1. A w a k e n i n g
Sunday morningawake to the constant sound of rain against my
window. The window only shows the overcast sky stretching across
the green, rolling hills. I think life would be okay if that's the
only thing the window ever showed: a gray sky full of rain and a
beautiful scene. They would never have to show people leaving or
another plain day where you never want to get out of bed.The
morning is the kind of silent that makes you wonder if you're
dreaming andif nothingaroundyou is real. It'smy favoritetime of
day.I try to relax, but I hear the muffled voices outside my
bedroom.I'm not ready for yelling or to feel like I have to clench
my jaw soI don't say anything I regret.I am sure not quite ready to
face the day, and I doubt my mother is ever ready to face me. My
bedroom door slowly creaks open. I jump at the sound like I've been
jumping at any for months.
Sophie gives me a timid, apologetic smile and closes the door behind her without the slightest noise. Shadows dance across her face as she makes her way through my disastrous room. Her dark hair is in a messy bun on top of her head. I know she has been crying, but I won't say it. Neitherwill she. SoI siton my window sill, her on my bed, and wish that life could've dealt her an easier hand.For only fourteen, she acts much older than her age. As she should for what she has been through the past couple of weeks. I never understand all the girls at school who complain about their annoying little sister. I've never once truely thought that about Sophie. Everytime I see her I can only think thatshe is so much tougher than I ever dream of being.
"Did you have the dream again?" I whisper, wanting to remain quiet enough for us to stay in here forever.
Have you ever had that feeling? I sometimes have it when I am in the car with someone I love and the top is down and the sun is warming our skin and we are too busy talking about forever to notice that forever comes too soon. I'll wish that I can stay in that car for every second of my life and for that feeling to never change. Right now it's not as positive to think this way. It's not out of love, but a survival instinct.The same feeling I get when Iwant to hide in my bed and never surface instead of going to school every morning.
Faint outlines of bruises are still slightly visible on her skin. She looks at me and just shakes her headslowly. I can see the determination in her eyes to not cry in front of me as her jaw tightens.Sometimes it isn't the actual act of not crying, but the effort put into it. It's not weak to show that you're on the brink of insanity, it's brave.She looks out the otherwindow as she vigorously swipes at her eyes. When I am with her I try my best to be strong for her, but only so she can feel like she is any normal girl. But when something so terrible has happened to her, I cannot see a normal girl anymore. I see a look of fear glazed in to her emerald eyes that used to bounce with joy over the simplest things. Even as stubborn as she is, she can't keep herself from crying. Nobody can in days like these. I walk over to her and put my arms around her, trying to make something- anything- better. She gives in and weeps, all the while trying to be quiet so our parents won't hear. An unspoken agreement.
"Sophie, I'm proud of you. You're the brave one, not me. I'm so, so sorry. You know you did everything you could," I whisper, but this just makes her cry harder. We don't speak for what seems like hours. I just sit there and hold her while my mind races and hers goes numb.
"I don't want you to leave," she finally says through her muffled tears.
The guilt hits me. For months and months I have been angry about my life, and now I was taking the easy way out.Who has it worse?I certainly don't. But Sophiehas years to get past this, she hasbarelystarted her life.Inmy mind I keep thinking, I am leaving my baby sister alone, scared. What will happen when she wakes up in the middle of her nightmare, and has nobody to talk to? What will happen when it hits her suddenly, the vivid images seared in her mind? Lately she doesn't have to be asleep to be reminded of the nightmare, of her loss. She won't go and talk to my mother. My parents are still attempting to pretend nothing ever happened. Being strong for a little girl is one thing, but I cannot justify being completely ignorant.
"Ask if you can come with me. I won't mind," I say, dipping down, trying to look her in the eye. She just shakes her head again.
"That would require them knowing you were leaving." Her voice comes out sarcastically, her tone bitter.
I just shrug, and her eyes immediately soften.
"No, I will just try to come and visit. I'll be okay," she whispers, trying to convince me. It sounds more like she's trying to convince herself.
"I'm okay, Peyton," she replies a little more sharply.
"I know you are," I say, but I cannot help but wince as I say it. "I'm being stupid, aren't I?Just say it."
We both hear the front door slam loudly, causing me to me wince again, but for all different reasons. The car engine fires up and I can't help but note relief when I hear the sound slowly fade away into the distance. Sophie touches me gently on my arm. Looking back towards her, I try to ignore the long scratch against her neck and not cry. Her skin looks so pale in this lighting.
"Peyton, you're going to have fun. I'll come up soon. I'll even write! Don't worry about me, please. I just want things to go back to normal."
"Oh like Mom and Dad?" I counter my voice acidic.
She just shrugs and tries to smile again. "I meant normal for me. I don't even know what that is. I can't decide if it's worse to pretend nothing ever happened or to not let myself move past it."
I don't know what to do when people say things like that anymore. Especially Soph. What if things were divided cooly into black and white? If it was obvious to tell if one decision was right and one was wrong. That way, if you chose falsely, it was your own fault and nobody elses. But reality is different.When you make a bad choice it can be reflected on other things, like if you were stressed at that period of time or if someone influenced you to make that choice. Reality allows people who make good decisions to have lives full of shitty situations. We sit in silence, knowing our minds are on different sides of the world.
"Be safe, okay?" And when she doesn't reply, "Okay?"
