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Speak for Yourself

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No one understands me. No one understands what I do. Why I do the things I do to myself.

How can they even begin to truly comprehend?

My parents, hypocritical people that they are, understand me the least of all. And I’ve told them why I do what I do. They nodded and shook their heads as if they understood. The next day, I found myself at the entrance to a shrink’s office. As if that would help me.

I told my parents four times, and I ended up seeing four different psychiatrists eight times each. They all said the same things: That I was manic-depressive, bipolar. And then they said that I was schizophrenic. As if. I told him I’m not talking to anyone he can’t see. I'm scared, not depressed; I’m not suicidal. I’ve already been down that road, and it didn’t help me in the least.

I died, I succeeded completely, I was smiling as the paramedics ran in the door as my vision faded and my heart slowed to a stop. I welcomed the blackness that enveloped me. I heard them take out the defibrillator, felt them press the tabs to my exposed belly, felt the fire of electricity course through my useless body… and it didn’t help me. I was so happy… finally, I could die in peace.

Until I woke up at the mortician’s office. There was a man standing beside me, his back to me… I first remember hearing his voice, talking to someone over the phone… Yes, the girl is here, he said, and I’m taking good care of her. A woman’s voice came over the phone. It sounded like… my mother’s voice.

Then my sense of smell awakened. The acrid stench of corpses and formaldehyde filled my nostrils and intoxicated me; I would have gagged, except my reactions had yet to come in. Then my sight came; even though my eyes were closed, I could see the world beyond slowly brighten, turning from black to gray and then to a glaring yellow-red. Then came touch and… my reactions.

I would have coughed, except I felt the gash in my side, exposing my hip and one of my kidneys. I could only utter a croak that sounded like creaking floorboards.

The man with his back to me didn’t even notice. He just kept talking…

I felt so cold… I didn’t feel that familiar thumping in my chest. My heart wasn’t beating…

I would have panicked. My mind panicked, but my body did nothing. It just twitched. I still couldn’t feel much of anything, except for that gash in my side… God, it hurt so much…

And then my lungs started. That ghastly sound of air being sucked through a dry tunnel of flesh into semi-collapsed lungs, rustling the stiff hairs lining them…

The man still didn’t notice. He was busy talking, now to my father…

Please, tell me why I could breath, touch, twitch, see, smell, and hear… and yet my heart never started… I was so cold, the gash hurt so much, like someone had cut me in the freezer and drained the blood from my body…

I tried to say something, let the man next to me know that I was alive, that I wasn’t dead, that I wanted the pain to stop.

I just wanted the pain to stop. Please, God, make it stop…

Then my heart beat.

Oh God, the pain… I could hear the crunching of dry blood as my heart shoved the gritty masses of blood cells into my arteries. I could feel that dry blood break and crumble in my chest, feel it cut and stab my heart, my arteries…

Oh God, please… please just stop the pain…

I sucked in another raspy breath of air into my lungs. At least something that wasn’t painful, but it still felt so discomforting, such horrid rasping attacking both the inside and outside of my ears…

The man said goodbye, and hit a button. He flipped the cell phone closed…

I had enough air to barely gasp out, Please, make it stop…

The man froze.

Please, I pleaded, sucking in another ghastly breath, Please, make it stop…

My heart beat again. Another sickening crunch rumbled under my ribcage, more pain sending spasms through my ribs…

“Please, make the pain stop.”

Oh God, please don’t let me remember that day… I can’t bear to go on. I’m afraid that I will read over this, and my lips will move with the text, and it will happen all over again…

I don’t want someone to end my pain. I just want to keep myself in control.

Ever heard of a silver-tongue? Well, mine is golden. I can say anything to anything or anybody, and it will fulfill my very wishes by any extent. But… with it, like all gifts, comes a price…

I’m so sorry… I wish I had known just how strong not only it is, but how its will to live is greater than mine…

As if a robot executing a command, he turned around and grabbed a scalpel off the tool tray sitting by my head; he raised the scalpel up to his chest, pointed down at my throat… and he lowered it…

He plunged it straight into his side, wrenching upwards and ripping the flesh apart, his right kidney falling out and just hanging, hiding the top of his flesh-covered hip bone. But, no blood poured out of the gash in his side; the blood immediately slowed and grew dark, clotted, crumbly, the life sucked out of it; the exposed tissue quickly dried out, pale and wrinkled where it should have been red with blood...

