What is darkness? Some people define it as an absence of light, while others define it as an unseen evil force. When some people picture darkness, they think of nights and how beautiful the moon and stars look in the sky. To some people, darkness is formidable and ominous, and some just ignore it all together. What is it about the darkness that can be so alluring though?
While some try to live life in the light, they either ignore the darkness or they fight it tooth and nail. They may crave the sunlight and all of the goodness and may become depressed during bad weather conditions. They always try to smile, and some of them ignore the pains of other people. Some of them are all wrapped up in their own little worlds that the things going on outside cannot penetrate their happiness. They are seekers of light.
Darkness has a lot of different meanings and it can be interpreted in a multitude of ways. Its definition stretches from without light to mysterious and secretive. It’s a versatile word and in my case, it applies to the mystery and to pure evil itself. How did I come to accept the darkness in myself when I couldn’t in others? I guess different people have their own interpretations of evil and darkness.
Then there are those of us that accept our darkness. Murderers, rapists, child molesters are just at the tip of the iceberg. While it’s true that those of us that accept darkness is not as good as some people, there is still a little hope left in us. Some of us turned to darkness through extenuating circumstances and others of us just enjoy the high of doing something bad. While I don’t believe we are born one way or the other, I think certain things in our life pave the way for greatness or a descent into darkness.
Well, for the longest time my definition of darkness was the distance I was away from God. I felt every little thing I did wrong was pulling me further and further away. I struggled to try and stay close, and I struggled to try and do the right thing. I hated thinking I disappointed Him, and I hated thinking I could rot for things I did. I underestimate His love and forgiveness even today.
Have you ever looked at a flame on a candle? Have you noticed there is no shadow? That’s because where there is pure light, darkness cannot reach it. Light has no darkness, people who are the opposite of light, cast shadows everywhere. Whether it’s intentional or not, we cast shadows if we are successful or if we are low on the totem pole.
Is darkness all around us? My answer is yes it’s around us and inside us. Are people that make mistakes evil? I don’t think so. I think if you make mistakes and you’re trying to do the right things; you are not evil.
Not only do we keep secrets but they also keep us. Secrets can be the downfall of a family or a country. What secrets do you keep? I could tell you all about my secrets, but that would defeat the purpose. I have to let something be a mystery.
Have you ever kept a secret about an attempted murder? I know I have. What about a drug ring? I’ve done a little bit of that too. What are the true reasons behind why we keep the secrets we keep?
What isn’t a secret is the fact that I was a daddy’s girl and I was a little spoiled. I believed in hard work but I certainly wasn’t above boasting about whatever expensive item my dad bought for me. I was a carefree girl who had nothing to worry about except what college I may go to. I also was a little insecure and I had some confidence issues but I put on a good face. You have to when you’re popular.
My name is Selena Rei Rogers, and this is my story of how I descended to the darkest place I have ever been in. I have seen many disturbing things, so please, if you’re soft-hearted; this may not be a tale for you. I have seen plague, murder, rape, and I have helped with it. But for right now, you don’t need to know any of that, you need to know what I am telling you.
My name is Selena Rei Rogers, and I am a normal sixteen-year-old girl. I am a star basketball player and the most popular girl in my class. I have friends in all of the cliques, I don’t like to be limited to just one kind of person. I have normal parents that have good paying jobs. I am also the youngest sister, my older sister, Zoey Mia Rogers is twenty years old and seems to have her life together.
Dear, reader, let me ask you a question. What would you do to keep your family safe? What would you do to save them? Every bad thing I did was done with the best intention, which I’ve heard is how every bad thing ever has went down. I was in way over my head, and I only had a few happy memories left I could think back on.
So, at lunch one day, my sister decided to stop by and visit for a bit. Her long red hair and dazzling blue eyes were easy to spot in the sea of people. She was a dancer while she was here, and she half expected me to live out her legacy. I wasn’t built like a dancer, so I decided to take another route. She was happy for me, and I was glad I didn’t let her down.
“So, Lena, how’s your day going?” Zoey asked.
“Same old, same old. Getting ready to go to practice here in a little while,” I answered.
“Best not eat too much, I would hate for you to get sick during practice,” Zoey said, uninterested.
