WIDE OPEN EYES chapter two

Chap 2It was two weeks before Auberon got a day off. She didn’t mind the constant work and the promise of getting a real paycheck at the end of it all, though her feet were beginning to blister in places she didn’t know existed and her hands were red and tough from burns. If it hadn’t been for the fact that she was fairly sure that most human bodies weren’t supposed to be worked constantly, and that she was beginning to feel the after effects of overtiredness, Auberon thought she was doing just fine.

“Take a break,” Hazel said one afternoon as she turned to look at Auberon, her constant smile faltering. “You look like you’ve been walking across the Sahara for days with no food or water.”

“I don’t think that’s a compliment,” Auberon said, letting out a laugh that turned into a sigh. She wasn’t necessarily wrong. Auberon was used to working hard, but working at the pace that Hazel did and keeping up with her for two constant weeks had barely given Auberon any time to settle into her new home. On top of that, she had been constantly stressed about her aunt coming and finding her to drag her back home. She didn’t think the probability of it was that high, but that didn’t mean a chill didn’t run down her spine every time she heard the jingle of the opening door.

“It’s not meant to be. Take a few days off. It’ll give you a little bit of time to spend that paycheck of yours.”

“Paycheck?” Auberon practically blossomed at the words, surprise falling across her face. Hazel snorted and gestured to the back.

“Yeah, every other Friday. It’s in your cubby – go cash it across the street. Get out of here, I’ll close up.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you, thank you!” Auberon called over her shoulder, practically sliding into the back room. As promised, sitting neatly and unassuming in the cubby next to her keys, was a neatly folded envelope with her name spelled out on the front of it. Her heart fluttered in her chest with excitement as she tore the envelope open and looked inside, the check – just as unassuming a piece of paper as the envelope it was in – with her name on it looking up at her. Relief flooded her veins. In between this and the tips she had been splitting with Hazel for the last two weeks, she would have enough for rent and then some. And that was only two weeks worth of work.

Giddiness flooded through her as she bounced out of the cafe, giving Hazel a quick side hug. She was ushered out of the building by her coworker, who thrust an iced Americano into her hand before waving her off. Auberon was halfway down across the road toward the bank before she thought, yet again, about how lucky she was.

 

Auberon wasn’t telling Hazel this, and if her coworker had noticed at all within the last two weeks she hadn’t said anything, but Auberon had been eating solely off of a stolen plate and fork from the cafe.

It was one of the things that the basement apartment hadn’t come equipped with, and Auberon had been just getting by enough on tips that she hadn’t thought to set aside money to buy real utensils or that which to eat off of. Honestly Auberon was getting on fine with the salad plate she had nicked from work. Plus, honestly, no one bought so many baked goods that the tiny thing would be missing.

It was while she was standing in the aisle 7 of the only grocery store in town she first heard of the missing person, looking at plastic forks, knives, and paper plates.

“Sad about the Johnson girl,” she heard from the other side of the aisle. She was staring at the plastic forks and spoons. She wasn’t sure if she was ready to commit to actual silverware and honestly she was fairly sure that the tiny grocery store wouldn’t have any, anyway. The thought was pushed out of her mind as the woman, hidden by the shelf, let out a heavy sigh – Auberon wanted to know what could have been so sad about whoever this girl was.

“Oh, just terrible. I can’t imagine what her mother is going through.” If she had had moveable ears, they would have perked in the direction of the conversation. Instead she slowly made her way toward end of the aisle, looking down to see both women chatting while mulling over condiments; one woman was holding a jar of mayonnaise and the other a double pack of ketchup. They were both staring intently at the items in their hands, as if they were judging their purchase based on the labels. In all actuality they were just pretending to do something to cover up their blatant gossip.

“Can’t you, though? She let her daughter out at night when she knows what’s out here. It could have been anything. Coyotes, a bear…a boy,” the first woman said. Her brown hair was tied up in a tight ponytail, and she was wearing a matching track suit. She nudged her companion with her shoulder, although she didn’t take her eyes off the ketchup in her hands. The other woman – tall, blond, willowy – hushed her and looked down either end of the aisle they stood in. Her eyes glazed right over Auberon, who looked suddenly very intent on the Worcester sauce in front of her.

“You can’t say things like that out here, Joan. Someone might hear you.”

