the lights won't stop me
She keeps a list of all the people who have died for her sake. The list grows and grows until the names blur together and her pen runs out of ink. The names are always at the forefront of her mind, every second of every day. She tortures herself with jenna and jeremy and caroline and john and isobel and rose.
She wonders why she hasn't gone insane yet.
(Sometimes she thinks she's halfway there.)
Elena likes to pace. She wears down the wooden floor of her house, she burns holes in her carpet. She destroys her shoes and her socks and her feet are growing sore with all of the pacing she's doing.
She stops short suddenly one day after pacing for hours. She looks down at her worn-down Chucks before she realizes why pacing in these shoes feels wrong. She yanks the shoes off, cradling the pink Chucks with the purple laces in her arms.
(Stefan had bought her these shoes for their two months anniversary.)
She holds the shoes tightly and sobs, sinking to her knees. She probably looks crazy, hair sticking out in every direction, mascara staining her cheeks, but she keeps rocking back and forth, crying and holding her shoes.
(Alaric comes home to find her curled into a ball on the floor, dried tear stains on her cheeks, shoes held tightly. He sighs, lifting her into his arms and carrying her up the stairs to her room. She never lets go of the shoes.)
"Stop it." she says harshly, eyes going wide and unseeing.
Damon blinks in surprise, retracting his arm and the glass of water he'd offered her. "You love him," she hisses, "how could you do this to him? How could you—how could you forget—" she stops talking, eyes pulling back into focus. She stares at him like she's not sure how she got to the boarding house, or even if she knows who he is.
(Later, it occurs to him that she might not have been talking to him at all. Perhaps she had been talking to herself. He regrets missing the first signs.)
"Elena?" Damon murmurs cautiously, taking a step towards her.
She steps back, running a hand through her hair. "I have to go. I need to—" she stops, closing her eyes, and she rocks back and forth for a moment. "I don't know what I need to do." she finally whispers. She turns, and runs. He flashes to the window just in time to see her running down the driveway, past her car.
Damon stares after her, wondering if she's finally truly lost her mind.
"I haven't lost him." Elena says conversationally. No one is in the room, but she talks anyway. "I just haven't remembered where I put him." she holds her bear tightly, stroking the top of his head.
"I haven't lost him." she repeats to herself.
She grows paranoid. She sees Damon and Caroline together and wonders if they're talking about her. Bonnie doesn't answer her texts right away and she's afraid the witch hates her.
She sits on the floor of her walk-in closet, random things shoved in front of the closet door to prevent anyone from seeing her. She tucks her knees up under her chin, staring at the picture in her hands. The edges are worn and faded, but it's lovely all the same. She brushes her thumb over her mom's face, and wonders if she'll lose Stefan like she lost her parents. And there's that paranoia thing again.
No, she tells herself, Stefan loves you. He'll come back. He always comes back.
Her bedroom door opens, and either Alaric or Jeremy walk in. She holds her breathe, hoping they don't look in the closet. She doesn't really want to speak to anyone right now. She presses herself against the very back walk of her closet, pushing clothes around herself.
She sniffles lightly, pulling her phone out of her pocket. Her bedroom door closes. She turns her phone on, and she's instantly met with texts from her friends, all of the messages are a variation of "we need to talk." She deletes all of the messages and turns her phone back off, immersing herself in darkness once again.
(Poetic, don't you think?)
She sings to herself, dancing around the kitchen. There's food stacked on the counter tops, and she's cooked all of her favorite foods in the last three hours.
She stops dancing for a moment, staring around the kitchen. She can't, for the life of her, remember what she was doing or how she got there. She drops the spoon she'd been holding, letting it clatter to the floor. "Where has my mind gone?" she asks herself, brows furrowing as she takes in the messy counter tops.
She starts skipping school. She doesn't come home until the early hours of the morning. She conveniently misplaces her phone when her friends try to get ahold of her.
She gets a pack of cigarettes from a girl at the Grille and she leans against the alley wall beside the building, experimentally smoking her first cigarette and wondering who she is. She exhales, smoke billowing from her nose. The nicotine high makes her giggle and stumble as she walks home, trying to balance in her torn up pink Chucks.
