I was stuck walking home from school, in the rain. My little brother had basketball practice. Since I am being punished, mom won’t make the trip to pick up just me from school. So I wait or I walk. Waiting is boring. So is walking, but at least its doing something. So I walk.

My mom was always the master of the cold shoulder, the silent treatment. She’s no slacker with the guilt trip either. But her weapon of choice is the silent treatment. That’s what she has been dishing out at me for weeks. Maybe even a month now.

In all of my 16, almost 17, years I have dealt with the silent treatment from my mom countless times. Most of the time it only lasted a few hours or days at the most. This was the longest by far though. It was how she had always punished me. My little brother never gets punished like that, but he is mom’s golden child. He can do no wrong. Though being my mothers daughter I had ways of dealing with her odd punishment. I use to pretend to not notice or even care that she was ignoring me. Sometimes had one sided conversations with her.

I would say something then change my voice to mock hers then reply. I could pass hours doing that. At least until my dad came home from work and ask me to leave my mom alone. Sometimes I could get her to break her silence and make her talk, no yell, at me. Yelling is better than silence, right? Mostly she would decide on her own when I had enough punishment and then act like the whole thing never happened. This time, though, It seemed like there was nothing I could do to break her silence. It was to the point that my whole family ignored me. I can not, for the life of me, even remember why I am being punished.

Anyway as I made it almost home the rain came nearly to a complete stop. Just my luck. I was mad. It was way to cold and raining far to hard for my mom to be acting like this. She should have picked me up at school. I stomped my way up the stairs, across the porch, opened the door and slammed it behind me as a entered the house. Mom was sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of tea. She looked towards me with cold eyes then looked away.

“Look at me! I’m soaked! You couldn't have picked me up?” I yelled. She flinched at my words but said nothing. I slammed my backpack down on the table. The tea in my mothers cup sloshed from the impact. It splashed up on her hand. She immediately jumped up holding on to her tea soaked hand.

“Damn it!” She said. She ran to the sink and started running water over her hand. “Damn it!” She said again this time as a harsh whisper.

I felt relieved. She was talking to me again. Well, yelling. But it’s better than silence. I stepped closer to her as she stood at the sink, water running over her hand. It was then I realized two things. One, the tea was hot enough to burn her. Pretty badly. Two, when she swore she was not talking to me. She was swearing about the burn. She looked in my direction but her eyes would not meet mine. Her face was full of shock and fear.

“I’m sorry. I didn't mean to.” I said trying to meet her eyes. She grabbed her purse and keys and left.

I felt like shit. I burned my mom because I was taking a fit about being rained on. I hated my self at that point. I looked around the kitchen. The mug and the spilled tea was still on the kitchen table. I decided to try to make it up to her. I grabbed a sponge from the sink and headed to the table. I wiped up the spilled tea, took the mug to the sink and washed it with the other dirty dishes. After that I wiped down all the surfaces in the kitchen, tidied up the living room, and went looking for something else to do to help out. After folding laundry and some other chores I went to my room.

I was not sure how long it had been since I fell asleep doing homework, but I could hear car doors slam and my brother’s exited voice coming from outside. I got up and went downstairs. I wanted to see that mom was ok. I stood on the stairs as she came in, my brother Cody following behind.

She walked right passed me without even a glance in my direction. Her hand was bandaged where the tea splashed it. My stomach tightened at the sight of the bandage. I followed her in to the kitchen. She quickly glanced around taking in the cleaning I did while she was gone. I was hoping she would say something about it, but she didn’t.

“Mom.” I said walking toward her. She turned to look in my direction but she never looked right at me. “I’m sorry about the burn.” I said. She just walked away.

I was so angry. I was angry with my self for causing her burn and for doing whatever I did to be punished like this. No matter how hard I tried I could not remember what I did to be punished. Thinking about it made my head hurt. But I was also mad at my mother. Whatever it was that I did wrong could not be bad enough to ignore me for so long, or to make my dad and brother ignore me too.

