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Under Pressure by Ray Printer Friendly

It’s weird, you know? You live your life, you try to do the right thing, you try to do good…

And what? Like, you end up covered in blood and brains and who knows what else? Maybe not you, like, I’m not saying that if you try to do what’s right, it’s not an instant guarantee that you’ll end up in this predicament. But shit, man. Shit.

Sorry, I know I’m all spacey right now, like not making any sense or whatever. But you don’t know, man. I’m probably in shock. Like, my brain just tweaked out, and that’s why I’m sitting at this computer, all covered with her insides, and instead of just passing out, it’s like…

Maybe that’s the computer age generation. Our coping mechanism isn’t to freeze up and swallow our own tongue or whatever, you know? Instead, we blog. That whole fight-or-flight instinct is now like fight-or-flight-or-log-on-and-tell-the-world. Instant messaging, text messages, internet access on your phone. Why not? Why not tell the entire planet before dialing the police?

It’s like, “what’s the number to 911?” but my fingers can type in thirty-nine passwords and usernames for over fifty accounts. If I would have had a few more seconds, I could have recorded a video with my phone and posted the whole thing on Youtube.

Maybe that’s a little too ghoulish or whatever, but shit, man. Shit.

Okay, here’s what: Dialing 911, I’m gonna tell ‘em it’s an emergency, tell ‘em the address, and then I’m hanging up. I can’t answer any of their questions. On TV, do they ask if there’s still immediate danger?

I would. Like, “What’s the nature of the emergency?”

“Everybody’s dead!”

“…Is it still dangerous?”

“I don’t know. Probably.”

“Fuck it, then—call back when it’s safe. We’ll come pick up the bodies.”

I’m really freaking out here. You would be, too, I bet. Okay, wait.

All right, cops are on their way. I bet they’ll arrest me, and I can’t blame them, really. Like, if I walked out of here, I’d prolly get citizen arrested like fifty times before I made it to the end of the block. Covered in blood and brains, looking like a serial killer who isn’t trying to get away with shit. I’ma sit tight. Write this post, and when the news people ask, I’ll tell ‘em check out this site. I’ll get tons of hits. Even more if the story goes national. I bet it will, too.

So I should tell the story. Be bad if the cops show up and I don’t have anything for the reporters to read. Lucky I been typing since forever, so I’m real fast.

My name is Eric Swanson. I’m 17 years old. I want to write movies when I “grow up.” Like, scripts and stuff. I have all kinds of great ideas. That’s why I been writing on this blog for so long. The early stuff is real embarrassing, like talking about how I’m in love with whoever, all sappy and shit. If you’re here because of the news or whatever, don’t read the early stuff. Just click the link called “my best stuff.” Or, if you want to read any of my scripts, you can click the “scripts link.”

I know it seems real bad to be advertising at a time like this, I’m just telling you. I mean, out of all this, the only good point is that maybe I’ll get discovered or whatever.

Okay, so you know my name and my game. I’m just some kid with Hollywood aspirations. Prolly a million other kids just like me.

Her name was Demetria. We called her Demi. My dad says that’s a movie star, but I’ve never seen any of her movies—I just know she married Ashton Kutcher. But none of that matters. This is what I have to work on in my script-writing, is staying on subject.

I been dating Demi for like three years. I wish I could tell you the story, but I just don’t have time. Wait, I got it. Technology. I store my files online, so I can access them from anywhere. Here’s when I first met her (a journal entry from a different blog I used to do):

December 18, 2004

I met the most beautiful girl tonight. I went to Remy’s party after the b-ball game, even though I didn’t really want to. I got this huge zit right on my forehead, and even though I popped it, it’s still all red and sick. I can kind of comb my hair over it, but it still is like a beach ball glued to my head.

