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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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