he cleared the sleep from his eyes. The ceiling of his apartment seemed so much higher from this angle. He turned his neck to look over his shoulder. She was sleeping soundly next to him, her soft hair draping the pillow in waves of auburn. Her skin shone silky with the sun’s rays peeping through the blinds. He sat up and quietly drew the covers off his body, hoping not to wake her. He rose from the bed to recover his shirt and jeans. After slipping them on, he made his way down the hall towards the kitchen.
Sean started a pot of coffee; the fresh brew wafting around the room quickly aroused his senses. He washed his face rigorously in the sink, letting the warm water seep into his pores. She was all he’d ever wanted, and now being with her was just like in his dreams. Years of jealousy and frustration just washed away with one look into her eyes. He melted before her every touch; her grace and beauty sweeping over him like a veil. She had brought warmth back into his life, at a time when he was so desperately searching for a path away from the darkness that chased him.
The coffee steamed, and Sean shook his head lightly. He poured himself a cup and took it into the living room where he found his script lying open on the table. A story he had finally finished after years of starting and stopping, of hiding and lying. This is what had brought them together, drawn her back to him after all those years. She was just right for the part, it was written for her after all. Sean knew she needed a break, had watched her falter with small roles in films that went nowhere. He knew that she could rise above that with a character suited just for her.
Tender arms slowly wrapped around his waist as she embraced him; he had not heard her light footsteps behind him in the hallway.
“Good morning, darling,” she breathed sweetly. “How did you sleep last night?” She kissed his neck warmly.
“I slept very well. Knowing you were next to me made it more comforting.” Sean reached around with his free hand and pulled her into his shoulder. They stood and stared out the window into the new morning. “We should get to work on the script today,” Sean said after a few minutes. “I want the director to know this is your role, Stacey. We have to practice until it’s perfect so you nail the audition.”
“Don’t worry,” she replied, resting her head on his shoulder.
Sean thought that somehow fate had drawn them together. The bright career he already had hid a truth of lingering pain inside. Now, he could finally begin to shed ghosts of the past.
* * * *
“The body of actress Jane Beaten (born Janice Bea) was found in her apartment early this morning. It appeared to be a Valium overdose but sources have told us the body shows no signs of ingestion in the last thirty-six hours. According to the coroner’s report she suffocated or was smothered. There are no signs of an altercation or struggle between the victim and her assailant, however it is considered a homicide and a full-scale investigation is underway. Beaten, who came to California to seek fame, found herself in a spin of small roles both on television and film. She was most known for her short lived role on the hit soap Secret Lives as Jessica Stamson. Rumors surfaced that she was up for the lead in the film written by superstar actor Seam Ramsey. Jane Beaten celebrated her twenty-eighth birthday last month.”
* * * *
You are lost in a haze of panic and paranoia, running with all the strength your body is able to exert, squeezing every last drop of blood, sweat, and adrenaline. Fueled by all the emotions tearing rampantly through your soul, echoing incessantly in your brain.
Anger. Fear. Pain. Love. Hate. Shame. Distrust. Remorse. Self-pity. Self-loathing.
Threads… threads of your life, pulling, tugging on your every limb, on every thought, every feeling. Controlling your actions, reactions, perceptions; ruling over your reality. Mixing fact and fiction, distorting truth and trust. Everything that you hold sacred has shattered into a million and one pieces. Your life like a jigsaw puzzle… like all the other puzzles you never finished. Is this the puppet you’ve become?
But it’s over…I’m over…I can’t think. It won’t stop! STOP! Oh god, let it stop. Why won’t you go away!
Numbly stumbling over rock and earth, your arms and face lashed by brambles and bushes. You’re blindly pushing forward, clawing at the dirt, at any chance to escape as his grasp stretches forth and splashes over you, seeping into your veins.
Why! What do you want? What do you want with me? It’s over!
GET AWAY FROM ME!
It’s in your mind now; you can’t escape the vision. Hovering over you, laughing, gawking. Your kicking, scratching, anything to fight the truth. He will show you now, remind you of the life you once had. All their faces return to you in a wave of painful memory…mom, Rick, Stacey, Janice.
Standing atop the cliff’s edge, you watch it all like a drive-in.
Stacey…the lines…the words…. After all the pain you suffered, watching her with someone else, you finally got your chance to be with her. Your new-found confidence got you everything you wanted. You found Stacey struggling and took the chance to realize your dreams.
Your fantasy blurred into reality.
The lines…the words…written for her, or someone else?
The old feelings come flooding back. Her love was something you always had and never cherished. Or did you realize? Did Jeremy love her?
You finally wrote and finished it. The story for her.
Just when you thought everything was perfect, you were happy with Stacey. Jane had found mild success, and wanted to read for your script. You couldn’t say no. But those words, that voice. Who were those lines for? Whose mouth pursed and spoke? Whose face and hands did you see?
You’re at the edge, the tip of life. Trying to balance reality. Balance Sean and Jeremy. But the scale is too heavy. You see the pillow, feel the jealousy pushing, smothering while she scratches… clings to life.
Who did you kill?
The horror tips the scale, your mind giving way to madness. The only answer is to embrace death as you throw yourself over the edge.