Heartbreaks and Family
Leah's POV :
The moments where you want to be left alone are sometimes the same moments when you want to be held tightly and told that everything will be okay, even if it won’t be. You still want to make sure that you still have somebody by your side when the whole world has turned against you. Those are the moments when your family would just pull you out of your room, even drag you down if they need to and force you to talk.
You will feel frustrated when they do this, but trust me, you don’t know how lucky you are to have that but you do know deep inside somewhere that you need it.
It feels good to know that even when you lost that one person who you gave all of yourself, there are still people that are going to love and accept you even with all that emptiness left inside you. Oh, and they’ll overflow you with happiness and love - even if you don’t want it - to fill you up, to complete you.
That’s what family is all about, isn’t it?
When Tracy dropped me off that Wednesday evening which was supposed to be a ‘happy’ birthday for me, I was frozen on the driveway for quite sometime. It was when she asked me if I wanted her to come inside with me and do the explaining when I shook my head and told her to go.
“Do you want me to come in and do the explaining thing, babe?” She had asked.
I had given her an attempted smile and shook my head. “I think I will manage. Thanks Trace, for everything.”
After she had confirmed that I’d be okay, she drove off leaving me contemplating my next move.
I knew Mom, Dad and Grant would be in there, waiting for me to get in and surprise me like they had planned earlier but I was in no mood to celebrate. How could I, with all this broken pieces of my heart that hurt so much that it made me cry all over again? I couldn’t.
So I decided to run, literally and metaphorically. Now sports wasn’t my forte but I needed to escape. It became more important than breathing. I couldn’t face my family with the tear stains on my cheeks and explain them what an amazing day I had had without breaking down again and I was tired. I was tired of crying, mourning over a dead friendship and a broken relationship. I needed that escape and for that I had to run. And so I did exactly that.
I had nowhere to go except my own room, my haven, my sanctuary where I could let myself get lost into another realm. As soon as I opened the door with my keys, instead of going into the kitchen like I usually would have done, I made a run for my room upstairs and didn’t stop until I had locked myself in safely.
My parents must have heard my roaring footsteps ceasing up the stairs and they definitely must have run behind me too, sensing that something was very wrong for the second I locked the doors, they began pounding on it, knocking furiously, repeatedly, calling my name, asking what was wrong, asking me to open the door and talk to them.
“Leah, what happened honey?” Mom’s worried voice floated through the air.
“Princess, open up. What’s the matter?” Dad had asked.
“Lee, you know you could talk to me, right?” Grant had said.
I couldn’t just open the door, let them in and tell then the great story about Leah’s disastrous eighteenth birthday.
Their voices were increasing the ache in my head and I wanted nothing else but silence and peace so I dashed towards the bathroom and locked myself behind another door, muffling the noises from outside.
Suddenly, the idea of a long hot bath seemed really tempting so I filled in the tub, shredded my clothes and got inside letting the too hot for skin water somehow ease the emotional pain I was feeling.
I must have been laying in the tub for hours before I woke up realizing that the water had gone cold. Wrapping myself up in a blue fluffy towel, I stepped out of the bathroom and was greeted by the silence I was searching for. Sighing in relief, I walked towards my closet and took out a random set of pajamas and underwear. Before changing, my eyes went towards the huge bay window in my room and I could see Kevin, my next door neighbor and classmate whose room was right across from me sitting on his desk working on some school project with headphones on.
He must have sensed my eyes on him for he immediately looked up and it was not really a surprise to see no judgement in his eyes. He smiled at me like he always did whenever he saw me in my room and I pressed my lips in a thin line before closing the curtains.
Kevin was a good guy, a lot better than many guys I had known all my life. He was a music and technology geek like myself but it was a surprise that we had never really talked, even though we had known each other for all our lives. We used to play when we were kids for all I remember but then suddenly, our childhood escapades had stopped and we grew apart.
He never judged or looked down at anyone. He was too lost in his own world to care about what was happening with others and steered clear from gossip. Although it was hard to believe that he didn’t know about Sean’s infidelity, Kevin wouldn’t have looked at me like the librarian and other students at my school did. He was far better than that.
After reminiscing my stupid birthday yet again, I changed into the pajamas I had picked and cocooned myself under the blankets welcoming another round of sleep.
Sean and Ronnie had come to talk to me that evening, after Tracy dropped me because Mom came running upstairs giving me the ‘good news’ that Ronnie was here at our place after all these years to meet me. I’m guessing that they didn’t tell Mom what they had done because she kept asking what so bad had happened that I didn’t let Sean in. I could tell that Mom was happy seeing her and Grant must have told them that Sean was there to pick me up for our ‘date’.
I had ignored all of them and I had almost burst into cries hearing Sean and Ronnie’s voices knocking at my door but I had miraculously controlled myself and let latest episodes of Shadow Hunters on Netflix drown their voices.
It was around 8:00 p.m. when Mom came to call me for dinner but I stayed still and silent like a statue, not speaking a word or making any noise. I wasn’t sleeping but I wanted her to know that I was. Dad and Grant took turns to call for me too, but I didn’t move an inch.
