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Excerpt from The Ghost of You
as written by Amanda Burckhard
Everything in my room reminded me of him somehow. The candle Mom got me he used to joke smelled like cinnamon on steroids. The lopsided dream catcher we made at a school carnival in middle school. The running shoes he got me last Christmas. I didn’t want to see any of it. I wanted him.
Then I was screaming, ripping, tearing, throwing anything I could get my hands on. My vision blurred. My head pounded in my ears. When my hand tightened around a smooth cylinder on my desk, I almost didn’t realize what it was in time to stop myself from shattering it against the wall. Derek had given me the green, plastic flashlight when we were ten as a way to ward off nightmares. It didn’t work anymore, even with new batteries, but I could never bring myself to get rid of it. I collapsed onto the floor, hugging the flashlight to my chest, crying and sobbing so hard I couldn’t breathe or see or think.
What was I going to do without him? We were the Grayson twins. We did everything together. I didn’t know who I was without him. He couldn’t be gone. He couldn’t.
When I pulled myself off the floor, it was nearly dark out. I looked around the room that appeared as if a tornado went through it. The shelves from my dresser lay on the floor, their contents scattered. Papers and posters lay crumpled and torn into pieces. My bedding and clothes were strewn everywhere. Almost every visible inch of the floor was covered. I couldn’t remember doing most of the destruction. I didn’t even feel better after doing it.
Something on the ground caught my eye. Something orange and familiar. I reached for the small bottle of pills and read the label. Vicodin. They were from my tonsillectomy last year. They must’ve been stuck away in a drawer, forgotten and unused.
I remembered how they made me feel like I was floating on water, like my brain was fuzzy and nothing seemed like a big deal. That feeling would be a nice change to what I felt now.
Throwing two pills into my mouth, I grabbed a week-old bottle of Gatorade from my dresser and took a swig. I left my disaster of a room and went down the hall to Derek’s room. The room felt dull and lifeless without him. The posters of old rock bands plastering the walls and wrestling trophies displayed on every shelf didn’t fit without the boy who had put them there.
I set the flashlight on his nightstand and crawled into his bed. His pillowcase smelled of peppermint. Jess and I had picked out that shampoo for him a few weeks ago. He swore he’d never use it, but I guess he changed his mind.
I stared at the flashlight until the pills made my eyelids droop and my mind slipped off into darkness.
Derek’s voice reached out to me just as I was falling asleep. “It’ll be okay, Em. Sleep. I’m here.”
© 2015 Amanda Burckhard. From The Ghost of You by Amanda Burckhard, published by Swoon Romance.
All rights reserved.
Amanda Burckhard grew up exploring bat caves and hunting for dinosaur bones in the Black Hills of South Dakota. When she wasn’t crossing paths with mountain lions, she was making up stories and devouring books at the library. Although, she still does that.