Seven Minus Five

Monday

There was water flowing over the sides of the bathtub. The rug was completely soaked. The shower was still on. A body lay in the bathtub. The head hung at an odd angle, the neck clearly broken. The eyes stared blankly above to the ceiling. In one hand was a bottle of shampoo. The water distorted the body, making it look like the body was moving under the surface of the water. The tattoos were unclear as the water rippled across the surface.

Tuesday

There were beer bottles and cans littered around the room and on the table. There were also cider cans and there was a broken bottle of vodka, the liquid soaked into the carpet. Piles of photos were carelessly stacked on top of each other and were covered in beer. They littered the floor as well, smiling faces and half-naked bodies staring up at you. Backgrounds of clear blue oceans and crowded stadiums standing out despite the discolouration from the liquid. Alcohol poisoning. That’s what the paramedics had said. The eyes were closed, lips parted, hair mussed this way and that. Shirtless. Undone jeans.

Wednesday

There was screaming and shouting. The smell of gas filled the air. Everyone was trying to get out of the airplane as calmly as possible, the attendants desperately trying to get everyone out while still following the safety rules. Firemen were already putting out the fire and some were heading inside with gas masks to find survivors. There was only one other person I needed to survive. The other clung to me. Crying. Whimpering. Begging. Sobbing. So different from his usual cheeky, charming loveable self.

Thursday

There was no sign of a struggle. No sign of self-harm. The tanned skin held no bruising or rope burns or closed up cuts. There was blood on the white onesie. There were other stains as well. Red that had faded into a light pink and grey where clear liquid must have stained the cloth. The body was cold and lifeless in my arms. I cradled the head in my elbow as I cried. Everything that had happened over the past couple of days had taken its toll. The cold air didn’t bother me despite me in nothing but a shirt and joggers.

Friday

I sat on the cold, tiled floor of my bathroom. The air brushed over my head. My head that I’d shaved off the majority of my hair. It was messy and not done right. My hand had shaken too much for me to keep a good grip on the razor. I was scared that I would cut myself despite everything that had already happened. I swirled the bottle of vodka in my hands. I shouldn’t be drinking, it wasn’t good for me. I didn’t drink very often; after all, I had the image of the responsible one to uphold. I didn’t think I would last much longer anyway.

We’d found Harry in the bathtub. He’d slipped and fallen and broken his neck against the controls of the shower head. It was a horrible sight. We had been sitting in the living room doing our own little thing while listening to Harry sing as he usually did when the sudden thump and scraping of the wall tiles had brought us to our current predicament. Louis couldn’t stay for more than five minutes and had left to go throw up in the kitchen sink. Niall had clung to me, his nails digging into my back as he kept his face buried in my shoulder not wanting to look at the gruesome sight. My arms had been around him but even the strength in my biceps couldn’t prevent the shakes coming from his suddenly seeming small body. Zayn had stayed quiet. I wasn’t really sure what he was thinking. He usually stayed calm in such situations but I knew the shaking of his shoulders wasn’t from the air-con we had blasting on at full power.

Niall had been next. The paramedics had said it’d been alcohol poisoning. I didn’t think he would go from drinking too much. I thought it would be from eating too much. He ate like he’d been starved for more than ten years. At least he had gone in his sleep and it wasn’t as horrible a death as Harry’s. The photos he’d been looking at the previous night were soaked in beer and other liquids causing discolouration to the once bright faces of our little group.

It was ironic that the one thing Zayn had never been on till he’d met us was also the one thing that had killed him. We had had to cancel our tour and had been flying back to London from America so that we could have the funerals for the boys. We were so close to landing as well when an engine had exploded. 1 out of a 1000 chance of something like that happening and it happened to us. It was like Final Destination, no escape from death. Zayn had been a couple of rows behind the engine. Louis sat in the middle row and I sat on the other side. The pilot managed to land the plane with some scrapes and bumps, causing everybody to move in their seats despite the weight of the seatbelts. Already firemen in fire trucks were arriving onto the scene. We were told to exit the plane and everyone was trying to get off quickly and safely. Louis and I had stuck together looking for Zayn. Firemen were pulling survivors out of the plane. I pushed Louis’s head into my neck as he cried. Two firemen brought out a body on a gurney. The single arm I saw told me everything. The tattoos on that arm had been burned beyond recognition but I knew it was Zayn. I just didn’t tell Louis until we later got back to my house where we were hidden from paparazzi and fans. I’d overheard one of the paramedics saying gas poisoning and burns.

