A Miracle in My Life

Do you believe in miracles?

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Miracles are real.

I know many people don’t believe in them, and I understand why. It’s nerve-wracking to try to believe in something so unknown, something that can’t be controlled. It’s overwhelming to believe that a situation can turn from one end of a spectrum to the other in the blink of an eye.

It’s scary to believe in the impossible.

But I’ve seen proof that miracles are real. At many points throughout my life, I watched as my family and friends fought to be strong when it seemed there was no strength left, and I watched as they wept when they thought I wasn’t watching. They believed I would fall apart if I saw them falling apart, and, being the youngest in the family, they had to be strong for me.

I’ve always let them do this because I know it will help them be strong if they have someone to be strong for. However, in every instance, the moment I was alone, I knelt down and prayed.

I prayed that the situation would turn out okay in the end, that things would happen the way God planned them to. I prayed that my friends and family would find strength in Him, and that He’d help them find peace no matter what became of the situation. Sometimes, I asked Him to save whoever it was who needed the miracle, but usually I just asked Him to give me strength to deal with the outcome. I trusted Him, and I trusted that he would do things His way, and I trusted that His way would always be the best way.

So why am I saying all of this?

Because, my friends, I recently watched an impossible miracle unfold in a person very near to me, and I just don’t understand how people can deny it being a miracle.

You see, in early March, I was talking to my mom late at night, when she said she needed to call my brother at Purdue and tell us something very important. My brother answered, and we cheerily asked what she needed to tell us.

Neither of us expected her to bring up my dad’s recent skin care check up, nor did we expect her to tell us that the doctor found a dime-sized grayish-brown spot on the roof of his mouth.

Melanoma, she told us.

And not just one of the small cases he usually got from visiting Florida and spending too much time in the sun. No, the doctor had already said that it was one of the worst cases he’d seen, and they’d have to do a biopsy on it. Maybe more… But they’d talk more about it when the time came.

The biopsy was to occur on March 31st. The doctor had wanted to do it sooner, but my dad was determined to go on his mission trip and wanted to make sure he could help us move to our new house as soon as he got back. And, of course, he wanted me to be able to enjoy my senior year Spring break before having the surgery, just in case it didn’t go well.

My mom asked us to pray for him, but stayed away from the details. My brother and I were careful not to sound upset or ask too many questions, because she already looked and sounded like she was on the verge of tears. It was one of those silent agreements. My mom could think she was being strong for us, but in truth, we would be strong for her.

I went up to my room after that, plopped down on my bed, and prayed. I don’t know how long I prayed. I just started talking to God, asking Him to give me strength, to give my mom strength, to give me guidance and acceptance. For a bit, I talked about what I thought life might be like without my dad, and I started crying and begged God not to take him from me. Then I calmed down and told Him that I trusted Him and if He took my dad from me, I would be strong because everything happens for a reason. I’d grow stronger and things would turn out okay.

Eventually, I felt more at peace with the whole situation. I thanked God for listening and always being there for me, praised Him for the way He’s moved in my life and the great things He’s done, and went to bed.

I actually forgot about it within a couple of weeks. I lost track of time and got completely caught up in practicing. It wasn’t until I got home from guard this past Thursday that it came up again.

I was sitting in my room, reading and minding my own business, when my mom came in with a big grin. I immediately tensed up, not knowing what to expect. My mom sat down on the bed next to me and rolled her eyes at my reaction before asking if my dad had told me the good news.

I was confused. What good news? What could the good news be about? She looked like she was just barely keeping herself from jumping up and down, so I was just a bit worried about what it could be (why I always worry when someone looks that happy, I have no clue. I’m just very defensive).

She took a deep breath and told me my dad had gone to the doctor’s office today (I figure it was probably the hospital, but she knew from past experience that I would freak out if she told me my dad had gone to the hospital, so she went with the other term), and I immediately remembered our past conversation. March 31st. It was March 31st. And if she looked so happy…

My mom explained to me that the doctors had already hooked my dad up to the IV and were ready to give him the anasthesia when they double checked for the spot in his mouth.

They were shocked to find it completely gone.

