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I Came Back This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


The bedspread is different than it used to be. It’s floral now, not the basic purple I used to have. Who made this decision? Shouldn’t someone have asked me if this was okay? I guess not. I suppose my input around here doesn’t matter much anymore.

I sit on the new bedspread, running my hands over the unfamiliar material. The walls are different, too. My mind remembers posters of Avril Lavigne and Blink-182, but in their place are pointless black and white photos of flowers and puppies.

My mother walks into the room, as foreign to me as everything else. She sets a pile of towels down and carefully steps toward me. There might be a small space between us, but we are worlds apart. Even when we tried, we have never managed to live in the same one.

“Where’s all my stuff?” I blurt out, ­increasingly vulnerable.

She crosses her thin arms. I wish I knew when, or even how, she lost so much weight. She is much weaker now, not the same figure that used to carry my drunken body up the stairs. Her hazel eyes, the same ones that always caught me stealing liquor, now study my face. I remember the last time she looked at me like this, ten years ago when I finally turned eighteen and rebelled my way out of the house.

“Honey, we got rid of it a long time ago.”

Hesitantly, I stand. I can see the images running through her mind: my small hands grasping the sides of the toilet whenever I threw up an abundance of vodka, the cop standing at our front door after busting me for a DUI, my pale body lying on a hospital bed while I miserably got my stomach pumped. Changing this room must have been her only way out, her only escape from those unbearable memories.

“Did you hate me?”

She jumps so slightly that I barely catch it. I don’t know why I have asked this, but she chooses to answer me anyway. “I never hated you. You were my daughter.”

“I was an alcoholic by age sixteen,” I argued.

She unfolds her arms. “Did you get help?”

I am five years sober, much thanks to therapy and the realization that I was almost broke. And I am here now because I want to fix everything I left behind. But my mother doesn’t know that; we haven’t spoken since I lived in this room.

“Yes,” I answer. “But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hate me. I was a devil child. I left as soon as I graduated and never came back.”

She raises an eyebrow at me. “Never came back?” she asks. “Look at where you are right now.”

Suddenly I fall into her embrace, a place I haven’t visited since I was a kid. It is comforting – finally something that feels familiar.

I came back.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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