This is a bit of an odd piece, I will admit. I’m not entirely sure how I feel about it, but I;m open to comments and criticism. I found the song “Dead Hearts” by Stars today, and felt inspired. While I’mm quite aware that this story isn’t of the exact same message as the song, the feeling is similar, at least to me, and I hope you can call pick out the influence it played in the story.
Before I share it, though, I just wanted to point out that I do not share or agree with the opinions and thoughts of the characters. I am simply trying to tell a story with a group of trouble characters, and while I don’t like what some of them say or do, I recognize the essential part it plays in the finished story. That being said, if you are easily upset, proceed with caution. This story contains both physical and mental abuse in varying levels, depression and suicide, and some very strong emotions. While I don’t think I go into any of it in enough detail to be a major issue, better safe than sorry. Hopefully, nothing I;ve written will trigger anyone, but if it does, you have been warned.
Now, if you wish, feel free to listen to the song I mentioned earlier while you read:
You are a young girl.
You are proud of yourself, for the most part. After all, you earn all sorts of rewards in school. You’re smart, your pretty, and you have tons of friends. Everyone looks at you and can’t help but think your perfect. How could you not be? You’re a shoe-in to graduate top of your class, and probably be able to do whatever you want with your life afterwards.
But, then you come home. At home, you’re not smart or pretty. You’re the mistake. The kid that should have never been born. The girl whose fault it is that your mother as to work overtime and your dad’s doing a job he hates. They have to put food on the table, and buy you stuff, all while keeping the house running.
So, you’ve always done your best to impress them. You study hard, so that you never have to worry about summer school, and so that they won’t have to worry so much about getting money to send you to college. You enter every contest you can and do your best to win them, so that you can save up money to pay for what the colleges themselves won’t. And, people flock to you, hoping a little bit of that success will run off on them.
But, when you try to tell your parents, they just push you away. Can’t you see they’re busy? They have to buy you all kinds of school supplies and clothes, and pay to take care of you, all while trying to keep the light on and the water running. They don’t hate time for your worthless chatter.
Slowly, your heart begins to die. Tons of people may talk to you, but you still feel alone. You ruin everything. Maybe, if you hadn’t been born, your parents would have more money to do what they want. Maybe they would be happier together. Maybe, they would have had a child later on, a planned one, who wasn’t such a nuisance, and who was happy just being good at things without shoving it in their faces all the time. Maybe, without you, their lives would be perfect.
Then, you begin to notice that your best friend, a girl you’ve talked to since kindergarten, always seems to be smiling. What right does she have to be happy when you are so much better than her, but still miserable? She doesn’t get perfect grades. Sure, they’re enough that she’s passing, and teachers are always saying she “has potential”, but she’ll be no valedictorian. If she gets scholarships, they probably won’t be too good. She’s earned no rewards, and she’s always wasting her time on dumb hobbies that will never get her anywhere. She’s stupid, and she doesn’t even realize it.
Not to mention, she’s so plain looking! I mean, jeez, would it kill her to get some better clothes, or stop acting like a little kid, or worse, a puppy who needs constant attention from anyone who will give it to her? And, as her friend, you feel like it’s your job to tell her. Give her a little wake-up call about how the world isn’t all sunshine and unicorns…
You’re a teenage girl.
You’ve had a fairly good life. Your parents raised you and your little brother well, and did their best to do whatever they could to make you happy as a kid. You’ve never really had problems with anyone in your family. You love them all, and don’t mind going on trips with them or just hanging out. You can be independent, but it’s not like you have to totally abandon your family, right? You only live with then so long, after all. Might as well have fun with them now, while you are still young and can do so without having to worry about working and paying the bills and caring for a family of your own.
Your grades aren’t perfect, but you’re getting by, and doing your best. You’re not in danger of failing, and your parents understand you don’t really have time to study much, so they’re not on your back too much, as long as you try. You also have to make due with secondhand clothing, because money’s a bit tight. When you were in seventh grade, your mom got really sick, and has been in and out of the hospital ever since. This meant she couldn’t work a real steady job, since she would often miss a few weeks of work without any warning ahead of time. To make ends meet, Dad had to get a second job, so watching your brother fell to you. You do your best to study whenever he’s engrossed in a TV show, but he’s at the age when you can’t go too long before he gets bored and starts to make trouble. It’s a nit hard at time, but it’s fine. You know that, when Mom get better, things will get better. Until then, you have to do your part to help out.
Through all this, you’ve depended on your best friend. Though you don’t tell her about what’s going on, since you don’t want to feel like you’re bothering her, it’s still nice to have some normality, to help you forget for a little while that things are less-than-perfect at the moment. You’ve always looked up to her, the way she’s always winning awards and getting such good grades. Maybe, when your brother had a play date, you can see if she wants to study together, and maybe improve on the C- you got on the last science test? You also try to be friendly with everyone at school, since you never know who else might be going through hard time, like you are. You’re nowhere near as popular as she it, though.