“I know. I am only eating a small salad,” I retorted.
Zoey smiled at me with her pearly white teeth.
“I don’t see how you like to play so rough. You are a good defensive player,” Zoey said, happily.
“You either play hard or go home,” I laughed.
“Right on,” Zoey said.
We talked about boys at both of our schools. Her gorgeous boyfriend, Riley, was taking her to a party tonight. I could tell she was smitten with him, and he seemed to adore my sister. I had to admit most boys loved Zoey, no one really glanced my way. I wasn’t completely unfortunate looking, but my sister had this amazing charisma that people just flocked to her; it was hard to explain and I really didn’t think about it much.
“Oh, have you talked to Willow or Ryan about the concert?” Zoey said.
“No, I have to give Willow back our favorite movie The Nanny Diaries so that I won’t forget it. Ryan has my book The Shining, you know, by Stephen King?” I told her.
“I know about the book, you nerd,” she teased.
“I’m so not a nerd,” I said defending myself.
“You are the nerd that likes reading weird books like that, loves Harry Potter, superheroes, magic and monsters, mythologies, the colors red and green. You even have all A’s, so, therefore; you are so a nerd,” Zoey said.
“How did you know I loved Harry Potter? I’m a closet Harry Potter fan!” I hissed.
“I live with you, or do you forget that?” she teased more.
“Whatever, just don't tell anyone that information,” I said getting up to walk away.
"Anyway, have you started looking at medical programs or have you been too focused on school for that?" she asked
"I am pretty interested in Harvard. I need to do some shadowing this summer so that I know what I'm getting into." I said.
"Why do you want to be a doctor anyway? I figured if you took that route you'd at least do sports medicine," she said.
"I want to help people, Zo, and not just athletes. Professional athletes get paid more money than teachers and they have so many endorsements and enough ego to last a lifetime. I want to truly help people that need it. It'd be a humbling opportunity," I said.
"Athletes can help people, and plus you could save their careers. The world needs their athletes," Zoey said.
"I have thought about it. I want to inspire people. If I can't actually practice medicine, I would love to teach it. I want to inspire some person that it's about saving lives not making a ton of money," I continued.
"I know you like the idea of saving the world, but that's a little idealistic for my tastes," Zoey said.
"A doctor saved my life, Zo. I could have very well died from taking in too much water. Do you know that I still hate the idea of learning how to swim?" I asked.
"I had forgotten about that. Wasn't Ryan the one holding you under water to see how long you could hold your breath?" she asked me.
"Yeah, that jerk. I was given a second chance, and you know how rare second chances are. So I want to give someone a second or third chance to change someone else's life," I said.
"Okay, okay. Enough with the heavy," she said.
"Hey, did you know Jennifer Lopez was coming to Cali? You should score some tickets," I said.
"I don't have the money. I did score some tickets for you, Ryan, Willow, and I to take part in an Octoberfest type thing. Horror movie marathon!" She said.
"Do we have to dress up?" I asked.
"Yes!" she said.
"Do you know what we should do? I should dress up as a dancer and you dress up like a basketball player! Because that's the opposite of what we are," I said.
Zoey pushed her curled hair behind her ears, but one bang slithered back in front of her eyes.
"I was thinking more along the lines of female rockstars but it's whatever we decide. We have a month to figure it out," she said.
I looked at the clock in the cafeteria and decided it was time to start mini preparations for practice. I pulled my blond hair back in a ponytail and put in some bobby pins to hold the tiny wisps in place. I hated my overly frizzy hair.
“Hey, who are you taking to the concert? I’m sure Ryan would loooove to go with you,” she winked.
“I’m taking Willow. Dad only paid for one room,” I said.
“Well, you haven’t got a lot of time to inform her,” Zoey reminded me.
“I know,” I grumbled.
“I personally think you should take Ryan. You two could use some alone time, like seriously," Zoey said.
"I'm not into Ryan like that and you know it. He knows it too, he just chooses not to listen to me," I huffed.
“I better head off back to school. I have school work to do and a party to attend,” she said in a sophisticated manner.
“I’ll see you later, Zo, don’t party too hard,” I said.
