“Don’t do this,” my dragon said.

“You’re only worried about your own life.”

“That’s not true.”

“Yes, it is,” I said. “The minute I die, so do you. That’s how imaginary friends work. But it is worth it, so long as I’m free from Tar Beast.”

“I’m still in your stories,” my dragon said. “I’m still in the ones you wrote down. I won’t be like this, true. But I will still live for a while longer, even if your parents never look at the tales, and throw me out. Somebody else might find the pages, and give them a read.”

“That’s as ridiculous as saying I’ll still exist every time my parents think of me.”

“Maybe you will,” the dragon said. “After all, how many of the dead have you actually talked to?”

I rolled my eyes. “Obviously none, they’re dead.”

“So you believe.”

“So do you believe,” I snapped. “If you didn’t, you wouldn’t be so worried about whether I lived or died.”

“Always underestimating your own self-worth,” my dragon muttered.

“What do you know?” I screamed. “You don’t even exist!”

With that, she was gone. My hand was free. My weapon was in my grasp.

The tar seeped back through the walls. It took over the floor. The carpet dissolved into a bubbling mass. Tar Beast slithered through the muck, tentacles reaching, wrapping, sucking onto my flesh.

“It won’t hurt,” Tar Beast whispered. “Not much, at least.”

I ran a finger along a vein.

“And what’s a little pain?” Tar Beast wheedled. “Compare that to never-ending torture. To knowing you live amongst people who don’t really care. It isn’t like your parents would miss you, the real you. They only know the daughter they think is perfect. The one who only brings home all sevens, the one who might win a tennis scholarship to a US university. Not you, the wimp, the one who can’t even handle a bit of blood unless it’s your own.”

I believed Tar Beast was telling the truth. Every word that fell from Tar Beast’s unseen lips were ones I’d said myself. Tar Beast knew my darkest thoughts, my worst anxieties, my greatest fears: that I was nothing but a spoiled, entitled girl. I was ungrateful and lazy and nobody cared about me, nor should they.

Even Connie. I was sure she’d get over it. Wasn’t like I was her bestie who she called every day or even texted once a week. She’d probably post something on some chat board. People would send their love, tell her they were sorry, and she’d get attention and that would make her feel good.

Really, I told myself, I’d be doing Connie a favour.

A tentacle wrapped around my right wrist, and raised my arm. The shiny weapon still grasped in my fist.

A tentacle wrapped around my left wrist, and raised my left arm, turning it just so, giving me a perfect view of my veins.

“Easy now,” Tar Beast softly sang. “Easy, easy, all will be over soon.”

The sharp blade gleamed in the dim light. The tentacles brought my wrist closer and closer to that sharp, sharp, point–


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