I hate you and it’s a good thing you’re not here; it’s Valentine’s Day and you didn’t call, not saying I was surprised, you haven't talked to me in months, but I was still hoping and, as always, you disappointed me; I tried to contact you the other day but you wouldn’t answer my phone calls because, whenever I try to be the adult, you retort to acting like a child; and I’m your daughter and I don’t understand why that’s not reason enough for you; kids at school yell that they hate their parents because they won’t let them attend a party but I wish you would just talk to me; I’m barely holding on to life and you’re not even attempting to keep a hold of me; you think I’m selfish and have it easy out here, eleven hours away, but you don’t know anything, like how I’m falling behind in school because I work long hours at my minimum wage job hoping to earn enough to support myself because I need to be independent of you; It’s now almost two in the morning and I’m doing homework because, even though you didn’t go to college, I will; but how do I explain to my teachers why I’m listless and turning in homework late and allowing my grades to falter?; should I pull out my list of excuses like the heart surgery I underwent last year which makes me tired all the time?; the surgery I almost didn’t have because you never believe me when I’m sick, because you’ve been there and you’ve done that and I’m just trying to get other people to feel sorry for me; in essence, I should just be like you; get seven tattoos; pierce everything visible; become the type of smoker that doesn’t care their children are in the car and can’t breath and ignore when they beg you to stop; defy your family so they don’t invite you to Christmas or Thanksgiving and disown you; don’t go to college and, instead, stay laid off for eight months, trying to feed your four kids off of unemployment; spend money you don’t have on booze and drink because you deserve to, because things are hard right now and sometimes you just need a break; but I don’t want to be like you; I’m not you; I won’t, I can’t, and I’ll make sure of it; but I’m already becoming you; I am you; I’m short tempered and the only language I’m fluent in is sarcasm; all I think about is DMB, Jeeps and soccer and when life gets hard, I back into a corner; even Dave told me that, ‘under the weight of life, things seem brighter on the other side’; one may assume I’d answer the question “What are you?” with I’m a Titan, a Hawaiian, a Jimmy John’s employee, the Art Club president, but none of these accurately describe what I am; you want to know what I am? I’m alone; I could have had you, but you left me behind; I could have had the rest of the family, but they’ve turned against me too; I could have had my siblings, but you’ve erased the thought of me from their young, impartial minds; I could have had love, but you taught me so well how to hate; I could have had sleep, but I can’t escape you even in my dreams; I could have had me, but even I have turned against her; I would ask how you live with yourself, but I lived with you for fourteen years and know the answer all too well; become branded to the lies and the emotional roller-coasters; ignore the yelling because fighting back will get you nowhere; give up on loving because hate requires much less effort; and pretend to the rest of the world that nothing at all is the matter because, in the end, you’re going to suffer alone anyhow; but I will never have the audacity to become angry enough to yell this to your face because even I can see the hypocrite such would require me to become; I know that I am as much to blame, but I am too weak and tired to examine both of our weaknesses, so I will focus on yours as you focus on mine, and, really, we are just evening each other out; and I know it may sound like I hate you (because most of the time I think I do), but I love you so much; can you believe that? because I sure can’t; logically, it doesn’t make since, but I’m only human and, emotionally, even after all of this, I miss you so much; I could never even begin to interpret for you how dear you are to me, how not a day goes by when I don’t yearn for you and think about you; I’m seventeen and I’m alone without a family, so of course I miss you every day and I’m sick and tired of pretending that I’m okay and that I don’t need the love of my family or that I’m strong enough to do this, to live and take care of myself, because even though I am, I wish things never would have gotten so that I actually have to do it; I live with strangers who have opened their arms and asked me to be part of their family, but it’s just not the same because they don't know that I like my hamburgers plain or that when I'm angry I don't want to talk to anyone; but I know I’m equally to blame and that I’m just as stubborn and hard headed and, even though I won’t tell you to your face, I’m old and I’m tired and I just want my family back; I miss your simple touch and crawling into your lap just because; I miss the facetious banter on oily pepperoni pizza and action movie night; I miss standing in the kitchen as a family, frying pancakes, sausage and eggs, the smell of grease watering our mouths as we scurry around, still in our pajamas on lazy Sunday mornings; I miss having someone to talk to about stupid people at school and boys and worthless celebrity drama; I miss standing in line at the grocery store and glowing when the clerk asked if I was your daughter home from college; I miss the sound of your voice so much, I almost yearn for even a fight, because at least then, I would get to see you and hear you and would be assured that I didn’t just imagine you existed; I miss the feeling of love, because my bitterness has engulfed me in hate that has become a blazing fire, out of control and in danger of ending life as we know it; I never thought the little things would mean everything to me; I wish you were here; but you will not come; you will be too stubborn to ask for forgiveness and I will be too prideful to initiate it; the rest of the family will continue to look at me like a trouble making, no good, irresponsible, wily, ungrateful little b**** and I will do nothing to change that view; instead, we will all continue living in anger and anguish; the one to apologize first will be the weakest, will be the one giving up and admitting they were wrong so the others don’t have to; and if an encounter ever does occur, the denial of fabricated lies will take place followed by futile apologies which will lose meaning within weeks; and, yes, today, I awoke at six a.m., endured seven hours of lifeless school, worked an agonizing seven hour shift at work (totaling fifty this week alone), went to bed contemplating you and struggling to mask the muffled sobs that matched dripping tears, wondering when my life took this turn, wondering how I ended up alone, and wondering if I will ever have my family back again; finally, I entered the comfort of sleep by two a.m., longing to have my mind free of pain; and tomorrow, I will awake to paste a new smile on my face and relive my hell all over again, alone.