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General

My life spiraled out of control because I waited…

…for those words that every kid deserves to hear from the ones that brought them into this world. I often asked myself, why can’t she see me?

Once in drama class, the teacher posed the question: If you could have one unusual ability, what would it be? One girl said to make herself invisible.

I already knew what that was like.

From a young age, my bones harbored the writing bug, starting with my first journal, then short stories, and even poetry, that by the time I transitioned to high school, I knew this was what I wanted to do. I dared to ask my mother to read some of it, but she never did. Never had the time.

She didn’t make the time.

As part of our dinner routine, my parents would ask my sisters and me about our day. Since Melanie followed my mother’s footsteps into law, she often talked about happenings at school, which sent my mother back in time to her law school days. As I listened quietly to a dialogue that I could never be a part of, every once in a while, I glanced at my mother. The golden stars in her eyes could illuminate a room. When those stars appeared, my utensils went from a tinker to a sharp clang in contact with my plate, startling them both.  As for my younger sister Tina, she always had a multitude of stories to tell from her activity-filled school life, which included seats on committees, student helper, and this year, snagging the title of class Vice-President no less, transforming her into Miss Popular. I wonder how she had time to even blink!

One evening, much to everyone’s surprise, I finally had something to add, which I knew for sure would make my mother happy, since she was always after me to join some school thing. My news of being asked to write for the school paper elicited a “that’s wonderful dear,” from my father while waiting in wild anticipation for some response from my mother. Her quiet, controlled demeanor as she carefully halved her potato, told me her mind needed time to process this, like the way she meticulously raked over points for an upcoming case.

The minutes went by snail-like, so much so that I thought that maybe she didn’t hear me. When she finally spoke, in a frosty tone she asked, “Is there anything else you might consider?”

I stiffened at what she really meant: Can you find something better to do?

I admitted that nothing else appealed to me, and that was it. She moved on.

I wasn’t surprised; her indifference to my writing reinforced her disapproval of my intended career. I could accept this.

What I couldn’t accept was the sting of her words crashing into my ear, that very evening, as I approached my parent’s bedroom door to say good night.

“I keep telling her to think of her future. Think of a real profession. This writing will never take her anywhere…”

The door immediately became an enormous icy wall and I backed away, my frozen insides trailing after me as I picked up speed. The wrong words sliced into the deepest core of my heart worsening the verbal bruises from earlier this evening. My life spiraled out of control.

Arguments with my sisters over petty nonsense things became a regular occurrence. In classes, I heard my teachers but stopped listening. Soon Cs and Ds schemed together to shove the usual As from my assignments. Dane, the school newspaper editor, chastised me for producing sloppy reporting lately.

My best friend Trish severed our friendship, but could I blame her? I didn’t recognize me either. The real me had become invisible. A new group of friends consisting of the outcasts - kids who lived for the moment and loved to party, welcomed me, although hesitantly when I first came around. My first cigarette initiated me in. Now, I went to school when I felt like it. If I deeply disappointed my mother before, I must have completely disgusted her now. What did it matter anyway? Hadn’t I waited long enough to hear those special words? The words that my sisters heard over and over again?

I stopped writing altogether. I needed a new high.

At the next party my group invited me to, they introduced me to many liquid friends of varying personalities from sweet to bitter, with the potential hint of danger if I should welcome too many at the same time. I didn’t mind the danger. Later, the world went dark.

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My head ached as I lay in this unfamiliar bed, unable to open my eyes, I could hear soft talking punctuated by sobs. At my side, the tortured voice apologized repeatedly, while something softly caressed my hand like a silky feather before tracing around and through my fingers.

“My poor fragile baby,” my mother managed to say. “I want you to know that I read the two poems you had given me. Do you remember? They were so sweet and so beautiful, especially the one called ‘Mom.’ I am so sorry that I took so long to read your words.”

My mother showing such raw emotion was foreign to me. Her armor had come down. Tears built up under my own eyes preparing to escape.

