"Every day is one more inch of a slow blade sinking in. Vision fading, suffocating inside my own skin... And I'm fighting the stranger in my eyes, and I know that only one of us will survive. If I can't save us, I've got to save myself. I can't stay here in this place... I'm slowly freaking out, I'm slowly freaking out and out and out again." - Skylar Grey, Slowly Freaking Out.
Eight months after the trials to put Stepmonster away and I want to run from this place just as much as I wanted to escape him. It's too quiet. Adam is never here and when he is, you can't tell. If a stranger walked in here--someone who didn't know I was staying with Adam--they would think I had the whole house to myself. Worse, they'd think it had been abandoned and I was some sort of caretaker. I mean, look at me--I'm not rich enough to own this place.
This Victorian-style house with the wrap-around porch and a huge backyard is too large for a couple of people who hardly talk to each other anymore, let alone sleep in the same bed. Or kiss. Are we still even a couple? Does he want me to pack my things and leave? I will--in a heartbeat--if he asks me. I can't stand the quiet. I'm going insane.
It's too quiet.
Way too quiet.
I'm curled in a ball next to our bedroom door when I hear the front door open. I'm not crying, I'm not panicking. I'm doing what I've been doing for the past month--nothing. I just don't have my hair to cover it--I got it all cut off a dyed blue. Blue was my mom's favorite color before she was Stepmonster's slave.
That's what she really was, right? She didn't actually hate me... right? She just fell for the wrong guy and got hooked on drugs. Drugs that he supplied. She was my mom when she got away from them, I think. I can't remember. I can't remember what my own mother was like. What the fuck's wrong with me?
Boots stomp through the kitchen. A curse escapes the hard line that is Adam's mouth now. I locked away all the knives in the house, so I couldn't hurt myself. It's working so far, but I suppose it makes putting a sandwich together difficult. Sorry if saving my own life creates obstacles between you and food.
A fist slams on a counter top and I jump. He's never done that before. Oh well, I can handle it. I handled Stepmonster, right? Or perhaps survived is a better word.
His boots start in my direction and I lay my head on my arms, relaxed. Like I'm sleeping.
"What in the hell did you do to your hair?!"
I don't jump. For a second, I don't move. Then I slowly lift my head and look him straight in the eye, face blank of emotion.
"What does it look like? I cut it and dyed it blue."
He frowns at me for a second, but when the features of my face don't give away anything, he practically shoves past me into out bedroom. Well, my bedroom. He finds the lock box and key, grabs out a butter knife and shuts it again. Time for his bi-daily sandwich. Can't miss that, it would be fatal.
"Why are these locked up? Can you actually do any damage with them?"
He holds the butter knife up, so close to my face it seems he's daring me to pluck it from his grasp. I can feel the inner yearning fighting with my demand for control. Control over everything.
"Yes. I can show you if you'd like a demonstration."
He scoffs at me and his expression shows disgust. He's the one with all the questions, I'm just answering them. Being honest.
"What's with the blue? Do you even like that color? I thought if you ever dyed it, you'd dye it black."
He turns his back and starts back toward the kitchen, but, first, I have a couple questions for him.
"Do you want me to leave?"
That stops him in his tracks and he sets the knife on the counter, but he doesn't answer me.
"I can if you want me to. I'm eighteen now. I'll live on the street until I find a job and then I'll find a cheap apartment. Just say the words and I'll leave--"
I almost don't catch his words, he says them so quietly. Good thing my hearing is so fine-tuned.
"I don't want you to leave."
I want to sigh with relief and cry with desperation. I want to run away from him and I want to hug him. I don't do any of that. Instead, I stand up and face him. From ten feet away, I look him directly in the eye and show the anger brewing like storm clouds in my grey eyes.
"Why the fuck not? I'm stuck here all day. I barely go anywhere. You work all day and when you aren't at work, you're asleep on the fucking couch. I have the whole bed to myself. I have this whole fucking house to myself and ya know what? I don't want it! I don't want any of it! It's too fucking quiet. It's too fucking big and too fucking lonely and too goddamn quiet! I want out of this fucking place! It'd be a blessing if you'd told me to leave! Just fucking tell me already! Just fucking tell me!"
Tears of anger stream down my cheeks as his face blanches white and then flares red.
"Then leave! Go! Run away like you run from everything, you fucking whore!"
My mouth gapes and the angry tears stop streaming. I shake my head.
"You aren't Adam. I don't know who you are, but you aren't Adam."
The bathroom door is right behind me and I rush inside, locking the door and turning on his electric razor. It won't cut skin, but that's not what I want anyway. I want the blue gone. I want all of it gone. I want to tear out my heart and stomp on it until it is no more, because even that couldn't hurt worse than this pain I'm feeling right now.
I want to be rid of everything that ever made us fall in love with each other. I don't want the clothes, or the hair, or the eyes or the memories. None of it. Take it all. Take it all away.
Somebody pounds on the door, but I don't care. I don't care I don't care I don't care.
"Philena! Philena, open up!"
His voice cracks. I don't care. I shave off one strip of blue right down the middle. From front to back.
"Philena, please! Please, I'm sorry!"
His voice catches. I don't care. I shave off a second strip of blue. Around my right ear.
"Philena! Philena... Philena, I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."
He cries. I don't care. I shave off a third and a fourth strip of blue. There is only one more strip left. Most of my head is shaved.
"Philena... I love you."
I blink back tears and shave off that last strip. I unlock the door, but I don't open it. I wait for him to do so. He doesn't.
I ask my second question, my voice so soft he probably won't hear me.
I gaze into the mirror as the door opens and he steps into the bathroom behind me, holding something in his hand. He passes it to mine. It's a pill bottle for an anti-depressant. At first, I think it's mine, then I read the name on it.
Adam C. Liechent. To be taken twice a day, every day for manic depression.
"The sandwiches... I didn't even--"
And then he kisses me and any thought that nobody cares flees my mind.