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Featured Writing - is it all the same?

that day wasn't anything special to most people aside from me. sunday. the sun was bright but masked by clouds which forced the sky to be a grey and yellow and cream haze. it was something like colored film over windows. today, the sky is darker than before. winter is told to bring sadness over cities or psych students who haven’t gone to class in a week. snow lazes on the ground and sticks to your boots when you walk to the store, like the snow doesn’t want to be alone either.

i couldn't tell you why the day was meant to be remembered, not now. i’m sure i’ll forget. i hope i do. there’s no doubt a book on the exact reason somewhere and i’m sure i’ll read it in the upcoming semester. i miss him. it was too long ago. reliving the same day in your head everywhere you venture causes a block in emotions. you just mimic the feelings of the day before as becoming numb is the best way to get through.

in bed is sometimes the hardest. i see wilted rose petals on the duvet and can only think about the way I tore them from the bouquet in a fit of confusion. i’ve come to the agreement i can label this as grieving stage two, at least part of it.

my hallway is okay. memories are only nice in hallways, where hugs were shared. the hallway is safe, a false sense of happiness before the bitter stairs.

stairs are the descent of something lovely to whatever i have become. they stand for everything that ruined me. my feet go along the white carpeted steps and count each one.

the first step down: spaghetti for breakfast sounds perfect, i think pulling my fern green hoodie tight around my face as a draft brushes hair behind my ears

the second step: if i have an italian heritage, i’m sure it’s from my dad, i think. my stomach growls.

the third step down: christmas is soon, maybe i’ll visit.

the fourth step: my phone rings and i don’t want to answer, too early. no one would call me this early unless they’re dying or impolite so i decline the buzzing smartphone.

fifth step: must be an unknown number. i personalize all my contacts’ ringtones, for some reason.

on the sixth step: the phone is ringing again, i pause and answer leaning against the railing. we talk. she apologizes and forces a laugh when we’re through. i hold my breath. i thank her without reason, she stutters out a “have a nice day” and i end the call.

the seventh step: i walk slower, my purple bunny slippers drag. i notice the way my grey pajama pants get caught underneath my heels as i walk.

the ninth step: i don’t quite remember the eighth step, i don’t know if i’ll ever remember but the ninth i decide alfredo sounds better for breakfast. it hurts to relive stage one the most, it’s the beginning of everything. i found bliss in ignorance.

then i’m off the stairs and i can pretend it’s not real for five more steps. there are five steps between the stairs and my kitchen. another hallway, safe and bright with white lights and houseplants, prim but dying soon enough. one, two, three, four, five.

in the kitchen there are light blue walls that seem to be a pale smoke color under the sunrise’s glow of the fading stars, somehow bright enough to stream light through the skylight above me, although tall  windows circle around my walls and cast shadows. i find my way to the pantry. pulling out a bag of oats and brown sugar i drop them to the black marble countertops and sigh to myself. the tap drips pathetically into my empty sink and i turn it on, filling a glass of water. i prepare oatmeal for myself, watching the sprinkled sugar dissolve into the mush as i pour blueberries in the white bowl and watch steam from the oats envelop them.

sitting at the island i find pleasure in the whirring of my air conditioning as frost covers the tree branches and my unused car in the desolate street out front. the birds have gone away. the people have gone away. he has gone away.

the mail didn’t run that day, as even mailmen don't want to leave the warmth of home to deliver bills and fines and the odd acceptance letter to a second par school, where you can study art like you’ve always wanted to. he was ecstatic to get his letter, and you were disappointed but you didn't tell him because he was so happy. you didn’t want to be a downer.

i fell in love with the way i made him smile. only time made me realize that wasn't anything special. he just- he just was happy without a second thought and i never knew someone who could be that damn happy all the time. when there’s so much to be sad about, how? realizing he was the person who made me smile without fail tore away that part of me. he could never make me happy with his never-faltering optimism, so i was left with all i know, all i ever knew before him. this is stage four. today and everyday for a while now has been stage four, the thoughts repeated over and over and over and over and over. i miss making him smile for my own selfish reasons.

i finish eating and make my way to the sink dropping in the dishes and rinsing them lightly. i pull a lemon yellow sponge from the drawer and scrub away sticky petals of oats and blueberry skin from the sides. the dishes are placed back where they were found and everything is the same.

the sun is pulling away from the ground and pressing up the tree line where orange light peaks through. ruining the scene i relive with a merigold haze i curse at the sun and the moon and the clouds and the snow and myself and him, most importantly i curse him.

taking a breath, i step back from anger and allow stage four to return. these stages are where i feel most at home. stick to the stages, stick to the stages, i mutter and walk to the main bath. a large off white tub that’s both outdated and underrated, a short necked faucet with a silver knob to decorate the piece. i turn the knob to the right and freezing cold water pours out. the small, stained glass window in the corner of the room makes me turn away as i undress.

my clothes are shed and i dip my finger in the water, freezing. emerging my whole hand under water, out stretching my fingers and creating ripples in the water, i close my eyes. my body knows how to find the bathtub and i sink in. stage three hurts, stage three burns the scarlines running on my vien from when i couldn’t take the thought. he’s gone. why wasn’t it me? the strawberry and blush water of stage three where i bargained with someone higher than i.

i called his phone to no avail, “hi, this is the phone of Zachary Alexander. to leave a message just speak after the beep and make sure to leave your name and number. i’ll get back as soon as possible, thanks.” i sit the phone on the counter next to me and wait. beeeep.

“Z, i miss you.” tears run down my face. “i want you to come back.” i wipe the tears and sniffle as pressure builds up in my throat. “ what can i do to save you?” i beg, finally i scream. “you can have me instead! please!” ducking my head under water i start crying until i can’t anymore. when will it all be over?

take a deep breath. count one, two, three.

every so often i wake up too early to see the sun rise, too early to drown in my sorrows just yet, and hear a phone call that has played in my head for weeks. i wake up too late and I hear birds and my grey home is orange and warm like fireplaces. and i am not able to recreate and relive every moment of the day and every moment doesn’t have to feel like grief. my life is not confined to the stages of this torture because i see that the sun has woken up to see me. i do not see the final stage of acceptance in this light. i see something better than this life and i see moving on.

Kay A, age 15
October 5, 2017
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