Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

It's Fine

By , Lexington, KY
The darkness creeps up and throws shadows around. The darkness makes alleys dangerous. I’m standing on a dirty street corner, unaware of the world churning around me. Cars crawl by and their passengers press their faces against the glass. I can’t help but think they’re looking at me; wondering why I’m here. I’m wondering that too. I notice a shadow across the way, sauntering toward me. It has no face; raw fear. Without thinking twice I begin running. I’m a machine. Thud, thud, thud; I can’t tell if it’s my footsteps or my pounding heart that’s making so much noise. I need to find sanctuary; I need someone to save me. An ominous light engulfs my nightmare and I awake to find my face soaked with tears. I look out my window to find the moon still presiding over the night sky. The nightmare still lingers on the edge of my thoughts. They slowly leak into my mind along with awareness. But I’ve already slung my legs to the side of the child-sized bed, perfect for my seven year old frame. Without a second thought I venture into the hallway where darkness is abundant and the unknown lies.
See, I’ve always been afraid of the dark. When I was younger we lived in a secluded house that sat on its own acres of land, back near the mountains. I loved this house and many of my childhood memories can be traced back to it. But looks are sometimes deceiving and it caused my worst nightmares. When I was younger I didn’t believe in monsters, the boogie man or things with too many legs crawling in my bed. No, this was the real thing and I could’ve sworn there was someone outside my door. I revisited that dirty street corner so many times; my nightmare must’ve been a foreshadow window into reality. At least, that’s what I thought as I kid.
More than once I crawled into my sister’s room in the middle of the night. Eventually she didn’t even wake up when I did. Whether she just expected me, or was too tired to care I didn’t know. But her presence was enough. I just climbed underneath the covers beside her and went back to sleep. I slept a heavy dreamless sleep, the kind where your breaths are even and the mind is at peace. If I could make it to my sister’s room everything would be okay; I would be safe. When she was around, I was always safe.
I lived under my sister’s wing and was scared of everything unknown. I could only venture a given distance, in the grace area for those curious by nature. Maybe it wasn’t the greatest thing; potentially becoming dependent on her. But I never did. She developed interests first and taught me to follow suit. Capable of doing so, I didn’t mind. I’ve always had a big imagination and for a while, I thought I was invincible with my sister’s protection. I thought that she was invincible.
Seven years later and I was still afraid of the dark. Maybe it was more out of habit than actual fear, but when the lights went out I didn’t leave my room. That night would be no different. Angry, muffled voices drifting into my window woke me. I heard the front door open and then closed with a short interval between, during which I heard my step dad thank another man, whose voice I didn’t recognize. Then, heavy thuds marked his retreat to the bedroom downstairs. That’s when I heard the crying.
Soft footsteps made their way up the stairs and down the hallway, pausing in front of my door a moment before it opened. Coherence came in a rush as the hallway light was flushed through the doorway. The familiar silhouette hesitated, just long enough for me to notice, and then decidedly shuffled toward my bed. She climbed under the covers without a second thought, the way sisters do. A cloud of smoke and tears engulfed me as she crawled closer and began to cry even harder. Between tears she apologized over and over. She spoke of regret; regret for something she’d done and regret that she wasn’t a good role model anymore. But there was something else that her voice gave away. Sorrow. Deep, deep sorrow you have to plumb a person’s soul to find. It was the kind of sorrow that hides in the depths of the heart, where it’s darkest. That kind of sorrow should never reach sunlight. Yet, no matter how hard we try to conceal our pain it surfaces and erupts in moments like this.
At the time I didn’t even know what had happened but I told her it was okay anyway. Because it was. My sister had come to me for help, a shoulder to cry one. And it was okay. I’d stay up all night, making sure she slept okay. I’d listen if she wanted to talk and kept the silence from being ear shattering when she didn’t. She never likes to talk. Likewise, she isn’t big on sentiments, heart-wrenching anecdotes or comforting hugs. Maybe just this once. I reached out to drape a comforting arm around her. She flinched; slung her legs around to the side of the bed and stumbled out of the room; a wounded animal. I wanted to tell her to stay. I wanted to tell her I could make everything okay. I wanted to believe I was enough. After all, didn’t I used to be?
A home video of sorts played in my mind. The images moved too fast and not sequentially. Not that it really mattered; I saw these memories in my dreams. I heard her voice steady and gentle, telling me where to go. Then, when I fell, telling me to get up. She was always good at that. I remembered her comforting me when she didn’t know how and wiping away my tears when she couldn’t do that for herself. This is usually where home videos stop. Right as the happiness fades to sad and dramatically concludes with pleasant nostalgia. But at this point, I had no control and was too tired to try to stop it.
I pictured my sister wounded from the inside out. I pictured her needing. There’s nothing worse than seeing a beautiful thing cry. I tried to place together torn memories, hoping something would make sense. I tried to remember helping my sister the way she kept me from falling apart. But the memories wouldn’t come because they didn’t happen. I wondered who had held her hand. I wondered who had helped her up. “It’s fine.” The infamous words that seeped into the atmosphere like poison when her small, pale-rose lips uttered them. I never had the courage to challenge her. I never knew how.
I digress. Found my door closed and the yellow sheets still pulled back; as if nothing was missing. Looking back, I guess there wasn’t; not really. I sunk down into my bed a little bit further for comfort, for security and tried to prepare myself for my dreams. A strange emptiness filled me up. Guilt perched on my chest like a lion; a colossal reminder that I couldn’t be a hero to a hero. I heard the front door creak closed, a car door slam and the same car whisk away; as my sister left to find sanctuary. My, how much things change.



Join the Discussion

This article has 1 comment. Post your own now!

Darkstar6265 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 8, 2009 at 9:56 pm
Wait?! What happened to the sister? Where did she go? Did I miss something? (This is amazing writing. The imagery in it is amazing, it's as if it all happened before my eyes.)
 
Site Feedback