What They Don't Know Can't Hurt Them

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Memoir  |  House: Booksie Classic
A single night spent under the stars, where everything was peaceful except for me.

Submitted: November 01, 2016

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Submitted: November 01, 2016

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The fire illuminated their dark, Massachusetts backyard. Casting a soft glow on my uncle’s face, the embers exploding into a bright red before fading beneath the grass. I could feel the cool breeze against my exposed skin, my bare feet caressed by the green grass that was never cut. How I wish I could stay here forever. Listening to the crickets chirp in the distance, giving offan even more peaceful vibe. While the silence between us digs into me, making me want to sink down in my lawn chair and disappear forever. He doesn’t know, I think, He doesn’t know what I know… I knew I shouldn’t have looked, but my curiosity always got the best of me. It wasn’t my fault he just left it there. His room empty except for the black and white notebook, lying on the bed he let me borrow. The notebook that changed the story I heard so often and made me rethink everything I’ve ever known about my family that I thought was so perfect.

“How long are you staying here?” My uncle’s voice is sharp and rusty, probably from all the cigars he smoked. I look at him, a little startled and he takes a sip of his beer. The beer that seemed to be the only thing he ever has for dinner these days.

“I-uh… I think we’re leaving on Sunday. We have school starting on the sixth.” I say this quietly, feeling offended that he wanted to talk about the very thing bringing me away from the many nights we spent bonding. Again we returned to the silence, I didn’t know what else to say… so instead I slide into my own world, trying to sort out everything I knew. Trying to make sense of the new world around me, seeing if it was safe to enter.

“Oh.” He interrupts my thoughts and to be honest, half of me was glad. I had gotten to the point that when I was thinking about my family, I was really thinking about me. Self pity was never any fun.  I let out a laugh, not genuine, more like the kind of laugh someone does when they’re in a really awkward situation. Another sip of his beer. I wondered if the reason he drinks so much is because of me. I shake my head, it was a stupid thought, but then again… was it?

“So, school’s coming back.” I say. He looks at me for the first time that night, his usually blue/green eyes turn black. Scary...

“And?” He questions me.

“And…” I think of something else to say, to keep the conversation going, dreading the silence that follows the unfinished sentence. “I’m not ready for it. I don’t want to go back.” He nods, never breaking eye contact.

“No one wants to go back to school.”

“Yeah, well maybe I actually have a reason not to, besides not liking the work.” I bite my tongue, saying too much is dangerous. He cocks his head to the side. I take the hint to explain more but not wanting to say the truth. Not wanting to tell him that I wanted to stay here, with him. He can’t know what I know, I remind myself.  That’s just the way our relationship worked. I hated it and yet, appreciated what I could get. He was really the only person I felt could relate to me, and after everything I read in his journal, my connection to him felt even stronger.

“Well what’s your reason then?” He’s still staring at me, his eyes piercing through me. I look away, but even then I could feel his eyes burning holes in the back of my neck. Through skin, through bone and exiting through the other end. Breaking me apart until I’m nothing. I don’t know I’m crying until I taste the saltiness in my mouth. I wipe it away quickly, glad it’s so dark out and praying he doesn’t see my face turned red from the tears. I clear my throat and swallow the lump beginning to build.

“I can’t deal with seeing people.” It’s a lie, I couldn’t wait to be back. To feel the warmth of my friends and getting the hell away from my reality. School was my best distraction. I know he’s going to ask why I couldn’t deal with them so before he starts I answer. “People just cause stress, it’s what happens.” This time it’s not all a lie, people do cause stress, he just doesn’t need to know that I mean him. He nods, understanding. He always understood me… Again the lump forms and I’m forced to swallow. Hating that I’m acting so childish and weak. Before I can stop myself I say, “What happened? What happened to you last summer?”

“Why do you want to know?” I note the defensive tone in his voice and wince. I shouldn’t have mentioned anything.

“I… I hear so many different sides of the story, what’s yours?” My voice is quiet, soft, so much so that I don’t think he hears me. Then he sighs.

“So much happened. I think this is a discussion for another day. When you’re older.” When I’m older, that was always the excuse. I accept it though, not pushing any further. Afraid of what would happen if I did. I could tell he was on edge now. I made a mistake. Why didn’t I keep my mouth shut?

“I’m getting another glass of beer, you should probably get going inside.” I can’t help but feel stupid... stupid and sad. He didn’t want me near him anymore. I hear the slam of the door leading to the kitchen inside. I watch as he takes out another can of beer and pour it into his cup. He takes a sip and then empties the glass in about five seconds. So, I am the one making him drink: this was my fault.

I stay outside for I don’t know how long. The night turns colder and I turn even more confused. My head hurt, I just wasn’t sure if it was from the thinking or from the lack of sleep. My uncle is long gone by now, I heard him leave. His car, leaves crunching beneath the tires, drives off to do whatever he does in the middle of the night. A secret I really didn’t want to know.

The house grows dark, no lights are on, everyone's asleep and I, I’m out here. Alone, not knowing who’s who anymore. How do I describe the feeling of not knowing your own family? Your grandfather, who was always the loving and sweet person in the family, turns out to be a monster. Your grandmother, the one you knew wasn’t all there, is worse than you thought and you can’t help her. Your own uncle, you thought you were so close to him, the fun, cool uncle. The one everyone wants. The one that made mistakes a little too often… The one who tried to kill himself… The one you heard stories about, but every single one of them was a lie. How do I describe that?

