The Twelve Year Old Escape Artist

October 15, 2009
The world never seemed so small as it did the day I heard the news. She was there one day and gone the next, physically that is. Maybe it happened a lot sooner then I realized. Maybe she lost herself in the mist of living in reality - maybe it was too much for her to handle. All I know is her disappearing acts grew painfully old for everyone. She’d always say how she felt as if she was living her life on puppet-strings, that everything was always holding her down. But when she lost control, and it actually became that way, she felt that she had nothing else to do but escape.

As unreal as it seemed at first, it came as no surprise to me, or to anyone else for that matter. It always seemed that when Molly and I were twelve she had bigger plans for herself, ones that went far beyond Westchester County, and our days of watching Law and Order in her living room. She wanted to put her life on fast forward and skip the years where she was never “old enough”. I guess in a sense everybody wishes for the same thing at one point or another - when we’re ten we want to be thirteen, at thirteen we want to be eighteen, and at eighteen, twenty-one. I remember dreaming of the same thing, and never exactly acting on the impulse. Molly on the other hand was the type of person to take everything to the next level, being the extremist that she was. What began for her as common teenage rebellion turned into something that quickly spiraled out of control.

When I met Molly, in my eyes I was already grown up. Even before I knew her, I knew she was one of those people who could never catch a break, or at least she painted her life that way. She had big bright blue eyes, and blond wavy hair that almost reached her hips. She always had jewelry dangling from some part of her body, usually more than one, whether it were her mismatched earrings, or multiple necklaces. Molly was always an extremely colorful person in more ways than one. Inside her tiny body, there was always a big personality begging to be unleashed, and outside of school hours it always was. To me, it was very understandable why Molly was so cautious in front of certain people, especially with the kids that attended our middle school always making it a point to poke fun at her extravagance. They made the unimportant things about her personality define who she was. Though Molly did have a very distinct way of dressing, and at some times even acting, she was born to stay an original. In the eyes of Westchester County’s twelve year old students, Molly’s uniqueness stood out like a soar thumb, and to them, that had to be a bad thing. She’d stagger into first period late on a lazy Monday morning modeling the latest skirt she had patched together quickly the night before. She was born to stand out, and even if she wasn’t, if Molly thought she should’ve, then nobody was stopping her from doing that.

She was always skinny, but somewhere along the way, Molly crossed a very distinct line, the line between skinny and bone thin, wide-eyed to eyes that were blood shot. I remember the first time she got high in front of me. I remember holding my stomach tightly as I physically felt it fall what felt like twelve stories in to my gut as I walked with my head down all the way home. That day was the first day my eyes were opened to what I thought to be desperation at its worse. In front of my very own eyes I saw a girl pushed so far by pain, that she pulled back nothing but intoxication. I mentally marked that day in my mind, feeling for the first time the weight of her world, and the weight of my own, continuously telling myself the worst was over. I was too young at the time to understand that it had only just begun.

My best friend’s problems varied all the way from drug abuse, to domestic and sexual abuse, to eating disorders and depression, and at that point her life hadn’t nearly reached a boil. When Molly first introduced me to the world she lived in, right there I learned that the skinny, little, blonde haired girl I had seen in the hallways all these years had demons that had the capability of eating her alive. Like any thirteen year old in my situation, I was helplessly in awe when she spilled to me her secrets about cocaine and rape - issues that she had seen, and experienced, ones that I at the time could never have imagined. There was a point in my life where those issues felt so far away and unreal, probably in some Health class I took, or in some speech my parents had once given me, but she allowed them to make themselves at home in my own reality, putting herself in front of me as a living result to how scary our world can be. I listened to her stories straight from the mouth of a girl that just wanted someone to listen, and somewhere in the words that fell from her lips, I remember feeling a piece of her break away. The girl weeping in front of me, describing to me the nightmares she had lived through, conveyed the lifestyle of someone that easily quadrupled the age of a mere pre-teen, and that scared me. I should have listened when she told me that she was far beyond her years.

When I was fourteen, I started to see less and less of Molly. I still feel that I closed my eyes for a split second, and while my eyes were closed a lifetime of changes occurred. With the start of a new school year, Molly had moved back to New York City with her father, occasionally visiting her mother every other weekend in Westchester. Every time I saw her something new had changed. Whether it be her short boyish haircut, or one of her new peircings, a new bone that was visible, or a new story to tell, I could tell by the way she’d act around me that she was slowly slipping away. She’d brag about her new boyfriend, who turned out to be a twenty-two year old addict with problems all his own. She had no longer attempted to hide her addictions, leaving her track marks in eyes sight, and always smelling of liquor. As far as she was concerned, she was in love and just having some fun. It was easy to see that her one and only love was the addiction she fell for, the temptation that seduced her. I remember this image of her so vividly on the last day that I saw her - her shaking hands, her lack of focus, her classic denial and protection for her lifestyle. It was always really hard. Molly was never able to see anything wrong with the way she lived her life. I was left in a position where I felt that I was destine to watch her fall apart, and pretend that to turn my head when things became out of control in such a black and white way.

The day before she left, I remember walking with her for hours, and I remember telling her about a boy that I had a crush on. I remember us talking about how our parents just didn’t understand us, and I remember her telling me she was going to run away. Molly was somebody with quite an imagination. If Molly had done everything she had ever said she was going to do, her name would be in more than one history textbook, and on the news monthly to say the least. I never dwelled on the fact that maybe she was actually serious.. maybe she really wanted to get out of this town. In those years that passed, I always felt that if she really thought she had nothing, at least she knew she had me, and a best friend would be enough. She called me later that night and said she was going home to the city, and she didn’t know when she would be back. I should have known right there, in the hesitation and unsteady words. With Molly, nothing can ever be as it seems.

Three years passed as slow as it would have if I were watching the clock the entire time. I tried for so long to block out the nightmares of my best friend - where she was, and if she were even making it by. I found my mind often lingering on that skinny, little, blond-hair girl that became by best friend. I heard things around every now and then, not much of anything I could believe, considering nobody in our town really knew Molly. But there were rumors - in a small town like ours there almost always are. The ignorance of the kids I grew up with, and the things they said about Molly lacked the comfort that I needed to embrace. It took me those three years to even begin to understand her, her life, and her mentality. From that friendship I took an understanding that most people cannot fathom to learn even if they are taught it one-on-one. I never wanted to be held down by the worlds weight. I never wanted to feel suffocated to the point of an selfish disappearance. I was too young to understand that then. I was too young to grasp her reality. I knew I couldn’t help her, and knew if I could, she never would have let me try.

When I understood the situation for exactly what it was, the only thing I was left with was that right in front of the worlds eyes, and right in front of my own, Molly fell to her personality, and nobody tried to help her. In the end, it would ultimately have been her willpower that could have saved her, and how much of a fight she would have put up for herself. I always thought somebody could have showed her that she was capable of it. Her recklessness, and her constant need for satisfaction pushed her so far that she lost herself in the search. She became so accustom to the world she had invented inside her mind, that sooner or later, she never completely returned.





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