a/n: Okay several things.
Quite a bit of the weird ass layout or things that might strike you unusual about the house is actually based on several of my friends homes, e.g. the stone floor.
Trigger warning suicide. Keep in mind that this is from a very singular perspective of someone left behind and under a very specific set of circumstances, it's not meant to be a reflection or a judgement on a person who has tried, or succeeded in comminting suicide. And if you are having issues with depression, hardships, or other things that make you seriously contemplate it, please get help. Please.
Jade is seriously messed up here and desperately needs therapy. Cat is not helping.
Also, my mom has a chemical imbalance so some of this is based-off that, but not completely (no, I'm not going to specify which parts but you're free to guess). This is not a good example of bi-polar or other chemical imbalances.
At least one fear Jade has may hit a bit close to home for some people. Specifically, inheriting the bi-polar chemical imbalance (again this is a reasonable fear and something that is NOT to be ashamed of having - both fear or being bi-polar).
Also the way Jade deals with her mom having bad days vs. good days, is one of the many ways some children justify things their parents do and is pretty unhealthy, not sure how much into detail I will go into that in this chapter though, it's implied that she views them as two different people in the last chapter, which again is not exactly a healthy thing but she's a child. In the same way Lilo from Lilo and Stitch focuses on feeding the fish because she believe it can control the weather and that's what caused her parent's deaths, Jade instead pretends/believes her mom and her mom are two different people because she doesn't want to believe that the same person who can love her like the most precious thing can be the same person who does the other things…It's complicated and sometimes she can't "rationalize" it away. I just recently watched Hide and Seek after I wrote the majority of this and realized that it's kind of like that.
Also, small Jade is small at this point in time, even Cat is an inch or two taller than her at this point in the timeline.
AGAIN, THIS IS UNHEALTHY.
Uh… this got a LOT darker than I thought it would. Maybe send help?Jade
It took a while to understand that all mothers had good days and bad days. But it took even longer to learn that not all of them had them at such extremes. You thought it was normal for a parent to be calm then angry the next. Happy than absolutely crash down, all adults did that, it was normal… right? Since your mom never really went out except when she absolutely had to, and Dad never let you have anyone over. You were always excited to go to your friends houses, not that you have very many. And everything was fine. She loved you, you loved her. And sometimes she got angry, sometimes things were thrown, but you only ever heard it. There were times when she argued with herself to a degree of anger that you can now acknowledge was unusual. And then there were days when she seemed untouchable, weeks even, when everything was great and fine.
And it was just a thing that happened in your life. Then it changed. Even when young, you sensed it had gotten worse. Your mom had never avoided you, but you hadn't seen her for what felt like weeks and you had wanted to show her… something, it's unimportant now.
Outside the door to the room she had holed up in, you ignored the warning signs, and your gut feeling of something wrong because, honestly, you just missed having your best friend.
That was the first day she hit you.
It had been deliberate an accident.
You don't remember it clearly, but some things were burned in your mind. You remember the late afternoon sun streaming through the windows, the way the light bounced off the walls and onto the floor giving the room a faint auburn glow. You remember the coolness of the stone tile on your face and the relief it provided to your stinging cheek. You remember the look on her face of grief, guilt, worry, fear, helplessness as she pulled her shaking hands back. You remember how her hands turned white as she caved them into her chest holding them as though they were traitors. You remember so much and yet so little.
Your cheek aches as you smile and you reach up to envelope her larger hands in yours. And she hugs you, tears soaking your skin through the fabric of your shirt. She murmurs her apologies in your ear, but you don't listen, all that matters is that she's here.
That's how your father finds the two of you when he gets home.
The next day, they disappear for hours, leaving you alone in the house.
It gets better from there, at least, that's what it seems like. Something changed the weeks after they returned. It was slow, but people were now allowed over. People sometimes even came by for dinner parties hosted by her parents. Little by little things were looking like it would be okay.
It was better.
You were the one to call 911. You were the one who watched found her as after she killed herself. Just moments before your mom had smiled at you and said everything was gonna be alright as she got on the chair and you still weren't sure what exactly you were seeing until she started choking. It hadn't registered what was going on for a couple of minutes had she stopped breathing then you panicked. You were weak and small, barely measuring 26 inches at 8 years old. Too small except to try to lift your mothers feet onto your shoulders. They kept coming off, no matter how hard you tried to keep them there. No time and forever seemed to pass, before you found yourself knocking over a chair in the kitchen so far away your hurry to reach the phone. You don't remember if you picked it back up or not, but you dialed your dad's work number. Once, twice, three, four, five times before dialling 911.
You remember crying into the phone, the woman on the other side trying to get you to tell her information. You don't remember what you said or how you ended back in the room with your mother's body still hanging, swinging back and forth in front of the open window. You don't know what happened the next two weeks leading up to the funeral.
"Tragic." That word echoes in your ears. The word everyone kept using to describe your mother's passing. And it seems to follow your steps every turn.
You haven't cried since that day. But the hurt doesn't lessen, it just keeps growing.
Your father tried to make time to spend with you but neither of you have the energy to engage with the other. Not now, not in this house. Until finally he announces that your moving to a different house before the month is up. And it's a blessing when he finally decides to move from the outskirts of what could be considered a small town to a place closer to his work. Leaving the memories that were trapped in that house never felt so freeing and for the first time in a while, you feel better. A weight you've been carrying on your shoulders lightens for a moment, and it feels like you can breathe not still drowning in the sorrow of tears you cannot seem to shed.
