Growing Certainty of Over

Title: Growing Certainty of Over

Word Count: 804

Rating: PG

Notes: Written to the prompt Recovery also reposted because wordpress ate my formatting and despite my best efforts, I could not fix that entry.

Her childhood bedroom is almost exactly as she remembers leaving it: pastels and stuffed animals and a shelf full of terrible body sprays painstakingly curated from over priced stores in the mall. Her bed looks too tiny – threadbare little mermaid quilt smoothed into place, beckoning her back, beckoning her home.
This is her life now. She sat her bag down, small and lonely and grown up though it was. Terribly out of place in this room of the past.

Much like her.

Mama comes in, smiling and beaming and looking everywhere but at her. “We just dusted it the other day,” she says. Her voice bright and brittle and full of unspoken things. Things like: why? How did this happen? How did I let this happen to my baby, my child, my daughter? I wanted the stars for you. I wanted the moon and the sun and the world beneath your feet. Not this, never this broken darkness you’re swimming in. But these things were unsaid, tucked carefully under the tongue, hidden in the crease of her smile, the edges of her eyes. Out loud she said, “I’ll let you get settled, dinner’s at five if you’re hungry.” If you feel like you’re up for eating. if you feel like your’e capable of functioning, of moving on past this and swallowing something other than pain and guilt and suffering. 

She was becoming well versed in the things people did not say.

She has no smile for Mama, no false dawning of a return to the way things were, once upon a time. Instead she nods slowly, dredging her voice up from where ever it had been hiding inside her lungs and manages a quiet word. “Okay.”

She would be at dinner. She had to be at dinner because they expected her at dinner, they needed her at dinner. Showing up for dinner would be a compromise, a show of effort and trying and willingness. That she wasn’t giving in, she wasn’t wallowing, that she was fighting back even though all she wanted to do was lay down and close her eyes and just stop being for a moment. Or two. Or ten. Or all of them.

She thinks about calling out to the retreating form of her mother. Thinks about apologizing and saying thank you. It would go something like this: I’m sorry I’m broken. I’m sorry for being such an unexpected failure. Thank you for taking me back in. thank you for loving me enough to hold me up like this. But she found she didn’t have the energy for those words. She was a mermaid with her voice stolen from her and every step from here on out would feel impossible- so she thought it as loud as she could, as loud as her brain and body would allow herself, and hoped her mother caught even a hint of it.

Here is what she learned: People know when you’re broken. They may not know how you are broken, or why, or where you are in the process of being unbroken, but they know. Even perfect strangers in line behind you in the grocery store. Perhaps she carried it in the line of her shoulder, in the light of her eyes- but they all adapted the same peculiar, strained expression and gentle voice when dealing with her. we see your pain and we are sorry for you and we do not know how to help you but we recognize your suffering.

It is not as helpful as they liked to think. It always makes her more aware, again and again and again, that she was now different; now marked for her experiences and wasn’t better for them. time heals, the therapist said, it hurts now because it’s still so fresh and you can’t help but see it everywhere you look. Give it time, don’t give up on the fact that in time it will be less. The question was, how much less would she be before that time came?

She misses who she was sometimes. Often really. Misses being herself suddenly and unexpectedly, misses being able to laugh and focus and slide in and out of her days without effort. Misses not being overwhelmed and crippled and having to find a place to stop and focus on her breathing, focus on the shape of her hands and the way she held things.

More than anything she misses not having to remind herself every second of every day that she is alive, that this is her body and she occupies it and there is nothing anyone can do to take that away from her. That if she possessed nothing else in the whole horrible world, she possessed herself.

Time, she had been assured again and again and again, would heal all things. Even this.


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