I sat on the stairs going to the second floor. I just wanted to stay there in the middle of the house. I wanted to make it hard for them to ignore me.

Time rolled by as I sat there, I seemed to lose track of it. Soon I heard someone on the porch and the door swung open. It was dad.

“Hey, Dad.” I said, not really expecting a reply. Dad sort of glanced in my direction but didn't say a word. I noticed his face. He looked so thin and pale. His eyes were sunken in to his head and he had huge bags under them. He looked like a terminally ill person. He bent over to take off his shoes. I reached out and touched his thin, pale face. He didn't seem to notice at first, but then his hand came up and he laid his over mine. A tear filled his eye and threatened to spill over onto his cheek.

“Dad, I am so sorry. Will you please just talk to me?” I asked. He slipped off his shoes and walked away. I was left sitting there feeling hollow.

I watched as mom greeted dad in the kitchen with a peck on the cheek. She looked up at him and gave him a quizzical look.

“Did you come home early then leave again?” She asked him.

“No, why?” Dad replied.

“Oh, nothing.” She said, glancing around at the clean kitchen.

“I did that.” I said. My parents shared a strange look. Dad shook his head as if to clear his thoughts, grabbed the paper, and headed to the family room. Mom started working on dinner. I sat back down on the stairs and watched my mom make dinner. It wasn't long before dinner was done.

“Dinner!” My mom yelled. Cody stormed down the stairs and made a dash for the table. He was the first one seated. Dad came in slowly and headed to the table. Mom put a casserole dish on the table and took her seat. Finally I got up and made my way to the table. I went to sit down when I noticed there was not a place set for me. No plate, silverware, glass or napkin. I stood there looking at my mom. How could she do this. This was low. I pulled my chair out long and slow, so it scraped across the floor loudly.

My little brother Cody looked my way, surprised. My mother put a hand on top of his. He looked at her, she gave him a small shake of her head. He just nodded and looked down at his plate, pushing his food around with his fork. I sat in my chair and watched my family eat. I wasn't even really hungry. But I wasn't going to make ignoring me easy. I got up, stomped across the kitchen, opened a cupboard and got out a glass.

“Mom?” Cody said in a worried voice. Mom just shook her head at him.

I filled the cup with water from the tap, stomped back to my chair, placed my glass down with a thump and sat down hard with another thump. I sat sipping my water thumping my glass on the table between each sip. My family looked more and more uncomfortable.

“How was your day dear?” Dad asked my mom. Mom was almost startled by my dad’s attempt at a normal conversation.

“Fine.” Mom said. The sleeve on her shirt and ridden up a little exposing the bandage on her hand.

“What’s that?” Dad asked.

“Nothing. Just a small burn.” Mom answered quietly without looking up from her meal.

“How did it happen?” Dad asked with concern, no longer trying to fake small talk. Mom looked at dad then glanced in my direction then back to dad. He looked at her with disbelief. He sort of looked in my direction with disgust. I felt horrible. I hated when my dad was upset with me. “We need to do something about this.” he added.

Hearing his words I felt sick, like my chest was being crushed and my stomach twisted. I hurt my mom and now dad was even more angry with me. I was always a daddy’s girl even now that I am almost 17. No matter what I did wrong, or how mad mom got with me, dad was always there for me. I sat quietly for a long time just feeling horrible. My family started a conversation while I was lost in thought. They were talking about Cody’s up-coming basketball game. I decided that I wanted to be alone. I had caused enough trouble today. I got up from my chair. Cody stop talking mid sentence. I dumped my water down the drain and put my glass in the sink. I loudly trudged my way up the stairs and went to my room, slamming the door behind me.

I laid in bed. Hours passed as I go from feeling horrible for burning my mom, to being angry for how everyone is treating me, and back again. I suddenly realize the house was quite. My family must be a sleep and I must have lost track of time, again. I haven't eaten much all day so I decided to get up for a late night snack.

