Stupid (Part 2)

The girl didn’t speak on the car ride home from school, letting Third Eye Blind fill the thick silence.  Her mother had asked questions like, “How was your day?” at the beginning of the ride, but having been met with only short, curt answers, she eventually gave up.  When they arrived at the house, the girl walked up to the porch and shifted her weight from one foot to the other impatiently while she waited for her mother help her little brother out of the car and come unlock the door.

Once the door was finally open, she stomped up the stairs and unceremoniously threw her backpack onto her chair at the kitchen table.  Her brother came scurrying past her and knocked her aside as he headed for the cabinet where the snacks were kept.  She glowered at him while she headed towards the refrigerator, trying to find something to keep her occupied while she did her homework, just like she did every afternoon.  She zoned out while staring into the fridge and when her mother snapped her back into reality by commenting on letting the cold air out, she grabbed the skim milk and set it on the counter.  She walked across the room to grab a glass and subtly but purposefully grazed her brother with her hip as she passed him.  “Hey!” he exclaimed, but she ignored him.  When she walked by him again, he hit her hard on the leg.  It didn’t really hurt, since he was pretty scrawny, even for an eight year old, but she shouted, “Stop!” at him before punching him in the shoulder.  Just then their mother stuck her head out of the computer room down the hall and told her to leave her brother alone.

She stormily went back to pouring herself a glass of milk and took her place at the table, laying out her homework.  She tried to stay focused on the work at hand, but the math problems were too simple and the Spanish worksheet was too easy and it wasn’t enough to keep her mind from wandering to the nagging feelings of anger and sadness that were building up inside of her.

By the time she finished thinking up ten sentences for her vocabulary words and answering the stupid history questions at the end of the chapter, her father had come home from work and her mother was asking her to finish up so they could set the table for dinner.  She focused more on her corn and cutting her chicken than she did the conversation that night.  After her parent’s initial discussions of their days, the sounds of 7th Heaven from the small television on top of the refrigerator filled the space that was normally filled with conversation.  As these episodes go, a major problem was discovered and resolved within the hour.  When this particular episode in which Mary found one of Lucy’s friends cutting herself ended, the girl’s father shook his head as he jabbed his fork into his mashed potatoes and said, “I don’t understand how anyone could do that. Why anyone would do that.”

“They just take their emotional pain and turn it into physical pain to deal with it better.”

She didn’t look up from her plate, but she felt her parents’ eyes burning into her. She didn’t know why she knew that, where she got that conclusion from. It just came out.  After a moment of stifling silence, her dad half-laughed and said, “Oh yeah, where’d ya learn that?”

“I dunno, I must have read it in a book or something.”

She made a point keep both of her arms above the table until the conversation shifted, sure her mother was eyeballing the flawless, unmarked skin of her forearms.  She hadn’t meant to make them think she was anything less than happy. She quickly flashed a smile and sat up a little straighter and said, “Well, she went to the right place. At the Camden’s, problems are solved the day they’re discovered!”

Her parents laughed and they continued to mock the overdramatic structure of the show that was usually playing at dinner.  She helped clear the table, making sure to throw in some lighthearted comments before excusing herself to take a shower.

She trudged upstairs and shut the bathroom door. She turned the water on and watched the steam slowly start to build up as she took off the heavy, scratchy material of her school uniform and let it fall to the floor.  She stepped in the shower, not even bothering to test the water with her hand before she stepped completely underneath the stream of water.  She let the heat and warmth envelop her as the water soaked her hair and ran down her back.  She closed her eyes and let the water flow over her face, over her head, drowning out the world until she could only hear the steady, muffled sound of the shower. She wasn’t keeping track of time, but she must have been doing this for a while because suddently there was a knock on the door asking her to hurry up.  Not pleased to have been torn from her peaceful state, she quickly finished her shower and wrapped herself in a towel. The cool air in her bedroom was an unpleasantly sharp contrast to the sauna of a bathroom she just left, so she scurried to put on the warmest pajamas she could find.  Just as she was taking her hair out of the towel she had wrapped around her head, her door swung open and her little brother strolled in and started asking her something.  She didn’t even hear what he was saying because her rage took over and she immediately started screaming.


Her brother froze. “But I…”


When he still hadn’t moved, she flew into a tirade.

“THE DOOR WAS CLOSED! HAS ANYONE IN THIS FAMILY EVER HEARD OF KNOCKING?! IS KNOCKING REALLY SO HARD?!?! GET OUT!”  She picked up a shoe from the floor and chucked it at her wide-eyed brother. He ducked out of the way just in time and ran into his room next door, shutting his own door tight behind him.  She stormed over to her door and slammed it shut with all the force the thick carpet would let her, causing the clock on the wall next to the doorframe to rattle.  When she took her hand away from the door, she realized she was shaking.  She took a few deep breaths and walked over to sit down on the edge of her bed.  She picked up the hairbrush she had thrown there before launching her shoe at her unsuspecting brother and started to comb through her wet hair, calming herself with the consistent, soothing strokes.  She headed back into the bathroom to blow-dry her hair, thankful the loud noise of the dryer gave her an excuse to ignore her mother screaming her name up the stairs, telling her it was time for bed.

When she got back to her room, she pressed her door shut tight behind her.  She got her CD player from her desk, because lately she had been having a hard time falling asleep.  It seemed that the only thing that helped her was to put her headphones in and let the music drown out her thoughts.  She shut off her lights and just as she slid under the covers, she heard a gentle knock on her door.  Assuming it was her parents, she called “Come in” through the darkness.  A sliver of light illuminated part of the room as the door was pushed open to reveal a small figure peeping his head through.  As he pushed the door open far enough to see his sister, she noticed that he was holding his pillow and blanket in his hands.  He looked down at the floor while he dug one of his toes into the carpet and asked in a quiet voice, “Do you think…maybe…can I sleep in here tonight?”

She sighed. She looked at her little brother, fidgeting nervously while waiting for her answer.  She wasn’t sure why he wanted to stay in her room after how she had acted earlier.  He sometimes slept on her floor on hot nights because her room had an air conditioner, but it was off that night.  Maybe he could sense she didn’t want to be alone. Maybe he got scared alone in his room. She didn’t know what had brought him to ask her, but she couldn’t say no to such a sincere, meek request.  She softly replied, “Sure” and his little eyes lit up for a moment.  He walked across the room and spread his blanket out along the far side of her bed.  When she started to put her earbuds in, he asked with a little more confidence than his initial request – “Can I listen, too?”

Comforted by her brothers presence, she agreed.  She moved her pillow to the foot of her bed and scooted to the edge, so one headphone could stay in her ear while the other reached down to his.  She pressed play and tucked the CD player underneath her pillow before lying down, letting her arm hang over the bed.

She let the music push out all of the thoughts in her head, all of the things that happened today, all the feelings she felt.  She focused instead on the melodies in her ear and her brother’s soft breathing below her.  She closed her eyes tight and let the music consume her.

And I want to believe you, when you tell me that it’ll be okay. Yeah, I try to believe you. Not today. 

As she felt herself drifting away, being ecompassed by the much welcomed feeling of sleep, she felt a small hand wrap itself around hers, joined just above her bedroom floor.

Tomorrow it may change. 

~ by Valerie Anne on 05/10/2011.

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