My roller coaster life was sickening me at times, especially at the low points. Right now, it was more like a middle point. Maybe a slow rise up, or maybe just a straight path. I didn’t really know where it was going. If it went down, that was bad. If it went up, I was feeling good. I hoped and nearly prayed that it was on an upward climb.
“Mom! Dad! Bye! Ida and I are going to the beach!”
We rushed out the door, and into the summer air. It had cooled off quiet a bit. I had the bandana back around my arm, and my other arm felt frozen in comparison. I had Juliet stop at Aunt Tracy’s house while I loaded a brown box into her trunk.
“What are you putting in there?”
“We’re going to make a sand castle!”
She seemed confused, so I laughed some more and hopped into the passenger side. Aunt Tracy was back home, and through the window, she watched us leave. We drove slowly down the street.
“Okay, should I call her now?” Juliet asked.
“Call her in a bit.”
“Alright. What’s in that box?”
“Never you mind.”
She gave a weak sigh, and I could tell she was nervous. The look in her eye said it all. She bit her lip and gripped onto the steering wheel even tighter.
“It’s alright, Juliet, she’ll be fine with it.”
“No! She won’t!”
“She won’t know. She’ll think you’re with me. My aunt thinks that I’m with you.”
“What if they call each other?”
“Why would my aunt call?”
“She doesn’t have to be the one to call.”
“Well, why would either of them?”
“No, it isn’t. Stop worrying.”
“I can’t help it.”
“Trust me, this’ll be worth it, I promise.”
“Where are we going, exactly.”
“About a half an hour south of here.”
“I don’t remember exactly. There’s a lighthouse down there...”
“Oh! I think I know. I’ve been there on my way to Shoreville before.”
“Yeah. It’s a little village about an hour south.”
“Never heard of it.”
“Ha! I can’t imagine why you would. My friend Samantha lives there.”
“Really? Is it nice?”
“It’s a tiny little village. I don’t remember how many people live there. It’s too small to even have a school.”
“Yeah. They go over to Silver.”
Juliet gave another high-pitched laugh.
“Yeah. Silver. Actually, Samantha called me earlier. Something about some kid. I don’t remember exactly. Not like it’s important.”
“Well, tonight’s going to be fun!”
“Yeah! I guess. I mean, it’s a really pretty beach!”
Juliet was lightening up.
“Yeah it is. I was just out driving right when I moved here.”
“Oh! When you came home that day?”
“You smelt like beer.”
“We... we’re not... getting... you know, drunk, are we?”
“Yes, drunk! Ida!”
“Are we getting drunk?”
“That’s an odd question. I can’t force you to get drunk.”
“Did you or did you not put beer in my trunk?”
“That’s an odd question, too.”
“God dammit, Ida!”
She was laughing, and so was I. It was an uncomfortable laugh, but still a laugh. I took it as a sign of her trust, because I knew how uncomfortable she was with this.
“So... what now?”
“Are you sure about this?”
“Totally. What’s so wrong about it.”
“As am I. Come on, it’s time to live a little. Life’s so boring when you sit around and do nothing!”
“I guess so.”
“Aright. So then it’s settled. Let’s keep this up. Trust me. It’ll be fun.”
“Yeah. Yeah. It’ll be fun,” she said, trying to reassure herself.
“I know it’ll be fun. We’ve gotta get some bad-ass into you.”
She gave a weak little mouse laugh.
We drove along with the setting sun to our right, and somewhere off to our left was vast blankness of ocean. The beautiful ocean. It seemed like time had barely passed when we arrived at the beach, and I was getting the beer out of the trunk.
“Here you are.”
She looked at it as if it was a leech that she was about to stick in her mouth.
“Come on, drink!”
She took a little sip, and a shy little mouse smile passed over her.
“Wow. That was the first time I-I-I ever...”
“Well, there’s a first for everything, I guess.”
I crawled back onto the hood of the car and brought my knees up to my chest. She mimicked slowly, trying not to spill her drink. This time, she took a long swig.
“There! Like it?”
She giggled a little.