“I party hard? Never,” Zoey said while she acted offended.
I nodded. Then the lunch bell rang, signaling the end of lunchtime. I hugged my sister goodbye and headed out of the cafeteria. I had a few minutes before practice before our big game later that day. Coach Rhea was likely to be relentless.
But right now I had a concert to plan for. I just so happened to see my black-clad friend Willow running to class.
“Willow!” I yelled.
She merely just nodded in my direction.
“I got us tickets to go see Three Days Grace!! Can you believe it? We will have the whole suite to ourselves!” I squealed.
“Hardcore! When do we leave?” she asked trying to mask her excitement.
“We leave tomorrow after the game,” I answered her.
"Good. Then maybe we can catch a movie. Or go to a bar, you know we have those stupid fake I.D.s. It'd be nice to finally use them. Are you going to go to Aria's party on Monday? It's supposed to be a rager," Willow babbled.
"No, I have some reading to do for English," I said.
"What and miss out on booze and dancing?" she asked.
"I'll have to see how I feel after our trip," I said.
I looked over at Willow and her hair was an unkempt mess. She looked like she hadn't slept in days, and it looked like she may have blow dried her hair without brushing it. So I knew something serious had to be going on. I just had to find out what.
"Will, you look a little unwell today. Is everything okay?" I asked.
"I haven't slept. I think someone's been watching me, but it isn't for very long," she said.
"Why would someone be watching you?" I asked again.
"I'm not exactly sure," she answered.
"Well, maybe Tuesday you should stay with me. You know it's my turn to host the book club," I said.
"I had forgotten about book club!
We were both super excited to go on a trip that was unchaperoned! How cool was that going to be? I mean not many girls our age got to go across the country to Georgia for a concert with their best friend. It’s like my dad was testing to see whether or not I was responsible to handle something this huge on my own. Maybe I wouldn’t let him down.
The rest of the day went by in a blur. Our practice went as well as expected and I could only pray that our game went as good as it did. If not, I hated to think what practice would be like on Monday after I got back from my super awesome weekend. It would be time to pull out the fake I.D’s if we felt like partying after the concert. Chances were I would leave it at home, and forget I ever even had one.
Willow and I had decided a couple of years ago we would be rebels and get fake identities. We have never used them, and honestly, we probably never would. We didn’t’ really party like the rest of our class did, but we did have our own kind of clean fun. We liked to play board and card games, watch movies (good or stupid it didn’t matter), we loved to play the Wii, and Willow even helped me practice. We even liked to compete (even if it was not a real competition or a remotely close race) with our friend, Ryan, at motocross.
Even though we have our real driver’s licenses, we still had our fake ones. We always thought we would try to go to a bar and try our hands at real men instead of these little boys at our school. They were so immature, but then thinking about flirting with an old man grossed us out. So we decided we had better stick with guys our own age. Or more importantly, we chose to just hang out with Ryan and ignore the other guys.
So, as game time got closer and closer, my nerves were roaring louder than a lion. I knew college scouts would be coming from all over to watch me play. I know I am not a senior, but my skills have given me a bit of attention from colleges already. I was really looking into Ivy League schools since my primary focus was medicine. No, it wasn’t sports medicine, I wanted to be an orthopedic surgeon one day.
Now, it’s game time and I hope I have prepared my team well enough to compete with one of the best schools in the state. We entered the court and the first string players were introduced.
“Aria Bradley, power forward!”
“Ivy Smith, shooting guard!”
“Danielle Martin, small forward!”
“Ashley McKnight, center!”
“Selena Rogers, captain and point guard!”
My girls were looking nervous and I tried to reassure them. Ivy was the tallest player so she was going to jump for the ball. The ball was up...and Ivy got the hit! She managed to tip the ball to Aria (as planned) and off we went. Aria managed to get the ball to me and I scored the first basket.
If only the rest of the game had gone as simple as the first quarter. This team was good and I mean good. We may have won the first quarter, but the rest of the time it was a struggle to keep up with them. They may have scored five baskets before we were able to score one. This is our last minute, our last chance to do something to at least get us up two points, and Ivy has the ball.
“Ivy, I’m open! Pass the ball!” Aria yelled.