“I’m only saying what everyone else is saying. Girls’ don’t go missing here. They run away. Off to bigger cities with their secret boyfriends. I did the same thing when I was her age, you know, and I came running back with my tail tucked between my legs. Begged my mother for her forgiveness. I was gone for six months. Sarah will come back, same as me.”

“You do have a way of settling my thoughts, Joan,” the blonde said with a sigh, placing the mayonnaise back on the counter. “I was getting a little bit worried about Amy.”

“Don’t be. Amy and Sarah weren’t that close, were they?”

Auberon grabbed the unneeded bottle of steak sauce and threw it in her basket, turning on her heel then. She didn’t need to hear much else. It was bad enough that she was eavesdropping on them anyway – it seemed like petty high school drama, although admittedly it felt like the women were downplaying it a little bit. If a girl was missing it was always smartest to leave all options open, and not just decide on the easiest, right?

The rest of her shopping trip was uneventful, up until she had paid and was carrying her paper bag out to her bicycle. A police officer sat in his car, watching the opening doors of the market. He tipped his hat to Auberon as she came out, and she gave a slightly forced smile as she moved to unlock her bike and to strap her bag of groceries onto the back of it.

Officer Henry, you on patrol?” the speaker from inside of his car crackled to life, and the officer sat straighter instantly.

“Nah sir, I’m out front of the market. You need me?”

We need everyone,” it said, “back to the station now. We’ll prep you there.

“Roger that, sir. I can be there in five.”

The car grumbled to life and sped out of the lot, back wheels squealing as it turned onto the main road. Auberon watched him fly off, her eyebrows knitting together as she slipped her keys into her front pocket and lifted herself onto the bike. Maybe Raven’s End wasn’t always as quiet as it seemed.

 

,,,By the time she finally came home, it was dusk. She had taken her time to roam around the town, riding her bike down back roads and following sidewalks that she had yet to go done. Almost every day she had been exhausted once she came off work, so she hadn’t made it out to do any true exploring of the place she was planning on calling home. This afternoon had been just perfect for that – it helped that everything she bought at the store would stay solid, too.

She leaned her bike under the awning of the deck and locked it there. Her fingers fumbled for keys, one arm wrapped around her bag of groceries. Had it not been for the unfortunate crunch from underneath her feet, Auberon never would have noticed the smear of blood that tracked down the glass and culminated in a crumbled mess that was quite literally under her feet.

It took all of her willpower not to scream when she did look down.

Auberon pulled her foot away, inhaling through her nose as deeply as she could. Her shadow fell over it, but even with the darkening sky she could see the scattered and clumped feathers, slick with wetness. White portions of bone stuck out where her foot had been. Fragments were still attached to her shoe. Guilt clung to her throat like a choker, tightening with every breath. Her next inhale brought the metallic tang of blood, and the scream that was stuck in her throat changed into a gag as she tumbled backwards, the bag falling out of her hand, contents tumbling out as she tried to back as far away from the dead bird as possible.

It was obvious what had happened – it had flown right into the glass door, so hard that it had broken itself. Killed itself. She had only made it worse by not noticing, by practically crushing it underneath her feet. Now it lay, eyes glassy, wings broken. It would never fly again. Not now that it’s entire chest lay open and trampled. Auberon didn’t want to touch it, didn’t want to look at it, but she couldn’t seem to take her eyes off of it, and in the same moment she wanted to reach her hand out to it and comfort it. As if there was still some form of life in the frail body. As if there was some spirit lingering there.

She finally closed her eyes and did her best to think of anything else. She thought of the vegetables that would be bruised on the ground, on work in the morning. She breathed and tried to ignore the smell of blood. When she finally opened her eyes, she didn’t look at the bird. She moved over it, opening up the door and kicking off her shoe outside – making sure it didn’t land anywhere near the bird – and grabbed a roll of paper towels.

From there it was simple. A clean up job. Auberon couldn’t look at it as anything else without getting sick, so she pretended that she was just taking care of a mess at work. She had knocked over a bottle of syrup and used coffee grounds the other day that had looked a little like the mess on her front porch. In the darkness she could pretend that that’s what this was, as long as she didn’t try to focus too hard on it. It was only when her fingers brushed against the smoothness of its beak that she was reminded that it had once been living. Breathing, heart pumping and glassy eyes blinking. Auberon got up and walked away for a moment, staring out into the darkness as she put the back of her hand to her forehead. There was nothing she could have done to stop it. It was a wild bird, for fuck’s sake. Even if she had been here, all that would have changed was that she would have seen it happen. That might have been even worse. Turning back to the rest of its remains – no longer able to look at it as a mess from the shop – she let out a deep sigh. For now all she could do was clean it up and hope that she could do was hope that she could give the poor thing some dignity. She moved slowly, gathering its remains as she found them – scattered bones from where she had crushed it, feathers that had fallen in the mess – and set them all carefully alongside the body. When she was finished, there was only the puddle of sticky blood on the ground in front of the door, and the smear. The bird lay wrapped tightly in the towels.