They pulled out the pictures they’d taken of the spot, double checked his mouth multpile times, did a full examination to see if it had moved, but it hadn’t. They had picture proof that it had been there, that the doctor who had examined him originally hadn’t been seeing things. But the spot was no longer there.

The doctor who had origianlly made the diagnosis was completely overwhelmed. He said he’d been worrying about my dad ever since making the diagnosis, told him it was the worst case of melanoma he’d seen in a long time. He said he’d been nearly certain that the biopsy wouldn’t be enough and was worried they’d have to go into the bone, which would be much worse.

He stated quite clearly that things like that don’t happen. Melanoma that bad doesn’t just disappear. It was impossible.

He looked at my dad dead in the eyes and said, “This is a miracle.”

My mom told me all of this, and all I could do was shake my head in awe. My dad accepted it readily with little surprise. My mom didn’t even question it, as she was overcome with relief. I don’t know if my brother accepted it, or if he’s still in denial because it’s just so impossible, but I get the feeling he’s having trouble wrapping his head around it.

As for me, I’m amazed and awestruck, but not surprised in the least. Like I said before, I trust God with all my heart. I don’t know how or why. Usually I have trouble trusting, but not with Him. Maybe it’s the childish innocence that makes up a great portion of my soul. Maybe it’s because I already have more than enough proof that I can trust Him.

Whatever the reason, I knew things would turn out okay in the end. I can’t say I expected exactly what happened, but I must have subconciously expected something along those lines because I felt very little actual surprise. Rather, all I felt was joy and awe and the same wonder I always feel in these situations.

Miracles are real. This right here is the greatest proof I have ever seen. The impossible just became possible. Disaster has been averted. I’ve been given more time to spend with my dad.

Miracles are real. The proof is right in front of you.

All you have to do is believe.


 

Picture source: crosswalk.com

Sincerely, Hope

Dear World and Everyone In It,
This is who I am.
Accept it.

*Note: I started this blog because of my Creative Writing class in the Spring of 2016. It was an assignment to start and maintain a blog. As a part of this, we had to write and upload certain posts. You’ll recognize them as the posts that seem somewhat out of place.

This was one of those posts. In fact, this was the main assignment for our blogging unit: an “About Me” post. It’s much more difficult than you think. Surprisingly enough, I’m a very uninteresting person with a very bad memory. Not to mention, not many events in my life were very noteworthy, and I didn’t want my post to be all about traveling.

So, I decided to play with the idea and make it unique. The result was this. If you plan to read beyond this note, I would just like to warn you that it doesn’t really focus on the usual “Who am I” stuff. Rather, it’s written as a letter to the world where I tell it to stop judging me because this is me.

You won’t learn about my likes and dislikes in this post, or anything like that. Instead, you’ll see the true me in the writing itself. The way it’s written. What I say about myself. If you really want to know who I am, then this is your best shot. Thank you for visiting my blog, and good luck.


Dear World and Everyone in it,

You don’t understand me.

You don’t know me, not in the slightest, and it seems to me that you don’t care to know me. You don’t care who I am, just who you want me to be, who you think I should be. So, I have one thing to say to you.

Iridescent.

When asked to describe myself in one word, that’s the one I choose.

Not “hope” because my name is Hope and name puns are soooooo funny! (I hope you caught that sarcasm). Not “oblivious” because, according to you, I miss everything. Not “hippy” because I like flowers and there’s nothing to me other than flowers. Definitely not “immature” because you think I’m a child and should be treated as such. And don’t ever say it’s “stupid,” because I am not stupid.

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The second time I gave my hair to Locks of Love.

But at the same time, I can’t accurately say that I’m anything else. I am not always “wise,” as a few of you see me. I am not always “loyal,” though I’ve proven myself to be many times over. I am not always “selfless,” no matter how much I give. I am not always “mature,” or “creative,” or “brave.” I am not always anything.

At the end of the day, it depends on who you ask.

I am iridescent. According to Google, iridescent means “showing luminous colors that seem to change when seen from different angles.” And trust me, there isn’t a word in the world that describes me better than that.

(If that doesn’t make sense, check out my poem Iridescent. I don’t know if it will help, but you never know. I wrote it based on this idea.)

