If you were a window, what would you look like? Perhaps you’d be a normal window--plain glass, wood around the edges, split into four sections. Or maybe you would be a regal window, one with stained glass that tells a complicated story. Maybe it would tell your story. Or, if you’re a shy person, you might be a tiny window. You would be circle shaped and painted green, with a tiny wooden door that opens and closes but prefers to stay closed.
As for me, I’m a broken window.
I was a normal window once, except the wood separated me into two parts instead of four. I was the right side, and Dominique was the left.
Together, we were one window. People could look at us all they wanted, but they didn’t see much. It was as if they saw through us. They didn’t see who we were, didn’t even bother to march up and say hello. They just looked beyond, and when they waved we didn’t wave back because we knew that there was probably someone behind us that they were waving to instead.
To them, we never existed.
But that was okay, because we had each other. My name is Demi, which is a little bit funny because it means “half.” When I asked my mother why she named me that, she said that it was because I couldn’t ever bear to be left alone; I always needed someone with me. She said that I was only half of a spirit, that I still needed to find the other half.
And I did. I found Dominique.
“I get to be the mom,” she said to me the day we met. We were in the play room of our preschool, in front of the little toy kitchen that I loved playing with so much.
“But I want to be,” I protested. “You always get to be the mom.”
Dominique laughed. “That’s because I’m better at taking care of you,” she said.
Well, she was right.
If you throw something heavy at a window--let’s say a rock--it’ll most definitely break. But, depending on which side you throw it at, one part will be more broken than the other.
Dominique was more broken.
Dominique got the rock.
At first, it was a small rock. It didn’t come all at once, like a big boulder that shattered her immediately. It was a bunch of little rocks, one at a time, until they were relentlessly pelting her in all directions until she couldn’t bear it anymore.
Jen was the one who started it. Dominique and I were sitting on the swing set, swinging together in a rhythm that, to an outsider, looked as if we practiced swinging that way. But it wasn’t so; we seemed to know what the other was going to do, how much we should lean forward, when to scrape our feet on the ground to slow down.
And Jen ruined it.
“Hey,” she said, walking up to us. She was thirteen, a year older than we were at the time. “You’re going to throw yourselves off, look how high you’re going.”
The spell was broken, shattered like Dominique would soon be. Ungracefully we slid down from the swings and turned to face Jen. She didn’t say anything mean, but her interruption was enough to make me angry.
“You ruined it!” I said to her. “We weren’t going to fall, we were doing just fine.”
“Yeah.” Dominique walked up and stood beside me, facing Jen. “You didn’t need to interrupt us.”
Jen shrugged. “I was just saying,” she said. She said it as if she didn’t care what she did. But I did. Swinging with Dominique felt magical, like I was flying with the person I loved most.
“But we were dancing in the air!” I said as Jen turned around to walk away. She looked back at me and raised an eyebrow.
“You were just swinging. Go back on if it means so much to you.”
“No, it won’t be the same!” I cried. Jen blinked at me.
“Dude, chill, it was your choice to come down. I didn’t do anything.”
Dominique put a hand on my shoulder, and I relaxed slightly from the touch. “Demi,” she said gently, “calm down. We can go again, don’t worry about it. Jen wasn’t doing anything bad.”
I sniffed. “She ruined the magic,” I said. “She wrecked it!”
Jen shook her head and walked away without a word. “It’s okay,” Dominique reassured me.
“No, it’s not!” I shrugged off her hand and stalked a few steps away from her, tears streaming down my face. Dominique and I never disagreed on anything. Every interest we had was the same. Everyone used to say that we were like twins, completely identical. We got the same answers on test, the same grades, wore the same outfits, did our hair the exact same way--because if two sides of a window aren’t exactly the same, it can become uneven. It won’t work. It might fall off, or break.
I didn’t want to break.
I didn’t want her to break.
But she did.
“Demi, I don’t understand,” Dominique said. “Why are you so upset? What’s wrong?”
“We’re not supposed to fight!” I shouted, spinning around and facing her with angry eyes. “We never fight! And now we are! And it’s Jen’s fault!”
