Through All the Dust
Chapter Twenty-Eight: I Don't Belong Here
“Can I ask you something?” I sighed into the phone, flicking the ash from my cigarette with my left hand.
“Of course you can,” Tom answered simply.
“I’m having trouble remembering what Tyler was like,” I tried my best to explain. “I don’t mean as a person so much…or what it was like to know him…I’m trying to remember what he was like. You know? Was he always gloomy? Was he always down? I can’t remember.”
Tom hesitated, “I’m not sure, really…I’d say he was content most of the time. He had his days, which sometimes turned into years…But I wouldn’t say he was always down, no.”
That wasn’t really the answer I was looking for. I was longing for validation. Something had to spring up from the earth to signal that my distress was warranted; that others had treaded down similar paths. Tyler was the only one I’d ever known that completely succumbed to their weakness. Jimmy had some problems, sure—but it wasn’t the same league. Jimmy was philosophical enough to battle his demons’ wit. Tyler didn’t have the stamina or the courage.
I was afraid to be like Tyler.
Smoke drifted through my nose, “Interesting.”
“Why?” Tom asked carefully. “What has you thinking about all that?”
“Nothing,” I lied. “Just something to think about, I guess.”
“Blair,” Tom cooed. “What’s going on?”
I tried my best to sound convincing, “Nothing.”
“You know that I know when you’re lying right?” he laughed lightly. “Even from a million miles away. I can hear it in your tone.”
“It’s nothing I can’t handle,” I assured him.
Tom fell silent. I could hear the smoke turning my lungs to ash through the deafening pause. Tom had always caught me in any web of lies I’d weaved. When I was sixteen I crashed my aunt’s car into a fence—there was minimal damage and I was totally fine. But, I’d told Tom someone had hit me; he didn’t even have to see the car to know I was lying. However, he threw himself under the bus for me. He told my aunt he’d backed into me and he’d paid for the damages.
You know, I never did pay him back for that…
“You know I’m always here, right?” Tom finally spoke.
I was a little tired of people telling me that. Of course I knew. I also knew that was their way of supporting me without actually doing any real heavy lifting. Okay, you’re here for me; but then what? Are you going to slither inside my mind and start up the renovations? No? That’s still on me? Great talk.
I tried not to be bitter, “I know.”
“Should I come out there?” he asked seriously. “I’ve already lost a kid, I can’t lose another.”
“Don’t worry,” I assured him vaguely. “Everything’s good.”
He laughed, “Now I know you’re lying. I don’t think I’ve ever heard you describe anything as ‘good’ in your entire life. Come on, Blair. Spill the beans.”
“I can’t,” I said weakly, studying the end of my burning cigarette as the ember tore through the paper.
It was a reflection of my life—I was the paper and this depression was the flame. Sure, I could put it out; but the damage was done.
He sighed, “Of course you can.”
“Mm,” I hummed awkwardly, biting back my desire to confess how bad things had gotten. “Cannot.”
“Did you want me to start firing shots in the dark?” he asked. “I’m sure I could hit something.”
I grunted, “I just don’t want to talk about it…at all.”
“I swear to god if you tell me you’re worried about me I’m going to fly there specifically to deck you in the mouth,” I smirked.
“Well I am. Deal with it.”
“That’s it, I’m hopping on a plane,” I teased as I flicked the cigarette butt into my yard without a care for its target.
“Maybe you should. Maybe Marge and I could help you through—”
I was already shaking my head, “No, no…No. Totally unnecessary. I promise you; I don’t need saving.”
Tom sighed in response.
“I read a quote once,” I mused, admiring the California sun. “I can’t remember where…but it was something along the lines of ‘you save yourself or you remain unsaved’. And that’s what I need to do.”
“I thought you didn’t need saving,” he noted cautiously.
I took a deep breath, “This has been a pleasant weekly chat but I think I should get back to my life now.”
“Blair,” Tom warned parentally. “Don’t you end our phone call like that. That isn’t fair to me.”
“I’m not ending it any way,” I argued defensively. “But I’m supposed to be in the studio in an hour and I’m not even a little bit prepared.”
“Uh-huh,” he replied in disbelief. “You do what you need to do, Blair. But if things get out of control, you come home.”
“This is my home,” I snarled. “I’ll talk to you later.”
I flipped my phone shut before he had a chance to object. It should have pained me to be such an obvious dick to him. He was the only real connection to my childhood that I felt anything about, after all. But, no…In proper Blair fashion, I didn’t give a single fuck. If anything, I felt vindicated in my defence. Obviously, I was already out of control.
But I was so god damn tired of people offering their “support”. I didn’t want it. I didn’t need it. What I needed was for everyone to leave me the fuck alone. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d genuinely been alone. Nothing in my life was solitary now—even my home was shared. Nothing was my own. Not my time, not my energy, not my mind. Nothing.
I pushed myself to get up and get ready for my day. Justin and I had written a few songs in the weeks prior and were finally ready to start recording a few. Matt’s wedding was approaching, and I was supposed to be getting excited. That’s what he told me anyway.
Like I cared at all about his almost wife. I promise you, I did not.
So, naturally, I buried myself in my work. Unfortunately, every song came out darker than the last. With each new lyric, a scary and concerning piece of me was revealed. I’d started hiding them from Brian as a proactive effort to curb his concern. It wasn’t really working. My apathy was enough of a red flag that I was under constant supervision. I do mean constant.
But Avenged shit had taken him away from the house for the day, which meant I had a little room to breathe before departing on yet another magical tour through the supposed life of Blair Peterson.
She was someone that, well…I just wasn’t anymore. I didn’t even know that girl anymore.
Sometimes I missed her.
At just after eleven, I gave myself a final look. I was disappointed to find that I still had deep, dark circles under each of my eyes. I seriously needed to establish a better sleep schedule. Or get any sleep at all.
I’d finally recorded my demoed version of Fiction but had yet to hand it over to the guys. It needed a couple more listens for imperfections before I’d be ready to release the reigns. Besides, once I handed it over…I’d have to actually record it. I just wasn’t ready for that.
I snatched Jimmy’s cross and slung it around my neck, tucking it underneath my shirt. I held my hand overtop of it for a minute, giving myself a little pep talk about tackling life and other bullshit anecdotes to get myself through the day.
With Jimmy around my neck, I trotted down the stairs and grabbed my keys. At just passed eleven, I hopped into my car and made off toward the studio.
As I drove for what felt like an eternity, I couldn’t help but let my mind wander.
I could drive off of here, I thought as I hit the freeway. Or I could jump.
That kind of thinking had been forefront in my mind lately—even I knew it was trouble. But I was too humiliated to mention it to anyone. Brian would understand, I was sure; but I didn’t want him to have to.
I just wanted it to end.
I’m sure I’d read somewhere that there’s a name for that kind of thought process. Call of the Void, perhaps. An apt name, nonetheless.
Guilt pinged through my soul as I caught myself longing for my life to stop—while others had theirs ripped from their white-knuckled grip. What a real piece of work I’d become. That only fed into the self-loathing and further convinced myself that I wasn’t worthy of living any sort of life. Especially my life, with all its notoriety and its financial security. What an ungrateful bitch I’d become.
I was so busy chastising myself for what I was—and what I wasn’t—that I didn’t notice a car cross the center line. I was so god damn distracted that I didn’t see it coming at me until it was directly in front of me.
I watched as this rogue vehicle morphed itself into mine—there was nothing I could do to stop it. Like everything in my life, it was happening, and I had to let it.
But, surprisingly, I braced for impact.
My world painted itself a deep black as I fell into nothing. Nothing but black. Nothing but darkness.