It starts with Sam.
Which isn't to say its her fault, the stupid thing you do, but it's the first of many things that causes your entire life to fall apart.
She tells you she likes you, nervous and jittery in the middle of the night. She tells you that she's always liked you and you remember not being able to move, to do anything really because it's like she was taking the words right out of that secret locked up place in the back of your mind and setting them out in front of you. And you could've just told her that you feel the same way, that you look at her sometimes and she's so bright and fantastic that you can't look away but that would mean being different than the other kids, that would mean being gay and you can't. You just can't. So you said "Okay." after she poured her heart out and she looked at you confused and hurt but not angry, never angry, before leaving you to spend the night crying into your pillow.
After that you two grow apart. She goes left and you go right and your bouncing off each other like magnets with the wrong poles touching and there's no way you can hang onto her. She slips through your fingers. You go your separate ways and you hear stories of Sam hooking up with this girl or guy and you feel stupid and hurt and broken hearted because you do like her. You love her but your too much of a coward to tell her.
You spend a lot of time alone after that because the web show is done since there's no time in high school and while Freddie is there, he's not really there. He has a girlfriend that doesn't like you so he's busy. But its not like you don't have any friends because you do but you just don't have your best friend anymore.
Then comes the knock on the door.
Spencer answers it covered in paint and plaster of Paris and as soon as you see the uniformed man, somber and quiet you know. You just know. You're crying, hard painful sobs, before Spencer even closes the door and your brother turns and hugs you tight, tighter than you can ever remember him doing and cries too.
Your dad was killed by an accidental explosion on his submarine.
At the funeral you can barely stand, barely breathe, barely live, but Sam and Freddie are there. Dressed in all black from head to toe and while you listen to the eulogy you snag Sam's hand hard and she lets you squeeze and squeeze her slim fingers so you don't fall.
After the funeral, after your granddad and your aunts, uncles and cousins leave, its just you and Spencer. Spencer who stays locked in his room because he's so broken and you think about tracking down your mother, the mother that didn't want you and Spencer but has a whole new family in Texas but instead you lure your brother out of his dungeon with candied apples and spend the next three weeks putting him back together.
Then, finally, Spencer is almost sort of normal and he drowns himself in his artwork, leaving you alone to realize that you're not okay. You're not okay because things inside of you that are deeper than muscles and organs hurt and no matter how hard you try you can't get it to stop. Then you figure its not even worth trying to make it stop. You slack on your schoolwork and stop hanging out and spend most of your time locked up in your own room.
While Spencer's there, he's not really and he doesn't notice when you don't eat and its not like you have parents keeping tabs on you and that pain inside of you keeps getting more intense and just worst. But Sam notices and she comes by the apartment to attempt to drag you to the mall or the park or just outside but she always fails because you can't make yourself care enough to actually move but when she stands in the doorway of your room, all concern and quiet, you wish she would just let you look at her all day for the rest of your lives. Sam cares about you and you know she'd probably let you but you don't ask.
After that it's the little things that pry at the giant, cavernous crack that's running through you and then one day you just…you just break.
Spencer isn't home when you do it. He's at the junkyard picking up pieces for the sculpture he's been calling "Man Eating Sandwich" and you're shut in your bathroom, cross legged in the empty bathtub rolling the sharp steak knife with the elephant shaped handle over and over in your hands.
You know what to do, seen it on TV and in movies a bunch of times but it never looks like it hurts as much as it actually does but you realize why wouldn't ripping through skin and flesh and more importantly vein, hurt. The knife clatters to the linoleum and you fist your shaking hands around the note that took you three drafts to get exactly right.
You're blood is brilliant red and its not long before it swirls towards the drain and the relief you expect doesn't really come but you do feel tired and lethargic like your swimming through maple syrup and then everything had simply just faded away.
You wake up in the hospital which is a little bit of a shock since you hadn't planned on waking up at all and your mouth feels like its been filled with cement.
"Hey, kiddo." Spencer greets from beside your bedside and his eyes are bloodshot and even though he's smiling, he looks so sad. "How do you feel?"
You say "Tired." but you really mean 'Empty'.
Your Granddad comes and he cries as soon as he sees you in the hospital bed, he apologizes and tells you that he loves you and you feel so stupid and selfish because when you did this you didn't want to hurt anyone but wanting and doing are two different things.
Spencer stays with you all night, stroking your hair, telling you how much he loves you, how sorry he is and you don't fight the tears when they burn in your eyes and neither does he.
It's practically the middle of the night when you hear the door to your room open and shut quickly and when you open your eyes Sam is there. She's just looking at you, something in her blue eyes that you've never seen before and you swallow, flexing your wrists absently and wincing.