“There is something else,” she said quietly. “Tina told me that you had won a poetry contest at school and that they even displayed it in the foyer.” She blew her nose. “You never told me! Why didn’t you tell me?

I wanted to…

“I went down to the school to read it. It was called-”  Her breaking voice blurred the word ‘INVISIBLE.’ “It was amazing, deeply emotional. It sounded so…real.” Her hand tenderly touched my face. “I realize now that I wasn’t always there when you needed me,” she whispered, still sniffling, “but I promise things will be different.”

Are you starting to ‘see’ me now?

“You are truly talented Sarah.” She gently lifted my hand placing it into hers.

“I am so proud of you.”

The tears that threatened to present itself now raced down my cheek, and I squeezed my mother’s hand.

They were the six most beautiful words that emerged at last.

July 10, 2020 13:43

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29 comments

Kevin Vouglas
21:25 May 08, 2021

You had me from the start with this one. It hit a note with my life. I Definetly felt your pain and you brought me to tears for the ending. My life didn't have the ending we all want yet but your story gave me hope. Kudos, looking forward to the rest.

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Velma Darnell
11:28 Aug 11, 2020

This is a well-developed and emotional story, which is also very relatable. I loved how you have described everything; I could easily imagine myself sitting at the dinner table. Keep writing :) p.s. I would appreciate if you could read my story when you aren't busy, thank you!

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15:36 Aug 14, 2020

Hi Velma :-) Thank you so much for reading my story and for your lovely and encouraging comments! 😀🥰 I would be happy to read your story. I will read it very soon!

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Lynn Penny
19:15 Aug 09, 2020

This was incredible! YOu were able to perfectly develop a complex relationship between the child and mother and demonstrate the effects judgemental parenting had on a child's confidence and development. Perfect to the last sentence.

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13:42 Aug 12, 2020

Hi Lynn! Thank you so much for reading my stories.I really appreciate it, and for your wonderful comment; this encourages me to carry on with writing🌼 😀 Thanks for the 'follow' as well!

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Jonathan Blaauw
15:27 Aug 08, 2020

Wow, this is such a powerful story! I think so many people can relate because even if you haven't been constantly neglected or overlooked, everyone has experienced feeling inadequate, insignificant or invisible at one time or another. These are the kind of overreaching themes that can make great stories, and yours certainly is that. My logical minded mind did have some questions - like why did the mother take so long to come around and realise what she was doing to her child? But, you had limited words available and the focus here was the...

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13:37 Aug 12, 2020

Hi Jonathan! Thank you so much for reading my story and for your feedback :-) Much appreciated! No worries about replying later - that is okay, I understand. Sometimes I take a while too, ha ha. I know I could tweek here and there, but that is why I welcome feedback. I definitely could learn from other writers. Hey, also thanks for the 'follow' :-)

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Conan Helsley
03:51 Aug 01, 2020

I have to say, this story hits very close. I'm a middle child, my elder brother always had everything because he was older, and my younger because he was the baby. I was honor role every year, I was one of the newscasters on our elementary school news program, I excelled at everything I ever tried, but no matter how many A grades I made, no matter how great I was, my father took no notice. He never said he was proud or encouraged me. My relationship with him was plagued by belittling and abuse, physical and mental. He neglected me in most as...

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23:46 Aug 04, 2020

Hi Conan :-) Thank you so much for responding! Sorry I took a few days to get back; I was working away trying to get my assignment done for a class I am taking towards social work. Finally finished today! Thank you for sharing your deeply personal story. I really appreciate it. You sound very intelligent and it was too bad that your dad did not notice your talents. It must have been a painful time, but it sounds like you came out a strong person, and I wish you well :-) Hopefully, your dad will get some help to work through his issues...

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Conan Helsley
01:39 Aug 05, 2020

Thank you for responding, and no worries on how long it takes, we all have lives. I'm in a pretty fortunate situation right now, in which I don't have to work and can simply write. I've been on the other end of this though, working 10-12 hours daily and even the weekend sometimes. Time gets away, so I appreciate any time you do take. My childhood was pretty rough, and I made some really terrible decisions because of it. My experiences as a child gave me the strength to get through 11 years in prison, and 5 of those years were spent in soli...