Auberon didn’t just want to throw it away, and burying it six feet underground felt just as alien. A bird was not meant to hide beneath the Earth. It felt disrespectful. It was obvious after she had picked it up from its size that it was a raven, and it felt wrong to show such little reverence to it – especially given the town’s namesake. This was her home, after all, and she should treat it as such.

She would burn it in the woods, later. Give it as close to a Viking funeral as she could. The bird, she decided, would fly one last time.

 

Auberon had finally managed to go inside, hiding the remains of the bird in her bathroom and shutting the door tightly behind her. It was at ten thirty, and all she had done in the time between setting the bird up in the bathroom and setting herself up in the living room was stare at the eggshell white wall. For a good quarter of an hour, that was all she had figured out how to do. She was positive that it was the shock of the scenario – it isn’t every day that you have to reassemble a dead and broken raven, of course – but it left her heavy headed and feeling like she had fog in her brain. It felt almost surreal, despite the obvious reality of everything. She might have been able to write it off as something else if she hadn’t been so sure there was a dead bird in her bathroom sink.

Over time, the idea of functioning like a normal human person returned to her, and somewhere between her blank staring and then she had realized that something had to be done about the corpse before it started decomposing. So she texted Hazel. Both because she knew no one else and because she felt that if anyone would help, it would be her.

Hey, can I ask you a weird question?

Shoot! Hazel replied, almost instantly. A wave of relief flooded Auberon.

If I needed to burn something is there a safe place for me to do it?

Yeah. When?

Tonight?

There was a short pause before her phone began buzzing in her hand, Hazel’s face suddenly appearing on the screen. Auberon answered the call immediately, phone shaking as sudden anxiety rippled through her. She had never been good at phone calls, and the strangeness of the night didn’t change that. In fact, it made her anxiety a little worse. Her whole body felt like it was on high alert.

“Hey?” She asked, warily. She was about as used to receiving phone calls as she was to texting – and ultimately both of those things were fairly new to her. It wasn’t that she had been…isolated growing up. It was just that she had had more important things to do, and the only phone calls she had ever gotten were from her aunt. Those never ended well. Phone calls, along with many other day to day tasks, fell into the category of Immediately Anxiety Inducing.

“Hey. What do you have to burn and do you need a ride?” Hazel’s readiness took Auberon by surprise, but she didn’t hesitate in responding, more glad that she was so willing to offer her services even if she had no idea what they would be used for.

“It is…kind of a weird story, but a ride would be good, considering I have no idea how to get around here still. And it’s dark, which will make it harder.”

“Okay, I can be there in ten. Meet me down the road.” Auberon smiled to herself, happy that she didn’t have to explain just yet and that despite a complete lack of detail, Hazel was more than happy to offer her services. It was incredibly refreshing. It almost felt a little bit like friendship.

“You” Auberon began, leaning back against the kitchen counter, “are seriously awesome. Do you know that?”

“I’ve been told,” Hazel said, letting out a half laugh, “but I try not to let it go to my head. Most of the time. See you soon.”

The line clipped off, and Auberon moved to gather the bird, making sure it was padded enough to go on a ride without breaking itself too much more.

Auberon stood a little ways past the gate, where the private road turned into public, and waited for Hazel. The night air was cool against her skin – not so much that goosebumps raised on her arms, but enough that she took a shaking breath as she held her backpack close to her chest. Or maybe it was because she had a dead bird in her pack. What had once contained the entirety of her belongings, essentially her entire life, was now carrying what was left of the raven’s. She wasn’t sure if that counted as poetic justice or not.

When the headlights of Hazel’s Subaru pulled down the road Auberon gave a half-hearted wave and walked towards the vehicle as it rolled to a slow stop. As she opened the passenger’s side door and slid in, pack still hugged to her chest, she couldn’t help but notice Hazel’s eyes locked onto the mansion. It wasn’t until the door shut firmly behind Auberon that she managed to shake her attention from the house and looked at her passenger.

