She turns up the volume on her phone as we trudge our way down to the creek. We climb the gate, trying NOT to rip our pants. The cool sticky air, something Abbey Bratcher might not be used to quite yet, surrounds us.
We stop to talk to a few of her friends—Llamas that she named after her favorite One Direction members, Zayn and Harry. We soon reach the bridge that connects two large pieces of her land. They’re all hers for her to explore, to go on adventures. She drags her boots through the mud and I follow close behind. She unclips the bag slung around her shoulder, pulls out her Nikon, switches lenses, and points to shoot.
Once we’re back to her house, right up the street from the creek, first things first: she uploads her photos to Tumblr. She ignores the fact that “school” is open in another tab on her laptop—Abbey takes all her high school classes online, and has a lot of freedom in when she works, if at all. She does school when she wants.
She slowly goes through the photos, giving each one a good hard glance. Abbey’s dad, who passed away three years ago, always shot photos and home videos when she was growing up. I believe that’s where Abbey gets all her craftiness and skill with the camera.
Abbey stays home every day with her mom, and has all that land and time outside of school to do what she wants. But she isolates herself. She lives on an island of her own.
One morning, after tripping out the door to catch the bus, I found two text messages from Abbey.
2:03am – “I can’t stop crying.”
2:25am – “I’m looking for a razor, I’m gonna do it.”
Panic-stricken I texted her, fingers flying, once, twice, three times. No reply.
I got chills.
She’s just asleep, I told myself. She doesn’t have to be up early. She’s just asleep.
I gave her ten minutes, and then I called.
She finally texted me back around lunch time.
I have known Abbey for about two years now, and I am her only source to the outside world. I am the life raft from Abbey’s island. I am the window she looks out of from her the safety of her room—there’s no danger of being hurt by other people, or being judged or put down. She has no social skills, no relationships, and no life. I feel so much pressure from her to provide her these things; she puts so much weight on my shoulders to find her friends and relationships.
She tries to live through me. And it only makes her lonelier.