A Life Without a Speck of Light
My life is like a maze, a never ending boat ride in the middle of the ocean, like a cave with no return as the light fades away; nobody’s life is perfect, nobody has a smile on their face all the time, but if I tell you my situation you probably won’t believe me. I always look at other people and dream of a better life, of freedom, or maybe I just want their lives, but I can always hear them complaining and saying they’d rather want my life. You know what they say; the grass is always greener on the other side.
The old wooden steps creak under my weight as I walk up to the attic, a cold dusty place, my mind swirling around all the troubling thoughts crowding my head as every so often one of the unstable wooden boards that I’m trusting to support me, splinters away to leave an open gap to fall through; cobwebs, spiders, dust, dirt, moss and undiscovered creatures lurk behind every corner, every turn of the steps a danger to find the unfamiliar. My heart knows no emotions, no feelings for me to experience, and my brain doesn’t want to think anymore, just an inhabitant of my skull, dust probably gathering with the lack of life, but I’m not dead…not yet.
As my hand touches the door to open it, the rotten door 10 centuries old, my eyes fall close and the door falls forward, the rusty hinges that gave way falling down the steps; it’s midnight, the worst time to wander around this house, to be alive or awake, but I couldn’t wait, the last remaining pieces of what once was my proper working heart raced at such a pace I can’t count the beats, but everything that matters sucked out of it. I’m falling forward; landing on the old door like it’s a cosy bed. My mind fills up with old memories, memories before the horrible day, but they get thrown away as the memory of that day revives itself.
I try to push the thought out of my head as I’ve already endured the pain a million times after the actual time it happened; my face turns into a display of pain as I slowly stand up, my arm bruised and a few scratches on my face, but I keep moving forward, to the window where the pale moonlight flows in from outside, everything in perfect harmony in the outside world. Sadly, I wouldn’t know about that. Ever since my dad died from a horrible disease 2 years ago, mom has gone into denial, abandoning me after her second marriage 9 months ago in an attempt to get over my dad, all ending in failure.
I never see my mother anymore, leaving me to find support from my step-dad, luckily succeeding, but as soon as a father-daughter bond formed between the 2 of us, when mom’s eyes slowly started opening to the truth and I finally called him dad, he was pulled away from us; he got an amazing job offer in a different country, a country we can’t afford, and it was his dream job. We’d be monsters if we forced him to stay, to give up this once in a lifetime opportunity, and so all our happiness left along with him, barely returning when he visits once every 2 months, although it’s still our happiest times.
Mother doesn’t leave her room anymore, not even when dad visits, and just lies in bed for 90% of the day, leaving me in the care of my sleep-in home school teacher; she was always pretending around mom before she turned into the lifeless shadow of her old self, someone who doesn’t care anymore and doesn’t care about living. She could never fool dad though, as he always broke her down with his stare, being caught whenever I was uncomfortable, and he made sure she would always show her true colours around him. If he was still staying with us she would’ve been fired months ago, but there’s no way he can monitor her from where he lives at the moment.
She’s my greatest nightmare, a woman I fear, as I can never know when she will make my current breath my last one; she locks me in this house on the second floor up to the attic, my prison, never to see the world, never even a whiff of fresh air. Big tears roll from my pale blue eyes, falling to the world beyond my reach 5 floors downwards to the pavement, leaving big puddles after a long time period of sobbing, crying my eyes out. I can only dream, these magnificent dreams where I have a real live and a real mother, but as soon as my eyes shoot open the realisation of that being a fairytale, something that only happens in stories for little kids, my mood dampens and all my hope flies out the window.
My mind starts to wander for the fifth time this night, feeling that this is the day for change, the day when everything will take a path for something better, something normal and real, not a rotten ‘life’ in a prison. I always wonder what it would be like to live with my step-father, if it would be worse (which I highly doubt) or a dream come true; if only I could get that chance to try it, even if just for 1 minute, I can continue my life without this riddle stuck in my brain.
My daydreaming is interrupted by a shaking of the attic, before realising it’s not the attic but the whole town, possibly the whole continent, and as my emotions suddenly went from confusion and just a blank, to irritation (because its happened before because of the attic’s weak architecture) and almost instantly to panic when I realised it has nothing to do with the house. This was the first ever earthquake in my neighbourhood!
Millions of questions whirl through my head, uncontrollably, all leaving me confused, shaken, my eyes tearing up and my body ready to collapse at any moment as the questions still kept coming. How many people’s lives will this quake take? Is our house going to collapse? Does the earthquake stretch to where dad is? Will he die? Will I ever see him again? What about mom? Is she finally going to show emotion again? Will this be the last moment of my life, here in the rotten attic?
