The rain was pouring hard that day. I rushed to go home and did everything I could to prevent myself from getting wet. I am a sickly girl, you know. I could catch a cold even through the slightest rain. I don’t know when my immune system started to fail me. I think it was after I graduated from college.
When I got home, I saw she’s already there---in one corner of our room, staring blankly at the ceiling. I’ve seen her in that state so many times before but every time I try to get her to open up to me, she’ll just shake her head and silently cry. This time though, I didn’t have to ask what’s wrong. She voluntarily narrated the things that brought her in that darkness.
When she was young, her parents almost filed an annulment. They were fighting every day. It was not a kind of fight where people are shouting, smashing things or cursing. It was a fight so silent that she, as their kid, felt like the world was suddenly put on mute. That’s the most painful type of fighting. Every night she prayed for the war to stop. She begged God to make her parents okay again. Make them a nice and normal couple with kids. In her dreams, she pictured a perfect family---happy and full of love. Years passed and it never happened. She got tired and eventually became numb for all the pain. Then one day, she stopped praying.
From the looks on her face, I sensed how her heart was breaking all over again. Just thinking about the past seemed to tire her body. “You could stop telling me these if you’re uncomfortable,” I told her. She just gave me a sad smile.
When she was still studying, she had all the wrong reasons to achieve her dreams. She studied hard only for herself. She wanted to make her parents feel that she’s okay even though she was slowly falling apart. It was her form of rebellion. Gaining success and not dedicating it to them. “Why would I? They never considered my feelings when they were fighting,” she reasoned.
But something happened when she was in college. It was a blessing in disguise as she described it. Little by little, her parents started talking again. She began to heal and feel fine. They still have arguments, but nevertheless, she’s happy. She asked God for forgiveness and began praying again.
So, that’s the reason behind her silence, her sad eyes and her invisible walls. She started to build those walls when she was young. ‘Coz she was afraid of experiencing pain and of being left behind. This fear of hers intensified when she had her heart broken by someone.
She stopped talking upon saying those words. “Heart break,” I mumbled. She looked at me as if I was forbidden to say those words. I apologized then we kept silent for quite some time.
Outside our room, I could hear the rain falling so hard. It was getting darker and darker but I just kept the lights off. There was something soothing in the darkness. I sat closer to her to make her feel she’s not alone.
I remembered the last time she looked happy. For some moment, I forgot that she was a girl with so many stitches in her heart. It took her years to put herself together and I was surprised when she let another person in that fragile little thing. Her heart which she thought (and which I thought) was no longer capable of beating. Her heart so worn out by enormous pain from her childhood. Her heart surrounded by walls even her couldn’t break. She was brave
(or stupid?) to let that thing feel again. She believed in lies. She believed in rainbows. And butterflies. Then, before she even knew it, she found herself collecting her shattered pieces back. Again. History repeats itself, I guess.
I was consumed by these thoughts when she started talking to me again. She said she’s in the shadows ’coz she feels safer there. Sometimes, she goes out and surrounds herself with people just to remind her that she’s not alone in this world. I often see her come home looking worse than when she left. She always says that she feels even more alone around those strangers. Maybe she’s just over dramatic, or whatever. But I can feel her sadness.
Now, don’t get her wrong. She’s not some kind of psycho or suicidal emo. She’s just like any other normal girl you know. She’s good at hiding these things, or her things. She can wear a face that has no trace of grief on it. I often caught myself jealous of her ability to do that. But I never want to be in her shoes. Never.
“Will I forever be like this?” she asked. The question rang in my ear. Like bees. I tried to hold my tears and be strong for her. But it was too late to do that. I just hugged her tight. So tight that I could feel myself buried in her body. “You’re not alone. I’m here.” I whispered. “Yes, you’re the only one who never left me,” she whispered back.
A lightning struck and its light flooded our room. It was followed by a loud thunder that I jolted upon hearing it. My eyes grew wide when I caught a glimpse of the mirror.
The mirror---it reflected only one person in that room.
It was just me…hugging my own knees.