Mistakes and Misunderstandings
Trigger Warning: The following story contains references to death, discrimination, suicide, and all things taboo in the working world. Readers who cannot handle such topics are not advised to read this story!
Sad and deep, poor, dear Marceline, sits on top of her comforting cot, doing her homework while munching on packets of instant ramen noodles and expired Halloween candy bars. For the tenth time in a row, with the exception of bloody, red, pasta sauce and non-concentrated apple juice, she couldn’t eat any of the cafeteria food, partially because it was horrible to begin with and partially because of…her condition.
From the time that she was young, Marceline strived to become the top student in her class. In high school, she took every single AP and honor’s level class that she could take. Not to mention that she did reasonably well on all of her exams. She even won a few writing and music contests. By the time that she got to college however, let’s just say that it wasn’t up to her expectations, even after she tried to use logic and rational reasoning to justify why she should receive either the grade and/or help that she needed.
As she wastes her mind (and to an extent, her life) reading and digesting substances that she did not need, her red and purple-patch, teddy spider bear, Simon, who wears two black buttons for eyes and a strip of black thread for a mouth, crawls towards her from the left top corner of her bed and gives her a hug.
“Thanks Simon,” she says. “But it won’t help, especially since now that Hambo is gone.”
Marceline reaches behind her pillow for a light pink, purple-patched, crusty-skinned teddy spider bear and hugs it. Simon gives her a worried look, but chooses not to say anything. Since the summer her sister died, Marceline tried to bring Hambo back to life, but no matter how much love and human blood she gave him, he wouldn’t. He couldn’t. Even though she wasn’t technically supposed to take anything that wasn’t hers, given the circumstances of love and sorrow, Marceline felt that this was an exception.
During sophomore year, she tried to tell her parents that she wasn’t comfortable about going to school and that the classes that she had to take were not very suitable for someone like her. However, because she had social anxiety and there was no other school in the area that was “perfect” for her, there was no way that she could transfer, nevertheless have a private tutor come over to teach her the things that she needed and wanted to learn.
As such, during the middle of her sophomore year, after she claimed that she heard nasty voices in her head, her parents took her to a nurse practitioner, who prescribed to her a medication that was to be taken “as needed.”
Unfortunately for her, that “as needed” basis turned into something that was beyond her control and so despite the fact that she tried to stop taking it, the addiction still took place.
“There, there Marceline.” Simon says as he wraps his “arms” around her waist.“Everything will be alright. Once college is over, you’ll be free to do whatever you want.”
Marceline shakes her head. Ever since the death of her sister during the summer of her coming junior year, Marceline has tried to control her newfound powers. However, despite the fact that she never took anyone’s blood without permission and hadn’t killed anyone thus far, because so many of her classmates were afraid of having their necks bitten off, by December of that year, Marceline was forced to move out of her friend’s dorm and into a single, where she remained a psychotic. It especially didn’t help that her mom thought that pursing the life of an artist would lead to suicide and ultimately, death. Having learned the truth about life at an early age, Marceline ignores Simon’s love.
After all, college is nothing more than a nerdy version of Mean Girls. If you didn’t have the correct combination of all the right personalities, skills, and attitudes that all of the other professors had, then no matter how hard you worked, you would never fit into that particular department. It’s no wonder that she “needed” the medication so bad, even after she stopped taking it for awhile.
As she continues to do her homework on her laptop while listening to music, the same annoying voices continue to hiss and snicker at her from across the room, urging her to die and go live in another life or something. With every smart-aleck remark and excuse that was made, Marceline turns up the volume until the decibel level was too high for her to listen to.
“Pitiful iconoclast.” one of the pills hisses. “Sitting on top of your cotton covered bed.”
Marceline rolls her eyes as she sighs and pulls up a How-to video on her computer. Eventually, she picks up her guitar and starts to play along with the video. With every chord that she has trouble memorizing, she jots it down in her notebook. Her teddy spider bear continues to hug her as she watches the video and takes notes.
“Insolent dreamer.” another voice hisses. “Binge watching YouTube videos while resting your head.”
As soon as she finished watching the video, Marceline clicks out of YouTube and pulled up both a Word Document and an Audacity file. With every little twang and grammar mistake that she makes, the pills continue to laugh. To stop them, she orders Simon to go and attack the beasts. Given that he is a stuffed spider-bear however, there is only so much that a poor little stuffed animal such as himself could do.
“Poor little dirty devil.” screeches another. “Thinking that you could keep your heart pure and intact by writing peaceful letters of protest and anti-school propaganda songs.”
Marceline takes out a photo from her laptop and stares at it. In the photo, she and her younger sister were at the beach, wearing matching black and purple swimsuits and chewing off bits and pieces of frosting from the magical walking cupcakes while holding onto their spider bears. They were young. They didn’t know any better.
“If only I could go back to those days,” sighs Marceline. “But as for those dang pills…”
“Who do you think you are,” interrupts one of the pills. “Trying to change a world that’s already broken?”
“A world that would continue to see you as an outcast for the rest of their lives?” another one hisses.
