A three-day-old forgotten chalk outline of yet another who gives a shit victim is just washing away as it circles the sewer; so definitively poetic. It must be sad that someone was ended there, and so unceremoniously forgotten as the rain erases a last stand, so why do I find it so funny? I look at it, I see it, and I remember everything, every last detail, because I did it. Jamie doesn’t; she is three floors above this memory, obsessing over her phone and her social court of opinion. She is so blind. That’s why I am here; she created me and placed me in her world.

I remember everything she can’t face. She turns off the lights—my weakness—and I disappear; that’s how she tries to defeat me, then I take revenge on her and make her remember.

Another message alert, jealousy and hate 3.0; this time it’s a meme of her profile picture, SWIPE RIGHT FOR LESBIAN or LEFT FOR COCK SLUT. The social pressure is too much; the swipe voting has begun and the returns are coming in: “I just can’t deal with this shit right now.”

The decision: Profile Delete or no? Come on Jamie, delete it; it’s a shitty spam account anyway, right? For tonight, forget the stress and the desire to hurt yourself; that’s not the answer. The answer: turn out the light and allow the shadows to become night.

With the sun rising, the light shows the truth the darkness kept hidden: Jamie’s room is devoid of a personal touch, desolate, sad and inhumane by any prison standards. The last thing she wants to do right now is check her phone; so don’t. “Well, it may not be my best work, but who cares? No eats and little sleeps; I dress how I dress.” Jamie gets herself motivated to face another day.

“Do I even dare turn on my phone?” That’s how it starts, as soon as the phone is turned on and the upload avalanche starts.

See, that didn’t take long. It’s building; her phone is already melting down with a tidal wave of voter’s opinions, 50/50 on the lesbian cock debate, and some real deep-seeded troll hate. “One hour in and I already hate today,” Jamie confesses as she fights her impulse to flash her look in a mirror on her way out of her room.

She takes her bag, laptop, and her phone, no real makeup, and our clothes are always clean, they just look thrown together, the HOT MESS—HOMELESS but NO STRESS—look, and she is out the door. From the third floor, she takes in one last breath and holds it all the way to the street below, like the air itself is toxic: stale smoke, weed, and drunk hallway sex gone wrong, and piss; holy shit, the piss. The railings and walls breed a species yet discovered.

School is a 20-minute walk and as she hits the street, I am obediently awaiting her arrival. In silence, we walk together. Words don’t always need to be exchanged to have an understanding.

Walking into school is always a great experience (lies) and the toughest time (not lies). This is where we split up for now, but I am never far away until a break or the end of the day. It sucks to have to face most of this alone, it’s like I already know how it will all play out; once inside, the shit day continues all the way down the halls; it’s like being on display and judged. Everyone gets judged and unless you are part of a mob, then the mob gets judged, otherwise you are judging alone and being judged for being alone.

Jamie doesn’t even see it coming; she almost never does, but I do, and she will learn to listen and learn to trust me.

It starts off slow in a group chat with a message alert, then gains traction with more alerts about Jamie and a guy named Derek. Poor bastard, he is just a victim pick of the day, so convenient and not really socially connected. Derek is new-ish to the school, not a typical fuckboy, more like an easy target; that’s how the shit goes sometimes. Then the pile-on starts. Apparently, the story is they were seen behind the school during football practice having sex, full-on.

Everyone that touches the thread will add their own spin. This is going to suck for Jamie; she doesn’t even know Derek; they have one class together and never speak.

It doesn’t take long before the story makes its way to Jamie’s screen. The thread shows how the shitstorm grew, and in no time, even people that she considered friends were adding their own views and opinions. It blows up in science class and she is trapped there; she begins to go out of her mind, she needs to run, anxiety off the charts. Muting her phone makes no difference; the sounds have stopped, but the vibrations will not stop, they come in fast and feverish.

So much for friends; she raises her hand and begins to leave even before she asked to be excused, the answer doesn’t matter; she is gone. All she can do is escape to the second-floor bathroom: her ceramic sanctuary.

