When Genevieve awakened the next morning, Gwen was standing at the foot of her bed.

            “Gwen?”  Eve asked, groggy.  She sat up and rubbed sleep from her eyes.

            “I want you to read something.”  Gwen said.

            “Can’t it wait?  It’s six in the morning, honey, I need another few hours of sleep.”  She said after looking at the alarm clock.  Sunlight was slowly filtering into the room from the window, giving it a soft golden tinge, but she could still sleep.  She needed to, after the stress of the past few months.  She felt a hundred years old.

            “No, it can’t.  It’s about Ethan and Hope.”

            This statement made Genevieve become very suddenly awake, like a sudden jolt of energy had just coursed through her, or like something had just jumped up and bit her.

            “What is it?”  She said, abruptly very curious.  Eve remembered her parents telling her Gwen hadn’t been speaking.  Why was this important enough to change that?

            “He left us his journal.  Hope found it and read some to me.  I read some more yesterday, since I knew she wasn’t coming back.  I think you should read this part, and this one, that she read, and then this new part.  I don’t know if I understand it completely, but I think it’s scary.”

            When Eve finished reading it, with Gwen cuddled in her lap for comfort, she thought that it was pretty scary, too.



First she read the part about the graveyard, and cried when she saw how Ethan’s obsession with Hope began and at the memory of that year, and the pain he had been in after his beating.  She had been worried that he might die for several days, and it had been the scariest time of her life.  Then she read the more recent part, written in the autumn after Hope had left and when Ethan was in his last year of high school:

I spent all summer brooding over a lost friendship.  I believed for a time that I was in love, and now I know that I was wrong.  It took a lot of soul searching to reach this point, but now that I’m here I find myself laughing at myself.  I laugh because it’s better than crying.  Last year was all a lie, and that is a sad and pitiful thing.

            I have discovered that I don’t care about myself very much.  I never really thought that before.  I felt it, way down deep, but never needed to think about it.  It was just the way things were, and had been for so long that I never knew any other way.  But now I can think about it, and that means that I can change it, because I can teach myself to think differently.

            There is this hole, a void where my self-love and respect should be.  Sometimes it makes me feel empty and alone, and when this feeling gets bad enough I have to go out and try to fill it, and I do that through my friends.  I live for them, helping them out with whatever they need, doing whatever I can to make them happy.  The affection and thanks they give in return make it easier to not feel that emptiness, but it never really goes away.

            I once had a best friend, and she was better than almost anyone at helping me with that void.  So good, in fact, that I thought perhaps that she could fill it.  I was wrong, but that didn’t stop me from obsessing about her, hoping that she would be willing to solve all my problems for me.  I became so attached that I convinced myself that I was in love with her.  But I wasn’t.

            Love is about mutual respect and affection, equality, living for each other and contributing to each other’s lives.  What I did was live for someone else and not for myself at all.  I willingly enslaved myself to them, whether they knew it or not, because that was better than living with myself.  That’s no way to live.  No one else can live your life for you, to expect them to is to be worse than a parasite or a vampire.  Worse, because parasites have no choice about the way they survive, it’s the way they’re designed.  I chose to think and feel this way, so I have no one to blame but myself.

            That’s not entirely true, I guess.  I was taught to hate myself over years of verbal and physical abuse from my peers.  They taught me that I was garbage, and if you hear something often enough, you begin to believe it.  That was all years ago though, so I should be able to choose to put it behind me.  So far I haven’t.  But that’s what I’m working on now.

            See, even though they did a lot of damage, I survived it and moved on.  I never really gave up, so I guess even deeper down than my self-loathing is some amount of self-respect, like steel buried in sand, or a diamond in the rough.  That is what gives me hope now, the hope that I can find myself and care about myself for a change.  No one else is going to do it for me.  If I let them, it means that I wouldn’t really believe it for myself.  I have to believe it, or it won’t work, I think.

            It’s the only way I can change.  And I have to do that, or I’ll go mad.

            Sometimes it feels like there are two of me.  The first me is the one that I was when I was young, before school.  I remember being happier, and friendly.  Sometimes I can still be that way with my family and my friends.  Sometimes.  Usually with my sisters, Evie and Gwen.  I thank God for them, for they keep me sane.  They prove that I’m not always the other me, the darker one.  They’re like islands of light in that darkness, putting me in touch with who I’m supposed to be.

            The darker me isn’t me at all.  It was created by the pain inflicted by the schoolyard bullies, and it’s lonely, depressed, and most of all, it’s angry.  It’s like this boiling pit of rage, like the molten lava at the centre of the earth.  I strive to prevent myself from getting angry, because I’m afraid of what could happen.  The few times I’ve been angry were like volcanoes going off and then returning to dormancy.  I’m afraid that if all that rage came out at once, it would be like the earth’s core suddenly blowing itself apart, creating untold devastation.

              My solitary, withdrawn nature is a defence to keep that anger in check, to prevent others from finding out about it.  I don’t want them to get hurt, and I’m not so sure I could stop it if it got out of hand.  It’s so strong, I’m afraid that if I didn’t keep a constant guard on it, it could overwhelm me.  It’s like a little boy trying to keep a tiger leashed, at any moment the tiger could turn on the child and swallow him whole.

            The tiger growls, it makes me think about hurting the people who have hurt me, getting revenge on them.  Sometimes it makes me think about hurting the people I care about, like my family and friends.  It’s awful, it’s almost like someone else’s voice whispering to me in the dark and in my dreams.  I want it to go away, and I have arguments with it, telling it to leave me alone.  It tells me that I can’t trust anyone, seeing as how often people have hurt me before. 

            It’s the voice that still tells me I’m garbage, and it’s what make me hate myself.  Hear something often enough, and you begin to believe it.  But, part of me fights back, says that I am worth something.  It’s quieter, but it’s always been there, since I was small.  Because of it, I’ve been able to hold on so far.  I’ve never given up, so that’s something.  I’ve become an insomniac, though, because I’ll argue with myself all night long sometimes.

            I’ve decided that I can’t listen to it anymore, so I’m going to strive to find my own self-worth, and listen to that quiet, good voice.  Like I said, I think it’s part of who I’ve always been, the part that’s in the light, the part my sisters encourage.  The other, the dark one, he’s there because of my life and the cruel people I’ve encountered.  He’s not me at all, and I’m finally beginning to see that.  He’s the garbage, not me, and it’s time someone took him out to the curb.

            I don’t know if I can win this fight, and that frightens me, but I have to try.

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