Authors: Tessa Escalera
By: Tessa Escalera
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, events and incidents are either the products of the author痴 imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
Table of Contents:
It feels like waking up. Like bursting through the surface of water when your lungs are screaming for air. Like a sudden light flicked on in a pitch dark room. Like coming alive after your heart stops beating.
But at the same time it feels like death. Your whole world is shattered, your foundation cracked, your security blanket shredded in a million pieces. A hole that your own personal demon has clawed its way out of, leaving a raw, bleeding mess in your heart.
How can so many emotions fit into one mind? How can such a maelstrom of thoughts exist in the same space? I feel like I will explode with their pressure. One monster rears its head, only to be drawn back into the abyss and replaced by another. This breaking free feels like I have become a hydra, a creature of many heads, and you never know which one will take dominance at any given moment.
But I get ahead of myself. Now I am free, but for so long I was not. Those chains have left indelible marks on me, not on my body, but on my soul. I am a shadow of what I once was. A ghost. A cold spectre that can only dream of the warm, beating life that the rest of you experience. Am I forever dead to the world's joys? Or will I one day learn to live again? Only God knows....
Let's start at the beginning. Not the beginning of me, but the beginning of the end. Of course, back then all I knew was that it was the beginning of my life as an adult. I had no idea of the horror to come.
I was 18, and I was alive. My greatest worries were finding a job and moving out of my parents' house. I was that girl that no one can quite define. Not ugly, not breathtakingly beautiful, not particularly tall or short or fat or skinny. Slightly nerdy, slightly ditzy, slightly eccentric, slightly normal. Of my physical features, the one of which I was most proud was my hair. A little wavy, dark brown with flecks of red, it fell to my waist. My fingers were a little too stubby, my toes a little too uneven, my eyes a little too big, my nose a little too small. But my hair...oh how I loved my hair. I could flick it behind my shoulders to attract a boy. I could become Princess Leia or an 80s siren. I could hide when I was feeling shy. It was my ornament, my crowning glory.
I had grown up with two loving parents, devout Christians who dragged me to church every week despite my continued refusal to join in their beliefs. I loved them anyway. My childhood had been what could be called idyllic, free of any trials beyond the normal everyday sort that inconvenience every person on the planet. I had a best friend, I was just popular enough in school to be happy, and my grades had always been smack in the middle of “normal”. For the past 18 years I had done nothing particularly hard, nothing particularly out of the ordinary, and nothing worthy of note by anyone beyond my close circle of family and friends.
That particular day, I had eaten breakfast at the bistro with my best friend Mary, had a job interview over coffee at the mall shop, gotten groceries afterward, and come home to hide in my room for a few hours before dinner and the chaos of Dad's birthday festivities, which would begin at seven that evening. He was turning 50, and Mom had this huge surprise party planned for him...a surprise he was well aware of but pretended he had no clue. I was feeling optimistic about the job—the manager had been nice, even if his glasses were a little too big for his face. He assured me I was high on their list, and they would be calling me soon. It was only a retail job at the mall sorting clothes and cleaning the store, but it was a start.
As soon as I got home and dropped my purse and shoes in the mudroom, I ran up to my room. I pulled a t-shirt and sweatpants from my dresser and went into the bathroom to take a shower.
I sat in the worn office chair in front of my computer desk, squeezing the water out of my hair with a towel. My computer chirped as it woke up, and the dings of incoming emails made my heart thump in anticipation.
Sure enough, there was one from
A few weeks ago on a dare I had signed up on one of those online dating sites that promised eternal love within 90 days or your money back. As I was quite convinced I would never find eternal love through the computer, I had taken the dare. Especially since the “reward” for finding a boyfriend was Mary finally giving me a dress that I had long coveted and borrowed as often as she would let me.
Travis. His name was Travis, and he was gorgeous. Intense brown eyes, messy hair, a little half smile that told the world that this was a man with no lack of self-confidence. He was athletic, and smart. He was a nurse, and he worked in the NICU. For goodness sake, the man worked with BABIES. What more could a girl want? He always had some story about the latest baby he'd saved, complete with news articles and website blurbs.
But more than that, Travis was eloquent. He had a way with words that I had never seen in any other man. He could write love letters, fiction, articles, even the occasional poem. When we talked, my mind came alive with possibilities and dreams. I could never wait to talk to him again, to let his warm words wash over me like spring rain (one of Travis's phrases).
In a word, he was perfect.
I double clicked the email.
(I felt myself blush a little)
Today I feel like a single blood cell in a crowded vein. Lost among so many people, I am jostled along, pushing through the pack to find the place I'm supposed to be. But what keeps me going is the thought of your cute little smile, that twinkle in your eyes. As my co-workers and I eased tiny triplets into the world today, I thought of you. How I couldn't wait to get home to tell you of these three 4-pound miracles, so innocent and yet so full of life. Just like you, my dearest. You look at the world through rose colored glasses, always seeing the best in everyone, and it is what makes you beautiful. It is what sets you apart from the drudges, the plodders, the people who see the world only as shades of gray.
What are we, but cogs in the great wheel, drones in the beehive or worker ants in the anthill? What distinguishes one from another?
I may be just a drone, but in my eyes you are the queen bee, the princess, the butterfly in the clouds. My heart aches for the time I can see your sweet words again.
I can't wait to talk to you tonight,
I finger-combed through my damp hair and hit the “reply” button. My fingers hovered over the keyboard for long moments, as I tried to figure out the perfect response. Finally I settled on something short. After all, I wasn't as gifted with words as Travis was.
