I clicked the mouse on my keyboard and the screen lit up in a royal blue.
Would you like to proceed? The screen said, its snotty attitude rubbing my misfortune in my face. No, I don't want to “proceed”. I would do anything to get out of doing this. I couldn’t bear to face my family.
My breath shook as I moved the mouse away from the button. I couldn’t do this. I wasn’t strong enough.
How could I face years worth of anger about what I had done. I had caused them pain, humiliation. But, they had done the same to me. My cheeks went flush when I thought about that day. That horrible day. I had tried to erase it from my memory, but it stuck like super glue.
“Eleanor? Are you okay?”
“Hmm, what?” I said, turning around to face Cara Humbly. She kissed me, closed the door to my dorm room, and sat cross legged on the bed behind me. She picked at a woolen blanket that was crumpled in a heap on the foot of my mattress.
“You know you can talk to me about whatever right?” She said looking up at me. A strain of long blond hair that had come out of her braid fell on her lap. I shrugged and picked at my nails. “Come on,” she said, tossing a pillow to me, “you can tell me. After all, I’m your girlfriend.” She smirked.
I caught the pillow and tossed it back. “I know,” I whispered, “Just family stuff.”
“Yeah, I get it. Thanksgiving can be hard,” she said sympathetically. I crawled out of my chair, leaving the computer behind, and laid down next to her.
“I just don’t get it,” I said to myself.
“Get what?” Cara said brushing hair out of my face.
“Why does family have to be so cruel?”
“Oh, I don’t really know, to be honest. Maybe it's so they can help you learn how to deal with difficult people,” she said, looking at the Hamilton posters on my wall. I touched the scar on my arm, flinching at the memory. A tear rolled down my face.
“Ellie, you really don’t seem fine. Do you need to talk about it?” She pulled me up to a sitting position.
“Did I ever tell you about my childhood?” I blurted out, even though I already knew the answer.
“No, you are always pretty secretive about it, but that's what drew me to you. You were mysterious,” she said, raising one eyebrow in a playful way.
I met her eyes, “I should tell you, shouldn’t I.”
“I would like that,” she said, taking my hand in hers.
“Well,” I paused. I didn’t know where to begin, “you know how I never talk about my parents?”
“My dad, well, isn’t the nicest. When I was twelve,” I paused, remembering what had happened. It was painful as always. “I ran away, never looked back.”
“I had no idea,” she paused and rubbed the tears away from my cheek.
“He was always pretty angry, you know,” I hesitated, “He never did get his emotions in check. One night, I came home late, out with Toby,” Cara had heard about my middle school boyfriend. “It was 12:30. I remember it was exactly that time,” my eyebrows furrowed as I stared at the yellow and white checkered pattern on my blanket. “I walked into the living room and my parents were waiting for me. He sat there, arms crossed, on a big green sofa. He was scowling. He told me my grandmother was just here, I had missed her. I told him that I didn’t really care, she hated me anyway, and he got even angrier,” Cara squeezed my hands in a sympathetic way. By now, I was crying, mascara was probably running down my face. I wiped it away with the sleeve on my sweater. Cara tucked some of my auburn hair behind my ear.
“You don’t have to continue if you don’t want to,” she whispered.
“No, I need to,” I continued my story, not for Cara anymore, but for me, “When I was younger, I liked to play this game to see how angry I could make him. I knew I shouldn’t. I knew it might cause trouble, but at that age, I was too frustrated to care. So, I kept talking. I told him that he shouldn’t get mad and that he is, well, ‘not very nice’, to put it in the nicest terms. That didn’t go over well, as you can imagine. But this time, it was different. He ran up to me and struck me across the face. I should have stopped talking, but once you got my mouth going, you couldn’t shut it up. Much like now,” I chuckled at my weak attempt of a joke.
“I’m so sorry, I had no idea,” Cara whipped a tear from her own face. I gulped and continued talking.
“I said that I wish he wasn’t so angry all the time. I told him that I wish he wasn’t my father. At that, he threw a lamp at the wall. I never found out if he meant for the glass to hit me, I ran away too quickly. I remember running down the street, hoping someone would follow. But that’s what really got to me. Nobody came out the front door. Nobody cared enough too.” Silent tears slid down my face and Cara held me tight.
“I never came back. I haven't talked to them in seven years,” I sniffed, “Then, just yesterday, I got a text from them telling me they were having a family get together through the computer. But I can’t do it, I just can’t.”
Cara sat there in silence, not knowing what to say. I couldn't blame her. I wouldn’t know what to do either if someone had just spilled their guts to me.
“Please don’t think of me any differently,” I finally say, looking directly into her dark brown eyes.
“I could never. Your past doesn’t define who you are now,” she pulled a strand of hair from out of her eyes and tucked it into her braid.
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t want to talk to them. I don’t want to see them. But is it the right thing to do?” I took a shaky deep breath.
“Do you want me to tell you what you want to hear, or the truth?”
“Just by saying that, I already know the truth,” I groaned and pulled a pillow over my face. I flopped backwards on the bed.
“I can come if you need me to,” she said quietly.
“Yeah, it doesn’t bother me,” she pulled up a spear chair to the computer and pulled me up to my feet.
“Do I look like I’ve been crying?”
“A little, but it’s kind of cute,” she smiled, the side of her mouth curling up. I rolled my eyes, clearly amused, and sat down next to her. “You ready?” she said, grasping my hand.
“No, but let’s get this over with,” I sighed.
Would you like to proceed? I hover the mouse over the words yes and click it slowly.