May 25, 2010
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Bridget tucked a tangled bang behind her eye when she made her way to the stage. Her feet still ached from the lengthy, exhausting day of school. She rubbed her wrists nervously, still trying her best to breathe evenly when she sat down next to Michelle. If Michelle was nervous she hid it incredibly well because the moment she sat down Michelle made slow and steady breaths, indicating calmness. Jealous, Bridget looked into the crowd of 50 or 60 people with only one person on her mind. Unlike the other kids, Bridget wasn’t nervous she’d screw up a note, trip on stage, or perhaps make a fool of herself entirely. Instead, when she looked out into the crowd the aching in her foot vanished, her annoying bang forgotten. Now only one thing mattered. One person mattered.

I promise you, I’ll be there.

The tears swelled up in Bridget’s eyes slightly when she scanned through the crowd of people and not yet seen her face.


Suddenly the conductor marches in front of the band indicating it’s time for their ballet. Bridget shrugs her shoulders slightly, trying to loosen up. She blinks away the almost-tears, and puts the bassoon to her lips as their rendition of ‘Jingle Bells’ commences. Not caring about her performance anymore, Bridget continues looking into the crowd, searching for her everywhere. Anywhere. She realizes she’s lucky she memorized most of the song but knows she should be keeping her eyes on the paper in front of her. Perhaps she’s just running late. While the thought’s humorous she can’t help but hold onto that little bud of hope that maybe, maybe she’d show up. Maybe the universe would be kind to Bridget for the first time in years. She feels a strange pull at her chest as the song ends, all of her hope diminishing completely. The applause erupts, some even stand to show their gratitude. Parents, she thought to herself, those are all parents cheering.

“Great job Bridget!” Michelle smiles, the curtains now closing. “And Merry Christmas!”

“Yeah, you too.” She nods, trying to keep her stoic demeanor as she puts on her jacket, grabs her backpack, and prepares for the extensive journey home.


She will barely make it as she walks the 2 miles through the New Jersey snowstorm. She will reach her house and do what she’s done for the past 5 of her 16 years existence. Tommy will be home soon and she’s sure he’ll be hungry. Perhaps she will find a few dollars at home to buy him a soda for his 7th birthday next week. He will love that. Once she makes dinner, she will clean the dishes and scrub the many glasses of bourbon down the sink trying to forget the horrid smell. Finally around 9 o’clock, she will help her mother up the stairs and ignore her slurs and rants of her father. She will pray her mother doesn’t cry again like last week. She will never try to understand her mother, but she knows she has to be the one to take care of her. She’s the only one for the job. Bridget will never bring up the Christmas concert she missed, the basketball games she never attended, or Bridget’s Too Good For Drugs speech she presented last year. For Bridget knows, it’s just not worth the effort anymore. Later that night before bed, she’ll sigh, feeling nothing but disappointment.

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