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The Cut

I hugged my beige jacket to my body, a rush of icy salt air piercing me like knives, goose bumps rising under my layers of shirts and jeans. My sunny hair was out of place here, a piece of happiness inside this desecrated world of towering trees above and crushed shells below. Despite being surrounded by foliage, everything was somehow grey, reflecting the billowing clouds that shunned the normal warmth of the sun. I could smell the thick green, an underlying tone of salt mixed in. It overwhelmed me, but I breathed it in, filling my lungs with the bittersweet scent until I grew numb to it.

I headed around to the back of the dark vehicle, the hunter green blending in with the forest it stood next to, and I watched a man unload a pair of backpacks. He was short, just a few inches above me, with certain features such as a dark goatee and a balding head which was concealed under a tan hat. I loved that man, he was everything to me. He had raised me, a mother disguised by thick arms and a somehow goofy smile. But most of all he was the peacemaker, the Dali Llama of my family. While the gunfire of words echoed through the bare hallways of our wealthy house, he was a shield, an ally to both enemies. He calmed me when I was screaming behind my door, halted the gunfire between my brother and I and our stepmother for a few moments to let each side reload. And when the battle raged out of his reach, he would bring me here, where we could heal the scars that formed at home. Words couldn't express my love for that man, my gratitude couldn't be measured.

He handed me two poles and a backpack, and we headed to the path of ancient crushed shells and the footprints of a million years. We didn't speak, after all, we didn't have to. Our voices were gone from the fights, our wounds too fresh to try and repair with empty sentences. We walked the quarter mile of dense forest, carrying poles, backpacks, and a bucket that brought tremendous hope of catching something we could take home.The winding trail grew softer, the crunched shells
giving way to grains of cool sand. A soft breeze rushed past me, the trees whispering to one another as I shivered in the chilly air. I wasn't used to this, the absence of warmth was like a siren, constantly reminding me of where I was. My cheeks were still red as they always were. I couldn't conceal them, they were as bright as the blood pulsing through my veins.

We trudged through a gap in the trees and down a makeshift stairway, and I took in the sights. I had waited all month for this, this day of me and him alone here. A calming sensation drenched my body, as if it knew I was safe here from the battle back home. My wrists were suddenly healed, the cuts that covered them vanishing as I felt relaxed. My stomach finally unclenched, and I realized I couldn't get in trouble here. Coming to this hidden paradise saved me, a soft breeze that just barely
kept me balancing on the edge.

I stopped as he made his way to the rocky shore, his tan hat turning side to side as he surveyed the blue world before him. If I had known then, if I could somehow turn back time and stand there once more, I would have never left. I would have hugged that man, wrapped my thin, wounded arms around him and held him forever. I would have whispered 'I love you' into his chest, would have cried for years. If I had only known that in five months I would never see him again, I would never have let him go. But I can't turn back time, can't hold him and comfort him and be his daughter.

Looking back, I realize that place; a quarter mile from the road and an entirely new world that healed me in every way; is a place I'll always remember. It taught me something about life, about how silence is sometimes more powerful than words. That when your whole world is falling apart around you and you have nowhere to turn, someone can fix it unconsciously. My life in the sunshine state changed me, in ways I am still realizing. I have trust issues, and my biggest fear in life is that I'll never find someone who will love me; for who could love a girl who believes her own father doesn't? My self-esteem is low, and I can never seem to find one person to just sit and
talk to. I bottle everything up, wearing a perfectly situated mask to hide every emotion. I may never fully recover from the damage his wife inflicted, her voice in my head still haunting me when I start to feel happy, the words skimming my mind like the bullets they once were- the ghosts of the battles trailing along.

That place still symbolizes peace, a place where I can go when the earth is shattering beneath my feet. But it also symbolizes him, the one who raised me, the one I still love despite my scars. He will always be a significant part of my life, my past, and my present. He taught me lessons that made me who I am today, and although he may never be a part of my future, he will always be in my memory. I miss him with every second that ticks by, with every breath my body inhales and
exhales. He had saved me without realizing it, my own personal god who put me on the right path. He will forever live within me, a ghost of what used to be, and a reminder of what could have been.





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