“Hey. So what are we burning?”

“Okay so, first thing, please do not kill me after I tell you what is in the bag. Second…I have a dead bird in the bag.”

“Right,” Hazel said, sucking both of her lips in and staring at Auberon. She stayed silent for a good thirty seconds or so, obviously mulling over what the best thing to say was. “So we’re burning the bird.”

“He deserves a proper funeral.”

“Right. And that means we’re burning him why?”

“Like a Viking funeral.”

Hazel nodded, lips pursed but looking poignant as she backed out onto the main road. The car rumbled quietly along, the softest hint of electronic music reverberating through the speakers. They both remained silent, dark trees zooming past them as they sped down the country road. Auberon had never been this far out before – hadn’t managed to get much farther than the singular city light, if she was being honest. The streets and roads she had been exploring earlier the day weren’t exactly much to see, and had it not been for the fact that she had enjoyed the leisurely sentiment of it all, it would have been incredibly boring. This was different though – as they drove down the road and the trees buzzed past them, the stars were out in full force, lighting up the night sky with the help of the half-full moon. The past two weeks had flown by for Auberon, letting her get lost in the work and tedious – but welcome – day to day life of living alone. It was a sort of freedom and ultimately it was exactly what she wanted…but there was something that she hadn’t wanted to admit that she lacked. Something that she had hoped to find but was missing somewhere along the lines of her easily found house and job.

Now, sitting beside Hazel, driving down a road she had never been before, Auberon had the sudden realization that it was this.

Whatever this feeling was, the way she felt sitting next to a girl who was becoming her friend and who had appeared to her with no need for explanation and offered nothing but help while driving along a deserted road in the middle of one of the most beautiful nights she had ever seen, was what she had been missing.

Minus the bird, of course. Auberon would have been much happier if this hadn’t involved a corpse.

The feeling slowly dismantled itself as the car slowed, and Hazel pulled off onto a long gravel driveway. At the end sat a house with the light of a television flashing through the window. The moment the cars headlights hit it, the front porch light flicked on and the front door opened, practically in the same second.

“Where are we?” Auberon asked, straightening up suddenly. The figure that stood, half-illuminated in the light, was a thick set man that was so tall that his head practically touched the doorway. His hair was long and pulled back behind his head. He wasn’t wearing a shirt, which made Auberon instantly uncomfortable; she had always hated that men had the option to be half naked whenever they wanted to and women were always constrained to at least underwear.

“Tane’s house. He’s an old friend,” Hazel replied, looking over to her passenger with a smile. “Don’t worry. He’s Good People too.”

“So it’s not just me then?” Auberon asked, a shaky laugh escaping her lips.

“Sorry to burst that bubble, but no, it’s not just you.” Hazel shut off the car and slid out, instantly running up the steps and wrapping her arms around the man. He swung an arm around her in return – so thick that if he had used both he would have squished her in his grasp – before letting her go and giving a nod to Auberon, who stood awkwardly just outside of the passenger’s seat.

“What are we burning?” He asked, clearing his throat and waving Auberon toward him. “Not just a backpack?”

“A bird,” Hazel sighed, although the porch light illuminated her smile. “We’re sending him back to Valhalla to feast with the Vikings.”

 

silence on the home front;

Been quiet here lately. Not even crickets sounding off. There’s a good reason though, I promise.

I’ve already failed this portion of my quarterly goals, but that’s alright, because it’s helping me make sure I get to another part of it. I missed last week’s blog post but I’ll be posting an additional post tomorrow. That post will be the beginning of a short story serial that will be going up in a weekly format, and will hopefully be something you’re all interested in.

It’s the story of a girl named Auberon, who has spent her entire life wanting to escape and have freedom on her own terms. She just wants to be able to live her life as she sees fit, and decides to settle down in a small town she’s never heard of, slowly making herself something that might last. There’s just one small thing though…this town isn’t exactly as quiet as most small towns are supposed to be. This town is sitting on a secret, and Auberon might be exactly the person it needs to uncover it.

The story is, if you’re looking for a genre breakdown, a YA paranormal/supernatural piece. It’s going to be posted weekly, every Thursday evening, and I’m really excited to share it with whoever is going to be reading it.

Back to radio silence – I’ve got some finishing touches to work on.

