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There it lay, gently cradled in my shaking hands. The ominous white envelope, its corners slightly bent, nearly torn, the address screamed out at me, daring me to open it. My entire body became stiff, yet jittery as I thought about all the pure effort, the sleepless nights and restless days, all for this envelope. It had no idea how much I had sacrificed for it. So physically exhausted, I sat down outside on my fire escape, gently placing the envelope in my lap, staring at it superstitiously, the dying glow of the sun lighting it up. I lifted my hand into the air, cautiously picking up the envelope, my inextricable fear flowing through my pulsing veins.
It’s senseless to be nervous, I thought to myself, What’s done is done.
I exhaled loudly, the noise ringing throughout the echoing space between the backs of buildings. Tentatively, I slit open the top of the envelope and reached inside, my eyes closing as my fingers pulled the contents of the envelope out into the open.
“Three, two, one,” I gently readied myself, as I unfolded the crisp pages.
Hesitantly, I opened one eye, then another. I scanned the page, looking for one phrase and one phrase alone. Finally, I found it.
“Congratulations on your acceptance into...”
The rest of the words rushed at me, an unavoidable smile stretching across my face. I swelled with pride, unintelligible words spilling out of my mouth as I rose up, unable to contain my excitement. My arms spread apart, I wanted to embrace someone, to squeeze her with all my new-found might. I felt invincible, as if nothing could possibly bring me down. I had gotten into my dream college; I would be able to leave my old life behind; start anew with limitless possibilities. I was free, free from the bindings of “before,” breaking out of my old chains into the new sophistication of tomorrow.
Finally, I have a chance to forget, though not necessarily to forgive. The pressing desire to tell someone, anyone, about my acceptance tugged at me. I wanted to feast on the fact that someone else was proud of my accomplishment. I wanted him to share my joy, to simply be happy for me. Unable to contain myself, I ran into my house, waving the letter above my head.
“I got in!” I repetitively screamed, giggling childishly.
A haunting silence followed. Complete lonesomeness knocked the breath out of me, throwing me onto my old, yellowing couch. I felt hollowed out, pierced. They all knew that the letter was coming this evening. They all knew how much it meant to me that they be here. Yet somehow, they all had more important things to do.
Once I had regained my breath, I stumbled back onto the fire escape. Anger burned the tears that threatened to drip out of my eyes. I had been there for them. When Mom was applying for a new job and when Dad lost his. When Sarah wanted to be an actress, then a singer, then a dancer. When Michael died.
Desolation weighing me down, I sat next to a small tomato plant that had died earlier this winter, but that I had never bothered to throw out.
“I’m in,” I whispered meekly only to hear the echo of my own voice congratulating me.