But we’re staying on topic here, right? (that’s one of the things I have to work on, if I really want to write movies, is staying on topic)

Remy’s parents are cool with booze, so I decided to go just so I could get a buzz on. It was a pretty good time—Remy has this game room that’s like the bomb-dot-com, man. Like the chairs that hook up to your console and shake right along with your controller, and like surround sound and a high-def TV and all that. A pool table, too. Darts, whatever. Like, if you want to have fun, that’s where you go. It smells kind of funny, though, like wet clothes, a little. So it sucks if you drink too much and then smoke a doob, ‘cause that’s when the smells really attack, you know?

Anyway, I’m like sitting there, and this smell just starts getting to me, so I went out to smoke a cigarette and write in my thought book a little, and there’s this girl sitting on the swing set in the yard.

And it’s like it was poetry or something, she’s just so beautiful. Like an angel or a love song or whatever. And my heart just…it’s like it gets all warm and breaks, but all at the same time. And I know I don’t believe in love, but…

And I just sat there on the top of the doghouse, writing, and I have never wished more that I was an artist instead of a writer, because I totally would have drawn her right then. And then she lit a cigarette, and I was just, like, in lust.

I watched her smoke for a minute, and then I lit up my own cigarette, and I think that’s when she noticed me, because of the flame of my lighter. She goes, “What’s up?”

I go, “Hell of a party.”

She just like shrugged. “I guess. If you’re in to that kind of thing.”

“I don’t know if I’m in to it, really. But I’m having a good time.”

“I guess. It’s not really my thing.”

“What is?” I asked her.


And that’s when I was like all about her. She like shrugged and motioned at the whole world, you know? Like hanging out on a swing set, smoking, that was her thing. And that’s totally my thing, too!

I don’t need a party or whatever. Just somebody smart to talk to, and maybe some weed or booze or whatever. Deep conversation and a mind altercation. We talked for a little bit, and I was just, I don’t know what.

I didn’t want to seem like one of those guys, though. Like I didn’t want to be one of those creepy guys that hits on everyone at a party. I talked to her across the yard until I finished smoking.

I go, “You going back in?”

She goes, “In a while.”

“Do you have the internet?”


“I’m not hitting on you right now, because I don’t want to be one of those guys, but I’ll be writing about you.” And then I handed her one of those cards I got printed that has my web address on it. “My email’s on there, too, if you ever want to do something.”

So if you’re visiting, strange swing set girl: You’re the most beautiful girl I have ever seen. You are smart and funny, and I really wish I could get to know more about you.

I wrote so many posts about her that I ended up basically donating that blog to her, like I had to get new cards printed with a different blog on it, because that one was all for her.

I fell hard, man. And like, the more I talked to her, the more I fell for her. We stayed friends for a long time, not wanting to put labels on our relationship, not wanting to live the life that we had been conditioned into living.

She got me, you know? Like, she didn’t want to be my girlfriend. She was herself, and I was myself, and we hung out and enjoyed each other. Sometimes we’d get high, sometimes we’d just hang out in some field, looking up at the starts, sometimes we’d fuck.

And then there was more, because whatever we had, it was moving all by itself to the next level. We didn’t talk about it, but it was there. We didn’t have to call each other if we wanted to hang out because it was kind of a given that we would be hanging out, you know?

Like, our time was each other’s.

She was my dark angel—that’s what I started calling her. She was so torn and sad and lovely. I like to think that I was the same to her. Dark and individual and lovely. I think I was, I don’t know. By the end of that first year, we were together all the time.

We spent the summer sneaking out, meeting each other, drinking, getting high, whatever. She painted. Sometimes we’d sneak out to her garage, where she had all of her work hanging up, and we’d just look at it. Sometimes she’d point something out, explain it, maybe tell me how she was inspired to paint it. Sometimes she’d tell me how she was feeling at the time. Sometimes, she’d just say something like, “I really dig that one,” and then we would just talk about something else for the rest of the night.

I don’t believe in Heaven or Hell, but if I did, those nights with her were for sure Heaven.

We grew up, you know?

Like we got older, we got wiser. We grew out of our Emo/Goth phase, right? Like, why are we wearing this makeup, anyway? Just another way to conform, just a stupid kid thing, when you can’t think of any way to be your own type of stupid kid. Black eye makeup, dressing all dark, it’s just another version of calling in to MTV Total Request Live, you know what I mean?