I feel the sun beating down on my face, the birds singing and a gentle breeze blowing through my hair, and my eyes slowly flicker open. I find myself in an unfamiliar place, in a small apartment, miles away from my house, but much more glamorous and welcoming.
“She’s awake! Honey, come quick!”
It is dad’s voice, the only voice besides mom’s I’ve been seeking; I put all my energy into moving my head, looking around the room to find him.
His face is lit up of relief after what I can see were hours (days?) of stress, his deep blue eyes twinkling with delight and pleasure as he smiles to me, a smile that washes away all my troubles and worries.
“Oh, thank goodness! My baby is alright, such a relief”
This time it’s mom’s voice calling as I see her running to us, her face soaked of tears and her arm in a cast. As she sits next to me on the bed I’m resting on, I see her more alive than ever, that she finally awoke from her misery.
“I’m sorry darling. Life goes on, and I just couldn’t accept that. I abandoned you. Your life became horrible and it’s all my fault” mom cried as she held my hand in hers, stroking it with love.
I couldn’t reply, everything she said is true, but I can’t tell her that, my lips sealed together as I don’t want to hurt her.
“What happened?” I asked when I suddenly remember that dad was living miles away, and then the realisation that the earthquake was over, that it made us flea, all rushed over me.
“You were being crushed under tons of rubble during the earthquake. Our maid was the only one with the courage to come to me and tell me what’s happening. I jumped out of bed and everyone helped to get you out. Several of your bones were broken. It happened a week ago and you were discharged from the hospital a day ago. I immediately called Hayden, your step-dad, for help when the earthquake passed and the after shocks began” mom explained
“I rushed over in fear that you and your mom would get seriously injured. I was just in time to see you free from the ruins and your mom and I rushed you to the hospital over here. We couldn’t bear to lose you…you opened our eyes” dad said to me with a twinkle in his eyes.
I wanted to ask more questions, to have more info, but my lips were numb, unable to move; at last I instead just closed my eyes to rest, dad stroking my hair gently.
The days were flying by as I barely notice the clock ticking from all the excitement, the fun with my mom and dad indescribable; that saying, the grass is always greener on the other side, I don’t believe it anymore. Not for 1 moment have I wanted to get my old life back. I’d have to be a lunatic to want to do that! My life’s still not perfect, but it’s better; we’re a real family now and mom finally has a life again, though…no, it must be my imagination.
Its 2 months later and I’m sure something’s wrong. Mom isn’t right; she’s always mumbling to herself, looking around franticly like an escaped convict, giving dad a wild eye stare no normal person is capable of. I’m really worried about her, seeing as she and dad are drifting apart, and everything’s falling apart for them; they try to make me think everything is fine, but I’m not that stupid, not anymore. Dad’s also acting weird, and I mean really freaky, always hiding in the shadows, afraid that anyone will see him, acting like he has something to hide.
I’m growing with fear, weeks passing and I’m appearing less and less in public, scared that something will happen, afraid that I will never again see my parents. This neighbourhood isn’t safe, and neither is my life, as I realise its only turned into a different version of when mom and I lived alone, when she was blind to the truth. Dad’s not as great as I thought he was; I don’t really know much about him, and that’s the problem, but I think the best way to get started is to find out what this ‘dream job’ of his is.
He would never tell us what it is, no matter how much we beg and plead, so my job was to be shady and get the info.
I hear the wind howling around the corners, the leaves blowing in circles through the streets while being watched by the shining moon and the countless twinkling stars above; the welcoming sounds of nature’s wonders drift into my ears as I push the pepper spray deeper down into my pocket not to lose my only weapon of self defence. Dad always works at night, hiding out in his study but I have a feeling he goes down the elevator in there so neither me nor mom know he’s gone. I have no idea what I’m going to find, or what I’m hoping to discover, just hoping that I’ll find an answer.
“Maybe my old life is better; mom didn’t really have a life but she didn’t feel this pain” I whisper to myself as I reach the door to dad’s study, thinking about her behaviour and deciding that I’m not imagining it, that mom really is traumatised. It’s my job to find out what did it to her, whatever it takes.
“No, not yet…yes! Unfortunately, she found out. She’s not the same anymore…no way! I’ve waited to long already…you know I’m a master of words. I can fix this…of course I’ll make sure…but-…ok, if it has to” I hear dad arguing on the phone, throwing it onto a pillow when he hangs up.
The door creaks as I slowly push the door open, only a little opening to look through, and I see my dad sitting at his desk rubbing his head with frustration, messing up his perfectly combed hair. I can’t see danger in this job, just frustration, misery pouring out of him from having no answer to give. As I feel sorry for him I lean forward, putting my weight on the door ready to fling open with the gentlest push, and my weight is more than that, the door falling open and leaving me to plummet headfirst into the carpet.
