Escapism

By Nhi

They slammed the door and left again. Rolling myself on the bed, I stared into the cream-colored ceiling and rubbed my hands against the blanket. The tiny room, as always, bore a brooding silence, monotonously broken by the sounds of the clock ticking.

It was universal how there were so many unhappy families out there. And I never thought my family belonged to a different crowd.

When I was four or five, I fancied my parents as two most charming and knowledgeable humans who would be able to answer any questions and bring me anywhere in the world, even the United States or England. My Mom, with her jet-black hair falling over her delicate shoulders and slender fingers stroking my hair, appeared to me more gorgeous than any other women. My Dad, wearing plain clothes, was rather less striking in appearance, and yet he impressed people with his light-hearted manners and passionate eloquence. It was my little secret during childhood: taking pride in being the child of a happy family. I remembered hearing the sirens blaring in the city, while strolling with my parents under the neon light that was embracing the road. I squeezed my Mom’s hand on one side and felt my Dad’s palm on the other.

I did not know why a small portion of my memories still held such lovely images. They were created so long ago, before all the fights happened. Sitting at a corner of the room, I cried and plugged my ears with fingers to shut off the shouting and horrible words they used for each other. Sometimes they brought up my name in their disputes. And I had a really good feeling that I was the reason for their madness. Mom would not stop mocking and Dad kept throwing things like newspapers, books, television remote, and flower vases around the room. The more brutal their fights became, the louder I cried. I thought my tears would make them realize how much pain they were inflicting upon me. But they never ceased.

I was living under the impression that I was the only reason why they did not get divorced. As much as I was horrified by the idea, I wanted them to. All of us were not happy for too long, and that was enough.

I grew up, adopting a mask of apathy at things that were likely to bite at my vulnerable heart. I became a discerning observer who did not dare to love anyone, and ran away from everyone’s love. Inside, my heart was bruised by witnessing people’s affection for their parents. The feeling of guilt gnawed on me because I hardly did anything. Whenever they bombarded me with how imperfect I was, I threw at them a blank face. That was all I could do to not hurt them. As much as I wanted to pour out how I hated waking up to the shouting, how I dreaded the slaps and how I was disgusted by their judgmental personalities, I could not bear the thought that my honesty would give them extra pain. I had heard enough from them to know that their lives were not easy either. Probably, in their world, material things like a shelter or food were the most they could do to make me satisfied and even happy. It was not. But, after all, they were two of many parents who acted in the same careless way to children.

An unbearable weight crushed my lungs. “If you treat your parents with apathy like this, you will never become a good person,” my mom mocked me in disdain before leaving the house. It struck me, because for the first time, she did not want me to be a perfect-body girl with exemplary behaviors who would get into the most privileged college. She wanted me to be an affectionate daughter – a person that I numerously tried to become before, but finally thought that those were rather wasteful efforts. Actions that came from heart were not to be seen but to be felt.

“Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick Tock,” I paid attention the soft sound of the clock beside me. It was absurdly monotonous. “Tick Tock, Tick Tock, Tick Tock,” the ticks of time seemed confined in its cycle of sixty seconds.

***

Near my house, there was a road that seemed leading to the horizon. On two sides were lines of evergreen trees that converged at the end. Though curious about what laid there, I had never thought of ruining the mystery by exploring the unknown. Unlike people who constantly strived to discover, I merely counted the trees on either sides until they eluded my eyesight and stared into distance, trying to fathom out what could possibly be waiting for me if I moved forward.

But, on that day, I decided that I might as well try it. Maybe, I would be disappointed. But what I would see did not matter anymore. The walk seemed mesmerizing.

***

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 The sounds of bird chirping, leaves soaring, breezes flowing flooded into my eardrums. I shivered. In front of my eyes was an open grass field. The never-ending green skin was threaded by different colors of tree barks, pieces of wood left unattended and flowers. On the cloudless sky, several kites were flying. Yet, what was most spellbinding was the large lake in the middle. Under the sunshine, the glittering waves gently overlapped each other. I breathed in the spring fresh air, smiling. I was happy. Living had always been a confusing concept, but for the first time in many years, I felt different. I felt alive.

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I took off my sandals and walked with my feet naked on the dry grass. I thought about what had happened all over the years and wondered why I had never dared to walk to this place. Supposed I had been open to new endeavors, I would not have wasted so much time on the bruises that others caused for me and I created for myself. Different from all the other times when I strained myself to be apathetic, I found myself not care about their terrible judgments anymore. The unhappiness that I felt prior was merely a small hole in life that can be forgotten by the beauty I found today and would discover tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow. I would just keep looking, be curious and hungry to fill the holes with happiness that could only be felt by always living for the moment.

From the writer: This is a piece of fiction work I wrote for my English class.

 

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