Just another way to conform.

We grew out of it, but she was still cutting.

Her cutting, man.

I was into it at first. Like, sometimes she’d do it while we were having sex, and you’d have her blood right up on you, like on your chest, on your nipples, and then you’re pressed together, and it’s on her chest, on her nipples. Wet and warm and slippery and sticky, and it’s super-hot, you know?

I’m not a blood fetishist, but in the day and age of AIDS and HIV and all that, blood is totally taboo, and that made it sexy as hell.

But eventually, we grew out of it. But she kept cutting. I asked her why, I asked her wasn’t she over that. She seemed embarrassed about it, you know? Like she stopped wearing the sleeveless shirts, the tank tops, whatever. She wore long-sleeved shirts in the summer, but she never stopped cutting.

I asked her why she kept it up and she told me not to worry about it. I asked her why, and she told me it was something she had to do, she told me to stop hassling her about it. I stopped hassling her about it, you know? Because it wasn’t too long since I had been doing the same thing.

To tell you the truth, if someone had asked me why I was doing it, I’m not sure I would have had an answer. It was just something I did, it just felt right, you know? So I wasn’t going to harsh her for it. She just needed more time to work out her shit, that’s what I thought.

Time went by, things were awesome between us, we were talking about college, about growing up, all that. I mean, we were Seniors this year, you know? Life was coming at us full speed ahead, and we wanted to be able to grab it by the horns or whatever. Grab it by the horns, suck the marrow out of it, pick your cliché, that’s what we wanted. We were together, we were in love (something we had both admitted to by our second year together), and we wanted whatever we could get out of life.

And you know what? The future was bright, man. We both got scholarships at Texas Tech, we were going to move to Lubbock and continue our lives together, we were going to live a fairy tale of our own making.

She was still cutting, though. There’s a time in life where you’re just a dumbass kid all trying to be different, trying to be morbid, whatever. You’re like trying to show the world how much of an individual you are, right? “Ooh, look at me, look at me—I cut myself!” You grow out of it, when it’s just a dumb kid thing.

When you’ve been doing it for years, when it’s no longer a phase, or even a compulsion, but an addiction, that’s when it’s a problem. That’s when you start wondering just what the hell the underlying issues are, you know? I tried to talk to her about it, and she’d usually get mad about it.

“You don’t understand,” she’d yell at me. “I have to do it!”

And I’d tell her that I did understand, that I was here for her, that we should talk it out, that we could get to the bottom of it, you know? And that just made her madder.

She’d scream about the pressure she was under, how I’d never understand it, no matter how bad I wanted.

“You know how I know?” She asked me once.


“Because you were able to stop. I can’t stop, don’t you see? I can’t!”

I thought I was helping, you know? Like, I know I’m not a professional shrink or anything, but I thought I could help. I swear, that’s all I ever wanted. I swear.

So one day, I invite her over, my parents are gone, and I’m pretty much loaded up and ready to go to college, you know? She comes over, and I walk through the house with her, to the bedroom. It’s empty, except for the bed.

My room’s in the basement, so there aren’t any windows. I had removed all the light bulbs, so there were just candles sitting around everywhere. She thought we were going to have one last fling on the bed before moving away.

“Listen, baby, we have to talk about your cutting,” I said. I don’t think she had realized that I had locked the door. My bedroom door was an old house door, so it locked with a key from either the inside or the outside, which meant she couldn’t get out.

“Not this shit again,” she said.

“I’m not letting you out of here until we get to the bottom of this.”

“Eric, give me the key.”

“No. Don’t you see that I love you? Just talk to me about it.”

“There’s nothing to talk about! Seriously, let me out. Give me the key.”


And then she was just flying at me, man. Across the room, at my neck scratching my face, trying to get the key. I fell against the table with all the candles, and they fell to the floor and went out. I can’t see shit, but she’s all over me, ripping my clothes, my skin, just freaking out. I was terrified that she was going to claw out one of my eyeballs.

