Where is the mother I thought I knew? That sweet woman who’d hold my hand while the doctors took my blood and reward me with a scoop of ice cream after, take me on strolls through the woods and tell me the wildest stories just to get me to laugh, force me to sit down with her and watch those boring black and white movies that I always ended up enjoying despite my many complaints, and make me lemon ginger tea to help me get to sleep. Now she drinks coffee by the window before any of us are awake and spends every second she can in her office; she cooks dinner but never stays to eat, and her recent hobbies include threatening to leave. I used to cry alone in my bed after every fight until I realized their “love” wasn’t right. It wasn’t healthy or real, though they claimed otherwise. She, a whirlwind of passion and fury always at the brim of explosion, and he, an empty socket of emotion that sucked out all the lights. It’s an impossible fight between everything all at once and nothing ever - it’s a wonder how they ever ended up together. I no longer pray for things to turn out alright - at this point, I’d rather them just separate so I wouldn’t have to bear witness to all of their fights, so I wouldn’t be tossed and bought like a possession of power through guilt between their sore-from-gripping hands, so I wouldn’t only be able to fall asleep with music in my ears to drown out the screams and tears, so I could maybe be a kid and not the sole caregiver for myself, so I could look forward to coming home each day after school instead of finding any reason to always be out, so I wouldn’t have to stand at the top of the stairs to make sure my little sister would be safe that night; it would be easier that way. Spare us the pain because it’s one thing to fight but then there’s all that comes after, how we hide in our rooms and try to do everything right because one small slip-up in your book that’s always changing and there comes the eruption - we’re just kids. We were just kids. Just kids who didn’t deserve to be put through what should only come later in life, and even then, it’s not okay, but we were so young, and it makes me wonder what you thought you were teaching us. How to stay with a person you may love but don’t like? How to have other lovers but still go to sleep with ease at night? At some point, you have to let go when there’s only a few strands of thread left and you're the only one trying to tie them back into the rope they once were. I don’t believe in love anymore.
Hannah Kulick is a junior in high school currently living in Michigan. When not writing, you can find her sipping a cup of green tea and listening to classical music. This is her first publication.