Hiding in the stall, she pulls her feet up into the fetal position, just like most of your lunch breaks. Through her fixed and determined stare, Jamie tries so hard to disappear; this is when all the bad thoughts come back and dismantle her from the inside, the worst of all attacks. Her phone is still going crazy, she can hear voices approach, and she prays they don’t come in. No luck: the door opens, the excited laughter erupts from the group that invades her safety.

Their presence makes the space smaller. Happiness is anxiety’s kryptonite: she puts her buds in and fights to launch her panic playlist, the fuckin’ battery is low, fuck. The more anxiety she lets in, the greater my chance to get released; come on Jamie, let me out, I can help you. In loud, thunderous, echoed laughter, they are tearing Jamie and Derek apart. All the shit that was out there in the cloud is now hitting her live and it hurts way more; hearing it makes it too real. It’s so unfair, but it happens every day: it’s the social media viral STI spreading faster than someone can say “mental health.”

The voices, those fucking voices, guardians of doom preventing her from running away, trapping her in the stall entombed and doomed. “No choice, gotta run, escape, break out, panic, panic, nothing is working, no one to call, no bars, low battery, wrong playlist.” Jamie is so focused on her meltdown, solutions are impossible to see: let me out, Jamie, I can get us out of here, away from the cold tiles and dirty lipstick-kissed mirrors, makeup-encrusted sinks, and a row of toilet seats no one ever sits on; gross.

The sound of water and laughter are followed by the voices carried into the hall as the door finally closes. “God, at least they washed their hands, I think, double-gross,” just needs to count to ten, breathe, and get the hell out of there. She can’t take it any longer and makes a break for it. Bursting out of the stall, she slips and trips the last remaining girl at the sink and face-plants her head down hard, breaking her nose and front teeth, blood is everywhere; great job, Jamie, so proud. The truth is she didn’t slip: it was a violent attack against a bitch that deserved it, bleed in peace, bitch.

No sooner does she hit the outside air, and I am instinctively there by her side; it is so good to be out.

Let the games begin. For what feels like hours we just walk, in total silence, just walk, her phone won’t stop, it should be dead soon. I know what they are saying, the rumors are hurtful, they attack her physically. It’s unrelenting, it gets worse; screenshots and pictures from who the hell knows get added. It doesn’t stop there either; questions about Jamie’s sexuality and experimentation start. LGBTQ issues are now weapons of a hate campaign, all unfounded and fabricated, but the more outrageous, the more haters want to believe. I have no words.

My job is to stay with Jamie every step of the way. That’s what I do. That’s what I have always done.

We just keep walking; there is no concern for safety, the thought never enters our mind, the idea is to walk until we’re lost. The longer we walk, the less important I become, at least that is how it can feel. Jamie’s pace is steady and as the sun starts to set, I find myself dropping back. The sun is going down and soon Jamie will be on her own; she knows I can’t stay.

Jamie is now on her own, and honestly she didn’t even notice, she didn’t even notice that it was dark out. Looking around, she has no idea where she is; mission one done, I am resolved to be reduced to a mere flash at night, but believe me, I am still here.

Despite being outside, she is still feeling confined and judged by everyone that passes her. She isn’t even aware that she is talking; I like to think she is talking to me, but it is out loud and it makes her look crazy, just like in school and the bathroom stall. She is still trapped in the same skin. The phone is still sending messages. “Fuck, isn’t this thing dead yet?” Jamie confesses out loud. She wants it to work and be dead at the same time, ha ha ha, I love it when she gets tweaked; normally, she would be thinking about self-inflicted hatred, but outside she usually keeps it under control, plus I am still here, ha ha ha.

With a million-mile stare and a focused disregard for where she is and her safety, Jamie talks and walks herself all the way to the dangers of the back-alley injection dens and seriously shitty people; this is a place where no one goes willingly, it’s where you go when life flushes twice. Jamie is so out of place here, like a girl in a red dress in a black and white movie. Jamie also doesn’t notice that I am still with her; if she could see it, would I be more than flashes of ignored companionship so easily overlooked?