Sophie nods and we both know how we feel withoutknowing the correct string of words to say our goodbyes. She continues to sit on my bed tohelp me pack. I pile everything into two bags, leaving my room empty and looking abandoned. The closet, drawers, and bed are all empty. A few books and picture frames are the only scattered remains. The elephant in the room is thatwe bothalike are more than ready for me to leave. As much as we love eachother,Sophie needsall the attention she canget rightnow. I need to get away from it.WheneverI leave a place, I know there are thingsbeing left behind. Even people. People who careand people who do not. But that isjust what happens. I could sit here and name a hundred people, or even the few I am concernedabout. In the end it doesn't matter, though."Things change. And friends leave. And life doesn't stop for anybody."
I secretly wishI can bring my sister. My beautiful sister who is too smart for her own good and who never would want anyone to frown, not even for a moment. She always says, "Live in a beautiful oblivion." I don't know where she got the saying from, but I cannot even start to count the times it has come out of her mouth. I think the saying itself is beautiful, but I won't ever tell her.
Every situation is different for every person. Mine isn't as good as someone else, but it isn't as bad as others. I cannot stand going through every moment with this unspoken feeling of missing something. Of missing out on things. Places, people, experiences. No matter what I do the feeling remains. I lose sanity and sleep over it.
I have this reoccuring dream where I am at the airport. But I'm not the one getting on the plane. I'm just standing outside watching people board the plane. And every moment I stand there my anxiety grows because I know I am supposed to be on that plane. I know that I made some sort of mistake for not being there. But I just stand there for all of the dreams entirety, unable to move. Thesky is the ugliest orange, the signs of a dust storm.I'm always frozen in fear. And when I wake up, I always somehow know that the thing I am missing is hidden in that dream.
It's not fear that I am missing, but the ability to be able to know that I have something worth being lost over losing.
That is what I am looking for in life, things worth losing.That feeling that I get when Iknow I cannot be the same person without the ablility to have something or someone. Things that make you feel alive. I need to feel alive again.Maybe I'm ramblinginsanties, butit doesn't matter anymore. I'm half way gone. Sophie is too, butin a completely differentway. Sophie ishalf way gone in that she ishaving to experience things mostpeople cannot handle when it happens to them when they are say, twentyor eighty-two.My mother would rather rip her hair out before admitting that she is slowly being abandoned by her own two daughters.
Things happen in our lives that cause us to change course. And in the past couple months, this time for me has come; I am ready to start over. I need to. I fear I am beginning to go crazy. Everything is planned out thoughtfully as it has hardly been planned at all. Lately, I livefor others, never for myself. I have been living to fight with my mother. I have been living to be there for my best friends and boyfriend if they ever needed me. I am there for them to talk to, and there for Sophie to cry with. I am losing myself. But some days I will start to think, I don't even know who "myself" is. Going through the motions of everyday life, and I am no longer living. Summer has come, and I need to get away. Notnecessarilyto clearmy mind, but to clutter it. To fill it with beautiful people and experiences that leave you lying awake in bed until light shinesthrough your window.I am worried for Sophie, I always am, butI also know she is much better than anyone ever gives her credit for, including the credit I give her. Sophie's independence is something that has always been striking to me, her still being such a young girl. She isn't one to want help, from anyone. No "charity work" under her watch, as she always is saying. That's just the way she has always been, and I know that some part of her is feels relief for me leaving. She loves me, and she just wants her sister back. Though, this timing is to be considered more than awful to some.
I say a quick goodbye to Sophie and leave three notes in my, now lifeless, room while my parents are still out.
The taxi sits outside in the rain that now pours down. I lean myhead against the coldwindow and remind myselfwhat a lovelytime of year it is. How lovely I am. How lovelyof a summer I am going tolet myself have. A simple hour later I sit in front of the terminal, watching the plane pull up. I can't help but take a much needed deep breath. I simply sit there, staring at the plane through the heavy rain and fog of Washington. A few tears began to fall from my eyes as I think, "I'm not fine". The past couple months, that was all I have said. I'm fine, fine, fine, fine. Not good, not bad. I was just fine. But now, I think I may be happy. Nervous. Excited. Regretful, even. But most of all, I have hope. I have hope for a new beginning for myself, and even more hope for Sophie, knowing she is now starting over as well. I smile assumingly at the flight attendant through my blurred eyes, and flop down in my seat. I plug my iPod into my ears to drown out any of my thoughts, especially those urging me to go running for the emergency exit. I look out the window as the plane takes off, watching the dark colors of the trees swirl with the rain and the wind. Soon enough, I drift to sleep dreaming of the three tiny notes on my bed. Unconsciously I release the uncomfortable tension that has rested in myshoulders. The three crumpled notes have created a whole new beginning for me, a whole new life.
♦ ♦ ♦
I need to be on my own for awhile. I'm safe. Dad Knows. -Peyton.
I'm going to go visit your mother up in North Carolina for awhile. For the whole summer,I think.Take care of Soph for me, please! I love you, and I am sorry I didn't tell you, but I think you know why. Take care of yourself, and I will talk to you very soon. Thank you. For everything. Love, Pey.
P.S. Please deliver the note addressed to Jason when you find the time.
I'm being spontaneous as you always told me to be. This is when you should start laughing! I'm spending my summer in North Carolina, and I'm sorry you can't be home for me to say goodbye. We have had great times, and I thank you so much for being good to me. I will miss you, and I am sorry. I know you will understand that I need to be on my own for awhile. I love you for being such a good friend to me, and I hope it can stay this way.I need you as afriend, but that's all for now. That's all it ever was.Take care of Sophie, please. She really does like you. Thank you Jason, and come see me if you ever want to. Try and forgive me! But I hope you will understand, and know there is nothing to be mad about. Love, P.