A long time ago I knew that I wasn’t wanted. No one cared enough to stay. No one considered me when making decisions. No one went out of their way to make sure I was okay. No tried to dry my tears. No one checked on me to see how I was dealing with everything. Everyone only cared about how their lives were changing, how their lives were affected. I was just a child, I was supposed to listen to everything I was told. Whether I was happy or not was irrelevant. I had to feel grateful. That gratitude is what kept me quiet, that sense of guilt that if I left I would be making things worse. That gratitude and guilt which was interpreted as acceptance. After all silence is acceptance right? It didn’t matter how hard the blows were, it didn’t matter if I had bruises which everyone could see, it didn’t matter how harsh the insults were or even how deep the betrayal cut. All that mattered was that I remember how much of pain and sacrifices the grown-ups made for me. How much pain my mother endured. How much money my father spent. That was all that mattered. I took every hand that was dealt. Eventually I was strong, not strong enough to fight back, but strong enough to finally leave. To go out and experience life no matter how hard it would be. To accept that I deserve happiness. I deserve love. And someday someone would be Worthy of Me.
Nine years earlier…
The house was quiet when I got home. Dad’s car wasn’t in the yard and I had to come home with a friend today. It was my last day of primary school; I was finally going to enter highschool next year. Just five more years and I can leave this small town.
“Mom?” I called out as I dropped my schoolbag on the couch.
I walked through the house passing by my old room, the bathroom and my new room which used to be my sister’s room. I couldn’t hear anyone and even mom wasn’t answering me. I reached the end of the hall to find her bedroom door closed. I left it and went straight across to my room.
Mom and dad always told me that when the door was closed I wasn’t to disturb them. They were probably doing those disgusting things that twelve year old girls like me shouldn’t know about yet.
Ours passed and the door still didn’t open. I needed to use mom’s shower and I was hungry as hell. We were supposed to celebrate my ending of school. I walk across the hall to mom and dad’s room and knock on the door.
No answer. I frowned and decided to just walk in. let them shout at me if they wanted. I was hungry. I opened the door and it took me a few minutes to figure out what I was seeing.
“MOM!” I screamed.
I ran out of the house and across the road to my neighbour. My sister lived there so it was okay. I banged on the door until my sister opened the door.
“What?” she shouted angrily. “What do you want?”
I briefly forgot that my sister no longer wanted anything to do with me. I even forgot why.
“Its mom, something’s wrong with her!”
Bria looked down at me with a frown on her face. “What do you mean?”
“She-she’s just laying there, Bri, she’s not waking up!”
Bria’s eyes flashed with concern and next I knew we were both running across to my house. Bria screamed when she saw our beautiful mom lying in an awkward angle with her eyes slightly open. Bria put her hand in front of mom’s mouth.
“She’s breathing,” Bria sighed in relief. “Help me get her to the bathroom.”
I wasn’t much help but we did manage to get mom bent over the sink where Bria flung cold water on mom’s face. Bria pulled mom’s toothbrush from the holder and started pushing it into her mouth. I thought she was brushing mom’s teeth but then I saw the vomit. I know it’s gross to look at someone’s puke but once when I was sick and we didn’t know what made me vomit so much, dad had said to look at the vomit and whatever you see could be a clue. All I saw were colours. And then I saw the not fully dissolved tablets that came next.
Two months later…
Dad hasn’t come home in the last two months. Everyone tells me he just got work to do. I figure that maybe mom and he are fighting like they used to when I was small. Maybe he left like he did the last time to just cool off and he’ll be back when he is ready. He phoned me to wish me luck for my first day of highschool a few weeks back. I asked him when he’s coming home and he just changed the topic. Dad was one person you couldn’t force to say anything.
I made a few friends. My old friends and I still hang out together. Class has been fun and even the teachers are nice. Some scare you on purpose just to remind you that you are in a big school now. With my thirteenth birthday looming closer another realisation was fast approaching—I was no longer going to be a kid anymore. I was going to be a teenager.
I was gonna need my parents more than anything this year.
Addison came up to me while we were waiting to go inside math class.
“Hey, I’m so sorry about what happened.”
I glanced at Addison and wondered what she was apologising for. “Sorry for?”
“Uh, for what happened in your home? Your dad leaving your mom for another lady? I hear they’re living together with her daughter and son,” Addison said with a frown.
Rage coloured my vision. What did I ever do to this girl to have her hate me so much that she would make up stories about me?
“My dad would never do that!”
Deep down however the last few years flashed before me. He would do that. He’s left plenty of times before. But he wouldn’t just leave us to have another family, would he? Things were going okay at home. I mean yeah, my sisters; Rea and Bria were causing a lot of problems at home with boys and their constant fighting. Sure they had their own issues with my parents but my dad wouldn’t take it out on us would he? He wouldn’t… leave…me… would he?
I ran home when the school day was over. I rushed into the house to find mom standing in her room. I could get a funny smell in the house. It smelt like paraffin. Huh?
She looked at me and continuously poured the contents on her. What is wrong with her?
“Mom, stop it!” I screamed. She wasn’t listening.
I ran across the road and shouted for my sister. “She’s pouring paraffin on herself!”
My sister and I ran as fast as we could. Mom had the matchstick in her hand now. She was going to light it. Bria smacked mom across the face. My mouth hung open. I thought mom was surely going to swear her or hit her back but instead my mom dropped to her knees and started sobbing. I hated when mom cried. It made me cry.
My sister dragged mom into the shower and let the water pour all over her.
“Mia, go to your room,” Bria said to me.
I walked away and closed the door. But I didn’t go to my room I stood to the side where I could hear them talking.
“I know this hard, mom, but you can’t do this. Mia is watching all of this. You have to think about her, she’s still a child.”
“It hurts, Bria, it hurts so much. I gave up everything to come here only to have him go for some other bitch? He’s living with her!” my mother sobbed. “I don’t care about anything! He left me so now I’m going to leave this world. Mia will be better off with someone else.”
I walked numbly into my room and closed the door slowly. I slid against the wall until my knees reached my chest. I held them close and let my tears fall. It was all true. My dad left us. He’s living with someone else. The day I found mom on the floor vomiting because of tablets and today mom trying to burn herself.
Dad had left us. Mom wanted to kill herself. They both thought of themselves. They didn’t care about me. I looked around my room and realised, I was alone.
I wished I knew how much worse it was going to get.