A series of guest posts in which different authors, as guests, will post their short stories or articles here. If you want to be a guest author, email me at email@example.com. I only accept short stories, and articles related to “writing”. You will also be promoted.
When I was twelve years old I submitted to the voices in my head.
My mother was downstairs and my father had gone to pick up my little brother from school.
I know what you’re thinking.
Why wasn’t I at school?
I’d had another counselling session that morning. My mother had driven me there in silence and sat beside me holding my hand as the counsellor talked about the miniscule improvements I’d made over the past few months.
She’d nodded approvingly I remember, her spare hand had been clasped in her lap pulling uselessly at the seams of her dress. I’d gazed out of the window the whole time. The counsellor’s words had somehow crushed me with their falseness. I didn’t believe them to be true at all…
Below me, the sea is calm. The sun is beating down on me but I am cold, shaky. A gentle breeze brushes against my skin, kissing it, but I am not reassured by its touch. Mingled with the sounds of the waves below my demon speaks to me.
Its whisper is coarse, raspy. It scratches at my insides and makes me shiver.
Even now, after all these years I cannot get used to its cruelty. It is relentless. Never ceasing.
When we’d driven home that day I’d gone straight to my room. My mother had allowed me the day off, telling me cheerily that it was only a few days before the end of term.
She’d said she’d contact the school. I knew the real reason of course.
I’d been quiet those past few days – I was always quiet anyway, but I know I’d been quieter than usual. Thinking back on it now I know she’d had reason to worry.
I’d gone straight into my room and sat on my bedroom floor to begin the task of ripping my drawings to shreds. Whenever I would sketch my demon would mock me and so I’d ripped them up in a frenzy. It had felt good.
I ask of you not to think of me badly as I stand here.
I tried to be strong, I really did. For my family. For my friends. And for me.
But you know when you have an idea and everything just suddenly clicks? When you’ve been struggling with something for a long time and then all of a sudden you just think ‘I don’t have to do this?’
That’s how I feel now…
The breeze is picking up, brushing my hair against my face. I know I shouldn’t but I allow myself a small smile. It kind of reminds me of when I used to play along the cliffs when I was a kid – the breeze always used to get stuck in my hair. But that was before a lot of things happened.
When I was struggling to get to sleep one night I had the Big Idea. The relief I’d felt when it had come was immense. I’d managed to put my whole life into perspective right then and there and realised that most of my memories weren’t good; the happier ones blurred and hazy. Long gone. And so I just thought, ‘I don’t have to do this anymore.’ Which is why I’m here now.
It’s whispering again. Urging me to do it. It always wanted me to hurt; I was never good enough as I was. Happy.
I remember, after I’d ripped up my drawings I’d sat there panting. A bead of sweat had clung to my forehead and I’d quickly wiped it off. The house was silent, no one was there to stop me from doing what I was about to do and my mother wouldn’t have heard me.
I walked into the bathroom and locked myself in. After I’d stared at myself in the mirror for the longest time I’d picked up the razor and started cutting. Bursts of red appeared on my arms and wrists; blood splattered onto the floor. It hurt but I was free. My demon was pleased that I was finally doing what it wanted me to do and was finally silent.
I hadn’t realised I’d been shrieking until my mother had come crashing through the door. One look at her face was enough to tell me how worried she’d really been the whole time. Like she’d expected something like this to happen. Her face seemed to age ten years in one second, I can’t ever forget it.
When she’d dragged me to the hospital they stitched me up. After that I was watched closely.
I got slightly better, but I was always on the edge; always on the brink of doing something stupid. It wasn’t until I was allowed to stay at home for a day with my friend years later, that I got to where I am now.
Another breath of air.
My eyes sting as I think about my choice. I’ve been unfair to everyone, I know and I have allowed my demon to destroy my family. When I retreat to my room I get worried looks and I see and hear things that I shouldn’t. Always.
My father refuses to acknowledge that his little girl is sick and my brother can’t remember the last time I smiled. My mother worries that she’ll lose her daughter and my friends don’t know how to cope with me.