I can’t wrap my head around it, I want to scream. Scream out of frustration, hate, depression, but mostly I want to scream because I was angry. I was mad, these people, my own family, they all lied to me. They put on those masks and acted like everything was all okay, like they were perfect. I believed them, I was naive and I believed them. Everything was falling down around me. The walls I used to keep everything inside slowly broke apart. Brick by brick. The I always thought that no matter what happens to everyone else around me I had my family… I don’t even have that anymore.

My bodies limp, every bone weighing me down… It’s too heavy, I can’t move. My head pounds, my eyes begging me to close them. To close them and never open them back up. I was too tired. Tired of the darkness, tired of the lump building in my throat, tired of the cold… It was too much for me. I thought I could handle it, I mean I was thirteen now. Somehow learning this made me feel like I was five again. So small, so helpless, so useless. What was the point? The point of me feeling this way? I couldn’t change it, no matter how hard I tried. Hell, I couldn’t even make myself feel better. I can’t help myself and I couldn’t help my family. My family couldn’t help themselves, so how would they help me? I can’t help but think of myself as a burden to them. We were a lost cause. No way we could make this situation better…

And they don’t know, I think, They don’t know what I know…

“Come in now.” My mother’s tired voice whispers out to me. I tell her to give me a minute and she leaves to go back to bed. I put out the small flame still left in the fireplace and climbed the steps to the back door. I was shaking, my feet pressed against the cold cement and then, surprisingly, colder tiles. My uncles dog stirs in his sleep, but doesn’t open his eyes. I’m tempted to fall to the floor and just stay there until morning. There were more steps leading up to the bed I slept in and I wasn’t positive I would make it. But, even in the tired state I was in, I knew I would regret sleeping there.

I climb the steps slowly. One, two, three… It took forever to get to the top. The pounding in my head intensified, I couldn’t ignore it anymore. I place the palm of my hand against my temple, rubbing it in circles. A few more steps, then I could be wrapped in the comfort of my bed. Underneath the covers, safe. I feel for the doorknob, it shocks me and I pull back, letting out a gasp.  I grab for it again, twist it and enter the room. Dark and strangely inviting. I know the room like the back of my hand, it used to be the room I used before my uncle moved in. Even when I couldn’t see a thing I could picture the cream colored walls, the big wardrobe in the corner of the room, and the two beds. One king sized and one was twin, placed with a space between them. I crawl into the smaller bed, pulling the blankets up above my nose.

Everything is wrong, the voices in my head won’t turn off. I force my eyes shut, I count sheep, I do everything I can. Still, my mind races, around and around, never giving me a moments peace. I groan, rolling over and almost falling off the bed. The notebook, it rests on the king sized bed. It calls to me, mocks me. I tell myself it’s all in my head, but I get up anyway. I pick it up and turn on the lamp that sits on the bed side table. The pages seem to turn themselves, my head telling me no but my eyes read it once again. It starts with the scene in the hospital. I heard about this part before. But, only my mom’s point of view, which was wrong, so wrong. He wakes up, disoriented, foggy, scared… the feeling I know so well. He talks about meeting the nurse and the doctor’s and how everything was so strange to him. He was confused, not knowing what he was doing here. Then it hits him. The things drugs could do to you.

My mother talks about the situation as if it was all his fault. True, he made the choice of drinking in the first place, but I understood why. He was depressed, I’ve felt that way for as long as I can remember and sometimes I feel like I want to be taken away. That’s why I have my secret world inside my head. Drinking does that, it takes you away, makes you happy. I understood him, my parents didn’t. The story I’ve heard so often made me hate my uncle. Made me mad at him. And, now I felt like a jerk, I shouldn’t have been mad at him. Especially since I didn’t know the whole story.

He says he wanted to end it all, so he jumped, 40 feet. 40 feet should’ve done it, but somehow he was still here. He writes that he was angry, at everyone, at everything, but for nothing. He tells me about how stupid he felt after failing so horribly. He couldn’t even kill himself. I have done all of this. I have tried and failed, I have been depressed, I have been angry at people for no reason. He was the only person I could relate to in my family and I scared him away. My heart hurts, I wish I could’ve done a thousand things differently. The past is the past, no changing that.

I put the notebook down and rest my head on the pillow, taking in every word in the journal, playing it over and over in my head. The thing that hurt the most though was the fact that it wasn’t only about him in the notebook. He wrote about how my grandfather, his father, chose to leave him when he needed help the most. He didn’t want him coming back, couldn’t forgive the mistakes he’s made. Chose not to love him like a son. I read on about how my grandfather kicked him out of the house at the age of 16, but he was lucky, his older brother was kicked out at 12. Michael was his name, he would’ve been my 4th uncle if he hadn’t died at the age of 32. He died before I was born, yet I still felt him there. I didn’t know him, but in all fairness, it seemed like I didn’t really know anyone in my family anymore.

 Closing my eyes I start to drift off to my own world again. It was better there than facing reality. I wasn’t going to tell anyone about this. What they don’t know can’t hurt them, I think to myself. It will just hurt me…


© Copyright 2017 Life As A Vampire. All rights reserved.

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