She tosses the pack of cigarettes onto her vanity before looking in the mirror. She fingers the ends of her long hair before making a split second decision. She takes her purple school scissors from her drawer, and pulls at a strand, hacking it off. The chunk of hair falls, and she keeps cutting. She cuts and cuts and cuts until her once perfect hair is an uneven choppy mess (kind of like her). She tucks her now chin length hair behind her ear, and smiles. She doesn't look like Katherine anymore.
(But then again, she doesn't look like Elena, either.)
She takes another cigarette from the pack and crawls out of her window and onto the roof. She sits there until the morning light, smoking and forgetting. In the morning, once dawn breaks, she drops the cigarette in sudden disgust and cries for the thirteen inches of hair she'd sheared off.
(What's wrong with me? she wonders mentally, tucking her knees up and rocking back and forth.)
"I don't know." she whispers out loud.
She stands on top of the bleachers on the home side of the football field, arms spread wide, head tipped back. She kicks over the bottle of vodka at her feet, "Oops." she giggles, "Damon's not gonna be too happy."
And then she remembers.
Elena's scared. She's forgetting things. Things she loves. People she loves.
She's terrified that one day she'll wake up and she won't know where she is or who she is. Maybe she' experiencing post traumatic stress, finally, after everything she's lost. Everyone she's lost.
(She starts to consider the idea that maybe she's just crazy.)
She grows reckless, smoking and drinking just to remember who she is. She steals Damon's car and pushes so far past the speed limit that she can't even see. They start to worry, more than they already have been. Her friends. They tell her she's starting to scare them.
(She might be scaring herself more than she's scaring them. Forgetting is a terrifying thing.)
She sits in the darkness, pink Chucks tucked into her arms. "Stefan, Stefan, Stefan," she mumbles to herself, trying to figure out why the name sloppily scrawled on the bottom of one of the shoes sounds familiar.
"Stefan." she finally breathes, and she starts to cry because she's forgetting him and he's the one person she's supposed to remember above everyone else.
She scrambles for her phone, finding his number. She hits the 'call' button and waits for his voicemail. He never answers, not that she thinks he would. "Stefan." she gasps into the phone. She spends the next forty five seconds whispering his name into the phone, and she spends the next ten sobbing so hard that her back hurts. The beep sounds, and the line disconnects.
She throws her phone against the wall.
She starts calling his phone every night, just to hear him say, "Stefan Salvatore. Leave a message." in a lazy drawl.
She leaves message after message.
(He never calls back.)
She calls and calls.
"Sometimes I forget." she tells Caroline.
Caroline doesn't say anything, just tugs her closer, and starts her and Stefan's story from the beginning. "There was a boy named Stefan Salvatore, and he loved a girl named Elena Gilbert..."
Elena listens intently, grabbing the strands of her short hair, pulling at them.
(She's grateful to Caroline for being the one person to not judge her, and for being the one person to understand.)
She gets an idea. A truly awful, yet fantastic idea.
Jump. She thinks. Jumping.
She leaves one last message on Stefan's phone.
("I'm never going to forget you.")
She climbs the stairs of the bleachers, walking the to very very top. She pulls her short hair back into a sloppy bun and climbs over the back railing, letting one pink Chuck clad foot hang over the edge.
She tilts her head back, and everything- Stefan -comes rushing back. God, she loves him. And she remembers. Every detail. The hard lines of his jaw. The darkness of his gaze. The sweetness of his smile.
She keeps that picture in her mind, and she looks down. So far, but so close. Maybe she'll remember every detail of everything ever if she falls and hits the ground.
(She's not thinking clearly, and later, Caroline will wonder why she didn't see the signs, and Damon will wonder why he didn't do anything to put a stop to her mental breakdown.)
She giggles like mad, eyes closing, heart closing, mind deranged.
Six minutes and thirty seven seconds later, Elena's purposely forgotten phone rings. It's resting on her vanity, shaking the entire desk angrily.
Stefan's name flashes across the screen.
(An ambulance's siren blares in the distance.)