I didn’t want to hear what they said. I didn’t care to think about it either. It was easier to ignore them, blocking out everything to try drown myself the only way I knew.
First, it was music.
I lived and breathed through my Ipod. I made more playlists in one week, than I had in the entire three years I’d owned it. Each list had a name, each name fit a mood, each mood brought a tear and each tear brought another.
Crying did pitiful little, I aged twenty years in the thirteen I had to my name. For physical abuse, it was wonderful. I bore a pounding headache and perpetually burning, achy eyes, in addition to a horribly blotched complexion.
A self-inflicted torture I was loathe to end.
The music was the a tidal wave. And now I was the one helpless, stranded and subjected to the mercies of whatever controlled it.
One song brought tears one day and blinding rage the next. In each moment, I was constantly surrounded by music, a shield to protect me from what I had to avoid.
When the music ran out, I forced to find something else.
Next, came books.
Books of all kinds, shapes and sizes. I didn’t care what I read, so as long as I read. My mind was occupied, reading of strange worlds and supposedly normal people, mixed in with bittersweet endings and lousy subplots.
Eventually the words blurred. The perfect little lines of neat black letters, faded into the creamy whiteness of the page, as my eyes rebelled, refusing to read another chapter. In the absence of this new addiction, I was forced again to find a new outlet.
The only way I handled my nightmare was the very way that tore me apart.
Lastly, it was words.
Everywhere on anything. Nothing was exempt. I wrote whatever came to mind on any possible surface. I filled walls with streams of gibberish and covered pages with warped poetry written in cursive print.
I was filled to the brim with everything necessary to stay where I wanted to be.
In my head.
My mind was never quiet, which meant I would never have to relive the horror trapped inside. Music would play in the background of my thoughtstream, as the subplots of popular novels were compared with the equally lousy endings I wrote.
Words filled my head faster than I wrote. The cycle continued until I couldn’t write another word. My head couldn’t take it.
Without distractions, I heard them again. Cold, harsh voices.
“She’s in denial.”
“We’ll have to do something, she can’t go on like this.”
“It’s not right…can’t someone fix her?”
“If her father were here-”
I never let them finish that sentence. I run from the room before the final words fell from the well-meaning lips. I needed space.
They didn’t know dad. They didn’t understand. I didn’t understand. If I’d listened to him, maybe he’d still be alive. Then I wouldn’t be wishing I was dead.
“You didn’t kill him.” Uncle Zeke hiked himself up onto the rail of the riding corral. He watched me sitting in the center on the dirt.
His words filled my head. Too full. Too much pressure.
A hiccup is painful.
“He saved you for a reason.” Uncle Zeke’s shadow falls across the myriad of shapes I have traced in the dirt. He takes my hand, gently. “You were his only princess-he had to. He loved you that much.”
“To die?” I tried to pull my hand away, but couldn’t.
“He knew he would live in heaven…” Uncle Zeke pulled my 13-year-old self into a hug vaguely reminiscent of Dad. “He also knew he wouldn’t see you there if your life ended right then.”
“Stop.” The pain is multiplying.
“No.” He held me closer. “He wanted to give you another chance, Lila. Another chance to empty your heart and give it to God. He would never have wanted you to do this to yourself.”
I sniffled, painfully.
There were more things hurting than just my heart.
“Empty.” Uncle Zeke whispered. “Let it all go.”
And I did.
The music danced off, the books hid away, the words trickled out. The empty shell I tried to transform, was the cracked and broken trophy I offered to my Creator.
In the stillness of the western sky, I gave Him back my dad.
For the first time that year.
I was empty.
So He could fill me.
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