Stand up straight. Don't talk too much. Don't talk too little. Laugh when they laugh. Don't react until you see their reaction. And most importantly, never be yourself.
Do you know what it's like to hear this over and over again, day in and day out? From yourself? To constantly fear that people can see through the mask that you carefully paint on every morning? To do whatever it takes to prevent this from happening? I do. I am sixteen years old, and since the day I was born so much has been expected of me. I have never gotten into trouble, never been in a fight. I have never had a boyfriend, or tasted alcohol. I have never stolen, never smoked, and never cursed- well at least not out loud. I have never spoken out against anything, or disrespected my parents. I am perfect. A dream child. I get wonderful grades and I am the top dancer in my ballet class. I shudder at the thought of failing, but reassure myself that it will never happen to me. One thing I do, however, is lie. I lie to my parents so that I never get yelled at. I lie to my friends so that they will approve of me. I lie to my teachers as to not disappoint them.
As I walk into school, I worry about the day. This is not unusual for me, as I often worry. I live with constant butterflies in my stomach. I go to my first class. People swarm around me, as they often do. They ask me about my weekend. I tell them, with only a slight bit of exaggeration, and I see the envy in their eyes. I live for that look. The idea that others envy me gives me a sense of well being. It reinforces in my mind that maybe there is a reason I am envied, even though deep down I know that nobody would want to live like this. I watch as my teacher walks in. She shoots me a smile before telling the rest of the class to get in their seats. I am in my seat. Although I am the reason others are not in their seat, I am still obeying the rules and therefore things are okay. She starts her lecturing. I think about dancing, but I am sure not to let my eyes drift away from hers for even a second. She cannot know that I am not really listening.
That's when the guidance counselor walks into the door. She apologizes to Mrs. Brown for interrupting, and requests that I come with her. Me? She must have the wrong girl. I have never been called down to anyone for anything. I am settled in my ways, never causing problems. There would be no reason for her to speak with me. But I go anyway, without any questions. She puts her hand on my shoulder. Her touch makes me uncomfortable, but I am sure not to show it. It makes me feel patronized, like she pities me. And it worries
"Lisa, I have some horrible news...."
She is a nice woman, but I can't help but stare at the build up of saliva around her mouth. Wouldn't someone notice that?
"your mother was in a car accident."
There's something in my eye. I blink to try and get it out.
"I'm so sorry, but she didn't make it. They asked me to tell you."
I carefully gather my books, making sure not to drop any. My hands are trembling, but they always tremble. I slowly get up, and walk towards the door. I will simply go back to class. I will go back to class, and disregard what just happened.
"Lisa, I would like it if you said something, anything. Your father will be here shortly to get you. I am so sorry. I can't imagine what is going through your mind."
Shit. My binder ripped. The papers are falling out onto the floor. I bend down to retrieve them. As I'm kneeling on the floor, I realize something. My knees are nailed down. I cannot get up. My body weighs me down until my head is too heavy to carry up. Boom. It falls to the floor. I hope she doesn't think I'm crazy. I don't know what to do. I feel as if I have been glued to the floor. She thinks I'm passed out. I'm not. I'm just unable to move, but I'm still here. I feel like shouting, but can't open my mouth. I feel like running away, but cannot remove myself from the guidance office floor. I hear people surrounding me, and I feel ashamed. I don't want people around me right now. I am fine. Don't waste your time. I'm in here, I just need a second to be released. I feel myself being lifted off the floor, but still cannot gather the energy to speak- or even open my eyes. That's when I hear it. It is a voice that sounds somewhat like my father's. It is higher pitched, and muffled, but it is his. Wait, is he- crying? My father, the strongest person I know- crying? I don't want to do this to him. I try with all my might to open my eyes, to move, but still I am unable. What has come over me? What is happening? I feel myself being laid down on a bed. Hopefully it is my own. People are gone. I beleive it is only my father and I left.
I feel a prick on my finger. I feel plastic being put into my nose. I feel a clamp on my other finger, and the tight hug of a cuff around my arm. I'm not home. I'm in a hospital. I feel the touch of my fathers hand on my forehead. Drip. Drip. Warm tears are falling from his face, onto mine. I wish that I could hug him. I wish I could tell him I love him. But I can't even open my eyes.