I didn’t really think it through.
Not really. I just swallowed as many of Mum’s sleeping pills as I could and lay down on the couch.
I bet they did one of those huge assemblies at school where the girls who called me a slut cried and hugged each other and the teachers handed out pamphlets on teen suicide prevention. I bet Trish Baker with her bruises and junkie dad wished she had the guts to do it too.
It doesn’t matter now that I’m here. Like most things I did when I was alive, I kind of regret not thinking it through. Like having sex with Trish’s dad. It wasn’t so great but it was better than nothing. If I was religious I probably would of thought I would go to Hell because of all the guys I fucked. But I’m not religious. I kind of wavered in that grey shade of not thinking about it like most people I knew. I didn’t expect this.
There was a moment, though, that made it almost worth it. There was no white light or spooky tunnels. Just the deepest sleep I’d ever had. It was like sleeping for the first time. Like all those other times had been practice to get to this real moment of sleep.
And then I woke up.
I finished all of my stories in English class with that. Every single one would have that last line. Mrs. Payne would make us read them out in class and when I read mine and got closer to the end kids would start to giggle. My mouth dried up and the words cracked my lips but I kept going. Mrs. Payne always wrote nice things on the stories I handed in and so for her I kept reading. Until I looked up and saw her laughing behind her hand.
I was surprised to see her here the other day. She looked older than I remembered and her throat had a bruise around it I’d seen on others here. She was browsing through a vintage broche section across from my stall. She was holding the pins to her chest and sticking it out a little to see in the mirror. She looked like a chicken. I remembered she had a kid with leukemia and that she left the school to look after him.
She looked up from her pin clasped to her chest as if she could faintly hear the memory too and looked right at me.
It’s a shame to see you at the Bazaar, Deanna.
I tried not to look at her purple throat.
Same, I guess.
She put down the broche and came over to my stall.
You have some beautiful dresses here.
I looked at the rack of theatre costumes. They were all labeled from the plays they were from.
Do you want one?
She recoiled and said that wasn’t the way it worked.
I wanted to ask her what I was supposed to do but instead I blurted out something worse.
Is your son here too? Because I’m kind of hoping to see my Dad.
She stepped back towards me.
Deanna, I’m sorry about that time I laughed.
I said it was alright, but thought, why do people always say sorry when it’s too late?
Then I realized what she meant.
My Dad isn’t here is he?
She shook her head and teared up as she told me this place was just for us and then walked away in proper tears. I guess her son wasn’t here either.
I didn’t move from my stall. I decided I wasn’t going to believe her and then I saw the boy I lost my virginity to. Jay did it in his family pool three years ago, just after Dad’s car accident.
The amount of people I knew here was making me nervous. Jay used to write morbid poetry about death. He told me after we did it that life would never measure up. I didn’t listen at the time. He was always saying weird shit and I was too focused on how gross and painful the sex had been.
When he passed my stall I wanted to take his hand and touch his pale blue face. I wanted to tell him I finally got it.
But I didn’t.
I hid behind the rack of costumes from a production of Streetcar Named Desire, I hid and watched him pass and knew I was even more of a coward here than I was in life.
I spent the days sorting through the jewelry and the nights rearranging the costumes. Every time I thought about going out into the Bazaar it made my heart beat like crazy. And that was stupid, my heart had stopped in the ambulance on the way to the hospital but I had my fingers pressed to my throat trying to feel the rhythm when two little girls walked in to my stall. Blue dresses, ribbons in blonde hair. They even had black Mary Jane shoes.
One of them picked up a little ceramic horse I hadn’t noticed. As soon as she touched it the words leapfrogged from my mouth.
She didn’t look at me and I cleared my throat.
It’s delicate. You’d hate to break him, right?
The girls shrugged together and she put the horse back on the ledge in an offhand way. They both stared at my wrists and the horse grabber asked why my wounds were closed.
I looked at my arms and thought it wouldn’t be proper to tell children about the times I tried before so I told them they were from a long time ago.
We did it in the lake.
I felt my phantom heart almost stop at the singsong unison of their speech.
When Mum and Dad divorced they said they would take one of us each. The water hurt our chests but it was better than being split up.
I wasn’t sure what to say. I felt as if I should somehow cover their shame and so I asked if they’d like a blanket, because I hadn’t noticed it before, but their dresses were wet and smelled musty, like wet clothes left in the washing machine.
They said no and left the stall, but one of them turned and said I shouldn’t worry about the horses because everything here was already broken.
I walked over to the shelf and saw the horse’s mane had broken off. I sat down in the stall and made a little bed out of Blanche Dubois’ dress. I curled up and wondered if Trish’s dad thought that I did it because of him. If it was something that made him lose sleep. I wondered if Mrs. Payne still felt bad about laughing at me. I wondered if Mum would end up here too. I snuggled into the dress and thought that was a terrible thing to think.
So I stopped thinking and tried to concentrate on the sound of my stopped heartbeat.
YT SUMNER likes words and people that write them. People that listen to them. People that read them. Eavesdroppers. Stutterers. Silvertongues. She was born in the UK, raised all over Australia and settled happily in Melbourne. Her short stories have appeared in various literary journals, anthologies and magazines and she’s currently coaxing a motley group of them into a collection. Visit her at lambeatswolf.wordpress.com and then send her a postcard.