Private YouTube Video titled Journal Entry 10, uploaded by user Michelle1980 on November 13th, 2015.
Michelle is back at the lodge. It is night, and the lobby is dark. After she turns on the camera she sits staring at it for seven seconds, hands in front of her face. Then she sits back, crossing her arms. She is wearing a tank top. Her arms and face have become paler, and are now almost sheet white.
I almost didn’t do this one. To be completely honest, I almost stopped completely. What happened…in town…
She gets up and rustles around in presumably a bag sitting next to where the phone is set up. She comes back into frame with a pack of cigarettes. She lights one with unpracticed hands and then leans back again.
Never smoked in a day in my life. Living that DARE life. But I need to do something, and the hangovers were killing me, and as I was driving out of town I went past this Circle K and I could see the racks of cigarettes behind the counter and I thought…why not? It’s not like they’re going to kill me anyway.
Michelle takes a long drag from the cigarette and blows out smoke.
I don’t know why I’m fascinated with this. I’ve been so focused on what I do have now, I guess I never stopped to think about what I don’t have. I don’t breathe. I can breathe, obviously, I can move my diaphragm and make my lungs draw in air, and then shunt it all out. But if I’m thinking about it, I don’t do it. That little part of my brain that goes breathe, dummy died, I guess. I don’t have a heartbeat, obviously. I knew that would happen. I thought, though, that I would notice it. That when I was trying to sleep I’d miss the beating, the way it got faster when I breathed in and slower when I breathed out. But I never noticed. Not once.
Another long drag from the cigarette.
I didn’t hurt anyone in town. The clerk at the Circle K probably thinks I’m the bitchiest woman to ever walk the planet, but he’s alive.
So, the camera didn’t catch it, but the damage that kid did to his arm…woof. He’s going to have scars for the rest of his life. He must have caught the corner of the aisle, you know, where metal meets metal. Just ripped his forearm open, from elbow to wrist. The back of it. He didn’t hit an artery and he wasn’t going to die. Not unless I stayed there.
Michelle finishes the cigarette and starts on another one.
I thought I would be okay. Because I’ve never had blood before. How can you be addicted to something you haven’t had before? But…
She pauses, cigarette in hand, and then takes another, forceful drag.
I could smell it the second he cut himself. The blood. Like a shark in the water. I smelled it, and I’ve never smelled anything better in my life. It was all I could smell. And the blood on that kid’s arm was all I could see. Everything else was gone. The store. The world. Every other part of me. Every…single…part of me that didn’t want…that wasn’t…
Michelle has been looking off into the distance, but now looks directly into the camera.
I was hungry.
That’s what it felt like. Like I’ve been starving and I didn’t even know it. Wandering through a barren field of nothing and had finally found a burger and a beer. And as I realized I was starving, I realized that everything that was wrong with me was because of that. And I didn’t even know something was wrong with me, before then. I thought I was doing okay. But in that moment, I could feel it. I’m weak. Physically, I mean. I could be stronger. Faster. See better. Fuck, I bet the hangovers would be easier to take. If I only…If I just…
She shifts around in her seat and takes another drag off her cigarette, almost burning it down to the filter. She smiles weakly at the camera.
Yes, well. I’m not going to do that, so we’ll figure something else out. Live like this. I can get control, I’m sure of it. It’s just going to take a lot longer than I thought. I can’t freak out every time someone cuts themselves in front of me. I barely managed to get out of that Walmart with everyone still breathing. There was a single voice in my head, just one, telling me I had to run. Telling me I couldn’t. That’s the voice I need to focus on. That’s the work I need to do.
A buzzing starts as Michelle’s other phone starts to ring on the table. She picks it up and makes a face at the phone.
Why the fuck is he calling me so much? Fuck it.
She presses something on the phone. When she speaks, her voice is artificially bright.
Hey Toby, what’s up?
No, I haven’t been dodging your calls, what are you talking about?
I’ve been hiking, Toby. Great wilderness and all. I only just got cell service back today.
Nah, California. Yosemite.
I called you? When?
Michelle listens, and then mouths ‘fuck.’
I was drunk, Toby. You can’t trust anything out of my mouth when I’m drunk, you know that. I get all weepy and emotional…I was probably watching some dumb Hallmark movie. How’s Meredith and the boys?
I’m not changing the subject! I’m asking about your fucking family! Isn’t that what friends do?
And are you my friend?
So, tell me how your wife and kids are doing for Christ’s sake!
Toby, Toby, Toby, stop. I’m fine. I’m…fine. I got rejected at a bar, it brought back some bad memories, that’s all. Fuck. Stop babying me. We’re on vacation. You want to baby someone so badly your kids are right there.
She hangs up the phone and tosses it on the table. Then she stares at it for ten seconds. Finally, she looks back at the camera.
If you’re watching this, Toby, I’m sorry for lying. You’re going to freak out. I know you are. And I can handle that. But only after I’ve got my feet under me. I love you, Tobes. Hopefully, the next time we see each other, you’ll still love me.
Michelle reaches for the camera phone. Video ends here.