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Keep the Lights On


"The isolation kills me.
I can feel these walls closing in.
the embers in my heart are dying
I can't keep them lit."

I never could grasp the mentality of the depressed girl.

Even as an adolescent she seemed to be so despondent . She had always been exceedingly introverted, but I knew it went beyond that. Perhaps it was the actuality that her parents were never there for her. Being her first cousin and growing up with her, I found out at a primal age that our parents were entirely opposite. While my parents were always there to pick me up after a terrible accident and comfort me like any exemplary guardian would, Ariana's parents completely disregarded her the majority of her life. While I was out working on my hockey career with my parents' support, she was stuck in the confines of her bedroom due to her parents' harsh orders. They were extremely dominant, and never let her go anywhere.

We weren't close in the least bit, and I had always despised her parents for not giving her a better childhood. Ariana could abdicate it all she wanted, but I know it truly tears her apart to this day that she never had a stable family. Everyday when she looks into my eyes I can see the diminutive quantity of bitterness that she holds towards me. I had a great childhood, and I have the most supportive parents that in all likelihood I don't even deserve, and for that Ariana would be internally loathsome towards me for probably the rest of her existence.

Just the thought of it all absolutely devastated me.

Craig! Get your head out of the gutter!”

My head snaps up, and I am greeted by Coach Dan's admonitory eyes. I simply nod my head and proceed on with stretching my aching muscles. I pick my head up, and peek towards the team's bench where Ariana and Vero are sitting. Even though she's reading from her textbook, I can tell by the irritated look on her face that the Consol Energy Centre is the last place she wants to be. She had just gotten over a dreadful flu, and had pretty much refused to go anywhere. I hated it when she did that, staying in her room all day like a hermit crab. Well, then again I detest a lot of things she does. I just wanted to make an attempt to help her redeem some of the freedom she never received as a child, but she never accepted my help.

For a girl with depression, she's definitely way too tenacious for her own good.

Practice is for the most part normal, well as normal as it gets with 20+ hockey players... and a rambunctious Max Talbot. At some point during our traditional shootout Ariana had gotten up and left. She had been in this arena plenty of times, so I wasn't worried about her getting lost. I never tried to baby her so much, but it just came naturally to me. I have two amazing children that mean the world to me, and ever since they have entered my life I had changed into a better person, which meant taking care of the people who mean a lot to me. I know it irritates Ariana sometimes, particularly when I'm perpetually telling her what to do, but it really is for her own good.

I would do anything to see an authentic smile on her face.

I like to think that I'm not antisocial by any means.

It's not that I don't like Vero, she's actually a very commendable person. She just likes to chatter excessively, and that's not my thing. I want to read my book in silence and amity, rather than having to listen to her talk about how much she loves her boyfriend and his charming smile. Jordan often teased me of this, and I felt like I was in high school again. I was constantly being degraded on a day-to-day basis. It's like nothing has absolutely changed, and Jordan is the barbaric jock who gets off on damaging my feelings. I had become accustomed to it, but it still pained me to hear the destructive words. I keep walking down the long corridor, and slump against the wall. I close my eyes and sink to the hard floor, praying that nobody can find me here. I ignore the stinging sensation in my eyes, and keep my eyes glued to the page of the book that I am currently reading. I get lost in the beauteous and well put together articulation of the book.

I had two different modes when it came to reading: I could read a book within a few days if I really wanted, but I could also take half a year just to finish a book. There were times where I could just become completely immersed within the complex plot of a book; those times took me away from the reality of my own life and made me forget about all my troubles.

I gasp, and just about drop my book when I hear footsteps making their way down the hall. I look back down at my book, and disregard whoever the individual with the dense footsteps is. Maybe if I pretend not to acknowledge them, they will leave me alone.

The person doesn't like my idea, and I can clearly hear the sound of a scratchy cough.

He takes a seat right across from me and crosses his legs, “I think we should talk about what happened the other night.”

I keep my eyes cast downwards, “Why do you even care?”

I wince when I hear him exhale contentiously, “I don't know why I care honestly,” his voice is filled to the brim with frustration, “ I don't know why I'm even trying to talk to you, it's not like you want to talk to me.”

My hands twitch as I try to come up with the right words to say to him, “I'm sorry,” I peer up through my eyelashes to see him observing me wearily, “You kind of make me nervous.”

He sighs at my atrocious excuse, and the aggravated expression on his face alleviates, “Don't say sorry when I should be the one apologizing.”

I bite back the compulsion to say sorry again.

“I don't want things to be awkward between us after... y'know.” He avoids the touchy subject and refuses to make eye contact with me, “I don't judge people... that's not who I am.”

I disregard the bitter laugh that so desperately wants to escape my mouth, “Yeah right.”

