Weeping Willow

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Chapter Four - Who I am

G - How was the rest of your day?

S - Nothing spectacular. Yours?

G - I wrote the first paragraph of my essay. I’ll send it to you. Other than that, I spent most of it thinking about stuff.

S - Thinking about stuff?

G - Yeah, school, prom, my future, girls.

S - Heavy.

G - I’ve been thinking about this stuff for a while S… I just… I haven’t had anyone to talk to about it. No one that will actually take me seriously anyway.

S - So tell me.

G - I’ll send you my essay as it stands. It says everything.

A few minutes later my email notification bleeped. I clicked on it and watched an email from K pop up. I downloaded the document and began to read.

Who I am and what I’m going to be - As told by….G

How the hell am I meant to tell anybody else who I am, if I don’t even know. I look in the mirror and I see myself staring back, but it’s just a reflection. A superficial outer casing of a person. I do what is expected of me, make all the right sounds, walk like a lemming through the halls of this wretched place. So who am I? I’m fake, and what will I be? Well that depends. If I continue down this path of disillusioned pretending, I will always be fake. If I grow some balls and follow my heart, then who knows.

I stared at his words and felt sad. Sad that he felt he had to be someone he wasn’t. Maybe we had more in common than I thought. I wanted to be invisible, and in a way so did he… by blending in. I closed the document and opened up the chat box.

S - G….

G - That bad huh?

S - Bad? G, that one paragraph has so much raw and true emotion. After the boob essay, I’m surprised by the depth of it. It’s good… it’s really good.

G - But….

S - What?

G - There’s a but right?

S - Not at all.

G - But I cussed.

S - Hardly. Hell and balls aren’t really cuss words.

G - Who are you, and what have you done with S.

S - G… I know you’re trying to steer the topic away, but aside from your essay being great I believe you had problem? As your De-douchifying tutor, I must advise you, the non jerk way to deal with this is simple. Don’t be fake.

G - How is that simple?

S - Actually being yourself is easy once you realise what other people think means much less than what you give it credit for. Start off slow. Do something you want to do, but don’t because you’re afraid of what people will think.

I felt somewhat like a fraud giving him advice on how to stop feeling fake. I knew deep down, as well as he did that if he stood up and stood out, our peers would judge him. But we weren’t here for me. We were here for him.

G - Okay. I think I get it. I’ll uh, let you know how it goes tomorrow after school

S - Sounds good.

Before G could type back I heard yelling and a crash come from the kitchen. Dad was home and I had been so caught up in the chat G and I were having I hadn’t noticed. Suddenly, all I could focus on was the fighting downstairs. My room grew dark as the sun dipped behind the huge tree in our front yard, matching my now somber mood. Another crash downstairs made me tense up.

S - I have to go.

G - Oh, okay. Everything alright?

I frowned, why had he asked that? Could he sense through those four words I’d just typed that something was up? My heart raced and my stomach dropped. This conversation had changed very quickly from straightforward, credit inducing tutoring into an almost friendship. I swallowed hard and began to type.

S - I’m fine. Talk tomorrow.

I logged out and stood up. I stared at the doorway and willed myself to walk through it. Maybe he’d stop if I intervened, maybe my presence would end the argument tonight. Another crash caused me to move, I flew out the door and down the stairs, the front door slammed as I bolted into the kitchen. Mom was on the floor in the corner of the room, cowering. Guilt filled me to the brim. I should have come straight down, maybe I could have stopped this.

I knelt down beside her and placed my hand gently on her shoulder. She flinched, but then relaxed as she looked up at me. Her eye was swollen and her nose bloody.

“Mom? What happened?” I my whisper was so quiet, the sound of my fathers car speeding off down the road was almost louder.

“I was…” She paused. “Dad opened the door as I was walking out of it.”

I frowned, Did she really think I believed that? I looked around, the kitchen was a mess. The vegetables she had been preparing were strewn across the floor. It was obviously that they had argued, that Dad had lost his temper.

“Mom.” I began.

“No. Willow.” She said trying to sound stronger than I could tell she felt. “It was all an accident. Dad only had to leave in a hurry because he has to work out of town for the rest of the week.”

She looked up at me, her eyes still lined with tears. She steeled her damaged face and began to stand up. In that moment I hoped more than anything that the rest of the week would turn into forever. I didn’t want him to come back.

I nodded and pushed myself back onto my feet. “Okay. do you need help in here”

“No. You run along.”

There was no point arguing, no point telling her I knew the truth. She’d never admit it. I turned and walked to the kitchen door and placed my hand over the handle.

I heard Mom sigh as she set about picking up the sliced carrots. I stopped and turned back to face her. Bruised and bleeding, she was still trying to be the perfect housewife.

“Mom. I’ll clean up. You go shower.”

She went to argue, but a droplet of blood fell onto the ground and after she gasped, she stared at it for a few seconds before lifting her hand to her nose. Her hands shook as she looked down at the red liquid on the tips of her fingers.

“Okay.” She conceded finally. “Thank you Willow.”

She brushed past me and left the room in a hurry. I cleaned up the mess, luckily it didn’t take too long and then headed back up to my room. I closed the door behind me and leaned against it, sighing deeply. There was no way I could leave Mom here with him once school was over.

Full of despair I walked to my desk, sat down and stared at the screen. I signed into IM and double clicked on G’s name. He was online still. The chat box popped up and my fingers hovered above the keys. What was I supposed to say to him, why did I even think he would care. I closed the box and opened my diary instead.

Dear Stef,

Back again. I know I only wrote to you a few hours ago. A few hours can change everything though.

All this time I’ve been looking forward to school finishing so I can leave this place behind, start fresh, try to be happy.

But I can’t leave mom, and I don’t think she will ever leave him. They fought and he hit her, even though she played it off as an accident… I know the truth.

Stef, you were the only person I ever told about how much I hated it here. You were the only person who knew what was happening. You made me promise that I would follow my dreams. I hate that I have to let you down.

The only saving grace in my life at the moment is G, and we don’t even know one another… not really.

I need a break.

Talk soon, Willow.

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