“Looks like we’re all leaving you today,” he said with a smile.
I looked up and smiled back at him. I pulled the blanket tighter around my shoulders.
“Don’t hesitate to call if you need anything, okay?”
I’m not that sick. I can take care of myself. I rolled my eyes and nodded.
His smile faltered for a second. He walked over and kissed the top of my head swiftly. Then he walked away, brushing off his sleeves.
Today is May twenty first. It’s a Saturday. I am home alone because my parents are workaholics. I am slowly dying from the inside out. But that isn’t terribly important. What is important is that I have some confessions to make, and this time they will be heard.
I waited for the garage to close. And I watched his car roll away in the reflection of the television. He didn’t pause to wave goodbye at the end of the driveway.
I stood up and wobbled a little bit. The floor sunk away and I felt pressure building against my skull. Breathe, I told myself, because sometimes I forget that’s a human function.
The house is empty. I am alone… almost.
I slowly inched towards the stairs that led to the basement. It was only a half staircase, not to difficult to jump.
“Is taking the easy way out such a crime?” a thick and creamy voice said from behind me. She had a slight lisp.
I ignored her.
“When are you going to name me? I think I deserve a name. And I really don’t want yours anymore. As much as you hate to have your limelight stolen, I am my own person, not a piece of you.”
I dug my disintegrating nails into my palms. She’s not a person. People can’t do the things she does.
“Do you want a hand getting down? You look a little stuck.” She reached out to me, to hold my arm.
I jumped before her flawless skin could make contact. Air wound around me, spinning and healing my wounds. Then I landed. My legs gave out and buckled under me. No noise came out of me, not a cry or a whimper or a whine. I lay there, basking in pain.
She walked over and stood above me. Her wide brown eyes searched uselessly through my own dull lifeless eyes. “Why won’t you let me help you?” Her voice cracked. If I didn’t know better, I would’ve thought she was on the brink of tears.
I can take care of myself, I thought. I stood up and found that ignoring the pain was easy when it was everywhere at once.
My mom used to be an artist. After my original father left her, all she would do was cry and cry. She burned all her paintings. She’s been remarried four times since then. She makes me call each man “dad” because it makes her feel less abandoned. We like to pretend they really are my dad. The truth is that no one could ever replace my dad.
Though her personal work is gone, the art room stayed. It’s the perfect hiding place for dad’s letters, each with the return address of a new base camp every two months.
The back wall was splattered with shades of green and blue paint, the left wall orange to red, and the right wall with purples and magentas. The fourth wall was a mural. It was one hundred and thirteen sea shells. Each one had the figure of a new born baby in it. One in particular shone the brightest, with silver wisps of light emanating from it. That one is supposed to be me; it’s the only one with her eyes open. Bright blue eyes, full of life and love and hope. The mural was drawn two weeks after I was born.
The floors were dark brown wood, with scratches and stains all over them. Dust covered everything from the half empty tubes of dried paint to the crumpled papers with fading ink. I picked up one and smoothed it out. On one side there were seven harsh lines with ancient drops of moisture scattered around. The other side was clean.
I combed through the mess until I found a bitten pencil with a missing eraser. I numbered one through twelve on the page, and started my confessions.
1. I hate the new kitchen.
2. “Dad” number two raped me.
3. I’ve never had an abusive boyfriend, just an ignorant mother.
4. I tried to overdose on miscellaneous medicines I found around the house three times.
5. My real father loves me more than he ever loved you.
6. When you missed my play in fifth grade, it wasn’t really okay.
7. I’m highly allergic to “dad” number four’s dogs.
8. I’m failing science as a cry for help.
9. I stopped talking because there’s no point if you aren’t going to listen.
10. I used to love your artwork.
11. If you said sorry, I would’ve forgiven you.
12. It’s too late.
Now, to make each and every word seen and heard. I grabbed any tubes of paint that I could find that still had something to live for left in them. I was still searching for a sufficient number of brushes when the girl started talking to me again.
“You were amazing in that play, with your cute little pigtails and rosy cheeks. You were the only one who remembered every line. Your teacher cried with joy at the end. I don’t know if you had seen that, but she did.”
My hands shook and I dropped the rusty remains of a brush that I had been holding. White noise started playing in my head. My head felt like a too expanded balloon, ready to explode any second. But I have to finish, I thought, just a little bit longer.
I piled the supplies I gathered and my list on top of each other. I ran up the stairs, not stopping to think about falling or dying right there.
I went to the living room, with the empty walls and clear space, it was perfect. I painted confessions two, three, and seven in that room in bright red. Then I looked down at the floor. It was so bright and happy, the light bamboo panels. In mere minutes, the words of number five sloppily shone like fresh blood.
“Think about how all your friends will feel.”
The word “friends” rang in my ears, over and over.
I couldn’t concentrate anymore. It felt like bees were slowly eating away at my brain cells. Somehow, one, four, and six were blazing across the counters and cabinets of the kitchen in a yellow-green.
I fell hard onto the tile and heard a crack as a can of paint opened and spilled around me. It tickled my toes as it flowed away. It smelled like inspiration. I felt my heart beat ebb away. Thump…thump thump…
No, I need to finish. I will not die half a failure.
I sprang uneasily to my feet and dipped the tip of a brush in the river of deserted and unloved purple. Eight, nine, and ten stuck to the fancy chairs and the silk curtains of the dining room.
All the time, the girl sat on the floor and stared at me as if I was committing a crime. The girl with black hair that barely touched her shoulders, which I fiddled with while we watched the clouds, once upon a time. The girl whose stubby fingers I had intertwined with my own as we contemplated the “why” of life, once upon a time. The girl that had left years ago, but I liked to pretend that she was still here, because it made my silence that much less lonely.
I will not cry.
I have two left.
Everything I was engulfed in leaping flames and the ground was slippery. I never had to imagine what dying felt like. This was it.
In my mother’s room, there was not one piece of out place. The carpet was white as snow. The sheets were black and modern looking. It made me sick. I tipped the can of blue so that a fine stream of gooey paint slowly poured onto the floor.
If you said sorry, I would’ve forgiven you.
I gave my mother so many chances to fix it all.
The walls screamed the words. I felt my body burning with rage and sorrow. I will not cry, not for her, not for anybody. My legs started working, pulling me away from all that I had done.
Then I was outside, looking at the rows of cream colored roof and siding. It was all so perfect. Black paint, to match the color of my insides.
It’s too late.