I didn't even try to be quite in my way down stairs to the kitchen. Once I got there I turned on the light and went about raiding the fridge. Left over’s from dinner were front and center in the fridge. I decided to have some of that. Soon I was pulling out anything that looked good. I ate and ate. I didn’t bother cleaning up after myself.

After a while I wanted something sweet. I checked the freezer and found vanilla ice cream. I knew there was milk and chocolate syrup in the fridge. I decided that it was time for a milkshake. It was after two in the morning but I really didn't care. I filled the blender with ice cream, milk, and chocolate syrup and turned it on. I forgot to put the lid on so it splattered a little. When it was done I poured it into a tall glass, stuck a straw in it, and sucked it down.

I finished my snack with a burp, left the dishes where they lay, and went to head up stairs. I looked back on the mess I made and I was pleased with my self. My mother deserved this mess for punishing me for so long. I wish she would ground me, make me do a million stupid chores, or anything but ignore me. The silent treatment was the worst. Making the rest of my family dish out her demented form of punishment was more than I could handle.

They had a name for this in middle school. It was called being shut out. If you got shut out you had to hope like hell that it was just your friends or a certain clique that shut you out. You could always make new friends, or find a new clique. If the hole school tried to shut you out you may as well be dead. Being shut out caused extreme emotional and psychological distress. I felt bad, back in middle school, when someone got shut out. I wanted to reach out and talk to them. I understood what they were going threw from dealing with my mother. But speaking to or even giving an apologetic look to a shut out was social suicide. I just couldn't do it. I could not stand the idea of being treated by my friends and classmates the same way my mother treated me.

As I neared the top of the stairs I heard what sounded like my mother crying and talking between sobs. I can also hear my dad consoling her.

“I can't take it any more. I just can't.” I hear my mom say.

“I know, I know. I will call someone tomorrow to deal with it.” then he went on to say something else that I never heard.

The way he said ‘It’, as if the word brought an unpleasant taste to his mouth, I knew he was talking about me. Who was he calling? What was going to happen to me? All this because of a burn? Because I am being punished? I tried to remember again why I was being punished in the first place, but my head throbbed. Suddenly my late night snack wasn’t sitting so well. I needed to lay down.

I laid down on my bed and oddly I started to fall asleep. It was weird. I was so upset about what I heard I should not have been drifting off to sleep so fast. Asleep, I dreamed about strange things. None of it made sense to me. The dream was in almost total darkness. I could see a little, mostly shadows and diffused light. Though I could not see much I could hear what was going on. Like a t.v. with a broken screen. The images were impossible to make out but the sound was in tact. I hear what sounds like two girls laughing, then a metallic jingling sound, followed by two hollow thuds. I see bright lights, but I can't make out any detail. I hear more laughing and some music while long lights seem to slide past my field of vision. Suddenly I see a set of the lights that seem to bare down on me still no detail just lights and sound. I hear a scream, a loud screech, followed by the sharp sound of metal being crushed. Pain washed over my body and everything became dark again.

I woke in a cold sweat, but I fell right back to sleep almost immediately. Shortly after I was asleep the dream started again. It was exactly the same as the first time. The dream kept repeating with me waking covered in sweat, until I woke one last time and saw the soft light of the sun filling the sky outside my window. It was still far to early to get up for school but I didn’t want to have the dream again.

I got up to get dressed. I opened my closet. All my clothes were gone. Not even empty hangers hung from the bar inside. I checked my dresser, nothing. I even went to my hamper, deciding to put on the clothes I wore yesterday for now, and it was empty too. This was unbelievable. How could my mom do this? When would she stop? Is she trying to destroy me? Then it hits me. When did she have time to do this. It had to be while I was sleeping since the clothes I wore yesterday were gone.

I wanted to scream and cry. I couldn't take any more, but at the same time I couldn't let my self break down. I thought about things for a while and then I decided to look in the basement for clothes. I was sure there were some of my clothes in the laundry I folded down there. As I made my way to the basement I decided that when I got to school I was going to talk to a school counselor about how I was being treated at home. I figured they would help mediate a conversation between my parents and I. Maybe things would improve. The worse case would be that they would take me away from my parents for emotional abuse. At this point the idea of being taken away didn't really bother me much.

