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Chapter 1

She clutched the sides the porcelain bowl. She was going to be beautiful. This was going to make her pretty and skinny, and be what she wanted. Everything she wanted. Her knuckles were turning white as she gripped the circular sides. This was going to make her special. Just once more, she thought. Just once. Sticking her fingers down her throat, she weakly clutched the edges of the toilet, kneeling on the cold floor. The room started spinning, colors blending, and then it went dark...

******

The constant beeping, that's all she could hear. That dramatic noise that never let the room be silent. Never let it be.

Make it stop, just make it all stop. She could almost feel tears well up in her lightly shut eyes. It wasn't going to end this time; it wasn't all going to go away. She knew it, she knew this was going to bring down everything... hard.

She stirred for a moment, before lifting her eyelids to see her mom sitting by her bed, protected my metal rods.

"Erin, why? Why'd you do this?" She repeated.

Erin turned over, closing her eyes again. Not wanting to hear the pain in her mother's voice, or see the look of disappointment in her father's eyes. She couldn't deal with it. Why couldn't she just have ended it all the first time? Things would have been different.

******

"Oh my god, is she ok?" I knew there was something wrong as soon as I heard my mother's voice. That wasn't her normal tone, that was the I'm a mother tone. She motioned for me to come over and sit down, but I chose to stand. If it was as bad as her voice sounded, I knew this was not something I wanted to hear in the first place.

Taylor stood across the room, leaning against the doorway. Obviously knowing more than he wanted to say. He looked up at me with that pain filled face, then quickly looked down, playing with the bottom of his shirt.

"What happened?" I asked, I need to know this, he was trying to protect me, and I wasn't about to except it now. The emotion in his eyes, went much deeper than his 18 yrs allowed him, and he looked away again, avoiding all stares thrown his way. He had been through all of this before too. Zac watched him nervously, darting his expressions back and forth between us.

"Taylor, tell me now!" I advanced toward him. He flinched a little, standing up from the wall that positioned him there. Trying not to disturb the phone conversation, he pointed towards the door, making his way outside onto the porch. I guess it was my job to follow him, Zac following suit.

"Listen Ike," He started, "it's all going to be ok."

"What the hell is wrong with her?" My expression hardened, I wasn't about to ask again.

He attempted to stall, leaving me without the answer. "She's back in the hospital. She's a lot sicker than anyone knew about. The doctor's said this has been going on for months..." He said quietly, not letting on how hurt he was. "I ran into Kelly today, and she told me about it. She said she didn't even know Erin was like this."

I straightened my arms against the porch, looking over at Zac's widened eyes. He glanced at me, and then back against the darkened streets. "How come I didn't know? How couldn't I notice this was going on with my own girlfriend? I didn't even notice her doing this. Are we that busy? Am I that self-consumed, that I can't see this? I didn't see this happening when we were gone, but this time, this time we were here. This happened right in front of my face, and I didn't see it. I didn't know it was happening... What am I going to do... holy shit..." None of this made sense, nothing was going through my mind, but one thing. Why? Why hadn't I noticed?

"I don't know, man... Just try not to worry about it-"

"Not worry about it?! How am I supposed to do that? Where was I when all of this was happening? I should have been there, I should've known!" Taylor moved back a little, I didn't realize how loud my voice was. "She promised me this was all over," I added quietly.

"Shhh... You don't want anyone to hear you. C'mon. Let's go inside and get the car keys. I'm sure you can see her tonight, before visiting hours are over."

Zac agreed with a nod.

"Huh," I laughed. "Yea, right. I'm not going down there. I don't care, not this time."

"You don't mean that, c'mon, I'll drive ya down there..."

"Yeah, I do. I'm not going down there, I don't feel like it." I said, opening the front door again. Taylor followed me in, as I walked down the hall to grab my jacket. I took the keys, and started to walk out.

"Then where are you going?!" "Out!" I called back, "tell mom and dad I'll be back later tonight." Rushing past Zac, I slammed the door, walked to the explorer, and sped out of the driveway.

********

Driving around Tulsa for an hour really clears out your mind, I thought sarcastically. How did everything get so complicated. Where did everything take a different turn, and go the wrong way. I had handled it all before, so what was wrong this time.

I started to remember the party Jake had mentioned earlier that week. It was going to be on the TU campus, and most of our friends were planning to be there. Hoping to take my mind off things, I made a quick turn, and drove down to the frat house.

The street was packed with cars when I pulled over to the side of the street. I hadn't expected to walk all the way down the hill to get to the house. I pulled my jacket closer to my chest, trying to protect myself from the brisk November breeze.

Walking into the house, I immediately noticed Jake, all up on some girl, and talking to some other mutual friends. I quickly grabbed a plastic cup off the table, I made my way over to them.

"Hey, hey, Isaac... Where's Erin tonight, how can you have a good time without her?" I cringed, hearing her name. Wasn't I here to get away from her to begin with?

"Aww... she isn't feeling well," I let out, trying to get that thick liquid in the cup, down my throat as fast as possible.