Sam is the one that found you. You know because Spencer told you that she'd called him, screaming and hysterical and because you remember bits and pieces. Sam, leaning over the lip of tub and wrapping something around your wrists, screaming your name, dragging you out of the tub and onto the hot pink bath mat on the floor. But now Sam stands silently at the side of your bed, her green tee shirt streaked with dried, reddish brown blood. Your blood.
You don't question how she got into your room when the nurses explicitly said family only because Sam has her ways and she's here now which is all that matters.
"It was an accident." You croak as if it could make Sam stop looking at you like she is. As if Sam could possibly believe that you slipped and fell wrist first on a steak knife. "I didn't mean to…"
But then an amazing thing happens when Sam takes a deep slow breath, blinking once hard, and that look is gone and she's just Sam. Only ever Sam. Sitting on the bed, careful not to jostle you while she talks about the time she accidentally stabbed herself in the thigh with a fishing knife while she was fishing with her uncle and she had to get ten stitches.
You must fall asleep because when you wake up she's gone and the memory of Sam's fingers in your hair is sort of like a phantom comfort.
The doctor tells you you're depressed. Not the doctor that fixed your body when you first came in but the doctor that came down from upstairs to fix your soul. She tells you that you're depressed, which seems a ridiculously simple term for what you're feeling, and that you need medication, counseling, that you need help and you tend to agree with the last part.
The ride home from the hospital is quiet, you and Spencer's breathing the only sound in the cab of Ms. Benson station wagon your brother borrowed because he couldn't take you home on his motorcycle. You stop at a light and you notice him staring at the stark white bandage peeking out from your jacket sleeve. You pull your sleeve down carefully and he looks away.
People who attempt suicide are at the largest risk to try again immediately after their release from the hospital.
When the doctor said it, she said it as if you weren't even there but Spencer had nodded quietly. Now you can't be left alone anymore.
The days after your release from the hospital you spend cooped up in the apartment, curled up on the couch with Spencer who won't let you out of his sight for even a second. There's even an argument when you get up to use the restroom.
There's a steady flow of people, family and friends, coming to visit you and bring you flowers and balloons and tell you to get well soon. You wonder how long soon is because as of now it seems far away.
It's four days later and your infinitely glad that Spencer has a art show to go to for the sculptures that he made before you did that stupid, idiotic thing you did and he's running around like a chicken with his head lobed off when Sam walks into the apartment uninvited but absolutely welcomed.
"Yo peoples." She greets and the small leap your heart does is the first thing you feel in days. "Hey brown eyed girl. How do you feel?" She whispers dropping onto the couch in the space you eagerly make for her by your feet and she lifts your legs into her lap easily.
"Fine. Better." You answer with a smile and it's the truth because you feel better than you did two minutes ago, two hours ago.
"Awesome." She grins back, giving your ankle an absent squeeze just as Spencer flies into the living room while simultaneously trying to put on his belt.
"Aw, I see smiling." He declares happily and while Sam rolls her eyes you stare at her pale eyelashes. "By the way, thanks for hanging out Sam." Spencer doesn't say for what but he doesn't need to.
Sam just shrugs, giving you another grin. "Well, I got nothing better to do."
And you don't doubt it because Sam has spent a lot of time here, more than she used to before. Before she'd told you how she felt and before you shot her down.
She comes over after school for a few hours everyday, a couple of hours over the weekend and she even shows up before school sometimes but she never stays the night and you dream about curling up next to her again.
"Okay, well, there's a casserole in the oven. There's snacks and drinks and movies and board games and everything else you need for a night full of fun." He says fastening his belt before squatting down beside your head on the couch. "If you need anything I have my cell and don't forget to take your meds, Kiddo." He says softy, stroking your head and you love your brother so much.
You tell him so and he beams at you, pressing a kiss to your forehead. "I love you too."
"Me too." Sam chimes in, looking up at Spencer. "I love ya, dude."
Spencer looks taken aback, then confused, before shrugging his shoulders. "Because you're underage and I do not know the official rules on this sort of thing, I'll just say I'm very fond of you too." He says ruffling Sam's hair before heading for the door. "I'll call to check in."
You say 'bye' and Sam shouts, 'Whatever' and then its just the two of you.
The way you like it.
The way you like it because when its just the two of you its like things are normal again. She tells you funny stories about how she caught Freddie making out with his girlfriend under the bleachers during the pep rally and she poured her water down on them from the stands through the gaps in the wood and how Freddie's girlfriend's hair turned all frizzy and how Rip Off Rodney got busted for selling false and grossly misspelled doctors notes.