Dominique looked more confused than I had ever seen her. “We’re not fighting,” she said.
“Yes, we are! And it’s YOUR fault for not agreeing! It’s yours AND Jen’s fault!”
I know, I sounded like a little kid. I sounded like my baby cousin when he doesn’t get what he wants, when he throws a tantrum about the smallest things--because it’s the smallest things that really get me. They’re like little annoying paper cuts in some unreachable place, so you can’t scratch them and it just gets you angrier and angrier until you say it’s the worst wound you’ve ever had.
Dominique looked affronted. “Fine,” she said. “Fine. If you want to be in a fight, then fine. I’m leaving.”
“And don’t come back!” I yelled. “Don’t ever come back!”
Dominique hesitated. Then her shoulders dropped, and her eyes looked to the ground. “I don’t know why you’re being like this,” she muttered. Then she ran away without a word and left me there, in front of the swings on which we had just shared such a magical moment.
I dropped to the ground and pulled my knees to my face. Then I wept.
If a window has a crack in it, it makes it harder to look through. Sometimes the crack is unnoticeable, so looking through it is no problem. But other times it’s a large crack, one that resembles a spider web, and you can barely see at all. You don’t see what’s behind the window, you see the window itself.
After that day at the playground, Dominique’s side of the window had its first crack. Sometimes I think that I threw the stone that hit her, other times I think it was Jen. But we both had something to do with it, so maybe we both threw it. Either way, Dominique had a spider-web crack, and people began to see her instead of through her.
Wounds hurt. A crack is like a wound, and I hurt Dominique. She was hurt that I told her we were fighting, and didn’t want to talk to me after that. She was crying in the girl’s bathroom at school when someone named Daisy Jane found her. Daisy Jane likes to make friends with everyone, but she never talked to either of us. We used to be invisible, blended into the background.
But all that changed.
Daisy Jane put her arm around Dominique, comforted her. I know because I was there, in the next stall, and I peeked over the top to see what was going on. I heard Dominique talk to Daisy Jane, tell her what happened.
“It was like she hated me all of a sudden!” she sobbed. “It... it was like she didn’t ever want to speak to me again.”
I should have made my presence known, to tell her that’s not what I wanted at all. But I was nervous of Daisy Jane seeing me; I liked being invisible.
The only friend I wanted was Dominique.
But I could never catch her alone. Daisy Jane wanted to be friends with Dominique, to give her some “real, true friends.” Dominique met others, and soon she ate lunch with them and walked with them. It was like she couldn’t even see me anymore. It was like I was a window all by myself.
Finally, our English teacher--Mrs. Mole--partnered us for a project. We had to draw our desks close together, and I had my chance to speak.
“Dominique,” I said. She looked up.
“I... I’m sorry for yelling at you. Can we be friends again?”
Dominique sighed. “I would want that,” she said. “But... you don’t like other people. You want me to be with you all the time. You never let me have other friends.”
I stared at her with wide eyes. “But we don’t need other friends!” I exclaimed. “We have each other. We’re a window, remember?”
She frowned. “A window? What window?”
“I...” it dawned on me then that I was the only one who knew how much we were like a window. I never shared my theory with Dominique. Maybe if I did, she would have stayed with me. But I didn’t, and by that time it was too late.
“We can be friends again if you aren’t so clingy,” Dominique said, writing out a list of words she was looking up. “Daisy Jane is really nice, and so are her friends. I like them.”
A tear dripped from my cheek onto the pad of paper in front of me. “But... but you don’t need them. You only need me.”
Dominique sighed. “Demi, we’re still best friends, I promise,” she said. “But I want other friends too.”
“No! You can only have me!” I stood up and glared at her. “We’re supposed to be identical twins! We have to have the exact same number of friends, which is one--each other! We can’t be different.”
Dominique stood up too. She had always been taller than me. “It’s good if friends are different,” she said earnestly. “Otherwise it’s boring. I can introduce you to Daisy Jane, and--”
“No!” I screamed.
