Coming Soon -- Six Feet Under & P.O.E.
Six Feet Under, the story about a woman coming to grips with her mental illness and self-destruction, is coming this spring. Its sequel, currently abbreviated to P.O.E. will release a few weeks later.
I kissed death more than once.
Angry lines cut across my arms and throat and thighs, marking the paths I followed to meet my creator.
But each time I kissed death, Six pulled me out.
Read below for a sneak peek at Six Feet Under
Six Feet Under by Whitney Barbetti
Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.
The first time I listened to the voices in my head was when I was seven years old.
It wasn't the first time I'd heard them. But it was the first time I'd obeyed their command.
Lean over the railing, the voice taunted as I hung, black hair like wild streamers, over the side of the playground's slide.
It was this massive yellow monstrosity, and the weather was windy and rain pelted the back of my purple windbreaker as I leaned over, more and more, until my body was parallel at the top, my hair whipping me in the face as I stared at the ground below me. Black gravel speckled by rain drops, loose rock kicked across as small children ran through the parking lot.
Let go, the voice said, and I did. I stretched my arms to my sides and closed my eyes. The voices of children waiting their turn were drowned out by the echo of the voice in my head. It shouldn't have sounded as seductive as it did, not to ears as young as mine. But I'd seen a lot in my first seven years of life, and I'd see a lot more.
On the top of the slide, balancing like a teeter-totter over the railing, I'd never felt so invincible. The high of the moment surged through me and I gnawed on my lip to stay present.
It seemed like hours, but it was actually only seconds before I was accidentally pushed by an impatient fellow student.
I tumbled, weightless, through the air. I had the last-minute foresight to cross my arm over my chest, which I'd later learn had protected my internal organs from being crushed by concrete and ribs.
The impact of hitting the gravel below me knocked the breath out of me in a way that wasn't undesirable, nor was it unwelcome. The pain was there, of course, but it was a pain that was drowned by the high of being weightless, suspended above the world.
A teacher pulled me upright and I heard her say words that sounded like we were underwater as she led me to the nurse's office. And as my arm was wrapped in a splint and ice was pressed over my face, I felt the first smile creep across my lips.
"What's so funny?" the school nurse asked, her brown eyes crinkling at the corners in confusion as she pulled the ice pack from my nose and looked me over.
Shhh, the voice warned, and so I stayed silent. Because I knew, as the daughter of a woman who was a slave to her own demons, to keep the dark pleasure I'd acquired from falling off a piece of playground equipment and busting my nose and arm to myself.
It wasn't the last time I listened to one of those voices.
Take a shot, it whispered at a high school party, which I did right before sliding down the resident rich kid's banister with just my underwear on, as I was cheered on by everyone who had merely seen through me before.
Take a puff, the voice breathed, as a joint was passed around in a circle. I did, after the boy I had been crushing on blew smoke into my face. Later, I gave him a blow job in the back of his mom's car, in her garage. Like Titanic, but a lot less romantic. Still, the incident solidified my place in high school as the number one bad ass, a spot that belonged to me—the only thing that belonged to me.
Snort it, the voice tempted me when I was eighteen and hungry for more. Once again, I obeyed, dragging my nose across a Playboy magazine spread out. Like an electric shock, the coke rushed into my bloodstream. That night, I jumped off a friend's shed into her pool and broke my jaw when I hit, face-first, into the bottom of the pool. It was the first time I actually regretted following the voice, until I later lost all the puberty weight that had clung stubbornly to my hips, during recovery.
The voices never steered me wrong, because I always got something I didn't know I needed as a result. A high, fame, attention, and most of all: a sense of belonging.
Every story has a "but" though, and he was mine. The voices did me many favors until they told me to talk to him.
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