For the rest of the week, I stayed inside my room, thankful to have a private bathroom and a stash of junk food inside my closet for my midnight slumber party. I wasn’t ready to face the world just yet, including my family, and I was constantly priding my intelligence on hiding all those bags of chips and chocolates and skittles in my closet when I did.
My phone kept blowing off for the whole Thursday, most of them from Grant asking me to just talk to him or from my school mates who wanted to spray salt and pepper on my wounds asking me what the matter was. Like I would be a storyteller telling them goodnight stories.
There were a few texts from Tracy and after confirming with her that I’d be good, I switched off my phone.
Tracy had come to visit me on Friday but I had told her to go and after being defeated at making me go out with her, she left. I was grateful that she didn’t tell my family what happened and when I thanked her, she said, “It’s your secret to tell, Leah. It’s not my place.” And after all that, I still wonder why I didn’t see her as my best friend as she did me.
Mom had woken me up on Friday asking me if I’d go to school or skip like I had done the day before but when I didn’t reply, she had left me alone. Dad and Grant had made visits too, twice or thrice but by Saturday, I was left alone and as attention seeking it seemed, I panicked wondering if I didn’t matter to them anymore either.
Even though I wasn’t going to open up to them just yet, I wanted them to keep asking me to do it. It made me think that someone was there for me on the other side of the darkness just waiting for me to stretch my hand so that they could pull me to light but I was too scared to accept that arm.
The worst thing about having to eat junk food for five days straight is that you outgrow them and not to forget the several puking sessions you have after not having real food in your stomach for days. So on Sunday night, around 2:00 am, I tiptoed down to the kitchen to get myself some real food. As expected, I wasn’t as silent as I had thought I was.
“You might want to look in the oven.” My mother’s voice reached my ears as I was raiding the fridge for just anything to calm my appetite. She had been so silent in following me to the kitchen that I wasn’t even aware she was leaning just behind the breakfast counter. Or maybe I was too lost in my thoughts to hear her.
Hearing her voice, I immediately straightened my spine and looked at her briefly.” Ah?- Oh.” Seeing her staring right through me, I removed my gaze to everywhere but her. “Thanks.” I said.
I walked towards the oven to reveal a bowl of spaghetti and my stomach growled at the sight of it. I took it out and grabbed a fork and started to make my way back to the room.
“You can eat here. I just wanted some water when I heard you.” She said and went to pour herself a glass of water. I nodded, not looking at her and sat down on the counter, too aware of her presence behind me.
I slowly started eating, trying to make no noise when I found a hand keeping a glass of water beside my bowl on the table. I looked up to see my mother looking down at me sadly. “You always need water while eating or you can’t swallow.” She said and then nodded to herself when I didn’t say anything. With that she started making her way back to her room.
I dropped my gaze back to the food but then, the stool opposite of me screeched and I looked up to see Mom sitting opposite of me. She held out her palm as if to stop me from speaking or leaving. “I know you don’t wanna talk but just here me out, okay.”
I nodded for her to continue and looked back again at my bowl, not wanting to eat under her gaze.
She sighed. “Look, baby, I don’t know what happened that day, okay. Neither of us do. We tried asking Tracy, Ronnie and Sean but no one would tell us but we know something had happened. Something really big for you to lock yourself up in your room and not come out for four days straight. And as much as it sucks, that’s all we know.
I know you don’t want to talk about it but honey, we are there for you, okay? Your father, your brother, me, your friends - we are all there. You can’t just bottle it in, sweetie. We gave you as much space as you needed or wanted but don’t make this space too big for us to reach out to you.” She said and I could hear her swallow hard. I did too, to stop my own tears.
“We love you baby and we don’t want to lose you. Just know that. And if that’s not important to you, than think about yourself. I know something must have happened at school - well, that’s my guess but don’t let that ruin you. It can’t be more important than yourself - whatever it was. Don’t miss out on school for yourself. It’s all for your future after all. It’s for all your dreams.” She said.
I nodded for I was afraid that one word out and I would be a crying mess.
Mom stood up and came to my side of the stool, side hugging me. “We love you. I love you - no matter what.” She said and kissed my head.
“I know.” I whispered.
With one last squeeze, she turned around and went away to her room, leaving me alone under the beaming florescent lights.
For all I was thankful for, was that the first tear that slid down my cheek was after she left. I couldn’t just bear the thought of my mother watching me defeated, heartbroken just yet.
And at the end of the day, even after pushing people away, I somehow still had my family stretching out their hands for me to hold and come out of the darkness. It was just the huge space I had created, like mom said, that I wasn’t able to see or hear them anymore.
In that moment, I wiped my cheek, that single lone tear and decided that I can’t lock myself forever and sooner or later, I would have to face the shining light, no matter how much the darkness calmed me and no matter how much those beaming lights scared me. And if it was going to happen anyway, it shall happen sooner and pass away, like a brewing storm or hurricane.