This little excerpt is from a bit further into The Hornbeam Door, after Oona has a nervous breakdown, courtesy of the voices in her head. Rumor has it that she really had a bad acid trip, and on her first day back at school, she discovers that none of her friends are talking to her. In this scene, she’s sitting down to lunch by herself, aware of the other kids staring at her.
When I was almost finished with my sandwich, Jessica Walker sat down across from me. She was in my Spanish class freshman year, but I didn’t know her enough to say hello if I saw her on the street. Since then I’d changed from a nerd to a half-way normal person to a crazy person. Jessica had changed from a half-way normal person to a Goth sophomore year. She had her hair dyed black and her fingernails painted black, and all her clothes were black.
“Hi!” she said.
“Actually, I go by Raven now. So how are you doing? You know, the first day back and all?”
“So, what was it like?”
I guess that’s what it feels like to be in a car wreck and have people drive by staring, while you sit on the curb and bleed. I opened my bag of chips and didn’t answer her.
“I heard that you were, like hearing voices. Was that pretty freaky, hearing voices?”
She wouldn’t give up. She sat there with her elbows on the table, leaning toward me, staring at me. Like she thought I was honestly going to tell her.
“Did you really try to kill yourself? I think about it sometimes, like what it would be like to cut my wrists or something.” She pushed her black sleeve up and showed me these little red scratches on her wrist. The kind of scratches you’d get from a kitten.
Probably I was supposed to be shocked or concerned. Maybe I was supposed to be impressed. I wanted to say, “You need to use a sharper knife,” but I went on eating my potato chips. It wasn’t that I hated her or wanted her to kill herself. I just didn’t care. No matter how much she wanted to be in a car wreck, I didn’t want to be the car wreck she was staring at.
“So, what kinds of things were the voices saying to you? Like were they telling you to do stuff?”
I didn’t say what I wanted to say: “They were telling me to kill girls with black fingernail polish.” I didn’t say it, but I should have. That would have been better than what I did say. Just like with my parents, I opened my mouth and started repeating what the voice was saying right then.
“And when the Interloper rent them from their souls, they were as toys in his hands. Dumb as beasts in the field and docile. They no longer looked back to the Doors with longing, but neither did they look to the river. He ate up their souls, as tender as the flesh of children, and turned them away from the easing waters. He had no need for whip or halter then, for the hooks in their spiritual bodies bound them to him fast.”
That was all new stuff, stuff I’d been trying to ignore, but it came out of me just as easily as any of the Doors would have. Like I already knew it, because the voice was inside me. It was part of me, whether I understood it or not. Whether I liked it or not.
“Any more questions, Raven?”
Jessica blinked and after a minute, she closed her mouth and sat back in her chair. I crumpled up my chip bag, picked up my tray, and walked away.