I watched as Ivy looked back and forth and tried to charge in.
“Ivy pass the ball! Aria is open!” I yelled.
Ivy chose not to listen to me, which made me angry real quick. She tried to charge in and score but the buzzer rang and the game was over. We all lined up and shook hands on the way to the locker room, and I was glad we were able to show some semblance of good sportsmanship. How could Ivy take away our chance to beat this team? How could she do this to the team?
I’ll spare you the details of what the coach had to say to us. It wasn’t good, and it wasn’t nice and it wasn't at all encouraging. We left the gym with our tails tucked between our legs and disappointment written on our faces. The only thing I had to look forward to now was the trip to Georgia with Willow. I even thought about making Ryan a stowaway.
"Ry, we will see you Sunday when we get back," Willow yelled at him.
"Be careful, ladies, there are crazy drivers out there," he said, half seriously.
"I'm driving so you know I'll be careful," I said.
Willow and I left later that night headed to Georgia. I drove because honestly, Willow drives like a madman. We danced to music and she took a few sips out of a vodka bottle she brought with her for us to drink. The only problem, I was driving. This was my first unchaperoned trip so I wanted to dry drugs, drinking, and anything else I could think of while I was here for the weekend.
When we arrived, we went straight to the concert. The band was as awesome as ever, and I didn't have to worry about being disappointed at not trying any drugs. We were taken so high by whatever the crowd was using we didn't think we would ever come back down. We sang at the top of our lungs and we even took our shirts off and threw them at the band. It truly was a wicked night.
When we got back to the hotel room, we had crashed a little from our high. I was a little groggy but I would live. Willow looked like she was going to go into withdrawals. I tried to watch TV while she tried to read a book, and it didn't go all that well. We played board games instead so that our active minds might have a chance at slowing down sometime that night, after all, we had to get some rest for the trip back.
The very long drive home was silent. Willow slept most of the way back and I had to turn on the cold air and blare music just to stay awake. I was ready to get home and rest before we had to go to school tomorrow. The thoughts of the punishments Coach Rhea has probably thought up for us haunted me. Then there is the chance I am overthinking things.
So I decided to relax and it didn't seem like a long time until I was at Willow's house. We jumped out of the car and grabbed her luggage out of the car. We said our goodbyes and I turned the car in the direction of my house. I just knew my family was going to be happy to see me after I've been gone all weekend. What awaited me inside my house was total anarchy.
"Selena Rei Rogers, why on earth did you think it was okay to take off your shirt at a concert?" my mom screeched.
"Mom, I wasn't in my right mind. The crowd was using drugs and they affected me. I'm sorry," I stuttered.
"If you want to be taken seriously as a doctor you need to act seriously now," my dad chimed in.
"Guys, Lena is only going to be young once. This isn't going to ruin her career," Zoey said instantly taking my side.
"That may be true but decisions she makes now can have serious consequences for her future. You may not understand that, Zoey, because your reputation is already tarnished. She needs to be more mindful of her actions," my mom said.
"My reputation is not tarnished! Those rumors about me and those old guys paying me for sex were not true! I didn't sleep with them and you know it!" Zoey yelled.
"Still, wrong place wrong time. Selena needs to be mindful of what she does and who is watching her," my mom continued.
"Yes, mama," I said as I watched Zoey hold back sobs.
I felt bad for her because she had only really been with two guys. Those guys were harassing her, and when she didn't give them what they wanted, they started a nasty rumor about her. No one takes her seriously at school and they are into slut-shaming her. I was angry at mom for mentioning that because it was very clear Zo was being bullied over it. Zoey just never says anything because she tries to be the strong one.
"Luckily this isn't something that could permanently stain your reputation," my dad said.
"Now, go get dressed. Zo promised Ryan we would make it to his motocross race," my mom said as I hung my head in shame at dishonoring the family.
Zoey drove me to the motocross track in silence and we took our spots close to the winner's circle. There was no doubt in our minds that Ryan would win. He may be lanky and handsome, but everyone forgot about that as soon as he stepped onto a track. It's not about how you look, it's about how you ride. It's about going for the gold even if nothing's at stake.
