CW: Mention of drug use and swearing;
The woods have always been my safe place. Something about them had always had the innate ability to calm me, to be able to soothe my fears and anxieties. Maybe it was the quiet swish of the wind in the trees, or the fact that they stretch out and out and out, farther than you think possible. In the woods, you’re alone, with nothing but silence to greet you. And I’ve come to treasure silence more than anything else.
“Emma, go to your room,” she growls in a low, harsh voice. Dutifully, I do as I am told, clambering into the bed, pulling the covers up, burying myself in them. This is muscle memory now, and vivid memories rush back of me doing this same thing as a child, covering my ears helplessly although it did nothing to quiet the screams and crashes beyond the bedroom door. I cannot seem to stuff earbuds into my ears fast enough, turning up the volume as loud as it will go. I can still hear them, despite my attempts to drown them out.
“Just stop, Steve! I took Emma to buy some new shoes, she needed them okay? I’m not apologizing for buying something necessary for our daughter,” She scoffs.
“You know damn well that’s not what I’m talking about,” he says, an edge of pain discernable in his voice. “I’m talking about the money that disappeared from the kitchen.”
“You mean the money you hid from me!”
“Did you use it for drugs?” His voice, yelling now, booms, echoing throughout the RV. He is met with silence. “Did you?” he demands again, louder this time. “I just want the truth, for once, just tell me the truth!” And then I hear a loud shatter, probably glass, against the wall right next to my door. I need to get out of here, I need to leave right now. Panic rises in my chest, my heart hammering faster and faster. The window above my bed pushes open easily, as if it is accustomed to this by now. I jump out, my feet hitting the soft soil beneath me, and I break into a run. I run until I can no longer hear them, until my lungs and my legs are both begging me to stop, and plop down on a tree stump. My breathing is ragged, my heart will not stop pounding in my chest. Deep breaths, I remind myself. A butterfly lands next to me, gently flapping her wings up and down. She is beautiful, a monarch with vibrant, golden-orange coloring. I stretch out my hand carefully, hoping she will let me pick her up. She does, and sits on my hand for a long while, as if she knows I need comforting. And then, just as quickly as she appeared, she is gone again, flying up, disappearing into the trees.
A small brown bug scuttles across the stump, moving onto my leg. He stays still for a moment, before moving on, down my leg, into the moss, nestling himself deep inside it. For a moment, I want to crawl in with him, and hide myself away from the world for a long, long time. The green leaves of the bushes around me rustle, whispering all their secrets to me, inviting me to share mine.
And I do. Because who else can I tell?
After I feel calm enough to return, I stand, and place one foot in front of the other until I can see the RV again. The screaming has subsided, and the car is nowhere to be found. I approach the front door, gingerly pushing it open. The vase I made for them in pottery class lays in shards on the carpet. With a sigh, I start to pick them up one by one, my face suddenly wet with tears I didn’t know I had in me.
“Emma,” my father breathes. His eyes, once full of life, are now sunken into his pale face. He looks permanently sad, as though he were carved of marble, a statue forever imprisoned inside one emotion. “I’ll get that,” he offers. I shake my head, focusing my attention on gathering the pieces of something once so important to me, now to be discarded into the trash and forgotten about. “I’m sorry,” he starts, but I’ve heard the words so many times that they no longer mean anything to me.
“It’s fine.” I spit out, because I know I’m supposed to.
“No,” he sighs. “No, it’s not.”
“I know.” All the pieces now in my hands, I stand, walk over to the trash, and dump them. I cannot bring myself to look at him when I ask, “Where did she go?”
He pauses. “I’m not sure,” he finally says.
“She’s using again?” I look up. He nods.
“I told her if she was going to use again, she couldn’t stay, not with you here.” I don’t know how to feel. I wish that just once, she would choose me. That she would want to get clean for me. But I know my mother well, and I know that there is nothing she loves more than getting high. Not even me.
“I’m going back outside,” I blurt out, heading for the door before he can object. Once outside, I throw myself against a tree and sob, and I’m not even sure why. The only thing I’m sure of is that I need to go back into the woods. Wiping the tears from my face, I walk, further and further still, and I can feel the tension leaving my body with every step. The smell of the earth revitalizes me, and the fresh air fills my lungs so full they feel like they could burst. A squirrel runs past me, heading for a huge tree 30 yards away. I wonder where she’s going. Maybe she has babies up in the tree, and she’s going to feed them. Maybe she’s running away, finding a new life for herself. I hope one day, I can do the same, as long as I’m not far from a forest.
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Permanently sad, his features carved of marble. Good use of comparison. The piece once meaningful, now broken is a good metaphor for Emma's emotions also. Sad sad life of a child trapped in a family with an addict. It's presented very well.
thank you so much, i really appreciate it :)
Bravo on a first story post here from a fellow newbie! :) Well written story that was a treat to read.
thank you so much!
This was a well written gut wrenching story! Nicely done.
Thank you! :)