In the basement I went threw the laundry I folded but none of it was mine. I looked around the musty room for clues. I found a stack of boxes neatly placed in the corner with my name written on them in sharpie. Under my name the word ‘Clothes” was written. Both words had been penned in my mother's handwriting. I dumped one of the boxes then another. I would take them to my room later. I quickly picked out a full outfit and changed right there in the basement.

When I was done I went upstairs. I noticed the kitchen was still a mess. I thought that was weird. Mom got up in the middle of the night to box up and hide my clothes but she didn’t touch the mess in the kitchen? It was weird. It nagged at me. My mom was a neat freak. She would have stayed up all night cleaning if she had to. Wrapping my head around this odd feeling about the kitchen and my clothes made my head feel fuzzy. Before I could put things together in my head I heard my parents alarm going off. They would be down shortly to start breakfast. I grabbed the last apple out of the dish on the counter and left.

It was still too early for school, but I didn't want to face my parents. I didn’t know why really. So I slowly wandered in the direction of school. I figured if I got there too early I could wait outside or maybe catch one of the school counselors before class. Either way I was just glad to be out of the house.

Outside the world was wrapped in a blanket of fog. The street lights were on even though the sky was lit by diffused sunlight. I was halfway to school when I neared a bend in the road. I was looking down but I heard a car on the road coming toward me. I glanced up to make sure I was far enough off the road. The car had its lights on and I ended up looking straight into them. Instantly my head felt fuzzy and started to throb. Oddly, I could hear all the things I heard in the dream from last night. Laughing, two hollow thuds, music, more laughing, screaming, screeching and a metallic crunch. Pain coursed through my body. What was happening to me? What did this mean?

I regained consciousness later on the side of the road. The sun was brighter, the fog had started to burn off, and the grass I was laying in was damp. I had no idea how long I was out. The sun hadn't moved much in the sky from where it was when I left home. I must not have been out long. I got up off the ground but doing so caused my head to throb and my stomach to twist.

After a few minutes I felt a bit better. My head was still fuzzy but I could finish my walk to school. What just happened to me? I tried not to think about it but it was hard not to. The bigger question was why didn't that car stop when I fainted, or whatever that was. Why didn't any other cars that passed by stop either? The more I thought about it the fuzzier my head got. I decided to leave it alone. I was almost to school anyway.

When I got to school it was 9:25 am. I had missed homeroom and my first class started five minutes ago. I ran to my first class. I hurried through the door. The teacher looked my way with a confused look on her face. “Sorry I’m late.” I said.

Someone was sitting at my desk. I glared at them but they ignored me. I decided to head to a desk in the back of the room. The teacher went across the room to the open door, I thought I shut it, and looked out to the hall. After a few seconds she shut the door and went back to addressing the class. Within minutes I zoned out. I heard nothing that went on in class. I spent the class deciding when I would have time to see a school counselor. I figured the best time to go was during lunch. Not long after the bell rang.

In the hall no one paid any attention to me. I got bumped and jostled by the kids rushing around. I saw a few of my friends. I even called out to them, but they didn’t hear me.

My next class was really boring. I just sat and listened to my history teacher drone on about some war somewhere, sometime in history. I couldn't bring myself to care. So again I zoned out and lost track of time.

I snapped back to reality with the sound of a tap on my desk. I looked around. The room was empty of students. My history teacher was reading at his desk. I hear another tap. I realized my friend Samantha was standing next to me. It hit me that I had not seen her in weeks, maybe longer. She moved to the desk in front of me and sat backwards on the chair facing me.

I studied her face. She looked like she was ill. Her face was pale and she had huge purple bags under her hollow eyes. Her long hair hung lifeless and dull. Her normally piercing blue eyes were opaque and dead looking. She didn't look anything like her bright and healthy self.

“Why are you here?” She asked.