It doesn't last long.
You should be used to that by now. You're not.
The first time you saw her, it was raining. She looked frightened and lost. She looked the way you felt but didn't, and in a way you envied that. It was better than the gaping emptiness, except when rage rose up and you could feel something anything but the numbness that had closed in on you and refused to leave. It had always been there waiting, your mother had understood.
But then your selfish mother had committed suicide died, and now it's all that you have. Dad, he doesn't deserve to be called that anymore. Your father can't look at you without flinching, it's been months and it's not like he's the one who was her and it's only gotten worse. You think he blames you and he should, you blame you. And you can't even cry about it.
So watching her, scabbling in the mud wondering how she got there, something tugs your bleeding always full yet always hungry heart. You've never been good at making friends, too hard, too mature because you had to be, too much, too aggressive, too broken, too alone, to inexperienced to have ever gotten good at it. So by the time you've stopped warring with yourself, she's gone.
You saw her again, a second time, a third. Fourth, fifth. Your paths just seem to keep crossing and each time, she's always doing something that makes you feel something other than the emptiness and smoldering rage. But you never have enough courage like the coward you are, to approach.
In early June the decision was taken out of your hands, when the sun is on the edge of setting and you really get up to go home because it can be dangerous once the sun sets not that anyone is there to care. The screaming cuts through your world and it's not until you sit up and look around that you see the park is deserted except for you and her. She's facing away from you but as she turns around, still screaming, she stops when she spots you. Just as shocked as you. Honestly, the screaming in your mind had drowned out hers. She stomps over to you.
"Leave!" She demands. You wait for the rage. It's inevitable, the urge to scream back at her to curse the world and all it's taken. But nothing happens even as she gets inches from your face, "I said LEAVE!"
The only thing you register is her eyes that intense, manic look you recognize and search everyday in the mirror for. And you're not afraid, you've seen worse, you've feared worse, you're calm but it's not the numb kind of calm that you've been drowning in for months, it's a controlled one because this is so familiar. And for a moment you feel in control, you're not, and you are the calm rock in the middle of a storm, the relief of the familiarity makes you smile. It's not a happy one, do you even know what that is anymore, and you can feel it stretch unevenly, broken across your face.
She's as shocked as you are, the reflected purple and blue of the sky reflecting the sun gives the area an almost ethereal feel. It's broken when she roughly pushes you to the ground and your arms scrape against the rough dirt and rocks that make up the path to the sidewalk. In pain, and watching a trickle of blood that's making its way down your arm, you feel.
You cry that night.
She screams at you and does it again.
You stop crying.
And your father doesn't notice except to comment on your preference for darker clothing.
She breaks the pattern. She leans over and hisses in your ear, "I know what you're doing."
You grin, and it's not all teeth. "Do you?"
"Yes," she says and instead of pushing you down she drags you over to a tree. You struggle. You don't. And she forces your sleeve down your arm. "Maybe now you'll get the message." You don't know what she's doing until she's placed your arm against the bark and forces it down. It scrapes, it hurts, relief, what is wrong with you?
You spend the night cradling your arm and praying you haven't missed any of the pieces.
You stay in the darkness of your room.
Away from the park, the light, the way she looked terrible and beautiful in the setting sun.
The nightmares return.
Sometimes, it's your mom.
Sometimes, it's her.
And, on the worst nights it's you.
You stay away until you can't anymore.
When you see her again, she walks over, and when you don't flinch. She smiles and takes your hand, squeezing hard, your lungs release and take in air for the first time in weeks, until you can swear you hear your bones cracking. She drags you down and starts talking. You've never heard her talk so much. She tells you about herself. And it isn't until you feel a globby wet sensation winding down your arm that you realize she's been picking at your scabs from your last encounter.
This becomes the new normal.
You rest and breathe, listening to her, and feel at peace. Sometimes you fall asleep and she's there watching.
You wonder what it would be like to meet the other her, the one she seems to hate and love so much.
And then you don't wonder any more.
Cat's sweet in a way that she, your friend, isn't. Cat apologizes, she cries, she skips down the hall when her body can't contain her enthusiasm. She shows a larger range of emotion than you ever thought possible and while some of it is fleeting, you can tell how deeply it reaches her each time. Where your friend showed you how to breathe again, Cat shows you how to live. She shows you that it's okay to live for yourself, to want, to not want to hurt just to feel anything, to feel secure in yourself.
And you don't want to lose that. Even when it's her hand, not her not her not her, that's scraping across your skin drawing blood it says your mine not hers. It feels good but do you need it? You don't tell her for years, it's the dark little secret you keep from her. Because Cat grew on you slowly and she cares about you, despite your own fears.
It's unhealthy, it was always unhealthy this relationship you have with her and your mother. It took you a while to recognize. But it's nice. To be wanted, needed even. And you don't know if you can give that up. And it hurts to know that. You take guilt comfort that you did try once. It didn't end well. And you almost lost her in an accident when she was crying at your door and had gotten lost on her way home. After that scare, she made you promise. And you did.
The guilt doesn't fade but you take solace in one constant thing. When you're contemplating your life, because at least Cat does something your mother never did.