Muchly. ❤

unstoppable force meets immovable object

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There’s a bar by the windows. She sits there partially because there is nowhere else, and partially because of the trapped feeling that blossoms in her chest as she looks around the otherwise packed cafe. Here, she can study the stained glass of the theater across the street. Here, she can keep an eye on those who walk in, out, and by…and also on the corner of the room, where the door reads EMPLOYEE’S ONLY in damning red letters. Here, in the corner of the bar where she can see it all, she feels safe.

She knows that safety would be gone the moment she passed through the labeled door, the moment she slipped underneath the EMPLOYEE and shut it behind her. The idea makes her chest flutter weakly within its cavity – or maybe because of the person sitting beside her, with the flat chest and the shaved head, who she can’t stop stealing glances at. She knows she wants to grab their hand and run through the door, throwing ideals of safety out the window for the chance of adventure and maybe love…but instead she remains sitting. She’s quiet. She reads her book by the windows, easily distracted by passers-by.

Instead, she dreams.

—It isn’t safe, just beyond the door. She hears it buzzing. It’s constant, like the soft whir of a fan, but higher pitched. As though there’s some sort of frequency attached to it. No one else seems to notice it and never has. Despite the fact that she’s come here every day for months, she’s never once witnessed an employee step past the threshold. She wants to know what the buzzing is – almost yearns for it sometimes, on the days when the fluttering in her chest gets overwhelming and the fear subsides just long enough for her to wonder if it would be worth it to run through and forsake it all. She knows that ultimately, it’s too much for her. She never could. She relishes the safety of her books too much. She relishes the dream of slight perfection in the back of her head, the one that always pinpoints the person with the shaved head and tries to beckon them to look over at her.

For the first time, in that moment, they do. They look with their soft grey eyes at her and the fear all but leaves. Instead she’s caught by their beauty, the simpleness, the way the corners lead up into soft eyelashes that almost touch their cheeks as they blink. It’s in that moment that she decides. Fuck the fear, fuck the buzz, fuck it all.

She doesn’t speak, she just stands, and she crosses the room. No one notices, no one at all, except for the person with shaved head whose eyes follow her all the way. They follow her even as her fingers touch the knob. The buzzing has grown increasingly louder.
Louder, and louder still, until it’s all that’s in her head. Except for those grey eyes, which for some reason keep her unafraid. She looks back at them. They look back at her.

 

Bach, Bach, Bach It Up

A prompt delivered by the wonderful Malena Munford, via her book Just The TitlesIt’s a lovely little thing made to inspire artists in whatever way they see fit, and this specific prompt of sorts spoke to me. This is just a quick one-shot. Unedited and posted as quickly as it was written. Have fun, and I hope you enjoy.

(and even though this is technically posted on Friday and is thus late, I am refuting this fact because I haven’t fallen asleep yet…which means that it’s still Thursday to me, right?)

xxx

People were always telling me that I reminded them of Bach. It was probably because my name was Sebastian, and because I’m a cellist – his cello pieces are some of his most famous and beloved works, you know. People tend to ignore the fact that Bach was an organist, though, if only because they like the other similarities or just don’t give two shits. I would say that the coincidences end there but I would be lying. My parents are German, through and through, all the way down to their brusque accents and appreciation for anything ending in ‘-wurst’. It was for all of those reasons that people had stopped calling me by my given name and some how, I had ended up with the nickname “Jo”.

The final bit of irony was the fact that people called me Joe and not Yo. I tried to correct people at first. It didn’t stick, but the name did, so I eventually gave up.

It’s that name that I hear called now as I stand just outside of the auditorium doors, my cello propped up in it’s case on the wall. I’ve been working my fingers against the palm of my hands to the point where the skin is almost fire engine red. I can’t help it – the nervous energy runs through me and has to come out somewhere. I’d rather it try to escape now than during my audition.

I turn to look at the attendant, my eyes wide as I try to keep my nerves in check, and nod once. They hardly notice me, not bothering to look over their glasses to make sure I’ve heard them. As they disappear behind the heavy door I grab my instrument and begin the journey inside. I’m afraid that the trip from the hallway to the stage will be longer and more strenuous then the audition itself. I worry that I’ll trip and fall and leave my cello in pieces, the cello that I’ve played so diligently for years, the cello that has the grooves of my finger tips in its long and elegant neck. Her name is Sabine. I’d had her since they’d forgotten my name was Sebastian and decided I was Jo – I’d always known that she knew what my real name was. Sabine was the love of my life without question. It wasn’t the music, it wasn’t the composers, it wasn’t the notes or the feeling but the instrument, so well cared for and in tune with myself. The idea – the fear – of her breaking on me when she was only chance at greatness? It was more terrifying than if I went flat.

