It is like I am someone else.
When I look in the mirror, it is myself that I can see: the same shoulder-length blonde hair; the same murky green eyes; the exact same number of freckles scattered across my nose. Yet it isn't me. I have considered the likelihood of an imposter, but not only do they look like me, they mirror my actions.
It has to be me. It is me.

1. Lost.

It is like I am someone else.


When I look in the mirror, it is myself that I can see: the same shoulder-length blonde hair; the same murky green eyes; the exact same number of freckles scattered across my nose. Yet it isn’t me. I have considered the likelihood of an imposter, but not only do they look like me, they mirror my actions. It has to be me. It is me.



I wake up numb. I’m still tired. I want to go back to sleep. Why can’t I still be asleep?


“Peter just- just calm down! You’ll wake the kids!” My mother’s voice floats up the stairs and underneath the door.


With more sleep seeming not to be an option, I slowly get up - mindful of the creaking floorboards - and edge my way towards my door.


Kid, Michelle, kid.” My dad replies sadly. “She won’t wake up, anyway. Nothing wakes her anymore. All she does is sleep. What about her exams? What about all of the hard work that she’s throwing away?”

PETER!” My mother snaps. “All you can think about is her exams?!”

“This is hard enough without her acting up! I don’t need this. God knows I’m this close to breaking. Why does she have to make everything harder? Why does she have to be so selfish!” His voice rises slowly to a shout.


I hear a slap. I hear the front door slam shut. I hear my mother crying. I feel numb. I get back into bed and go to sleep.




“Good afternoon sleepyhead!” My mum greets me when I walk into the kitchen.

“I heard you and dad. Is he still out?” I say, reaching into the cupboard in search of the cereal.

“I’m… I’m sorry you had to hear that Scarlette. Things are just tough at your dad’s work. He’s very stressed; he didn’t mean any of it.” My mother’s eyes are still slightly red from earlier but then again they always are. “Do you have any plans today?”


I think back a few months. It’s a Saturday. I would have had swim practise in the morning followed by lunch with the team, and then I probably would have spent the evening with my best friend watching a marathon of films.


“No.” I reply, spooning the cereal into my mouth.

“Not meeting up with Jessica? She hasn’t come round in a while.” She persists.

“Actually, that’s a good idea. I’ll text her in a bit.”

“Brilliant!” My mother instantly brightens. “I’ll leave you some money on the side.”


After breakfast - more like late lunch since it’s past 2pm - I chuck on a pair of leggings and a t-shirt, grab the money near the door and yell to my mum that I’m heading out.


When I arrive at the park it is empty. I plug in my headphones and close my eyes. Peace at last.




“Uh, excuse me?” I awake at a start as someone prods me in the shoulder. I look around confused, my eyes finally landing on a stranger towering over me. “You’ve been asleep for a while now and it’s beginning to get dark. I thought I’d wake you.”

“Thanks.” I mumble, fumbling for my book and ipod.

“Hey, are you okay? Woah there. You’re falling asleep on your feet… Do you need some help getting home? Money for a taxi or something?”

“I’m fine. Just tired.” I begin to walk away but he’s right - I am falling asleep on my feet. “I just live round the corner… Um, would it be weird if… No nevermind. It’s fine. I’m fine.”

“I can walk you there if you want? Prod you if you fall asleep?” This boy says everything as a question.

“Uh yeah, that would be good thanks.”


We walk in silence, thankfully. My brain can barely stay awake let alone maintain small talk with a stranger.


“So do you sleep at the park every saturday or was this a special occasion?” Well, the silence was nice while it lasted.

“I guess I haven’t been sleeping that well at night. I can sleep in the morning slash afternoon, but yeah not at night.”

“Losing sleep over exams?” He asks, and this time there’s no hint of jest in his voice. “Well, I’m presuming you’re like seventeen or eighteen or something. A levels have been hitting me pretty hard. I can’t go through one night without at least one nightmare about them.”

“Yeah something like that.” I say. “Well this is me. Thanks for that. Uh goodnight.” I stand awkwardly by my front door.

“Well whatever it is that’s keeping you up at night - exams or whatever else - don’t worry about it. Everything works out in the end.” He smiles at me and I bite my tongue.

“Bye.” I quickly open the door and shut it behind me.


I ignore my mum - ‘Hey, sweetie! Did you have fun?’ - as I storm upstairs and collapse on my bed.


Everything works out in the end. Don’t worry about. Everything works out in the end. Don’t worry about. Don’t worry about. Don’t worry about.


As if it is that easy. God. Yeah, everything definitely works out. Until you die. And then nothing works out. Nothing happens. Well not to you. Stuff happens to everyone else you leave behind.


