Drama Sad

At eighteen, I leave. I stand on the doorstep, bag slung over my shoulder, prideful, broken and hungry for more. I don’t just burn bridges, I explode them with a cacophony of accusations. Every secret that’s ever laid inside me is screamed out. You spit at me and tell me never to come back.

So I never do.

At seventeen, I realise you’re no monster. It would be easier if you were a monster. But I find you weeping over shattered plates and shattered memories and I can’t keep clinging on to my delusions. You are as human as I, and that’s exactly the problem. Humanity thrums through you. It’s what’s made you so cruel.

It doesn’t make it right, though. It doesn’t stop me from squirrelling away my money for when I leave. It just makes me even more miserable.

At sixteen, we settle into an uneasy detente. We smile and pretend for just one moment that we’re a functional family. Not just two broken individuals taking shots at each other. Each evening, I cook dinner. I copy recipes from your books, intent on making you smile. And for a while, you do. For a while, everything is so good that I wonder if I made everything up in my head.

Until the night I accidentally burn dinner. You scream at me, and tell me never to bother eating in this house again, seeing as I’m so wasteful. I go hungry that night.

In the morning, you apologise and I promise to forgive and forget. But I don’t forget.

At fifteen, I indulge in teenage rebellion. I kiss a boy that I know you’d disapprove of. Secretly I do too. He stinks of cigarette smoke and bad decisions. Afterwards, I scrub my teeth raw trying to get rid of the stench before you come home. You smell it anyways.

At fourteen, I realise that you’ll never love me unconditionally.

At thirteen, I beg you to love me no matter what.

At twelve, I am sick of being your toy. I scream and scream that I hate you, I hate you over and over again. I am lying.

At eleven, I spend more time with my friends than with you. I go over to their houses nearly every day .I feel far more comfortable there. Their parents even refer to me as their second child. They brush off as a joke, but every time they say it, my heart sings. I think, this, this, is what’ll save me.          

I come home one night, and you’ve broken my lamp. You’re so, so angry, and you accuse me of loving my friends’ parents more than you. You scream that I’m abandoning you. Eventually, you calm down after I promise you that I’ll never leave.

At ten, I hit puberty. I am no longer adorable and sweet with big chubby cheeks. Instead, I am lanky and misshapen with crooked teeth and body hair. You become less patient with me. You stop singing to me. And you ask me if I’ll ever help you clear up this fucking house because you spend all day at fucking work and you can’t be looking after a fucking pest like me.

At nine, I try and try and try. Every ounce of my energy goes into trying. I think that perfection is something anyone can reach with enough hard work.. So I spend hour after hour trying. Trying all the way up until I make myself sick.

I end up in bed, with a fever.

You bathe me and tell me that I was silly. But it was worth it, just to feel the warmth of your love again.

At eight, I make a mistake. I drop down to the bottom class, flunking all of the school tests. My teacher asks if you can help me catch up with the others. She tells you that I’m a bright girl, I just need a little help.

We come home and you ask me why you have to work so hard to produce something that can’t even do anything right.

This is the first time I see your disappointment in me. 

At seven, you bring me to the zoo for my birthday. You even carry me on your back at one point, though, you grouch that you are too old and I am too heavy. We buy matching bags with Mum and Daughter written along the side. I never, ever, get rid of it.

At six, I ask you about my father. 

I never ask again.

At five, I know something is wrong but I can’t work out what it is. You don’t laugh as much as you used to. All day long, you lay in bed, wrapping yourself up in a cocoon of blankets. The only time you get up is when I reach for my plastic plate on the countertop and bring it to you, stomach grumbling. Then, and only then, do you roll out and cook food. You say sorry, and you swear things will get better.

At four, I am still cute enough to get away with most things, but fatigue has taken away your patience. Shoulders slump every time we’re out of sight. Letters in the mail, bills and bills go unanswered. Your friends come around and comfort you. I have become your personal doll, a thing to dress up and play with when you’re sad. You drag me along to dinner parties, and let everyone coo over me. I am shy, but you tell me to smile for my audience.

At three, I learn to throw tantrums. I lay on the floor, kicking my legs and kicking a fuss up. I screech until my face turns red and yours is red from embarrassment. Finally, you settle on sternly telling me off and promising me a lollipop if I stop crying.

At two, I walk all over the house and leave my mark everywhere. You scrub away crayon marks and lament at my lack of boundaries. Your smile is still warm but with the edges of exhaustion

At one, I learn to babble words at you. Every time I say something, you grin so wide, it reaches the edges of your face. I’ve not yet learnt that words carry more meaning than I think.

At zero, I am born, squealing and screeching in your ears. Love wells up in you, like starbursts in your stomach exploding. I am the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen. You promise me that you’ll never hurt me.

You believe that.

April 14, 2021 11:10

You must sign up or log in to submit a comment.