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The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most
The clock read 11:11 as I laid in bed wide awake. The days, hours, even minutes seemed to pass by so slow this past week. As if I didn’t spend enough time thinking about it, the world decided to slow time down to allow me to dwell on the cold, hard truth even more. My head spun as I felt my weight sink into the crevices of the mattress, which from the amount of time I’ve spent on it lately, is nothing more than fabric above the box spring. I struggled to find a position comfortable under my sheets. Sick of tossing and turning, I sat up and laid a pillow behind my head. For awhile I just sat there, completely blank. Then the hushed music playing from my speakers in the corner of my room suddenly grew louder.
“Buried deep as you can dig inside yourself and covered with a perfect shell, such a charming, beautiful exterior.”
The simple lyrical line, so simple, yet intricate set free all the thoughts I had been fighting off for hours. The place where it happened, where my life and perspective had been flipped. The look in my father’s eyes as I witnessed the unforgivable. It was the only time in my entire 17 years of life where I could point out the moment, the moment that I could pick out on a map and say “That’s when it all changed.” It isn’t a moment I want to remember so clearly, but I knew from the moment I walked out of that room that the image of my father would be permanently engrained in my mind forever.
I pressed my head back into the headboard and forced my eyes shut, the swelling of my eyes making it almost impossible though. It hurt to close my eyes or open them, it felt almost as if someone was grabbing my eyeballs out of my head and twisting them to the point where they may just snap off. At this point, I almost wished for that to happen. Then I’d never have to look in to his eyes again.
It was a Thursday evening, my mom was working especially late at the office because she was meeting with a client from out of state I recall. She was so worried that me and my dad wouldn’t be able to take care of ourselves for dinner, cause we all knew how awful of a cook my dad was. He always tried, but letting him near a stove was just a safety hazard so we just stuck to pizza.
That night though was different for many different reasons, not just because my mom was out late, or that I was out later than usual as well. My basketball team had an away game against our rivals, my dad and I had been practicing in our drive way all week for that game, to make sure I didn’t miss a single shot. I was looking forward to it more than anything, and my dad had crossed his heart he would be there. Around the second quarter when I didn’t see him, I got concerned. This wasn’t typical of my dad, he was always reliable and punctual. I shook it off and tried to keep my focus on the game, but I couldn’t play knowing that something was wrong. On the way home I called him several times, praying that he would pick up. I got his voicemail all six times.
I walked across the street from the high school to our house and rang the doorbell hoping he would answer. There were two cars in the driveway, my dad’s…and one I didn’t recognize. A million thoughts raced through my mind in that single moment waiting for him to answer the door and explain why he couldn’t make it to my game; Are we being robbed? Did someone die? Maybe mom got a new car? But 5 minutes later when there was still no answer, I went around back and let myself in. I slid open the screen door quietly, expecting the worse. I dropped my gym bag in the foyer and went upstairs to my parent’s room. I heard quiet whispers from inside, and I innocently opened the door, again, expecting the worse. But what I saw behind that door was far worse than what I had expected.
For a moment I froze, not quite knowing what to do. Even when I tried to move, my knees locked up. Neither of us spoke a word, we didn’t need to. After all, actions speak louder than words. My lip was quivering before I could even shut the door, and my legs were shaking as I sprinted up into the attic, my bedroom, and locked the door. The dark walls lit a dark shadow on the room as I threw my clothes off my bed on to the floor. For once, my room was a reflection of my life; a mess.
I lay here now, still shaking. My mom thinks it’s a symptom of the flu and that’s what I plan on leading her to believe until I can stand on my feet again. Her bright blue eyes glistened with sympathy when she came home to find me in my wreckage that night, totally oblivious to the scene that had taken place only hours before. She was Naïve to the fact that no medicine could cure the damage that had been done.
I know things will never be the same, not on the interior at least. Although my dad may act as if he’s the gentleman me and my mother have grown to know, or so we thought, I’ll still know. He’ll know. That stranger will know. And no treatment in the world could change the thick air separating our once close bond. My mom will try to understand the distance between my father and I that exploded on the course of one night, but won’t be able to.
The guilt that has overcome me is incredulous. If I could put even the slightest notion of how I feel then I would, but there is simply no word in the dictionary that could even give a slight glimpse into the deep wound of my heart. I know that my mother deserves to know the truth, and the only person she’ll get it from is me. But I can’t do that to her. I can already imagine the hurt in my mom’s eyes as I break to her what I witnessed. It would destroy our family, the only thing my mom cares about more than anything in the world. Our family is her only dream she’s ever had. And how could anyone bring themselves to kill someone’s dream? Without dreams, we are nothing more than a walking dead soul. Would I want to turn my mom into that?
I remember when I was younger my mom always tried to incorporate life lessons into each car drive, she still does in fact. I usually tuned her out because she could ramble on for hours about why I should brush my teeth and not eat too much candy, stuff I didn’t care about mostly. Though one day she looked at me in the passenger seat, not saying a word, just looking at me.
“What?” I asked her defensively. She smiled and averted her eyes to the road,
“Nothing,” she said “I’m just proud of the person you’re becoming.” She looked at me with her soft eyes. I stayed silent. “You know, I remember when you’re father and I were picking out a name for you.” she started,
“Mom, please, no.” I groaned.
“Shh,” she continued. “We wanted a name that meant something important, so when we left you’d still have something timeless to keep in mind. Do you know what your name means?”
“No, but I’m sure you’ll tell me.” I mumbled softly. She ignored my attitude and continued.
“Elsa means truth,” she explained “If I fail to instill anything else in you, I hope you remember you’re name.” We kept silent for the rest of the car ride to my grandparent’s house, and I stayed quiet for most of our stay there as well. It was one of the very few times I had listened to my mom, and I realized it was one of the very few times I actually found answers in her lessons.
When I snapped back into reality the same song was still playing;
“and this is one time, this is one time, that you can’t fake it hard enough to please
anything or anyone at all, or anyone at all. And the grave that you refuse to leave the refuge that you’ve built to flee are the places you have come to fear the most.”
The song was strikingly relevant to the turmoil I was feeling, it was almost frightening. Those two lines spoke to me. I sat there in my bed wrapped in blankets, when I had an epiphany. I got out of bed, slowly, since my legs hadn’t walked in 3 days. I went downstairs to the kitchen to find my mother cooking soup over the stove. Her subtle eyes turned bright and alert as she saw me walking,
“Are you feeling better honey?” She asked. “I was just making some soup to bring up to you. You look better actually.” She continued stirring and adding ingredients to the broth.
“No, mom, actually I feel worse,” I started. Her face transitioned to a sympathetic frown as she waited for me to continue. “I haven’t been honest with you. You see, the other night when you were out late…”
Telling my mother that my father had cheated on her might have been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to. I hated the way her face shriveled as I described to her what I saw. But I realized a lot while I was feeling sorry for myself. I had believed that the scariest place imaginable was to live a life where things weren’t what I was used to. A place where my mom wasn’t a bright shining star, how I always saw her. But in reality, the place that I feared the most was the place I lived right now. It was a place where lies grew like constricting vines, trapping me inside. It was “home”. I decided if this was home, I didn’t want to have a home. Because home was a scary, miserable place for me. My name is Elsa, it means truth. I spoke the truth, because it was all I could give my mother, and only the truth shall set you free.