I also know that I am the elephant in the room.
When we go to parties I’m the subject of whispered conversations. I’m given secret glances, sympathetic stares and sad smiles.
And I can’t stand it…
The sun’s gone in. I look around me. The grass is swaying slightly in the calming breeze. I’m the only one who’s here.
Am I a coward for wanting it all to go away, for submitting to the demon that overshadows my thoughts? Am I a coward for choosing to abide by its dark words because not to would result in anguish?
Am I a coward for surrendering because it’s the easiest thing to do?
I cannot tell you the extent of the suffering that comes with disobedience but I do not think that surrendering is cowardly.
It won’t stop.
I inhale again and think of the note that I left behind. My family will come back later when my friend is awake.
I can’t bring myself to imagine their reactions.
How could I not?
I take my first step forward and see my mother’s smiling face flashing before my eyes. A single tear slides down my cheek.
Another step. This time I see my father pushing my younger brother on a swing. He’s smiling and my baby brother’s giggling happily.
Several tears cascade down my cheeks. This will be the price to pay for never having to cry again. But it’s a small price in comparison to the pain.
This time I see my friend asleep on the spare bed. She doesn’t know what I’m about to do.
This time I stop.
‘Alice…’ A breath. A whisper. ‘Alice.’
I can see my mother kneeling down. She’s gesturing for me to follow her and is smiling broadly. I’m about to take a step forward when a younger version of myself steps in front of me. She’s small and only a few inches away from my hand. I reach out to stroke her soft wavy hair but feel nothing.
‘Alice!’ She’s beckoning again. Her soft voice is louder.
The smaller version of me takes a few hesitant steps forward and then rushes towards my mother in longer strides. My mother laughs as she scoops the little girl up in her arms and swings her around. And that’s when I hear it.
Where there has always been darkness this voice whispers light. It’s comforting and wraps itself around me.
‘Don’t do it…’ I can hear it in the wind. It’s quieter than my demon, firmer. It only speaks once.
This time I know what I have to do.
‘Do it…’ My demon urges. I hadn’t forgotten it. But now I know which voice to follow.
‘No.’ It’s barely a whisper. I shake my head firmly. ‘No,’ I say again. Everything’s still. Quiet. There’s peace.
I face the sea below me once more, this time placing my feet slightly further away from the edge. I look – really look and think, ‘this is my home.’
I whisper it.
This is my life…
How could I leave it?
‘Do it…’ This time it’s spoken in my head. It sounds almost defeated.
I steel myself as a thousand memories rush to my head almost suffocating me. Some are hurtful but others are happier and I find myself remembering things that I thought I’d long forgotten. I let myself sink to my knees, a harsh sob escaping my throat.
That soft voice again. I think about my family and friends and everyone who’s ever loved me.
And then I do what it says.
I let go…
I lay in a foetal position staring up at the sky for some time. There is something peaceful about the moment.
I have lived side by side with pain for many years – it has forever been my shadow; my accomplice in the darkness. This is something that you must know.
But the realisation that I could never kill myself today, has been a release. It is a small triumph.
Now I know that I value myself more than I ever thought I could, meaning I am stronger than it – I am stronger than my demon.
I let the wind caress my face once more, my hair and my body.
I can beat it.
The silence that I lay in was wondrous.
This realisation that I’d had sparked a revolution. My revolution. It was…
I spoke it out loud.
‘A revolution of the mind.’ Just a whisper. A soft whisper. I gave a small smile.
Just then the sun came out of the clouds and beat down once more against my face. It seemed to agree with my change of plan.
Alicia. 18. Scorpion. She likes music, food, writing, romance stories, and socializing. Her aim in life is to become a published author and an editor. When asked about the philosophy of life, she said, “Learn from your mistakes and move on.”
A message: “As cheesy as it sounds I wouldn’t be anywhere without you. So thank you!”
Reach Alicia on Wattpad: Crazy_author231