Before I know it I’m screaming into my pillow and my mum is at the foot of my bed rubbing my back and trying to calm me down.


“What’s wrong? Oh Scarlette, please talk to me.”

“I hate him mum! He’s so selfish. I hate him I hate him I hate him.” I yell, furious tears streaming down my face.

“You hate who? What happened?”

“Sammy. I hate him I hate him I hate him.” My mother recoils, a look of horror on her face.

“Don’t say that! Don’t you dare say that! If your father heard he’d….” She trails off, tears welling up in her eyes.

“He’d tell you to shut your mouth!” My father storms into the room. “You never say that again, you hear me? The only selfish one in this family is you! You’re a piece of work at the moment and I’ve had enough!”

“Peter…” My mother looks torn. She’s a mixture of fury and heartbreak.


“I’m selfish? What he did was the most selfish thing anyone could ever do. He pissed off and killed himself so now he doesn’t have to suffer, but what does that mean for us? It means you're always home late so that you can bury your problems in your work and ignore what’s happening, and mum’s eyes are always red and she can’t even look at the pictures on the mantlepiece, and I can’t walk past his room without expecting to hear his stupid indie music playing and I just want to be able to tell him to turn it down, to switch off that racket, except deep down I know I love hearing him singing along because he really was a good singer even though he didn’t try, and I want to be able to look in the mirror without seeing his ghost behind me, I want to feel good enough for this family, I want to try at school, I want to be me again. But I’m not. I miss him and I hate him and I want to be with him, wherever that may be because it sure as hell will be better than this broken and suffocating house!”


That’s what I want to say. I want to scream it. But I say nothing. I bury my head in my pillow and I wait for sleep that doesn’t come.




The next morning I leave without a word. Not that anyone is there to hear my silence; the house is eerily quiet so my parents must both be out.


I find myself sat on the same bench, listening to the same music, except this time I’m definitely not going to sleep.


“Fancy seeing you here. Must be fate.” The stranger from the night before says, taking a seat next to me.


I pretend I can’t hear him, turning up the volume of my ipod. He pulls out one headphone forcing me to look at him.


“Did you never learn not to talk to strangers?” I ask as I snatch my headphone back and place it in my ear.

“Then how do you expect to make any friends? And anyway, we’re not strangers. We’ve spoken before and I know where you live. I think that at least makes us acquaintances.” With my lack of response I think he catches on that I’m kinda annoyed at him and kinda pissed off that he’s sitting next to me and kinda not in the mood. “Hey, did I do or say something wrong? You’re looking kinda annoyed and pissed and not in the mood.”

“Good observation.”


I move slightly further down the bench. The conversation is over as far as I’m concerned.


“Seriously, what did I do? I’m not shutting up until you tell me so…”


Urgh. Optimistic and persistent. Great.


“It’s just… I don’t know, I guess it’s kind of really annoying what you said last night. That everything works out in the end. As humans, there are some things we can just never figure out. We don’t know the number of stars in the universe, we don’t know whether there is intelligent life on other planets, and we don’t know what the future brings. The future is something we can shape but not something we can accurately predict. It throws curveballs, and I find it incredibly optimistic of you to believe that everything will just work out because trust me, it doesn’t.”


He pauses for a moment and then smirks at me.


“I am optimistic; it’s true. I believe in the concept of seeing the best in things. I didn’t used to. I couldn’t. But once I realised exactly what you just said - that the future is unpredictable - I decided not to worry about it, and instead I just hope that everything will work out. And that hope gradually turns into belief.” His brown eyes squint into the sun before looking into mine. “Have you never heard that quote… It goes something like ‘Everything in life is temporary. So if things are going good, enjoy it because it won't last forever. And if things are going bad, don't worry because it won't last forever either.’ I know that life will be full of these bad and good moments, and I like the idea that in the end I will be in a place where everything is alright.” He smiles to himself. “And can I just point out your argument kinda collapsed on itself. You said that we can’t predict the future-”

“Yeah, we can’t!” I interrupt defensively.

“I know, I know. But then you said that you know everything doesn’t work out in the end and, well, how would you know that because no one knows what the future holds?”

“....Well, I….” I trail off. “You paraphrased me! I just mean it probably won’t work out… It hasn’t worked out for some people. For people who don’t have a future now.”

“Everyone has a future.”

“Not if they’re dead.”


We stop talking then. His brown eyes hold my gaze but I finally said something he can’t argue with.


“I never thought about that… I’m sorry.”

