I could feel it coming again. That little wave of fury. Of anger. Pure, concentrated, agonizing anger. They continued to reprimand me, but I didn’t listen. I had to concentrate on keeping myself in check. I don’t know why I hadn’t already seen this coming. I was edgy, restless, the moment I walked into the kitchen. My muscles tensed up the moment they began to speak, and my heel tapped a quick, unsteady beat as snide, condescending comments bounced off my eardrums. As they spoke, my legs and the tips of my fingers became numb. My feet ached with the urge to run. My muscles constricted as I grasped the back of the chair, holding myself firmly in place. I was getting close to the end of this cycle, I realized, as my breathing started to come to me in quiet, shallow gasps. Finally, I thought, as my hands, my whole body began to quiver. Along with it, my vision blurred. I blinked rapidly to clear my sight. Amazingly, I was happy to have this reaction. It reminded me that I wasn’t, and would never be, what they wanted me to be- a robot. A cold, unfeeling piece of handiwork, programmed to only be what they saw as perfect in their own eyes. I was grateful for my reaction beyond all human belief. I tried to pull the heat of anger to the center of my body, attempting to use the explanation of my response to calm myself. It didn’t work. Naturally. So I stood for a few more minutes, trapped in my mind, my own personal hell, waiting, saying nothing. The less I argued, I reasoned with my more stubborn side, the sooner I would be alone, the sooner I could let my pain and anger run its little course, as always, and be done. I waited it out, trying unsuccessfully to control trembling. Finally, they dismissed me. I turned without a backwards glance, walking quickly, with a purpose. For a brief moment, I considered walking straight out the front door, but, instead, I walked right by it without a second thought or a backwards glance. Because I could feel the true end coming. The slight quiver was turning into something else. A shaking. The heat dissolved into a chill, and instead of pulling it in, I attempted to push it out, trying to keep it away from my center. Protecting my heart, what was left of it. But it was no use. A waste of energy. The chill became a sharp, freezing pain. Ice enveloped my heart. The pain circled it like a ghost, I could feel it. Suddenly, it shot to every corner of my body, turning physical. My muscles ached. My head felt like it was being crushed. My stomach twisted and churned in weird ways. It stung at my eyes. Finally, I felt the wetness emerge from under my eyelids. I collapsed to the floor, trying to quiet my ragged breathing. I wouldn’t let them know how broken I was. It wasn’t like they would care. Words would fly again- the same words as always, words that held no meaning to me anymore, because they held no truth above my head. Dramatic. Unappreciative. Ungrateful. They were annoying, the words, a waste of my precious time. I wouldn’t give them the satisfaction. I went over the one-sided conversation just once in my head as the tears fell, ruining my shirt, soaking the forgotten green carpet that lay beneath me, an object that was all too used to this twisted procedure by now. It had seen this desperate process no less than once a week for the last three years. I ran my hand over the rough material, toughened from years of abuse. Briefly, I wished I could apologize to the carpet, this inanimate object. Unfeeling, unknowing… It had never been alive. Never felt any pain. Lucky… I let the last of the tears fall from my know bloodshot eyes, and waited patiently as the wetness dried from my pale cheeks. Finally. For the moment, the process was finished.