Escape

“You can’t do this.”
It’s more of a command than it is a plea; it darts through my room, whipping around my head until its scent settles in my skin. I fill my lungs with the heavy, late-summer air, trying to get enough oxygen in my brain so that I can really believe what’s just been said.
I turn to face the girl standing in the doorway. I scowl at the beam of light that is filling the dark space with the hallway’s luminescent glow – she brought it with her. She is the light to my darkness, choking my ebony air until it is nothing but a fluorescent ghost of its old sense.
“Watch me,” I say. The words escape from my mouth without my consent; the phrase had lurched itself from the prison of my throat the second my mouth opened, just a hair. I duck my head back down in front of the suitcase and continue shoving my things into it.
She takes a step into the room, and I can feel her caution as she puts one foot in front of the other. “Chelsea,” her mouth says, staying open, itching to continue. It’s practically throwing words on her tongue for her to say.

I don’t let her. “Lia,” I reply as I push socks into the corner of the suitcase. They aren’t even the kind of socks I like; they’re only coming with me because they’re available. Because they were there when the other socks weren’t, so much like people.
Lia sighs, then: a short, exasperated one that informs me she’s nearing the end of her carefully braided rope. “I’m not going to let you leave,” she informs me as her silhouette steps next to mine. Her polished fingernails tug at my wrist, digging into my thick skin and trying to prevent me from packing my life into the box.
I wrench my arm away and keep going.
She stays silent for such a long time, watching me, that I start to forget she’s there. Her body is still, rigid; I just ignore her. She’s nothing, now – merely an obstacle in my path when I want to get to my closet.
When she finally does speak, her vocal chords strain to get sound: “Don’t.”
I ponder her plea for a moment. “No.”
“You know you’ll regret this.”
I gently place a box of money next to the socks, listening to her words as they try to get inside my head. They fail, and wither away into the carpet.
“People will miss you.”
Silence.
“No, they won’t,” I blurt out, feeling her lie punch me in the gut. I at last turn to face her, furious that she would spout such false hopes. She knew I would respond to that. She knew and she used it against me. “No one will even notice I’m gone.”
“I will.” No hesitation, no signs that she’d been pondering her answer – her face, so small and pixie-like, is blank. “I’ll miss you. And you don’t even care.”
I bite back a snarl. “I care.”
“No you don’t. If you cared, you would stay with me. You wouldn’t leave me. You would at least ask me to come with you.”
I lean over, picking up a sock that had propelled itself out of the suitcase. “I can’t do that,” I remind her when I straighten up, my spine cracking in protest.
The suitcase is full now. It’s overflowing with mismatched pieces of my life; tattered sweaters, letters, and necklaces without charms. Shoving it closed, I heave it off the dresser and turn away from her.
A quick intake of air. “Please,” she whispers, “don’t leave me here.”
But this isn’t about her. Not anymore. It’s about me – I can’t concern myself with the emotional wreck of a girl my sister has become, or with the fact that she’ll be eaten alive without my protection. I have to think about my escape. I have to make myself forget that she’s my sister.
I don’t have a choice anymore. I have to leave.





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