"Too bad. Oh well..." He laughed, before turning back around to face the same girl he had been talking to earlier.

I got lost in the crowd, going back and forth to get a few more drinks. Before I had realized it, it was about 12:30, and the blurry objects walking around me were leaving. I had to get out of there. Trying to stand up, I lost my balance, griping on to someone's arm.

"Whoa Isaac, you better watch out." Some girl laughed, helping me back to a more stand like position. "Do you need me to drive you home?"

I looked down at her. At the moment, I had no clue who she was, why she was standing there, or why she wanted to help me. "No, I got it." I pushed out, walking away from her. Just getting to the explorer was a hard enough task, I didn't know how I was going to make it home.

******

The lights reflected off the ceiling, and Taylor realized Isaac had finally arrived home. Zac sat up groggily for a second when he saw Taylor get out of bed. "Where are you going?" He whispered.

"Shhh... Isaac finally got home, if mom and dad hear him walking in this late, they'll kill him. I'm just gonna go make sure he's ok." He said, tip-toeing to the wooden stairs. Zac turned over to go back asleep.

Taylor watched Isaac struggle to walk up the porch, and towards the front door. He made sure he beat him to it, opening it for him, and guiding him in. Isaac pulled his arm away as Taylor tried to grab it.

"I'm fine..." He slurred, "lemme go."

"Shut up, you're gonna wake everyone up. Let's get you upstairs."

"I candoit myself." He started to take a few strides, before stumbling. "Ugh, my head is spinning around, and I can't see a thing." He said, stopping the grip his temples, and set himself on a step.

Taylor gave a frustrated tone, as he grabbed Isaac's arms, and helped him walk up to their room. "You are so lucky to have me, cause mom and dad would shoot you!" They paced quickly up the stairs, trying not to be loud, before Isaac got to his bed and collapsed. Passing out was all he had been looking forward too...

******

I woke up to some bright sunlight shinning on my face. "Close the shades..." I tried to get my voice out to whoever cared. My head was pounding to uncontrollable lengths; all I needed was something to make it worse.

"So you decided to join us today, huh?" I looked over at Taylor, who was sitting at the desk in our room, messing around with the computer.

I groaned. I could tell already that it was going to be a heavy day.

"Good, cause its already about 3pm. I told mom that you weren't feeling good, and assured her it must be the flu that's going around. She bought it. But..." He trailed off. "Mom wants us all to go see Erin later on tonight. Its almost like she's excited about it, and she said you would agree to go to too..."

"I cant."

He ignored me, and went on. "I think that's where they thought you were last night. So anyway, mom is making some cookies, and we're gonna give 'em to her and her parents tonight. But, you know, I don't think she's going to feel like eating them..."

"Taylor, I can't go." I insisted. I sat up in bed, facing him, watching him get more and more angry with me.

"Ugh..." Looking me straight in the eyes, he never understood anything. "Yes you can." He answered sternly.

"I cant! I'm not going this time, I'm not gonna watch her kill herself this time."

"Will you listen to yourself?! All you seem to care about is how it affects you! Well, Erin's in the hospital, and you're moping around here with a hangover. Get over it." He stood up, and walked out.

I threw my head back down on the pillows. This was killing me inside, and all that came out was the selfishness that was bottled up. Deep down there, I knew I had to go see her, but not with everyone else. Not with them all there, watching me to see how I was going to react around her, or what I was going to do. I needed to see her, by myself, without family, friends, and doctors swarming around her.

I didn't want to see her, and make myself remember the last time this happened. Her pale skin, that tiny robe in that hospital bed. All those machines, all those doctors, and nothing to help. She had promised. Promised him and everyone that that was the last time, and that she wasn't sick anymore. But that was a lie, it was all one big fucking lie.

******

My mom's voice was getting on my nerves. We were all in the kitchen, where I had finally dragged myself; I sat down at the table, placing my head. "Isaac, honey, I wish you would come with us..." I struggled to lift my head off the table, to see her staring intently at me.

"Mom, I don't feel good. You guys don't need me to go..." I tried again to get out of tonight's excursion. I really didn't want this to be a family trip. Zac gave me a quizzical look, and I saw Taylor roll his eyes.

"I know, but she's sick, seeing people she loves will make her feel better." I sighed, this wasn't really something I wanted to hear right now.

"I'll go, just later." I answered, before picking myself up, and exiting the kitchen.

I went in the living room, and turned on the TV, knowing fully that I wasn't going to actually be able to watch it. Laying face down on the couch, I heard everyone getting ready to leave to go down to the hospital. Taylor walked into the room...

"I hope you know that this is really going to hurt her. When she sees all of us there, and not you, it's going to hurt her so bad inside. How you can go from this intense relationship to nothing in a matter of days is beyond me. It must all be in your head. I don't think I could ever do that, ever. I don't care what has happened in the past."

"Yea, well you wouldn't know much anyway. Like you have a point to criticize any relationship I have. Your track record in relationships is FAR from perfect, look what you've done to Julie, and she's forgiven you. So when you can stand straight then come talk to me..."

