You know what’s really sad?
When you are reading a book at precisely 12:08 in the morning, and you are running your hands through your hair like your mom used to.
And then you realize what you just thought.
Your mom used to.
She isn’t dead or anything. She just chooses to not have time to run her hands through your hair.
Your book falls from your hands, and lands in your lap, unnoticed.
Tears well in your eyes when you realize that all you want, in that moment, is for your mom to run her hands through your hair, soft and comforting until you fall asleep.
For a moment, you consider getting our of your bed, going into her room, waking her up, and asking her to hold you like you are three again.
Some of those welled tears fall when you realize you are almost 15 years old now.
You really want to go into her room.
You really want her to love you again.
The tears fall faster when you think about what might happen if you do go into her room.
Maybe, you go into her room, get into her bed, curl up next to her, and fall asleep.
But she never runs her hands through your hair.
Or maybe, you get in there, and you ask her to, and she does, but it’s lazy and uncaring, and no longer the most comforting thing in the world.
The worst of all is the one where you go into her room, and she makes you leave, angry at you for taking your father's place and waking her up.
That would hurt the most.
That’s what usually happens when you go in there.
So, in fear of the third, you choose none of the above.
You dry your tears.
Pick up your book.
And begin reading again.
Five minutes later you’re crying again.
When you are waking up later in the morning, the memory of the night before comes to the front of your mind.
You never will be and have never been, a crier. But, for some reason, even thinking about it is making you teary.
This really isn’t good.
Sometimes, in the mornings you’ll be up for awhile, silent, just thinking.
Or you’ll listen to your parents talking.
Today, they’re talking about you.
You can tell it isn’t a pleasant conversation by the way your mother’s voice is strained, and how your father is breathing. (Through his nose, kind of like sighing through his nose.)
Their conversation isn’t going to be good for you.
They are deciding things.
Which is never good for you.
The sinking feeling in your stomach is telling you that you shouldn’t listen. It’ll only make you feel worse.
By the way, your father is talking about you, you know he’s angry at you. He’s trash-talking you like a middle school girl. And he’s lying.
You want to stick up for yourself, but then they’ll stop- he won’t apologize- and you won’t get to hear the rest.
Your mother sticks up for you instead.
This is surprising.
The sinking feeling in your stomach lessens.
The thing about your parents is, you’ve never really felt like they loved you.
Sure, they definitely don’t hate you. They don’t even dislike you in the slightest.
They just don’t love you.
You get more of a feeling of love from your best friend’s mother. She treats you like a third daughter.
Sometimes, you bring the fact that they don’t love you up to them, they always deny it. They feel guilty.
You don’t blame them.
You can’t choose who you love.
They don’t even love each other, so how can you expect them to love you?
You love them. Overwhelmingly so.
Sometimes feelings aren’t reciprocated.
It’s okay, most of them time.
It’s worse when you convince yourself that they do love you. Because eventually, you’ll come to your senses, and the hole inside of you, gnawing away at your emotions, will reopen, and it will be more painful than ever.
The blooming feeling in your chest never happens with them.
(The blooming feeling was what you call love. It’s the one where you feel like your chest is ripping apart at the seams. It’s painful in a nice way. Other people could relate it to the expression “bursting with pride” because it felt like that, but more intense. It’s so much better than the gnawing feeling.)
The blooming feeling has happened with your best friend, your skating coach, and one really, really good book.
But never your parents.
You try to live around this fact.
You know you’ll be a pretty messed up adult, and you’ll probably talk about this with your shrink. (You’ll also talk about the fact that you are flat out terrified of your father.) You should probably think about crossing that bridge when you come to it.
Now, you focus on the people who love you back.
Your thoughts come back to the present, and your brain decides to throw another hard question at you.
Do you trust anybody?
You trust some people.
Just not your dad.
You haven’t trusted him since the sixth grade.
And there are solid reasons behind that.
You had come home from a good day. School was nice, and you had a good time. You’re walking up to the front door, and you try to open it. It’s locked, but that isn’t unusual. Your dad is unemployed, and his cars in the driveway. You ring your doorbell No answer. Your dad isn’t coming to the door. You bang on the door. Maybe he’s asleep. The curtains on your front windows are pulled, but you can still see inside. You see your dad on the couch. You bang on the window. Then back to the doorbell, then back to the window. Eventually the window cracks. You stop banging on the window. Out of the corner of your eye, you see his jeep. It’s unlocked, and your garage door opener was in there. You finally get into your house. Your dad is no longer on the couch. He’s in the kitchen, swaying. He leers at you. Your house smells stale. He doesn’t look right. Something is definitely off. You take a step closer to him and realize that he is the stale smell. The smell of stale beer, and vodka. You gag. He opens his mouth to speak, but you’re already gone. You gather his keys around the house as fast as you can. He catches you in the hallway. You don’t see his hand coming until it’s gone solid across your face. You don’t feel his foot kick you until you’ve shoved him hard away from you, and into the wall. You don’t cry about any of this until you’re safe in your room with the door locked. He had said he’d never do this to you again, and your mom believed him. You didn’t. You suppose it’s easier for her to believe because she isn’t the one being hit. He’s never touched her.
You come out of your memories and look at your clock.
It’s time to get up.
You’re reading again, but you aren’t paying attention to the words.
You’re waiting for it to be 12:08 in the morning.
You’re waiting for the minute you die.
You grab the knife off your desk.
You open the door to your room.
You step out into the hallway.
You open the door to your mom’s room.
You walk into her room and stand next to the bed.
You ask her,
“Mom, do you love me?” in a cracking and scared voice.
I can’t hear her answer, but the knife drops from your hand, and you start to sob.
I can only assume she said yes.