Over a hundred little orange pills were arranged in a perfect line across my dresser. The sad thirteen-year-old, the one who wore my shoes, ate one at a time, tears streaming silently down her face.
I’m watching. I’m afraid for her.
I want to scream because I know what brought her here – why can I feel what happened to her? – and what is coming next. But like her, my cries are silent.
The birds wouldn’t stop chirping. An older girl, maybe the same girl, woke up slowly in the bed of her oldest friend. I watched as she looked around, processing where she was, before noticing the bandages on her wrists. I saw her eyes narrow, trying to remember, her disappointment palpable. The friend sat waiting on the edge of the bed and explained what happened. The girl mumbled an apology. Her voice sounds familiar, but at the time, I don’t know it at all. I listened as she promised it would never happen again, and even though I didn’t know her, I knew she was lying.
The ocean could be heard from just over two miles away on the roof of a resort hotel. Drunken teenagers were cheering her on, the nineteen-year-old who couldn’t feel anything, the one who hated her laugh. I’m watching as she stepped on the edge of the building, hearing the exact moment that her so-called friends realized she wasn’t kidding. The girl smiled – wait – I know that smile – but it was sad – so sad… – someone should stop her – wait –
She turned around to look at her friends and, waving, let herself fall over the edge.
I woke up with a start.
I’ve never been one to have nightmares. I was disoriented, getting up so quickly that I tangled myself up in my bedsheets and almost fell on the floor. I threw my arms out, like I was trying to catch myself – why did I think I was falling? I was breathing hard, like I’d been running. My hair was sticking to my face… wait, what? I touched my head… it was covered in sweat. I traced my eyes, almost certain those were tears.
I’ve never been one to have nightmares.
I got up and checked the time – too early to be awake, but now I was. I turned on the lights, stopping to look in my dresser mirror. I’ve done this before, I thought, inspecting the sleepy person with messy hair. For some reason, I looked at my wrists… and traced the faded lines I could have sworn someone else made – tracing over a cross that was there now, a drawing of the one He died on for me.
I’ve never been one to have nightmares, at least, maybe not the traditional kind. Something about this all felt real.
Then it clicked.
Oh, I thought, I remember now.
I nodded to myself as all of the pieces slowly fell into place, as all of the details sharpened… they were the nightmares that were real.
Oh, I thought. Her face flashed in my mind, her smile, her laugh. I remember you.
I can remember how my body burned from the inside out. I could feel my heart slowing and eyelids getting heavy. I remember seeing the pill bottle drop to the floor, and reaching out to grab it before everything became black.
I can remember my oldest friend crying and bandaging me up, and her sister gathering paper towels to try to stop my arms from bleeding.
I remember my friends picking me up from the jeep that I landed on. They carried me back to our room, the girls crying while their boyfriends fought over taking me to the hospital. I whispered too softly for anyone to hear, “Is the party over?”
I’ve never been one to have nightmares, but I’ve lived through a few.
Alone in my room – the girl all grown up now and someone she is proud of – I dropped to my knees.
I had a lot to say… but after four years of walking with the one who bore my sins, of searching for the right medications, of therapy, of finally healing… I just chose two words.