September fourth will be the worst day of your life.
You just won’t know it until the next day.
It will start out boring. Alice will wake you at 7:08, which is two hours earlier than you told her to, and she will do it by landing on your face. With her knee. You’ll be pretty sure she broke your eye, and your vision will be fuzzy and faded all day. You’ll barely be able to breathe through your nose. She will want to play ponies and house and dress up, and you’ll end up on the floor of her bedroom with a purple feather boa around your neck, your dead grandmother’s mothballed dress over your pajamas, and a splitting headache pounding around in your skull. You’ll pretend to drink fake tea and pretend to have a baby named Fred, which will really just be a towel rolled up into the shape of a burrito, and pretend to be entertained by Alice’s dance routine to a high-pitched boy band song that you hate.
You will try to get her to listen to the Rolling Stones, to Etta James, to Nirvana, but she’ll scrunch her nose and tell you that you’re weird and that no one likes your boring music before she switches it back.
When you finally escape Alice to take a shower, you’ll slip. You will land on your elbow and twist your ankle and jam the third finger on your right hand. You’ll get shampoo in your eyes and nick yourself behind your left knee when you try to shave with your mother’s cheap pink plastic razor, turning the drain red. You’ll be out of deodorant and have to use your father’s, which smells like something moldy, and you’ll consider for the hundredth time just chopping all your ridiculous hair off once and for all. You’ll even dig out his electric razor, the one he uses when his beard has grown out too far, and you’ll turn it on just to listen to the vibrations buzz through the steam.
You’ll be too much of a chicken to actually shave your head. You’ll put the razor away and brush the knots out of your hair just like you do every day.
Mrs. Hale will drop Rose off at eleven in the morning. Your parents went out of town, but the girls have a sleepover once a month, every month like clockwork, and that night is tonight, come hell or high water. Alice practically threw a shit fit when your mother tried to tell her no, so you stepped in and offered to play the responsible one. You’re fourteen, after all, and they’re letting you carry a credit card in case of emergencies which means you should be able to watch a couple of kids, no sweat.
Mrs. Hale will stay for seventeen minutes, and she will tell you all about her son, Jasper, who is one grade above you and not nearly as cool as she thinks he is. She’ll tell you he’s in a band, but really, he plays the accordion with his weird friend Emmett and writes nonsense lyrics about space and black holes and alien life forms on the bathroom walls with grease pencils. She’ll tell you that he’s on the football team, but he only refills the water bottles and sprays down the jockstraps with watered-down bleach. She’ll tell you that he talks about you, and you’ll cringe a little on the inside, but you’ll smile at her and tell her how nice it is to be talked about.
If only you knew how wrong you were.
When she finally, finally leaves, you’ll take the girls and spend nearly two hours destroying the kitchen in an attempt to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch. At one in the afternoon, you’ll give up. There will be flour on the ceiling and chocolate chips in every corner, and Alice will have ruined a whole carton of eggs by dropping them one by one into the bowl, without removing the shells first. You’ll send the girls into the living room to watch that same godawful Disney movie they’ve practically burned a hole through while you open the package of pre-made dough. They will be loud, too loud, singing that terrible, horrible song, just the chorus over and over and over. They will argue loudly that Rose has to be Anna which means that Alice gets to be Elsa, and there’s that fucking song. Again.
It will take twelve minutes for the cookies to bake, and you’re so tired from walking all night long, so you will sit at the table and put your head down on the cool blue formica and close your eyes.
Just for a minute.
When you wake up, it will be 2:37 in the morning. You will be lying in a flower bed, half-naked, and there will be blood everywhere. Your arms. Your legs. Your hands. It will be in your hair. Your eyelashes. Your mouth. You’ll sit there in the grass for half an hour studying the way you’ve turned into a speckled space of bloody constellations. Into a Pollack painting. Into a gore-laced, connect-the-dots drawing.
If you could say anything to yourself right then, sitting in that flower bed in the middle of the night, covered in blood, it would be “Don’t go home.”
Don’t go home.
Don’t go home.
Whatever you do, please don’t go home.