If They Only Understood

February 16, 2010
By Payton Parenti BRONZE, Blue Mound, Illinois
Payton Parenti BRONZE, Blue Mound, Illinois
1 article 0 photos 0 comments

Where is my shrink and my mind eraser? I was surely in need of Mr. Slate, my personal shrink. My problems awaited their release, like the dandelions wait to release their seeds to the wind.
I was standing outside atop the hill in the backyard. This wasn't my home, it was simply the place that I stayed until I earned enough money to leave it behind. I didn't belong here.
There are a few important details that you should know about me. I'm a daughter of a Cherokee tribe in Denver, Colorado. I was taken and adopted by Richard and Linda Black-100% Americans. My father decided not to fight to keep me. He said that it would be as useless as trying to set water on fire. I was only five.
The Americans changed my name to Desdemona for Shakespeare. Desdemona's story is horribly grotesque. Why does Shakespeare write of such violence entwined with love as if it is harmonious? It makes me wither like a dehydrated flower in the July sun when I think of it.
My real name is Sun Rises Across The Mountains. I am fairly sure I am the first of my kind. I am a suicidal Cherokee girl who's mother died and who's father disowned her.
Yes. Suicidal. I wouldn't be if I was in Denver.
Deep in thought, I realized that the sun was setting. Hours upon hours had to have passed since I came out here to think. I pulled myself together and descended the steep slope to the little white house that wasn't mine.
I took a deep breath and pulled open the sliding door. Richard was sitting on the couch, watching television, while Linda was sitting at the breakfast bar snarfing down a plate of scrambled eggs.
Well, I missed dinner, but I decided on grabbing an apple from the fruit bowl in the fridge. Linda walked past me and put her plate in the sink. She turned to me with a humongous smile on her tiny face.
"How are you, sweet Desdemona?" she cooed, taking me into a motherly hug. I hate my American name with a heated passion. It outright infuriates me.
She released me slowly, reluctantly. She seemed as if she needed reassurance that I was really in her arms and with her.
"I'm doing well," I replied as I chomped into my apple, not wanting to say anymore. She seemed to take a hint.
A small chunk of apple fell onto my traditional Cherokee buckskin dress and I picked it off. I was trying to be careful of the beads when Linda spoke.
"It is always pleasing to hear that one feels that way, especially you," she said more firmly.

She was tiny in general. She was placed inside a five foot two body that had seen better days. She was beautiful in a rough way with coarse, dark hair to her waist, and wise eyes. She looked very much like my own mother before she had died. She was the only American I had strong ties to.
I, on the other hand, had a strangely lanky body. I was about six foot tall and had the same exact kind of hair as Linda, but, while she was pale as a sheet, I was as tan as could be expected of someone who grew up under the sun.
"I'm glad that you are partial to my feelings," I said, noticing the flash of pain as it crossed her strange, violet eyes. I knew what she had thought of in that moment: my episode. She was the only one that really knew and understood what that was like for me, or so I thought.
Tears began streaming down her pale face. "You will always be my daughter, whether you choose it or not. I will always love you and care for you. Don't you dare to forget that. You are my sweet," she sobbed.
Richard trudged in just then and had so obviously overheard her sappy speech.
I chose to speak before he was given the chance. "Emotions are high right now. I completely understand, but I miss my family too much, and you know that. I'm nineteen, and I'm no longer in need of your care. You're both wonderful people, and I will never forget the torture of growing up away from the ones you love. Thank you for, in that torture, teaching me this new way of life. I will forever be thankful to you," I spoke as I had learned to in my college speech class.
"Is this how we part?" Richard asked timidly.
"Yes, I suppose that it is."
"We'll pay any remaining fees for your trip home. We owe you that. We so apparently destroyed your childhood that we owe you," Linda said adoringly.
"Pack up, kid, you're going home," Richard said with a mysterious edge of anger. I never understood that man and I never expected him to understand me.
Linda handed me a small red cell phone. "Call us, Desdemona. Our number is in the phone already, along with your friends' numbers." She began sobbing again and hugged me tightly for the last time.
"I am here. I am ready to listen, ready to be confided in, ready to give advice. I am here for you Desdemona, so talk to me," a monotonic voice explained.
Mr. Slate ambled into the kitchen. He saw Linda in my arms and gave me an appraising look. Oh, how I hated that man. The American cultures and people were just not for me.
"I-I-I. . . was just leaving. Goodbye for the last time, Slate," I said wearily. I was terrified that this man had just walked in. He wasn't welcome.
"Oh, sweet, one more session. C'mon and sit. Talk." He was very forceful and I did not like that. He always made me talk to him, even though I had never fully agreed.
"Desdemona, darling, why not just one more session? It couldn't possibly hurt, could it?" Linda cooed. Her voice always made it seem like I was just a bird that she was talking to.
I guess it wouldn't hurt, but I really didn't want to.
Okay, so here's the deal. On December fourth last year, I woke up and was happy for the first time in forever. I had been deep in a depression for about ten months and was deciding on killing myself. I went about my business as usual-went to school, then work for and hour and a half, then came home to an empty house. I changed my normal ritual just a tad bit-I went into the bathroom with a switchblade and started hacking my left arm off about halfway up to the elbow instead of going to my room to cry. Linda came home early and found me there. She bustled over to the hospital-which, by the way, is about thirty-five miles away. I was bleeding everywhere and getting closer to sweet death by the minute. Yeah, I was saved, but the bliss of it pulled me from the depression almost altogether. Boy did that leave a huge scar.
The only reason Mr. Slate wanted me to talk was so he'd get paid by my rich adopted parents. I didn't like that.
"Sorry, but I have to. . . " and took off running all the way to my bedroom. As soon as I shut the door, my new cell phone rang. I read the caller's name that was listed on the front screen and the flipped it open. It was my friend Scarlet Hope from the community college.
"Hey, Scarlet. What's up?" I asked nonchalantly. I became scared when I realized that she was sobbing heavily into the phone.
"Dez, Elizabeth. . . SHE'S DEAD! SHE'S GONE! WHAT DO I DO?!? SHE'S DEAD!!!" she screamed into the phone.
First of all, Elizabeth is Scarlet's twin sister, so I see why she's torn up. Second, they were completely and totally inseparable to the extreme.
"Wh-what?" I asked as the realization sank in. It just couldn't be. The other line ended the call and I threw my phone in my beaded bag that I had ready to go for when I would get to leave for the tribe.
I needed to think. There was an old Cherokee legend that said if any son or daughter of the Cherokee people attempts- or succeeds- in taking their own life, then one that is close to them shall have to die because of it.
Although I wasn't that close to Elizabeth, her death was already beginning to weigh on my conscience like an elephant.
I ran all the way to my small, red, '64 VW bug and drove out to the horizons. I didn't stop for anything except gasoline. I made it to Denver in three hours.
The first minute that I set foot onto tribe lands, I realized that I didn't belong. American life had rubbed off on me too much, and I wouldn't survive the pain of it.

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