It started with a little comment one morning. Just pointing out that your shirt was a bit too small, and maybe you should buy a new one. Then, a week later, she oversees a score you got on a homework packet. A B? What are you, stupid? She would never let herself get a grade that low! Suddenly, asking her to study with you doesn’t seem like such a good idea…
Things just escalate from there. It goes from your clothes and your grades, to commenting about how frizzy your hair is, and how you could stand to lose a few pounds, and pointing out that everyone is just pretending to be your friend because you hang out with her. It upset you, but you can’t exactly do anything about it. After all, everyone things she’s so nice! You must just be too sensitive about what she’s saying if you feel this way. And…what if she’s right? What if everyone else is just pretending to life you?
Your mom starts to get better again, and even finds a job that is willing to make a few adjustments, should she get sick again. You’re happy for her, and that your family might be a bit more financially stable again, but it just doesn’t carry over to your actual emotions. Despite having more time to study, now that you don’t need to babysit, your grades still continue to drop. You just can’t seem to get the concepts down! Maybe you really are stupid… Slowly, your heart begins to die.
Beginning of sophomore year, a boy you knew vaguely asks you to be his partner on a class project, and the two of you eventually start to go out. Things look better for a while, but it just leads to more pain. Your friend starts to worry about you, asking tons of questions about you two. If you tell her about how scared you are of having your first kiss, she calls you a baby. If you tell her how you sometimes think about…someday…not right now, but maybe in a few years…making your relationship a bit more serious, she can’t believe how much a whore you suddenly are! You’re afraid to talk to him about it, because you don’t want to give him reason to hate you, but you still feel like you’re dragging him down…
You’re a teenage boy.
You have an average life. Your family life is decent. There are a few problems, but nothing outside the normal familial bickering. You don’t like spending a lot of time at home, but you don’t dread it either. When your older brother has a disagreement with your dad, you just roll your eyes, turn up your music, and go up to your room. By dinnertime, they’ve usually reached some level of compromise, and it’s all good.
There’s this girl in your class that you like. She’s pretty, but not in the way her one friend is. Still, you like her better. While her friend has this air of superiority as she talks (and why shouldn’t she? She’s a fucking genius, from what you’ve heard!), this girl…she is nice to people simply for the sake of being nice. But, lately, she seems more distant that usual. She walks with her head down, and her head seems to be thinking about other things. You think maybe she had a fight with her friend, but they’re still hanging out, so maybe not? Whatever it is, she hasn’t been talking to people as much. It isn’t that she’s being rude to them, because she still is fairly nice when people do talk to her, but she just seems less outgoing.
In class one day, everyone’s pairing up for a project, but she’s just sitting by herself, staring out the window, and you’re not even sure if she knows what’s going on. Swallowing, you ask her if she wants to be your partner. She accepts. Then, while you’re working on the project at her house, you ask if she wants to go out for ice cream after school after you present the project, as kind of a celebration, and she accepts again. Then, after you pay for her strawberry cone, you finally work up the courage to ask her out. And, one more time, she accepts! You lean forward and want to kiss her, but instead just taste her ice cream, and then offer her a bite of your own. Not yet. You’re not sure if she’s ready. You’re not sure if you’re ready.
Things go great for a while, until…they don’t. She slowly falls back into her old gloomy state, and you can’t figure out why. You ask and ask, but she says it’s nothing. You hug her, you kiss her, you swear that you’ll do anything to help her, but she doesn’t give you any information.
It’s her that breaks up with you. She says she’s tired of hurting you because she can’t seem to get her shit together. You insist that you have no problems with the way she is, and that you’ll always be there if she needs you, but she just shakes her head and walks away. Then, you sigh and walk away, too. You still love her, but there’s nothing you can do. You have no idea what’s wrong, and even if you did, you have no idea how you would go about fixing it. All you can do is wait it out until she gets better, then see if she wants to try again after she feels a bit better about herself.
Then, she doesn’t come to school. Rumor is that she tried to kill herself, but her parents called an ambulance on her. They say she’s getting help for it, but nobody’s quite sure what “it” is. And, in that moment, you feel the world drop from beneath you. You should have been there for her. You should have tried harder to help. What if whatever help she’s getting doesn’t work? What if she tries again? Slowly, your heart begins to die. You’re horrible. You should never have abandoned her. If she dies, it’ll be your fault. You can’t believe yourself. You can’t live with yourself. You can’t live. You can’t continue to live, when you almost let the girl of your dreams die…
You’re a young man.
You have an average home life. Yeah, you fight with your parents a lot, but who doesn’t? You’re working your way through college, but you still need a place to stay in the meantime. You find all kind of things to clash with your dad about, but it’s no big deal. You can usually work something out, even if it means giving in a bit to your dad’s demands. You’re not perfect, but you try to put up a good face in front of your brother, so he’ll follow your good influence, and not know about the bad stuff you do in your free time occasionally.
You’re brother’s awesome. Or…he was, at least. You just found out that, on his way home from school, he walked in front of a car. It had killed him instantly. They think it was an accident, but you can’t forget how gloomy he looked recently. Gloomy, like that girl he was going out with before…
A few months later, you see your brother’s gloomy girlfriend walk by the house. Only, she’s not gloomy anymore. This is the first time you’ve seen her since your brother’s funeral. She was sad then, but who wasn’t? And, the funeral was the first time you’d seen her since her and your brother broke up. You don’t want to place blame on anyone, but you can’t deny how strange it is that he seemed to get sad after they were done with one another.
