View Full Version : Breaking Points

July 10th, 2018, 10:31 PM
Chapter 1
Believe it or not, I used to have friends. In fact, the girl I'm about to torture was once my best friend. That all changed the day my mother died. Everything changed that day.

It was the summer before high school, which meant I had to start a new school. I've never been much of a socialite so the thought of a new surrounding filled with strangers terrified me. I was a shy computer geek that preferred to sit in front of a screen than have human interaction. While other girls my age concerned themselves with boys, makeup, and social media; I was perfectly content spending a weekend secluded in my room playing a RPG (role playing game). My pale freckled skin reflected my affinity for the indoors. As did my wardrobe. The need to shop and accessorize never struck me the way it did most teenage girls. I rotated through a series of t-shirts throughout the weekend and just threw on a flannel if it was cold outside. My clothes were usually loose fitting due to my thin frame that has been not so affectionately referred to that of a little boy’s body by some kids in school. I always wore my hair long and in a ponytail so that it didn't annoy me by falling into my face. I'd brush the knots out after a shower, but that was the extent of my hair maintenance regiment. Last week, a girl at school told me I could be pretty if I tried. I believe that was her attempt at a compliment but I didn't know how to take it or what to say, so I just said “I don't care” and walked the other way.

It's not that I disliked people in general, I just wasn't sure how to act around them. I've always felt a little different which makes me anxious in social settings. Friendly banter and witty antidotes seem to come so naturally to others that I over analyze my behavior to the point of social paralysis wondering why it's so difficult for me. If a girl at school walked up to me and asked if I'd seen the newest Rom-Com yet, I'd jump inside my own head and wonder “what answer would please this person most? If I say no I'll appear out of touch and probably set myself up for ridicule. If I say yes, I'll have to fake an entire conversation about a movie I care nothing about. What if she asks a specific question about the movie and I can't answer. I'll have to admit I lied which will surely mean ridicule for lying to fit in.” By this time, an awkward amount of time has passed between her initial question and my answer and I look like a weirdo no matter how I answer. There's only been one girl at school I felt completely comfortable with which is ironic because she's the most popular girl in school. If social skills were like karate, Ashley would have a third degree black belt, while I was still fumbling with how to tie the knot on my white belt.

Ashley and I met when we were in kindergarten. We sat next to each other and found out we lived on the same street. Differences don't matter in kindergarten like they do in high school, so we spent a lot of time together.

Ashley was my polar opposite. A blonde haired, blue eyed girl that developed early. Unlike me, Ashley’s figure was never compared to a boy’s. She had curves most girls didn't and reveled in the attention she got because of it. She was a social butterfly that made friends easily. As we got older, she narrowed her focus to meeting new boys. The move to a bigger school meant more opportunity for Ashley, and she couldn't wait to start the new school year.

As I said, we lived in the same neighborhood back then and were inseparable. A total cliche. The skinny computer geek befriended by the popular pretty girl. Although I hated the made-for-tv appearance of our friendship, I cherished her company. It was one of the very few relationships I had outside my online community. Actually, I'm not sure the title of "relationship" is appropriate for my fellow computer geeks. I only know them by the pseudo names they've given themselves (just as they know me). We've never met and most likely never will. I belong to a tightly knit group that plays RPGs together, as well as dabbles in the complex world of the dark web and hacking. I'm the most recent addition accepted into the group as the seventh member almost that summer before high school. I'm the only female member and suspect I always will be. The six other boys are brilliant hackers and have begun teaching me the basics. Compared to those guys, I'm a novice level hacker, but am much more skilled than the average web surfer.

My mother and I no longer live in the same neighborhood as Ashley. My dad left when I was twelve and I haven't heard from him since. We couldn’t afford to live in the nice neighborhood anymore so my mother and I had to move in with grandma. My mother battled depression most of her life, which was met with contempt and resentment from my father. Ultimately, it was too much for him so he left us to fend for ourselves in true cowardly fashion. I assume I was part of the reason he left because he never said goodbye to me. I arrived home from school on a Friday afternoon to find my mother crying at the dining room table. She looked up at me as I stood in the doorway and said: "your father left. I don't know when you'll see him again." I ran to my room and perched myself by the window waiting for his car to pull into the driveway but it never did. It's been eight years since that day, and I've yet to see him.

I suppose the timing of it all worked well because my grandma was diagnosed with dementia around that time, and was progressively losing her grip on reality. Mom told me we moved in with grandma to take care of her, but the truth was that we had nowhere else to go. We moved into grandma's deteriorating house last June, marking the beginning of the end for my mother's struggle with depression.

My grandma’s drafty old house wasn't big enough for the three of us. The seven hundred and fifty square feet of living space felt even smaller than it actually was. Grandma bought the single story house with her late husband decades ago. The front door opened into the living room which contained a sofa buried in clutter, a soiled recliner my grandmother always sat in with a TV tray within arms reach, and an old tube television set that was never turned off. Through the living room was the kitchen with appliances most people consider antiques. Down the narrow hallway were the bathroom and two small bedrooms. One of them was grandma's even though she never slept in it, the other I shared with my mom. The house was small, rundown, and cluttered with junk my grandma refused to part with, but it was our only option for a roof over our heads.

