Arriving home is the same as always. I walk in, put up, and Mum comes up to me, smiling, saying, “How was school Dori?”
I almost don't tell her, but I realise that there's no real reason why she shouldn't know.
“She's back,” I say. The words feel like knives rolling across my tongue.
Her eyes widen. “Gosh! That's amazing! I thought she was dead! That's wonderful! Where has she been?”
“I don't know.”
“How has she been?”
“I don't know.”
“She didn't even give a hint?”
“Well, she's back, that's all that matters! That's brilliant! Her parents must be so happy!”
“...I suppose...” I start walking up the stairs.
“Maybe you could invite her round here,” Mum says. “I'd love to see her.”
I go into my room, shut the door, and start listening to music on my iPod, staring at the ceiling. Recently, I've been really into songs about someone leaving. Most of them are about break-ups really, but I don't think about them like that when I listen. I think of Megan. And how she went missing. And sometimes, when I listen, I cry. Like I am now.
Someone is knocking on my door.
I turn off the music. “Yes?”
My little brother, Alice, walks in. Yes, I did say he was my brother. I'm the one who suggested calling him Alice. Dad had said that if I got enough marks on my next Maths test, I could choose the name for the baby. And, unfortunately for Alice, he turned out to be a boy. He is seven years old, so not old enough yet to be teased really. But it still annoys him.
“Can you help me with my homework?” he asks.
I frown. Alice isn't one to ask about homework- he's rather clever. “What is the homework?”
“I have to draw a family member... and I want to draw you.”
I think of telling him about Megan, but then I realise he wouldn't remember her, since he was only a baby when he knew her.
“Okay,” I say. I sit up on the bed.
“Wait,” he says. He leaves, then comes back a minute later with some paper and pencils. “Pose.”
“I'll just sit.”
“Okay... don't look. I want to surprise you.”
“Shall I close my eyes?”
“No- stare at the ceiling.”
I do as he says, listening to the scraping hiss of his pencils against the paper. It reminds me of when I was about his age, and I drew a blue cat in Art class once. The teacher told me, “Cats can't be blue, Dory.” And, when she left, Megan said, “It's a nice colour, Dori. Don't listen to her.”
I wonder if Megan would say that sort of thing now.
“It's done!” Alice chirps.
I look down. He's holding up the picture of me. It's basically a generic, childish doodle of a girl. A girl with a downturned, red scrawl of a mouth, and black eyes like pits in hell.
“You've made me look sad,” I say.
“That's because you look sad in real life,” he said. “All the time.”
Before I could respond, he walked out of the room.
Dinner is the same-old tomato pasta, next to Alice, opposite side to Dad, as always. Mum sits down next to Dad, smiling. Oh no... she's going to tell him...
“Dori has good news!” she cries.
Dad smiles- the kind of smile a boy makes when he's about to offer a teacher a stinkbomb. “Oh... let me guess... Jordon has confessed his love to you?”
“Daaaaaad!” I yell.
“That would be sweet,” Mum says.
“Mum!” I say. “I'm don't want a boyfriend!”
“You're fifteen,” Dad says.
“Most people your age are dating,” he says.
“Only for status! It's stupid. I see people smooching in the corridors, it's gross.”
“I'm only teasing, Dori,” Dad says. “I didn't date until I was seventeen. But if you do want to date now...”
“Which I don't.”
“Then you can... so, what is this good news?”
Everyone looks at me.
“You... you want me to tell it?” I say.
“Yes,” Dad says. “It will sound much better coming out of your wonderful lips that Jordan craves...”
“Daaaaaad! Fine! ...The news is that Megan's back.”
“Who's Megan?” Alice asks.
Dad's eyes widen. “Where's she been? Down at the nail parlour?”
“Peter!” Mum snaps.
“Who's Megan?” Alice asks again.
“She didn't tell me where she's been,” I say.
“She might do eventually,” Dad says. “But it might take a while. You know how women are.”
“How is she?” Dad asks.
“...Fine." I lie.
“That's good," Dad says.
“Tell me who Megan is!”
I turn to Alice. “A friend of mine.”
“What do you mean that that she's back?” Alice asks.
"How's Jordan about it?"
“What do you mean she's back?!”
“Did he need comforting?" Dad says.
“What do you mean that she's back!”
“Did you smooch him to kiss it better?"
“Stop ignoring me! What do you mean that she's back!”
“She went missing,” I tell Alice.
I say nothing.
I still say nothing.
“She didn't tell me!” I yell.
“Don't yell at your brother, Dori,” Mum says.
We eat the rest of our meal in silence.
In my room, I listen to music about people reuniting. But most of them are happy. If reunions make those people happy, does that mean I should be happy about Megan? If there's a God, He must be so annoyed at how ungrateful I'm being. Or maybe He wanted it this way. Maybe he wants to taunt me, to mock me. But why would He? Is it because I've been moping around in self-pity? I think of Alice, and the picture he drew of me. Is that how everyone sees me? As some sad, miserable emo who does nothing but mope?
I turn off my music and open a notebook. I start writing a poem. My poetry isn't quite TS Elliot, but it's not like I want to show them to anyone...
They see me as an emo
A clown without its facepaint
They think that when I'm behind a locked door
I etch my pains into my arm
They think that when I hide away
I'm considering my death
They fear that if they look
Into my eyes that are polished by tears
That they will turn to stone
Maybe I wish they would
I sometimes see them hissing
In each other's ears
Maybe they speak of me
And my stupid, depressing face
That drains all the colour from around it
And locks it away
So no one
Not even myself
Can open it
For no one can find the key
This notebook is stained with every single one of my thoughts. Of Megan. Of myself. Of school. Of life.
I read some of them.
God, I'm such an emo.
The only thing left to do is cutting... or contemplating suicide...
Do I want to cut?
No, that's just gross.
Do I want to die?
I suppose it would be nice for it all just to end... for me to feel nothing, to view nothing, to be nothing. But death itself... the process... I can't go through with that. Most means of suicide are violent. I want a peaceful death, a slow death, a painless death. No one knows for sure which deaths hurt and which don't. I don't want to die. I just want to disappear, vanish, dissolve into the air, like I never existed. But that's not possible.
Maybe happiness is possible.
I don't know.
I turn off the light and let myself drift into the beautiful, painless emptiness of sleep...