Instantly I felt warmth at my own sliced side; the blood was flowing out onto the table, dripping onto the floor… but my wound was sealing itself, until nothing hurt, nothing dripped a drop of red…

But my heart beat again, and the pain came again in my chest. It felt like I was going into cardiac arrest with a heart twice the size of my own, and I unconsciously uttered, “Please, make the pain stop.”

Please, please forgive me… I’m so sorry…

He plunged the scalpel straight into his heart. No blood again; but I could hear his heart beat, and three beats later I could hear the blood crunching in his own chest…

My heart suddenly beat faster, faster, until it became normal, and the crunching lessened with each passing beat, the pain becoming less and less intense, until my heart was working as it always did, the blood in my body flowing smoothly.

And then the blood reached all of my brain, and it started all the nerves up in my body… It felt as if I was being pressed in all directions by nails, dancing across my skin…

“Please, make the pain stop.”

I blinked, and the man pulled a paper clip from the tray… and he stuck it into an outlet directly behind him.

It was mind-numbing… I watched as he just… stood there, letting the electricity surge through his body… I swear through the entire time I caught sight of his skeleton at least once. I thought that was only in cartoons…

He fell to the floor in a crumpled, fried heap. The bright lamp over me no longer emitted its piercing light; the only visibility I had now came from sunlight in the hallway outside. I felt alive again, alive as I did before... But he just lay there. Parts of his skin were blackened from the electricity; where it wasn't black, it was pale as I was before I woke up just a few minutes ago. That poor man... he would still be alive now if it wasn't for me swallowing those pills, saying I was going to kill myself now. And I wouldn't have killed myself, if... if... if that boy at school hadn't tried to synch me. If only I had a normal tongue, he'd be fine, too...

Now Ralph is dead. He's been dead for years now.

Ever since that day when the paramedics showed up at the mortuary with my parents in tow, I've vowed to speak only to myself, that I wanted to feel the pain I would otherwise have inflicted on others. I only have ever asked, from then on, to keep my mouth shut...

I jump as someone knocks on my bedroom door.

"Margaret? Honey? Everything okay in there?"

My father. I can't let him see the journal; he'd throw me into a shrink's room again.

"Everything's fine, Dad," I call back, quickly slapping the covers together and slipping my journal under my open Algebra 2 textbook.

He opens the door anyway, poking his head inside. I pretend I didn't expect him to walk in, raising my head and trying to look vaguely distracted.

He glances around my room, then his eyes meet with mine. He smiles.

I smile back. It's just for show, though; I can feel sweat on my back. Please don't walk in and start a conversation... Don't go searching again...

He steps inside, taking my smile as an invitation. "Whatcha doin'?" he asks, standing behind me.

"I'm working on Math, Dad," I reply, turning back to my textbook and the open spiral under it.

"Goodness, Algebra 2? Used to call that Algebra 3 and 4, back when I was in school."

"I know, Dad. You've told me before."

"So I have," he says, chuckling. I feel his hands fall upon my shoulders, and then I feel him kiss the top of my head. Affectionate, but I know he's looking around, searching for things out of order.

"Well, just checking on you," he says. His hands leave my shoulders, and I hear his muffled footsteps shuffle over to the door. I look up.

"Thanks, Dad," I say, though I don't fully mean it.

He looks at me with the same smile on his face. "No problem, sweetie." And he walks back down the hall.

I breathe out a sigh of relief. Nothing bad happened, and nothing provoked another psychiatric session.

I pull my journal out from beneath the textbook, opening it and flipping it to the last page I wrote in.

I've been doing fairly well about holding my tongue for the past few years, but lately it just doesn't seem to wait... almost as if it has a mind of its own, just waiting to say something... maybe it's because I've found the loophole and managed to put everything back on myself? I'm not sure, but it seems that it's changing, wanting to speak apart from me...

Suddenly the journal is yanked from my hands. I jump up and grab at it, but the hand holding it keeps it high above where my fingers can reach; I'm screaming, telling her to give it back...

"Well, well, now," my big sister says maliciously. "Let's see what little Miss Crazy just wrote down."

"'Lane, I swear, if you don't give me that back," I yell, struggling to reach for my journal held hostage in my six-foot one sister's hand.

"What are you gonna do? You're five-foot exactly, and half my weight."

"And half your waist," I say, still jumping.

"Hmph. Maybe I'll just burn it," she says, staring down at me, grinning.

I stop jumping, and glare at her. "'Lane, give me back my journal," I growl, trying to keep my tongue in check.

