Shit. How do I keep ending up here? I swear this office is my second home at this point. Mom is on her way, and she knows the drill. Listen to the principle complain about me, tell me off in front of everyone while I pretend to care, sign my name, then drive me home and get a drink. I'll admit that I do feel a little bad, but no one understands that I don't want it to happen either. It's just that... when those assholes start picking on people, something happens. I can always feel it happening, and I know what comes next. First stage, my hand starts shaking. Second, my breathing quickens. Third, everything goes red. At that point, there's no stopping it. I close my eyes, and when I open them, I've done something horrible. Sometimes it's just yelling. Most of the time someone is on the ground, and my knuckles sting. This time, things got worse though. I heard that Stephan went to the hospital for a broken nose. That's not good.

 

I kind of zone out for the lecture, but when we get home I can see that Mom looks worse than usual. The bags under her eyes are huge, and she’s clearly gritting her teeth. I start making my way up to my room, but my Mom calls from downstairs,

“Mia, get down here.”

She doesn’t shout, but she doesn’t leave any room for negotiation.

“Come on Mom, I’ve had my lecture! Can’t we just…”
“I said get down!”

At that point I feel a spark in my chest. Oh no.

 

I slowly walk down to the kitchen, where she’s sitting at the table with a glass of wine. Carefully, I place myself opposite her, avoiding her eyes at all costs. 

“Mia. This has to stop.”

“Mom, I know. I swear I’m trying but -”

“Someone is in the hospital.”

“I… I know.” She takes a long gulp of whatever poison it is that’ll be on her breath until tomorrow morning.

“One more time, and you’re going to boarding school.” I feel my blood leave my face; my finger itches the table.

“Mom. No. I’m not doing that. I promise you I -”

“Mia, there is no choice. I can’t deal with you anymore! It’s almost every day now!” Her voice is louder, and her glass is empty. My hand starts to shake. A spark ignites in my stomach. 

“I mean really! How am I expected to pay for every time you feel like getting back at someone!” My breath quickens. A fire burns my eyes and my skin. No, no, no! 

“When will you just GROW UP!?” 

 

Everything goes red.

 

I hear yelling. Something smashes. Oh shit.

 

When the red fades, I feel my blood pumping. My fists are tight and my eyes are strained. I look around and see my chair on the floor, the whiskey glass shattered, and my Mom by the counter, shaking. Tears run down her face, and I can feel mine welling up in my eyes.

“I…” I can’t speak. My mind is yelling deafeningly, and my throat is stuck. I back away. And then I’m running. Out the door. Down the street. Past the church and past the school. My legs carry me, desperate for the wind to steal my tears. Finally, I arrive, panting breathlessly. 

 

Quiet, as usual. I stumble through the potted plants to the bench by the oak tree. There, I fall, losing control of my stupid body again. This time, I let the tears fall. I let my arms cradle my knees. I let my cries and gasps echo throughout the park. No one ever comes here but me. It’s my place. Head in my knees, I tremble, alone.

 

“H...hey. Are... you alright?” A gentle voice asks from above me. I freeze, holding my breath, and look up. “I- I didn’t mean to intrude...” Hanging from the branches of the old oak, a girl with ginger hair looks down at me. 

“No. No, it’s fine.” I manage to say, desperately trying to wipe my problems from my face. The girl jumps down, expertly. Her shiny green eyes look at me curiously.

“I’m Emily.” She says, surprisingly confidently, holding out her hand. I stop for a moment, confused, before reaching out my own.

“Mia.” Without hesitation, Emily sits herself down next to me, inspecting the roses next to the bench. “No one really uses this park. I thought-”

“Yeah, I’ve never understood why. I mean, the air, the flowers, the tree. It’s so perfect to find some piece of mind.” I stare at her as she plays with the flowers. I swear she told those roses some joke that I’m not in on, because both seem to be smiling. 

“I guess most people don’t see it that way. Most people just see an empty lot with a tree and a bench.”

“Well those people are all idiots,” she responds calmly and cheerfully. Then suddenly she’s facing me. 

“So why are you here?” A little smile crosses my face.

“I guess I’m not an idiot.” Emily laughs, wonderfully, beautifully, like the only thing that matters in this world is how funny that was. 

 

Her eyes watch mine, her face now only a few inches away, a rose in her hand.

“Here. I think you may need this.”

My hand reaches for the rose, but she doesn’t let go. Instead, her hand closes around mine, carefully. My face flushes. My hands tremble.

“T...thank you.” My heart pounds as I look up to her face. But then she smiles, and everything goes red. I gasp for air. This can’t be happening! Not here! Not again! I feel the sparks exploding in my chest, this time strong enough to start a fire. A fire that burns my lungs and melts away the world. I feel myself move. But when the red is gone, I still can’t breath. I still can’t see. I can only feel. Feel the wind on my skin. Feel her hand holding mine. Feel her lips against mine.

 

For once, I don’t mind this fire.

red

BY zoe

 

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