Once the clock stroke twelve, she ran away.
After nights of practice, climbing down her two-story high window became a breeze for the troubled teen named Nessa. She often snuck out of her Aunt’s house and took long walks around their quiet neighborhood until dawn.
There was something about those ungodly hours that felt holy and pacified for her.
It was her safe-haven hours—no one misjudging her or asking her where she came from, and the best part of it all, there was no need to pretend to be okay or to speak to anyone for that matter.
The neighborhood was all hers—her privacy in disguise.
With the night as her shelter from the daunting sun, and the stars—her little wishes floating above her head.
And unlike all the calm nights she’d experienced in this place, tonight was inexplicably long and foreboding. The winter breeze, additionally, didn’t help her in her current mischief.
She rubbed both of her palms together whilst breathing onto them to defrost the coldness forming at the tips of her pale fingers. And once she couldn’t walk any further, she stopped by a bench underneath a huge leafless tree, covered in ice crystals, and sat there curling up like a ball to keep herself warm.
Of all days, the weather just had to be this cold. She would’ve preferred to stay out a bit longer than this, but alas, she knew she had to return soon.
“Fuck life,” she muttered under her breath as white smoke came out of her mouth.
Nessa flinched at the sound of someone’s voice. Her head quickly turned towards the direction she had heard it. Baffled at the presence of someone sitting onto the snowy pavement just beside the bench, she thought to herself, ’When did he show up?’
It made her re-think twice if he was there before her.
He looked to be someone in his twenties with his brown combat boots, shredded jeans, and thick winter jacket. The red beanie on his head seemed comfy at the moment, and Nessa wished she wore a bit more coverage than only her heat-tech sweater, her leg warmers, and a hybrid jean hoodie jacket.
She saw him stretching his legs forward from where he’s sitting as he puffed a few clouds of smoke and let the cold air eclipse with its detestable scent, and when the man looked up, Nessa followed his line of vision staring at the empty night sky filled with a few roaming dark clouds.
This went on for a little while—Nessa just following what this stranger was finding fascinating at the moment. It was mostly looking up at the sky. She wondered what was up there that made him stretch his head up for hours. It made her a bit curious about him and his thoughts as she continued to watch his every movement like a hawk.
It has been a while since Nessa has garnered some human interaction, seeing as she was determined to never crawl out of her nook in her Aunt’s attic during daylight for the past few months. It was only the occasional visits to the grocery or the pharmacy that she had held an ounce of normalcy in society, but other than that, she was a pariah.
The man shook his cigarette and let its ashes fall to the snow piling below our feet. It was odd how he could tolerate the smoke coming into his lungs without coughing. She wondered how people could tolerate that kind of destruction and thought that maybe she could try this option out too. After all, she got nothing to lose.
However, as soon as she thought about that, she hesitated for a moment, clinging to the little life forming inside her belly.
Is it okay for me to lose it?
It hasn’t even been a week since she knew she was pregnant. The shock of finding it out all by herself still hadn’t quite settled in. She couldn’t believe karma bit her back too early and was too cruel. Her mind kept going into a state of constant frenzy whether to keep the child or to kill it. It was all that has been occupying her train of thoughts for the past few days and it was killing her.
It was already killing her inside—the guilt, the conflict, the societal pressure, and whether or not this was ethical at all. She couldn’t have known what to do. She was barely an adult herself at the tender age of 15. With no one to rely on, what else could she possibly do?
She just wanted to die.
The slits on her wrists and legs could prove it. The sleeping pills she stole from her Aunt were piled under her bed, ready to be used; however, whenever she was faced with death herself, she just couldn’t. As much as she wanted to die, she wanted to live.
But the consequences to live were too heavy for her to carry.
“I’m sorry.” She whispered to its soul before she stood up from the bench and took the cigarette out of his hand in a whim.
She barely got enough time to think how it would work. The most she could do as an amateur was to suck all the smoke in like a deer in front headlights.
It only threw her into a coughing fit, regret obvious the instant she choked, and her eyes teary from the pain. She kept wheezing as she held her neck as though she was suffocating from the toxic.
