Year 28 - J.L. Mac


Raegan Potter

17 years old

I came directly home, dropped my backpack in my room, grabbed my robe and made a beeline for the shower. It’s the only thing I want right now. I am filthy, and there is no way I am going to let my momma or daddy see me this way. If they saw the state of me they’d know something was wrong.

With trembling hands and my mind racing, I turn the shower on and step into the scalding spray. It’s far hotter than I would normally set the temperature to, and it causes my skin to turn bright pink. The mascara on my lashes is clumped together and mist from the spray of water hitting me in the chest gathers on the tips of them. Black globs obscure my vision around the edges. I open my mouth wide and tilt my head back. Hot water fills my mouth and I swish it, then spit it out at my feet. The unwelcome taste of whiskey remains, so I rinse my mouth several more times to no avail. The taste won’t go away.

My mind is spinning in every direction. What the hell just happened? These things don’t happen to me and they definitely don’t happen in sleepy, southern Palmetto Grove, Louisiana. I hold my hands out in front of me like they will somehow tell the story, recap it for me so I can either wake up from this nightmare, or try to understand it. Steam billows around me and I inhale deeply, closing my eyes and trying to gather my thoughts. After Teddy, when I didn’t want to deal with reality, I followed the grief counselor’s advice and began “listening to my gut, my inner voice, for guidance when feeling overwhelmed” just as he had suggested. Unfortunately for me, my gut is comprised of several versions of myself sitting in a circle, comparing notes and arguing while I look on.

I cover my eyes as they all file in one by one, taking seats like they’re at an AA meeting. The low hanging pendant fixture casts my circle of inner selves in an umbrella of light while the edges of the room are dark. That’s where I picture myself hiding.

Does the water get any hotter in this joint? Self-Loathing says, breezing into my thoughts. I imagine her dragging the metal folding chair to the center of the room. The legs screech noisily and she flops down, folding her arms over her chest. I always picture her wearing a gray hoodie ten times too large. She has on excessive, dark makeup and her black hair is shaved on one side while the other side comes to a neat, pointed bob. She immediately begins picking at a scrape on one of her knuckles.

It wouldn’t matter if she were bathing in lava. There’s no washing this mess away. Negativity tsks on her way to the circle. She’s wearing the black dress and pumps I wore to Teddy’s funeral. She gathers herself neatly in the chair and looks over me from head to toe with obvious judgment.

You two need to stop. You aren’t helping and if you aren’t part of the solution; you are a part of the problem. Right? So, just… let’s think this through, okay? Practicality breezes in at a brisk pace. She scoops up a chair on her way to the circle, but she doesn’t have a seat. She looks a lot like my normal self. She’s wearing a National Honor Society polo shirt with khaki pants and my favorite Converse. Self-Loathing and Negativity both make mocking noises.

Honestly, what were you thinking? You knew you had no business going, but you did anyway and got us all into this shit-show. You know this is your fault, right? Regret says so matter of fact, I flinch as she prowls toward the circle, the shadows under her eyes seemingly darker at present.

I, for one, vote that we go back over there and kill him. We watch enough crime shows and we have a decent IQ. We could get away with it, Blind Rage sneers with her fists balled. She, too, doesn’t take a seat, opting instead to shift her weight from one foot to the other then back again.

Absolutely not, Practicality nearly chokes.

You’d never pull it off, Negativity sighs, running her fingertips over the pendant hanging from her neck on a silver chain.

Theoretically, if we did something like that, I vote we dispose of his body in the swamp, Self-Loathing says sagely while picking