Doesn’t matter: Jamie sees nothing, she can’t, until she is confronted by a tall figure that blocks her path. There is no choice but to take notice. This evasive horror stops her instantly, a brick wall of reality; she was not prepared for this. Even I didn’t see this shit coming.

Who the fuck is this guy standing there; the shock steals the air from her lungs stopping her dead in her tracks, the stop is so sudden and alarming she steps right out of her shoe and hits the ground at his feet.

The determined look on this stranger’s face is horrifying; this is what defines a life, this is judgment, choice, and a conclusion, this is that defining moment. I am here for you, Jamie; you don’t remember, but we have been here before. “Hey, I don’t need to ask you where you are going: I know you are lost, only the lost find this place, so that means you must be intending on staying. I am okay with that, but there is a price for admission, and another price is for leaving in one piece.” This is the frightening sales pitch made to Jamie.

If terror was a weapon that could kill, this asshole would already be in a body bag, but that may not be near-future for either one. Jamie is frozen on the spot; fear has trapped her here. The stranger moves forward. She is still on her knees after tripping out of her shoe and at his mercy. Holding her breath, she waits for fate to unfold.

He hits her full force with an open hand to the side of her head clipping her ear, disoriented and instantly, in severe pain, the world goes silent except for the continuous sound of cicadas making sounds in the woods. Maybe silence does have a sound, fuck, that really hurt, are the inner thoughts that Jamie has as she pulls herself back to her knees, still paralyzed by her fear. This asshole has no right to even think of touching her; I refuse to let this shit happen, it’s on now.

“Good: this will be much easier,” the stranger says as he attempts to pull her head close to his midsection as he prepares to drop his pants.

In the moment of total fear and terror, somehow she is able to reach around her and grab some broken glass; thank you, I take full credit for this.

Her eyes never blink or look away, she has a confidence and determination like never before and puts her worth over another maybe or the first time. She looks up to meet this assailant in the eye with a half-smile and the strength and confident determination she never knew she had says. “Suck this, fucker,” and she drives the glass into his skin just underneath his scrotum as hard as she can, she drives it deep, thrusts, and then pulls it forward, ripping a large gaping slash and the blood dumps onto the ground. It’s like pulling the plug, maybe exactly like that; nice work Jamie, so proud.

The stranger’s gaze is like he just dove into a near-frozen lake, unable to catch his breath as the color drops from his skin and goes almost white, you could almost see the life leave him before he hits the ground. Shock takes over in an instant as he reaches down instinctively to keep his insides inside.

Jamie, finally able to breathe for the first time, lets him fall to the ground; fate will take care of his future. Looking down as she stands up, just says, “Sorry, did I do that wrong? I am not very experienced,”she kicks him in the stomach as she walks away.

That was incredibly brave; she has courage and rage she never knew existed. It’s amazing what fear and anger together can make happen. Instinctively, she makes her way back to the third-story shithole asylum; somewhere along the way, she throws the broken glass into the gutter. Still numb from her terrifying encounter, the adrenaline high has kept her from noticing the stares of the horrified people in the streets. Jamie didn’t realize that her hand and arm are covered in blood. Her heart is still racing; recovery is slow. Jamie doesn’t even look back to see the aftermath. The impact of the social media avalanche seems less important to her right now.

Standing at the window of her room overlooking the street, it is only then that she has probably left a small blood trail from where she was to her doorstep, and it is a good time to wipe away the mess and check the cuts on her own hand. Looking out over the New York City streets, she considers that maybe death does have a color: it is a flash of every color possible, then the absence of all color, and no sound; it is quiet and all-consuming. It was that guy’s moment to confront possible death, “He brought that outcome to himself, he may have died—maybe that was his goal—either way, it was his choice.” Jamie reasons.

A gentle rain starts as she plays the event back in her mind and contemplates why she was fighting for her life, and what did she really save. The rain washes away remains of the day, same rain, same drain; why is this all so familiar, she wonders as the water starts to cleanse the streets so more lives can be taken away. Turn out the light and allow the shadows to become night.