Tag Archives: Mental State


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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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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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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1122 words for Mental State today. **TRIGGER WARNING** self harm.

* * *


Steven bolted upright and looked around. “Lindsay?” he asked, his voice shaking. There came no reply. He was certain that he had heard her voice. He blinked his eyes, the sleep clinging to his eyelashes. Lindsay is dead, he thought. He wasn’t dreaming, so why was he so sure that he heard her voice?

She’s here for you.

Steven paused and contemplated the voice’s utterance. What did it even mean? The fleeting thought of Robert bringing Ruby to see him at the halfway house enraged Steven but was immediately dismissed. They wanted nothing to do with him, so for them to come here didn’t make any sense.


Steven froze; he felt icy fingers claw his back. It was Lindsay’s voice. Steven could only conclude that he had lost his grip on reality.

Steven, I’m here.

Steven squeezed his eyes closed. Maybe if he didn’t see her, she wouldn’t be real.

I am real.

“Lindsay?” He asked, straining to hear her voice in a room filled with snores. “Lindsay,” he repeated, “where are you?”

I’m right here.

Steven’s eyes snapped open, and he whipped his head toward her voice. It sounded as if it were coming from the long hallway leaving the communal sleeping room. He rose and crept toward the kitchen. A wave of unease washed over him when he remembered his last time in the kitchen.

He leaned against the wall and considered for a moment that he was indeed insane, but he caught a glimpse of movement in his periphery. He turned his head and his breath caught in his throat. He wasn’t sure if the shadow of a figure was blurry from his wet eyes, or if his brain just refused to allow the shape to coalesce into what he knew it to be.

Her ghostly image appeared to flicker in and out of existence. The only constant was her face, and the familiar frown she always wore. Her face was a pale that only existed in death. Her eyes were wide and bloodshot. She wore the same clothes she had on that day in her apartment, but they were frayed and torn as if she had walked through barbed wire. Blood poured from her wounds and puddled on the hallway floor.

He could only stare at her. The voice screamed that she had come to him over and over. His brain willed his legs forward, but he seemed to be frozen in time, unable to do anything.

Be with me, Steven.
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1,140 words today. Prompts from Three Word Wednesday, The Writing Reader, Terrible Minds, and Sunday Scribblings 2.

* * *

The cacophony of shattered glass was not as loud as Steven’s scream. “Stop telling me to kill myself!” He shuddered and held his bloodied knuckles to his chest. A shard of broken mirror sank into the rubberized toe of his shower shoes. He stood there shaking and stared at the missing mirror panel. The other two undisturbed mirrors showed a young man bleeding on the bathroom tile.

His chest heaved, and his attention fell to the broken glass on the sink and floor. Thousands of quivering figures looked up at him when his eyes met each reflective piece. The voice for the first time in as long as he could remember fell silent. Steven knew the voice would return, and the thought sent a shiver down his spine. No one came running to check on the noise. That suited Steven just fine. He didn’t need anyone. Steven knelt to clean up the glass fragments.

It didn’t take Steven too long to clean up the mess he made. He wondered if he would even need to explain himself. It wasn’t as if the staff at the halfway house cared what happened within its doors, as long as the government paid them for Steven’s stay. After wrapping a bandage taut around his knuckles, he quickly dressed and made his way to the lounge.

It was day three of his self-imposed vacation from school. Three days with the voice as his only companion. Others had come and gone, but they had their own problems to deal with. He silently endured his three days of torment. Steven looked up at a television in the corner of the lounge. The public access channel was showing a children’s cartoon. Steven was too old for the educational benefits of the simple cartoon, but the sounds filled his head where the voice had resided in earnest for the last three days. Steven leaned back, closed his eyes, and let the nonsensical sounds wash over him.

Since he wasn’t constantly battling the voice, Steven had a moment to let his mind wander. His thoughts kept returning to the Twin Oaks High School.

Had they noticed that he wasn’t there? he wondered. Were they relieved that he wasn’t there? At least he had a moment alone from their hurtful looks. At least the voice was silent – if even for only a moment.

As if his thought presaged it, the voice intoned, They won’t stop.

“They’ll find something else to focus on,” Steven muttered. “It’s not as if they want to see me there.”

You know what they really want, the voice replied. Make them happy.

“Please just leave me alone,” Steven begged the voice.

She wants you too…

Steven focused on the garbled noise from the television. He weaved the sound into a protective blanket as if it could protect him.

* * *

Steven spent the rest of the week and the weekend clinging to tattered sanity. The isolation nearly drove him mad. He had to return to school if for nothing else, to give him something to occupy his mind.

His classmates muttered curses and comments as Steven walked by. It wasn’t taboo to openly dislike Steven, and the student body took advantage of that. Apparently, some there thought he had killed himself. As if one death could somehow cleanse the other. Many didn’t even try to hide their disappointment that the rumors of him taking his own life were untrue.
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1,080 words today for chapter fifteen of Mental State. Prompts from Inspiration Monday, Three Word Wednesday, The Writing ReaderSunday Scribblings 2, and #TuesFlashFicTrain.

