The stars glitter above me as I lie under a tree, its canopy of leaves shrouding parts of the sky. I sigh to myself, clueless about what to do next. Another night alone.
The park is void of people, albeit it’s still pretty early into the night. The water on the lake shimmers like the stars, reflecting a circular silhouette of a pretty blue moon. Only the distant hoots of faraway owls and frequent buzzing of nearby mosquitoes are my companions for the night.
I slump against the hard bark of the tree, looking at my back every so often if ants or any other insect decide to crawl on me. I use my backpack as a pillow, the failed test papers still inside. A soft gust of a freezing autumn breeze crashes against my face. I’m forced to hug myself to fight against possible hypothermia. My eyes drift not too far away to the suit of luggage with all of my belongings. My clothes, laptop, cosmetics. I choke back a sob, trying so hard to keep the damn holding back an ocean of emotions from breaking.
But I can’t stop it from leaking.
My mind flies to the painful memory even though I don’t want it to. It was only yesterday.
I was coming home from a rough day at school, the multiple test papers marked with a giant red “F” weighing like a ton of bricks inside my backpack. My parents will not be happy.
My parents were like any other kind that would enroll their child in a school like mine. They were all things happy, financially stable, hardworking, and most of all Christian. They already know about my steadily flunking grades. But they keep encouraging me to keep trying, saying that my grades don’t define me as a person. And I believed them. I tried harder, studied harder, worked harder. Mostly because I didn’t want to disappoint them, especially my mother. She works extra hard, juggling between two jobs and night shifts. But it didn’t work. My grades kept their steady descent. Maybe it’s because I was distracted… by her.
It’s because I would see her face every morning and every time I saw her, it would light a fire inside my heart. Her big eyes, natural pink blush, perfect smile, and smooth, wavy black hair. My heart would just melt, putting a kaleidoscope of butterflies in my stomach. My eyes were always on her during every class. History, Math, English, Music, Science, you name it. And how she would always raise her hand and get the answer right only fuels my massive crush on her. I couldn’t wrench my eyes off her even if you gave me a pair of blindfolds. But I doubt that she would notice me. With the way the seats are assigned, she would always be in the front because of her first name, Amelia. And I would always sit on the last row, too far from the board to see the teachers’ incredibly small penmanship. I wonder if she liked girls like I do. No, that’s impossible. But what if she did? What if I told her how I felt? No! Stop thinking about it. Besides, this is a Christian school. They would never allow that.
They would never allow me if they knew who I was…
Who I am.
So I keep my deepest, darkest secret to myself, locked in a box in the deepest parts of my mind. My black school shoes drag along the paved stone as I round the corner to enter my home street. I spot my house a few lots down, standing out with an illegal amount of plants and flowers spread across the front lawn.
My home is a simple two-storied home, similar to the rest of the houses on the block. I walk the stairs leading to the patio and reach for the round door handle. But before I could land my hand on it, the door swung open, my two parents standing firmly on the other side. My father has his arms crossed, while my mother looks distraught for some reason. My brain immediately enters into a state of overdrive panic mode. I resist every bone in my body that tells me to run. It takes all of my mental strength not to. I think they got a call about my test papers. This cannot end well. Still, I try to act like a clueless cat.
“What’s going on?” I ask as I squeeze in between the gap of my parents to enter the living room. I make my way towards the kitchen and stick my head inside the fridge for a snack.
“Olivia, darling.” My mother does all the talking, her voice soft and sweet like a caring mother to her newborn baby. “We know that you’ve been struggling at school lately.”
I close the fridge door, a Tupperware of strawberries in hand. I plop one in my mouth, the sweetness overpowering. “Yeah, and I am trying. I promise you, Mom.”
“But we need to set a couple of things straight, my dear,” she says.
“Okay, about what?”
“There is no easy way to ask this, honey. But are you or are you not straight?”
I feel my stomach drop like I’m freefalling from ten thousand feet. My brain goes haywire. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. Oh my gosh. How do they know? We were so tight to keep this from everyone. Especially from our strictly Christian parents! Were we too obvious? How long have they known? What are they going to do?
My silence is an answer enough.
My father sighs. “I told you, sweetheart. Our daughter is not what she seems.”
I’ll never forget the sight of utter disappointment in my mother’s eyes. Like she has failed at her job of being a parent.
Or maybe I’ve failed her. I’ve failed them both.
I’m a failure.
“Mom… Mom. Mom,” I repeat, but my words fall on deaf ears. My mother takes a seat on the kitchen stool.
“Mom! Listen. If you would please listen to me, I can explain it all. I can explain it if you would just listen to m—”
But before I can finish, I see my father leaving my room, an already packed suitcase in his hand. It’s not meant for him.
I grab my mother's arms and try to shake her out of it. I search her eyes for her love for me. I found none. “Mom, mom, mom. Please, I can explain. Please. Mommy!”
“Don’t call me mommy,” my mother says sharply. “You are not my Olivia anymore.”
The words feel like a knife being dug through my chest.
“Only come back when my daughter is back.”
I’m about to be sick.
I bolt out of the house, one hand glued to the suitcase handle and the other wiping away the waterfall off my face. My tears fall on the hard concrete. I leave my home, running as far away as I can. I finally stop when I reach the park, breathless and homeless. Forced to rely on the kindness and hospitality of absolute strangers, because I have no other choice.
My tears feel cold on my face, drying as fast as they drizzle down the valley of my cheek. I don’t wipe them. I just let them fall, the grass below me bathing in my sorrow.
I feel the most alone that I’ve ever felt.
The tears don’t stop, and I pour all of my anguish late into the night of an abandoned park.
I am abandoned.