Page 34

On my way back through Quarter One, I notice a sheet of paper on the couch that wasn’t there earlier. Between pretending to be Honor and kissing Sagan, I would have noticed I was sitting on a sheet of paper.

It’s upside down but I can already tell it’s a sketch. I snatch it up and walk to my bedroom. I close the door and sit down on my bed. I don’t know what he drew, but on the bottom of the back page he wrote,

“Heart < Carcass.”

I cover my mouth as I flip over the sketch. My fingers are trembling against my lips as I work up the courage to look at what he’s drawn.

I shudder when I see it. I wrap my arm tightly around my stomach. Two hearts on either end of a couch. One of them whole, one of them cut in half.

Which one is mine?

I feel sick. I drop the drawing and watch it float to my bedroom floor. It lands on top of the empty bottle of pills. I stare at the word carcass.

Carcass. Death. Dead.

I roll over and bring my knees to my chest and hug them. I squeeze my eyes shut and try not to let it all sink in.

Don’t let it sink in.

The tears begin to slip out of my eyes, no matter how tightly I have them closed. My bottom lip begins to tremble worse than my hands.

I don’t want to die.

I grip myself even tighter.

I don’t know what happens next. What if it’s worse than this?

My fearful cry turns into a sob. I clamp my hand over my mouth.

“No, no, no, no, no.” My voice is full of panic when the reality of what I’ve done begins to hit. If I lie here one second longer, I might not be able to do anything about it. I pull myself up into a sitting position. I grip my mattress and try to stop the room from spinning long enough to make it to my bedroom door.

What have I done?

I fall to my knees as soon as my bedroom door is open. I’m not sure I can stand up again, so I crawl. I crawl to the bathroom. I reach up and open the door and I crawl to the toilet. I shove my fingers down my throat.

Nothing.

I don’t know that I’ve ever cried this hard. I can’t make a sound, I can’t scream, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe. I try to make myself vomit again, but it doesn’t work. Every time I reach the back of my throat, my fingers recoil and it won’t work, it won’t work, it won’t work!

“Help.”

It’s pathetic. My voice is pathetic through my tears and this is how I’m going to die. On my bathroom floor, leaving behind what is about to become the most despicable suicide letter anyone has ever written.

This is not happening. This is a dream. I’m dreaming. Please let me wake up. “Please, God,” I whisper. “I’ll never drink again, I’ll never steal again, I’ll never even write another letter again, just please, please, please.” I’ve managed to crawl to the bathroom door. Utah’s room is the closest. I try to open his door but it’s locked. I start beating on it. “Utah!” I beat on it again. I know my voice isn’t loud enough, but I’m hoping he can hear me knocking. I’m on my hands and knees now, too dizzy to make it to someone else’s door. I don’t know how long it takes for pills to dissolve, but it hasn’t been that long since I took them. Five minutes?

Utah’s door swings open. He’s standing on the letter I wrote. He doesn’t even notice it because he bends down and says, “Merit?” He’s on his knees now, grabbing my jaw, lifting my face up to his. I can feel the tears and snot and slobber all over my face, but he doesn’t care about any of that because he reaches for the hem of his shirt and wipes it away. “What’s wrong? Are you sick?”

I shake my head and grab his arms, looking at him desperately. “Utah, I messed up.”

“Are you drunk?”

“Her pills,” I say, choking back more tears. “I took them, I wasn’t thinking, Utah I wasn’t thinking.” I hear another door open and seconds later, Sagan is right next to Utah. I’m too scared to be mortified at this point.

“Whose pills?” Utah asks. “Merit, what are you saying?”

I fall back against the wall, panicking, shaking my hands out because they’re numb. “Mom’s! I took her pain pills!” Utah looks at Sagan and I know they’re trying to figure out what’s happening, but they aren’t getting it! “I swallowed them!”

Sagan pushes Utah out of the way. “Go call 911!” He grabs the back of my neck and pushes me forward, then shoves two fingers in my mouth. My body tries to reject them but he doesn’t care because he holds them there and now I’m vomiting. All over the floor, all over him. I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. “How many pills, Merit?”

I shake my head. I don’t know.

“How many did you swallow?” His voice is panicked, just like my pulse.

He keeps asking me how many pills I swallowed. I can’t remember. How many did I have? I stole eight the other night. I added them to the twenty I had already stolen. “Twenty-eight,” I whisper.

“Christ, Merit.” His fingers are back in my mouth, assaulting the back of my throat. The pressure coming from within me lurches me forward and I vomit again. I can hear Utah yelling into the phone, Luck is now in the hallway, Moby is crying, my father is saying, “What’s going on? What in the hell is going on?”

I open my eyes and Sagan is counting in a fast and frantic whisper. “Twenty-two, twenty-three, twenty-four . . .” He’s focused on the floor, sifting through what just came out of me, his voice trembling. “Twenty-five, twenty-six, twenty-seven, TWENTY-EIGHT!” he yells.

And then he scoops me up after my dad says, “Take her to the couch.”

I’m on the couch, still dizzy, still feeling like I want to throw up again.

“What did you take?” Utah asks. He’s kneeling down in front of me, still on the phone. Victoria brings me a wet rag.

Sagan takes it from her and wipes my face. “Merit, they need to know what kind of pills you took.”

“She took pills?” my father says. He’s pacing back and forth behind them. Luck is behind him with his hand over his mouth.

“What were they?” Sagan asks. He’s brushing back my hair and he looks just as panicked as my father. As Utah. As Victoria. As Luck. Even Moby looks panicked with his arms locked around Victoria’s neck.

“What’s going on?”

Everyone looks at the front door when it closes behind her. Honor’s here.

“Where have you been?” My father is walking toward Honor. He stops and shakes his head. “I’ll deal with you later,” he says, changing his mind as he walks back toward me. “Merit, what did you take?” He’s hovering over me now. They’re all hovering over me.

“She threw them all up.” —Sagan.

“But what were they?” —My father.

“Probably aspirin.” —Victoria.

“She said she stole them.” —Utah.

“What’s going on?” —Honor.

“Merit swallowed pills.” —Luck.

“Did you see this, Barnaby?” —Victoria.

“Not right now, Victoria.” —My father.

“What did you take, Merit?” —Sagan.

“You need to read this, Barnaby!” —Victoria.

“Victoria, please!” —My father.

“Merit, what were they?” —Utah.

“They were Mom’s.” —Me.

“You took your mother’s pills?” My father is asking me this as he leans over the couch from behind my head. He’s upside down and I’m looking up at him and I never noticed how much Moby looks like him. “Your mother’s prescription pills?” he asks again. I nod. My father exhales. “It’s fine,” he says. “It’s fine, they can’t hurt her.” He grabs the phone from Utah and walks into the kitchen to talk to the 911 operator. “Hello? Hey, hey, Marie. Yeah, it’s Barnaby. Yeah, it’s fine. She’s fine.”

It’s fine. She’s fine.

I’m fine.

How does he know if I’m fine? He doesn’t even know which pills I took. I guess it doesn’t matter at this point since they’re sitting in a pile of vomit on the hallway floor.

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