The curtains are closed tight, she thinks, wary of the boogie monster since age eleven. She hides under the blankets at age seventeen, ocean tears slipping from under her dirty brown eyes. Her mind is racing, simple things turning into complex events. She wishes for the silence to go away, the silence louder than her mother yells from outside the door, incoherent ramblings about clean dishes and a dirty report card. She knows she shouldn't care, that she should just let the knife slice right through, but the voices gather into a cult, chants unguarded and menacing. Soon it's the only thing she ever hears, even over her fathers growl of disapproval. She hugs the blankets closer to her body, as if covering herself will stop the monsters from getting in.
Eighteen, and she's finally free, but every night she draws the blankets up to her nose, the light from the campus lights reflected in her wide-open eyes. Her roommate doesn't understand. There's a monster in the light that trickles in from the hallway, there's a monster that slips around the door frame. No, her roommate doesn't understand the bite of the silence. But she doesn't understand why she wants nothing and everything at the same time. The silence scares her, but the din of voices makes her cower in fear.
It's the dawn of her nineteenth birthday and she couldn't be more alone. The city lights reflect in the distance, her rear view mirror uncovering twinkling lights. She's running from tomorrow, or was it yesterday, or today? She can't remember anymore, her heart set for the lonely road. Some days she knows she was meant for more, more than just this life filled with worry or doubt. But nowadays, all she can think about are all the things she did wrong. They weigh her down, tight around her neck, air barely managing to escape. She's strong through, barreling through her life as is.
Do not let yourself crumple, she constantly reminds herself; she's strung on a wire, stretched out like a rubber band, ready to snap. Each time someone plucks her, each time someone takes her for granted she grows closer to breaking. The scars on her skin make the break tangible, as if she could trace a fingernail along the scab and her skin would peel away to reveal the little girl that never got to grow up properly, the little girl who had to arrange her features into a smile. She learned, as a child, that unconditional love came with a price tag.
Heart shattering, teeth clenching as tears escape the blockade. She holds so much in, hiding everything behind a breathy laugh, something so pursing with life, with love. She wants to give up; she needs a break. But she can't find a way out, aimlessly walking through the dark, no one to guide her through. She's pushing everyone away, excuses flying out of her mouth as if they were on their way to some new adventure, somewhere new. She settles for a black and blue kind of love, finding unrated comfort in temporary love.
She learned, eventually, that she was only one girl who wasn't strong enough to shoulder the burden of life. But she learned, that being strong enough to ask for help meant that she was strong enough to be vulnerable, to not be ashamed of who she was. She learned to love with her heart wide open, and ask the people who resided there to leave the door open when they left, so the next person who came along could find her.