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Responsible

She is ugly when she cries. Nobody has to tell her – she’s seen her reflection, the red eyes and crumpled expression. The weakness.

That’s why she does it outside. She usually waits until nighttime to let it out. She walks away from the house, far and fast, without a flashlight so she won’t be reminded of what she’s doing. Crying like a baby.

It’s because she doesn’t like being yelled at. And he always yells at her. No, not always. Just when she’s at the low point of a bad day of school – missed a newspaper deadline, the lunch room ran out of corn dogs, and that boy she secretly liked but never dared to tell anyone about just asked out her best friend, and her friend told him no because he’s a “nerd of the highest degree” – when she just wants to hide in her room and read a book.

“You forgot the meter readings, didn’t you? They’re due on the sixteenth! It’s too late for this month!” That’s to her. To her mother, he says, “And I hold you fully responsible too! I have to remind her every month!” As a last attack, he yells, “Get those readings and turn them in by tomorrow! I’m sick and tired of always reminding you!”

Once he’s gone, her mother says, “You need to remember next time! How long have you been in charge of this?”

Perhaps she brings it on herself. Every month. How hard can that be to remember? Is it that she lets herself forget? In her crazy, teenage years is her mind too twisted by emotion and music? Is she irresponsible? Is she asking for it? Is she doing it intentionally?

Or maybe it’s because, secretly, deep down inside, she heard her parents fight one time. That time one of them almost moved out. That time that she almost had her home split in half. Of course, her parents are too busy to remember that long-ago event, now not even relevant. But she does. And maybe she brings it upon herself to be irresponsible and busy and let herself forget, that she does it intentionally, because she wants them to yell at her. She hates getting yelled at. But she has a crazy, teenaged mind that cannot be explained.

So she walks, crying alone in the dark. Because she would rather have them yell at her than at each other.




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