I’ve often times asked myself why I got the life I got. I often disregard the good and focus on the bad and I don’t know why. But I do. I wonder why I don’t have two parents who love me and I look the whole families of my friends and wonder why that isn’t me. I told myself it wouldn’t even matter if they were together, it would just matter to have both the people who made me love me. But such is not the case. I have often times looked past the privilege to be able to have no rules and be treated as an adult and categorized it as a burden. I don’t want to go to the grocery store, get a SMOG check, go to the bank, make returns, or pick up prescriptions. I have always wished that my mom would do that for me and be the one in charge of my life, give me some structure. But she doesn’t have an interest in doing those types of things, so nobody is going to do any of that if I don’t. “You can’t rely on others”, she said, but I thought I was supposed to be able to rely on you. I am trying to focus on school and my future, but you don’t seem to care about what I want. You have a picture of how things will be and don’t care at all how I get there because “that’s up to me”. The other parents came to the college nights, make their children do their homework, and ensure they receive the best SAT scores, but you don’t even care about any of that. Instead, you want me to do a million things I do not believe are priorities or important. I have always thought that parents are supposed to take care of their children, not the other way around. But I have realized that this is your way of showing care, the thing where you let me do whatever the hell I want. It’s your way of saying I trust you and believe in you. Sure, it would be nice to have a push every now and then. But that’s not the way it is and I’m trying to accept it.
I ask myself
Why I push you away
And why I wait for hugs to end.
And I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because
The last time I lost myself in someone
He twisted me and then spit me back out
Because I believed in waiting.
I wasn’t ready for him to force me down
But he did and no words can bring me back to that moment
He copied me by waiting patiently
For the moment to strike.
The moment when I was slow to react.
When I accepted the culture of the party life
And being with an older guy
And losing who I was to a bottle of Malibu.
In one moment, he shoved me down
And with me, my sense of self.
No, I’m not ashamed anymore.
When I’m proud of myself now,
It’s because I fought a boy who tied my worth
To my body
A boy who disregarded my freedom with one simple hand.
So I hope you get it.
Why when someone has complete control over me
I just don’t want to surrender so easily.
So I hope you get it
Why it took me a while to like your hugs.
How is it possible for one person
To put the dew on the leaves
The planets in their orbits
The sparkle in my eyes?
When I try to tell you
What I was like before–
Nothing escapes my lips
But now that I’m okay again
I’d just like to say that–
It’s been quite some time
Since someone reached out
To hold my hand like you do.
Thin and skeletal wrists protrude out of a jacket much too large for her and grasp the black leather bound around the thin driving wheel much too tightly. Eyelids heavy with sleep close for a moment and then open again, somehow even more like slits than before they closed.
A pre-made playlist from the browse section plays from Hannah’s phone. The playlist is called, “Have a Good Day!” The exclamation is for emphasis, as if a well-wisher wouldn’t have completed his job if he hadn’t added that specific punctuation to the playlist she specifically seeks out. Soft beats and strums of the Beatles’ “Here Comes the Sun” leak out of the sound system, filling her metal box sanctuary with the happy go lucky anthem. Her obsessively repetitive toe tapping attempts to follow the repetitive rhythm of the song but makes no progress in matching its relaxed beat.
Here comes the sun, here comes the sun
And I say it’s alright
The light changes back to ready and hopeful green, yet still Hannah does not move a toe. Honks and swerving pursue as angry cars with somewhere to be and somewhere to go get tired of dealing with her problems. They all leave without asking why she stays. They are only angry that she does stay. Finally, she accelerates and turns and keeps moving without so much as slowing down until she stops inside a diagonally painted box. An artificially lit green sign looms over the store’s parking lot. She goes into the store, but leaves just as quickly. They couldn’t help me, she reasons.
Little darling, it’s been a long cold lonely winter
Little darling, it feels like years since it’s been here
Desperate to leave and return to the exclusivity of a book tucked behind blankets, she shifts to reverse and bends the wheel to get out of the tight space. A fraction of a second away from turning the wheel back to the direction she wants to go, another driver enters her life. He doesn’t see her sitting there in her silver car that was paid for by weekends of sacrificed time, suffering through a few measly dollars of tips. Honking ensues from the panicked young girl and the car behind her waiting for her spot, watching the miserable and panicked scene unfold. The man doesn’t heed her warning, and his car bumps the back of hers. It’s not catastrophic or earth shattering or any of the usual things that usually constitute an influential moment. It’s a bump.
The man with the growing white beard apologizes profusely, citing numerous excuses for his lack of looking to see that she was there. That she existed in that space at that time.