Mrs. Mole looked up sternly. Everyone was staring at us. We sat back down, and Dominique gave me a questioning look.
“So, will you let me have other friends?” she asked. “Please?”
I shook my head. “No,” I insisted. “I don’t want things to change.”
Dominique sighed mournfully. “Well, too bad,” she said. “Sometimes things need to change. This is one of them. If you don’t let me have other friends, then I can’t be yours. We’re... we’re done.”
She sounded so sure of herself.
She replaced me.
And I hated her for that.
Weeks passed, and nobody talked to me. Nobody looked at me. They saw through me, as always. I wished that I had never cracked Dominique. Then people would see through her, too.
She wanted to change. I didn’t. That was a difference, and it made me mad. Very, very mad.
But I couldn’t do anything about that anger. I couldn’t walk up to somebody and shout at them, and I couldn’t shout at Dominique because that would just make her crack bigger.
It was already getting plenty big enough without my help.
Jen saw her at school when we graduated and moved on to high school. Two whole years had passed, and I never made a move to try and fix our friendship. Maybe if I accepted the fact that Dominique needed more than one friend, we would have been okay. She would have been okay.
But it wasn’t so.
Jen remembered her, but not in a good way. She made fun of me in front of her, using it against her. She said that Dominique was friends with someone who liked to “fly in in the air like a little girl with wings.” I was right there, looking in my locker where nobody could see my face.
And Dominique answered her. “Demi is not my friend,” she said firmly. “She’s just a clingy nobody who doesn’t want to be seen. Leave off her.”
Dominique called me a clingy nobody.
She was right. But it still broke my heart.
Jen smirked. Over the next few months, she threw insults at Dominique. She made her crack bigger, and more and more people could see her. But cracks aren’t pretty; a small crack may prevent people from seeing through you without too much damage to your physical appearance, but a big crack makes you look old and broken. Dominique got bags under her eyes, and her skin looked just a tinge yellower. She didn’t wear makeup anymore and her hair was constantly knotted, as if she didn’t care about looking nice. Daisy Jane went to a different high school, and nobody else wanted to be her friend.
Except me. But I didn’t make my move. Dominique’s words stung, and I was too angry at her to speak.
Jen made other people tease her too. Eventually Dominique started skipping classes, then full days of school, until the teachers suspended her for a whole week. I don’t think she minded, since she didn’t want to be there in the first place.
It was only when she skipped school for an entire month that I became worried.
My parents had lost contact with Dominique’s family a long time ago, when we broke up. The school teachers couldn’t have told me--I was invisible to them, they had no idea how much Dominique used to mean to me, how she was the other half of my window. So it was only natural that my heart nearly stopped beating when I found out.
I meant to be visiting my grandmother’s grave with my family. We went to our local church, looking for her gravestone, when my mother told me to come and see something. Her voice was choked and watery, and I wondered why she sounded that way.
She was standing in front of a grave. “Read it,” she said.
I looked at it, and as I finished reading the words my half of the window shattered into a million pieces, scattered everywhere, picked up by the wind and carried away to all corners of the world so it would be impossible to ever find them again.
Dominique Rose Wild
Death by Suicide
It wasn’t only Dominique’s window that broke. It was her soul. She was shattered long before she did... it. The window was our friendship, not us. And she had broken it apart a long time ago. My half was still there, and I was keeping it strong, hoping that she might come back to me and we’d be sisters again.
I cursed Jen. I cursed Daisy Jane. I cursed windows. And I cursed myself for throwing that first little stone.
Because if it weren’t for me, Dominique wouldn’t have been cracked. She wouldn’t have been seen. She wouldn’t have been noticed and bullied until she shattered completely. She wouldn’t have jumped into the little pond by the park, as I found out later. She wouldn’t have drowned.
It was all my fault.
And I, thirty years later, still can’t fix it. I’m still invisible, writing this to you. Don’t notice me, please. Just leave me alone. If you ever find me, don’t try to be my friend, because all it will do is shatter you too.