I never believed I'd witness the utter destruction of someone I loved, let alone be the one to cause it

Hey, guys, it's Kelly. I've been gone from Fictionpress for…well, for a long time. But I've still been writing, and this is my first real venture into "novella" territory or whatever you want to call it. This story has been brewing since September of 2007, and I'm actually very proud of it so far. Please let me know what you think!

I never believed I'd witness the utter destruction of someone I loved, let alone be the one to cause it. But, obviously, I have, or else I wouldn't be telling you. I wish I could tell the story in a way that makes sense, but seeing as I am just as hopelessly fucked-up as he is, my memory is a little threadbare in places. He always regretted what happened to me, as though it were completely his fault, as if I had been a delicate, fragile flower before his clumsy hands crumpled me. It's cute, in a sick way, especially since I'm just as complicit in his fate as he is in mine.

I suppose our relationship was always that way: symbiotic. It was like we challenged each other to see how thoroughly we could ruin each other. And we did well at it. I remember, this one time, when we were both brutally strung out, and we'd not been getting along—shit, that part comes later. I told you my memory was shot to hell. Oh well, I guess I'm finally fading away, like Kurt Cobain always said. He was an ass, but Courtney was always worse. Anyway…that part's later too.

My real name is Gretchen, but that's not really important, because he only ever called me Gee. Nobody bothered giving me a nickname in my entire life, except for him. His name was Michael, but everyone called him Trent because his dad was also Michael. I preferred the name Trent. There are a million fucking Michaels, but there's only ever one Trent in anyone's life. And believe me, one is more than enough.

I'm trying like hell to remember the first time I actually met him, and I wish it was something special, but it wasn't. It was one of those awkward teenage moments when you just strike up a conversation with someone for no reason, and they are bored enough to reply. I think I was fourteen, and I think it was probably in band that the collision course started. I never much liked marching band, but every year I donned that damned uniform and played that damned saxophone in the vicious, sloping sunlight of early autumn. After ten minutes of marching, my stiff white uniform was soaked through and my already-straggly hair lay limp and dead, plastered to my pasty skin.

My earliest memory of him was on that godforsaken stretch of well-worn turf that we practiced on. I was radiating heat and my shiny sax was hot as the hinges of hell. I was a freshman, new meat, and hating life. See, my mom didn't like having me "hanging about" the house and wasting her air or whatever, so for the duration of my childhood she shoved me into one extracurricular activity after another. By this age, I'd learned not to kick up too much of a shit-fit if I didn't like something, because sure enough, she'd sign me up for something else. I guess, to Marie, there was no point to my existence unless I was doing something. My mom was always going on and on about not wasting my life. She didn't really give a flying fuck if I was happy, just as long as it appeared—to her family and friends and who-the-fuck ever—that I was normal and well-adjusted. And happy, can't forget that. It was all a big charade. Except for the religion. She was really serious about that—but I'll get to that later.

I couldn't have been farther from happy that oppressingly-hot September day. After being howled at by Brian, my section leader, for the third time in an hour for screwing up my marching, I had snapped. In a towering temper, I had thrown down my sax and flopped down against the chain link fence that closed in my little private hell. I buried my face in my knees and clenched my fists so hard that little crescent-shaped grooves appeared in the skin of my palms. Little rivers of sweat collected in the marks. I watched, dazed by heat and emotion.

"Hey, the seniors sent me to check on you," said the kid who approached me. I kept my eyes on his ratty black Converse high-tops amid the scrubby, yellowed weeds that encroached on the turf.

I gave a non-committal shrug and yanked up a sprig of some spiky plant. "I'm fine. I'm just really hot and I feel like crap."

With a twinge of annoyance, I watched the boy sit down before me, gently setting down his own saxophone in his lap, and actually look at me. He was nothing overly remarkable to behold, with close-cropped dark brown hair and faintly hazel eyes, and a rather crooked nose, but his smile was kind and understanding.

"Why's that?" he asked, twirling a mangled dandelion between two fingers, frown lines furrowing between his eyebrows.

Taken aback, I shrugged. I was not used to anyone actually bothering to find out the why of any situation I was in. Mostly it was just "are you bleeding? Not breathing? Dead? No? Then you're fine. Be quiet and go clean your room." I normally just internalized whatever rancid feelings I was having and let them rot away inside me. "Being a freshman, doing this bullshit. The usual fun of a fourteen-year-old's life."

The boy laughed, but not cruelly. "I hear you. It gets a little better once you get used to it. I used to hate band when I was a freshman, but now…" he looked fondly at his sax, nestled carefully in his lap. I glanced guiltily at mine, lying in the dirt and weeds. My annoyance began to ebb slightly. "I've always loved music, though," he murmured, as if to himself.

"Sure. Well, we'd better get back to marching. Brian will go batshit if we screw up the routine," I said.

"I'm Trent," he said as he stood and helped me up. I felt all my dislike dissolving as we looked at each other. He smiled crookedly; he was barely two inches taller than I was. I peeled my sweaty hair off the back of my neck and returned his smile.


"Well, let's go march." And that's how we met. Nothing remarkable, no big fireworks or doves being released from cages like you'd expect.

We started talking, constructing what seemed to be one of those innumerable relationships that eventually disintegrate when you stop coming in contact with each other. Except for the part where there was something there, something deep, something that you wonder about when you're lying in bed, unable to sleep, casting your mind around for something to light upon.

The second time we talked, he confessed he didn't remember my name, but he knew it started with a G. I had smiled and after that he only called me Gee. After each grueling marching band practice session, Trent and I walked down to the bus stop and took the same bus to the same corner, where we set off in opposite directions. He was popular in the sense that people genuinely liked him and enjoyed his company. But I noticed something interesting—he had no close friends. He surrounded himself with a group of good friends, of which I was one, but sometimes I would catch a glimpse of him from afar and he was alone. Not just in the sense that nobody was with him; he was just off in his own little world. Sometimes he'd whisper and hum to himself, and I'd catch snatches of melodies in it.

As for me, I just remember the crushing loneliness permeating my life. The few people I associated with were just enough bright spots to keep me going. Looking back, I am sure that the depression that has consumed me for so much of my life really began to take hold then. If I'd actually gotten help, I wonder where I'd be today. But to Marie, psychological issues were caused by sin and all I had to do to get better was pray and give myself to Jesus. That was out of the question, so I wallowed in my numbness. Everyone says they were depressed as a teenager, but I did it before it was trendy and mass-produced. People say they were alone in high school. For me, it was an art form. I don't remember many details about those first few years. Faces blur, voices and names and words form a purée that consists of equal parts imagination and fact.