A Stellar Flare of Young Adult Writing and Visual Art
BY CLAIRE SEELING-BRANSCOMB
She put her headphones in and let the world dissolve. At that moment she felt empty, she slumped to the floor, and then, she ceased to feel at all.
The hotel door burst open.
“Ellie?” Ellie’s mother uttered hesitantly. There was no response. She walked to the bathroom and was taken aback. Her daughter, lifeless on the floor. She rushed to pick Ellie up in an embrace. She sobbed. She couldn’t understand, Ellie had been her perfect little girl.
The police lights lit up the dim hotel parking lot. Ellie’s mother stood there, eyes plastered open in shock, wrapped in a police blanket, trembling. Ellie’s best friend Marissa arrived, and took the scene in. It didn’t feel real, it was like a scene out of a movie. Her eyes were dry, she was sure Ellie would just wake up and they would all laugh about it.
Marissa drove to the hospital solemnly. Ellie wouldn’t do that to herself, there was no way. She knew Ellie had some issues, but…No. She would never.
In the hospital waiting room, Ellie’s mom cried on Marissa’s shoulder. It seemed like Ellie had been in surgery for days. Life was in slow motion. The surgeon came out with a grim look on his face. “No No NO” Ellie’s mother pleaded, she started heaving. It was like all the sadness in her body was trying to escape at once. Marissa felt useless to comfort her, and just watched as she broke down sobbing. She twirled her curly brown hair on her finger and stared blankly at the wall.
Suddenly she was in a field with Ellie. They were dancing and listening to indie music. The sweet smell of the flowers made Marissa feel at bliss. Ellie laughed and joked about how bad Marissa’s dancing was. Marissa said “whatever” playfully and took a drag. Ellie’s warm hand grabbed Marissa’s arm and pulled her down onto the grass. “Bitch!” Marissa said playfully as she shoved Ellie. “Look at the sky, it’s beautiful” Ellie said with an absent look in her eye. Marissa laid back and looked up.
The next day, Marissa was sprawled out on her bed in a catatonic state. She hadn’t eaten or slept since. Her favorite moments with Ellie just replayed over and over in her head. Did Ellie commit suicide because of her? Why was Ellie at that hotel? She sulked into the kitchen to make a mug of mac and cheese. She was pouring almond milk over the microwaved noodles when a movement outside of her window caught her eye. She jumped in fear, and dropped her mug. The mug shattered, spilling the contents all over the floor. The floodgates opened. Her eyes suddenly gushed with tears. Her dad rushed to her “Are you ok?” he uttered frantically. She couldn’t control it, all of a sudden everything just hit her. She would never see Ellie again. It felt like there was a gaping hole in her abdomen. Marissa and her dad silently cleaned the mess up as she sobbed. “I need to clear my head” Marissa stated abruptly, and dashed out.
She gazed around the park and tried to enjoy the sereness of it like she usually would have, but she couldn’t. Something shiny on the ground at the beginning of a trail caught her eye. She approached it and saw it was a cracked cell phone. As she bent down to pick it up, she realized it looked just like Ellie’s.
She was back in the field with Ellie. The sun was setting, casting a pink glow over the field. Marissa turned her head to look at Ellie. She was so beautiful. Her smooth olive skin complemented her twinkly hazel eyes. Marissa’s eyes traced over Ellie’s prominent jawline. Everything about her seemed perfect. Their eyes met. She had to feel it too. Marissa leaned in, and she felt Ellie’s soft pillowy lips caress hers. It was magical. Everything was right with the world. Marissa rolled back on her back and stared at the clouds. After years of pining, questioning, wondering, it was finally a reality. The corners of her mouth curved up in satisfaction. Her life was finally perfect. The mix of contentedness and high from the weed made her drowsy, and she slowly drifted to sleep.
When her eyes fluttered open, Ellie was gone. That’s normal. That’s fine. She probably just had somewhere to be, it didn’t mean anything. Nothing could get in the way of how amazing she felt right now.
Running in the dark. She had never been very athletic, but here she was running in the rain in the black of night. The dim streetlights were too far apart to completely illuminate the path. Her mind was racing. Marissa would never forgive her. Her body felt so heavy, like some force was pulling her down. Tears flowed down her face. She had ruined everything. She always does. She needed to not feel this anymore. Her shaky hands pulled the phone from her pocket, “I need some NOW” she texted Drake.
