I scream. I shout. I kick. I struggle… and nobody cares. I look to them with the pain of a thousand knives in my eyes, shouting at them to help me. To help me. Help me! HELP ME! They look the other way. Someone offers me a drink, I grab them by their collar and scream. Why is no one listening to me? Why? I need help! But she just walks away. I scream, again and again. I cry into their laps, begging them to look at me, to speak to me, to simply ask me what’s wrong. But no one responds. Nobody turns to see who screams, nobody tries to stop the suffering. Nobody looks. Nobody can even notice.
Maybe that’s because I’m not screaming. I’m not pleading. There are no tears visible on my cheeks. I sit here at a one person table, in the center of a new, well polished sidestreet diner. I have nowhere to go. No one to see. It is 10 minutes to closing time. And all I can think of is how sweet it would be, to end the misery. To end the misery.
No more. That’s what I want. No more. No more constant stream of hatred running through my veins. No more arguing parents, if I can even call them that. No more pain. No more suffering. No more of having to stare longingly at that girl with the perfect family, the perfect friends, the perfect smile. She has the best of clothes, the perfectly balanced lunch that allows her all the right vitamins and nutrients, and still that perfect taste. I wear the same shirt, the same torn jeans, the same dark floral hoodie. My shoes have big holes near the front that I have duct taped shut in a desperate attempt to keep my toes safe from the bite of winter cold. But the snow has it’s ways. My lunch consists of… well, nothing. I walk through the halls, listening to the other girls complaining about their tasteless sandwiches. What I would give just to lick their crust.
I found a broken brush in an alley once. It only had half of it’s handle, and a few of it’s bristles were missing, but at least the girls at school would stop gossiping about my ratty hair, always in a messy ponytail. If only my Mom would stop spending all of the money on her gambling club and bingo night. All those worthless lottery tickets.
Of course, I don’t want anyone’s pity. Or, maybe it’s more that I don’t want to want their pity. I often find myself wishing that some selfless soul will show up at my trailer and hand me a bag of money and a passport and just say, “Go”. But I’ve had to work for everything in my life, and I know that fantasies such as that don’t really happen. And if they did, there’s most likely some sort of string attached.
But why am I sitting at this diner? Why aren’t I at home, studying for my upcoming Math Exam? Maybe it’s because no matter how hard I study for that exam, I am going to fail anyway. Or maybe it’s because even if I went back to that heatless, rat-infested trailer I call home, there would be no food on the table, no cushions on my couch/bed, and my Mother would be passed out on her futon, only half dead. Or, maybe what pushed me over the edge was when I realized that the only good thing in my life amounts to a tree I like to climb, one that was just removed this morning to make room for another bar.
Maybe it’s a touch of all three.
All I know is that the seconds are ticking away, and the waiter across the diner is staring daggers at me for being here nearly three hours and only asking for water.
Just end it. End the misery. You can get out of here. Nothing waits for you here, so just leave. Leave for good.
The weight of it all is crushing, and the fact that I can't bare it makes me feel weak. Every cell in my body is turning on me, screaming that I've failed, reminding me that I'm dead inside when all I want to be is dead outside. I would love to cry, but there’s nothing left.
I stand up to leave, and I can see the relief on the waiter’s face.
I’ll do it. I’m going to a better place; anywhere but here. I turn to leave, but as I turn I slam into a wall of what seems to be a group of thick skulled boys. I gather myself from the floor, and help the other young man who I happened to fall on top of. When he’s on his feet and says his thanks, he looks up at me with eyes full of recognition.
“Hey, Tamara? It’s me, Case. We’re in Mathematics 30-1 together.” I think I might faint from the light radiating from his smile. It takes me a second, but I do remember seeing his face among others. I usually keep my head down.
“Yeah. I guess we are.” I mumble. I let my dark bangs cover my eyes a little, as if he may somehow tell I am severely depressed and ready to take my own life.
“Okay, listen. I know we barely talk in class, but none of these boneheads know a bloody thing about Math, and it’s a miracle I bumped into you, because I have no one to study with. So, I guess I’m sort of asking you to come over to a stranger's house to study Calculus." He makes a funny face at the end of his sentence, and a tiny giggle escapes me. I can't believe that he has temporarily suspended the constant flow of sadness. I quite enjoyed the giggle, it felt playful on my lips. I think about it for only a moment. What do I stand to lose? It's not like he's a serial killer. And if he is, aren't I going to do the same to myself?
"Sure, can you give me a ride?"
"Of course! Let's go."
"Now?"
"Right now." He looks serious.
"At 11:00 at night?"
Now he looks at me annoyed. It surprises me.
"Look, I have an empty guest room, and from my observations, I think you need it."
I’m so floored, I’m not sure what to say.
"You've been observing me?"
He shrugs.
"I Like observing people. Let's me see some of who they really are."
I find that I’m almost angry.
Almost.
"So what, you plan on just, taking me in?"
"At least until you get back on your feet. Which won't be long now."
I have to laugh.
"I'm not graduating, or going to college, and I’m pretty sure I’m grossly unqualified for any job. Even McDonald's tries to hire people with showers. And I'm failing every class!"
"I'll help you with that."
I can't believe this. There has to be a string.
"What's in it for you?"
He smiles.
"I get to share a house with a great girl like you. Isn’t that enough?"
I choke back a scoff. This is a fantasy. This is fiction. It isn't real.
Tears begin to sting my eyes, and for once, they’re tears of joy. He is real.
"So,” I struggle to get the words out. “You're like my guardian angel, then."
"Yeah, sure.” He laughs.
I smile back this time. "What took you so long?"

The End