"Don't Stay"

"Sarah, we can't go on pretending like everything is going to be okay. We both know it's not. We both know it isn't going to get better... And there is nothing we can do about that," there was a pause in which I heard a whimper coming from my mom. " We have tried counseling, we have tried marriage clinics, we have tried everything. But nothing seems to work. With what happened to Ryan, well, I just can't go on living with you anymore. You have another daughter, Sarah, and her name is Haley," my father was standing in the doorway, his arms flying with his angered emotions, as my mom sat on the couch, listening to him.

"David, I'm just having a rough time getting over my only son's death, that's all," my mom cried. "I'll get better. I promise. Please don't give up on me. I love Haley, I really, truly do. She is my baby girl. But right now I'm just having a hard time."

"Well Sarah, I'm sorry your having a rough time, but I am, too. Do you think I'm taking Ryan's death easily, too? If you do, then you don't know me at all. Which is just further proof that this marriage can't last. I'm sorry."

They were both yelling now, which made me wince at their harsh words. "Fine, David, fine!" my mother screamed at him. "Leave! Get out of here! Go now! I don't need you around anymore! Take Haley with you, too!"

I looked anxiously at my father, wanting so badly for him to rush to my mother, put his arms around her to comfort her, and then make things better. All better. He used to do it when I got sick. He would come over to me, wrap his arms around me, and it would all get better. "I'm leaving, but Haley is going to stay," he told her in a low, firm voice. "I'm sorry Sarah." and with that, he crossed the living room and turned towards the stairs.

I scrambled up from my position on the floor of the steps and ran to my room, jumping on my bed, and squeezing my eyes shut, hoping it was all a horrible dream. A minute later, there was a quiet tap on my door, and my father walked in. "Haley Bug," he called quietly. "Are you awake, baby?"

I didn't answer him. I don't know why, but I couldn't. If I did, then I would break out in tears and he'd know I had been eavesdropping on them. I heard his quiet footsteps cross the room, and then he knelt down, his warm breath prickling the back of my neck.

"I love you so much babe. You don't know how much. And you'll always be my little princess. But, even if Daddy isn't here tomorrow, or you don't see him for a really long time, don't worry, because I won't ever forget my little Haley Bug." he reached up, smoothed my hair, gently kissed my forehead, and then he softly crossed the room again. The footsteps stopped, though, for a second beside my door, "and look out for your mom, kiddo, she's having a really rough time. Don't give up on her," he said quietly, though his words stung me. Like he was putting a finality on his leaving. And then he left. Out of my door, down the stairs, out the front door... and out of my life.


"Hit the Floor"

"Mom!" I called through the house, not really expecting an answer. Lately she had been sleeping a lot more than usual and she was having a rough time with just life in general, not that she hadn't been having a rough 10 years, just, now, it was worse. She was even taking anti-depressants, but I couldn't see a change. Work was more demanding than ever at the magazine she worked for and she was having a tough time meeting deadlines. They had left many messages on the phone practically saying they'd fire her if she didn't turn in something, and all I could do was sit back and watch it happen. I was working at a diner from 3:30-9:00 after school five days a week, going to school, and then taking care of Mom the rest of my time. It was hard, I'll be the first to admit, but, after all, I had promised myself that I would do it since Dad asked me.

I walked through the house, checking the rooms, letting the cell phone ring and vibrate frantically in my hand go unanswered. It was probably just Trent. Or Paul. Or Aimee, Tracie, Kyle, Brandon, or Jacob. Or really any number of people. I didn't know who it was. I didn't really care.

I finally got to her bedroom, which was closed. I sighed, tapping gently on it once, and then walked in. The bed–though unmade with covers strewn everywhere–wasn't occupied by Sarah James.

"Mom?" I called out, puzzled, looking around her room, and when I saw the bathroom door closed, the oddest feeling coming over me. Chills. I had chills. It wasn't good. This wasn't right. Chills were running up my arms, and down my legs.

I crossed the room to the bathroom door, knocking softly at first, and then louder. And then I was beating on the locked door, frantically wanting an answer I wasn't getting. "MOM!" I screamed, now deathly worried.

There was no answer, but yet it was locked. My mother would never lock a vacant bathroom, even with the odd stage she was going through. "Mom, open the fucking door," I yelled at the wooden door. There was no answer. I had this feeling. This terrible, sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach, which only made it worse.