I can't wait either. Looking forward to tonight. Don't be late.
After the message sent I jumped up, full of nervous energy. I grabbed a brush to drag through my hair, threw the towel in the hamper, straightened up my room. I rushed downstairs when Mom called, and ate my dinner, barely recognizing what it was. Broccoli and chicken something.
When I got back upstairs, there was an instant message waiting. I felt a shiver of hope as I sat down, and I was not let down. It was Travis, his little green light blinking on my screen.
TSB1384: What's up, gorgeous?
I grinned and shook my head. This man...
Butterflykisses17: Not much. Just getting ready for Dad's birthday bash. Wish you could be here.
TSB1384: I wish so, too. We will meet soon. Have you told your parents about me yet?
TSB1384: Good. I want to make a proper first impression, you know. Not that I think you would have anything but glowing reports of me, but I'm the sort of man to make my own way in this world.
Butterflykisses17: But of course we have to actually meet first, before we ever talk about you meeting my parents...
TSB1384: But of course. Any thoughts on rectifying this situation, Butterfly?
TSB1384: I need to take you on a proper date. Dinner, roses, maybe a movie or a moonlit stroll afterwards? What do you say?
Butterflykisses17: I say that sounds perfect! Just tell me where and when. :-)
TSB1384: What are you doing tomorrow?
Butterflykisses17: Besides getting up late due to staying up until the wee hours “partying” with my parents' friends? Nothing much. Maybe some shopping.
TSB1384: Then how about you and me,that little Chinese place on the corner of Main and 2
street. 6:00 pm. And we'll see how it goes from there. What do you think of that?
Butterflykisses17: That sounds really romantic. Let's do that.
TSB1384: It's a date then.
Butterflykisses17: <3 I can't wait.
I looked at the clock in the corner of the screen.
Better go help mom set up for the party. Talk to you tomorrow, I guess.
TSB1384: I shall hold my breath until I see your sweet words again. I hope you have a wonderful night, my Butterfly. I will see you tomorrow. Wear something sparkly so I can find you, okay?
My heart thrilled at the words. I couldn't believe I was actually going to meet the man behind the screen, put a real face to the pictures and the words.
Butterflykisses17: Okay :-). See you tomorrow. Xoxo.
I stabbed the button on the monitor and stared at the blank screen for a moment, waiting for my heart to stop racing. Tomorrow I would see Travis. The man of my dreams? Soul mate? Mr. Right? Only time would tell, but I was feeling optimistic. I rummaged through my closet to find my most sparkly dress, a mid-thigh little thing covered in rhinestones, sleeveless and silver and, Mary said, sure to catch anyone's attention. I threw it over the top of my long mirror, hung a shimmery purple clutch by the shoulder strap from the side, and my best silvery heels on the floor nearby. I stood back and admired the total effect. Yep, there would be no mistaking me. I smiled and bit my lip, trying to imagine how tomorrow night would go. What would he wear? Would he be taller than I imagined, or shorter? Would he hold the door like a gentleman, or would he take the lead and walk in first? So many questions, and I couldn't wait to find out the answers.
“Sarah! Dad just left, get down here!”
My mood broken, I sighed and flipped my hair over my shoulder. Taking one last look at my outfit for tomorrow, I headed out of my room and down the stairs to help her set up for Dad's “surprise” birthday party. Mom had sent dad to the store for some minor and totally unnecessary items to get him out of the house long enough for their friends to arrive and to get the party set up.
I was quiet as I helped Mom pull the balloons out of the closet and tie them to chairs, brought the cake in from the garage, and answered the phone to give directions to people on where to park so that Dad wouldn't see their cars. Not that I was silent on purpose, my mind was just going over so many possibilities for tomorrow that I forgot to talk. I was so quiet that Mom noticed.
“Everything alright, Sarah?”
I looked up from stacking presents and managed what I hoped was a bright smile. “Yep! Sorry, just thinking!”
“About anything in particular? If you're worried about the job interview, I wouldn't be. Even if they don't hire you, it will be a learning experience for when you interview for other jobs.”
Well, at least she was giving me a “safe” subject. I just shrugged. “I'm not too worried. I do hope I don't have to interview for
many jobs though...I think that's the worst part of this whole process.”
Mom smiled at me and shook her head. “I just can't believe my daughter is old enough to be applying for jobs and getting ready to move out on her own. It seems like just yesterday....”
“Moooom,” I interrupted plaintively.
Mom raised her hands in defeat. “Sorry, sorry! You'll understand one day, when you've got a kid of your own.” I could have sworn she winked at me.
Little did she know what her words were going to mean in my life in the coming years.
The house was crowded with people, filled with the sounds of greetings and laughter. My station was at the door, watching for the moment when Dad would turn into the driveway.
“Lights off!” Mom called, and there was a lot of shifting and giggling as people found their hiding places. Dad had called to let her know he was on the way home about ten minutes before, which meant he would be there any moment.
“Here he comes!” I called, and joined Mary behind the couch. I crouched next to my friend, shoving her when she giggled. “Shh!”
“You're on my dress!”
I moved my foot just as keys jangled in the lock, and the front door opened. Dad's face appeared as he stepped inside and pushed the door closed.
“Surprise!” Almost managing to coordinate our efforts, everyone jumped out and yelled. To Dad's credit, he managed to look genuinely surprised, even dropping one of his grocery bags on the floor.