Chapter One Excerpt:
I watched the rain hurl itself against my window. Every so often I would see a flash of light in the darkness. The weather seemed to know how I felt and was displaying my sorrow outside. I felt compelled to go out and feel the rain against my skin. It felt like the sky was crying for me, even though I knew in reality that wasn’t true.
I moved from my perch at the window and made my way out of my room, through the house, and out the door. I didn’t bother to put on shoes or a jacket. I stepped outside onto the cool wet grass wearing just my jeans and a light pink fitted t-shirt. I pulled out my elastic hair band and let my blond hair fall around my shoulders. I wiggled my toes in the grass; it felt freeing. The rain fell on me, beginning to soak my hair and clothing; but I didn’t care. I invited the rain to drench me and wash away my pain.
Closing my eyes, I raised my head up toward the sky and extended my arms outward; the drops soaked into my skin. As I stood listening, the only sounds I could hear were the rain pounding on whatever surface it touched and the occasional boom of thunder. Breathing in deeply, I opened my eyes and spun around and around in the rain like I had when I was a little girl. I usually acted like the rain would melt me if I got caught in it. I hadn’t behaved this way since I was around seven. It felt exhilarating and almost made me forget. Almost.
“Taylor! What are you doing?” My mother's alarmed voice startled me. I turned toward her and saw her blotchy red face and sad eyes staring at me incredulously. She couldn’t hide that she had been crying. It was because of me.
“Mom, it’s not a big deal,” I stated, not wanting to fight with her.
“Taylor, you can’t just stand out in the rain. You have—"
“Mom! Don’t even say it,” I cut her off. “I’m well aware and can’t forget... no matter how hard I try,” I said angrily.
Her eyes began to fill with tears again, and I immediately regretted my angry words. This was hurting her just as much as it was hurting me.
“I’m sorry. I’ll come inside now.”
Her face relaxed a little, but the stress lines seemed to be permanently etched onto her forehead, and they wouldn’t be going away any time soon.
“Thanks, honey. I’m just worried.” She spoke sadly.
“I know, Mom... I know,” I said as I walked toward her and the house. As I reached the door, I turned around to look up at the sky one last time. It was an expansion of darkness, like the darkness that wanted to consume me. It's funny how one life-changing event could make you forget what happiness feels like. I brought my head back down as a light across the street in an upstairs window caught my attention. It was the only light on in the neighborhood, but I hadn’t noticed it before. The realization then hit me that I had been dancing around, acting crazy in the rain; people could have seen me. I felt my cheeks warm as embarrassment washed over me. I would have never acted like that before today.
I hurried through the door and shut it, leaning against it as I noisily exhaled. I looked down and saw water dripping on the wooden floor. Just then, my mom reappeared with a big white towel and put it in my hands.
“Here. Dry off and go change," she instructed me with a forced smile. "I’ll make us some hot chocolate.” I nodded and wrapped the towel around myself before heading to my room.
After entering my room, I shut the door quietly before stripping my wet clothes off. A shiver rolled through me, so I quickly wrapped the towel back around my body and began drying off. After twisting the towel around my hair like a turban, I grabbed a large gray t-shirt and sweatpants to match. I put them on before slipping into my fluffy pink robe from the back of the door. I rubbed the soft sleeve on my cheek, loving the feel of the material. It felt like a stuffed bear was wrapping itself around me, comforting me.
I closed my eyes, inhaled deeply, and then exhaled slowly before I emerged from my room. As I made my way to the living room, I examined the typical white walls and the pictures of a happy, normal family displayed proudly. Yesterday, they wouldn’t have bothered me, but now they just seemed like a lie. Things were not normal, and they never would be again.
I tore myself away from the photos but felt their gaze burn into me, taunting me for taking everything for granted and acting like nothing could penetrate my perfect world and shatter it. I shook my head, pushing the tormenting thoughts away, and made the last few steps to the couch. I sat down on the soft brown cushion and pulled my legs up in front of me. I wrapped my arms around my legs then interlocked my fingers.
I just stared straight ahead at the black screen of the television until my mom walked in front of me and handed me a mug of hot chocolate with marshmallows—, my favorite. I took the mug from her hands without saying a word. She sat down next to me without speaking, knowing there was nothing to say. She was here for comfort so I wouldn’t feel alone. She was good at knowing when words wouldn’t help and supported me with her presence. In the past, she could depend on knowing that I would talk to her when I was ready, but I wasn’t sure I would ever be ready to talk about this. Saying it out loud would make it real and mean I would never wake up from this nightmare. I really wanted to wake up from this nightmare.
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