Remember When (Suggestions?)
Author: Jewel Heart

Chapter 4
Chapter 4

“Maxine, there is a pill you need to take,” I argued, holding out a tray with a small pill and glass of water.

“I refuse,” said Maxine stubbornly.

“Okay, listen here, you old geezer,” my voice raised, but Maxine was not moved. “You will take your damn medicine because it’s for your health and unless you want to die tomorrow you will take this blasted pill.”

Slowly, “I refuse.”

“I will shove it down your throat,” I threatened. “Or better yet, up your ass if you don’t willingly take it.”

“Then I suppose things will be that way then because I am not taking it.”

Within five minutes she was bickering about having taken her medicine. “Tell me that again and I’ll strand you in the middle of the ocean. I won’t be as nice.”

“Why I never!”

“Yeah, you’ve never had someone who made you do what’s good for your health against your will. You would be better off not arguing with me.” She muttered curses under her breath again. “Now, you should probably gussy up. You never know when someone could drop by.”

“Oh shut your mouth. I’ll run around naked and flash anyone who comes. Teach them to visit without calling.”

I exhaled sharply. Humor runs in the family, I see. “Nobody needs that image, Maxine. We see enough sagging when you’re wearing a bra.” She scoffed, but ended the argument and left to dress.

Suddenly fatigued, I crept downstairs. Maxine hasn’t changed. She’s still rude, sarcastic and bitter. How much longer until she dies? No, that’s not something good to think about. I don’t need any more karma.

The creaky queen-sized bed in the second room was welcoming. I shut my eyes and slept despite waking up little less than two hours ago. Awoken by the shaking of my abused body, I let out a scream. Maxine didn’t come down; I could sense her upstairs observing the television, wondering why I wouldn’t be quiet. A long strand of monofilament wire was wrapped around my torso, squeezing me as I sat up. How had I gotten myself tied up with this? Ah well. I slowly came to my feet and smoothed down the black dress. I found bruises.

Gasping, I scuttled to the full bathroom east of the staircase in the living room. Jumping in front of the mirror, I held out my arms—my bruised and bloody arms. Shit, shit. This old habit? Didn’t I stop a month ago?

Okay, yeah, it’s not that surprising. But, considering how driven I am…this should be shocking. To have done this in my sleep, though? This is going to be an issue. I rotated my arm, getting a better look at the scars. They were all done in clean swipes and the only messy blood splatter was where it looked like I had tried to dig out the skin with my nails. Most of the wounds were deep, and not that much blood was spilled, so it only looked pink and fleshy, like they do in surgeries. Other scabs, though, were dripping with dark crimson tears and purplish-green bruises were on the exterior. I guess sometimes scars are messy.

My god, this is grave. Which is why I couldn’t understand my tranquility. Perhaps because of the greater harm I had done myself for years past? I knew this would heal, but it could get infected and take a long time. I should probably go to the emergency room.

Great, now I need to go buy some gloves too, my thoughts consumed me. I didn’t see the figure crouched at the window until just now. I let out a yelp and jumped backwards, hitting the smoky gray blue wall.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing up there, Gabriel?” I yelled, annoyed. Gabe’s long figure was laid in front of the window and his expression was dumbstruck. His face had a gray hue and his body was stiff. I dismissed his presence and found a coat to hide my arms. There was a bilco door at the corner of the living room. I hurried up the steps.

“You’re insane,” Gabriel’s soft voice cracked behind me. “Why would you do that?”

“I didn’t. I was asleep and woke up with these, alright?” I retorted. “Go away no.”

“You are insane!” His voice was now closer to a scream. “I’m taking you to the hospital. Right now.”

“I want to drive. Leave me alone and maybe go die.” A sharp pain struck my side. It felt as if it was a wound draining sadness from another source. Surely, when I turned, Gabe was recovering from a flash of sadness.

“You? Drive?” He scoffed. “That’s about as smart as letting the monkey drive.” Gabe began to take hold of my arm but froze when I flinched.

“Monkey? What?” I shook away my confusion. “Just go away.”

“No. You’ve lost too much blood. You’re lightheaded, probably. So, either I drive, or I tie you up and call an ambulance. I’m fine with either, honestly.”

Bitterness kicked in. “Yeah, because that’s not wrong at all.” Although, the throbbing hadn’t come to my notice until he finished his last sentence. I continued to the white Volkswagen bus and unlocked it only to throw the keys at Gabe a minute later. “Get me to the hospital. I’m sleeping during the ride.”

His grin was triumphant, almost a smirk. He strolled towards me, his steps light. After swiftly putting on my seat belt, I continued to grab a pillow and shut my eyes as the soft motor started. Gabriel easily and urgently escaped the parking lot. He’s a fast enough driver to get us to the hospital within a twenty minute drive. Why is he in such a hurry though? Because you could die, stupid, a lower voice echoed. Had that been in my head? It sounded like Gabriel’s voice.

Opening my eyes, I saw Gabriel’s powdery pools studying my pallid face. Of course, he’s worried. People usually are when they see someone hurt. Or, at least they panic.

“You don’t have to worry,” I repeated. “This isn’t the first time I’ve been taken to the hospital for this.”

Silence. “It isn’t?” his voice cracked and the car swerved out of control momentarily. I breathed deeply, trying to repress the sound of his voice.

“No, it’s not. In Hawaii, I used to need a blood transfusion at least twice a month and had to see a shrink.” The heavy breaths turned into a heavy sigh. “I stopped last month. This time it wasn’t my fault—not on a conscious level anyways.”

