Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: RESOLUTION (01/07/16)
TITLE: Twice As Hard
By Sara Harricharan
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It never does.
My new year’s resolution is the worst. You know, the moment where you’re standing in the kitchen, in the middle of your family—where things should feel safe and protected, but somehow they aren’t—and people talk around you. Over you. Behind you. Through you, if they could.
Their words always cut you.
Whether they mean to or not.
It’s the tail end of a conversation that first hooks its claws into me. I’m drying the good china when my father says “-I hope this year you can be nicer. This year I’ve watched you degenerate.”
It wouldn’t be so bad if he wasn’t my father. It wouldn’t hurt so much if he’d used different words. But words from people I trust on principle, those kinds of words hurt in the way that they shouldn’t.
I’m not sure I know what he means. I’m also fairly certain he couldn’t mean me, because the kitchen is full and I’m minding my own business. I’ve made a great effort to be cheerful and happy, at least for this holiday weekend. It’s harder to hold the mask as the weekend drags on.
It’s cost me to show up this year. The solitude that is now mine to claim, is a luxury between constant overtime, no vacation days and sick coworkers.
I’m in the middle of the flu right now.
Guess I shouldn’t be wiping dishes. Then again, I blew my nose before I started. And washed my hands with soap. Twice.
I’ve been considerate. What else is needed? I’d do the dishes myself, but father thinks I can’t stack them properly. He means I can’t do it the way he would. But dishes don’t make him say such things.
Then again, my sisters aren’t in the room and neither is my mother. I doubt he’d tell my brothers and cousins to be nice. Nice certainly doesn’t suit those brutes. They’re rough and tough in the good ways. Loud and proud in the others.
I’m the echo of a shadow who can’t seem to find a wall to stick to. There isn’t anything I can say to what he’s already said.
His mouth is still moving though. I suppose that means more words.
I haven’t heard anything since the last bombshell. I don’t know if I want to. I don’t know if I can stomach it. Then again, I didn’t eat much. Sick to my stomach and all that.
“…you can’t let people change you. They will always be the way they are. People don’t change. You might be the only example of Christ they ever see…”
And I’m tuning him out again, because dear heaven help me, that hurts.
As if I haven’t tried.
As if I don’t know how.
As if I’m not trying every single day.
This kind of hurt aches. Carves holes in me where I can’t reach, because I’m not perfect. I can’t help snarking at things—sorry, people—and I have so much to learn. So much life ahead of me. I’m drowning trying to handle these new things. They come quickly and swiftly, knocking me off my feet.
It’s all I can do to hold my head up. Ignoring the whispers, the glares and words I shouldn’t hear. Lord knows I can’t help being a woman. Can’t help being young. Can’t help the color of my skin or the slant of my accent.
It shouldn’t matter, but it does. It matters so much.
I don’t even know how to take this armor off anymore. Don’t think I could stand without it. Can’t smile because it’s weakness. Can’t laugh because it hurts. Can’t be strong—because it makes them tear deeper.
Working twice as hard to be half as good.
Love one another.
Let Christ shine through me.
I take over the washing when father’s evening phone call comes through. I take his place beside mother in the den. I comb and braid her hair as she watches her favorite movie. Her hands shake.
So do mine.
Hot, angry tears that I daren’t count.
These are my parents. I love them. I have no others.
Maybe, father is right.
I should be nicer.
All I'd have to do is hold my smile a little longer.
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