“A world that would never, ever, except you as who you?” another hisses.
Marceline continues to ignore them. Of course, like none of you know everything that there is to know about Marceline. Besides, have any of you pills ever stop to wonder as to what kind of person Marceline is? Well of course not. You’re pills. Pills can’t think, nevertheless talk.
“Did you think that you could stop us by focusing on your droll, insignificant homework assignments?” One of the pills testifies.
“Instead of your sorrows?” another one adds.
Marceline shuts off her computer and picks up a book titled, How to Not Write Like a Stereotypical Fairy Tale Book Artist. Ironically enough, getting lost into the language of the story was much easier than getting lost into cyberspace according to her. But still, the pills went on with their stupid, annoying taunts and constant, unnecessary moaning.
“Did you think that you could force us out of your mind by sleeping for eight hours straight?” one of the pills questions.
“Did you think that you could excruciate us from your bowels by eating right and practicing mediation?” one of them says.
“Did you think that you could escape from this world just by trying to create your world through music, ideas, and pointless nostalgia?”
Ignore, ignore, ignore! Please Marceline, ignore them!
“Give it up, Marceline!” shouts one of the pills. “Your life is already almost done to being with.”
“Yeah, give up, Marceline!” shouts another one. “You can never win.”
“SHUT UP!” Marceline shouts. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”
If only there was a way to stop the pills and their annoying taunts.
“Admit it, dear Marceline,” one of the pills hisses. “you’ve always needed us. You’ve always needed us since you first left your family in search of finding a new life. You’ve always needed us since the time that the professors betrayed you and gave you the grades that you never wanted.”
“After all, your sister once relied heavily on us. Now she is in a better place.”
“Now give up, and rejoin us!”
“Yeah, give up!”
Altogether, the pills shout, “Give up!”
“NO!” shouts Marceline as she takes her book and throws it at the bottle of pills.
The book successfully hits the bottle, unscrewing the lid in the process. Out of the twenty-five or so pills that were left inside, only about two or three pills managed to fall into the drain and sink into the depths of the smelly sewer water. As for the rest, they clung into what sort of spaces that they could find for dear life. “Now go away.” she threatens.
“Or else, what?” they respond. It was time for the madness to stop.
She grabs the bottle and takes it to the bathroom. To the nearest empty stall, she takes the pills inside and closes the door behind her. With angry tears still forming underneath her eyelids, Marceline holds the bottle over the lid of the toilet and shakes it little by little until a few poured out. The few toxic prisoners land into the water, dissolving into tiny little particles until none were left.
“You insignificant fool,” hisses one of the pills from the very bottom of the bottle. “How dare you try to flush us down?”
“Don’t you know as to how much we all care about you?”
“Care?” she questions. “Well excuse me, but you nearly had me killed.”
“But you don’t understand Marceline.” says one of the pills. “Everything that we did for you, we did it out of love.”
“Love?” she inquires. “And what exactly does love have to do with you killing me?”
“Oh everything,” the pills answer. “School, life, your sister…”
“Yeah, right!” Marceline rebuttals. “You guys had her freaking killed.”
“That’s not true, Marceline! Your sister simply made a choice. After all, it was her decision to take the pills and die.”
“That’s not true! I know my own sister too well. I know that she was strong enough not to take medication right away. It was because of society telling her what to do and what would lead to the cause of death, I think…”
The pills pause for a moment. Marceline furiously shakes the bottle until finally, an “answer” came.
“Marceline,” starts one of the pills. “You know that you did everything to alleviate yourself using the advice from your school counselor. However, no matter what you did, you always felt stressed out. You hugged your bear. You punched your pillow. You made yourself a cup of herbal tea. You even did some yoga. You did everything that you could to get me out of your head and away from your life. But it’s no use. We’re still alive and we always will be. As long as you and the rest of society needs us, we will always be around. After all, wasn’t it nice of the doctor to prescribe me to you? Now die, die, DIE we say!”
“How about this?” she asks. “No, No, NO I SAY”, she says as she shakes the bottle until a few slip out.
“Die, Die, DIE WE SAY!”
“No, No, NO I SAY!”
“Die, Die, DIE WE SAY!”
And so the pattern went on and on. Little by little the pills continued to fall like tiny raindrops into a plot of nothingness until finally, the last pill dropped into the water.
Altogether, the pills scattered and spread out from the bottle and into the water.
So officially begins the dissolving process.
They’re gone, you thought. Has life finally returned? You try to contemplate on that battle, but you couldn’t. It’s not as if it would matter anyway, since every single battle is going to be the same. They’ll be back. You know that they will. As long as you still have to think about planning out the rest of your life, you know that they will be back.
Now the problem is, how are you going to deal with your mother once you return home? After all, she was nice enough to have taken you to see the psychiatrist a while back. Don’t you think that it’s a bit rude of her to flush her gift down the toilet?
But what did it matter? you thought. After all, they were causing more harm than good. As long as Mom knows that I care more about my safety, everything will be alright in the end, right?