You listen to the lilt of her voice and watch the way she smiles and you think about the way the dressing on your wrists itches a lot less.
"Are you gonna take those or what?" Sam asks from the kitchen later in the night and you gaze at the small pills in your palm while you listen to her eat the last of the casserole right out of the dish. "'Cause I don't have all day."
You jiggle the small pills in your palm, watching them dance for a moment. The doctor said that they'd take a few weeks to a few months to finally kick in and as of now you're just dealing with the side effects. Headache, nausea, agitation. You remember when you snapped at Sam, angry and vicious, two days ago and how hurt she'd looked and you'd apologized over and over while she'd just shrugged and blamed it on your crazy pills but after she'd kept a safe distance from you until she went home.
"Yeah." You sigh popping them into your mouth and swallowing them with the glass of apple juice that Sam hands you before dropping down beside you on the couch.
You take the pills because they're supposed to make you feel better and god knows you just want to feel better.
She leans into you a little as the movie you're not really paying attention to plays on the television. There's explosions and shooting but Sam's head is resting on your shoulder and her fingertips are on your wrists, touching your bandage and you try not to wince while you curl your fingers into a fists.
"Ya know, I'm glad this was the one thing you really sucked at." Sam mutters and its dark and twisted and so is the laugh the pushes up from your chest and it hurts but it feels good too.
They said that it would take a while for your wrists to heal. That it would be sore and painful for quite a few days and for the first couple of days you hadn't noticed the pain but lately you have.
"It looks better." Sam mutters quietly in the still steamy air of your bathroom, you kick your feet absently while you sit on the counter top while trying not to fall into the sink as she rewraps your wrists with more care than you've ever seen her do anything.
"It's ugly." You mutter watching the ragged red stitched together skin disappear behind the stark white bandage.
"No." Sam replies firmly, the wet air making her hair frizz just a little. "It's beautiful."
You wonder if she's looking at the same thing you are. Ask her when's the last time she got her eyes checked because you wrists are "Red. Raw. Ragged. Gross."
"Healing." Sam interrupts putting her hands on your knees, over the material of your robe and you wonder if she does it on purpose. "They're healing so they're beautiful." And when its put like that its stunningly simple.
She smiles a little bit at you and you smile back.
Sam and Freddie send you texts or call to invite you somewhere all of the time and you usually refuse but one day Freddie sends you a text that reads. "Fairs in town. Want 2 go" and strangely enough you do.
"Hey, Spence? Can I go to the fair with Sam and Freddie." You ask and Spencer looks surprised and rightfully so because the two and half weeks since you did that stupid thing, you've been locked in the apartment.
Of course Spencer lets you because he's always talking about how you need to get out. An hour later your in Freddie's car with Sam's thigh pressed to yours where you sit too close in the back seat.
The fair is all bright lights and big rides and screaming and fun and your glad you came.
Because even though Freddie's girlfriend, Torri, looks at your wrists every once in a while, Sam and Freddie don't. You spend the night watching Sam eat her weight in cotton candy and churros while Freddie tries to pretend he's not afraid of heights in front of Torri. But the best part is that you spend most of the night with your hand wrapped up in Sam's, who always made sure you rode with her on rides and when you didn't feel like ridding she'd not ride with you.
You decide not to ride on the Mega drop and Sam shrugs, tightening her fingers around yours and just says she doesn't like being dropped from five stories in the sky anyway. So you two walk around hand in hand, not touching only when Sam plays a carnival game and wins you a turtle she calls Sheldon. Now you sit on a bench, out of the way of the light and sound of the carnival. You can still hear people screaming and you can still see the rides but in this corner of the park while the sun is setting no one is really paying attention to you two.
So you sit close to her and listen to her tell a story about something she watched on TV where people eat turtles and she's all wide gestures and animation and alive and its beautiful. She's beautiful. You tell her so and she blushes.
When you touch your fingertips to her neck where her skin is flushed you expect it to be hot and it is and it makes you smile a little bit, her pulse pounding under your pinky and you want to kiss her. You really really want to. You scoot closer on the bench and she watches you with quiet, soft, curiosity and when you do lean in and press your lips to hers, she lets you. You feel the shaky breath she takes, the way she tilts her head to fit her mouth better to yours and your thankful for all of it because she kisses you back with everything. Lips, tongue, teeth, everything. But then she's pulling away, keeping her hands on your face and her forehead to hers as she says "No. I can't."
You want to ask her why, you thought she liked you, you want to scratch at your wrists because suddenly they itch again but you don't say anything. Just close your eyes.
"You're sick. You get better first then we can make out till our lips fall off. Okay?" she promises and you laugh. You laugh and this time it doesn't hurt.