"This, has NOTHING to do with any relationships I've had, and you have a lot of nerve to bring that up now!" He spoke threw clenched teeth. The past wasn't something he liked to bring up here. "This is all about you and YOUR girlfriend, and the fact that you aren't even there, to hold her hand, or tell her everything is going to be ok. That's what this is about. She's probably so friggin scared."

"She isn't scared, she's been through this before..."

"Get over it, Ike. It would make everyone's life a lot easier." Taylor said blankly before walking out of the room. I heard the front door slam not too much later.

*******

"I just don't know what has gotten into her..." Erin's mother explained to Diana, as they sat in the waiting room. Taylor and Zac were in with Nicole, and they had decided to give them some time alone. "We all thought she was ok. Did Isaac mention anything about her, you know, being sick and all?"

"No. Nothing, he hasn't told me a thing. That's why I was so surprised to find out. He's usually very open about how she is."

"Well, it's a shame that he isn't feeling well. I hope he can get into seeing Erin soon. She's really starting to worry me, I wish she would just sit up and talk to us. But she won't, she just lays there." Her eyes were laced with tears.

"She's probably really scared, this must be so hard on her. Look how it's affecting us?"

"I know." Diana saw her two sons walk out of Erin's room, and stood up. "How's she doing?" She asked, rubbing Taylor's back.

"Ok I guess..." Zac responded, before sitting down in one of the blue plush chairs.

"We need to get back, it's getting late. Are you guys going to go home and get some rest tonight?" Diana asked, turning her attention back towards her. She watched her husband come back from the cafeteria with a cup of coffee.

"No, I don't think so. We don't want to leave her alone, not until we know she's ok, and stable."

Shaking hands, and giving final hugs, they all left. Erin's mother gratefully clutching the cookies.

*******

I was lying on the couch, when I heard everyone come back in. They had been gone for nearly 3 hours, visiting Erin. My head was pounding still, but this time it wasn't because of the excessive amount of alcohol I had drunk the previous night. I needed to get out of this house, away from everyone. Away from Taylor, who was far too pissed to even talk to me anymore.

I walked upstairs, and into our room. Zac was sitting on the bed reading a magazine, and Taylor was back on the computer. "A Saturday night, and you guys have nothing to do?" I asked, digging through the drawers of my dresser, looking for a clean sweatshirt. The silence told me that Zac was mad at me too. I rummaged into our closet to grab a pair of jeans, when Zac finally broke the deadness.

"Yea, well, there isn't much to do when someone you care about is in the hospital, and all you can think about is sitting at home and worrying." He said, putting his defenses up. "But then again, you wouldn't know what I mean, would you?"

I looked over at him. "Is that what you think?"

"uh, yea..." He let out, in a sarcastic tone. "I'm not dumb, I pick things up. Maybe it was the fact that you didn't go see her tonight, or maybe it's the fact that you haven't gone to see her at all." His eyes lit up, as I took in his annoyed sarcasm. Something he had learned to perfect over the years.

"You wouldn't understand."

"Try me."

"It's not what you think. I'm scared too. I don't even know what to do, when I see her, what am I going to say?"

"Well, if you went and saw her, you'd realize, she wont talk to you. She's out of it, she won't talk to anyone. She's not doin so good..."

"What?"

"She's pretty sick Isaac. More than last time." He was looking me directly in the eyes, trying to convince me either way. Taylor still hadn't turned around from his desk chair.

"Why didn't you tell me..."

"Like I said, you don't even care."

"Yea I do. I care. I swear to god, I care, it's just... I don't know, I-"

"Go see her then."

I sat down on my bed, and put my head in my hands. "I am... I know, I'm going to. I have to."

"Really?" The answer seemed to please Zac.

"Yea." I said, walking out, and into the bathroom to get dressed. After a hot shower, I emerged back into our room again, and pulled out some docs from underneath the bed. Zac was out of the room, I could hear him talking downstairs. Taylor was still hanging around.

"So, you actually gonna go? Or are you just acting like it, but really are planning to get wasted at some local University party?" He said, still facing the computer screen.

"I'm going. You want to come with me, just to make sure?"

"Nah... that's pathetic;"

"What's pathetic is you trying to check up on me every two seconds." I needed to get out of this house; all I was doing was causing problems for everyone, and picking fights with my brothers.

He gave me a nasty look. "Yea, whatever. Just go see her already. I'm not going to hold anything against you, cause I know you get like this when things bother you. When's the last time you've slept?"

At least he was able to comprehend some things. "I dunno. A couple nights ago I guess. I'll see you later," I said, nodding my head, and walking out.

"Yup, later." He called back.

I walked into the kitchen, to see my parents sitting at the table, talking to Zac. They seemed so serious about something. Making sure I didn't disturb them, I tried to wait until the topic of this quiet conversation was over. Zac looked like he was about to cry, even at age 16, he always seemed to be the most sensitive. He hid it well behind things.

"Is it ok if I go out for awhile? I think I'm gonna go down to the hospital and hang around."

"Ok, great honey, you can take the car. Call me later." My mother said, distractedly.

Chapter 2