Writing

After;Then

One of my biggest dreams is to become a novelist. Of course, becoming published is a struggle that has as much to do with luck as anything else and I simply don’t want to wait for it. So, why not publish myself and see what people see in it?

So, my YA contemporary/romance will get placed on my blog, one chapter at a time.

Millie Morrison shoulders more than most sixteen year-olds. She has found herself on a cusp: in three months she will turn seventeen and begin her senior year and four months prior, she survived a suicide attempt. Desperate to heal and become a new person, she unintentionally becomes a glutton for happiness. By throwing herself into a customer service filled job, trying to figure out college (and the lie she told her parents about applying), and venting through her drawings and journals, she goes through her summer understanding what it means to be normal. With help from her supportive family, a cute barista, a cheerleader suffering from her own demons, and bees she might just have a shot. If she can be released from her prison that is YouTubers with attractive voices (well, hell-o, Markiplier).

Trigger Warnings: Talk of suicide, depression, and mental illness

Chapter One

I hadn’t wanted to die. Not exactly.

Just one moment I was sinking into myself as I had done the past year and then I woke up to the white ceiling of my bathroom with the florescent lights making mom’s dark skin glow something sickly. I was covered in my own sick and mom was breaking the bones of my chest as she breathed for me.

Certainly hadn’t wanted that, thank you universe, but I just hadn’t wanted to live and that was a huge difference.

On most days of the week I played pretend with myself. Like there was nothing wrong with me. Like I did nothing wrong. That it was all a bad dream that never needed another glance at. On Thursdays I could never pretend in the small psychiatric office covered in boring cream with pops of vibrant strawberry pink. Dr. Davis was enjoyable enough for a shrink; she was young and seemed to have some sort of skills, but I’d much rather spend my days with something a little more beneficial and fun. Spending an hour every Thursday with her made me feel itchy more than relieved. Getting my head taken apart and my feelings forced out to the light made me feel more depressed than anything. Though, I can manage a laugh because I’d never seen her with anything but a nicked Hilton Hotel pen.

Still though…what happened to teens keeping the feels repressed? That was easier than word vomiting about my week and coming to “grasps” (with the most intense of quotation-marks) about myself. Not sure what’s so good about putting a person like me in a spiral, but hey, I didn’t have the degree worth thousands.

Dr. Davis swirled on her chair and her pen tapped against the pink clipboard in her hands. Her manicured nails in the standard French rather than anything colorful and bright. I always liked color. More color the better, I say.

“Millie?” Dr. Clarissa waved her hand in my direction. “Lost in your thoughts again?”

“Guess so.” I don’t mean to have an attitude with her but my tone always came out sharp and impatient. Short. My brother told me it was because I was short (5’2 was NOT!) myself and this usually earned him a kick to the shin. Mom and papa said it was because there was something artistic in me—which made it sound like I had a disease or something.

“What’s on your mind?”

I lounged against the palm of my hand and my knee started to bounce. “Dunno.”

She gave me a sigh but a pleasant smile. Apparently she was used to her patients having an eight-foot wall in-between them and herself. Communication-skills were not something those with some mental, let’s say, obstacles were known for. Guess she needed loads of practice to deal with the crap I bring into her life. All the grunts and typical mutters that made up conversations between awkward teens and (no offense, Dr. Davis) unwanted professional adults.

“Any more art?”

I started to chew at my thumbnail and shrugged. “Not really.”

“No?” She tilted her head at me. “What about your game?”

I shrugged again. “It’s not like it was anything important.”

“You were putting together a video-game; that feels important. Why not now?”

Ugh. I couldn’t deny that I liked her but the whole therapist-talk grew frustrating. How do you feel? Why do you feel like that? What makes you think such things? Can we change this? When I don’t have answers those questions make me want to pull my hair. I wanted fixed, not an interrogation.

“It was an idea with some drawings.” I said and looked around her office, counting the little pops of pink that caught my eye. I was up to thirteen when she spoke again.

“Have you done anything else with your time? You’re not in school any more and no summer school, right? ”

“Right.” My leg bounced some more and the ticks down to my freedom went agonizingly slow.

“So? What are you filling your time up with?”

Could bones itch? Because it felt like the bones of my thighs were itchy and it took so much internal struggling to not start scratching. The last thing I wanted to do was have her write up some concerns about my triggers or whatnot. “Computer stuff.”

“Like what?”