His eyes broaden at my accusatory tone, “What?”

“You say you don't judge people, yet the second you saw my wrists you were out of that house like it was on fire. I'm not ignorant and I'm not blind, I can tell when people judge me and you were definitely judging me.”

We're both staring violently into each other's eyes now, “Look, I just wanted to apologize, why are you being so bitchy to me?”

I huff, and I feel my stubborn side coming out, “Because I can tell you're lying. I know it bothers you that you saw my scars and I know you think I'm some freak right now.”

He glares at his hands, “I don't think you're some freak,” his voice weakens, “I was just surprised... I never would have thought that you used to be a cutter.”

I shrug and play with the book in my hands, “It is what it is, I guess.”

“But why?” He asks, still not grasping the concept of everything. He has these pretty seafoam coloured eyes that display every single emotion and it intimidates me for some reason. James leans forward and plays with the sleeve of his shirt, his cerulean eyes gaze into mine earnestly. I never liked explaining my reasons behind my actions, because my reasons were never rational.

“I don't like to talk about it.”

He nods his head at the simplicity of my statement, “I understand.”

No, you don't, and I pray that you never have to.

“So I saw you talking to Ariana yesterday”

I ignore the shit eating grin on his face, “What do you know about her? Like her past and her relationship with Craig and Anne?”

Paul Martin looks up at me, totally bewildered by my irrelevant inquiry. It's the first time I have asked him about anyone who's not on the team. We're both sitting at the island in the middle of his kitchen, enjoying banana pancakes and bacon he had whipped up for us. Ariana and her quiescent personality had unquestionably caught my attention, and I found myself thinking about her more than I probably should. Even when I would try to sleep, all I could fucking think about was her pretty face and her doleful blue eyes.

“She's very quiet, so I don't know a whole lot about her. She's a really nice lady though and all the times I've seen her she has always been very sweet to me. She just gets intimidated by the guys really easily, but that's kind of understandable with the way Jordan treats her. I feel really bad for her now that I think about it... she gets insulted so much, and she just takes it. I mean, if she had the same personality she did a few years ago, she would have never taken any of that crap from Staal, or anyone else for that matter.”

“What happened to her?” I inquire interrogatively when I notice the hint of sorrow in his eyes.

“I don't know much about the whole thing, I mean Craig really doesn't like to talk about it because he gets really sad.” He swishes his mouth to the side, contemplating if he should tell me the the morbid story or not, “She was in a car crash about two years ago and it was really bad. I mean, I believe a few people died and she was like the only person who survived that car crash. I remember seeing the pictures in the newspaper after it happened and that car was just totally wrecked, I honestly don't even know how anyone could survive something so awful. Nobody knows all of the details about what happened, except Craig and Ariana, of course. I remember after the accident Jordan started to throw around this rumour that Ariana had been drunk driving and crashed into another car that had a little kid in it, and the kid had died immediately. Obviously it wasn't true at all, but a few of the guys on the team actually believed him, and they were just so cruel to her. It still kind of shocks me to this day, how awful a bunch of grown men could be towards a woman.”

Paul shakes his head indignantly, “That absolutely tore Ariana up, and she just disappeared for a few months, like nobody knew where she went, not even Craig. I think she came back like a year later and had completely changed. I had visited her in the hospital to drop off some flowers and a get well card, but she was just completely out of it. She looked horrible, probably twenty or thirty pounds underweight and she had all these bruises and shit on her face. He won't admit it today, but I know he still feels terrible about it.”

As Paul continues with the disheartening story, I actually feel sad for Ariana, and acrimonious towards Jordan for even starting a sick rumour like that. To feel like everyone is against you for something terrible that you didn't even do just had to be one of the worst feelings in the world. How could anyone start a malicious rumour like that about someone they hardly even know? I know some people are naturally cruel, but is it really necessary to take your anger out on someone so innocent? I don't know much about Ariana, but I do know for fact that nobody deserves that type of pain.

I think about her big blue eyes and recollect how they were occupied to the brim with an excessive amount of agony. I imagine what she must have been like after the car crash and how those blue eyes must have held so much pain and sorrow. My breath gets caught in my throat at the imagery. How the hell could a bunch of grown hockey players be so ignorant? I knew I wasn't the sharpest knife in the bunch, but I sure as hell know how to be courteous.

“Is that how she broke her leg?” I ask delicately when I notice Paul's knuckles turn albescent as he clutches the fork in his hand. For some reason it brought me the tiniest bit of hope to know that some people on the team cared about her.

“I don't really know to be honest. I only know what Craig has told me,” he looks up at me with a grave expression, “I know you're not the type of person who breaks promises, so please don't tell anyone else that I told you any of this. I don't know if Craig would like Ariana's business just being thrown around the team, a lot of people don't know about the whole incident.”