You see, somehow, every person — or group of people, in some cases — who has ever known me, you included, has formed a different and unique version, or perspective, of who I am. No two perspectives match, and not a single one is spot on.

Now you see why I’m so fascinated with the idea of perspectives.

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Little old me, riding the Griffin statue that I claimed was my pet…

I usually use these different perspectives to hide myself, to keep anyone from figuring me out. The real me isn’t always someone I want people to see. In fact, when I was younger, I was ashamed of the real me. I was ashamed because of you. Because you never accepted the real me. Because I was too crazy, too thoughtful, too different, and you didn’t want anything to do with me. Did I scare you? Did you see me as a threat? Little old me, just trying to find a way in this place, a threat

And I guess that’s when I created my windows and walls, when I started hiding parts of myself. I suppose I never managed to hide the same things every time, because all of this happened. But you can’t blame me for all of this, because it’s your fault.

So, I’m giving you the chance to redeem yourself.

All I’ve ever truly wanted is acceptance. Not as someone else, but as myself.

In the hopes that I might finally be free, I am choosing to be vulnerable. Right here and now, I am opening myself up to you. I am giving you a great deal of my trust, trust that I rarely give. Do not abuse it. It’s more fragile than you could ever know.

This is who I am.

Sincerely,

Hope


 

Dear World and Everyone In It,

I’ll give you some friendly advice.

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My brother and I attempting to paint a new house.

Within these letters, I’ve included pictures. For the most part, they don’t seem to fit in. They seem random.

However, you should already know, a picture’s worth a thousand words.

If you want to figure out the depth of who I am, pay attention to the pictures. They tell my story, my real story, the story of me beyond what I can say and beyond a pretty face.

Because, I promise you. I am much, much more than a pretty face.

Get it? Got it?

Good.

Sincerely,

Hope


 

Dear World and Everyone In It,

I am a Highly Sensitive Person.

Yes, HSP (which is the abbreviation for it) is a real thing. It occurs in around 20% of humans and has been found in over 100 other different species. It is an innate trait, and it is 100% me.

If you want proof that I am HSP, I almost starting bawling in the middle of my creative writing class when I learned about it. Yes, bawling. There were tears in my eyes and my throat was tight, and I had to take several deep breaths to hold it all in.

From ipone 271
Me modeling a giant flower at a store.

Why was I so emotional, you may ask? Simple. I’m an incredibly emotional person, so I was already on the brink of a breakdown because I couldn’t figure out how to explain who I am. Then this happened, and my world was basically turned inside out because it matched me perfectly.

It took so many things about me that I couldn’t explain to other people and summarized them all into three simple words. Years of trying to figure out why I react to things so extremely, why I notice details other people never notice, why the five senses impact me so deeply… All explained in three words.

Highly Sensitive Person.

This also explains why I see so much beauty in everything.

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Me modeling a fantastic yellow life vest and rubber boots in Ecuador.

It is important to note that not all HSPs are emotional roller coasters. Most are far more easy-going than me. At least, I think that’s the case… I’m guessing I’m just on the more extreme side of things.

And, quite obviously, HSP is not the equivalent of an introvert, seeing as I’m an introvert-extrovert mix.

My creative writing teacher, who is also HSP, was the one who introduced me to this term. She pulled up this blog called hsperson.com and talked to the class about it a bit, then gave us some free time to explore the site ourselves if we so pleased. Obviously, I chose to explore it.

I highly suggest you check out this blog, especially if you think you might be HSP. Seriously, it could change your entire world.

It changed mine.

Sincerely,

Hope


 

Dear World and Everyone In It,

I am a perfectionist.

It’s not something I can control. I just want everything to be right, to be the best it can possibly be.

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Me on Fort Myers Beach, a split second before my grand wipe-out.

Is that such a crime?

I admit, sometimes I get carried away. I spend hours on a single project that should only take a few minutes, just because I think it could be a little bit better if I change a few things.

Sometimes I succeed. Sometimes I don’t.

I actually had about a dozen panic attacks while trying to plan this post and write it. I think this is my seventh draft started from scratch. I won’t even try to count how many times I revised each draft… But honestly, it turned out better than it would have if I had stuck to the first draft, so who can say my perfectionist tendencies are bad?

