Tag Archives: Mental State

Isolation

1100 words for this installment of Mental State. Prompts this week from #FFC2018, The Writing Reader, #SoCS, and The Daily Prompt.

* * *

The trio of teenagers gathered at the bus stop, Leonard laughed loudly, patting Steven on the back, who couldn’t help but smile. Ruby winked at him and he felt himself blush. The cacophony of footfalls ceased suddenly with David running up to them, out of breath. They stared at him, surprised, but ready to take action if needed. “About time you guys stopped,” he said, trying to catch his breath. “I’ve been chasing you forever.”

Leonard stepped forward and was the first to speak. “Why are you chasing us?”

David caught his breath and straightened. It was now David, Steven noticed, who looked extremely awkward; he was shuffling his feet and seemed unsure of what to say. Steven could guess what was coming. “Steven…” David began, but Steven surprised everyone, including himself by holding up his hand with his palm facing the newcomer.

“It’s okay, David.” David’s eyes were wide with shock; Leonard and Ruby watched Steven very closely. “I know you’re sorry. It’s all right. I just want us to be friends again.” David’s eyes widened. Steven felt a tightness swell in his throat. What was he doing? he thought.

David smiled. “Well, that was easier than I thought!”

Steven laughed. “Makes you wonder why you didn’t do it before, right?” he asked. He couldn’t help but smile. Having his friends back, even if only a few, was too good to ruin with past feelings. If they could let the past be the past, so could he.

* * *

Robert  watched the group step onto the bus together from the window of the now vacant classroom. He watched helpless as the door closed behind them. He swore, the volume of his outburst echoing off the high ceiling. He felt anger boil up inside of him and he bit his tongue. He tasted blood, then turned around and stormed to his desk and slammed his fists on it. What was happening? he thought, a morose wave of emotion flowed over him. Why was everyone turning back to being friends with Steven? Why were they forgiving him for what he did to Lindsay?

A little voice he barely recognized from before Lindsay’s death whispered in his head that maybe Steven didn’t do it, that maybe he was innocent. He couldn’t be; it wasn’t possible. Robert looked up with tears forming in his eyes. Shouldn’t he patch things up with Steven? Surely he should be friends with him again? Robert threw a chair aside, its clattering the next sound that echoed in the vacant space. Why was this happening?

Make Steven pay for what he has done, said another voice, one he had never heard before.

Robert spun around at the voice. “Hello?” he said, looking around, but no one was there. Had someone been watching him? But he hadn’t actually spoken, so how could they know what he had been thinking about? He glanced around the room and gathered his things, Robert left the empty classroom feeling disoriented.
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Turnabout

1150 words this week. I finally submitted my pirate story to Queen of Swords. There’s still four weeks left if you want to submit something. Today’s story is brought to you by prompts by Chuck Wendig, Liz Shaw, Linda G. Hill, The Daily Post, and Tara Roberts. I couldn’t work in Bree Salyer‘s prompt, but you all should participate in that too.

Steven’s next few days were surreal. After his talk with Ruby, he had come to one simple conclusion, and not even the voice could return to tell him he was wrong:

Ruby wasn’t lying. She really does believe me!

By day he did his schoolwork, usually with Ruby chatting at his side. Not a word was spoken regarding their talk and the kiss on the forehead; all Steven knew was that since then, the voice had made fewer appearances.

Everyone in the class still seemed to think Ruby was crazy, or that Steven had done something to her, but as time went on, Steven found he noticed – and cared – less and less. He couldn’t explain it. He didn’t know whether it was because of Ruby, luck, or if maybe he had just finally gotten over everything that had happened.

All he knew was that the voice was dying, he had stopped caring what people thought of him, and in an small way, he was… happy. There was no other word for it. He was beginning to feel happy. He was smiling slightly, and was feeling less depressed.

But how could that happen? Surely he couldn’t recover because one person was speaking to him? Then again, he knew that if Robert hadn’t gone against him, he would have never fallen into a depression. He’d suspected that the fact that he was all alone was the main reason he fell so far. Maybe one person really couldmake a difference.

Having Ruby as a friend made him feel almost normal again. They didn’t fight, and Ruby didn’t stare at him with accusing eyes the way everyone else did. It was almost as if, in some way, the old Lindsay – the one he had known before they started bickering and she admitted to hearing the voice – had come back into his life. She’d never replace Lindsay, that was impossible, but for the first time in a very long time, he felt a glimmer of hope for the future.