“I um zoned out. I guess I didn't hear the bell.” I said.

“No. Why are you’re here, in this school?” She demanded.

“What do you mean? I go here?” I said looking at her like she had lost her mind.

“You don’t belong here. Not any more.” She said getting louder. I looked at the teacher. I figured he would come over to find out what was going on. When I looked though I saw that he was still just reading his book.

“What are you talking about Sam?” I asked getting annoyed.

“They sent me to get you. You don't belong here any more. You should come with me.” She said.

She was starting to scare me. I had no idea what Sam was talking about. My head started throbbing and my brain felt like it was buzzing. I had no idea what to say to her. I went to ask her to explain what she was talking about but the bell rang. I glanced at the clock. Lunch time. How long have I been sitting here? I figured I had to have missed a bunch of classes. Why didn't the teacher say anything. How could I have ignored the bells and sat here all this time? I turned back to Samantha but she was gone. I looked around. The only other person in the room was my history teacher and he was still reading. I felt so confused and my head really hurt. I remembered that I planned to go to the office to see the school counselor now. On my way out of the room I looked back hoping to see Samantha She wasn't there though. I got to the office. It was crowded. A lot of students were waiting for different things. There was a form on the front desk for students to fill out what they were here for. I went to it as soon as another girl was finished with it. The form was lined and had three categories across the top. I started to fill it out. The first category was time. I looked at the clock on the wall and noted the time. Next was student ID number. I jotted mine down. Lastly was reason for visit. I wrote that I needed a school counselor. There was no place to put my name. I guess they wanted it to remain anonymous. I looked down the reason for visit column and saw that only two students were requesting to see a counselor. My chances of seeing one soon were good. I waited in the office against the wall waiting for my student number to be called even though the huge sign over the front desk said I would be pulled out of class when I could be seen.

The bell for the next class rang before I had been called on. I wasn't happy that they hadn't got to me yet, but I knew they would get to me sooner or later. In the hall I was sure I spotted Samantha. I made my way to her but a tall kid blocked my view of her for just a second and she was gone.

I sat threw my next few classes waiting to be called to the office but I was never called. I blew off my last class and sat in the office. I figured maybe I would get into trouble for skipping class. When I told them about my family I would be forgiven and they would see that I got the help I needed, but still no one called on me. I gave up when the bell rang again. It was time for homeroom. I was disappointed so I just left the office and headed to homeroom. I was wondering why I was never called on.

When school was officially over I went outside. Cody was not sitting in his usual spot waiting for mom. I looked around and still didn’t see him. I looked over the cars waiting to pick up kids and my mom’s wasn’t one of them. I figured Cody had practice again. So I was stuck walking, again. But at least it was a nice warm day.

It took me less that fifteen minutes to get home. When I got there my mom’s car was not in the driveway. She was normally home when I got in from school. Another car was in the driveway. My mom just got a new car less then a month ago and my dads was fairly new too so I was pretty sure my parents didn’t buy it. For a brief second I thought maybe they bought the car for me. They kept saying they would buy me one. I got my license about six months ago. I haven’t drove in…. thinking about the last time I drove made my ears ring and my head hurt. I stopped thinking about it. Maybe it was a neighbors car. They sometimes parked in front of our house if they were having a dinner party or were cleaning out the garage or something.

I shook my head to clear it and went inside. The house was dark and quiet. I was about to head upstairs to my room when I heard the soft noise of someone clearing their throat. I turned to see to people in the dining room. Neither were my parents. Standing against a far wall was a man. He looked bored. He was dressed in dark jeans and a dark shirt and looked to be nearly my dads age. The woman on the other hand looked excited. She looked to be in her early twenties. She wore a bright yellow dress and her long blond hair down.

“Hello there.” She said as she turned and looked me in the eyes.

I had no idea who this woman was, but hearing her address me and look me in the eyes made me feel good. Although her greeting also stirred a thought in me. Just a small thought in the corner of my mind that I didn't want to let myself touch on.

