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Chapter 30: What breaks you, makes you stronger

“If you set a foot outside this office, never look back again. We will forget we have a daughter.”

As soon as those words left her father’s mouth the whole room turned so silent you could hear a needle drop. Mia’s chest tightened with those words, it felt like the last hit her heart needed to completely shatter. She inhaled deeply, trying to breathe and tightened her grip on the door handle. She fought to put up her bravest face and turned her head around and looking at her father first and then her mother. There was not even one ounce of care in the way her parents looked at her. They just had a stone cold expression on their faces. Mia realized how much they had broken her without it even effecting them the slightest.

She turned the door handle, opened the door and walked out without looking back. She walked out of the building, down the crowded street. She bumped into people and things as she walked absentmindedly. Like a zombie she just kept walking without noticing her surroundings. How she didn’t end up beneath a car was a miracle. Mia’s feet gave in and she fell on her knees right in the middle of a street. She didn’t know where she was, she didn’t know what to do. The only thing she knew was that she felt completely numb. Her mind was completely blank. There was not one thought going through her mind. She just sat there not moving. She didn’t know how long she was there. Her body told her that someone put a hand on her shoulder. She looked up and saw someone she knew. It was Archer. When Mia didn’t respond he picked her up from the street and took her to his car.

“Hey are you okay? I’ve been calling you like crazy. I was so worried.” He kept on talking without any of the words registering to Mia. She just sat there in the passenger seat. Still numb and broken. Archer took Mia back to his apartment and carried her to his room. Seeing he had a one bedroom apartment he slept on his couch. He tried to talk to her. To help her out of it, but Mia remained unresponsive. She sat on the bed, staring out of the large window behind his bed. For a whole week she just sat there, not eating, not talking, and just drifting in and out of sleep. It was like she was there and at the same time she wasn’t.

The worst part of this all was that Mia thought she was doing better after the trip. It turns out she wasn’t.

Finally Archer had enough of ‘giving her space’. He walked into his room and sat beside her. He grabbed her shoulders and shook her. “God damn it Mia. Talk to me. Say anything just don’t sit there like a vegetable.” Mia’s eyes snapped up and she finally focused on something. She finally registered that Archer was talking to her and she broke down in sobs. He hugged her and held her till she stopped crying.

Mia cried herself to sleep. When she woke up Archer was still there stroking her back. She blinked as she sat up.

“Hey there Mia.” He said but Mia didn’t respond. “I know you’re not feeling well. How about you take a bath? Maybe it’ll help.” He said with a caring voice. Mia just stared at him and nodded after a while. He led her to the bathroom and drew a warm bath for her. He asked if she would be okay taking the bath and she nodded. After he left the bathroom she slowly took her clothes off. As she was doing that she noticed her reflection in the mirror. She almost didn’t recognize herself. She had dark circles underneath her eyes and her eyes were sunken in. her cheeks were hollow. Her once sparkling eyes were just dull lifeless blue orbs. She saw her clavicle protruding, more than usual. And she started to see the outline of her ribs even her hipbone stood out and that was something she never noticed before. She took a deep breath and slowly turned around and stepped in the bathtub. The almost hot water started calming her muscles. She didn’t even notice how sore they felt till now. She slowly cleansed herself and sat in the bathtub till the water turned ice cold. She then got out and wrapped a towel around her fragile body. She noticed some clothes on the bed so she put it on. Not knowing what to do, she sat down on the bed. After a while Archer entered the room with a bowl of soup. He talked to Mia and convinced her to eat some soup even though she refused he still made her eat some.

Archer was a little relieved that he got a reaction out of her. He was really getting worried about her. He talked to her some more and she started to respond more and more to his help. She finally started eating on her own and doing little things in the apartment to keep her mind distracted. He did notice her sitting completely still staring straight ahead of her sometimes, but thankfully it occurred less and less.

Archer had been so supportive during Mia’s breakdown. He did everything in his power to make her feel better. After a couple of weeks he finally managed to help me out of Mia’s pit of dark thoughts. Once she noticed he was sleeping on the couch because of her, she made him switch and she decided she would sleep on the couch. They argued about it for a while before Archer finally gave in. During those arguments he saw glimpses of the old Mia, the once happy Mia and he would do everything in his power to help her.

