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Grade
9

Hiraeth (n) a homesickness for a home to which you cannot return

 

We all have our own story.

 

The black haired girl sat on the edge of the bed, her hair slick and melting, leaving wet trails on her bare skin. A shower continued to run in the bathroom on the other side of the wall, the water whispering against the silence.

It was twilight and the hazy golden light slanted through the window blades into the room. One of the strips crossed her face, casting a faded ray of light across her sunken cheeks. More golden bands curled around her upper torso and waist. Void, her eyes stared emptily ahead of her at the photo frame that sat isolated on the wooden table.

 

Version #1:

When I was little, he hadn’t become a faded photograph yet.

His velvet voice used to coo me to sleep in his sturdy, cradling arms and I remember thinking he would always be my protector. He was home, he was family, he was who I had to run to when my underwear was stained red and my mother’s eye sockets had already nested a village of maggots. A father of strong arms and velvet silk. A father of stubbles and deodorant and burnt pizza.

And when I glared at his cigarette with its tip aflame in this frozen world blanketed in white, he laughed sheepishly and dropped it onto the gray slush below us. He taught me that nothing in the world was better than laughter. He told me to laugh and laugh and laugh because laughter was the only thing that could douse the fire consuming our world.

 

The girl's face remained impassive. The room was heavy with a blanket of silence, smothering the room. Small trickles of water from her hair flowed down her bare body. Down her back, dripping off her elbows, outlining the shape of her breasts…

 

Version #2:

There was a crack in her bedroom wall. It was the first thing she saw when her head hit the bedbug infested Hello Kitty pillow. She trained her eyes on it, even when his callous hands (so much bigger than hers) whipped her face around to meet his lustful eyes. There was no laughter then, no velvet, no cooing, no memories at all.

Instead, his eyes were filled with a foreign, primitive lust.

“Beautiful,” he panted.

And in a way, she could see it. The gracefulness of how her voluptuous teenage body arched in the moonlight. The fluttering in tone as he howled, the sound primal and raw.

This couldn’t be the climax of her story.

But it was and the curtains closed with the girl laying still on the bed and him kneeling on the floor.

“I’m so sorry,” he choked, struggling to contain the sobs raking through his body.

But the girl had already seen his eyes. They had harbored mania. Unrestrained hunger.

And rapid, rapid Fire.

He kept crying but she knew, as well as him, they would never be able to really listen to each other again. In the end, he stumbled out, a trembling mess, but the girl remained on the bed, still numb, still staring at the crack in her bedroom wall. It tethered her to the room and to the bed, anchoring her down, forcing her to remember. There was a crack in her bedroom wall.

 

She closed her eyes. Everything felt too real. She was painfully aware of her surroundings. The utter darkness in the room interrupted only by the few strands of the fading sunset. Tributaries marking their cold trek down her smooth back. The tenderness of her skin. She could even smell her own scent, intoxicating with the pleasant odors of baby lotion and vanilla soap that she had spent hours scrubbing in. But in the dark room it felt overwhelming, suffocating even. Daddy…

 

It had been an act of raw desire. Unrestrained infatuation. Two weeks later, his knocks on her door became weaker; his knuckles bruising, his shadow faded. Four weeks later, there were no more knocks. Five weeks later, the girl stopped counting.

She saw the crack form the second she closed her eyes and turned away from him on that damp mattress. Really, it was just one moment of weakness. One slip. But already the crack was spreading, splintering, splitting, swallowing the house entirely until its jagged edges had permeated everything.

Only after he left did she let herself cry; cry and melt into ugly, gray slush trampled over and over again by worn-out boots.

There was a crack in her bedroom wall. It split through the remainder of the wall and her blood seeped into it, staining it a horrendous crimson.

It became her family tree.

 

She didn't want to move. Or was it that she couldn't move? Her entire body was limp at the moment and it took too much strength to try, to end this scene where time had stopped momentarily. She knew once she moved, this moment would disappear, time would continue in a flourish, sweeping her up in its bustling arms and throwing her back into the world. After all, the world waited for no one. No matter what happened, no matter what one was forced to realize, the earth would keep rotating, life would continue to survive as instinct told it to.

The girl inhaled sharply and tilted her head up to the ceiling. Her mind was flooded with nausea. Everything started to cloud over, though memories still flitted across her mind.

 

She still remembered.

The soreness in her legs. How she couldn’t get herself off the bed. The water scorching, scorching, scorching her body and the blood clots stuck in the drain. Everything was red and strangled, she was the one tangled up in all of it and suddenly she was drowning in her own blood, sweat and tears.

 

But she couldn’t remember what happened afterwards. She had lost her sense of time itself. She had lost the sunset rays fading through the dusty window blinds. She had lost the stars, her memories, and the velvet that embraced her childhood. She couldn't remember anything. She couldn't think.

It was frightening. She had lost her body and now her mind had finally surrendered.  Exhausted and groggy, that was when she realized she had utterly and completely lost.

 

There was nothing left to do but to write the ending of my own story:

 

Flames ran along the bedframe, the desk, the wooden panels on the ceiling, its appetite insatiable. It wasn’t an angry fire. It emanated tranquility, its aura like that of the scene of a post-war battlefield, ground littered with unidentified bodies. The dead were all dead beyond saving and all that had existed had already been destroyed. The fire seemed beautiful, graceful as it danced across the room.

Everything remained silent…the tranquility only enhanced by the crackling of flames as the fire threw its soft palls over everything in its path. It almost seemed apologetic.

 

Sometimes a story has so many variations it forgets which one is the original.

 

And through the ashes and smoke, she managed to see her father.

She saw the cigarette ashes that he tried frantically to brush off her trigonometry homework. She felt his sultry breath on her cheek. She saw how hard he tried to close his index and middle finger.

 

And in the end, she saw the tear slip down his saggy cheek.

 

Sometimes you just can’t figure out which version is true.

 

She stared at her father and he stared mournfully back at her.

She felt tears scalding their way down her cheek and her fingers twitched hesitantly. Suddenly, both of them were crying and their fingers were splayed, desperately reaching, desperately straining.

 

But before they could meet, the fire threw its pall over both of them and her story came to an end. 

State
New York
Zip Code
11362