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My Broken World
One by one the tears fell, and I couldn’t explain it. I had tried so hard, and yet, I couldn’t save my family. There was so much I would be put up against; coming home. I knew that I would be facing a war zone, a strange unforgiving world where my paradise could barely be remembered. But, I had to go back. I coudn't stand being sent away. Mom would have just enough time to pack her bags.
Seeing as it was mother’s day I decided to pick up a dozen white roses, they were her favorite. I was attempting to make conversation with my friend Laura, but my voice had left me, something that seemed to be a recurring theme in those days. Despite how desperately I wanted to be home, it was kind of the Beyerle's to take me away. We drove what seemed like a great distance that weekend; and the car ride home lasted much too long. I watch the trees as they drifted past, each one was a small triumph. I was getting closer to home.
Laura’s family was so different from any other family I have ever known. They treated me like I was one of them. So, despite my longing to go home, the atmosphere of the car ride was nothing unpleasant. David Beyerle sat quietly with his paper while Susan sang along to car songs, always cheery. Laura and Mathew argued over goldfish… at least I think they were goldfish. Mathew got upset and Laura never felt any regret for fighting with him. Unfailingly, Susan peacefully intervened and then all was back to normal. At the time I thought they were dorky. I was the cool kid whose parents didn’t care what I did, and they were the uptight family that I laughed at. But looking back, they were the happy ones. I was miserable.
Arriving home was a terrifying moment for me. My heart was beating faster, faster, as I ran up the steps and past the bushes. It all seemed to take so long. I pounded on the door. Slowly, it creaked open and my dad stepped into view. He looked tired and disheveled, like he had recently rolled out of bed, but the bags under his eyes told a different story. When he spoke his voice was shaky and uneven. I had never seen him like this, he had always appeared so strong. Until then. He told me my mother was gone. Just as quickly, he drifted back down the hallway.
I felt the flowers fall, slipping silently through my fingers. They hit the ground, their petals scattering across the floor. The petals were like my entire life on that day, it slipped out from between my fingers, and the things I thought I held so strong vanished before my eyes. As I watch the petals move to opposite ends of the carpet I could only feel my heart sink, my eyes blink, and before I could stop it I sunk to the ground and joined my poor flowers.
Only hours had passed, and I found myself playing paper dolls as if nothing had happened. As if I felt like the average 13 year old, if only it were true. Paper dolls held the truth in those hours, I could disappear into their world, and that way I didn't have to face mine. I don't remember feeling... anything, but somehow I was content.
Then the song came on. The one song that made me think, made me feel again. Reality set in. The song was Big Girls Don’t Cry by Fergie. I listened to it once through, then before I knew it I had listened to it enough times to recite every word. “I’m gonna miss you like a child misses their blanket, but I’ve gotta get a move on with my life. It’s time to be a big girl now. And big girls don’t cry.” I curled over the ipod. I felt the weight of my self, the weight of my world forcing itself upon me. I was collapsing. It was a war. I fought to keep myself from turning into nothing. The tears did not come easy, they forced their way out of me one by one. Each a different painful memory. The memories felt like acid, running down my body and burning me slowly. I was going to be a big girl. I had to be. And in that moment I felt my right hand crush the paper doll that had held my attention for countless hours. I felt my imaginary life crumble in by my own will. My own body was crumbling right along with it. In this moment, as I curled around a broken paper doll, something switched. The doll had held my innocence, my beautiful little childhood; and in only a single moment, I had ended that part of my life. It was the only option, but where would I go from here? How could I be whole when everything I had ever know had fallen apart in a single day? I only had the peices of paper to remind me. Those peices that only moments ago had meant so much.
“You know the place where you used to live. Used to barbecue up burgers and ribs. Used to have a little party every Halloween with candy by the pile, but now, you only stop by every once and a while. Shit, I find myself just fillin' my time, with anything to keep the thought of you from my mind. I'm doin' fine, I plan to keep it that way, you can call me if you find that you have something to say, and I'll tell you, I want you to know it's a little fucked up that I'm stuck here waitin', at times debatin', tellin' you that I've had it with you.”
“Me and the rest of the family here singing "Where'd you go?" I miss you so, seems like it's been forever that you've been gone.”
“Please come back home…”
I muttered the words as if they were only for me, even though I knew people could hear. Maybe only Laura, but someone was listening. Probably ready to lecture me about my language, but this song was all I could hear. It played in my head, as if on repeat, even though enough time had passed. I had been strong. I had stayed firm. No one knew how it affected me. I didn’t even know. The song should have been a clue, but I wasn’t listening. I had grown hard. The shell of a person I once was. I no longer cried. I couldn’t be broken down, I had built my wall. I was untouchable. If only the song would stop playing…
Flashbacks were frequent and each held its own power. They were reminders that I was human, that I couldn't have turned to stone so quickly. They haunted me though, I could almost feel the wheels kept turning, a memory from that day. He took me for a drive, she took me for a walk. By the end, I knew. I shook so violently, my body twitching against my will. Her four hour mall trips, his insane work schedule. They were all lies, and I was the last to know. I was angry, at them both. She didn’t know that I knew about her other life. He didn’t know that I knew about his addiction. Neither of them knew how I fought, how I struggled, each believed I was on their side, only their side. But I was stuck in the middle, and trying so hard to hold them together, and do it quietly. It took everything I had. And I failed. My own life meant nothing. No one knew, I was fighting. I was struggling.
The wheels turning, the songs playing, my body shaking, the doll crumbling, the petals falling. Doors slammed, pictures shattered, memories lost. Broken people. Broken lives. My broken world.