Our school didn't support motocross as a serious sport like football, so they had to get funding from a local track. It's better this way, our guys and girls can compete against some of the best riders in the state. So as I watched them preparing themselves for the race, I felt anxious. I didn't realize Ryan's archnemesis, Sage Maxwell, was competing. Ryan was going to have to race to the best of his ability if he wanted to beat Sage.
The gate goes down...and they're off! There is nothing like watching guys on their 250s race around a dirt track. There's a true adrenaline rush to it, and it makes you feel like you are part of the action. Sage had taken an early lead and it didn't look like he was going to lose it. Ryan was trying to pass him on the inside, but Sage was cutting him off at every turn.
It's almost like Sage knew what Ryan was going to do before Ryan knew it. Sage had obviously spent enough time watching Ryan race to know all of his tricks and tactics. Then all of the sudden smoke started to emerge from Sage's bike. He kept looking around as if someone was going to help him, but no one could. He pulled off to the side of the track and Ryan raced ahead.
Ryan, not having noticed Sage's problems, raced across the finish line. When he looked back and saw Sage's bike practically on fire and no one would stop so Sage could safely escape. The riders who hadn't finished the race were trying to come in the earliest places they could. I could see by the look on Ryan's face he was distraught at the way he had won the race, and he dashed off to go help out Sage. Ryan sped back through the track, tripping up the riders still racing, and stopped in front of Sage.
Without a word, Sage hopped onto the back of the bike and Ryan was off again. As Ryan crossed the finish line again and they hopped off the bike, I expected a fight. Sage turned and gave Ryan a hug and congratulated him on the win, and turned to walk away. My dad stopped him and invited him out to eat with us and Ryan. My dad wanted to congratulate Ryan on the win, but he hated how Sage lost.
"So, my ladies, what's up?" Ryan asked as he slung his arms around Zoey and me.
"Nothing, nerd, can you let me go now?" Zoey said, good-naturedly.
"You wound me," he said, acting offended.
"Seriously, Ryan, we don't want sweat and dirt all over us," I said.
He completely let go of Zoey and wrapped me in his arms, smearing the dirt all over my dress.
"Ryan! You jerk!" I laughed.
"We all know you don't mind getting down and dirty, Selena," Sage laughed.
"At least she plays clean," a new voice said.
Oh, that voice haunted my dreams.
"Rowen," I whispered to Ryan.
"Ro Hanson, what you up to? Why don't you join us for supper?" Ryan extended an invitation to my crush.
"Of course. I would enjoy that," Rowen said.
If I could have beat Ryan, I would have. As we walked to some high society restaurant my dad insisted we eat at, I noticed Rowen watching me with Ryan. Was he jealous? Rowen had never shown much interest in any girls at school mostly due to his own standards being so ridiculously high. But really, there is no such thing as having high standards for potential relationships.
Dad managed to know everyone's orders, making snap decisions for Rowen and Sage. No one argued. My dad was a power suit, power tie, power grip kind of guy that no one wanted to make mad. So if they didn't like the food he picked out, no one said a word. We ate and laughed at each other.
"I wonder how he knew what I liked to eat," Rowen whispered in my ear.
"Your dad is a cop and my dad is a lawyer, so they probably talk about us," I whispered back.
"You have no idea how cops feel about lawyers do you?" he laughed.
"Lawyers are liars," I joked.
My dad, having heard me, laughed loudly.
"Only in the courtroom," my dad jested.
Our celebration went without incident and I soon forgot my moment of shame from a couple of nights ago. I was, however; dreading school the next day and what people would say. As soon as we got home, I got ready for bed. Sleep couldn't get to me fast enough. Before long it was time to get up and run miles before school, shower, and eat some fruit before I head out.
School went off without a hitch, and no one seemed to know about Willow's and mine half striptease. We weren't bad kids, so that kind of news would have spread like wildfire. So the day went on without incident and I was grateful. I had to turn in extra work I missed on Friday due to the extra practice and I hoped I did well enough to pass. But then the hour came upon me that I hadn't been looking forward to all day.
I only half dreaded the two hours of basketball practice, the coach was going to work us into a sweat thanks to our previous loss. If Ivy had just listened to me and passed the ball, we would have scored and beat whatever team it was we played.