I managed to get away from her, and I ran to the door, unlocked it, and locked it back behind me. I heard her scream then, like this blood-freezing howl, and then she was bawling and beating on the door and my heart was breaking, and I kept telling myself that it was for her own good.

I was trying to figure out how this was going to help. Part of my mind was already telling me that I had messed up bad, but I’ve always been stubborn. I just kept telling myself that this would work, that our love was strong enough.

That night was terrible. She screamed and cursed and cried, and then she went silent. I waited until the early hours of the morning, and then I snuck in with a dim flashlight…and saw that I had not succeeded in keeping her from cutting. I had only made the process more painful.

She had clawed through her skin, I could see where she had sawed back and forth across the inside of her arms with her jagged fingernails. Her face was shredded, her belly, her legs. Everything. It looked like someone had attacked her with a weed whacker.

I hadn’t slept, you know? In my head, the best idea was to tie her up so that she couldn’t mangle herself. Also, I could stay in there with her, monitor her, feed her, comfort her.

When she woke up, she didn’t care about any comforting. She cussed at me, called me names, told me she hated me. She kept telling me that I was killing her. She kept screaming that if I loved her I wouldn’t do this. I tried to explain. Like how I was doing this because I loved her. I told her I just wanted to know why.

“If you can tell me why, I’ll untie you, Demi. I swear.”

“You don’t understand, Eric! You never did! I have to! You don’t under the pressure I’m under.”

“I do, though, baby, I do! I’m under the same pressure: moving away, going to a new place, starting a new chapter in life. But I’m here for you, I’m here with you. We’ll get through this, you know?”

“No, Eric! It’s not like that. Just let me up, you bastard. Untie me!” And then she just started screaming. I couldn’t take it, man.

I mean, this is the love of my life, you know? I could just…I couldn’t bear to see her like that. In my head, I kept seeing movies about junkies, and that’s what it felt like to me. Like if I could just stick with it, she would get better.

I staggered up the stairs and into the back yard for a cigarette. I could still hear her screaming. It wasn’t loud, and if you didn’t know what you were listening to, you’d probably think it was a movie or something.

And then this bang, man. Like this explosion. And I’m running down the steps, trying to figure out how she got loose and what she could have gotten her hands on that would make a sound like that.

I didn’t understand what I was seeing when I first got the door open. She was still tied to the bed, just like I had left her. But everything was a different color. It was like someone had come in and added a light layer of pink to everything. I shook the flashlight I was holding, thinking that maybe the change of color was only because of failing batteries.

I realized that there was moisture on my skin, like when you walk fast on a foggy morning, how you can feel the miniscule droplets of moisture collect on your skin.

I thought about how she was always telling me about how I didn’t understand the pressure. I thought about how she used to always tell me that it felt like she’d explode if she didn’t release her fear, her worries. That’s how she let it out, was with the blade.

I always told her I totally understood. But looking at her, still tied to my bed, exactly the same as when I left her, but instead of a head, there was a just a mess of red and a shredded pillow, some blood-stained feathers still sinking drunkenly to the carpet, looking at her like that, I realized that I had never understood.

She wasn’t going through a phase, she wasn’t speaking in metaphors, nothing like that. She was just telling me, trying to make me understand, and I kept telling her that I did, I just kept trying to be the perfect boyfriend that could relate, that could help, that could fix.

The blood mist that filled the room smelled like her perfume, and it made me cry.

I threw up while I was crying, and then I went to call the police. On the way to do that, I passed by my dad’s office, and noticed that his computer was still on. Mine’s all packed up and loaded into my Explorer out in the garage. I really thought I was still going to call the cops, I thought maybe I’d just use the phone in Dad’s office instead of the one in the kitchen, but then I found myself at the computer.

And that’s where we came in, I believe. Just in the nick of time, really, because I hear them coming down the hallway, like screaming and yelling about this is the police. It sucks, man, because I know this story is unbelievable. But it’s written, and that’s the important th


posted 6/28/07


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