Louis had jumped. I’m assuming he did at least. He was dramatic like that. I’d fallen asleep on the couch after putting him to bed upstairs. When I woke up I thought he would be awake making a cup of tea already. He wasn’t. I didn’t hear anything and thought it odd. Usually he would be up by now making himself tea if something was troubling him. I trudged upstairs and looked in each of the bedrooms, not really sure which one I’d put him in. When I came to the main bedroom I gasped. The door had wood scratched out of it obviously by both nail marks if the dried lines said anything. You could see objects had been thrown at the door as well considering I must have stepped on a few trying to get into the hazardous room. Pillows had been pulled off the bed and the quilt lay on the floor. There were feathers from where pillows had been ripped apart. Other items had been thrown around the room; shoes, clothing, books. Louis’s phone lay broken on the floor, the sim card cut up into pieces. There were plenty of bottles of alcohol. Some empty, some half empty and others still full and had leaked out onto the carpet. The carpet was soaked with alcohol and it reeked of it as well. I was about to leave and continue my search when I noticed the blood.

They were in the shape of footprints and led to the balcony where the door was open. I had walked out onto the balcony intent on closing the door to stop the cold air from coming in when I saw blood on the railing as well. I’d looked over and immediately felt dizzy. It couldn’t be. I ran from the balcony and down the stairs. I ignored the pain in my foot from where I must have stepped on sharp items where Louis had left them. I ran for the door and had to force my fingers to turn the lock and open the door. I ignored the cold wind that had hit me head on. I ran out into the yard and dropped to the ground, pulling Louis’s body into my arms. It was still early so no one must have seen him yet. His body was cold, his eyes shut. There were blood stains on his onesie as well as other various stains. He was smiling also, his lips a dark blue. I couldn’t take it anymore and had broken down. I’d crushed Louis’s body to mine as I let the tears fall.

They were all gone. I was the only one left. I wouldn’t be here for much longer. I wasn’t planning on sticking around. I didn’t think I could hold the strong, responsible image anymore. I glanced at the counter where there were a packet of razors. I gripped what was left of my hair in my hands. When did everything go wrong? When did it all start to fall apart? As a child all I’d ever wanted to be was a fireman. Then the X-Factor came. When the X-Factor worked out I decided to put that job on hold. I felt guilty and horrible. Firemen saved people. How was I supposed to save people if I couldn’t even save my four best mates? I furiously wiped my eyes but the tears wouldn’t stop coming. I knew my eyes were red. My chest heaved as I tried to inhale oxygen between my sobs strong enough I thought my ribs would break.

My phone rang. I glanced at the screen. It was Danielle. I took in a deep breath. She couldn’t hear me like this. I counted to ten before answering the phone. She greeted me good morning. I returned the greeting.  She reminded me she was coming over tomorrow at ten. That’s right. I’d asked if she could come over because I really needed comforting. I asked if she could come at nine instead and bring Louis’s and my parents also. I told her we both needed comforting as an excuse. I didn’t really think telling your mate’s parents that their son was dead was a good conversation starter at nine in the morning. I took a swig from the bottle. The vodka burned the back of my throat. I started coughing. Danielle asked if I was alright. I assured her it was just a cough. She said she would bring me some medicine. I told her not to bother. I wouldn’t be here for them anyway but kept that to myself.

Danielle started talking to me about things. I spaced out. I made noises of agreements so that she would know I was listening. When I came back to reality I realised that Danielle had been rambling for the past five minutes. No, Danielle didn’t ramble. She talked about things she cared about and I should have been paying attention. That sounded better. I told Danielle that I wasn’t feeling well and that I wanted to sleep. I glanced at the razors again. Danielle said I love you. I was silent for a moment. This would be the last time I would ever hear that. I love you too I told her. I put everything I had into those four words. Every last goddamn emotion I could build up before ending the call. I chucked my phone onto the floor. The screen cracked. I glared at the phone. Damn iPhone and there breakable screens.

I looked at the screen. Cracked, broken, and pieces falling out. That’s how I felt right now. My heart had cracked with the first two deaths, it broke with the last two and as I sat here on the cold, hard floor everything was just falling apart. What a metaphor. I inhaled deeply. I drank what was left of the vodka. My head spun and my throat burned. I dropped the bottle as I lost the feeling in my fingers. The bottle shattered against the floor. I stood up slowly, using the wall as support. I winced when I stepped on some of the glass but didn’t bother taking the pieces out. I looked at my reflection in the mirror. I saw a broken, tired, sleep-deprived young adult with eye bags darker than charcoal. My eyes were blood shot and my haircut looked terrible.

I rested my hands on the counter as I controlled my breathing. My reflection seemed to mock me. As if to tell me that I wasn’t good enough. I couldn’t save my mates how was I supposed to save myself. It dared me to save myself. To not give into the darkness I so badly wanted to meet. But I already knew it was a losing war. My hand moved across the counter, grabbing one of the razors. I looked down at my arms. They were pale, much paler than before. Lack of eating had done that. My tattoos stood out in stark contrast against my skin. I lifted my hand with the razor to my wrist. I tried to steady my hand as I inhaled deeply.

