Destroy Me

Free Destroy Me by Tahereh Mafi

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Authors: Tahereh Mafi
before, so I’m able to sink beneath the surface without a problem. I submerge my head for a long while, holding my breath as I exhale through my nose. I feel the small bubbles rise to the surface.
    The warm water makes me feel weightless. It carries my burdens for me, understanding that I need a moment to relieve my shoulders of this weight. To close my eyes and relax.
    My face breaks the surface.
    I don’t open my eyes; only my nose and lips meet the oxygen on the other side. I take small, even breaths to help steady my mind. It’s so late that I don’t know what time it is; all I know is that the temperature has dropped significantly, and the cold air is tickling my nose. It’s a strange sensation, to have 98 percent of my body floating at a warm, welcome temperature, while my nose and lips twitch from the cold.
    I sink my face below the water again.
    I could live here, I think. Live where gravity does not know my name. Here I am unbound, untethered by the chains of this life. I am a different body, a different shell, and my weight is carried by the hands of friends. So many nights I’ve wished I could fall asleep under this sheet.
    I sink deeper.
    In one week my entire life has changed.
    My priorities, shifted. My concentration, destroyed. Everything I care about right now revolves around one person, and for the first time in my life, it’s not myself. Her words have been burned into my mind. I can’t stop picturing her as she must’ve been, can’t stop imagining what she must’ve experienced. Finding her journal has crippled me. My feelings for her have spiraled out of control. I’ve never been so desperate to see her, to talk to her.
    I want her to know that I understand now. That I didn’t understand before. She and I really are the same; in so many more ways than I could’ve known.
    But now she’s out of reach. She’s gone somewhere with strangers who do not know her and would not care for her as I would. She’s been dropped into another foreign environment with no time to transition, and I’m worried about her. A person in her situation—with her past—does not recover overnight. And now, one of two things is bound to happen: She’s either going to completely shut down, or she’s going to explode.
    I sit up too fast, breaking free of the water, gasping for air.
    I push my wet hair out of my face. I lean back against the tiled wall, allowing the cool air to calm me, to clear my thoughts.
    I have to find her before she breaks.
    I’ve never wanted to cooperate with my father before, never wanted to agree with his motives or his methods. But in this instance, I’m willing to do just about anything to get her back.
    And I’m eager for any opportunity to snap Kent’s neck.
    That traitorous bastard. The idiot who thinks he’s won himself a pretty girl. He has no idea who she is. No idea what she’s about to become.
    And if he thinks he’s even remotely suited to match her, he’s even more of an idiot than I gave him credit for.

Nineteen
    “Where’s the coffee?” I ask, my eyes scanning the table.
    Delalieu drops his fork. The silverware clangs against the china plates. He looks up, eyes wide. “Sir?”
    “I’d like to try it,” I tell him, attempting to spread butter on my toast with my left hand. I toss a look in his direction. “You’re always going on about your coffee, aren’t you? I thought I—”
    Delalieu jumps up from the table without a word. Bolts out the door.
    I laugh silently into my plate.
     
    Delalieu carts the tea and coffee tray in himself and stations it by my chair. His hands shake as he pours the dark liquid into a teacup, places it on a saucer, sets it on the table, and pushes it in my direction.
    I wait until he’s finally sitting down again before I take a sip. It’s a strange, obscenely bitter sort of drink; not at all what I expected. I glance up at him, surprised to discover that a man like Delalieu would begin his day by bracing himself with such a

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