I know what had happened. I know you hadn’t eaten. You set the plate down on the counter. You weren’t hungry anymore, the pangs you felt in your stomach faded away and you were finally feeling like you could walk without collapsing. The red sauce and pasta strewn across the plate were cold and unpalatable, you would have to simply force yourself to eat the meal anyways. You walked away from the counter, into the dining area, and pulling a chair at the dinner table, sat down. It was silent, but in your mind, you could hear the refrigerator door being slammed shut in anger, followed by the receding sound of angry footsteps then the door being yanked open then the revving up of an engine that would drive away. You couldn’t expect it to come back in the next few hours, and, as it sometimes happened, days. Well, at least the storm was over. But I know, Alana, to you, the storm is better than the silence that follows.
You sat at the table, in that posture you have when you’re tired. Your hands reached out to caress your forehead, and you close your eyes, feeling the burn of tiredness as you do. You opened them again, only to be met with the slightly blurry sight of your mother’s lipstick, credit cards, and a shopping bill. You had never been good at distracting yourself from your thoughts, and having the emptied contents of your mother’s purse right in front of your eyes wasn’t helping. Your head throbbed even more and you felt yourself getting lost in the spiral. I know. It’s impossible not to.
You tried to think of a time when things were different. A time when the sounds of banging cutlery and slamming doors and anger and arguments weren’t the norm in your house when your house wasn’t simply a house but a home, when the two people you live with weren’t just your mother and father but your Mom and Dad. Fragments of memories come to mind- of walks in the gardens and visits to relatives who lived three thousand miles away and rides in the subway. The subway rides had always been your favorite part. Like that day when you were five, and it was the three of you huddled together across the window, your parents lightly conversing and laughing, and you staring outside. And then things changed. Soon enough, the train could accommodate another person who wasn’t your other parent. Soon enough after that, there were no subway rides at all.
That’s when the telephone began ringing. It was the one in the foyer, the one that anyone you know barely calls. Three unanswered rings later, it stops. You felt relieved, exhausted after eight hours of school and the writing club afterwards. That became your routine, and returning home at seven was early. Today, you were home by seven. You wished you weren’t. This time it was in the kitchen and not the living area, and tuning out the argument, you had made your way upstairs to your bedroom. A surge of anger rushed in as you sat on the bed, the kind that makes your blood pressure hit the roof. Anger that stems from a feeling of wanting better, of knowing that you deserve better.
The thing is, when you have parents who don’t talk to each other 50 of the 52 weeks in the year, you tend to find alternative sources of comfort, other things you can rely on, things that are largely in your control. Things like school and friends and writing. So you make sure that you had the Everything that everyone seemed to be aiming for- the perfect grades, the assortment of extracurricular activities, the shelf lined with medals and certificates. You did this for yourself, but also for your parents. To make yourself a daughter they could be proud of and, more importantly, one they would see is worth putting their differences aside and making up for. And as you lied on the bed, hearing the background white noise, you desperately wished for things to change.
The telephone began ringing again. You sat still, feeling unable to move. It wouldn’t be anything important, you thought. The sound echoed with stark clarity in the hallways and the dining area. You let it ring and as you did, let it prod your headache even further. Where were your parents anyway? Finally, five consecutive rings later, you willed yourself to stand up. You trudged your way out of the room, especially feeling the pull of gravity on your body. Stopping at the couch, you blinked, hoping your vision would clear up. Instead, it only darkened, spiralling into a vignette. Then, it completely blacked out.
They said they found you on the floor next to the sofa. They took you to the hospital immediately afterwards, gurneys and IV fluids and all. You’re okay now. You’re awake.
Everyone is scurrying around- the doctors, your parents, your friends. They’re wondering what happened. They don’t know you as I do, I know you better than anyone else. But I’m sorry because I have nothing to say about what matters the most. I don’t know how to fix this.
But I can say this much. Just hold on, because things will get better. Because there are things to look forward to. Just, wait. Hope. Because sometimes, you don’t need certainty, you just need hope.
And I hope you get better,