Her fingers caressed the cracks on the phone. It was Ellie’s, she could feel it. She gently pressed the power button. The picture of her and Ellie caused tears to well in her eyes. As she typed in the passcode, the fractured glass cut her fingers, but she didn’t care. She opened the messages app. The last thing Ellie said to Marissa was on the screen taunting her. “I need to talk”. She remembered when she got the message. She had chosen to ignore it, as nothing good comes from those words. She knew it was too good to be true, she just wanted to feel the giddiness of blooming romance a little longer. Why had she been so selfish? If she had answered she could have talked Ellie down. It was her fault Ellie committed suicide. She clutched the phone and fell to the floor, her face contorted in pain as she screamed. The hole felt bigger.
A small run-down sedan pulled up to the park. She approached it and stuck her head in the window, wiping what was left of her tears away. She smiled, “finally! You took forever” she said playfully. Drake scoffed, “You gave me like zero notice, so you want it or not?” he waved the plastic bag in her face. She grabbed it abruptly, threw $40 in his face, and quickly strutted away.
Oxy was her dependable friend who was always there for her and knew exactly how to alleviate her problems. “I can always count on you” she said endearingly to the tiny white pills in her hand before she threw them in her mouth and gulped.
Marissa explored Ellie’s phone, lamenting all the memories everything on it brought up. Looking through Ellie’s phone hurt, but at the same time it comforted her, it felt like Ellie was still alive. She looked through all of their pictures together, all of Ellie’s cute selfies. As she scrolled she to the bottom she saw a blurry dark picture. It was the most recent. Her eyes squinted as she tried to make out what it was. A man?
Ellie felt like a kid again. Wandering through the park, touching every little flower on the sides of the path. She was floating. Suddenly a loud, shrill cry erupted from the bushes and brought her back to Earth. Ellie slowly approached the bush. She cautiously pushed a branch to the side and froze in shock. The oxy couldn’t fix that. There was a man…no…Mr. Brent? Crouched over an unconscious woman like a rabid animal. “Get off!” Ellie screamed. Suddenly he turned his head and his reflective eyes stared holes into Ellie. She could barely recognize Mr. Brent. In what seemed like a millisecond, he jumped up, buckled his pants, and lunged at Ellie. She frantically pulled out her phone and pressed to turn it on. It wasn’t working. Her legs felt like they were moving in slow motion. Before she could dial 911 she was on the ground. Moist, rough cotton was shoved in her mouth and in a few seconds everything went black.
Marissa migrated to the music app. The last song played was “Cola” by Lana Del Rey. She chuckled, that song was an inside joke about their science teacher, Mr. Brent. They only listened to it together. Her smile disappeared.
She felt heavy on the cold tile. She wiggled her toes and hands. Her wrists couldn’t move. They were tied with rope. Suddenly it all came back to her. “HELP” she cried desperately and frantically flopped around trying to squirm out of the rope. Mr. Brent walked in. “You don’t want to do that” he said nonchalantly as he flashed his knife at her. Her rebellious eyes gazed up at him grudgingly, her lips contorted in a scowl. He kneeled down next to her and cut the rope.
“No need to worry, I would never hurt a student” his gravelly voice said as he stroked her hair.
She felt the blood come back to her fingers. Suddenly, the knife was at her throat.
“I’ve noticed at school recently you’ve been very depressed… and poor Ellie has a drug problem” he said mockingly as he gestured to her tiny plastic bag of Oxy that was lying on the floor.
“That’s the thing about addicts, they abuse drugs until it kills them…tragic really”
She mouthed the word please as she gazed into his eyes.
“Take the pills” he said assertively, “All of them”.
Her heart dropped. She felt her throat tighten. She was about to cry. What happened to the strong rebellious teenager she had always been? She was just going to give up?
He sensed her hesitation and pushed the knife further into her neck. The cool blade brushed against her jaw. Her lips trembled, and hot tears silently ran down her cheeks. She slowly reached for the bag, placed the pills in her hand, and forced herself to swallow the hard, dry pills.
“Can I at least listen to music?” Ellie croaked.
Claire Seeling-Branscomb is 18 years old and she lives in Forest Hills, New York.