We were onstage in Orlando (Seriously, could these venues get any hotter?) and had just finished playing Perfect Weapon when I was hit with one of those waves of depression that had been coming a few times every day, now. It had been two weeks since that day we broke up(and I gave him a dark purple bruise across the left side of his face) and Ashley and I hadn’t spoken more than four words to each other. It had been a tiny bit easier lately but the first few days were simply hell. When I wasn’t onstage I spent all of my time in bed, with a bottle in my limp- or sometimes shaking- hand. I refused to go to Meet & Greets. The guys had to come up with bullshit excuses like “he’s not feeling well,” or “he had to talk to our manager,” even though the fans know that none of that shit would ever stop me from talking to them.
During this particular concert, in a brief pause between songs, someone had screamed “Ashley, be my boyfriend!” and he looked at me before yelling back, “Sorry babe but I’m single and I like it that way.” And I just lost myself. He said it so easily, like it didn’t hurt at all. Single. That word coming from his mouth was like a knife digging into my very bones, where his name was already carved in my existence.
I folded into myself to keep my seams from tearing, dropping the mic to the floor, with an ear splitting scratch of feedback. I stumbled backwards and sat down on the stool behind me. The crowd silenced almost immediately. After a few seconds, ripples of murmurs washed over everyone. I knew what they were all saying, even though I couldn't hear a single one of them distinctly.
What’s wrong with Andy?
Is he ok?
No. I wasn’t fucking okay.
Nausea ran through my abdomen like a sword and I felt dizzy enough to faint. I knew I was going to throw up. I couldn’t. CC jumped down from his platform and got to me before anyone else. Jake and Jinxx came closer but didn’t talk to me. Ashley very purposefully kept his distance, all the way across the stage.
“Andy!” the drummer said, squatting in front of me. “Andy, come on. You’re okay, Andy.”
“No,” I croaked. “No I’m not okay. I can’t…”
“You’re okay,” he said. “We’re almost done, just two more songs. Just take deep breaths.”
I tried, but I was shaking.
“Two more songs, Andy.”
I swallowed back my tears before I could let them escape and looked up at him.
“Okay. Two songs.” I whispered.
“Atta boy!” he patted my back and returned to his post behind the drums.
I bit my lip, picking up the mic- another horrifying shriek of feedback- and looking out over the crowd. They stared at me expectantly.
“So,” I said softly into the mic, deciding not to say anything about my little moment, and just moving along with the show. “I guess this is the part of the concert where you guys pick the song we play before our finale.”
“Go ahead,” Ashley said. “Scream out your favorite!”
The shouting fans were impossible to hear. When it died down a little bit, I heard Lost It All. The last song I wanted to perform right now. Ashley had been sitting with me while I wrote it and now it only made me think of him. I lost him. He was my everything. And when I lost him, I lost it all.
“Lost It All?” Ashley said. “We can do that. Can’t we?” He was so nonchalant. Like the breakup never happened. He looked to us for approval and Jinxx and Jake agreed. CC looked at me, concerned. I shrugged with a sigh. It couldn’t get much worse from here. This concert was already a mess and I was already a broken shard of myself. It all seemed pretty pointless. So what difference would it make if I was just a little bit sadder?
“Alright,” I said, tentatively. “Let’s do that.”
Jinxx started playing the (usually piano) intro softly on his guitar. I looked at him and sighed. Bad idea.
“I ruled the world…” I started, looking back out to the audience. “With these hands I shook the heavens to the ground.. I laid the gods to rest..”
It took everything in me to keep singing when I got to the chorus.
“Then I lost it all. Dead and broken. My back’s against the wall. Cut me open. I’m just trying to breathe, just trying to figure it out, because I built these walls to watch them crumbling down, I said…” I wiped the tears that leaked out of my eyes. “Then I lost it all… Who can save me now?”
Who could save me? Ashley. Ashley was the only one who could save me, now. I turned to look at him, he avoided my eyes. Dammit, I needed him. Getting over him wasn’t an option. I had to try and fix this and hope to god that he would be willing to at least be friends again.
“Andy, we have a Meet & Greet…” Jinxx said a little while after we’d returned to the bus. “Do you… wanna come?”
He knew the answer before I said it. “No. No I don’t.”
“Okay…” He said. “What should we tell them?”
“I don’t know,” I sighed. “Think of something.”
“You know,” CC said. “They’re gonna know something’s up, after what happened onstage.”
I groaned. “I know.”
“Maybe you should come,” he suggested.
I chewed on my lip for a moment before running my fingers through my hair and getting up. “Fine.”
“Heyy!!” The guys cheered and collected their various sunglasses, hats, phones, etc.
“Come on, Ash, we’re leaving!” Jake called as we started toward the tent.
“Coming!” he ran after us.
“Alright have a fabulous day, thanks for coming to see us!” I said as a group of girls retreated after getting their things signed and getting selfies. I checked my phone. 2:40; We had another 20 minutes of this, fuck.
“Andy!” a tall, thin girl came over to me with a bright grin. She had sandy blonde hair down to her shoulders. “I’m Lisa.”