The image of her, walking down the street and smiling as she talked with friends replays in your head for a while. And, slowly, it begins to infuriate you. You don’t want to think your brother killed himself. Of course he didn’t. But, if he did, it’s probably that girl’s fault. She broke your little brother’s heart. And, after his life ended and a major part of yours was ripped away forever, she has the nerve to laugh. Has she no shame? Doesn’t she ever consider what her actions can do? What they may have already done?
Slowly, the rage kills your heart. Your fights with your parents get worse, and many times don’t end with any sort of agreement, like they use to. Now, they end with slammed doors and hurt feelings. You love into a friend’s apartment to get away from them, but the anger follows you.
For a few months, you’ve been dating this girl. It hasn’t gotten real serious yet, but you weren’t rushing things. And, as everyone does, you’ve gotten into a few fights, but nothing too serious. That is, not until your first fight with her after moving out. You’re getting into a shouting match when, before you even realize what you’re doing, you draw your hand back and slap her. She looks up at you in shock afterwards. You look down at your hand and realize you need help. Now.
You’re a young woman.
While your home life wasn’t horrible, you still prefer living in the dorms when you go to college than having to stat with your parents any more than you have to. At school you are doing pretty good. You’re passing, you’re in a couple of clubs, and you have a great boyfriend. You’d do anything to stay with him.
And, that statement is put to the test one night when, during a fight, he slaps you. After you get over the shock, you realize that something isn’t right. Yeah, he shouldn’t have slapped you, but it was only one time. It isn’t like he throws you around all the time. The two of you make up, and you put it in the back of your mind, not thinking much of it.
Then, he starts to spend less time with you. You try to make plans, but he always says he’s busy. You try to figure out what he’s busy doing but he just looks embarrassed and says it’s nothing. Afraid to anger him again, you don’t press, but start to fear that he may be cheating on you. What else might he be doing? If you want to keep him, you need to show him you’re willing to be the best girlfriend ever.
One afternoon, you’re making out on a mutual friend’s couch, and things start to get steamy. Your friend is out, and your boyfriend starts getting a little extra grabby. Right before he’s about to go all the way, he pauses and looks at you, as if asking for permission. You don’t feel ready yet, but at the same time, you don’t want him to leave you! So, you let him. It feels good, but you still don’t feel right. You just push it away, though. You have to make a couple of sacrifices if you want to stay with him.
Then, one time turns to two, then three. Soon, you’re sleeping together at least every other week. And, no matter how many times it happens, you don’t feel any more comfortable, but you don’t refuse, either. You can’t just leave him on, and then all of a sudden cut him off! You kill your heart slowly, in favor or his happiness and a lasting relationship.
Then, strange this start happening with your body. You take a home pregnancy test, then go to the doctor. Sure enough, you’re pregnant. Fearfully, you tell your boyfriend. After much discussion, you decide to keep the baby. Your boyfriend had just lost his brother a year ago, so he’s looking forward to having someone younger than him that will look up to him again one day, that he can hang out with and be a mentor towards. You plan to get married, and you’re going to stay in college as long as you can, but you know that, once the due date draws closer, you’ll have to quite to take care of the baby. Your boyfriend – now fiancé – is staying in until he graduates, though, so he can support his child. Until then, though, you both have to work whatever jobs you can find, and you’ll probably still have to work after it is born, anyway.
The first year or so of the baby’s life is fine, but then things begin to sour. You both still care deeply about your baby, but your love for each other is beginning to fizzle. Plus, paying for a baby is harder than you thought. You both work your asses off and come home tired to a screaming baby. You don’t want to break up, because you can barely keep your finances under control combined, and know neither of you could ever make it alone. But, is staying with someone you don’t love for the sake of the baby you creating together really such a good idea?
You’re a newborn baby.
You were conceived by accident, and though your parents are doing their best for you, they are young and naïve. No matter how much they try to make things great for you, there’s always going to be something missing, if not financially, than emotionally. After all, you’re expensive and only going to become more so as you get older, and you’ll also desire their attention more and more. They’ll have to either work to ensure you have everything you need or want, or sacrifice a few bills or a few essential school supplies to spend time with you before the collapse from exhaustion,
Hopefully, you’ll break the chain. Hopefully, they will choose right, and you’ll grow up happy. You may have to make a few sacrifices, such as not having the best clothing, or navigating a divorce that leaves you with two homes, but it will be for the best in the long run. Or, if not that, hopefully you’ll find a way to fulfill those needs in a healthy and acceptable way. It may not be the same, but you’ll be a smart kid. You’ll know right from wrong. Whether you pick the right one is up to you.
But, in the long run, we all play a part. We all see someone who could use a hug, or a shoulder to cry on. But, will we provide it? Or, will we heed the calling of the heartbreak telephone, and just pass the message of sadness on to yet another unfortunate soul.
Hello? …It’s for you.