Every Day Feels The Same, but So Much Changes In a Year
My sixteenth year on the planet consisted of school, laughs, parties, and my father’s shadow looming over my back. In the beginning it wasn’t even about me; it was small. It was like a snowflake, falling from the sky, it was completely harmless; however as the snowflake lands, more continues to fall, drowning out that one little snowflake, creating a massive mound of snow.
It starts like this: my mother heaving and crying and shouting after an argument with my dad. She tries to remain calm and keep her face hard and stern, but as soon as dad stormes out, her face breaks like porcelain. Her face red and blotchy with tears; her chest rising and falling with heavy deep breaths as sobs rake through her body. Her body small and shriveled but full of despair, clutcheing her chest, wrapping her arms around herself; like she’s afraid her heart would beat out of her mouth as if she was to throw up.
But she always does that. Whenever she is sad or upset, she touches her chest, like the heart beneath it physically hurt. It hurts me to see her like this. I feel it in my throat; all of the emotions resting there, ready to burst my lips open in a scream. The anger numbs the tips of my fingers, like little bursts of electricity.
It’s a scary thing, to see and hear two people you know that love each other, fight they way they do. My whole life my parents were like the picture that comes with the frame, but now, well, now is different.
The door slams shut, and from my room I can hear my mom’s sniffles; I wonder if I should give my mom time to sort herself out before I go in. It’s awkward at times when I barge in when the knives have just been stabbed into her skin, she can’t speak; she’s crying too hard. An ugly heart wrenching sob. My phone vibrates and I read the screen, a text from Kait asking if she can copy the HBS homework. I send a quick reply that I haven’t done it yet but I will do it at some time in the next two days. I check the time, and decide to go into the eye of the storm.
She’s laying on her bed, chest rising and falling softly. She’s asleep. A lump the size of a what feels like a small orange forms in my throat, no matter how many times I see her in such a state, it leaves me breathless. Like someone has knocked the wind out of me. Tear streaks mark her face like scars, and her eveybrows are knitted together in what seems like a permanent scowl. My mom was always so happy and warm, but the years of arguing, frowning, yelling, and working have made wrinkles appear on her face, not disturbing the beauty that she has to offer. My heart breaks for her and her good nature, but my mind schemes ways to hurt him the way he does her. My hands burning with aching need, but instead I climb on the bed and lay next to mom. I drape the fluffy purple blanket over her sleeping body, Finish your homework, Jessa.
My heart doesn’t find the strength to move.
I wake up next to an empty bed, my mom probably left to the hospital; where she works. The room is stuffy and too warm, it’s driving me to the brink of desperation; everything is too much right now.
I need to clear my head and think about what I’m going to do.
Who can I talk to? Who’s willing to listen? Is this any of my business to begin with?
The questions keep forming, but the only thing I can think of doing is to take a shower. The water pelts my back, helping to soothe my tense muscles and wash off the sense of helplessness. I squirt shampoo and massage it onto my scalp, the fragrant smell filling the bathroom. Lavender with a slight reminisce of vanilla. I scrub the body wash on my skin with a loofah and finish the rest of my shower not much longer. I brush my teeth, walk into the kitchen and grab some dry cereal to eat. Something around the house feels off.
How am I ever going to make this okay? You can’t , my brain responds.
The sound of the clock’s tick tock tick tock is pushing the minutes by. In my room, I look through my closet, deciding that Sundays are made for messy hair, too big t-shirts, and turtle pajama shorts.The too big t-shirt is actually my dad’s shirt, I took it from him two years ago and haven’t bothered to give it back; the sleeves are too long and the hem reaches mid thigh area.
I sit cross legged on my bed, trying to focus on the homework in front of me, but my mind is clouded and my finger tips feel numb again.
I start to sing, a little habit I have picked up from my mom; since I was little. She always sang songs in Spanish, something I wish I could do more efficiently. My mind relives the endless memories of us three, most of them at the beach, we used to near the ocean; not the type that you can swim in, but still. If we drove far enough we could find a sandy beach where I spent most of my weekends at.
If I was not myself, and you were someone else , my voice bounced of the quiet walls.
I’d say so much to you,
And I would tell the truth,
‘Cause I can hardly breathe
When your hands let go of me, I swing my legs on the side of my bed, deciding more food is exactly what I need.