The practice was brutal. Not only did the coach make us run 25 miles, we also ran 40 full court suicides, and then we did full-court scrimmages. We had no time to practice any plays or anything, the coach barely gave us any time to warm up. When we walked through the doors there was a minute set on the scoreboard, that was how much time she gave us to change clothes. We had three girls get sick and have to leave, and then we had two girls pass out. Coach Rhea had never been so tough before.
So if that wasn’t motivation enough to win the next game, I don’t know what is. I am captain, Ivy had better learned her lesson. If I say pass the ball, next time she had better pass the ball. Coach Rhea also took us through passing exercises. There is no ‘I’ in team unless the rest of us have been misinformed, but insubordination was not tolerated by the coach or me.
I was lost deep in thought when Ivy came running up to me, her blond ponytail bouncing as she ran. Her blue eyes and cream colored skin seemed to shine in the light of the gym. She didn’t even look like she broke half the sweat I had and that’s saying something because I am in excellent shape.
“Selena, look I am so sorry. If I thought I had enough time to pass the ball and for Aria to score, I would have done it. The coach should have just punished me,” Ivy started.
“The coach has to punish the whole team for your stupidity. We had enough time, and Aria was open enough for you to pass the ball and for her to take a shot. You took a victory away from us,” I seethed.
“I know and I am so sorry. I know it means a lot to you, and I know scouts from colleges were probably watching your performance. I promise to do better next time,” Ivy said, hanging her head in shame.
“You had better. Because you didn’t listen to me, the whole team now doubts my leadership skills. At the next practice I expect an apology to me, and how you acted on your own had no reflection on my ability to lead the team to victory,” I said.
Ivy looked like she was going to cry.
“I will come prepared for the next practice,” she promised.
“Off the record, I am not really completely disappointed in you. Independence is important, being able to think for yourself is great. Look, within the next year I’ll be looking for a successor, I think you would be great. Keep that in mind, but also you need to listen to what the coach and I say,” I told her.
“Really? You mean it?” she asked, excitedly.
“I do, just remember to listen to what I say. Obedience does pay off. Not total subjugation, but just listening to what we say to do,” I said.
“Oh, my gosh, Selena! This means so much!” Ivy said as she bounded off.
Freshmen, or at least I think she’s a freshman; she may be an eighth grader the coach chose to start letting some of the girls play high school early. It’s true, I was only a junior, but I needed to start training someone to be a leader. Ivy has what it takes to lead the team to championships for the next several years. She has amazing skills if she didn’t; she wouldn’t be a first string player. She’s almost pro-level, almost.
The walk home seemed longer than normal. I had my headphones in listening to Just Like Fire by Pink, and I couldn’t help but feel like I needed a little inspiration for the day. I planned on walking into the house and taking a nice long hot shower. I wanted nothing more than to wash the grime and dirt away from the day I’ve had. I needed to be cleansed.
After taking my shower I wanted to sit and watch a couple of episodes of Supernatural, I know it sounds lame; but I love that show. Then I want to draft out my twenty-five-page history paper on Joan of Arc. My mom says her side of the family is descended from witches, like the Salem Witch Trial witches. She said whatever magic they must have had is now long gone because she has no power at all.
If I hadn’t been distracted by my phone and music, I might have noticed I was being followed. Do you know that feeling that you get when you feel like you’re being watched? It’s that creepy feeling you can’t shake no matter how many times you look around and see no one there. But no, I had my head down texting my friend Ryan about practice, and I had no idea I was being watched or followed. I had no warning signals go off that something was wrong.
If I could go back in time this is the moment I would fix. I would have kept walking to a neighbor’s house and asked to stay with them until my mom or dad got home. Instead, I go into the house, where there is also someone waiting for me; but I do not notice them at all. I start heading up the stairs completely in my own little world. Far too obsessed with what Ryan is saying to pay much attention to anything else.
This moment in time where I am dancing to music blaring in my ears walking up the stairs to go get in the shower, it was my last moment of innocence. It was my last moment of living a life in the light. From here I was knocked out and dragged off into the shadows. This was my last moment of freedom. This is where everything goes horribly wrong.