Silence. His grip was tight on the steering wheel and he hunched, stretching the black shirt so that it outlined some of his muscles. He was lean—wiry, really—with hidden muscles that were rarely seen. He was thought of as only skinny in most cases, until you got closer. His eyes were wise, complimenting his high features. Small, round dimples were set at either side of his cheeks, adding a boyish look to his image. Gabe’s black hair swept across his forehead, resulting in hair flips every few minutes. Same as my hair. On his wrist, he wore a To Write Love On Her Arm bracelet and blue Boobies bracelet. My heart sank. Suicide. He’s against it. Of course he is, even suicidal people are.

I glanced down at my forearms again, a sinking feeling in my stomach. There were traces of where previous slits had been. Some on my stomach too, but I could call those birthmarks, they were close enough together to be one big scar. I was self-conscious of the pink holes in my arms. No, just, of course he sees me. Of course he lives next door. My annoyance changed into fury. I fought to hide it.

As soon as we reached the hospital parking lot, Gabriel jumped out of the car and nearly dragged me to the emergency room. People watched me horrorstruck. Suicides were never common around here. Well, teenagers are the worst, so I suppose this isn’t all that bad. Though, with a few stitches and pain killers, I was on my way. I drove us home.

“Glad to see you’re okay,” said Gabe. He hadn’t said a word towards me and vice versa.

“I'm sorry you had to see that.” My eyes began stinging. I shook my head to set my heavy bangs over my eyes.

“Did you really do that in your sleep?”

“Yeah, I really did—woke up wrapped around in some wire and next thing I know, you’re rushing me to the hospital.” He was quiet. “Can I ask why you’re so friendly with me? You seem indifferent with every other person.”

“It’s complicated,” he admitted. “You wouldn’t understand.”

“How are you so sure?”

“Because I don’t understand it.”

“Well, what if I asked you to leave me alone and never talk to me—even look at me again?” Jaw heavy and lip quivering, a fight went on to stop the signs of weakness. Some part of my chest sunk in more and more, little by little with every word.

“You’ve asked that several times the past week, haven’t you?” He flashed a grin. His dimples sweetened his cool eyes. “I don’t plan on letting you go.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’m not giving up on you.”


“Because I’ve lost too much already.” I dropped the subject, the dryness of my mouth sign enough that this conversation would only lead to nostalgia.

A thick aroma of cinnamon sent chills down my spine and made me exhale. I opened the window. I glanced over at Gabriel at a stoplight. He was squinting, thinking hard about something. The sensation that it was related to the past made me dizzy. I took a moment to regain my self-control while waiting for the red light to switch to green.

Cinnamon…the same mouthwatering smell that would swallowed Gabriel’s house when his mother would bake cinnamon rolls. I remember chomping down on them—I remember the little tray we would use to safely carry them up the tree branch where we would sit. I used to love climbing trees. Why haven’t I yet?

Instead of turning left for home, I continued forward. Gabriel quickly noticed the change in scenery. After glaring at my calm face, he questioned my motives.

“This isn’t the way home. Where are you going?” He was familiar with the village, but there were many places to head to downtown. I released a short laugh.

“Where else but to Narnia?” He smirked. “Downtown? Isn’t that were the park is?”

Our destination disorientated him. “Yes, it is.”

“Good, then. We’re on track.”

“Why the sudden change of mind? Did you finally decide to take me out to dinner?”

“Shouldn’t I be the one saying that?”

“Is that a yes to dinner then?”

I blinked, startled. So, the uneasy topic returns for a second strike, I thought curiously. “I was kidding, Gabe.” His energy depleted like that of water slipping from a balloon with a hole. It quickly replenished. Gabriel seemed happy to simply provide me company—or the other way around. Another stab at my side came from that short mood of his. “I don’t plan on dating. At all.”

“Really now? That’s a little strange for a teenage girl, wouldn’t you think?” he challenged. “Most girls are creeping around, eager to snatch up the first male, or female for some, that comes their way.”

“I’ve been hurt too much to go back to that.”

A pause. Gabriel was pondering, and another sensation kicked in, one that told me he was thinking of ways to convince me otherwise. He left the matter for other times. “I see your point.”

I didn’t want to discuss this. Not with him. With him out of all people. Gabriel had been my last boyfriend. Was it pain he had caused me? No, it wasn’t. It was knowing that I had to give him up when our relationship was blossoming beautifully. In the end, he had and hadn’t caused me emotional pain. It was of course because of him, because I had loved him so much, but wasn’t his fault because I had brought that love upon myself.

What else could I have done? How do you keep yourself content with a young love if daddy dies and mommy takes you thousands of miles away from the one you care for? How do you carry on a long distance relationship with the possibility that it would take years if at all before you could see them? Pain would have come with a break up or without one. It’s that simple.

Who would have thought that I would return though? The chances were so slim. Fifteen percent at the most. I don’t plan on being hurt like that again. It just won’t happen. I won’t let it happen.

Now, wondering how Gabriel must have felt when I struck him with the news that I was no longer interested in him—a lie of course. I—or rather, Tornado—had ignored him, shunned him, sent him the evil eye constantly and built an invisible force field around herself so that nobody would near her. A few months after that, she was gone, as if blown away by the wind. Nobody realized Tornado was leaving them—she made sure none of them knew.

“Why are we heading to the park?” Gabriel interrupted my meditation, at the same time killing what I now realized was an awkward silence.

A soft smile escaped my soft, pale pink lips. “I want to write.”


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