Don’t do it. Don’t. Please we need you to not do this. I shut my eyes. Those voices. They sounded so similar. Please don’t. I cried out. I opened my eyes. The blood dripped down my arm. I’d broken a vein. It was excruciating but exhilarating. I screamed as I continued slicing at my wrists. I couldn’t stop. It was an automatic movement now, like an instinct. The razor fell from my hand. I fell on my ass, hard I might add. I heard glass crack under my weight but took no notice. I winced when my hand got pierced with little splinters of glass. I lifted my hand to see strips of red beginning to form on my hand and lines of red across my wrists.

I picked up a new razor. I held up my right arm this time. My right arm held the four chevrons, one for each member. I sliced through the first chevron. Once I felt the pain I continued on to the next one. I continued to cut at each of my chevrons. You’re all dead! I screamed. You’re all dead! Why should I have a permanent reminder of what I’ll never have again?! I didn’t know why I was screaming. Was I even screaming out loud or in my mind? I was delirious and loosing blood. I continued to slash at my tattoos. I eventually dropped the razor and fell back, my head hitting the wall none too gently. I breathed in harshly as my vision swam and threatened to disappear. My head hurt. I could feel the pain in my arms but it was more of a numb feeling.

What had I done? I weakly lifted my arms. Both of them dripping with blood and my tattoos destroyed beyond recognition…just like Zayn’s. I think that was the feather tattoo my mum had finally approved of. I took in deep breaths, gulping for air like a fish out of water. I groaned and pressed my hands to my face. I had no more tears left to shed. My body shook. I wiped blood across my face as I let my hands drop. My world turned sideways as I hit the ground. I didn’t even register the pain to my head. I stared blankly ahead. My head ached. Was this what a hangover felt like? No. This was a different kind of pain. I closed my eyes. I evened out my breathing as much as I could. I felt my body relax. I didn’t notice when my heart finally stopped beating and I took my last breath.

Saturday

I felt light. Like a feather. Like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. I opened my eyes and found myself in my living room. Funny…I didn’t remember falling asleep here. I noticed something. There were others around my. I blinked to clear my vision. It was them. The four of them stood in my line of view. Had it all just been a dream? Had none of it really happened? Harry, with his head sitting on top of his shoulders and his neck not snapped. Niall, with a small smile and no signs of drinking. Zayn an arm extended to me, the tattoos still recognizable. Lastly Louis with his onesie and no stains of blood. I took Zayn’s hand and let myself be pulled up.

I looked around my living room. Something was off though. I heard the lock click and the door handle jiggle. I looked to the front door. Right, Danielle was coming over. I was about to go and greet her when a hand rested on my shoulder. I turned back to see Zayn. He shook his head. I opened my mouth to protest and didn’t notice the lack of sound that was supposed to come out. Harry and Niall shook their heads also. Louis linked his arms though mine. I looked at him. I realised then that the expressions didn’t express happiness. They weren’t sad though, more like relaxed and calm as if they knew what was going to happen next.

I looked at the door as it opened. Danielle walked in, rubbing her arms and muttering about me forgetting to lock the door. She stopped and cocked her head to the side. I looked behind me to see Louis’s body. Shit. I’d forgotten that’s where I’d left Louis’s body after bringing him inside. I heard a gasp and looked back at the door. Danielle had turned away to call Louis’s parents as well as my own. Louis’s parents came in and gasped. They ran for his body. I was shocked as they ran through my body as if I were nothing more than air. I glanced at my friends. They pointed to themselves and nodded their heads. I heard a scream and looked towards to the bathroom.

My feet started moving. I walked to the bathroom and realised why Danielle had screamed. My body lay on the tiled floor, cold and lifeless. The blood had dried on my arms and face. Two razors covered in blood lay on the floor as well. My broken phone lay on the ground, the screen lighting up to warn me I had twenty percent battery left before dying. I kneeled down next to Danielle. She was crying and tears were running down her face. Choked noises and gasps escaped her lips. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I didn’t want to see her like this, she shouldn’t be like this. She should have been laughing and smiling and dancing.