“Hi Lisa,” I looked up at her- yes. up. she was at least as tall as me, if not taller. She placed a hand on my shoulder and her smile softened.
“Are you okay?” she asked carefully. “I-I saw what happened onstage.” I looked down at my feet. “I don’t want to overstep or anything, but you guys mean a lot to me, you’ve saved my life when I thought no one could, and I like to think of you as my friends. My only friends… And I care about you a lot. Are you okay?”
I sighed, with a slight smile. “Thanks so much for caring,” I started. “I’m okay.”
“You don’t seem okay,” she said plainly. Dammit, she was right. My lip started to tremble a little and I looked away from her. I should’ve stayed on the bus. This was a bad idea.
“I’m okay,” I insisted, tilting my head back, to prevent the tears from falling. “Did you want me to sign something for you?”
“Here.” She handed me a notebook, open to a page labeled Black Veil Brides, with a picture of us taped in the center. I signed my name quickly and handed it back, hoping she’d leave. She placed a hand on my shoulder.
“Seriously, Andy.” She looked into my eyes. “I love you so much. You’re my whole world and I don’t like seeing you upset.”
That was when I realized there was no getting past the fans. They knew something was up and, as for the press... it was only a matter of time before twelve different stories were spread across the magazines and one of them was bound to be right. There was absolutely no way I could get away from this. I was stuck in a whirlpool of my own sadness and even if I could bring up the strength to try to pull myself out, something else would suck me back in almost immediately.
It was 1:34 a.m.
We were somewhere in Louisiana, between tour venues, and had stopped to stay the night here instead of driving all night long. Ashley and CC were out partying. Jake and Jinxx were at a bar. And me? I was awake, curled up in my bunk, a bottle of whiskey in one hand and an old note from Ashley in the other. He’d sent it to me while I was visiting some family during a bit of downtime between tours. At that time, we’d been (for the most part) living together. We weren’t necessarily “together” but we were sleeping together very very regularly. We’d had our own places then, but I’d spent most of my nights with him anyway. He made me feel safe. He was my home.
I miss you so much. Everything is weird here without you. I miss doing stupid shit with you and getting in trouble. I miss jamming out at 4 in the morning with you. I miss making breakfast in the morning and waking you up with coffee and eggs.
I hope you’re having a good time in Ohio. Please come home soon, though. I need you, man. I’ve been hanging out with CC more cause you’re gone, and I like it, but I can’t make out with him… so that’s no fun.
Tell everyone back home I said hi. I miss you and I can’t wait to see you again.
When I'd gotten home from that trip, he'd surprised me at the airport and then taken me to a perfect little lunch place where we caught up and ate together, him rubbing my arm the entire time because he wanted to kiss me but we couldn't until we got home. So he had to settle for the tiny amount of physical contact we could get away with without anyone thinking much of it. And still, after that, we'd stayed up all night talking and didn't fall asleep until the sunrise when he wrapped me up in his arms and hummed our own song, Saviour, in my ear until I was asleep, with the feeling of his heart beating against his ribcage engrained in my memory. Because Ashley was my saviour.
I folded it neatly and tucked it away beneath my pillow. It made me feel like such a teenager to keep it there like that but it felt nice to have that piece of Ashley still with me. I was so pathetically in love with him and that wasn't going to change. And that note forced me to remember that he was the best boyfriend I could ask for.
But it crushed me. I took a long drink of whiskey and cried some more into my pillow. The familiar feeling of extreme nausea came over me and I ran to the bathroom and threw up. After I cleaned myself off, I decided to take a hot shower. I took extra time washing my hair and I even sung softly to myself. It didn’t help. I kept thinking of the showers I used to take with Ashley, where he’d wrap his arms around me and kiss my neck while the water washed over both of our bodies… I got out and dried off. After slipping on my favorite Batman pajama pants, I fished around in the pocket of my skinny jeans for my knife.
I flipped out the blade and pressed it to the skin of my forearm. With tears running down my cheeks still, I tore open my tattooed skin and watched the blood trickle into the sink. It felt amazing. The release of the pain in my head through the pain in my arm was absolutely addicting.
This wasn’t the first time I’d done this. I started it two days after my fight with Ashley when I saw a boy during a Meet & Greet with scars across his arms and I got curious to know the feeling. I tried it once and I couldn't stop. Whenever I had a particularly bad night, I added a cut. Part of me knew what I was doing went against everything I'd ever said to my fans, but another part of me, the stronger part, was too tired of trying to keep my Image to care.
When the bleeding stopped, I ran the faucet until the blood was gone from the sink and I left the bathroom to return to my bunk, but I was stopped before I got there.
“Andy?” It was Ashley. He was standing in the narrow hallway type section of the bus, staring at me. He looked tired and drunk. I froze. How long had he been there? Was he looking for me? Did he run into me by accident? He was probably horrified to see me. He'd probably come to the bus to get something, thinking I was asleep and he wouldn't see me. He pointed to my arm. “Did you do that to yourself?”
I looked down at it. There were six cuts of varying freshness around the top of my forearm. The newest was still stinging and angry red. I swallowed and nodded. He looked like he was going to be sick.
Without a word, he turned around and left.