Authors: Yazz Ustaris
This book is dedicated to my mom, Fely Ustaris, who always encouraged me to pursue writing, and who always showered me with praise on my writing skills. Sometimes a mother's encouragement is all one needs to succeed.
Raindrops peppered the windshield as Teagan maneuvered her Honda northbound on the interstate, speeding away from the city lights of Seattle. Desperate to put as much distance between herself and her fiancé Kyle's apartment from where she had just left, Teagan began to cry harder. Heedless of the speed she was going, she became aware in the distant recesses of her mind that she probably shouldn't be crying and driving at the same time. No sooner than she finished that thought when her visibility started to immediately worsen. No way though, would she have a complete emotional meltdown on the side of the freeway. She wanted no witnesses to her pain.
Taking deep gulping breaths to subdue her rising hysteria, she mentally commanded her foot to ease up on the gas. As upset as she was, she didn't want her reckless driving to endanger the lives of other drivers that might be out on the road. Luckily, at 3:00am there were hardly any other cars on the freeway to be concerned about. Helpless to control the direction of her thoughts in her current emotional state, Teagan's mind flash-backed to 20 minutes prior when she let herself into Kyle's apartment after her night shift at the hospital ended.
The apartment had been dark, except for the soft glow of the oven light in the kitchen as she made her way to the bedroom. She hadn’t seen him at all during the past week due to her crazy work schedule, so she thought she would surprise him with a visit. It was definitely challenging at times, trying to maintain a serious relationship with her fiancé when they had conflicting schedules, but they had a long history together and were both equally committed to each other enough to make it work. Or so she thought.
As her eyes adjusted to the darkness of the bedroom, enough moonlight filtered in through the open window for her to see that Kyle was not alone in bed. He was softly snoring, curled up on his side facing away from her, and was spooning the woman in front of him. The bed sheet had fallen to their waists, so it was easy for Teagan to see that the woman was clearly naked. A small gasp escaped her lips as an icy feeling of dread started to spread across her chest. Standing motionless in shock as a barrage of other emotions raced through her body, Teagan debated what to do. Heartbreak, anger, and denial swamped her as she gazed down at the sleeping form of the man whom she had loved with all her heart, and whom she had trusted above all else. He had been there for her through thick and thin when she had gone through some dark times over the past 2 years.
Silent tears coursed down her cheeks as she realized that Kyle had made a mockery of their love and trust for each other.
Just when you think you really know someone
. A sharp pain began in the middle of her chest and suddenly it was difficult to breathe.
Oh my God, I can literally feel my heart breaking.
Feeling too emotionally fragile to confront the cheating bastard tonight, she spun to flee the bedroom when the toe of her sneaker accidently bumped the corner of the dresser, causing a loud thudding sound. A moment later, the bedside lamp came on behind her, flooding the bedroom with light. Knowing it was pointless to attempt leaving undetected at this point, and also because she was suddenly overcome with the need to see the face of the tramp that Kyle was cheating on her with, Teagan slowly turned around and was met with another shock. Helpless to contain the moan of despair that escaped, she stared with confusion into the mortified eyes of her best friend. Hurt, betrayal, and anguish all welled up as she looked at Eva, who had the decency to at least look ashamed for her part. Not bothering to hide the open animosity that suddenly transformed her features, Teagan watched Eva with revulsion as she fumbled with the sheet, scrambling to cover her naked breasts.
Enough! I've had enough
! Just as Kyle started to rouse, probably from the glare of the lamp, and just as Eva shook herself out of her shocked stupor and started reaching out a hand towards her in supplication, Teagan pivoted and raced for the door, unable to handle any more nasty surprises. She stopped long enough to yank off her engagement ring, leaving it in the middle of the kitchen counter where it couldn’t be missed.
Grinding her teeth, she clutched the steering wheel as she subconsciously stepped harder on the gas again. Shaking her head, a bitter chuckle burst forth from her lips as she realized her life had just become like an episode of one of those daytime reality talk shows. Karma certainly was a rude bitch Teagan reflected, as she recalled all the times she used to laugh in disbelief at the guests on those shows, wondering how in the world it could be humanly possible for someone's life to be that screwed up. Given the events of the evening, she deduced that she was now eligible for potential candidacy as a guest on the show.
Grateful when she finally saw the sign for her exit coming up, she was helpless to stop the new flood of tears as the feeling of heartbreak from the past half hour came rushing back to the forefront. How could Kyle just throw away a five year relationship like that down the toilet? And how could her best friend of eight years betray her trust and friendship by sleeping with the man she was supposed to spend the rest of her life with? Even more importantly, how
had this affair been going on? Sadly, Teagan realized she wasn’t going to make it home in time to fall apart, as she was overcome with big heaving sobs that racked her entire body.
Sitting on the living room floor with the third shot of tequila warming her belly, she glared at the two picture frames on the coffee table before her. One contained a picture of her parents, laughing and posing for the camera with their arms wrapped around one another. She had loved her goofy parents dearly, and not a single day had gone by since their passing that she didn't think about them. They had died in a plane crash 2 years ago, while on their way back from vacation. She would have died right along with them if she hadn't insisted on declining vacation that year, opting instead to take summer school classes at her local college in order to finish school faster.
The second frame held a picture of her beloved big brother, who died last year when his regiment was deployed to Afghanistan. Dominic was actually older by only 3 minutes, so the bond they shared as twins was a strong one. Teagan had idolized her brother, and not a day passed when she didn’t think about him either. Gazing at his picture with him posing in front of an American flag in his Army combat uniform, she could easily see the pride in his expression in being able to serve his country. Although her parents and brother were gone, Teagan acknowledged that she was blessed with having had the best family a girl could ever wish for. The simple fact was…she missed them. Her life was no longer the same without them in it. The pain of missing them was a heavy ache inside her chest that she struggled with on a daily basis.