I nod my head, “I promise I won't tell anyone.”

“Ari! Wake up!”

I shoot up at the sound of Craig's clamorous voice. My breath comes out as jagged, choppy pants and I'm perspiring direly. Craig sits next to me on the bed, and wraps his arm around my neck and pulls me against him. His sweltering hand brushes against my forehead, and wipes the sweat away. He rocks me back and forth and comforts me like I'm a child, but it helps ease the internal pain. I lean back, and place my sweaty forehead against his shoulder, his struggle of comforting me is a downright failure. A loud sniffle is heard from the doorway, and when I look to my right I see Rhys standing there with tears in his ample chocolate-brown eyes.

“Rhys, why don't you stay here with Ariana while I go get her a glass of water?”

I sink back into the bed when Craig gets up and leaves the bedroom. Rhys steps forward guardedly until he's eye to eye with me. He easily hops up onto the bed, and presses his hand to the skin right below my eyelid, his fingertips catching my tears.

“Is okay, I get nightmares too. Sometimes they about monstas, and sometimes they about mommy and daddy. Did you dweam about a monsta?” His brown eyes stare into mine like he knows what I'm going through. I wipe my eyes with the sleeve of my shirt, and try to rid myself of all of the bad memories.

“It was a really bad monster.” I whimper. He sits up and wraps his arms around my shoulders. I'm not sure how long the 4 year old boy hugs me for, but it feels like a lifetime as I wait for Craig to return. I felt embarrassed that Rhys was seeing me in such a contemptible state, but he takes after his father when it comes to his attributes. I can sincerely say I have never met a kid who is more understanding than Rhys Adams. If more adults had the same outlook on life that Rhys has, the world would be such a better place to live in.

Then again, if adults had the same outlook on life as a 4 year old, there definitely wouldn't be any violence in the world.

“Alright Rhys, give Ari a kiss goodnight,” Rhys obeys his dad and gives me a kiss on the forehead before hopping off the furniture and trotting out of the diminutive room.

Craig hands me a glass of water and two bantam white pills, I groan in agony at the sight of the heinous medication.

“It's okay Ari, just take the medicine and you'll feel better.” He whispers in a comforting manner. At that instant I want nothing more than to just die at the thought of taking the prescription medicine. Sure, it numbed the pain for a shortened quantity of time, but when the medication wears off, the internal revilement strikes back with a vengeance, and there's nothing I can do to stop it.

I place the pills in my mouth, and down them with a swig of ice cold water. My eyes start to flicker, and my mind becomes bleary. The feeling of being drugged takes over my neural structure, and all of these appalling thoughts crash into me like a freight train all at once.

“He knows.” I mutter sluggishly.

Craig looks at me securely, “Who knows what?”

I let out a dyspneic sob as my vision starts to fade into a blur, “James N-Neal, he knows that I used to cut myself... h-he knows.”

Craig places a wet washcloth over my forehead, and I writhe around on the mattress. I try to move my arms, but my brain won't let me do anything. It's like I'm in a coma.

'Here comes that feeling that you thought you had forgotten'

The medication has fully kicked in, and I am now completely numb from the inside out. Craig presses a kiss to my brow, and leaves me to my suffering. I don't get any sleep that night, I am consumed by thoughts of counter-intuitive culpability. The medication I'm on makes me excessively paranoid, like somebody is going to sneak into my room and just slaughter me. That's just one of the many side effects of the medicine, and one of the many reason why I hate taking it.

'He's trying to get inside your head'


So I definitely got around to posting this faster this time :D

Some chapters might be different from the ones on Mibba, solely for the purpose of making it less cliched and better since this story is a bit older and my writing has improved since then lol. Also got the characters' info put up so you guys can see what Ariana looks like.

Is James going to continue to try to get closer to Ariana? Is Ariana going to let him in or stay stubborn? What is James going to do now that he knows a little more about Ariana? Did you enjoy Craig's P.O.V?

Let me know what you think! I'll keep updating :)

Also, is the centre format button not working for anyone else? Or is it just me?


This story really hits home for me. As someone who has suffered from depression/postpartum depression, I totally relate to Ariana. I really want to see where this goes. Please update.

MaattaMia3 MaattaMia3
I'm really enjoying this story! It's so well written, descriptive, emotional. I always look forward to more chapters to see what's going to happen!
Your story is perfect, and you absolutely need to update more! I love it, and I'm 99.9% sure everyone else who reads it loves it too. Update next as soon as possible please! :)
So I follow this story on the regular mibba site, and just let me say. I can't handle the feels.
Bugalouie Bugalouie