Grandma made it crystal clear that my mom and I were nothing more than an imposition. She had lived alone for many years and was set in her ways. She was always an unforgiving and stern woman who viewed my mother's mental illness as weakness (which makes her recent dementia diagnosis rather ironic). The progressing dementia made her flat out mean. She seemed to be aware of her loosing grip on reality so she clung to my mother’s fragile psyche and failed marriage as a constant focal point in her own mind as her mental well being declined. As if she were drowning if not for the piece of drift wood holding her above water.

When we first moved in, my grandma had good days and bad days. On good days she watched her daytime courtroom television shows quietly. Unless my mother came into the room, at which point she would tell her to “find a man and treat him right so he'll stick around so she can quit mooching off her mother”, or “marriage is for life and divorce is an abomination, you're going to hell for driving your husband away.” Grandma was old school Irish catholic and didn't believe in divorce; even though she and my grandfather hated each other, they were legally married until he died which means she could look down upon my mother with righteous condemnation.

The bad days meant her dementia took over completely and she sat in her chair in front of the tv all day while berating my mother. It didn't matter much to her that my mother was rarely in the room while she scolded her. She yell at no one that my mother’s "cry baby moping and sadness forced my father to leave.” That she was “surprised it took him this long to leave.” The constant criticism about her failed marriage from her demented mother was too much for her so mom rarely left our room.

Mom stayed medicated with sleeping pills so she could sleep the day away. She ventured out for food at night after my grandma had passed out in the recliner. By adopting a nocturnal lifestyle, mom could avoid more of her mother’s hurtful comments.

I selfishly spent most nights sleeping at Ashley's. It was getting harder and harder to see my mother the way she was and I was angry at my grandmother for treating her so poorly. So, I avoided my home life as much as I could.

Ashley often spoke disparagingly of her home life, but they were the picture perfect family to me. Her parents were still together, and feigned enough interest in Ashley to know the basics of her life. Her mother was a socialite type that spent a lot of time and money at the gym, tanning salon, and beauty salons. She tended to be a little mean to her daughter after a few glasses of wine. Telling Ashley to increase her cardio workouts, or coming unglued if a carbohydrate crossed the threshold of the front door. Ashley's father worked late most nights. A handsome man that appreciated top shelf whiskey and expensive golf clubs. He was a good provider for his family, and showed his affection by way of material items. Ashley used to say her parents didn't love her. That she could do whatever she wanted and they wouldn't notice. Despite Ashley's complaints, I often pretended I was a member of her family to escape my own.

August thirteenth began as many summer days had. It was Sunday morning when I woke at Ashley's house. I spent the past two nights there and her parents had given permission for a couple more. Ashley and I walked to my house so I could get fresh clothes for my next stretch of sleepovers at her place.

My grandmother was perched in her usual recliner with the tube tv blaring whatever horrible soap opera happened to on. Although she was the only one in the room, she was complaining out loud about how bad the show has gotten. I'd learned to tune grandma out but Ashley snickered at the crazy old lady in the chair talking to herself. At least she knew better than to try pointing it out to her.

We hurried through the living room before grandma realized we were there and went toward the bedroom. Mom was always asleep this time of day so we tried to be quiet even though the pills made her comatose. We walked passed the closed door of the bathroom on the way to my room, and noticed mom wasn't in bed when we got there. I couldn't remember the last time I'd seen her out of our bedroom during the day so it struck me as very odd. Seeing her out of bed at ten-fifteen was as puzzling as walking into the kitchen and the fridge is gone. There's no other room it would be but who would move it?

I stepped back into the hall walked to the closed bathroom door. Something about it felt off. The only sound coming through the door was the steady drip from the leaky tub faucet hitting water. I opened the bathroom door and froze in a state of shock induced paralysis at what I saw. My memory gets blurry from the moment I entered the bathroom but I distinctly remember the iron-like smell of blood that overtook the small bathroom; and the paper white skin of my mother's face nearly submerged in the blood red water that filled the tub. An empty bottle of aspirin and a razor blade sat on the floor next to the bathtub. It was the first dead body I'd ever seen.

I stood there staring for what felt like hours until I was rattled out of my trance by Ashley's blood curdling screams. She raced out the front door and stood in the front yard screaming at the top of her lungs which got the neighbors out of their houses and into my grandmother's. I don't remember doing it, but I was later told that after Ashley ran screaming from the house, I had climbed into the tub. Neighbors found me with my head on my mother's chest covered in red water. I was told it took several police officers to break my grip and pull me out.

After Ashley's screams, the next thing I recall is sitting in an ambulance with Ashley's arms wrapped tightly around me. I wasn't crying like she was. I was lost somewhere inside my own head.

I broke that day and Ashley was there for me. She held and comforted me on my worst day. That fucking bitch held me as a friend on August thirteenth. She's about to pay for what she's done to me.

Olly Buckle
July 30th, 2018, 09:50 PM
that was the extent of my hair maintenance regiment.
Friendly banter and witty antidotes

I think you meant 'regime' and 'anecdotes'

I was fine with it up to the last para. That simply did not work for me, it needs some further explanation why that made her hate Ashley, for me anyway.