“Who are you?” I asked.

“I am Ava. This is David.” She said motioning to the man in the corner. “He is my helper.”

“Helper? Why are you here?” I asked.

“I am here to help your family. I intend on doing that by helping you.”

“Help me? How? Are you from social services?” I was sure that Ava and David were who my dad said he was going to call last night.

“No, I am not from social services. I am here to help in a different way. Will you please take a seat we need to talk.” Ava said.

I took a seat opposite Ava.

“Something, a thought, is gnawing at your mind. What is it?” Ava asked. “It’s nothing.” I said wondering how she knew. I watched her pull out a pad of paper and a pen. She wrote something on the top sheet then put the pad face down so I could not read what she wrote.

“Fine.” She said. “We'll save it for later then.” She said patting the notepad like what was on my mind was written on its pages. “Now lets talk about how things are going for you.”

“Everything is fine.” I said. I am not sure why. “Really?” She asked with a raised eyebrow. I felt like she could see right into my mind and could tell what I was thinking. “This will be easier and it will go a lot faster if you're just honest with me.” Somehow I could feel that what she said was true.

“No. Things are not so good.” I said and she nodded. “My mom is punishing me. She won't talk to me or even look at me. She is even making my dad and brother punish me too. I just can't take it. She even took my clothes out of my room, boxed them up, and hid them in the basement.” I spilled out everything I could think of.

“Wow.” Ava said. “That sounds hard. Is this punishment a new thing?”

“No, my mom has punished me with the silent treatment since before I was old enough to understand what she was doing.” I said.

“Wow” Ava said again but she really seemed surprised. She gave me a sad smile. “I am sorry Amanda.” She said.

I looked away. The thought that was nagging at the corner of my mind sparked to life again when she said my name. I pushed the thought away though. Ava picked up the pen and paper again. After writing something down again she put it back.

“Amanda, what are you being punished for?” The question caused my head to throb and feel fuzzy.

“I cant remember.” I said quietly.

“Really?” she asked as if she already knew.

I just nodded.

“Why do you think that is?” She asked.

I shook my head. “You feel a pain, here?” She asked and pointed to her forehead. “When you try to think about it?”

“Yeah how did you know?” I asked.

“I know more about you then you realize.” Ava said.

“I don’t understand. What are you here for? How is this suppose to help me?” I asked.

“I need you to realize something. Your family needs you to realize it.” She said.

“What? Just tell me.” I said.

“I can’t. I need you to make this realization on your own. If I tell you it can be traumatizing to you.” She said.

“I don't get it.” I sighed.

“I need to lead you to this realization.” Ava said.

“Lead away.” I said getting frustrated.

Ava opened a small box that I barely noticed. She pulled out a photograph and laid it on the table. It was a picture of my mom’s burnt hand. It was taken in her car, I could see the steering wheel, before she got it bandaged. Looking at it filled me with self loathing. I still felt so bad. I looked up and Ava. She looked back at me with kind but sad eyes. It was as if she could feel how bad I felt. Before I could say anything she laid down another picture. This one was of the dishes I washed. I looked up at Ava with a confused look. She smiled at me. The next picture was of the tub in the upstairs bathroom. It was full of soapy water. The book I was reading last week was laying by the tub.

“Umm…“ I said looking at Ava.

She smiled and laid down a picture of the mess I made in the kitchen last night. I actually smiled at this one. Ava even let out a little giggle as well. The last picture was of the upturned boxes if my clothes in the basement. My smile disappeared. A dark feeling surrounded me.

“Do you know what all this means?” Ava asked.

“Um? I burnt my mom, did some dishes, forgot to let the water out of the tub, made a mess of the kitchen and messed up some boxes.” I said pointing at each picture.

“Anything else?” She asked. I shook my head.

“I need you to take this seriously. She said. Her tone changed. Not really in a mean way but more stern.

I took a serious look at each picture then tried to look at them as a whole. My head buzzed.

“All this happened during my punishment.” I said.