Sunday

I felt cold. I didn’t think we could feel anything. It was probably from memory. I stood in the cemetery along with the other four as we stood in front of our graves. Our parents had wanted us buried next to each other. I looked at Harry’s grave. All our caskets were still open. Harry wore a black button up shirt with a pair of skinny jeans. He had on a pair of Converse sneakers. I honestly wondered how he managed to squeeze himself into those skinny jeans; they looked much too tight and uncomfortable. If it hadn’t been for Harry’s love of walking around naked without a care in the world I would have thought he was a too tall girl with two too many nipples. Gemma had been crying. You could tell by the washed away lines of mascara and the concealer on her face although no makeup product would be able to hide the evidence. She was kneeling quietly in front of Harry’s casket, her hair blowing around her. Instead of a coat she wore one of Harry’s long-sleeved shirts. He really was a tall person, the shirt loose around Gemma’s body and falling to her knees. She wore a skirt underneath. Harry was smirking at the fact but it was a sad smirk. As if he couldn’t put in the effort. A couple of his mates were reliving memories but you could see they just didn’t have it in them. Anne smiled and thanked them anyway. Des and Robin were both there.

I looked at Louis who was leaning on his gravestone next to mine. He was watching his family. All of his younger siblings were there; his half-sister Georgia from his father, his four younger half-sisters Charlotte, Félicité, and identical twins Daisy and Phoebe as well as fraternal twins Doris and Ernest his only younger brother. They were crying their hearts out. I don’t think they’d ever seen an actual dead person let alone someone they knew. Johanna stood with Troy, Mark and Daniel. Somehow Troy and Mark must have found out about the news either through the media or his mother. I doubt it was from Louis who was estranged from Troy. They all looked pretty awkward to be around each other. Louis lay in his casket wearing one of his football uniforms along with his football cleats.

Eleanor was there as well. She was kneeling in front of Louis’s casket. Her hair was in a messy bun and she wore a black dress and a cardigan. They’d broken up a couple of months prior to Harry’s death and it’d been hard on the both of them. After being together for so long it’d crushed the both of them. The petty arguments and endless fights just weren’t enough to keep their relationship together and a couple of times Louis had lashed out at the media when they got too close. I sighed, non-existent air escaping my lips as well as lack of sound. I noticed Louis had moved his gaze from his siblings to Eleanor.

Johanna came and sat next to Eleanor and placed a comforting hand on her shoulder. That’s when Eleanor broke. She fell into Johanna’s comforting arms, sobbing and screaming out only one phrase, “I love you Louis! I still do!” Everyone glanced over at Eleanor before turning back to their respective graves. I looked up to see how Louis was taking it. His lips moved and even though no noise came out I saw the phrase perfectly as if he’d actually spoken them. I love you too El.

My gaze moved to Zayn’s casket on my other side. He wore a plain black shirt with his leather jacket and a pair of jeans. Perrie had pretty much been crying non-stop since they’d arrived at the cemetery. She was drained now of anymore tears and was sitting there choking on air and gasping for oxygen back into her lungs. I could tell she hadn’t bothered with makeup. His parents Yaser and Patricia were there. His older sister, Doniya was comforting his two younger sisters, Waliyha and Safaa. Jade, Jesy, and Leigh-Anne were all there as well comforting Perrie. I saw Zayn kneeling down next to her. Jade left and came back with a box of tissues. Zayn’s hand reached for Perrie. As soon as his hand touched her cheek she broke out into a new fit of sobs. Leigh-Anne had to balance herself as she supported her weight as well as Perrie’s. Zayn sighed and stood up. He walked back over to where I stood and we both looked at Niall.

Niall lay in his casket wearing a red polo shirt and a pair of chinos with his black high tops and a snapback resting on his chest. Maura was kneeling in front of Niall’s grave, dabbing her eyes now and again with a tissue. Bobby and Chris stood behind her. Greg stood off a bit to the side holding Theo in his arms. Niall had one arm leaning on Greg’s shoulder as he stared down at his nephew. Niall lifted his hand and held it in front of Theo’s face.  Theo had his fingers reaching and grabbing at thin air as if knowing Niall was there. Denise, Niall’s sister-in-law and Greg’s wife came over to take the baby. Niall watched Greg and Denise coo over the baby for a moment before making his way back over to us.

I finally looked at my own casket which I had tried to avoid so far. I lay in my casket wearing a dark blue plaid shirt with the sleeves rolled down so that they covered my destroyed tattoos and slashed wrists and a pair of jeans. Someone had shaved off the rest of my hair so I looked somewhat decent. My mother and father stood in front of my casket, my mother crying into my father’s chest. Nicola and Ruth had been crying so I assumed they hadn’t seen me at my worse. This wasn’t something a parent should have to go through; a parent should never have to bury their own child.

I felt an arm looped through mine and looked to see Louis. He had his arms looped through mine with his head resting on my shoulder. Harry came and stood behind me. Niall took up my other side leaning his head on my shoulder. Zayn stood on his other side with an arm around Niall’s shoulders. Even in death we wouldn’t be separated.

Elizabeth G.

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