There was something that Archer said to Mia that stayed with her and she kept repeating it in her mind like a mantra: ‘it’s not the end, it’s the next chapter’. She held on to that one sentence and she noticed her once grey surroundings were colored again. The one thing Mia learned was that sometimes life makes you sad, but that’s perfectly fine. Because that’s life, without the downs you won’t appreciate the ups. And when you’re at the up point in your life me sure to enjoy every moment you have because you have struggled to get there.

After a long struggle she finally accepted that this moment in her life was just a down moment. She just needed to work to the next up in her life. She also accepted the fact that receiving parent’s love was something she wouldn’t receive, not in this life time at least. Somehow she managed to convince herself to take a step towards moving on. She started taking care of herself.

It was New Year’s Eve and he convinced Mia to go to a new year’s party with him and his fiancé, Amber. Mia met her after the Christmas holidays. She was away on a business trip. She disliked Mia from the very first second they met and the feeling was very mutual. There was something off about her, Mia wasn’t sure what but there was something that made her skeptic of Archer’s fiancé. The party wasn’t that bad. Archer managed to get away from Ambers clutches. He found Mia somewhere in a quiet part of the balcony. She was staring ahead of her.

“Hey Mia. Why so sad?” he asked snapping Mia out of her thoughts. She took a deep breath and smiled weakly and he knew exactly what was running through her mind. Her hand was resting on the railing and he put his hand on hers. “I know moving on seems impossible, but holding onto that memory like that will ruin you.”

“Thank you.” she said with a tear rolling down her cheek. And she hugged him.

“If I hear you thank me anymore, I swear I’m going to abandon you here.” he said with a laugh and rolling his eyes making Mia chuckle. They talked for a while and made some New Year’s resolutions. He made Mia promise to try and move forward. After some time amber snaked Archer’s attention away and Mia started pondering how she should start her new year and the next chapter in her life.

Mia started to look for a job. For the time being she worked in a diner. She started out as a waitress but soon started working there as a chef. Her passion for cooking helped her a lot. In the meantime she started looking for a job as an architect. She loved the work of an architect and she wanted to grow in that field. She wanted to keep cooking as a hobby and not a job. She wanted to keep that as one of the few things she could completely cherish as her own and she knew if she worked to long it would be more of an automatism. And she didn’t want that. After countless weeks of interviews and a couple of call backs Mia finally managed to get a job in a construction company as a junior architect. The salary wasn’t much but it was good enough for her to move on. She put all her energy and time in her work. She learned a lot and she finally earned a promotion after months of hard work. With the new salary Mia managed to rent a small studio apartment. It was perfect for her. Once in a while she enjoyed spending time with Archer. And the others usually face-time them too. He was also busy planning his wedding with Amber. Have I told you I despise her? She is so materialistic and a gold digger. Mia tried to tell Archer a couple of times but he refuses to accept it, so she stopped. Hopefully he realizes it before it’s too late.

As she got to spend less time with Archer, Mia started spending more time with her colleagues.

Mia was so lost in her work, it became her escape. She eventually started handling projects on her own. She had her fair share of difficult clients, but she didn’t let her spirit down. ‘What hurts you today makes you stronger tomorrow.’

Mia’s birthday week arrived and she forgot it due to a deadline coming up. When Archer asked her what she was planning on doing that day, Mia realized it was her birthday. Mia decided to celebrate it in a restaurant with some colleagues and him and don’t forget Amber. She was acting like an unhappy child the whole evening. Like someone stole her favorite toy and forced her to be here. Over the next few days Archer became unavailable. Even when he is busy he replied to Mia’s texts and calls saying he’s busy, but this time… this time something felt off. He didn’t even text her back and something in the pit of her stomach told her something was wrong. She started to get worried when she didn’t hear back from him. Mia finally decided to go to his house to see what the problem is. When she arrived there the door was unlocked and she walked in.

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