It’s Because of You
Time stops moving as his words work their way into my conscience. My heart stops beating, my lungs won’t function. My mind jerks to a standstill, replaying the sentence again and again like a bad song stuck in my head. It’s probably because of disobedient children who don’t do what their parents tell them. In seconds, the sentence has morphed into one more basic, more clear, more horrifying. It’s because of you. It’s because of you. It’s because of YOU. I feel like I’ve been slapped. And the worst part is, I can’t deny it. As I stare down at my dad’s body, collapsed in a heap on the ground, frozen in time and pain and grief, I know he’s right. I know with absolute certainty that all of this is my fault. Another bit of darkness to hide behind my smile.
I started it when I got home from school and fought with my dad. All he’d wanted was for me to empty the dishwasher. If I had just obeyed him and done as he asked, none of what followed would have happened. But no, I had to let my stress get the best of me. I had to yell at my dad about having too much homework. I had to start the fight that ended with me slamming my door and him being stressed and tired as well.
I wasn’t in my room more than an hour before I heard my brother calling for me. I rolled my eyes and thought, what does he want? I was so incredibly ignorant. Luckily, I went downstairs to see what he wanted. What I found was definitely worth interrupting my homework. My father was standing next to the kitchen island, leaning heavily against my brother, moving slowly and robotically, looking like a gust of wind could push him over.
He was talking in this slurred, incoherent speech. I couldn’t understand anything he said. We tried moving him to the couch, thinking it might help, but we didn’t make it that far. My dad is surprisingly heavy when he isn’t able to support any of his weight, and I’m unsurprisingly weak. My brother did his best to support the majority of his weight, but it was no use. Without any real help from me, he collapsed on the floor next to the dining table.
I called my mom and did my best to explain the situation. She was at work, but she immediately started packing her stuff to leave. My mom called our neighbor so that we’d have some adult with us, and she was there in seconds. At that point, my dad had lost consciousness, but she woke him up and started talking to him, telling him what had happened.
My neighbor told him it was probably because of stress. He responded by looking straight at me and saying one coherent statement, the only coherent statement he spoke all night.
Time starts moving again. I swallow and push my emotions to the back of my mind. No one needs to see the brokenness and guilt I’m feeling. No one needs to know the truth. Life goes on, as if he’d said nothing, as if I’m the only one to have heard. My dad’s eyes slip shut as he again loses consciousness. That’s okay. It’s better this way.
An ambulance comes shortly after my mom arrives. My dad is taken. My neighbor goes home, my brother and mom leave to go with my dad. I’m left alone with my dog in my room, sobbing silently. I’m glad they asked me to stay and take care of the family pet. I need a moment to let out my emotions. Later, I’ll conceal them. No one will see my tears. I’ll harbor these feelings, keep them to myself. This is my burden, my darkness, and I need to carry it alone. I deserve this.
It won’t be long until this is just a hazy dream to the others. My father will remember nothing of that night, and very little of the past week. My mother and brother will be thankful that the doctors found nothing wrong and move on as if nothing happened. I won’t do anything to remind them. Why would I? They may not feel the guilt and pain that darken my heart and mind, but they’ll worry about me. My dad may forgive me, but I won’t be able to accept it. They’ll try to convince me that it was just a moment of darkness and it’s all over now, but that’s wrong. It wasn’t a moment of darkness, not for me. My family and I are separated by a wall. On the east side, their side, the sun will rise and the dawn will come. But my side is to the west, and I will never see the dawn. I will only ever see the dusk.
Life is cruel. No, scratch that. It’s vicious, callous, brutal, heartless, sadistic. Heaven knows the pain it’s caused me. Every turn reveals a new problem, a new disaster, a new choice. Sometimes, things turn out for the better. Problems are resolved. Disasters turn to hope. Choices are made correctly. But sometimes, something turns out so horribly that you can’t move on. Sure, other people might be fine, but that doesn’t mean you’re okay. The darkness isn’t always followed by the dawn, and sometimes the dark cloud that surrounds you has no silver lining to escape through. But that’s life. Everyone faces problems, and everyone has their own problems to face. There’s no use in giving someone another thing to worry about. It’s better to just face the darkness on your own. Put on a mask and hide it all behind a smile.