Home > The Eastwood Series

The Eastwood Series
Author: M.E. Clayton




I couldn’t do this anymore.

My entire body protested as I sank to my knees and reached underneath my bed for the First-Aid kit that I kept hidden there. On my knees, I pulled the box next to me and my hands shook as I tried twice to open the damn thing, and I willed myself not to cry. Struggling to get the box open, I felt the punch of panic in my gut when drops of blood colored the box.

I couldn’t do this here.

Taking a deep breath, I grabbed the box and got to my feet. I felt the dizziness like a fog of uncertainty threatening to push me back down and leave me there. I closed my eyes and forced some strength into my legs. Once I felt steady enough, I made my way to the bathroom, thanking God no one was home.

Hobbling into the restroom, I couldn’t stop the painful cry that fell from my lips as the mirror didn’t lie. The box dropped into the sink as I leaned forward to get a better look.

Who was that girl?

I no longer recognized the girl in the mirror and that frightened me.


My eyes searched every inch of my face to see if I could find the girl I used to be, but I couldn’t see anything. There was a time when I was convinced I could still…save myself. But looking in the mirror, that time has come and gone.

I made my way over to the shelves next to the shower and grabbed a face cloth. After making my way back to the sink, I turned on the hot water and held the cloth underneath the faucet until it was wet and warm enough to soothe the mistakes stamped all over my face.

My hiss filled the silence as I pressed the damp cloth to my face just above my left eye. I was going to need stitches if I had any hope of keeping the scar to a minimum. I scrambled around in the First-Aid box to see if it came with butterfly stitches or medical glue because a trip to the emergency would bring about too many questions and unpayable medical bills. I found a sleeve of butterfly stitches and closed my eyes briefly in prayer for small favors.

With the faucet still running, I rinsed the cloth out and the pink tinted water that circled down the drain pulled a whimper from my lips. I took a breath deep in my chest to calm the nausea threatening to make an appearance.

I placed the cloth back on my face and did the scariest thing I’ve ever done; I looked into the eyes of the girl in the mirror.

I couldn’t do this anymore.

But, more importantly, I couldn’t hide this anymore.

I knew once I calmed down, I could probably come up with a believable lie to tell everyone, but I’d been doing that already for months. I didn’t know if I had any new lies to tell. I didn’t know what could be believable enough to make the mess of my face go away.

My body was easy; I slept wrong. I pulled my back. I’m going to the gym. I slipped and fell. The lies where endless when it was just your body that ached. But a battered face was a different story.

Tossing the cloth in the sink, I ripped open the package of stitches and read the instructions on the back. I went back to the linen shelves and grabbed a dry face cloth. I cleaned the gash one last time, then dried the skin around it. Starting in the middle, per instructions, I pulled the ragged edges of my skin together and placed the first stitch across the wound. I added another, and another, and another until there were five stitches in place. The First-Aid kit came with some antibiotic cream and I dabbed some on, then covered the entire thing was a sterile bandage.

Having taken care of the biggest issue, I cleaned the rest of my face and all that remained, after my ministrations, was some bruising already forming around my left eye and down the side of my face.

With my adrenaline crashing, I turned around and slid down the counter until my ass hit the tiled floor. The water still ran above me, but I couldn’t bring myself to care just yet.

I sat on the bathroom floor wondering how I got here. How did I let things get so out of control that I ended up here? I never dreamed I’d become that girl; the one who let doubt and fear seduce her. But I had. I had, but I couldn’t be her anymore.

Something had to change.

And that something had to be me.



Chapter 1




“You act like you’re headed to the guillotine,” Charlie chuckled. “I promise, it won’t be that bad.”

I glanced over at my cousin as she laid sprawled out on my twin bed. “No,” I retorted. “It’ll be worse.”

She rolled over and propped her elbows up, resting her head in her hands, and grinned. “Okay, so you might have been the girlfriend to the football captain of our biggest rival,” she replied. “But you aren’t anymore. In twenty minutes, you will be an official Eastwood High Tiger.” She rolled back over and threw her hands in the air. “Go purple and gold!”

I rolled my eyes as I looked in the mirror and finished knotting my hair back in a french braid. Wisps of my black hair escaped to frame my face, but I didn’t care about those. All I cared about was that my layered bangs did their job and hid my scar.

“I’ve only broken up with Ridgeview High three months ago, Charlie,” I pointed out drolly. “It’s going to take me a bit longer to move on from my love of white and green.”

Three months ago, I sat in my living room, in the dark, and waited for my mom to come home from work. My mom had been a hotel maid and she had worked different shifts. That particular day, she had been working a swing shift that wouldn’t have had her home until past ten.

When she had walked in, she had automatically gone to turn on the lights, but my desperate cry to leave them off had startled her into complying. I remember the fear in her voice when she had asked me what was going on. And I remember how cowardice had consumed me and how I had to admit that I needed the lights off or else I wouldn’t be able to tell her.

Turned out Julie Kingston had been brave enough for the both of us.

She had sat down on the couch next to me, and hadn’t said a word, as shame and remorse spilled out from my lips, landing at her feet. I hadn’t held back any of the painful details. I had told her everything and it had been as if, once I had gotten started, I couldn’t stop.

I had confessed my sins and my fears.

I had poured out my sorrow and my pain.

And the most empowering thing she could have done for me, she had done. Instead of falling victim to her own turmoil and emotions, she had held it together and had let me make the decision of what to do next. Mom had gifted me with the power to control something, finally, and I had grasped onto it with both hands.

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