Though at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you think or even what I think. I can’t help being a perfectionist. It’s not something I can control or change about myself. It’s just a part of me.

It’s likely that my perfectionist qualities developed from my childhood. My parents have always pushed me to have the absolute best grades, and though that’s not a bad thing, it’s been… hard, to say the least. My entire life, I was faced with the constant questions of why do you have a B in this class? Why is it not an A? What are you going to do to bring it up?

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Our family photo on Fort Myers Beach.

Yes, it’s been frustrating.

But no, I’m not mad at my parents for it.

They were only doing what they thought best. And honestly, I’m glad they raised me this way. I think I’m a better person because of it. I never settle for mediocre and always strive for the best, which is a way of life everyone should follow.

Actually, if I’m to be mad at anyone, it should be you. You who see this part of me as negative (Psychology Today is the perfect example), you who tell me that I should feel shame.

You, who taught me to hate myself because I want to be the best I can be.

Thank you, world.

And you wonder why I hide.

Sincerely,

Hope


 

Dear World and Everyone In It,

I am Attention Deficit.

Not stupid. Not oblivious. Not immature.

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My brother fast asleep with his giant tiger. That’s me in the background.

In fifth grade, I was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder, ADD for short. By now, it’s probably more like ADHD, but being diagnosed with ADHD wouldn’t do anything more for me. I’d still be taking the same exact medicine, still be living the same exact life, just with a different term to define my disorder.

Disorder. How I hate that word.

I won’t go into detail about this. I already posted an entire story that goes through my life before and after being diagnosed with ADD. You can read it here.

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The door to one of my past rooms, which we tore out during one of our moves.

Otherwise, you just need to know that it isn’t stupidity that makes me slow. It’s the constant noise that fills the world, that’s always ringing in my ears and drawing my attention away.

It isn’t obliviousness that keeps me from noticing the big picture. It’s all the little details in the world that I notice and focus in on, but you seem to be oblivious to.

And it isn’t immaturity that causes me to act like a child. It’s my mind running in a million places at once, unable to focus on anything, yet focusing on everything, all at the same time.

It’s not easy being me. So just… Stop acting like there’s something wrong with me. Please. There’s nothing wrong with me, my mind just works differently than everyone else’s.

I’m just… me. So stop judging me and try to understand who I am for once.

Sincerely,

Hope


 

Dear World and Everyone In It,

This is who I am.

From ipone 022
My best friend and I posing in our formal attire.

Accept it.

I’m tired of trying to be someone else,

so I’m just gonna be myself.

Say whatever you want to say.

I don’t care.

At the end of the day,

this is me.

Not the person you say I should be.

You only ever saw me through windows,

while walls blocked most of your view.

You don’t know me.

You’ve never known me.

So stop trying to control me

because it won’t work.

Not anymore.

I’m done pretending.

It’s time I stepped outside

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Honestly, I don’t even know…

and let the world see me

for me.

I’m proud to be me.

I’m proud to be unique.

I’m ready to be vulnerable.

So ready or not,

here I come.

This is the real me.

Sincerely,

Hope.

 

Things You Should Know

A response to A.M. Homes’s short story, “Things You Should Know”.

When I was in elementary school, my teachers called me stupid.

It was funny, really. They called me stupid when they knew I was brilliant. They yelled at me when I couldn’t remember how to spell a simple word, then stared at me in disbelief when I solved a middle school level math problem.

They knew I wasn’t stupid, but they couldn’t figure out what I was, so they called me stupid.

I stopped paying attention to them early on. All they did was talk and wave their hands around, and the other kids seemed to think that was great, but I didn’t.


A few times, I tried to pay attention. Then I’d hear something, like the tapping of a pencil.

Tap tap tap…

I’d press myself to listen, to focus.

Tap tap tap tap tap…

I gave up almost immediately. It didn’t seem to be worth the fight.


I missed information all the time. I managed to teach myself the important stuff because it was easy and made sense when the world was quiet, but I missed all the details because it’s hard for a kid to teach herself details.