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M. Michielsen
10:38 Jul 21, 2020

You're in my critique circle, sorry for taking a while to reply. I wanted to do your piece justice. Lovely story. You captured a universal feeling. So many people--writers and non-writers--have experienced something like this, the idea that what they love and are good at is not good enough for their parents. It's cathartic that in this story the main character gets the thing that often isn't given in real life: approval. I love the line where "she carefully halved her potato." With few words, you've created a vivid picture. I feel ...

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20:52 Jul 22, 2020

Hello M. Michielsen! No worries at all about taking a while! I would like to thank you very much for taking the time to read my story, and that you liked it 😃 Thank you for also taking the time for the in-depth feedback. I needed that and welcome it because that is what makes writers better! It is true, the run-on's are something I need to pay attention to; when I went back to re-read some of the sentences, I was thinking how I could make them shorter or less wordy, but sometimes it's hard to edit your own work. Yes, most definitely...

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M. Michielsen
21:10 Jul 22, 2020

Glad you're happy with the feedback! I enjoy analysing other people's stories, it helps to improve my own writing. Like you said, it's hard to edit your own work. Looking at someone else's words helps me get perspective and see where I have gone wrong myself. I'm going on a trip this weekend, but I'll start on the copyedit when I get back. I should have it up somewhere midway next week.

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14:58 Jul 23, 2020

Thank you so much M. and enjoy your trip!😀

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M. Michielsen
21:11 Jul 28, 2020

Here is the link to the Google Doc: https://docs.google.com/document/d/18wL5RXnwQNWfdjIcKU2BaeUws6hlHrUNRuGoAXSl_Gg/edit?usp=sharing If it doesn't work for you, let me know. I'm not so experienced with Google Docs yet :P I used the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) as my guideline. It is one of the most commonly used style guides (in case you are unfamiliar, a style guide is what an editor references while editing a document. It contains various rules about punctuation, spelling, grammar, syntax, word choice, and anything else that might ...

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13:58 Jul 29, 2020

Hello M. :-) How are you? and how was your trip? Thank you so much for editing and sending the link, but unfortunately, I could not open it. When I clicked, I received an automatic message saying denied access, need permission. I'm not proficient with Google Docs either. I worked in it about twice for a group school project, but all I had to do was just add my part in, so I don't know the technicalities of it. There is a tutorial on it, so i'll check it out sometime. Hopefully, we can work something out with it :-) Thanks again!

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Jan H
02:16 Jul 21, 2020

This was such a moving story. It touched on emotions that were so real. Constantly looking for affirmation from someone you love that never thought you were good enough is understandable.

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08:50 Jul 18, 2020

I really liked the emotions described, the opening, the character... It was all so relatable! Every one knows what being invisible feels like, so it is a nice theme to explore.

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18:43 Jul 18, 2020

Thank you so much for reading Victoire, I really appreciate it! 😃 I am happy you liked it. I will read one of your stories as well!

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Roshna Rusiniya
17:09 Jul 10, 2020

Beautiful story with lots of raw emotions in it. I loved it! I also wrote a story about being invisible, for last week’s prompt. Feeling invisible is real. I have experienced it sometimes too. Good job Elizabeth!

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01:59 Jul 12, 2020

Hi Roshna! Nice to hear from you :-) Thank you so much for reading my latest story, and I am happy you really enjoyed it! Ah, so we were thinking along the same lines, this idea of feeling invisible. The idea just came to me and I thought I will explore this topic. Actually, I know what that is like as well, but I experienced this feeling at my last job. I'm so glad to not be working there anymore😁 I will read more of your stories too!🤩

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Roshna Rusiniya
02:59 Jul 14, 2020

You are welcome Elizabeth :) Would you have a look at my latest one when you get time? Thanks!

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01:04 Jul 15, 2020

Hi Roshna :-) For sure, in fact very shortly😄!

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