Abigail

She is everyone, and no one. She doesn't even have a name, because every day she is in a new life. She doesn't know who she is...or was. All she knows is the pain of these other girls, these living girls, the suffering girls.

She wants to know who she really is...but what will it take to find out?

WARNING: This Movella contains rape, bullying, suicide, abuse, self-harm, and other sensitive elements.

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10. Madilyn

“Madi! Wake up, they’re doing room checks!”

I groan and smack the intrusive hand away.

“Madi! Seriously, come on!”

Room checks?

I open my eyes. A girl is standing over me, eyes wide.

Finally, the memories start to flood into me. Madilyn Holly Monroe is...in a rehab center?

I sit up and look down. My wrists are tightly wrapped in gauze.

 

“Madi, they’re right next door, come on!”

 

I quickly stand, pulling my curly red hair back and hastily braiding it. I’ll have to ask for a hair tie after the room checks.

A heavyset woman wearing bright pink scrubs and too much makeup suddenly appears in the doorway. “Girls, we sounded the bell fifteen minutes ago! Out in the hall, now! Come on!”

Gracie and I shuffle past the nurse and into the hallway. Nurse Lynne and an attendant dive into our room, rifling through drawers and digging under mattresses. Lynne comes back out with sad eyes aimed at Gracie. “Gracious, again? How many times do we have to go through this?” In the nurse’s hand lies a small iPod shuffle, wrapped tightly with earbuds. “Honestly, it’s like you have a sixth sense for the thing.”

A tear rolls down Gracie’s face. “Please! It helps me!”

Lynne shakes her head. “Not without Dr. Garrett’s permission, Gracious.”

“Don’t call me that!” Gracie exclaims. “It’s Gracie!”

The nurse just shakes her head and walks away, tucking the iPod into her pocket. The attendant soon follows after one last toss of my covers. Gracie and I look at each other for a moment, silent, then go back into our room.

“Breakfast in ten, girls!” Lynne’s voice echoes down the hall and bounces into our ears. Gracie flinches, more tears slipping over her cheeks. I cross the room and hug her gently, letting her cry into my shoulder.

 

Madi attempted to take her own life two weeks ago. Her parents came home unexpectedly early, and found their daughter leaking blood on the new marble bathroom tiles. They approached the situation the same way they did anything with their daughter: with no sign of emotion. Her dad called 911, her mom used old nursing skills to try to slow the bleeding. When Madi woke up in the hospital the next day, she found two disapproving frowns. No tears, no emotions. Just disgust. Madi had officially ruined her life by attempting to end it. First she let her grades slip into B’s and C’s, then she broke up with her perfect boyfriend and likely future husband to chase some musician kid, then she went and tried to end her life. She was just a disappointment through and through, and Mom and Dad didn’t want any more of it.

So when the doctor suggested a stay at New Grove Rehabilitation Center, the Monroes didn’t even hesitate to sign the papers and pay the fees.

 

Nurse Lynne had called the time perfectly. The breakfast bell rang exactly ten minutes later, and Gracie and I rush out of our room, now dressed in the soft cotton T-shirt and pants that are required attire for patients. They’re only allowed to wear street clothes for Family Days and field trips.

Breakfast today is French Toast sticks, Madi’s favorite. The food in the rehab center is surprisingly good.

The boys whistle from the other side of the room, and I turn to see what the commotion is all about.

Victoria Julin. According to Gracie, she’s a drug addict who’ll sleep with anyone, anywhere. Her pink-dyed pixie cut, big green eyes, and perfect skin make her look like she belongs in another world.

I suddenly feel an odd sensation in my chest. It’s a lot like what I’ve felt when inhabiting girls in love - shaky and warm.

I realize that it is love. Madi is in love with Victoria.

Victoria glances over at me and winks. Madi’s heart leaps and dances. I turn away, overwhelmed by the surge of emotions.

Nurse Lynne sweeps through the cafeteria with morning medications, and I’m grateful for the distraction. My cup has just one pill, Madi’s daily Prozac. Lynne barely even bothers watching me - Madi is a trusted patient. For Gracie, however, it’s a different story; Lynne goes through the whole procedure to make sure the pill was actually swallowed, pulling on Gracie’s lips and running a finger over her teeth and gums. Finally, she continues on, leaving Gracie with a disgusted look on her face. “Her finger tasted like hand sanitizer,” the girl complains. “You’re lucky you don’t have to deal with that.”

