It only takes a moment, a split second decision, to build something… or destroy everything.
When I was young, I had faith in everything and everyone. I trusted unquestioningly, devoted myself to people without a thought.
When I was young, my friends would always be there, my brother would always protect me, my parents would never let me down.
When I was young, I was innocent and naïve, and my smile was never fake.
But now, I have trouble trusting. I never let people see me, not without a fight. They see me through windows, imagining they have a view of everything, but only seeing fragments. They see a completed painting, not realizing it was cut down to fit the frame.
My brother lost my trust first. We moved for the umpteenth time, and I found myself in a new house and a new neighborhood in the middle of the school year. I was shy, so I stuck to my brother as we stood at the bus stop that first morning, believing naïvely that he would never let me down.
It only took a minute for someone to ask if I was his sister. I can understand where the question came from. We were polar opposites. He was tall, had bleach blonde hair, and spoke like he owned the world. I still hadn’t hit my growth spurt, had dark hair, and did my best to hide in my brother’s shadow. Even our eyes were completely different shades of brown.
I started to answer, started to speak a soft but proud “Of course!” when he said, “Her? No, she’s not my sister.”
And my heart shattered. I stared at him with wide eyes, but he didn’t spare me even the smallest glance. He just went on chatting and laughing.
I tried to find a way to trust him again, but he never gave me a chance. Every day that followed, he acted as if I didn’t exist, and they followed along. I gave him plenty of chances at redemption in the following years, but he never took them. He didn’t want them.
And so I stopped trying. Every day that followed, I stood there silently, staring at the street, waiting for the bus that could never come fast enough. He never noticed, never cared.
That day, the first piece of my unwavoring smile became fake.