* * *

Ruby was getting more and more happy with her success. What was the oxymoronic expression? Cautiously optimistic. Despite that someone couldn’t be both of those words, it seemed to fit, regardless of proper English. Steven was changing before her eyes; he was getting better. She noticed he was no longer resisted her attempts at conversation, but was engaging her. She even saw him smile. It was only once, but she could tell that there were more smiles aching to be set free. Her success with Steven bolstered her resolve and gave her the courage she needed to keep facing the stares of the other students at Twin Oaks High School.

She couldn’t rely on support from her peers. Although no one said anything directly to her, neither did anyone attempt to find out what was going on. They seemed content on thinking Steven had somehow brainwashed her. She just knewthat there was no animus or malice in Steven’s heart, she just wished the others knew what she knew.

She tried to speak to a few classmates, but they all changed the subject and tried to talk about their unreasonable teachers or the latest gossip on who was dating whom. Anything but Steven.

On several occasions, Ruby tried to talk to Robert again, but he seemed so focused on ignoring Ruby and Steven. Robert was so convinced of Steven’s guilt, he was completely denying that there was any chance of innocence. He seemed sure, too, that Ruby was a lost cause. It made Ruby wonder if she could ever get Robert to consider anything other than the lies he held as truth. But like so many things out there, it was easier to hate, than to admit that he was wrong.
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Friendship

I’m at 1030 words for this installment. Prompts by #SoCS, Two Word Tuesday, #FFC2018 and The Daily Post.

* * *

When Ruby entered the classroom, everyone turned toward Steven. He was already in his corner and stiffened when he saw her. Was she going to repeat yesterday’s actions?

Ruby walked forward and, as she drew near Robert, he hopped up and pulled out the chair next to his. “Come sit at your regular computer, Ruby.” His cheerfulness was forced. Ruby smiled and waved him off. With all eyes watching, Ruby walked to Steven and sat next to him.

Steven stared as she began to talk to him. He couldn’t help but find the situation insane. Steven answered her queries through his shock. She seemed as if he was an old friend. Why was she doing this? Was it some sort of sick joke?

The more Steven considered the dilemma, the less he thought that that was the case. If it was a joke, why was everyone shocked at her actions? Surely, they couldn’t all be acting; could they?

They’re all acting, it’s all a little play. They’ll get you soon. Do it first!

Steven startled at the sound of the voice. It woke him up at the same time every night, but even after all this time, he still wasn’t used to it.

“Are you OK? You kind of jumped all of a sudden,” Ruby asked, compassion in her voice. Steven nodded without saying anything, unsure of her display of kindness.

I want to believe it’s a joke, he thought, but how can I with the way she is acting?

He tried to ignore her and concentrate on his work, but she made that difficult. She jabbered next to him like a typical teenage girl, sometimes laughing at her own jokes, other times poking him in the side with her elbow to get him to laugh too. A couple of times it almost worked, but it was difficult for him to forget the way she treated him after Robert told her what he’d been accused of, so he fell back into frowning silence every time.

* * *

At the end of the torturously long class, Steven rushed for the door. He seemed desperate to escape her and her friendliness. Ruby tried to give chase, but Robert caught up to her before she could.

“Do you know what people are saying?” he demanded, his eyes narrow slits and face red.

Ruby pulled back and crossed her arms over her chest. She scowled at him. “No, but you’re probably gonna tell me.”

“People are saying that you’re Steven’s accomplice. Like you had something to do with Lindsay’s death.”

Ruby opened her mouth to reply, but Robert stopped her. “Obviously, I know you didn’t, because you moved here afterward, but that’s what people are saying, and it gets worse!” he said, his red face somehow getting darker. “Some people are considering the possibility that Steven may be innocent!”
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Innocent

I’ve been away for about a month. First, due to lingering illness, and last weekend because I was at the Verde Expo. I’m getting back into the swing of things. I’ll be writing a pirate story this weekend to submit to an upcoming anthology. Anyway, this installment of Mental State is brought to you by prompts from Chuck Wendig & Bree’s #FFC2018. I hope you dig these 1055 words:
 


When Steven arrived at school, it was the usual process. He got dirty looks as he entered the classroom from everyone but the teacher, who gave him a smile, not a warm smile, but a smile nonetheless.