“What the hell!” exclaimed the man in an angry tone. “What the fuck is wrong with you!”
Nessa couldn’t reply.
She was too busy trying to gasp cold air to breathe in, which only made her feel worse every second. Her throat felt like it was burning with acid, and all she wished for at the moment was a chance for her to douse it with water; however, all that was in sight were piles of snow.
Desperate for some sense of relief, she did not hesitate to grab a fist full of dirty snow and pummel it down her throat, the ice melting slowly into water with what body heat she had left.
The man stood there appalled at what he was seeing. If it wasn’t for the civil silence they had hours ago, he would’ve thought she’s completely gone bonkers. He sighed tiredly before patting Nessa gently on her back to give her some sort of comfort from her constant coughing fits.
Nessa was still catching her breath during the moment, but the gesture seemed enough to calm her down a bit.
Tears continue to flow down her face as the dread finally settled down at the pit of her stomach. She was never going to get out of this situation, wasn’t she? she thought to herself, pessimism seeping into her thick skull.
At this point, she couldn’t tell what was causing her to shake violently. Was it her panic attack forming or her body reacting to the cold from eating dirty snow?
“Hey…are you okay?” the man asked her out of his concern.
Nessa couldn’t respond properly as she was shaking and crying hard. Her mind felt like it turned on her survival mode and was only thriving on autopilot. She didn’t know if it was because it had all finally dawned into her that she was living a shitty life or that she was too scared to die by herself.
Or that she was afraid to not have lived at all.
Despite her inner conflict, the man stayed beside Nessa, continuously hugging her whilst tapping her back a little too awkwardly.
What was a guy supposed to do to comfort a kid who began crying out of nowhere?
If anything, he was at most bewildered at what to do in this kind of situation. It was nothing college had taught him to provide a solution to. It’s not that he was too cold-hearted to act, but rather he was too dumbfounded at what was the right thing to do in this situation.
Searching his jean pockets, he rummaged on what he had on him to use to give some sort of comfort for the girl.
“Here,” the man said whilst reaching out a red lollipop to Nessa.
Nessa looked up to stare at the candy on his hand. She wasn’t too sure at what he meant by that gesture. She chose to ignore it by staring at it weirdly as she hugged herself, rubbing her shoulders to generate a bit of warmth into her body.
The man, running out of patience for this odd girl, groaned in frustration from the disappointment of her response to him. What is she thinking, honestly?
“No more cigarettes for you,” he said, grabbing her hand and placing the lollipop inside her grip. “Eat this instead. This is better for you, kid.”
“You don’t know anything,” Nessa muttered under her breath, her anger rising from his demanding tone of voice.
The man knocked her gently on her forehead as if attempting to knock some sense into her. “Whatever it is you’re going through, smoking and vices aren’t an option. You hear me?”
“But you’re doing it,” Nessa cunningly retorted.
“I’m saying don’t follow me,” the man fired back at her. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you.”
The man, deciding that he wasn’t going to put up with any more of her stunts, stood up and puffed his last smoke before throwing his cigarette butt onto the ground.
He dusted himself off with his hands, stomped it with his heel before he left Nessa sitting on the cold pavement alone, in a state of contradiction and restlessness about how her future would unfold before her.
“Fuck it,” she murmured to no one as she hugged knees close to her chest and buried her head between her arms in aggravated frustration.
Hey! So...this is the one I wanted to try out, a novel. I’ve always been really anxious about starting something like this because of a trauma that happened when I had started writing stories back when I was still a puny kid. haha Well, that’s the sob story, and it might not seem like much of a huge deal to others; however, for me, I found it really difficult to bring myself to write something without the context of poetry or prose in my head.
I guess it’s because I’ve always believed I wasn’t good enough?
But this time, I wanted to try something different, and I felt like it's high time that I finally face this fear head-on after nth years of doubting myself. And so, I really hope you’ll like this.
Please be patient with me as I go through the process of being a novel writer. I may be rough on this type of book, but I really hope to God you’ll like it as much as I’m excited to share Nessa’s story with you guys! :D
PS: I'm open to constructive criticisms along the way if you guys have some for me! Just give me a message down below. Thank you!