“It’s whatever.” I say. “Actually, it’s not whatever. It sucks a lot, like a lot a lot. I don’t know, I guess I’ve just lost myself in his absence, like now that he isn’t here I can’t do anything without thinking about him but all I want to do is not think about him, but the more I try not to think about him the more I do. It’s frustrating. There’s a constant battle in my brain of trying to go back to normal, to be happy again, but every time I even attempt to do something I used to enjoy I realise that he can’t and then I feel guilty and I feel sick and I don’t want to let him down again.


“I should have known. He wasn’t himself. Wasn’t eating, sleeping. I still hear it, you know. I’ll be walking down the school corridor and I’ll hear that stupid song by Imagine Dragons, you know the one about demons or something? Yeah Demons, I think. I’ll just catch the chorus, or I’ll hear the melody from somewhere distant. And then I’m right back to outside his door, yelling at him to turn it down because I can’t concentrate on my stupid homework. And then I open the door, because I’m pretty pissed at him by this point, and first I see his feet and then I see his torso and then I see his face - except it doesn’t look like him - and then I see the tie around his neck. And I’m screaming for mum and I’m trying to get him down and I’m trying to hear a heartbeat, just trying to make him stop kidding around, for him to smile and pinch my side and tell me that I should have seen the look on my face.


“So my brother doesn’t have a future. Everything wasn’t okay for him. He did worry too much. And he gave up. Who knows whether he would have been happy in the future, whether he would have raised a family, whether he would have discovered a cure for cancer, whether he would have been the first man on mars. His future, like everyone else’s, was unpredictable and I guess he couldn’t handle that. I know my future is just as unpredictable but there is one thing I am sure of: my future is missing Sammy and that isn’t the kind of future I want.”


I let out a breath and, almost as if that breath was the plug holding in all my tears, for the first time since my brother’s death, I cried.


“I know it’s not my place but…. Are you okay? Shit, that sounds like such as stupid question. Of course you’re not okay. What I mean is are you- I know I don’t know you but I’m worried that- Does your family know that-”

“That I might possibly be depressed or something messed up like that? Yeah, they probably know. Not that they’re doing anything about it. They already had one embarrassment of a child who was so depressed he killed himself, they won’t want to admit they have another one.”

“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about… God I hate this society. Mental health does not stamp you as crazy or a failure, it just shows that… that this messed up world doesn’t leave you scar-free. It hurts you and challenges you and eventually it can strengthen you. But sometimes even that strength isn’t enough.”

“What happened to your optimism?” I joke.

“Optimism isn’t the same as ignorance. I can’t just ignore all the hard parts of life and just see the good.”




We spoke for the rest of the day, drifting from the topic of mental health and death to more manageable topics like ‘Favourite book of all time don’t even think about it just go’, and ‘If mermaids exist (I’m still not entirely convinced they don’t) and you had the option to become one would you?’. We spoke until it became dark, till I knew my mum would be worried even if she was still pissed at me. We spoke the whole way to my house, till I was standing on the doorstep with my key in hand.


“Look, I um hit you with some pretty heavy stuff before. Sorry about that. I know I don’t even know you- like I know that yes you would want to be a mermaid, and your favourite book ever is To Kill A Mockingbird, and you want to be the sort of person who enjoys reading Shakespeare but you just aren’t, without even knowing your name. I guess I found it easier unloading to a person who I can potentially never see again, and not to my parents. It would break them if they could see inside my head. I don’t want to hurt them but I guess I already have.”

“I thought of something before.” He says, his eyes glistening. “You said dead people don’t have a future but I think they do. Not like an eternity of heaven or hell or walking around as ghost or something like that - I mean they could, that’s another thing humans can’t figure out: what happens after death. But I mean they have a future because even when they die, they don’t just disappear. They live infinitely through the people they touched when they were alive, the memories they created with others, the things they said that you just can’t forget. So if you have a future, your brother does too.”


I hug him tightly. I’ve never been so bold before but I knew I just needed to hug him.


“Thank you.” I whisper.

“My name’s Will, by the way.” He whispers into my hair.

“Thank you, Will.”


After the embrace I slowly unlock and open the door, watching as Will disappears from my sight.


“Mum...Dad?” I say into the house. “I’m sorry. I need help, mum. I want some help. I’m not okay. I haven’t been okay. But I know I could be.”


They both instantly wrap their arms around me, and for once I feel like our family has it’s strength back, even for that brief moment.



I had lost myself. I’d been swallowed by my grief, by his absence. Even though he made up part of me, and now he’s gone, I’m still here. I still have that piece of him. I’m done with shutting him out of my head. I’m here for him now. I’m back. I am found.

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