Steven sat down at his desk and began to work at the computer. He’d typed for a few minutes when someone sat down next to him. He thought that it was David or Leonard, probably wanting to pick a new fight with him, and he took a deep breath as he turned to face whatever new abuse that was going to come his way. When eyes fell upon the newcomer, his jaw became slack with shock.

Ruby sat next to him, and she was smiling like a longtime friend. Steven eyes locked on Ruby as a series of thoughts careened through his mind. Why was she sitting next to him? Why did she act like his friend? What the hell was going on?

“How are you, Steven?” Ruby asked, her voice chipper. She acted as if they had always been friends. The rest of the class watched Ruby in stunned silence. Robert looked as if he was going to be sick.

Steven stammered, “I’m… uh… I’m good.”

“Well, that’s good to hear,” Ruby said, smiling before turning to her own classwork. “I’m okay, too. A little tired, though; I didn’t get the best sleep last night. But I’ll go to bed earlier tonight to try and make up for it.”

The continued to stare at her in a state of confusion.  He realized she was waiting for a reply, and after a moment he said, “I slept fine… I guess.”

Steven peered around the room. Everyone was watching them. Most seemed torn between getting up and pulling Ruby away or attacking Steven. Luckily, indecision won out, and most of the class just stared. Robert visibly fumed. If Steven knew his old best friend the way he thought he did, he would guess Robert was wondering how Steven had gotten Ruby to sit with him, and what he could do to remedy the injustice

Throughout the lesson, Steven contemplated what Ruby was doing. Why was she being nice and talking to him? Had the truths Steven told her gotten through to her? Or was this some sort of elaborate prank?

It’s a trick.

Steven tried to ignore the voice despite its insistence.

She’s trying to confuse you. They’re all going to get you!

Steven couldn’t help but think the voice was right.

* * *
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Ally

I didn’t do a flash last week, since I was pushing Score of Silence out the door. So, I’m back this week with a double feature. At 2020 words, I’m kind of using Bree Salyer’s prompt from last week, but continuing Mental State with the voice instead of photographic evidence. It’s not exactly what Bree prompted, but whatever. I had started this tidbit last week, but time was not on my side. I also worked in prompts from The Writing Reader, #SoCS, and Write On Wednesday.


Steven hadn’t killed Lindsay.

Ruby grabbed her backpack and ran out of the room. Her last glimpse of Steven was of him at his desk in front of his computer with his face in his hands, crying uncontrollably. Ruby didn’t stop running until she was at the bus station. She boarded the bus, dropped into an open seat, and tried to rub the tears from her puffy, red eyes.

She was no longer crying because she was scared. She wasn’t crying because she was upset at Steven yelling, nor was she crying because she regretted speaking to him. She was now crying because she knew the truth, he truth no one else realized or bothered to take the time to find out. The truth that made her ashamed of her past actions and thoughts. The absolute and undeniable truth hit her hard and with a massive finality.

* * *

The next day, Ruby’s head was still spinning. She struggled to concentrate on her computer screen. Thoughts stacked inside her head like hundreds of cars caught in the most disorganized intersection ever built.

The thought that Steven was innocent had seemed crazy days ago, but once she had heard the truth of what really happened, Ruby knew Steven had nothing to do with Ruby’s death. He was innocent.

A larger problem loomed. How was she going to tell everyone else? Even looking around the classroom now, she could tell it was going to be difficult. Everyone still threw shade at Steven from time to time, and she could tell that many wanted to do more.

Ruby watched Robert. Although he didn’t look at Steven, his silence since the brown-haired boy’s arrival confirmed Ruby’s suspicions. Even he would be exceedingly difficult to convince, maybe the hardest of them all. She wondered how he had become so adamant in Steven’s guilt when the two of them had been friends until the days after Lindsay’s death. He told her that he saw the truth, that his friends helped him see Steven for what he was, but it sounded a lot like an excuse made by a boy who was easily led. She should know; he had been easy enough for her to play dress-up with.

Ruby glanced at Steven typing away at his computer. The only other person who seemed to have taken an interest in Steven’s actions was the teacher, who seemed happier since Steven started doing his school work again. But did the woman really believe in Steven’s innocence, or was she simply content to have a violence-free classroom again? It was a sad reality that an orderly classroom was all that the teacher really wanted. Was it any wonder that the class reacted to Steven the way that they did?