I looked out onto the sea, and the sun was slowly setting. It was a beautiful sight to be seeing while Juliet was here. Juliet was in the warm stage. I could tell by the look on her face, and the fact that she wasn’t hugging herself and shivering. I’d let her enjoy a couple of beers, but I didn’t want her to get to a talkative/quiet stage, mainly because that was the iffy stage. That stage could go two ways:
1) You become really talkative and love everyone around you.
2) You become really quiet and depressed.
The latter was the one I was afraid of. It was the stage I generally entered. The water slowly lapped away at the shore, and created a natural music. A cricket chirped in the distance. I crossed my legs and sat up as straight as possible. I breathed in for four seconds, held it for four seconds, and breathed out for four seconds.
Life wasn’t so bad.
It was better than it was last time I was at the beach.
Actually, it was better than it had been in a long time.
Except the cuts.
I still had a feeling that creeped over me.
The roller coaster ride was dangerous.
It was unpredictable.
One minute, you were fine, the next, your father was beating you.
Breathe out uneasily.
I remembered it perfectly.
He came home, drunk, of course.
The fucking dick.
He couldn’t control himself. Not ever.
I opened my eyes, and looked over at Juliet. She had a second beer in her hand.
“Shut the fuck up, dad!” I remembered me saying.
We were in a room. Alone. The walls were stained with browns and yellows, and the wallpaper was torn in multiple spots. The carpet was the same. The chairs smelt of cats and cigarettes.
“Listen, you little bitch-”
“No! You listen you fucking creep! What? What the fuck?! Get away!”
He hit me across the face with the back of his hand.
I rubbed the spot slowly, and a tear formed in my eye. I blinked it away as Juliet started talking to me.
“This is fun! I should’ve done this before! Way before!”
“Yeah. Yeah it is.”
I felt slowly for the scar that came from his ring. I tried to breathe in again, but it was shaky and uneven. By breaths became clogged with the smell of alcohol and beach water. I licked my lips and tasted the spray. Salt.
I fondled a matted lock of hair, and Juliet slipped a little on the car. How many beers was she up to now? Still two? Three? Four?
The roller coaster ride was almost unbearable at times. You went up. You went down. I had often experienced being down for weeks, sometimes months. Then, there would be a quick burst up, but it never lasted too long. Was this just a quick rise? Would I fall again?
I envied Juliet. She had it easy. Even as she tried talking to me, and trying to hug me, I hated her. She was in the talkative stage. What happened to the tipsy stage? It didn’t matter. She could drink and be happy. I hated her. She was happy. Constantly. I could tell she was. Also, she couldn’t even tell when most of my smiles were fake. She knew happiness, but couldn’t even spot it in others. Or maybe she couldn’t spot a defect in others. I was a defect. I gross, revolting snake. I was disgusting. I hated myself.
Hate. That word was tossed around lightly. I knew hate. I knew that feeling like you wanted to murder someone. When you couldn’t even stand the sight of them. When everything they said disgusted you. I knew it in myself. Even now, I looked down at the cuts, and was instantly disgusted.
Slowly, the roller coaster dipped back down. Deep down. Into the shadows. Out of the light. The scars were disgusting memories of what had happened, and I hated it. I wanted to cut them off. Rip them away. Pour acid on them. Watch them burn. Watch me burn. Watch me die. Slowly. Die.
Juliet burped and started laughing hysterically.
“Alright, let’s go. We can go back to my house.”
You fucking heard me.
“Come on, Juliet!”
A tear dripped down my face, and I helped her in the car. Her head bobbed back and forth as if she was having a nightmare. She fumbled around, trying to find the door, and it was still open. Her head jolted quickly to the right, and she started to hurl up the beer she had just drank. I patted her on the back, and went quietly to work cleaning up the empty beer bottles.
Sweet, sweet death. Again it seemed nice. Almost like a wonderland. An escape. An escape from everything. It was almost wonderful. Yet I couldn’t kill myself. Not yet. I was such a fucking little dumbass. I didn’t deserve to live. Yet I couldn’t even kill myself. Tears streamed down my face, and I bit my lower lip, got in the car, and drove Juliet back to Saco.