Panic wakes me, and I come up out of the dream like breaking through water. Sputtering, I realize I had been choking on my own saliva. Well, that’s attractive, I chide crossly as I sit up. My head spins, and I fight my savage stomach. What in the world had been in that batch?

 Suddenly, everything comes back to me from that afternoon. The fight. The high. Then…nothing. Stumbling to my feet, I reach for my phone and almost choke again as I see the time. The room won’t stay still, but I force myself to focus. They’ll be home any minute!

It’s dim, but can see the body, prone on the floor. Frantically, I look around. Things have never gone this far before.

Trembling, I grab one arm and pull with all my might. Dizziness and nausea wash over me, but I keep pulling. Downstairs, a door faintly slams. Finally, after shoving a stubborn foot back inside, the inner sliding door of my walk-in closet closes.

“Xavia? Are you home?” The voice is faint beyond the door but rising steadily up the stairs. Wrenching open a drawer in my night table, I just barely have time to shove the needles and the vial under a stack of Brio magazines before my aunt opens the door and turns on the light.

“How was your day, hon?” Aunt Waverly asks.

“Fine,” I mutter, trying not to look toward my closet. Luckily, the knife is in there, too.

This family is definitely messed up. Sometimes I forget that I haven’t been smacked into some weird soap opera, or a dream. Nope, this is real life, all right .

Here I am stuck at the table, Aunt Waverly on one side of the table, Grandpa sulking on the other. Uncle Nel was at the end, staring off into space.

There’s something wrong with Grandpa’s eyes, I think, trying not to get caught looking too closely at him. He can be really dramatic sometimes. Sometimes I like to mess with him just because it’s funny to see him blow his top.

Then there was Aunt Waverly. Honestly, she acts like such a know-it all sometimes, especially when she tries to like, bond with me. She likes to tell me that she understands what I’m going through, since she lost her mom too.

“My mom’s not dead, you idiot,” I would snap.  The words had been like a smack in her face, and I could tell Aunt Waverly had to work really hard not to cry in front of me. Usually we get along okay, as long as she minds her own business, though.

Now, I have a secret. Not just the one in my closet. Something bigger. I’m not sure whether I should tell Auntie, though. The last time I had told someone this kind of secret, my mom had left and never come back.

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