"Speak for yourself," she says, spitting in my face. I wipe the saliva from my eyes, and then see her opening it out of my reach...

"NO!" I scream, slamming my head into her stomach. We both tumble onto the bed, and I throw my fists at her face.

Empty gesture, since she's the one who's taking multiple martial arts classes along with wrestling and boxing at school.

She easily blocks my punches, and throws me onto the other side of the bed; before I can recover, she sends one fist at my temple. Stars explode, clouding my vision...

"Elane! What are - get off your sister!" My father screams.

As they yell at each other, I struggle to see; stars are still flying in and out of my vision, and I can't sit up, the room is spinning so much...

The two of them quiet down, and I slowly struggle to my knees, shaking my head to chase the stars away. When I open my eyes...

"DAD! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?"

Dad is reading my journal, and my big sister is looking at me with a smug expression. Dad doesn't look happy.

"You're going into the shrink's office again," my sister hisses at me. "You're gonna get pills, and then they're gonna throw you in the psycho ward..."

"Elane. Enough," My father says, glancing up from my journal.

"Give me back my journal," I say, reaching out for my journal, trying to take it from Dad before he can finish. He steps back, out of my reach.

And, my big sister being the bitch that she is, jumps on me, pinning me on the bed.

"How about I drool in your ear," my sister mocks, leaving her mouth open.

My father looks up again. "Elane, get off of her and don't be so immature."

How can he be so calm, when she was beating me to a pulp ten seconds ago?!?

"Make me," my sister retorts, leaning more of her 160 pound body onto my smaller 109 pound frame.

"Get OFF of me!" I yell at my sister, struggling to free a limb, just one appendage, to get back at her.

"Jeeze, sorry," she says, letting go of me.

I guess I didn't mention that my tongue doesn't work near so well on people in my family, huh?

Dad snaps the journal closed. My sister and I both turn to look at him; his expression is one of fear, and of anger.

"You... you killed the mortician?" He asks me, holding up my journal as if he were in a court trial.

"Her? Margie-Margie?" my sister coos, looking at me. I hate that nickname. "You?" she says to me. "You killed the mortician? Bullshit."

My father doesn't even notice Elane's choice of words.

I glance between the two of them, unsure of what to say.

My sister's smile slowly fades. "You're kidding me, right?" she says, turning to our father. "Where did you come up with that idea?"

My father turns to her, and gestures to the journal. "It's in here. It's in that entry you showed me; she talks about her killing the mortician."

My sister looks at me, still talking to Dad. "You're joking, right?"

My father doesn't answer Elane. Instead, he says, "Margaret, we're going to the psychiatrist, right now."

"NO!" I shout, sending my sister jumping.

"Yes we are," my father says coolly.

"NO!" I shout again, "You are NOT taking me back to those idiots! I'm not mentally ill, Dad," I say, calming down a bit from venting, "I'm just...different in a way they don't understand. Nobody understands."

"Honey," my father says quietly, "What you've wrote in here is very disturbing. We are going, whether you like it or not."

Out of the corner of my eye I see my sister throw a smirk at me.

"I'm not going anywhere," I say sternly, and then remember my tongue.

Before I can say anything more, my sister laughs. "You're going wherever you DON'T want to go!" She then grabs my wrist, and begins pulling me towards the door.

Next thing I know, my sister's lying crumpled in my closet, my father planting my face into the blanket and spanking me as hard as he can, my skirts up over my waist...

Please, make the pain stop...

"Dad, stop it," I say into the bed. He keeps hitting me, each slap stinging my rear and sending shockwaves up my spine and down my legs...

Please, make the pain stop...

I twist my head to the side, tears streaming down my face... I've never been spanked this hard...

"Dad, please stop!"

He doesn't stop; instead, he wrenches my head up, planting a knee square between my shoulder blades, and he starts beating the back of his hand against my head. Stars are flying in and out again, exploding and clouding my vision...

I can barely register a couple tear drops on my bare shoulder.

"Dad, stop!" I choke out.

He suddenly lets go, and I collapse onto the bed, crying. He's not hitting me anymore, but the shame... Oh God I can feel his shame, and mine...

"Oh God, Margaret honey, I'm so sorry..."

"Go die in a hole!" I yell at him through my tears and hiccups.

Only when I stop crying do I realize my mistake.

I did say that my tongue doesn't work so well on my family, right? Well, death threats work just fine. That's how I lost my real parents.

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