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You. You with your dramatic expressions and your angered tone. You with your bitter, sarcastic smile. You with your excuses and complaints. You with your loneliness and endless despair.
You won’t stop.
Words. Words with all sorts of definitions. Words that usually fall under sad, miserable, stressed, and gloomy. Words that are of the darkest colors. Words that sting, bite, tear apart.
They won’t stop.
Words pieced together so craftily, they slide out of your mouth oh so fluidly. As if you had practiced these lines night over night, burning them into your mind. We are your audience- quiet, attentive, unmoving. And you are the one-man show, a tragedy.
“My life,” you say as you place your lunch tray lightly on our table, “sucks.”
Today, someone decides to join in on the dialogue. Now we have one more actress’s name to add to the program of the extensive play of your hectic life. Today, you don’t have to be the only one on stage.
“Oh, deary, what’s wrong?” One of your many friends asks you.
It won’t stop. These people, why won’t they stop? When will they stop asking you what’s wrong, when they know what’s coming?
When will they start doing something about it?
“Oh, you know. Homework is just skyrocketing.”
I know, Abby. I sit right next to you in class. I know.
“My mother is being psychotic.”
Yes, I’ve heard, Abby. I understand, too.
“My whole family won’t stop screaming at me.”
I know they do, Abby. I know how you feel.
“They make me feel like such a failure.”
But you aren’t, Abby. You’re not a failure.
“I feel so alone.”
Abby, open your eyes.
“No one understands me. No one gets what I’m going through.”
I understand you, Abby. I get it all.
“It just sucks.”
A few “I’m sorry”s are muttered throughout the table, a few “Oh darling”s are added as well. Fake sympathy sugar-coats the little world that encases our lunch table. You feed off this sympathy, consume it. You need this pity to survive, to finish the show.
I know exactly that every single one of us wants to shake you by the shoulders. You know how after you see the exact, same movie over and over and over again, you can almost say every single word at the exact, correct time? That’s how it is with you, Abby. The moment you appear, we know what you will say.
One girl pipes up, a sad smile on her face. “I understand how it is. Homework is just so overwhelming. I had barely any time to do anything last night because I had to attend this meeting and had to go shopping for gymnastics. If you need he-“
“Wow,” You say, sarcastically, smiling bitterly. “That’s so pathetic. You only had a meeting and shopping? And you call that busy? Yesterday I had track practice, homework, and my mother to deal with. I am so stressed. You couldn’t understand.”
I’m sick of this. Every word, every sentence it is piling up. All of your misery is building a house, a tower. A refuge for you to hide behind, where no one can see you. You don’t want the world to see you. You want them to see your misery, your hurt. Maybe they’ll slide some pity under the door, but they won’t ever be able to actually reach you.
Is this what you wanted?
And, I really hate how everyone just lets it build up. Brick by brick, word by word. It towers over this table. Like that one game, Jenga, we used to play together on cold days. The wooden blocks are stacked up and up and up, until the right block is pulled out, and it comes crashing down.
That’s what I needed to do.
Pull out the right brick out of your little house.
I want to see you.
I want you to see me.
I stand up abruptly, slamming the palms of my hands on the table. My water bottle tips over and rolls off the surface, but I don’t bother to look for it. All I can see is your face. All I look at is you.
“Give me a break, Abby. Give me a break.”
“What?” you say, innocently. “What the heck is your problem, Leah?”
“Why? Why do you keep telling yourself that?”
“What ever do you mean?” You smile darkly.
“Do you honestly think that no one cares, Abby? Do you honestly think that you’re the only one that understands?”
“Well, Leah, if you-“
“You know what, Abby? We are all in the same boat. Don’t think that you’re the only one who’s got problems here, because let me tell you, we all have problems. You, Abby, are the one who doesn’t want to believe that you are in the same boat as the rest of us. No, you’d rather be stranded out in the middle of your little ocean of misery, drowning. And even if we try to throw you a single life preserver at you to help you, it’s invisible to you. You just can’t see it. You just can’t see us.”
“Don’t pretend you know me, Leah.”
“Pretend? I don’t pretend, Abby. I’ve been here for a whole year. I’ve been here. Right here. Right here, besides you. For a whole year. But do you even see me? All you can see are your problems. All you can do is complain about how you’re all so alone in this world, but I am right here! When will you finally stop wondering where the world is and actually see that it is right in front of your own eyes! I’m right here! We are all right here! Can you see us!? What do you think we are? Just people who are wasting you’re space, Abby? We are your friends, people that love you. So, be my guest. Be my guest and tell yourself that you are alone and that people just could never understand. Fine. But when you stop lying to yourself, let me know. And when you can finally see that you have me, you can tell me that too. You can tell me whenever you please, because I’ll always be right here.”
They just seemed to keep on coming, flowing. A never-ending stream of words strung together. They were waiting for you, Abby. Can you see that? These words had been waiting for you.
To finally reach you.
I don’t even bother to look at the friends surrounding you. I’m sure their faces are filled with just wonderful reactions. Maybe some are shocked. Maybe some are furious. Maybe some just really don’t give a care in world.
Their faces didn’t really matter.
It was your face that my eyes wouldn’t stray from.
This moment was screaming with silence, every word hanging in the air. An invisible battle. My sledge-hammer called love and your little haven of misery, they were the ones fighting.
Me and you?
It was as if one of the actors had forgotten their lines, the words completely slipped from their minds. The audience didn’t really know what to say, know what to expect. The other actor on stage knew what they wanted to say, but didn’t dare say it for them.
I didn’t dare say what I knew you wanted to say.
I knew what you wanted to say.
Your face was a blank canvas. You were always like that, the ever actress, able to pull off any expression: sad, angry, happy, confused, blank, you name it. You knew them all. But did you, Abby, ever know an expression that belonged to you? Did you ever leave your acting at the theater? Was there ever a time when you weren’t acting out the role of a depressed teenager or a confident student? Was there ever a time when the curtain would rise, and the world could see you? When you weren’t playing out a character from your books and scripts? Was there?
You’re trying to pull off blank, uncaring. But do you know what I see, Abby? I see someone who is sick of acting. I see someone who is tired of wallowing in their pain and sorrow. I see you.
“Leah?” You say, softly.
The curtain’s lifting.
“Leah?” You ask again, curiously.
The audience’s attention is all on you.
You are on stage, holding a mask.
The mask is so beautiful, so dangerous.
“Abby, I’m right here,” I finally say.
But that mask is also porcelain, fragile. Did you know that?
The mask slips from your hands, and breaks into a thousand tiny pieces.