Daughter This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , South Plainfield, NJ
I entered this world on a Sunday. A beautiful baby girl with full black hair, eyes as blue as the veins beneath her skin, and extremely long nails was born to a couple who literally had it all: love, happiness, money, a house with a white picket fence, and, most important of all, each other. Now, that little girl has ratty, dirty-blonde hair, the dull green eyes of her mother, and stubby nails bitten right down to the cuticle. That perfect couple now have nothing: They have outgrown their love, happiness is a foreign word in a language they do not speak, their money has been consumed by the debts that now arrive in the mail with daily regularity, the house has fallen apart, the white picket fence torn down, and, most important of all, they have given up on each other. They have lost sight of everything, including me, their only daughter.

“It’s not that I don’t love your mother; it’s just that I’m not in love with her.” Those are the last words he said to me, in our driveway, in the pouring rain, with his window down, before he rolled it back up and drove away. I find that it is generally hard to recall exactly what people say. Typically, I can remember the gist of it, but not the exact wording; the words get twisted around all the other words and ideas simultaneously running through my head. However, that one sentence is one I will never forget. The precise words, the punctuation, the cowardly look on his face, the tears from my eyes mixing in with the raindrops falling down from above, the damp pavement and the wet and dirty feeling it left on my bare feet, I remember it all. It is one of those images that will replay in my head every time it rains, every time it rains until the day I die, sucking me back to that moment of helplessness, to that moment where everything changed, as cliché as that may sound.

Despite the pain this memory causes, I still like the rain. I like the rain because it has the power to wash things away. It has washed away the ice cream I dropped onto our patio at the age of five, the blood from my scratched knee when I fell of my bike at the age of seven, the heart containing my first crush’s name, Luke, that I drew with chalk on our sidewalk at the age of nine, and the sting of the warm tears on my cheeks as he backed out of our driveway and left us behind at the age of eleven. My tears dissolved into those raindrops, like the Band-Aid that soaked up the blood which oozed from my scraped knee four years ago. My tears dissolved into rain, fell to the ground, and seeped into the pavement of our driveway.

He reconstructed that driveway himself, along with his brother who does construction and their friend who owns a paving company. He said he wanted a double driveway, instead of the single, big enough for two cars, so that he and my mother could both park there. After he left, I could not help but notice how small and lonely my mother’s car looked in that big driveway, all by itself.

My mother still lives alone in a double driveway, only living half a life. She is screaming for someone to fill the void, but too afraid to let anyone get close enough to do it. She resents him for neglecting his parental duties, and, in turn, she neglects hers as well. It’s funny because when he stopped being a husband, she acted like ten times a wife, desperate to get him back and to make up for his faults. But when he stopped being a parent, instead of being ten times a mother and making up for his absence, she just gave up. We may live in the same house, but she skips out on my just as much as he does. We ignore each other; we let our lives run parallel, but we never let them intersect. The only time she shows any emotion towards me is when the look on my face resembles his too much. Then, I am showered with emotion; I am showered with hate. She treats me like a well, a well she pours all her anger for him down, lugging it in buckets, day after day, and flooding me with it. Needless to say, I am drowning.

When I am crying, I like to take a bath and try to drown myself in the bathtub. I sink down and slowly let the water rush over my entire face, letting my tears diminish into the bath water and the lack of air constrict me from screaming. I do ridiculous things, for more than just my eye color has changed over the years; my parents and their lack of love, not to mention lack of parenting, have transformed me into an irrational, selfish, and attention-seeking being. The build-up of overlook over the years has turned me into someone who has a strong desire to drown herself in a bathtub or shave off all of her ratty hair, even if just to make a statement.

We cannot choose our parents, but we can choose who we become, to an extent at least. I have my mother’s hair. That is why I am always changing its color and style: I am trying to resemble anyone but her. If you look at pictures of the two of us from when we were younger, we look like we were the same child. The only difference between them is the faded color and frayed edges of her old photographs and the crisp pigment and straight sides of mine. It horrifies me to think that one day I will become her. The feeling I get when the thought enters my mind is the same as whipping around a curvy road in the dark of the night and almost colliding head on with a truck. In that moment, your body petrifies to stone and the thoughts in your head freeze to the point that you are almost incapable of jerking the wheel fast enough to avoid disaster. I have now come to that point in my life, to the point that I am so paralyzed with terror that I cannot get away fast enough, cannot get away fast enough to avoid becoming my mother.


One day my photographs will be torn and frayed. My image will have faded into the background, my smile will have lost its purpose, and my face will be almost unrecognizable. I am not sure who I will turn out to be: maybe my mother, a glamorous Hollywood icon, or even a bum on the side of the street begging for pennies. I pass a bum in the city every Thursday as I make my way to my dance studio. He has a piece of cardboard he holds with words written on it in marker: “I have AIDs and am hungry, please help.” Every Thursday I smile and give him a dollar, wondering how in the world he got to this place. He is a young man, slightly attractive even, and most definitely not your stereotypical bum; I wonder where he was in life before he fell to this place. I was born with black hair and blue eyes, and somehow they changed color all on their own. Every night I pray to the God that I do not really believe in; I pray that my irrational, selfish, and attention-thriving state of mind will somehow change color all on its own, just like my hair and my eyes. I know I have a problem, and I can identify its source. My parents made me this way. But now that I have grown, it is my turn to shape myself. Their mistakes will always be a part of me, but I am done using their mistakes as excuses for my mistakes. From this day forward, I am my own daughter. I will not become them. I will become myself. This is just my beginning. And beginnings are no judge of character. Before I enjoyed reading, I would not read the books I was assigned for school. I would read the first chapter or so, and make educated guesses on the test based on the primary information I had read. I always failed.





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