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Better Without Me

Days here are hotter with each passing minute. The sun beat on my back as I stood in front of the dead oak tree in our backyard. There use to be a swing that hung from the highest branch. You can still see the markings where the rope tied. Sweat began to slip down my back giving my body small moments of cool relief. I needed more. The greenbelt was only a short walk from where I stood. I remember mother telling me to stay nearby but at this point it feels as if she’s only talking to me to fill the empty spaces. I made my way through brush and trees, each step I took feeling heavier than the last. Soon I could hear the cracking of the water and my spirits rose. I looked down at my mud caked shoes and at the three foot drop off down to the water. I bent over to untie my shoes when I felt a deep sting in the middle of my back followed by a thick trickling of thick liquid. My breathing shortened to quick gasps that pained my chest with each inhale. I fell forward into the water and felt my body go numb starting at my fingertips and toes making its way swiftly to my core. I couldn’t move. My body was taken away with the river and my eyes fell back and I saw for the last time the treetops brushing gently against the cloudless blue sky. 

November 15th; it was a Thursday. I stood before the dead oak once again placing my hand on its cold trunk. I came back here often to feel something I hadn’t in months. But what I felt wasn’t warmth or a sense of belonging. No I came here to feel closer to making things right. On the other side of this worn tree stood a house. My home where my family still lived. Inside, in the room closest to the side facing the tree, my sister slept. I envied her, the way she could just close her eyes, feel the close comfort of the blankets and rest. In the room opposite hers my mother sat awake in my grandmother’s wood rocking chair. She hasn’t slept in four months. It almost makes me believe she feels remorse, but then I remember she was and still is incapable of that emotion. She rocked for hours listening to the soothing cracking of the old wood hoping it would help her sleep, yet was always unsuccessful. You might be wondering at this point, what about your father, where is he? He’s much luckier than I and escaped years ago when I was five years old. My only memory of the man was the way he smelled of firewood.

Cold wind blew; the moment waited for arrived. I placed both hands on the trunk and I felt the tree slip away from my grasp. I watched as the large oak fell hard on the old house breaking through the roof and boards as if they were paper. The sound of breaking wood soothed my still heart. The tree fell where my sister slept. Gone quietly in the night, much more dignified than I. I felt nothing for her just as she felt nothing for me as she watched my body slip away from her sight.

I dug through the debris and dragged her broken body behind me and laid her out on the lawn for my mother to find. I heard her shrill scream and fearful footsteps running through the house to the back bedroom where she expected to find my dearest sister. Seeing the gaping hole in the wall she pulled herself through to the outside and fell to her knees at the sight of her beloved daughter lying on the cold grass. She cried and I grew wild with anger. This woman never shed a damn tear when I never came home, when they buried an empty coffin, when I was robbed of everything worth living for. I was never enough. I was the problem and their lives were better without me. I knelt down in front of her and placed both hands on her face. She could see me now and the whites of her eyes grew bloodshot. She feared me. “It’s me momma. It’s me” I whispered deep into her ear as she quivered. I looked far into her cold eyes and whipped my hands in a swift motion. The sound of her neck breaking filled my ears and warmed my empty body. She fell lifelessly beside my sister and I smiled.






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