Today's Reading

In the end,

one of them was dead, 
one was in jail
one was in rehab 
and only one graduated.

Eighteen, headstrong and stubborn.
Seventeen, and headed to play soccer for Michigan.
Sixteen, and just got their driver's license.
Fifteen, and just along for the ride.

One of them was driving.
One of them was high.
One of them screamed.
One of them died.


SPENCER COULDN'T TAKE HER EYES away from the officer's pen as it hovered over his report, patiently waiting. The cap of the pen had been chewed like a dog toy. Her head throbbed, pain all over. She blinked, realizing he'd asked her a question.


Spencer's mother squeezed her hand and said, "Can't we do this some other time?"

"I understand that, Dr. Sandoval. I truly do. However, a child died. We take these things very seriously."

Spencer's gaze landed on his badge. Officer Potentas, no, 'Detective' Potentas. He'd introduced himself earlier. Her brain was hazy around the edges, like a cloud. How much time had passed? A second? An hour? The drip of the IV was cool in her arm. Spencer could sink right through the hospital bed and onto the floor.

"Okay, Spencer, let's try again. What happened last night? Can you walk me through it?"

'Scream. Float. Crash.' An eternity in the blink of an eye. Who screamed?

Did she?

"There was an accident," she said, and swallowed, her throat dry. Her teeth felt too big for her mouth, or maybe it was the other way around. He wrote as she spoke. "We were at a party...Before school starts. End of summer. In the hills."

End of summer. End of 'Spencer'. Her heart pounded. Why was it so hard to breathe? She didn't feel real. She wasn't sure she was talking; in fact, she wasn't sure she had a mouth and she folded her lips over her front teeth. Drip-drip went the IV, away-away went the pain. Cloud nine.

"Do you remember who was in the vehicle with you?" 

"My boyfr— Ethan."

"The driver."

Spencer's breath hitched. 'Scream. Float. Crash. Pain. Ethan'. "Do you remember what happened next?"

When she screwed up her face, remembering, the skin on her cheeks pinched. Stitches from her cheekbone to her jaw. Sewed together like a doll. Chewed up like the detective's pen cap. "No. I can't...think."

"She's on sedatives, Detective," her mother said. Her brown hair was so shiny, like a penny. Spencer wanted to reach out to touch it, but her other hand was in a cast and too heavy.

"I know this is difficult. But everyone's story checks out. I'll be in touch."

One minute the detective was sitting at the foot of her hospital bed, and the next he'd teleported to the door where Spencer's father stood, holding Spencer's sister's hand while talking to a doctor. The detective said something to him, and her sister Hope looked at her and something inside Spencer snapped.

She cried, blinked, reliving it all over again. 'Scream. Float. Crash.' She had to go. Run for help. Her mother held her down and called out, and a nurse rushed in and pushed a button on the IV. More cold snaked up her arm. Sink into the bed. Let it swallow her up. Sleep came over her like a wave crashing on shore.

"Shoo...shoo..." Her tongue felt like a worm trying to crawl out of her mouth.

"He's going, sweetie. He's leaving," her mother said, squeezing her hand.

Her lids were almost closed, going bye-bye. 'Scream. Float. Crash.'

Bliss took her away.


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