I couldn’t figure out spelling because there was so much to memorize. I got an F in citizenship because I didn’t pay attention and chose to talk to other students who could pay attention but didn’t want to. I hated science and history because there were a million different pieces and details to them, and I couldn’t keep up.

I loved math and grammar. With those, there was a basic set of rules that seemed to carry through everything, even the weird exceptions. There was no memorization, just basic understanding. And then more complex understanding based on those basics, and it kept growing in complexity.

Yet, it all always seemed so easy to me, especially when the world was quiet.

When there was noise, even math and grammar became difficult.


In fifth grade, I went to a different school.

We didn’t move or anything. I’d just taken a test, and some people who acted like they knew everything determined that I was “smarter” than my age, so they put me in an extended learning program. I switched to a different school in the district that year so I could be in the “smarter” class.

The class helped some and hurt some. It was very free reign, so it didn’t matter so much if I payed attention or not, but I could never figure out what I was supposed to be doing. The teacher only gave information once and then expected us to handle ourselves. I had trouble hearing the information the first time.

But the harder work was wonderful. It wasn’t too hard, not for me, but it was difficult enough to keep my mind entertained for longer periods of time.

Memorization was still an impossible feat.


Halfway through my fifth grade year, my teacher had a meeting with my parents. She suggested that they take me to get tested for attention disorders.

My parents agreed. They were so excited about it, saying that I might finally be able to focus like a normal person.

They never said I’d finally be normal, but somehow, I knew that it was implied.

I went with it, because what kid would complain about missing the first half of the school day for a whole week?


I was diagnosed with ADD.

“Attention deficit disorder,” they told me. “This explains why you’ve never been able to concentrate, why you’ve always been behind in school!”

Actually, I’m ahead, I thought but never dared to speak. I’m in the extended learning program and everything!

Instead, I just smiled and nodded as they explained how I would have to go to the nurse and take medicine. They put emphasis on how I shouldn’t be ashamed.

Well, I wasn’t ashamed. I was annoyed that they thought that I was ashamed, and that they thought I was abnormal enough to need medicine. But I humored them and agreed.


One month.

One month was all it took for me to discover the world I’d been missing.

For a ten years, teachers called me stupid, and I thought they were stupid because obviously I wasn’t stupid.

If someone had just cared enough to actually help me, to notice my issues and use their brain, to solve the equation that was me, I could’ve skipped all that worry.

But no one cared, not until fifth grade.

And after a month of taking the medicine they gave me (one pill in the morning, one pill at lunch), I was starting to realize what I had missed.

I still noticed every bit of motion around me, every sound and every flinch, but I could finally look past it all. I could focus in on one thing in particular, keep track of what I was doing, listen to a teacher as they talked.

The tap tap tap of a pencil still distracted me, but not nearly as much as it once had.

In one month, my world had changed entirely. I suddenly knew things that I’d never realized I didn’t know. I could focus. Instead of a myriad of images, my world could become just one thing.

How could anyone have let me go so long without this?


I stepped up to the front of the room, wincing at the rapping sounds of the paper in my quaking hands.

“My teachers used to call me stupid.” I began.

My teacher coughed and I looked at her. She had always been good to me. She’d never once called me stupid. In fact, she’d told me multiple times that I was one of the most brilliant people she’d ever met.

I met her gawking gaze and offered a small smile. “It’s true. For ten years of my life, teachers called me stupid.”

I turned to look at the rest of my class. “Some of you think I’m stupid, too. Because I’m different. Because I like to work alone, in silence.”

They stared up at me with wide eyes. It was strange, having them stare at me. They never stared at me. They rarely even looked at me. I was out of their realm of understanding. I was never on their list of “Things You Should Know.”

I slowly set my paper down and leant back against the table behind me. My hands no longer shook as I observed the people before me, the ones I had just a moment ago thought knew the world better than me, because they had known it the way I finally knew it for far longer.

Turns out, I had always been one step ahead.

“How many of you know what ADD is?”

The Darkest Night: The Essay

Read my post, The Darkest Night, first. This is the essay that goes along with it.

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.

In the Matter of a Second: My Brother

A story of trust.

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.

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