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There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. There is also a difference between living and surviving. You can be alive and you can be doing well with everything , but when the sun sets, or dinners ready, or its time to wake up. You'll never be the same person you were before you were hurt, or the day you hurt them.
As Tess sat at the corner of her bed trying to breathe in between the sobs she looked down, tissue paper, the kind you get at the dollar store, and stuff into bags to make it look more full.
It was 4:15 and she hadn’t slept since the night. As she picked up the tissue paper she studied it and at that moment she stopped crying . She stopped everything, as she looked at it she read the word used with an almost dead pen that wrote out-
“Happy Birthday my love, I hope you have the best day ever sweetie. I'll see you after work! You better wait to open it until i get there stinker!”
After she had studied every word on there every T that was crossed every unconnected O, a tear. It trickled down her rose splotched cheeks on the paper and down it went onto the paper, she tried to rub it away but it wouldn't go. She stopped trying to wipe it and simply, set the paper down. That was the first night Tess had gotten sleep in a month.
Time and time again the sun rises and sets, but this time tess had seen neither. The pillow cases were crowded around her like a moat surrounding a castle. Layered under the down feathered, starch colored comforter ,which had been doing just its named job the past month which was “comforting” Tessa. It had been doing a pretty good job but once the blanket lost its scent of her the person she needed true comforting from, it lost its purpose. The tenderness of the blanket felt exactly like the hugs he laid upon her every morning to wake her up for school. She never would've thought the smell of his relaxed t shirts would haunt her every night. He might have left but everything about him stayed.
As Tess’ eyes began to gain mobility and tensed as she peered into bright sun through her violet curtain. She winced at the thought of trying` to begin a new day when the person that had made her lose sleep all these days, had not gotten that chance. When she finally gained the spirit to roll over and had found something in her she had not felt since the day. Hope. It had been a long time tess had felt anything and especially the feeling of hope.
The days were colder now, even with the blistering and tongue tying August sun that even in the hottest days could provide no warmth to Tess’s benumbled heart. Walking outside made her ache like her body had been training for a marathon that had never came. Her dark umber hair that brisked her elbows. It was a mess but at least it was her mess.
“Tess, sweetie. How about we try something to eat? Ok? I'll make your favorite. Mac and cheese, i even bought it from whole foods today.” her mom suggested so quiet tess had to process what she has even said.
“You went out?” tess muttered even quieter than her mom this time which had been surprising even to her mom who raised the most athletic and rambunctious kid she had ever been aware of there being.
“Just to pick up a couple things” tess mom had went to go crowch down by her on their porch, still glossy from when her dad had last stained it in june. It was silent, you could hear the linen sheet scorn the wind while being lashed around like a child with a rag doll.
“ you know tess, you don't have to close yourself in honey, if you ever need to talk about.. “ her mom said louder than she had expected. It wasn't a shout or a scream it was bland and numb, her sharp tongue was now a dull spoon against the words that may never come out.
A number of these conversations spilled out across the summer months, but they failed to produce a change. It was as if the hurt was still a seed in the earth that refused to become visible. It deepend and grew and there was no one that could unearth it even though they tried.
Months later as she had grew her feet that sank like ivy and had spread so vigorously to the ground of the steps of carondelet high school where her mother exclaimed it would be “it would be the best for your education.” it had felt like a cheat. She had felt like a cheat. Getting into one of the best schools in your state because your dad died had felt well, like a cheat.
The words Tess’ mom had said as tess was lugging out of to go into the school were unlike she thought. They weren't meant to leave a sour taste in her mouth for months to come but they did. Words are not meant to do a lot of things, but they still chose to make you question anything you thought before every word.
“This is what your dad would have wanted” her mother had said with so sweet of a tone it sounded like honey had her lips tongue tied when the molasses filled her with regret
“Okay…” such a cold word with such a burning tone had made her feel that everything like fire and ice had decided to begin a war inside her body. She had used that word when she wasn't looking for a response. To end a sentence, to end a conversation to just end things in general.
Having an unexpected death as sudden as the one that happened with her father had made grieving worse. When someone with a illness died she thought to herself as the counselor led her around the school viewing the activities going around that had once made tess oh so jealous of this school now made her knees feel like they were a puppeteers string toys and made no control over the puppet she had once called her body. They had to cope while the person was still living.
“Tessa ? did you hear me?” counselor Swiggins had asked acting concerned like a mask for mardi gra over the stale seamless face that truly did not care. Tessa had gotten good at figuring things like that out, when people had apologized for the death of someone they had never even met.
“Yes i did, sorry i was just off in space.” she said that a lot, even if she wasn't in space it still seemed to spill out of her lifeless body anyway.
Months continued of a school where everyone's happiness were their grades and tess still trying to find hers and one day it actually happened. As she sat as so upright as to believe the people whos back touched the counselors stale chair may never recover from what happened to them.
“What did you love to do with your dad before he passed Tessa?” mrs swiggins had asked with genuine care , tess had gotten good at figuring that out too.
“Storytelling” she had said with a spark of light like her body had risen from the ground like the phoenix her and her dad would talk about all night even on school nights, it was their thing.
“Do I need to say more?” Mrs Swiggins had said with a spark in her too, as if her eyes were the stars and the moon was her mouth that had lit the night sky.
Tess had sat back for the first time because she knew that the chair she had sat in for weeks on end, missing classes on classes because of her grievances only she could feel that felt like every bone in her body had not moved since the day her dad had left this grief stricken world, was not infected with sorrow or regret but maybe rather reclaim the body that had left them far from home even when home was the last place you'd ever want to be. She had imagined herself smothered herself so deep into the chair she thought she might live there for it was comfortable, full of memories of peoples dark times that tess had now left, she thought to herself
You can not escape this type of dark.
“Tessa?” it had been 2 minutes and 40 seconds of Tess staring at a coffee colored wall that had gave her an anxiousness before but now was calm and made her feel that she was in her own body.
“Yes?!” she had responded with such buoyancy it was as if she was the life jacket to all of her happiness that she had never knew. Ideas of the stories she had left of her and her dad in the back of her head came surging through like a meteor shower through her memories. The new ideas of the stories she would write and the cluster of stories they had wrote. For the first in months Tessa had been looking forward to going home and sitting down with a journal in hand and a pencil in the other. It was in those moments she felt closest to the farthest person away. She didn't write about him, that wasn't the point. Writing about the things that seem impossible were the most enjoyable to them, using the word seem was the thing they always would emphasize. She never would have thought a smile would stretch across her face after her dad passed but when she did she thought to herself.
I have conquered
I have out ran the race
I have finally
When the the clouds still
Covered my sun.