I shrug. Madi has no reason not to take her pill. She doesn’t really want to leave this place if it means facing her parents again, but she doesn’t want to force her stay to be any longer than necessary. Being a trusted patient has a lot of advantages, like not having to go through thorough searches like Gracie.

I’m pulled out of Madi’s thoughts by a caramel voice that sends my heart spinning again.

“Hello, girls.” Victoria sits across from me, pushing her tray against mine to make more room.

“Hey, Victoria,” Gracie says, staring into her juice.

“Hi,” I say quietly. Madi’s emotions flow into me again, forcing me to yank my gaze away from Victoria’s stunning ocean-like gaze and focus on my breakfast.

“Madi, did you sign up for the art room today?”

I nod once I’ve checked Madi’s memory. “Yeah. I wanted to work on my collage some more.”

“Cool, I’ll keep you company.” Victoria winks. I feel my face heat up, and I focus on my breakfast again.

“Cool.” I wish my heart - Madi’s heart - would stop dancing around so much.


 

“Hey, there, paint-face.”

I jump as Victoria pops up behind me. “Victoria! You scared me!”

“Doesn’t look like you’re getting much done there.” She says, motioning to Madilyn’s collage. It’s a beautiful piece that really captures her frustration and wish for freedom.

“I-I guess I’m having some kind of...artist’s block, or something.”

Victoria laughs. “Poor Madi.”

I shrug, perching on a stool. “So, um, what’s up?”

Victoria looks around. “I don’t know, I just thought I’d hang out with you today. You seem pretty cool.”

I look down at my wrists. “Really?”

She follows my gaze. “Really.”

We stay silent for a moment. “Why did you try to take your life, Madi?” Victoria suddenly asks.

I flinch. Why would you do that, Madi?! How could you literally throw your life away?! God, you’re such a disappointment!

“I...I guess I just wanted to be free.”

    “Free from what?”

Madi’s words flow out of me like they’re my own.

    “...my life felt like a cage that my parents built around me. They had all these expectations, all these requirements. If I couldn’t be a perfect child, then I wasn’t worth their time. So, for most of my life, I met their expectations and requirements. But, then...I started to realize that there was something in me. Something that wasn’t perfect.”

    “And what was that?” Victoria presses.

    “I...um...I’m attracted to girls. Not guys. And I defied that for as long as I could. I started dating this other guy in my class. He was perfect, like I was supposed to be. We were together for almost two years before I gave up on him, gave up on perfection. I couldn’t defy who I was anymore. I started to fall short of my parents’ expectations, getting B’s and C’s. They weren’t very happy about that. They started attacking me verbally, threatening to toss me out onto the street if I didn’t clean up my act.”

    “They wouldn’t!” Victoria exclaimed.

    “But they did. For just one night. They pulled me out of my bed in the middle of the night, drove out to the side, and dumped me on the sidewalk. I hid in an alley nearby, terrified of someone killing me, or raping me. They came back sometime after sunrise. ‘That’s what’ll happen if you don’t fix yourself, Madilyn.’

    “The next night, when they left for a work party that my dad’s company was having, I dug a box of razors out of my dad’s dresser. They came back home to grab something they’d forgotten a few minutes after I made the cuts, and found me.” I burst into tears. “I didn’t even cut right. I forgot that it was supposed to be down and not across. That’s the only reason the doctors were able to stop the bleeding so easily.”

    I’m startled by Victoria’s embrace. I inhale her scent, an odd combination of hospital smells and baking smells.

    “You know what you are?” She whispers, hugging me tightly.

    “Wh-what?”

    “A gemstone. A stunning gemstone, made beautiful by its flaws.” She pulls back, looking me in the eyes. “You’re beautiful, Madi. You’re perfect because you’re imperfect. And I love that.” She leans forward, softly pressing her lips against mine.

    Madi rushes in, taking control. I let her. This is her moment, not mine.

 

    Never mine.

 
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