Name: Laura J. Marshall
Genre: Young Adult
Title: All the Angels Stood
She was giving up. At 8:15 next Monday evening, on her birthday, life would cease to exist for Stacey Rose Schofield. The pain would be gone. There would be silence and peace. Struggling up from her bed to see the time, she felt comforted that it would soon be over. She had a few minutes to lie there before the mad rush to school, so she rolled on her side and pulled the heavy blankets over her head with just enough cool air circulating through a tunneled hole near her mouth.
Closing her eyes, she thought back to the past Saturday.
Rachel was supposed to come over and Stacey had gotten a movie and some popcorn and soda. Her father had vacated the premises, heading to dinner with his new girlfriend, Ellen. The phone rang early in the evening as Stacey waited.
“Um, hi Stacey.”
“Rachel, I’m waiting for you. Everything’s set up. I even got your favorite drink, Mountain Dew.”
Stacey stretched out on the couch with the phone up to her ear. She grabbed the remote and lowered the volume.
“I can’t come. I’m not feeling well and my mom said I have to stay home.”
Stacey sat up and glanced at the 5 bottles of nail polish on the coffee table.
“Are you sure? I mean, you can rest here. We can just hang out.”
“Sorry. I can’t. Maybe another time.”
The alarmed screamed pulling her back to the present. She wanted to scream back and stomp her feet. Her rising temper surprised her. Why did she care? It would only be 7 days now.
Stacey put her feet on the cold floor. Glancing in the mirror over her bureau, her eyes took in the outside exterior of her hollow self. Long hair fell over dark eyes. Didn’t anyone notice the old Stacey was slowly being replaced with this hopeless person she didn’t recognize or like at all.
She chose her clothes haphazardly from a pile on the floor, dirty mixed with clean, her mother’s chastening grimace coming to her mind. She didn’t want to think of her mother now. Shaking her head, she made her way downstairs. The house was silent. Her father had left for work already. Mr. Coffee said good morning as she chose a banana off the counter and stuck it in her backpack.
Studiously trying to keep her mind empty, she headed into the bathroom off the kitchen to brush her hair. A small ant caught her eye in the sink basin. She watched it slip and struggle up the wet porcelain. With pause, Stacey put her finger out and squished the tiny black body. It clung to her finger, six little legs flat and now lifeless. She wiped her hand across her jeans and rushed out the door to make the bus.
Claire was waiting for her in the same seat they usually sat in together. She was a year younger, a sophomore, and always full of energy, so much so that her petite frame seemed unable to contain it all. Her bright blonde hair bounced with life and her tiny white teeth flashed at Stacey.
“Hey, coffeecake! How are ya’?”
Claire greeted Stacey each day with whatever breakfast food she had eaten that morning. Sometimes Stacey found it amusing, the names could be quite interesting. Today, she just felt angry. Angry over Claire’s silly names and over no breakfast and a silent empty house. Stacey knew Claire had a large family with three rowdy older brothers and a mother who doted on them.
Stacey slumped low in the seat, gave Claire an absent-minded hello and began busily picking at her already chipped nail polish. She wondered now at her choice of colors, a dark sparkly blue. She had been determined to feel better, about herself and about life lately. Stacey had sat alone Saturday night, painting her nails and trying not to care, the loneliness creeping back in.
Her father tried but he was a guy. He didn’t get teenage girls or their need to talk. He wanted to fix everything and if he couldn’t fix it then Stacey knew he didn’t really want to hear about it. He had buried his pain beneath his work and now he had Ellen in his life.
School was the same. Same chatter, same daily gossip, the same bullies and the same prey. She didn’t want to feel the shame for them anymore or the disgust at the offender. Did they think it made them appear stronger or more popular to put someone else down? The tread of their shoes cleared a path ahead as they walked and left a path behind, footprints that left hearts decimated and clinging to strands of self-contempt and despair. She saw it in their eyes as she turned her head away. She felt scarred just being a witness. Her load was heavy as she trudged the halls, with books, shoes, the images in her head and her weary heart.
She didn’t see Bobby in the hall that day. Her eyes darted between classes up and down the hallways. The old places they used to meet were occupied by other couples passing notes and holding hands. She put her mask on, the smile, the wave to people she had known for years. Busy, busy, busy. No one really cared about anyone but themselves. She knew the score. The first week of the breakup had been the worst of it. Everyone wanted to talk, talk, talk about it and offer solace. Now it was old news. Bobby had a new girlfriend and she stood, stricken still in that moment, the moment of his text. Not even enough guts to tell her to her face after over a year of professed love.
She rode home the same way she went to school, slumped down, head back, nail polish almost all chipped away.
“I wonder if it will help make the coroner’s job easier.”
She glanced back and returned to the kitchen, keeping an ear on her father’s low voice as he talked on the phone to Ellen. She filled her sports bottle half way up with wine from the refrigerator quietly replacing the cork.
As she filled the garden tub in her bathroom, she sipped slowly trying not to pucker. She looked at the walls of the tub and thought about the ant from that morning, struggling to get higher and slipping. Wasn’t it better to just cease? To stop? Darkness. Was there just darkness next? Her father believed in heaven and hell. She believed, well…she didn’t know what she believed. Lately, it was the old adage ringing in her head, “Life sucks then you die.”
Stacey lay back with the wine in hand, the water running loudly. She didn’t like to be in the tub without the water running. She liked the noise concealing her thoughts and making her feel safe, like no one would enter or intrude.
The wine made her head numb-er. Was numb-er a word? She smiled a small smile. No. But that was okay. She was numb-er and as she sipped, even numb-er.
She pulled the plug, turned the water off, and hopped out. Quickly she rinsed the bottle out several times, the last with a bit of Listerine, climbed into her pajamas, hit the alarm button and floated off to sleep.