"John. Please don't make me sleep alone in a room in this macabre asylum. I'm telling you. This is how a classic horror story would start--" Jenna's hands fall limply to her sides and she starts to use her voice, mimicking a news announcer, "A stupid girl who currently wants to be murdered by a psychotic woman sleeps in a dank, dark room by herself. Found dead the next morning, bled out and chopped in half."
I roll my eyes but nod with my head to the other bed. "You're welcome to sleep there. But just so you know, I'm going to put my headphones in and ignore you when midnight strikes."
She makes a disgusted face and glances over at the offensive other bed, the mattress sagging dangerously low past the frame. "Why?" She sneers, her nose wrinkling.
I shrug and deadpan, "Because midnight is when all people who have lived here turn into flesh-eating ghouls and run around scraping their nails desperately on the doors until workers come and bind us to the bed."
She doesn't believe me for a second, but I do get a nice thwack on my shoulder. "But in all seriousness, it would be better for you to sleep in here. Not with me--because I'm not doing that and you shouldn't want to either--but here. You don't have to worry because you can't hear things, but there are...sounds. You just get used to them."
"What kinds of sounds?" Her fingers absentmindedly run along the puffy sides of her nose. Nancy left about an hour ago, right before Jenna woke up again. I haven't had the heart to tell her that both of our lives will be radically changing soon.
"I don't really want to talk about it." Screams--guttural, shrill, and tortured sobs for people lost by the patients. People who never visit them. People who they killed. Banging on the walls. Desperate wails for camaraderie, just someone. I'm painfully aware that I'll be expected to be there when these people need me. Soon.
"What's going on with you. It's something." Jenna is sitting on the floor, staring up at me from my place in the chair. My head leans back against the wall, a grimace forming on her face. She knocks her foot into my leg until I look at her again. "John, just tell me."
"Uh, Jen." I pause and look at her, but it's awkward and I can't tell her like this. "Come with me." I stand up, offer her a hand, and lead her over to the window. I pull back the cheap blind and dramatically gesture as if I'm showing her the best place on earth. Giving me a strange look, she skeptically climbs in, scrunching her legs up to her chest. I follow and take her ankles in my hands and straighten both of her limbs on either side of me.
Her lower lip disappears into her mouth and she whispers, "It's not going to be good if you have to take me to your creepy Josephine spot."
I laugh half-heartedly, still holding her ankles. My fingers graze the gauze now wrapped around her leg. "I'm going to return you looking like you've been through a war."
Her face crunches up and she glares at me like I'm an idiot. "Are you saying that we haven't been through a war, John? Our Josephine. Then your break up. And you facing yourself and coming back here--"
I hold up a hand to silence her. "I know, Jen. I know. But I need to tell you before I let myself wimp out." I take a deep breath, hold it, and let it out again. "Here's what's going on. Nancy offered me a job here. I'm not sure about the details of it, but..."
She closes her eyes for a second. I know that's her way of practically taping over my mouth--I can't talk to her until she can look at me. So I have to wait. She tries to start a sentence a few times before she finally succeeds. "So you'll be living here. Nine hundred and seventy point nineteen miles away. Fifteen hours and sixteen minutes. That's a long time--" Her face freezes and her jaw drops. "Are you trying to get away from me? I don't want to jump to conclusions, but John! If you don't want to be with me, just say it, don't move--!"
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Skin Deep (Featured - Completed)Teen Fiction
John is blank in a world where everything anyone says appears on their skin. They're held accountable for every secret, every demand, every sacrifice scrawled across their foreheads in bold black letters. He grew up in an insane asylum and had acc...