I never wanted to cause trouble. I never wanted to be the product of another argument that always ends in silence. It is not the peaceful silence you would cherish if you wanted to think or simply breathe. It’s the painful silence that follows after a devastating hurricane. All that is left is the dust and debris among the ruins of memories and hope.
“You should’ve paid attention to her. You are the mother. Where were you all this time?”
“I do listen. More than you do. You’re away at work for hours and when you come home you do absolutely nothing. Where were you all this time?”
“I make a living for this family. You remember that.”
“Yes, but you can’t leave the burden of being a father on me!”
“I do my part!”
“I spend hours cooking, and cleaning sh*t, and actually being a parent!”
“But you don’t actually listen...”
This is one of the many fights this month. Three days in a row now. My brothers and sisters are away from the scene, taking refuge in their rooms, as usual. Another silence for them. A chunk of guilt from me.
I feel the feelings and emotions raging inside my chest, mixing together into a hot liquid, reeking of anger, sadness, and guilt. It quickly boils and the hot air starts to condense in the corner of my eye. But I refuse to be taken over by even the mildest traces of hysteria. I march into the scene and glare at them coldly.
“I’m going out. I’ll be back when you’re finished.”
I walk out and shut the door behind me. Then I run.
The air is cold. It soothes the burns created by the negative feelings I had kept churning inside of me. I let the wind slap my face as I continue to sprint forwards into nowhere. I pass the square houses with their neat lawns. A dog barks at me ferociously through a locked gate. But everything is a blur. I am making no effort to see. Every sound becomes a distant drone as the words from the fights echo in my ears. I try to shove them away.
Sticks and stones can break your bones but words will never hurt you...
The quote from the early years of my childhood suddenly appears among the clutter inside my head. I used to believe in that. It was a shield from the bullies who teased me because of my skin color, because of my attitude... because I was different. I used to think I was special.
But today words are powerful. Some words are evil and can break you quite severely.
A porcelain plate smashes into many sharp pieces. Someone strikes. Curses fill the air. A little boy cries quietly in the corner.
Just run, I told myself. Just keep running. I run faster, hoping that the echoes and images would get left behind, like they always do.
I quicken my pace, letting the scenery become a dark streak of color. The air becomes colder, enunciating the sharp sting of the wind, resisting my attempt to gain velocity. But I conquer my senses and prevail. Distance kindly replaces the footprints behind me.
After what seems like more than an hour of running, I finally slow down to a walk. I am at a familiar street a couple of kilometers away from home. I find a bus stop nearby and sit down to catch my breath.
The street is deserted. It isn’t strange, considering the late hour. I lie down on the seat and gaze at the night sky. It is slightly clouded but I can still see hundreds of brilliant stars scattered across the dark blue background. I wish I knew more about the constellations. If I did, I could occupy the next few hours drawing in the sky.
Minutes pass by and I just stay there, lying on my back, looking into the heavens. I think about the things that make me happy. The homemade orange cake for my 9th birthday. The green rollerblades my father bought for me. The red sailor dress my mother made for me. All of the happy memories came from my childhood. Unfortunately, none came after my early years of adolescence. That’s when I made that mistake. That’s when the fights started.
A small beep interrupts my chain of thoughts. I sit down and take my phone out of my pocket. There is a message from Dad.
We are sorry. Where are you? Let us find you and bring you home.
I press the reply button and type in a few words.
I am at the bus stop at 55 North Avenue.
Then, I press the send button and wait.
Half an hour later, I am in the backseat of our car. Everyone is silent, deep in their own thoughts. I gaze out of the window. It is foggy and I can’t see the outside clearly, so I lower the glass almost all the way. The cold air rushes into the car.
“Close the window, you’ll catch a cold.”
I scroll it up about halfway in response.
“Close it properly.”
“Just let her, she’s been outside for the past couple of hours anyway.”
“I am doing it for her good.”
“You always say that without really thinking about it.”
“What do you mean…?”
“For heaven’s sake, I’ll close the darn window!” I shouted. I scroll it up fully. The brief silence that follows afterwards is colder than the wind outside.
“You should watch your tongue, young lady.”
I don’t reply.
“Just leave her alone. You say worse things.”
“I wouldn’t say such things if I weren’t provoked.”
“Provoked? You have brought it upon yourself!”
“You weren’t a good enough parent! That was the problem!”
“Speak for yourself! You never listen. That’s why she did it…”
“Why do you always blame that on me? She made that mistake because you didn’t pay enough attention!”
“How can I when you’re always screaming at me!”
“Oh, grow up, you as****!”
“F*** you! You…”
I refuse to hear the rest of the words. I can’t believe they are doing this again. They said they were sorry. The thick plasma of feelings erupted inside of me, clouding my logic and senses. I could feel the burning sensation in my eyes. No, I must not be vulnerable. They can never see me weak. I have to escape.
“Shut up! Just shut up!” I yelled.
I pull the lock and open the door. Then, I jump out.
I fall hard onto the asphalt, and roll for a couple of times before coming to a halt, facing sideways in the direction of our car. I hear its tyres screech and doors open. I force myself to get up, to continue my escape from the arguments, never-ending disagreements, and violent fights. I hear them call out to me but I look away. I take my first step shakily. My vision is blurred from the coat of moisture covering my eyes. I shake my head angrily, hating myself for being weak, for succumbing to my feelings, for letting my body betray me.
“Get back in the car!”
“You two grow up! In case you have forgotten, I’m around when you are talking about me. I still remember my mistake!”
The words finally spill out. The stench of my guilt overwhelms me as I let the memories of the past fill me to the core.
“I realize it, okay? I have tried to live with it, to go on. But you are constantly fighting and arguing. It’s insane!”
I take a few steps back to steady myself.
“It’s time you two lived with it. It’s time for you to go on.”
I turn around and run. Their voices become blurred, blending with the sound of the wind, and a siren in the distance. In front of me, the road is a dark abyss ready to swallow me up, providing me a means to disappear.
I hear a car honking in the distance. Seconds later, the screech of tyres. Somebody screams. I hear a loud thud before I realize that I am flying through the air, through a beam of white light. Suddenly, time slows down.
A pretty rainbow arches through the beam of light as tiny drops of rain fall down from the sky. It feels nice on my skin; strangely warm compared to the cold air. Warm. It brings back a memory…
“Tell me a story.”
A smaller version of me snuggles under the covers in a cozy-looking bed. A happy couple sits beside me, smiling.
“What story would you like?” Asks one of them.
“A fairy tale with princesses, and fairies, and beautiful castles.”
“And lots of rainbows. And twinkling stars”
“That’s quite a request.”
“All right. Let’s begin. Once upon a time…”
I instantly become very sleepy, my vision beginning to blur and darken. The soothing voice fills my body with warmth.
This is how I like them. This is how they should always be.
With that, I close my eyes.
* Drapetomania, in this context, is an uncontrollable desire to run away. You can see the full definitions in this link http://www.encyclo.co.uk/define/Drapetomania