Up and down the merry-go-round Through the trees, and into the clouds Up and down, down to the ground Seven or nine, your time will be out.
The words graze across my cheeks, shapes fluttering and focusing in and out. I feel space within the darkness, complete with the echoes of the haunting melody. The words are blurry, like an old radio operating during a storm. For a brief few seconds, I feel clarity- like the blinding flash of lightning. But it is too little time to comprehend anything, and I am left alone in this hateful dark with hateful thoughts to burn and poison my mind.
It wasn’t always like this, this forever tormenting of swirling words. I used to be a real girl, once upon a time. When I was a real girl, I didn’t have painful echoes in the hollows of my mind. When I was a real girl, I knew exactly what I wanted and where I was going. When I was a real girl, my name was Elysium.
Part One: Up and Down the Merry-Go-Round
My favorite place in the world used to be a rundown merry-round-in plunked in the middle of a modern town that really had no place for it. It was shoved in the backlots of a dentist’s office and a McDonald’s. The ride itself was rusty and dirty, the paint chipping off of the plastic horses. A stifling blanket of oil would always hover over the area, and occasionally the scent of chicken nuggets. During my first year as Elysium, my mother set me on the ride. I still remember the whirl of colors and the delightfully jingly music. The merry-go-round was a bit newer then (as was everything else it seems) and it was quite the attraction. I loved that place. I loved the horses as if they were alive, I loved the feeling of grandness and the scent of grease. I loved it enough to give a piece of it away, which makes absolutely no sense at all.
I barely knew him, and I guess that was part of what made me love him. It was one week to meet him, two weeks to befriend him and three to boyfriend him. I kept a tight schedule. He loved that my name was equivalent to the ultimate heaven, and because of that he expected the ultimate heaven out of me. I thought it was cute and romantic and endearing to have someone shove you around. But not anymore. Being a real girl also made me a stupid girl.
He sat in the dark in front of me, a faint outline of his face visible from a street lamp a block away. We were bored, as teenagers often are. The excitement of being out alone had worn thin by the time six weeks dragged through and I knew he was just killing time until school begun.
“Hey, Jace.” He turned his blonde head to face me.
“I have something to show you.” I whispered.
He smiled lazily, as if my request almost wasn’t worth his time.
“Yeah, what?” Jace inquired, daring me to prove myself.
“Just come on.” I quickly stood up in the dark alley, and looked back to make sure he was following me. I always looked back when I was with him.
I scampered under the smoky sky, not quite black and not quite blue- just a muddy mix of nothing. I had wanted to show him the merry-go-round so badly, but the closer and closer I got to it the more wrong it felt. It was too late now, so I pushed ahead regardless of what my heart screamed.
I turned into the parking lot of McDonald’s and slid behind the building, and there it was: the merry-go-round- and for the first time ever, it didn’t look beautiful. It didn’t feel grand, and it most definitely was not magic. All I could see was the imperfections and the cheap tackiness of all of it.
I felt sick, and even sicker when Jace bent over laughing.
“This is what you wanted to show me?” He had an odd way of laughing, something I’d never noticed until now. It was sort of hiccupping and too high in comparison to his voice.
I forced a smile out of my tired face. “What do you think Jace? Of course not, it’s just a joke.” I could feel my skin breaking and cracking and my heart bleeding through the cracks until I was just a bloody mess.
I laughed some more, one awful high pitched giggle. I felt like crying for some reason but I lead him to a donut place instead where we shared a cloying donut with clotted jelly squirting out the ends.
He kissed me like I’ve wanted all summer long. All summer long I had been waiting for that moment, but at that moment I felt the most broken. I felt like he had taken me and carved me into the shape he wanted, regardless of what would be left behind. I wore a mask of plastic and had a heart of clay, and that was just how Jace liked it.