Olive The Second
when viewing life with clarity
take in a shake of reality
embrace the kiss of darkness
and accept the sweet reprieve
“Don’t you dare,” my mother’s voice dropped to a volume uncharacteristic for her. I had to concentrate to catch her next words. I wasn’t sure how loud they were originally but by the time they reach me they were but whispers.
“You don’t deserve to call her name,” she said.
I reeled back in shock, confusion then more shock. Her? Did she mean me?
Everything around me went still. My shallow breathing echoed faintly in my ears. The beats of my heart became the background of the conversation. What are they talking about?
“You have to forget about her sooner or later, Patricia,” I could imagine Dad frowning as he said that. “I meant Olly, our son.”
“What about him?”
“You are getting married, I assumed that you also planned on having children.”
“So? What of it?”
“What are you going to do with him when that happens?”
“With him?” Mother’s voice returned to normal. “He’s turning eighteen in a month or so. He can get a job and move out. I don’t really care, Richard.”
“He’s your son, Patricia. How can you—”
“Yes, I raised him for you. He’s an adult now, you’re welcome.”
“Didn’t you think I would notice that you hurt him? He’s falling everyday of the week, is he?”
“That is rich coming from you,” Mother scoffed. “You still leave him here with me. You don’t want to get your hands dirty so you leave it all to me. You want him stronger, you don’t want a weak son. So you let me do whatever I want as long as he doesn’t die, right?”
“I only left him here because I thought you loved him.”
“If that’s what you need to sleep well at night keep telling yourself that.”
“You used to love him.”
Mother laughed. I laughed too, on the inside. Her? Loving me? It was a pipedream and one that I had quit having years ago.
“How can I love someone that took the most precious thing I had away from me?” she asked, her voice back to a whisper.
“It wasn’t his fault!” I was surprised to hear the anger in my father’s voice. “Blame God, blame me but don’t blame a child—your child. You named him Olive for a reason, didn’t you?”
“I named her Olive, not him. He is nothing but a flawed copy of her,” my mother’s voice began to crack. “Back then, when I saw him, despite what he did I still thought of her. I missed her and used him to replace her. Now, when I see him I see all my mistakes living and breathing in place of my precious daughter.”
“Olive is not a mistake.”
“No, she isn’t,” Mother said. “Olly is. You’ve known it from the moment they were born. Olive was your heir, she was the one you loved, she was your everything. And he. . . He was nothing but her shadow!”
“Patricia, I know that you felt particularly connected—”
“I have to go now,” Mother said. “Trevor is still waiting for me, isn’t he?”
When I heard the apartment door slam shut again, I stopped listening. I couldn’t bare to. When I tried to get back to my room, my knees buckled beneath me and I fell to floor. I felt the shards of the broken mirror pierce through my bandages into my skin, but I couldn’t move. I couldn’t think.
My mind was blank and overflowing with thoughts at the same time. Sometimes I forgot to breathe as I processed my parents conversation over and over again in my mind. Only when my vision began to blur did I remember that I needed to let air into my lungs.
But I forgot so many times that I just stopped remembering. No matter how many breaths I took, my vision remained blurry. When I got the strength to, I lifted one hand from the floor and used it to brush against my eyes.
I didn’t feel a thing but the bandages were wet when I pulled my hand away. Maybe I was sweating because I couldn’t have been crying. Why would I? Even if I was. . . maybe I wasn’t.
I wasn’t really here, I couldn’t have been. I was fine; I felt fine. Maybe I never went to the bathroom and I was on my bed right now and this was all a dream. But if it wasn’t a dream, why was I crying? What was there to cry about? My body must just be stressed from all the running I did. That had to be it.
I wasn’t the one kneeling on the bathroom floor and breaking down. I wasn’t that pathetic, it just had to be someone else. Maybe I wasn’t here at all; I was somewhere far away. Maybe I didn’t even exist, just like how I wasn’t really Olive like I always thought I was.
I was Olive II. A flawed copy.