“Good.” Ava beamed. “Head feeling fuzzy?” She asked again. I nodded.

She pulled out another picture and held it in front of her and looked at it for a long while. All I could see was the back. She sighed and laid it down. As she did so I looked away. I had no idea what the picture was, but I wasn’t ready to see it. After a few seconds I let my eyes slide across the picture. It was a car. I think it was my moms car. The one she got rid of about a month ago. Except, it was a heap of twisted metal and hardly distinguishable. I recognized the color and a sticker on one corner of the car. The sticker had the name and logo of the school basketball team my brother played on. In the center of the sticker was his jersey number. I knew this was my mothers car.

“What happened?” I asked.

“You tell me. Ava said. I looked back at the picture but it made my head throb. I looked over all the pictures laying on the table one at a time, each in the order Ava placed them.

“Really look.” She prodded.

My eyes were drawn to the lower right corner of the picture of the car. It was date and time stamped. The picture was taken a month ago. More specifically at 8:42 a.m. the day after my friend Samantha’s birthday.

“This was taken the morning after my friends birthday.” I explained.

“Really?” Ava asked. “Did you do anything special for her birthday?” She asked.

“Yeah we went to an under 21 dance club.” My head buzzed. I felt confused. “Or that was the plan.” I added.

“What happened?” Ava asked.

“My mom wouldn't let me take the car.” I said remembering.

“So what did you do then?” She asked.

My head felt odd. I closed my eyes. A vision flashed in my mind. Sam and I were outside my house. We snuck out. I had my mom’s car keys. We were laughing together and going to the car.

“So?” Ava’s voice startled me and shook me from the vision.

“We stole the keys and snuck out.” I said. My voice raspy and throat dry for some reason.

“Really?” She asked. “Well how was the dance club?”

It terrified me that when I really thought about it I couldn't remember one thing about being at the club that night. I had no idea why.

“I don't know.” I said.

“You don’t know?” She asked.

“No. I can't remember.” I said.

“Why do you think that is?” Ava asked.

“I don't know.” I said getting frustrated. Why couldn't I remember?

“Nothing?” Ava asked. “Not a song you heard, a boy you met, nothing?”

“No!” I yelled in frustration. Then I remembered something Ava said earlier. ‘I need to lead you to this realization.’ What was the realization? “Why can't I remember?” I asked her.

“I can't tell you that.” She said. “But maybe this will help.” She flipped over the note pad. Two sentences were written on it. They were ‘No one, other than Samantha at school today, has spoke to me or even really looked me in the eye in weeks. No one had said my name in weeks either.’ Both were the thoughts that were at the edge of my mind when I first met Ava.

“How did you know I was thinking that?” I asked

“I need you to look at everything I have placed for you on the table. Really look at each one.” She said in a serious tone, ignoring my question.

I looked again at each item on the table in order. My head hurt the more I looked. It more than hurt it felt like it was buzzing., like my whole skull was on vibrate. I also felt so drained.

“What’s the last thing you remember about the night of Samantha birthday?” She said after a while.

“We got in the car and I started it. Then we watched the window of my parents room for a light to turn on or one of their faces to appear to see if they had heard the car. After we were sure they slept threw us sneaking out we pulled out of the driveway and headed to the club.” I explained.

“Then what?” Ava asked.

“We talked and sang along to the radio. We had to go through a wooded area. The only lights were our head lights and the head lights of the cars. Sam said it was creepy out there in the woods. It kind of was.” My eyes were drawn to the picture of the car as I spoke. “It felt like we were in the stretch of woods forever.” I noticed in the picture that there was something red all over the inside of the car. Was it blood?

“Then what?” Prodded Ava.

