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A Tale of Two Hands This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

These hands, they speak of death. These hands, they curl with longing for freedom from oppression. These hands, they are shackled in front of a golden moon. And these hands, they grasp the air above a sea if purple, a futile attempt to hold on to the world above.


My hands are tied as well, and I am drowning, drowning in a sea of despair and endless emotion. Oh, on the outside one might never see the depressed soul that lives inside of me. I am an actress. I am a con artist. I walk with a spring in my step and wear a smile that shows everyone how happy I am, how great life is. But that is not so. It is as though my heart has been removed from my celestial body, and in its place there lies a black hole, a gaping hole in my chest.


I lead a charmed life, far better off than many others, yet I still bear the weight of an imminent death. Someone once explained it to me in technical terms. What I, and everyone else in my household, am feeling could be classified as pre-mortem grief: the sorrow of feeling one is gone before he or she actually is. There may not be a better description for the gloomy cloud that perpetually resides over my house. My grandmother is dying, we all know it. And yet, some of us hold on, grasping ever-strongly to the belief that she will get better. That, perhaps, tomorrow she might walk again. And the next day she might come home. I have grown so tired of this denial, of this self-delusion. As insensitive as it appears, I have accepted that she is not going to get better, and her condition will not improve, and that everyone ought to make the most out of the time she has left here in our physical world.


I am not a religious person. I couldn’t say that I was an atheist, but to say I believed in God or some greater figure entirely would be a lie. I guess one might consider me to be agnostic. This is why it kills me every time my family sits down to a meal and my younger brother, an eight-year-old who has only ever been to church on an Easter morning many years ago, tells us all that we must pray. We must pray for our grandma so that she might get better. But I don’t always pray. I don’t know who to pray to or what to ask for. And I hate myself for it. I hate myself for already accepting her death. I hate myself for growing angry while everyone else remains in denial of this fact.


And so I play the perfect little actress. I put on a smile and laugh with my friends, I skip when I please and wear bright colors. I do what I must because my hands are tied. I hate being sad. I hate frowning. I even hate to cry, so these bottled up feelings of grief remain inside me, eating away at my inner joy to a point that it becomes almost non-existent. Someday I’ll be truly happy again, and my consistent optimism will return. Of this I am sure. I am more worried for my family, for my mother who bears the weight of caring for my grandparents who lack the memory to care for themselves, for my father who often faces the wrath of my mother’s pent-up stress, for my sister who also is a target of my mother’s grief, and for my brother, who’s wisdom is far beyond his years. I hope that someday, when we all go out together, it is not to a hospital but a restaurant. And someday, I hope that I will hear my mom laugh again. I know that’s impossible right now, for she bears the weight of our world on her shoulders, but I hope that it ends, and everything can go back to how it was before. I suppose in the end, all of our hands are shackled, grasping the air as we drown in something we don’t fully understand.





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