“You know, stuff?” Honestly, it was more like turning my brain off and watching videos of gamers freaking out. I’d always loved seeing people’s reaction to things, especially games, but now it was something more than something funny. I needed these guys and their giggling and raging fits. In fact, all I wanted to do was get home, curl up in bed, and turn on a playlist of Markiplier or I Am Wildcat and just let nothing enter my thoughts and then sleep.

Dr. Davis sighed again. “You know this can hurt your depression more than help it.”

I didn’t look at her. “Yeah, sure.”

“You’re making such progress. I’d hate for you to hit a wall because you don’t have things to keep your mind occupied.”

I wanted to say my mind was plenty occupied and that I wasn’t going to do it again but I already lost everyone’s trust with that so I kept my arguments silent.

“Well, how about you start the group process?”

I let out a miserable groan. “Group therapy?”

“Yes, I think it’s now the best time for that.” She said without losing her intelligent and professional tone despite my whines. “Meet people around your age who are going through similar things.”

I swallowed a scoff and an eye-roll and allowed her to continue her push for health and community—ew, people—as I dread over the prospect of group therapy. The horror drums of dun, dun, duuuun echoed ominously as I pictured myself surrounded by eyes, filled with judgment, and becoming swallowed up in their whispers. All of that poetic crap that make me sound weird, even to my own head.

Because, honestly, how many kids were that similar to me?

 

The greenery of Oregon passed like blended paints. My hand pressed against the wind flowing against our car and I tried to grab at it. It felt warm against my skin and my Northern blood already felt like it was boiling. I dreaded summer and the heat wave we were promised. The leather of the seats already stuck to my thighs and I loathed the idea of peeling them off. Ugh. The world should be in fall and winter at all times. It was against nature of a Black girl with thickness to suffer from the sun. I needed a mountain with a dragon, WIFI, and endless supply of money. I’d be fine. I’d have Amazon and my YouTubers.

Sigh. The life.

“So, you excited for Clinton?” Mom asked and interrupted my daydream of bliss.

“Huh?” I looked over at her, blinking under the sunlight and yawned.

“His graduation is on Sunday.” She reminded and gave me a side-glance. “Just a few more days. And then next year it’s your turn.”

“Oh,” I managed a smile and not a grimace. “Yeah.”

“And then only three months and he’s heading to Cornell.” She shook her head as if still in shock despite the whole family knowing he’d be accepted since he was fifteen. A talented genius gets the school he wants after all. “What do you think about being an only child for a while?”

I chewed at my bottom lip and I made believe I was gnawing off all of my freckles. This wasn’t enough to keep some nerves in check so I started to pull and twist my hair. Some days, especially now that we’d be suffering from the beast known as heat (hiss!!), I wish I had mom’s narrow and slender body and keep my hair as short as hers. But she loved my hair too much, always claimed not enough girls kept their hair natural in their curls, and would hate to see them on a salon’s floor.

“I don’t think I’d be an only child.”

“Your brother will be in New York. You know papa and I will cling to you while we have you.” She warned, a pleased grin on her face, which lit up her face. It always hit me hard in my pit when I think I nearly stole that smile away from her. “To think we only have a year left with you before you’re going to college.”

I looked back out our open window and tried not to think that far out. It made me queasy.

“You got your school list made?”

Now I did wince. I hated lying to mom. “Sort of. It takes a lot of energy.”

“Wait till you start searching for jobs.” She teased in warning.

I popped some gum in my mouth to delay the conversation. Mom didn’t know I hadn’t taken the SATs yet or that I haven’t looked up one college. Not since last year. My throat felt dried and I coughed out some positive laughter for her, “Yeah, we’ll see.”

Apparently my act wasn’t good enough as mom threw me a worried look. “I’m sorry. I know Thursdays make it harder for you to think. You probably want a nap after that.”

“Naps are good.” But I waved off her concern. She’d start off just worried and then she’d bring papa into the mix and the worry would explode to paranoia and then Clinton would glare daggers at me for days and it was just best if I never look unhappy for the rest of forever. “Sitting and stewing over therapy doesn’t sound fun.”

Mom conceded to that and offered up a fun outing to a local bookstore to distract my stewing. I’d never turn down a trip to get my nerd on. Besides, my shelves were looking old. The books needed new siblings.

We drove in relative silence, a simple conversation here and there, but nothing lasted long. I continued staring out the window and my knee bounced on the floorboard as my thoughts swirled over the dreaded term future. One would think I’d actually be excited about doing more in my life since I nearly, you know, lost it. Instead, I was terrified of it.

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