I closed my eyes really trying to think. A vision played out behind my eyes. Samantha and I were in in the car. Now and then we saw cars in the on coming lane. The lights were bugging my eyes. Sam said something about the woods that were flying past her window. I looked over to see what she was talking about but my eyes were hit by bright lights. It was like the dream I had last night. I looked back and the lights were coming into my lane. Sam noticed and screamed as I slammed on the breaks. The events seemed to be unfolding in slow motion. The lights were so bright that I could not make out the car they belonged to. I tried to swerve but I felt the impact before I could. The sound of crunching metal matched my screams. I felt my head bash off the window and my chest hit the steering wheel. Sam’s head went threw the windshield. Neither of us wore seat belts and the air bags never went off. Glass came at me in big shards. One shard drove itself into my face, another into my chest. Pain washed over me. I was having a hard time breathing and my vision was filling with dark blotches. I tried to look for Samantha but I couldn't see her. Before I could find her I slipped into unconsciousness.

“We were in a car accident.” I said astonished by what I just saw.

“Yes.” Ava said nodding her head slowly. Tears were streaming down her face like she saw everything I saw in my vision. She wiped her tears away but more brimmed in her eyes. “Do you remember what happened next?” She asked trying to choke back her sobs.

“No.” I said. I felt completely drained. “Did we go to the hospital?” I asked. The question felt odd to me as I said it.

“No, you didn’t. I think your getting it, but you don’t want to let your mind go there. I have one last thing for you to look at.” She said.

My head hurt like it was just smacked off a car window. My chest felt like it was being squeezed with a vice.

“Ready?” Ava asked as she pulled out the last item. I nodded. She pulled out a laminated newspaper clipping. The clipping had the picture of my mom’s ruined car. The headline read: Fatal Crash Kills Two Local Teens.

“No. This isn’t right. I said pushing away the clip. “No, no, no, no,no!” I yelled.

“Shit!” Ava said looking at David who still stood against the wall.

“What?” He asked.

“I thought she was ready for the truth but she wasn’t there yet.” Ava explained.

“Now what?” He asked.

“Tell me its not true.” I demanded. I could not believe what was happening.

“Give me a minute David.” Ava said then turned to look at me. “Amanda” She said. “Think about it. Has your dad or brother ever shut you out before?”

“No.” I said. “But I am not dead.” I said with force. “When was the last time someone spoke to you? Or even looked at you before today. The clothes in the basement, remember those. Your mother told me she packed those up weeks ago. You’re dead. You just don’t want to believe it. At first you could fool your self. You expected to see your clothes hanging in the closet so you saw them there even though they were in the basement all this time. Your own mind knows that your dead. It has stopped creating illusions for you but you wont accept it. Hell, the only reason I am here talking to you today is because I can see ghosts. This is why I was called to help your family.” She explained. I looked down. I realized I could see the dining room table threw my hands and arms. It all crashed down on me. I am dead. Dead.

“Oh, God.” I said. “Spilling the tea, cleaning the house, stomping on the stairs, running baths, making a mess and every other thing I have done….” I let the sentence drop. “I have been tormenting my family all this time.”

“That is the realization” Ava said. “I am so sorry that I had to make you see it.”

“What do I do now?” I asked. I couldn't believe I was accepting my own death.

“You need to leave here. It is hard enough for your family to deal with their loss of you without them having to live with being haunted by you. I nodded. I felt like crying but I couldn’t.

“Where will I go?” I asked.

“I don't know. But there is a friend outside waiting for you.” Ava said. I looked out the window. Sam was waiting for me. I knew it was time to go. I had no idea what awaited me but it had to be better then being ignored or tormenting my family. I walked to meet Sam. Not bothering with opening doors or avoiding obstacles. Sam reached out and took my hand and looked me in the eyes. She didn't look like the sickly pale version of herself that spoke to me at school. She looked just like her old self. I searched her eyes for any sign of anger, bitterness or blame for the accident that took both of our lives and found none. “Its about time.” Sam said to me with a smile. She tugged on my arm. When I didn't budge she looked back at me and read my face.

“I don't blame you Amanda. It wasn't your fault.” She said. I nodded and looked down and realized that the porch of my house was gone and replaced with lush grass. I took a look around and we were in a beautiful meadow.

The End

Written by Dani16001
Content is available under CC BY-SA