The ice is thinning out
And my feet brace themselves…
As I near the kitchen, the sound of a glass’ clinking becomes loud. Anxiety trickles my up my spine, I continue forward. It’s my dad. He’s sitting on a chair, his back facing me, and all the words I have been practicing float away in a cloud of bubbles. I stand there, every muscle in my body stiff and my heart hammering against my chest. I feel like throwing up, my throat dry, I can’t talk to him in this state. Before I can turn away, he speaks.
“Your grades came in the mail today,” his voice is deep, and the prominent sound of drunken haze worries me; my head spins.
“You have a C in Calculus, care to explain?”
“I do?” I know exactly why I have a C, but I have absolutely no desire to talk about that with him. He quickly got up, the chair screeching backwards and crashing against the floor. He turns around and he holds the paper out to me. I hesitantly take the paper from him, and look, I have 3 A’s and 2 B’s and that one C. The air in the room feels thick, the smell of alcohol assaulting my nostrils, burning on the inside with it’s powerful stench. “Sorry dad, I didn’t realize I had one.” I mutter a quick apology, not really caring about my grades. I should talk about mom now. However there is a sound of glass shattering on the floor, and all the air in my lungs vanish.
“ ‘Sorry dad’, that’s all you have to say?” his voice booms in the quiet house, over my heartbeat.
“It’s just a C, dad you’re overreacting!” I stare at him wide eyed. I feel the sting before I see it. I clutch my cheek, immediately regretting it, my skin prickling at the sensation. I slowly try to back away, as I turn he grabs the back of my neck, keeping me still; pain erupting from his grip.
“It’s just a C, right?” he begins, breath fanning on my face, “Your grades define you Jessica, You might think of it as ‘just a C’, but colleges don’t. This is part of a permanent record.” I want to explain to him that these grades aren’t permanent, that they are just progress reports. School only began weeks ago, but I can’t find any will to argue; too scared to do anything, the fear tickles my ribs. He continues, his grip on me tightening “Do you want to know what your mother and I argue about the most?” he laughs, humorlessly, “We fight about you; you are where my problems begin and where they end. I’ve put up with this for so long now, you running to your mother when you do something wrong, I’ve had it. I mean it.” he pushes me away, and I lose my footing, falling on the floor; cutting my palm on a shard of glass.
“Mess up again, and I leave you and I’ll make sure you never see me again.” He steps past me. My instinct is to pull the shard out, and blood oozes out in red droplets, stinging. The door slams shut. I run to the fauscet, and let the water wash away the blood on my hand, I try to stop the blood flow to the wound. I press my index and middle finger against it in an attempt while I track ban-aids.
My mom is a nurse but there’s not one band-aid in the house, fantastic. I find a roll of medical tape in the bathroom and cut out a little strip. I look into the mirror, a red mark on my cheek looks back, not quite hand shaped, my neck feels sore and I’m sure it’s on it’s way to bruising. I run into my room, looking for my phone; when I find it I press the phone icon, my thumb hovers over my mom’s number.
My mom is in love with my dad, she wouldn’t react the way she did after every fight if she wasn’t. I can’t be the one to ruin her marriage. She loves him so much, I can see it in her eyes, they’re always full of admiration and fond when she looks at him. She goes out of her way to get him to notice her, wearing the perfume he likes when they go out, wearing her rings proudly everyday, even if they are arguing. I can’t be the one to take that away from her. My body feels numb and full of lead.
I push the power button, and lay on the bed. My cheek is burning, I need to put ice on it; but not a single fiber in my being wants to move. They all scream at me to lie down and let the bed consume me, to swallow me whole and leave no trace of me behind. I can’t let mom know about this, if I tell her, she’ll fight with dad again, and then he’ll leave…
I remember the shards on the floor, and the bottle of whiskey, and the trail of blood; I need to pick everything up, and make the room spotless. My body’s adrenaline feels low, my entire body feels deprived of anything good; but I pick myself up. Everything is okay.
Until I start crying five steps away from the kitchen doorway, collapsing on my knees. I can’t go into the kitchen. My loud sobs are the only thing you can hear in the quiet house, the ghosts of the earlier events repeating over and over again in my head. That’s all I do for the next hour, two hours, three ours. I feel trapped, and lonely.
I find whatever will is left inside my body, to clean the kitchen. I cook a quick dinner for mom, baked salmon with salad. I head back to my room to finish the homework I can.
The house doesn’t feel the same it did ever since.