“It’s okay,” she lamented, forcing a smile to make the man feel better.
Little darling, the smiles returning to the faces
Little darling, it seems like years since it’s been here
It’s All Right.
The moment is yet more proof that the moments that break people aren’t necessarily extraordinary or consequential or obviously influential. Hannah’s car is undented and pristine on its outside as she flees the scene of the mix-up, but its interior is breaking down, as are the lives of countless high school students across the nation confronted with interior disorders.
Only a few lights are on as I start
The music is overpowering my thoughts
I let myself move comfortably
Doing whatever feels natural
I gradually disregard all the technique I’ve been taught
As I try to understand the lyrics
Using myself as a medium
My emotions are set free
Now I can see clearly
My thoughts trail on for miles
I do not choose a single path
I go wherever the movement takes me
e I’m heading towards the fantasies in my mind
They said I can stay for however long I like
If it’s all in my mind
I guess I’ll stay for awhile
In the minds of seven year olds, butterfly fairies are real and they really do visit when they cup their hands over their eyes. While listening to the legend of the fairy kingdom, Hannah helps recount the details with Miss Sama. The teacher’s eyes light up as she requests the help of the fifteen kids sitting criss cross applesauce in front of her. They immediately jump up from their carpet squares that are strewn with woodchips and smile at each other. They walk single file past the stream and the native plants growing back just past the path boundaries. They are on a mission.
“No peeking,” Hannah warns, a small smile concealing her breath. She places the miniature note on the tree branch, one she knows the kids can reach without too much trouble.
“The fairy can only send us a message if you don’t peek,” Miss Sama reminds them, taking note of troublemaker Oliver’s dark eyelashes fluttering through a gap in his fingers. Finally, Hannah asks them to open their eyes and they clamor to be the person to read the note to the rest of the kids. Angelica, a tall camper with sparkly barrettes, stumbles through the note’s small writing. She inhales sharply, then tells the rest of the patient group that the fairy has indeed asked for their help to make fairy houses and save the kingdom. The group rejoices at the good news. Amid all of the joyous exclamations, Hannah notices one boy not partaking in the festivities. Shayan stalks off with his arms folded across his chest. He is a small raven haired boy wearing the t-shirt he got that morning that says “Environmental Nature Center” with a cartoon frog underneath. A collared shirt pokes out from under the purple camp shirt.
“What’s wrong, Shayan?” Hannah asks, her eyebrows furrowed in concern.
“I know a fairy didn’t bring that note,” he pouts. Although it seems like the boy is complaining about nothing, Hannah realizes that he’s just upset that he can poke holes in something he used to believe.
“It’s okay to not believe,” she admits to the confused boy. “I just want you to know that I believe in the fairy. I’ve seen her. She’s more beautiful than you can even imagine.”
“Really?” his face lights up for a moment, and then he remembers to be stoic. “Oh, I don’t know…”
He smiles bravely then returns back to the group that is in the midst of gathering leaves for their fairy houses. Hannah and the other camp counselors ready the hot glue guns and other arts and crafts supplies. There are buttons, plastic toys, and other leftovers to choose from for decoration. At this place, everything is recycled or reused to be made into something else. Andrew, a smiley eight-year-old wearing a fire truck t-shirt, approaches Hannah. He twists his hands around the hem of his shirt in a nervous way.
“So there was this girl last year at camp…” he begins, then looks around, unsure of the end of his sentence. “Uh, I had a lot of fun with her and she was my camp counselor.” He eyes Hannah suspiciously. “And her name was Hannah.” He waits, silent and hopeful.
“Yes, Andrew, of course I remember you. We did have fun,” she admits, appreciating his smile that grows bigger and bigger. With a squeak-like noise, he rushes toward his older mentor, his arms wrapping around her. She kneels down to his height so his arms can wrap around her shoulders instead of just her legs. She lets out a small laugh.
“I missed you, too.”
On the very last day of nature camp, the mood is joyous up until the final moments when the kids part with their older friend. Hannah shoulders off her red emergency backpack and doles out last hugs and promises to see them again when school lets out. Angela and Hope compete for her affections one last time as they both clasp Hannah’s hands.
“Guys, I have to hug everyone,” Hannah laughs nervously. In the training manual, proper procedure dictates that no “favorites” be shown to the other kids.
As her last campers wave their last goodbyes, Hannah realizes that maybe they like her so much because she doesn’t try to distance herself from them. There wasn’t an imaginary line drawn in the dirt separating the mature and responsible adult from the girl that subscribes to the magical world. And when one kid saw her walls come down, the rest of the kids took notice, too.