Ever since Dad left, I had never been close to my mother. We never talked, she never asked about me or my life. And these past few months we'd just been drifting farther apart. When I never came home and spent the night at my boyfriend's–Trent–house, she never even noticed. Or when I came home stoned, she never cared. We had been getting into even more arguments, too, which was the only time we talked. But even that was yelling. I flipped open my cell phone and dialed Kerry's–my mom's boyfriend–number.

"Hello," Kerry answered the phone.

"Hey, Kerry, do you happen to know where mom is right now?" I asked, trying to sound completely calm and normal.

Apparently, though, Kerry had picked up on the franticness of my voice. "Haley, what's wrong? Is it Sarah? Where is she? Is she ok? Haley," anticipation filled Kerry's voice as he explored the possibilities.

"I don't know! Her bed is all messed up and the bathroom door is locked. I can't get in, Kerry. Is there any way you could get over here in a hurry? I'm... I'm really worried about her."

"Haley, get something and open that door," he said hurriedly. I could hear office doors slamming in the background.

Kerry's voice was scaring me. I wanted to cry, but I couldn't. I hadn't cried in 10 years, I wasn't about to cry now. I was going to be strong. Strong Haley. What everybody expected of me–to be strong. "What? What can I open the door with? What is there to use?"

Kerry took a deep breath. "Your smart, Haley. Use something. I'm on my way," then the phone line went dead.

I threw the phone on the bed, running around the room like a crazy person, trying to find anything. And then I ran down the hall into the kitchen, grabbing a knife. A really long carving knife. It looked like the knife the dude on Scream had used. "Please Mom, be ok! Just be ok! I'm sorry for all I've done to you. I'm sorry! Please, just be ok!" I pleaded out loud to myself while I was running back through the hall.

I stared at the huge knife in my hands. And then, I put both hands on it, reared back, and thrust it into the hard wood door. Surprisingly, it went all the way through. I did it, again and again, until I had a whole in the door. I threw down the knife, and thrust my hand in the whole, unlocking the door. Wood splinters seared my skin, but I kept reaching for the lock, finally getting it open.

I thrust it open, running inside. And then I just stopped. I felt my legs buckling from under me, my heart sinking, and my whole body shutting down. "No," I whispered to myself. "NO!" I screamed, running over to the bathtub, my mom's body in it. Red water floating around her–still. Still red water. With her in the middle of it. Fully clothed.

At first, I just stood there. Screaming, yelling her name. And then I dropped down. Water was everywhere on the floor. The red water was. I dropped down to my knees and bent over the tub, pulling her body up, pulling her head up from under the water. I was surprised at how light she weighed and found that pulling her out of the full tub was quite easy. I pulled her out. Her petite, lifeless figure lay limp in my hands. "No, please no, Mom. I take back all those stupid, immature things I yelled at you," I softly cried as we rocked back and forth. "I love you so much, please don't leave me like Ryan and Daddy did. I'm begging you, mom, please! You are all I have. I can't lose you, too."

"Haley," Kerry said breathlessly, standing in the doorway. Once he saw the scene unfolded out in front of him, tears sprung to his eyes. "W–. H–"

I bit my lip and held out her arm. I had noticed it seconds earlier, right before he'd come in. Tiny scratches were all over–her legs, too–and then there were long cuts on both her arms all the way to the elbow, but what really stood out were two long, angled cuts met together and formed an 'X' on her arm. And under it she had carved the words 'I'm Sorry.' it wasn't any means to justify what she did, though.

"Why did she do this, Kerry?" I asked, biting my lip to try not to cry. "After Daddy, and Ryan, and now... now she's gone, too," I cried. I couldn't hold it anymore. "Was it because of me? I'm sorry, I really am. I never meant to scream and yell and do the things I did. Oh, please... let this just be a dream!"

"No, baby, no. Of course it isn't your fault. Your mom loved you, kiddo. So much. She loved you so, so very much. She just couldn't take it anymore," I finally broke down. Kerry, being the gentleman he was and had always been, knelt beside me, in the cold, bloody water, and put his arms around me. Squeezing me tightly. Holding both Mom and me. But it still wasn't the same. I still felt alone and empty. My whole life was gone.