* * *

Ruby’s eyes scanned the serving line at the cafeteria. Robert stood next to her, doling out advice on what food was acceptable, what was theoretically edible, and what to avoid. Ruby turned to him and asked for a suggestion, and Robert’s face became a deep crimson.

He must be nervous, Steven thought as Robert nervously fiddled with the hair over his ears. Robert always messed with the hair over his ears when he was nervous.

The unlikely duo of an introverted Robert and a sassy Ruby made their selections and found a table. It wasn’t too far from a taciturn Steven, his stoic expression daring anyone to mess with him. He was aware of Ruby’s eyes falling on him again. Robert was oblivious to her lack of attention as he droned on and on about what courses he liked.

Save for his former best friend and the new girl; Steven took no notice of what was happening around him. What was the point when everyone apparently hated him? He met Ruby’s eyes and quickly looked away. Anyone who didn’t already hate him would, as soon as they heard about Lindsay. The voice made a snide comment, and Steven muttered for it to shut up.

Robert’s rapid-fire lecture on the benefits of raw fish to society at large abruptly ceased when he found Ruby staring at Steven intently. “You do not want to get involved with Steven,” he told her.

“Steven?” Ruby asked. Her eyes met Robert’s. “Why is he always alone?”

Robert shook his head, glanced at his former best friend for a brief moment, and returned his attention to his auburn-haired cafeteria companion. “You don’t want to know.”

Somehow, her emerald eyes twinkled in the light of the industrial cafeteria. She leaned forward to get closer to Robert. Steven saw the tips of Robert’s ears flame red. This wasn’t the first time today that Steven noticed the blush that the new girl brought on to Robert.

“Please?” Ruby insisted.

Robert cracked. “Okay, but I don’t think you’ll be happy with my answer.”

Ruby nodded, her eyes searching Robert’s face.

Robert leaned closer still, and in short whispered words, told Ruby the sordid tale of Steven. He described Lindsay’s suicide, Steven’s arrest, Robert’s brief moment on the stand, the trial results, and the ensuing riot.

Ruby’s face displayed a gamut of emotions: curiosity, shock, disgust, and anger. When Robert had finished telling the tale, the mask of fury pinched her normally lovely facial features. She met Steven’s eyes, and he got up, grabbed his backpack, and stormed out of the cafeteria.
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As promised, it’s time for a little sunshine to enter into Steven’s life. I had a lot of great feedback for chapter thirteen, and I’ve integrated all your suggestions. As usual, prompts from Inspiration Monday, Three Word Wednesday, The Writing Reader & Terribleminds.

* * *

Everyone turned toward the commotion at the door to the classroom. An auburn-haired girl stood in the doorway. Her hair was closer to light brown than to red. Her hair cascaded past her shoulders and unlike most girls new to the school; she didn’t attempt to hide behind it. She had an athletic build, shining eyes the color of emeralds, and a swath of freckles across her cheeks and nose.

Steven wasn’t the only one to stop what he was doing and stare at the smiling girl. Her green eyes flashed in the light as she surveyed the room, finally her gaze locked on the instructor. The other girls in the classroom looked on, wondering if she were a friend or a rival. Leonard winked at her and beckoned for her to come to him. She ignored them all and strode with confidence to the instructor’s station.

“Can I help you, dear?” the instructor asked when the auburn-haired girl approached the desk.

“I’m a new transfer to Twin Oaks. I’ve just moved to the neighborhood.”

The instructor nodded and turned off the overhead projector as she tapped some keys on her computer. “Name?” she asked, looking up at the new girl.

“Ruby,” she replied. “Ruby Julian.”

Steven returned his attention to the strange markings on a piece of paper in front of him. He had no idea what the marks were, and he started shading and connecting the odd marks. Some of his classmates returned to clicking on their mice and tapping on their keyboards. The assignment was to build a web page, but Steven’s screen remained blank.

Steven returned to his drawing; his attention focused on the weird scribbles in front of him. He flipped his pencil and rubbed out an errant mark. The shaking of his desk was loud enough for a few coughs and pairs of eyes to lock on Steven in his corner separated from everyone else by a moat of empty desks. Even Robert made brief eye contact before he sniffed and returned to his assignment.

The instructor stood, walked around her desk, and clapped her hands to garner the class’s attention. Everyone stopped what he or she were doing and looked up at the instructor. Everyone that is, except Steven. His outlandish scratching of graphite against paper was audible in the silence. The instructor didn’t seem to acknowledge Steven’s act of defiance. He felt several sets of perplexed eyeballs on him, but he ignored them all, maintaining his silent disturbance.

“We have a new student who’ll be finishing out her year here at Twin Oaks. I want you all to help make Ruby feel comfortable in these last few weeks until school ends for the summer.”

For the first time since Ruby entered the classroom, she looked a little nervous. She smiled and gave a small wave to the rest of the class. Even Steven stopped defacing the paper in front of him to look up at her.

Today, Robert was sitting behind David and Leonard, the last row before the swath of empty desks that separated Steven from the rest of the class. Robert’s shoulders were rigid, and his work on his webpage was abandoned. Like everyone else in the classroom, he was enthralled with the Auburn-haired beauty. Leonard made a comment and David snickered. It was too far away for Steven to hear, but the tips of Robert’s ears subsumed into a dark red.
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