Turning her attention to her parent’s picture, she cried, “Mom, Dad, you always taught me right from wrong and taught me how to be a good person. You used to tell me and Dominic that good things would happen to good people. I know I cuss like a sailor sometimes, but I’ve basically lived my life the way you taught me. I feel that I am a good person, so why am I being punished? Why has everyone I’ve ever loved been taken away from me? Why!?” Teagan’s face was red and blotchy, and her eyes were so puffy from crying that she could hardly make out her parents faces. She turned her attention to Dominic’s photo next, as loud annoying hiccups jerked repeatedly through her chest.
“I need you guys so much, but you left me all by myself,” she sobbed brokenly. “I've never felt so alone than I do right now. I feel like I have nothing left to live for. I can’t deal with this by myself!!” She knew in the back of her mind that she may have finally cracked, since she was aware that she was arguing with two picture frames. Suddenly gasping out loud, she clapped a hand over her mouth in remorse before instantly removing it again. She shook her head as she reprimanded herself in a loud stage-whisper, “Quiet Teagan!! Inside voice! You’ll wake the neighbors!”
In her current drunken state, Teagan acknowledged that she should've taken the advice of her doctor and gone to see a shrink to deal with all of the death in her life. Both Kyle and Eva had been there for her though, to help her cope with the deaths of her family. Foolishly, she felt having their emotional support negated the need for help from a licensed therapist. Never in her wildest dreams did she think they'd both betray her trust by screwing each other behind her back. Had the signs of infidelity been there all along and she was just too oblivious to see the clues? Or maybe she was just overly trusting.
She glared at her phone next as her ringtone signaled yet another phone call by one of her two betrayers. So far, since she'd returned to her apartment she had 16 missed calls; half of them from Kyle, and half of them from Eva.
I hope they choke on their guilt,
she griped to herself as she finally decided to turn off her phone. The incessant distraction of her ringtone was definitely putting a damper on her solitary pity party. Unable to deal with the reality of her situation any longer, and with a fourth shot of tequila burning a hole in her belly, Teagan clumsily made her way to the bathroom where she started rummaging in the medicine cabinet above the sink. She grabbed everything inside the cabinet, and with her arms overflowing with medications, staggered back to the living room where she dumped everything onto the coffee table beside the pictures of her family. Next, she went to the kitchen and poured herself a large glass of orange juice, leaving room at the top to add a generous shot of vodka. Satisfied with the taste after taking a tentative sip, she stumbled her way back to the living room where she plopped back down to her original place on the floor.
One by one, she emptied all the boxes of different medicines onto the coffee table into a big pile; ibuprofen, anti-anxiety meds, antidepressants, prescription strength pain pills, cold/flu gel caps, multivitamins, and anti-allergy medication. She snorted over the unopened box of pills she had just purchased for PMS, but decided to add it to the growing pile as well.
Can’t hurt, can it?
Then, one by one, Teagan started to slowly swallow all the pills until they were gone. Belatedly, she realized that if she had taken her antidepressants and anti-anxiety pills as prescribed by her doctor following the deaths of her family, she’d be able to actually cope with the feelings she was going through right now. But in her current state of agitation, she was unable and unwilling to cope. She had finally hit rock bottom, and there was no climbing out of the black hole of despair that she had landed in.
Next, she looked at the bottle of cough syrup, and half bottle of pink syrup to treat upset stomach, and thought, “What the hell,” She had no idea if the combination of medications were going to cancel anything out, but figured it definitely couldn't hurt her cause either. So with that, she pinched her nose between her thumb and forefinger and chugged down both bottles of medicine until they were gone too. Sadly, she didn't feel any different and had no idea if it would permanently take away all her pain as she hoped it would. She entered this world wailing as most newborns do, yet here she was planning to leave the world the same way; bawling as an adult.
Turning herself sideways, she slowly lay down on the floor, wedging herself horizontally between the sofa and the legs of the coffee table. Releasing a forlorn sigh as another hiccup burst from her lips, she stared blankly at the ceiling above her while tears continued to leak unchecked down her cheeks. Dispassionately, she noticed a little black moving dot and wondered if she was imagining things. Squinting her eyes, she realized it was a black fly. Teagan pretended that's what she was too; nothing but a tiny, insignificant little black fly, and no one would miss her when she disappeared off the face of the earth. She embraced the notion of being completely carefree and no longer having to worry about anything anymore. Her gaze flitted back to the photos of her family, and a feeling of peace settled over her as she studied their smiling faces. She felt a soft answering grin shaping her lips as she smiled back. Pretty soon, her eyes started to get droopy as sleep beckoned. She craned her head up to look in the direction of her bedroom where her cozy bed awaited, but she just felt too drained and defeated to get up off the floor. Just the thought of crawling even felt like too much of an effort. And so she closed her eyes, right where she lay, and prayed that the next time she opened her eyes, she would be reunited with her family again.
(Six months later)
I could literally feel the sweat rolling off of me in steady rivulets as I ran laps around the track. My black tank top was no longer damp; it was soaked and completely plastered against me.
I griped internally, while wrinkling my nose in disgust. I tended to sweat like a guy whenever I worked out, and it was one of the few things about myself that actually made me feel self-conscious. The sun was a blistering nuisance overhead, but I forced myself to ignore the discomfort of the heat on my skin. Instead, I focused on maintaining deep and steady breaths.
Breathe in……breathe out. In through your nose, out through your mouth Teagan.