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Caught in Time

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There is no beginning to something that was created before time. There is no middle to something that goes on forever. There is no end to something that dies into another world.

The words were too insightful for Hanna’s narrow mind, and she put down the book. Besides, she was going to dinner with her father and sister that night; how could her English teacher expect her to read all of those boring pages when her mind was constantly drifting? Of course her teacher had no idea of her important plans, and perhaps a little more effort could be put into her schoolwork, but Hanna was a lazy procrastinator.

The sun was setting much too slowly, and Hanna began to get impatient. Several times her younger sister would walk into her room, bored as can be. Both hated the recent divorce of their parents, but what was done was done and had to be dealt with. Finally, when it was almost seven o’clock, a white Mini Cooper pulled up on the driveway and Hanna and her sister sprinted downstairs.

“Dad’s here!” cried out Hanna.

“It’s about time!” scoffed Lyn, eleven.

The two girls gave their mother, Erika, a quick hug before dashing into the small, recently-bought car.

“Hey, my beautiful girls!” chuckled their father, Alex. “Are you guys ready to eat at Black Bean’s?”

“I’ve been ready all day,” replied Lyn, crouching into the backseat.

The car ride was filled with the chatter of excitement, yet there was tension in the air, making it slightly awkward. Having a father who did not live with her was something Hanna still had not adjusted to, and several times she would zone out of the conversation. Dinner, however, was delicious, and Hanna was glad that she and her dad could finally discuss things.

“So, Lyn, I’m glad to hear you’re doing well in sixth grade,” said Alex. He turned to Hanna and spoke in a lower tone, “How’s eighth grade going for you?”

“Um…pretty good,” Hannah lied, “Right now English is my best subject.”

“Really? Isn’t that the subject you have a B-minus in? Your mother told me about your C’s and D’s; what’s going on? You used to be almost a straight-A student!” he exclaimed.

“I’m sorry, Dad, I’m trying. But I guess I’m just a little too distracted,” excused Hanna.

“By what? Come on, tell me,” interrogated Alex.

“Well it’s—it’s…because—because of the divorce. It’s been kind of stressful and I haven’t exactly been feeling my best lately. Middle school grades don’t even matter to colleges,” added Hanna, “My Science teacher said so.”

It was the end of the conversation. That small dispute had made the car ride home uncomfortable. They finally made it back to their house and Hanna and Lyn pecked their father on the cheek good-bye.

One and a half hours passed before Erika got the call. Alex had been in a terrible car accident, and was in the emergency room of General Hospital. Lyn constantly shivered in the car ride, which was something she did when she was nervous. Hanna concentrated on the road ahead, fiddling with her dirty-blond hair. The whole family’s light blue eyes were stern, yet worried. The drive seemed to be everlasting; every time the signal light shone red, the three women groaned. By the time they reached the hospital, Alex had already taken his last breath.

The funeral was a dark event and the Wellson’s were overwhelmed. Hanna was constantly avoiding people who tried to talk to her. Only her grandmother was able to get more than one syllable out of her mouth. Tears ran down her cheeks, and Lyn sobbed even harder. Erika talked to the kind people who spoke sympathetic words. Hanna declined the offer to give a speech about her father; she was afraid she would burst out crying in front of everyone. Her efforts to stay strong were futile, and at home she broke down in her room. There she crossed her arms and then yelped out in pain. Without even realizing it, she had been piercing her nails into her pale white skin. The spot stung, and all of her pain traveled from her heart to her arm.
The days following were long and endless, as if time were being still. It was as if Hanna was in a dream, that reality was lost somewhere where things were better. But every time she tried to wake herself up, her efforts would fail. Hurting herself physically was the only thing that kept her depressed emotions under control.

A week passed and her best friend Liam continuously asked what was making her so upset. Hanna and her family had not told anyone about the death, not wanting the attention right now. Lyn was affected the worst, staying shut up in her room and barely eating. Every time Hanna had a conversation with her mother, it ended with them supporting each other in a hug.

Liam came over one day and demanded to know what was wrong with Hanna. She looked at him with gloomy eyes, feeling as if he was the bad guy in this nightmare.

“My father died about a week ago,” croaked Hanna.

Liam’s hard expression softened, and then he wrapped his arms around her. They stood frozen in the spring air, the world all around seeming like nothing but vague black. Finally, Hanna lifted her head and wiped away the tears on her face.

“Uh…I’m really, really sorry to hear that, Hanna,” sympathized Liam, “Do you need anything from me?”

Hanna shook her head, unable to utter any more words.

“Okay, but be strong. You have to…for your mother and Lyn. It—it’ll all be alright,” he soothed.

The words that Liam spoke were awkward and not reassuring. Hanna hated his way of trying to make her feel better, so much she felt like shoving him. But how could he understand the pain of loss; how could he know what to do and say? He was not to blame and Hanna’s anger subsided.

Over the days, Hanna’s grief grew within her. The hurt was unbearable, almost physical, except worse because it was an internal sorrow. She sat on a blue chair, leaning over the granite counter. Without even thinking, she slammed down her fist on her left forearm. A yelp of agony escaped from her mouth, but the aching feeling within her heart seemed to ease. It was as if physical pain was enough to overrule the emotional pain. This secret that Hanna held caused her to inflict a throbbing torment onto herself.

Saturday morning, Hanna woke up from a nightmare. It was as if she had truly been in a car accident. The car slammed into the side of the Mini Cooper. Everything was a blur and it all happened rapidly; her own scream was what woke her up. After getting ready and feeling much fresher, Hanna wondered how long the sorrow would go on.

Looking in the mirror, Hanna noticed her bruised body. The sight of all those wounds came as a big surprise, especially knowing that it had all been intentional. It had become habitual that she seldom realized there were minor wounds on her body. A pair of bloodshot blue eyes looked back at her that was those of a stranger’s. Red seemed to be taking over her body. Red was such a pretty color, such a bright and striking color.
Just one slice of the knife, on her middle finger, would tone down the heartbreaking hurt. The urge was strong, but she resented the idea. For the past week or so, she had taken the pain to anesthetize her anguish. That was her way of calming herself down. Even though she knew it was sick and wrong, she had still done it. But now it was obviously not the solution. Her father would have been ashamed to hear such a morbid thing for his daughter to do. Imagining her father’s kind green eyes, his rich brown hair, and cheerful smile made Hanna remember everything he had wanted her to be. He was gone from this world but that did not mean she could not still carry on his dreams for her future. Right then, Hanna promised to never let her father’s soul die down. She would be everything he wished her to be. Never would her father’s spirit disappear off the face of the earth.

Hanna sat on her bed and was glad that she had stopped her despicable ways before it reached dramatic measures, such as suicide. Her father was gone, but that did not mean she had to be. Eyes closed, hands in her lap, Hanna whispered under her breath, “Dad, I love you and I’ll make you proud. I’ll never disappoint you, and we’ll see each other again. Life is short, so you have to make the most of it. Don’t worry about me. I’ll be strong.”

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