Before noticing me, obviously deep into his thoughts, he talked clearly without the tiniest worry that somebody will hear.
“Now, onto the important business; Jewel heist, or rob the city bank...? We can always try to kidnap the mayor to ask for a ransom for his safe return…Mayra!” he wondered about his next job out loudly, and then with a shock notices me, jumping up.
“Hey…dad” I greet nervously standing up, awkwardly rubbing my hands together in an effort to occupy them.
“What are you doing here?” he asks, winning back his confidence and putting on a charming, yet fake smile. “What did you hear?”
“You know I hate it when you hide things from me”
“Uh, from the part where you said ‘no, not yet’ on the phone”
At the sound of these words his smile disappeared immediately, his hand reaching to the inside of his pocket and bringing out a strong hand pistol.
I start retreating slowly, trying not to let dad notice and my hand failing to grasp the pepper spray; he lifts the gun higher up, making my eyes tear up from fear, looking everywhere for my dad- before I found out the truth, not this monster.
“Stay where you are! Don’t move” he demanded, his voice icy and without feeling, visible emotional pain on his face.
“Dad, I don’t understand” I broke out, tears running over my face.
“No, you don’t! This is my dream job, the one I’ve been waiting for all my life. I’m not going to let a little girl and her mother take this away from me.”
“Your dream job is to be a criminal? What kind of a life is that!?”
“It’s my life! I promised myself I wouldn’t stop till I’m at the top, and I don’t break promises.”
“What about what you promised mom and me; that you’ll always protect us and make sure nothing bad ever happens to us? Where is that guy, the person we all love?”
“Don’t talk nonsense. I’m still him, you 2 just didn’t know the other half of me…and you shouldn’t. You know too much, both of you; you’re too young, you won’t make it. Your mom is a big girl on the other hand, she can get over it.”
His finger rested on the trigger for quite some time, as if scared to pull it and end my life, and I consider running in his moment of hesitation, but as soon as the thought pops into my head I realise how ridiculous this is; he’s much faster than me, as I’m not fit after staying in a house without any fresh air for about a year, and he doesn’t even have to catch up to me, he just needs to get me out into the open for a clear shot. I see his finger’s muscle pulling as he moves it to finally end my life.
“Wait…! Can I ask you one more thing? Then I’ll accept my demise with honour and dignity.” I pleaded desperately
“Uh…Sounds good to me. What is it?” he answered cautiously.
“I want to experience you the same way before I found out”
“Can I at least…have one last hug?”
He couldn’t say no, seeing as we’re not enemies but a close step-daughter and –father, pulling me into a pleasant hug and lowering his weapon for a moment. I haven’t been this happy and comfortable for weeks, but I know this won’t last, that once this moment is over I can never even think of having another.
“Can’t I…stay? I can help you; I won’t tell anyone” I desperately try to save my life.
“I will never be able to live with myself if I did that. It gets pretty gruesome and I can’t let you be emotionally scarred like that. Even tonight has been too much to overlook. You won’t be able to look at me the same again as soon as you wake up tomorrow morning. You won’t be able to function the same…this is the only mercy” he explains, surprising me as I hear his voice shaky, close to tears.
I think about my life for a while, for the last minutes I’ll be able to think; that saying is absolutely true, that the grass is always greener on the other side: at first I thought life with dad would be better, but I was wrong; now that I’m here I started thinking my old life was an improvement, the exact opposite of what I thought at first; and now, I once again think life with dad is better than dying, but I know if I stay I’ll think otherwise. It seems the only way to get out of this maze of a life is to end it, but once again I can be wrong, as I’ve seen countless times before now.
“Dad, I’ll miss you…I couldn’t have asked for a better step-father” I sobbed.
“I’ll never be able to replace you, darling…do you still think I’m that great a step-father, even though I’m going to kill you?” he cried, finally letting his emotions run wild as the tears come down.
“Yes…I know it’s for the best”
Our conversation ended, crying into each other’s shoulders and just savouring this last moment together. He slowly lifted his hand with the pistol up to my head, the cold metal making me shiver; I clung tighter onto him for support, wanting him to take away my fear. He strokes my hair, holds me tighter to get me calmed down, waiting till I’m calmer, my tears becoming less. After a long wait to reassure of this, he pulled the trigger, the bang of the bullet going through my head and hitting my brain the last thing I experience, dad’s comforting face in front of me, full of regret.
As all the life is sucked out of me, my lifeless body in dad’s arms, he fell down on his knees crying hysterically and mom rushing into the room, joining in on the crying. She wasn’t mad, just horrified and miserable. Both of them were, but they kept going; one step at a time they kept living with effort, without me. They will always be without me, but I’ll never be without them…never. It feels like they’re still looking out for me, like they never left me…but I’m dead, though these feelings can never leave my body, underground in my cold grave.