By the time I reach the stage I’ve tempered my fear, sure that I’ve encountered the most terrifying part. Except for the audition itself that is.

I was the sort of person who thrived on lack of sleep. Four, five hours at most and I was springy and awake and with a simple cup of black tea (one sugar, cream for days) I would be able to plow through the day. It must have been the nerves, but the night before the audition I had been a right wreck. I figured I would tuck in early and wake up before the birds, rehearse my piece a few more times until I felt like the muscle memory could play the piece without me if my mind wasn’t there. It would all work out fine. Except it didn’t, because I woke up seven hours later. The sun had risen happily into the sky and the birds were chirping and singing, practically taunting me. I had tried to write it off as something small – perhaps I was staving off a cold and my body needed the sleep. Maybe it was something else. I knew it was the nerves, knew that I sounded like a woman from an Austen novel, but I couldn’t help it. This was going to the audition that defined the rest of my life. Which was funny enough, considering that the audition and the seat that I was playing for wasn’t all that important. What was important was the the maestro. The woman who would be judging me, feeling me out. I didn’t care if I didn’t make this orchestra – it was hardly the best. What I wanted was to make it onto her radar, for her to hear me play, just the once.

After all, we had spent our entire life in the same house, growing further and further apart note by note. It would only make sense that she heard me play…just once.

She had eventually stopped using my given name too, even though she was the one who had given to me in the first place. Maybe she thought I wasn’t good enough to be so openly compared to the great composer, although she had never heard me play, so who was she to say?

I closed my eyes as I unbuckled Sabine’s hefty case. I tried to imagine the bow beneath my fingers before I touched it, tried to feel the vibrations of the strings against my neck and chest. I imagined every single piece of the music before I set it in front of me. There was an impatient tapping of a pen from the auditorium. No doubt she was impatient, ready to be done already, having already heard her fill of mediocre musicians from behind the black curtain that separated us (all in the name of diversity, of course). I wondered what she would think when she saw me take a bow in front of her. She wouldn’t gasp or feign shock. Too stoic for that. Would she raise an eyebrow, would the corner of her lip upturn? Downturn? No, she would simply stare at me. Acknowledge that she had heard it. I suppose that was all I wanted.

My hand found the bow, my fingers found the strings, and with a deep breath that settled into the well of my chest I drew my weapon across the valley of what very well could have been my demise. I was being melodramatic. I felt it fit. A humming, vibrant G rose from the depths of Sabine, filling the room and reaching the rafters, and with that singular note I fell away from the world, forgetting the woman that sat on the other side of the shade. I forgot that I would go home to her and hardly speak more than a few words as she sipped on decaf coffee while Mozart reverberated through the house. I would forget that I had missed her and the way her voice sounded when she spoke, how I often wondered if her larynx was covered in dust or if it was just the mantle in the living room. I forgot the audition felt like it was the end of the world, maybe the beginning of a new one…and instead, I played, like nothing else in the world mattered.

 

 

“that idea of home is gone”

“You know that point in your life when you realize that the house that you grew up in isn’t really your home anymore? All of the sudden, even though you have some place where you can put your stuff, that idea of home is gone.” – Garden State

I remember the exact moment that it happened to me. I stood in my bedroom for the last time, staring at the empty room. The only things that remained were the cupboards, painted green, and the pink striped wallpaper that lined the room. I’d wanted it to look like a princesses room, once upon a time. I’d had a giant bed, a duvet covered in roses. My pillows were large and suffocating, but comfortable. Now my bed was gone, the many times I’d spent playing and reading on top of it just memories. The vanity that I’d kept all my childhood jewelry and make up left an empty crevice in the side of the room, the cupboard under the stairs no longer full of stuffed animals. I’d hidden under those once, disappeared so far that my parents had thought I’d run away, when truly I’d just fallen asleep buried under bears and used a stuffed duck as a pillow. I realized then that I would never be able to hide that well ever again.

I cried for hours. I stood in my bedroom and cried, trying so hard to feel the edges of the bed that had once been there. They told me I could stand there for as long as I wanted, but if it had been up to me, I never would have left. I would have grown roots, forced my way through the floorboards, turned myself into the foundation. I never would have moved from that place. I never much wanted to say goodbye.