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"Merry" Christmas

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My breathing became sharp as I quickly dropped my phone and sped off, my pace fast. I backed away from the table as if it were poison, my sun tanned legs wobbling. I gasped, shocked. Disbelief, then anger, then pain raged through me as I raked my fingers through my tangled hair and faced the ceiling. I closed my eyes and tried to unread everything, although the words were seared into my brain. It hurt more than the biking accident I suffered from last summer. It was the kind of pain I had only heard of and never known. My hands shook as I repeatedly combed my hair until I found it smooth.

No. No, no, no. There was no way that what I had read was real.

I raced back to the kitchen and turned my phone on. After a few taps and a moment of skimming, realization finally struck me like a burning slap across my exposed cheek, and I proceeded to immediately delete the text.

It hurt too much to simply know it was there.

The worn tape that had held me together crumbled and fell away as I sank down into the gaping hole opening below me. I slipped into my own world of despair as I shoved my tears down further, the wounds pounding deeper with each passing moment.

Nobody deserved my tears. They belonged to me, and I refused to waste them.

I took deep breaths and tried to control my racing thoughts. Frantic ideas scrambled through me as I tried to pretend that everything was fine. Confusion consumed me, although I should have seen it coming; I was only getting what I signed up for.

I slunk back into my room and closed the doors. I clutched my phone like it was my lifeline; what I had left of my fondest memories. The wind ceased to blow through the open window, and the darkness crept in beneath me and swept me away.

I plunged into a deep sleep, letting the black seep in through the corners.


"Wow, you slept late!" my sister called as she entered my room. "Merry Christmas! Do you want to go to the pool with me?"

I sat up, wondering why I had let myself doze off when our beach vacation was awaiting. Suddenly, the recollection of the morning's events hurtled itself back at me, and I sunk back into the deep depression I had emerged from.

I pulled on a smile, and forced myself to speak calmly. I tried to push the pain from my eyes, and I hid behind what I allowed her to see. I felt hollow and fake, but there was no way I was ready to tell her what had happened when my emotions were as unstable as they were.

"Sure," I squeaked. "Merry Christmas."

I numbly squeezed into a swimsuit and followed her, unaware of the world around me. I looked past the shining sun and gentle breeze and simply took one step after another. I focused on breathing. On only what was in front of me.

I collapsed on the beach, utterly alone. I didn't hear the tropical birds, or the rolling ocean waves. I couldn't find the clouds shaped like flowers or sea shells tucked away in the sand. The small sand crabs shuffled past me, unnoticed. I simply laid across the sand, submerged under the hurt. All I could do was pretend I was as okay as always.

Merry Christmas, alright.

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