Perhaps, Marceline. Perhaps. Now what you are going to do about Hambo?
“Hello?” you answer.
“Marceline,” the voice answers. “Is everything alright?”
“Yeah,” you answer. “Everything is going to be alright.”
You pause for a moment.
“Listen, Mom, I think that there is something that I need to talk to you.”
So you tell what happened and how much you missed your sister. You even tell her some of your honest feelings as to what may have been the cause of your sister’s death.
“Sweetheart,” she answers. “Mommy didn’t want you to stop becoming an artist. She just wanted you to have a backup plan in case things didn’t work out. And I’m glad that you stopped taking those pills. I was so worried about you.”
“Then why did you tell me on All Saints Day last year that I should never become an artist ever again? Didn’t you know that I was feeling very suicidal at the time? I had strangers knocking on my door for Glob’s sake!”
“Marceline…please just come home. Maybe we can talk.”
“What if I don’t want to?”
“It’s your choice.”
You hang up the phone, pick up Hambo, and cradle him in your arms. As you cradle him, you feel some odd stitch marks on his back, as well as a whole sheet of paper folded into fourths. You unstitch the marks that are on Hambo’s back, take out the note from inside, and read it. Simon climbs onto your shoulder and reads the note with you.
You will always be my number one big sister. I’m so proud of you for choosing to continue pursuing your dream. I just wish that I could have been as strong as you and been a better sister. At least now I know that you got the right help that you needed at the right place at the right time.
You place the note back inside Hambo. After that, you turn on your laptop. You print out the picture of you and your sister. With Simon by your side, you place the picture inside Hambo and wrapped him inside a towel, which you then later cradle into a plastic bag, along with the body inside.
You pick up the phone again.
“Hello, Mom, “ you say.
“Sweetie,” she answers. “Are you still here?”
“Yes,” you answer. “I’m still here. It’s just that, I think it’s time that I went back home for awhile. There’s no point in me being locked inside a room by myself all weekend.”
“Well, if you want to come home, come home. I won’t force you.”
You place down the phone and carry the bag with you. As you drive all the way back home, you place a hand on both Simon and Hambo, who, by the way, are both holding hands, or in this case, paws.
By the time that you reach home, you hand Hambo over to your mother and explains why you did it. You also explain to her about how it wasn’t fair that your classmates ran away from you just because in the land of Ooze and Organs, the family member whom the deceased person shunned most before death becomes the dead person’s most hated figure, as well as the fact that you never got the grades that you wanted despite having worked hard.
Rather than shunning you, your mother gives you a hug and says, “Sweetheart, nobody thinks that you’re a monster. It’s just that when people receive things that don’t always go their way, they get scared. As for your professors, I’m sure that they mean well. They were just trying to prepare you for what others want.”
“But there were plenty of vampires at my school and nobody got scared of them!” you respond. “Also, I’m an artist! I’m not supposed to give what others want! I’m suppose to teach them through art the difference between right and wrong. If I just give what others want, then I won’t grow as an artist and neither will the people reading and listening to my art would.”
You pause for a moment.
“I mean, yeah I should care for a job well done, but that’s different! That isn’t right! Mom, you once told me that I could be a great artist, but even after I got inducted into the English Honor Society, you still weren’t happy. You thought that I would be destined to be a failure like Vanessa.”
“That’s not true!” she protests. “Marceline, I never thought that you and Vanessa were failures. It’s just that since Vanessa chose art at a later stage in life, I was scared that she wouldn’t make it. As it turned out, the situation was much more complicated and she definitely had the ability to get by. It was just that life was more complicated and I didn’t have the capacity to think with all that had happened. As for you, to be honest, your stories were…an acquired taste. I liked your non-fiction pieces a lot better. “
You paused for another moment. I mean sure, your friends liked your stories, but on the other hand, they are your stories and they are your friends. Not to mention that to most people, magical-realist stories are the equivalent to dada works of art, which in itself is an acquired taste if you think about it.
“Well, I’ll definitely admit,” you answer. “My fiction pieces are definitely weird to some people, but that’s just who I am.”
Your mom gives you another hug. “Marceline,” she says. “I’m sorry that your classmates were so mean to you. I wish I could have been a better mom to let everyone know that there’s nothing to be afraid of and that you were trying to control yourself, but given that you recently became a vampire, I wasn’t too sure how I was going to explain to them that you weren’t as scary as you looked without evidence. Now if you have any problems with, let me know.”
You give your mom another hug.
“Thank you for trusting Mama,” she answers.
“Now Marceline,” she says. “May I see some of your writings and songs?”
At first you couldn’t believe what you just heard, but after giving it a second thought, you realize something. Even though you know for sure that your mom still isn’t a hundred percent in cahoots with your decision to become an artist, at least you demonstrated some proof that you are indeed a sane and rational person and that you do indeed deserve her trust. Plus, she seems to be becoming more open-minded. But for how long, you and I aren’t sure. At this point, love is all you can ask for, for yourself, your mom, and for all. If only things didn’t happen the way that they did. But then again…meh…life is just too confusing sometimes.