Ruby sighed heavily and turned back to her computer screen. She knew what she had to do, and it would be difficult, but she had to try. It was the right thing to do. In a world of selfishness, being selfless became a call to arms.
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Truth

Chuck’s prompt today is to type in the words “strange photos” into everyone’s favorite marketing engine, and use one of the photos as inspiration. I saw this photo from a video game called “Life is Strange,” and I was brought back to my unfinished YA novel, Mental State. I realize that it has been seven months since I wrote more for it, but I dunno, I was inspired or something? You’re welcome to follow the link and read the previous chapters, or just check this one out on its own. I finished this scene at 1191 words, but after rereading it, realized that it wasn’t complete. The ending was lame. It needed something. What it needed was another 650 words. Darn it! I continued the chapter after the second scene break, and incorporated additional prompts: #FFC2018, The Writing Reader, Write on Wednesday, and #SoCS.

TRIGGER WARNING for suicide and self harm, as is the rest of Mental State.


Do it now. Do what you must do.

Steven covered his ears though he knew it was pointless. The voice tormented him. There were no physical attacks, but Steven’s body weakened each day. He couldn’t go on like this.

Don’t do it, they will destroy you.

The voice seemed to guess what Steven’s plans were. At school, the voice still spoke to him, but it didn’t seem to have the physical drain it was having on him now.

They will just kill you, make it easy for them.

“No,” Steven said, defiance strengthened his resolve. “I will not take my life! My tale will not end that way!” His proclamation silenced the voice, but Steven knew it would return.

He surveyed himself in the mirror. He was a wreck. His face still bore bruises, and cuts from the fight; he was almost indistinguishable from his former self. Myself before Lindsay… He shook his head as if he could dislodge the thought. If it weren’t for the cuts and bruises, it would be easier to notice he hadn’t shaved in weeks. The fuzz all over his face looked like he smeared dirt on himself. His clothes, although brand new, looked old and ragged.

Steven resisted the temptation to punch the mirror; he hated that it showed such a sad version of himself. That’s what he felt: anger and hatred toward everything and everyone around him. It consumed him and fueled the voice inside his mind.

Anger swept over him, and the voice returned. Muttering once more that he wished it would shut up, Steven threw himself on the bed. He decided it was time to go back to school. He lost count how many times he had said that.
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Fracas

Mental-State-Remix

1078 words for this bonus chapter of Mental State. I missed two chapters earlier this month because I was so busy with the non-english versions of Body Rentals, and my Days Until Home chapter and needed to catch up. I might write another one tomorrow. For this one, I’ve incorperated prompts from #3WW, Inspiration Monday, The Writing Reader and Sunday Scribblings 2.

* * *

Steven drew carefree circles in his notebook. He didn’t really care what he drew, and he found that his hand pushed the pencil across the paper seemingly of its own accord. The instructor was babbling on, and Steven pointedly ignored what was being said.

He wishes you were dead.

Steven sucked in a breath and looked to where Robert sat. Robert’s face flushed, and he looked away.

He was watching me, Steven thought with a flicker of bitter contempt. What am I now, some sort of freak show?

Steven looked around the classroom and met more than one deadpan glance. It would be a flash of disgust, and then they would look away as soon as Steven made eye contact. Steven felt the bile rise in the back of his throat. Why did they look at him like that? If they had something to say, they should just say it. Steven realized his hand shook with the vice-like grip on the pencil. The wooden implement snapped audibly, and Steven felt several sets of eyes bore into him.

Steven’s shaking hands spread to his legs and feet. He seemed unable to control the shaking. David and Leonard didn’t try to hide their amusement. It was as if they were experiencing a dystopian Christmas. They elbowed each other and smirked at Steven. Everyone watched as Steven seemed to have some sort of fit, but no one moved to see if he were all right. Even the instructor seemed at a loss deciding between anger at the disruption, or the need to help a student.

Leonard punched David in the shoulder, and David rose to his feet. He sauntered to Steven’s desk and punched Steven on the shoulder. “What’s going on, murderer?” he asked loud enough for the entire class to hear.

They all hate you.

The voice, David’s punch, and the smirks of his classmates were finally all that Steven could take. The sadness and depression that Steven had felt for so long boiled away. A rage boiled inside his gut. It expanded, and the tremors in his hands, feet and legs seemed to grow with it. Everything that had happened since the day Lindsay killed herself came to a head.

He knew that no human being should have to go through what he had endured. He knew that he didn’t need their hate, and he thought that he needed their compassion. But now, he wondered if he even needed their compassion. The rage coursed through him. It seemed to fill every part of his being.

Do what you must.
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