But No Longer

Once upon a time this was my kitchen, I thought bitterly as I trailed a finger over the glassy surface of the black marble counters. The light wood floors were hard beneath my bare feet, and still I felt a million miles from the ground. Once it had been my safe place, my escape. Now it only reminded me how things had changed. I was not welcome here.

I tried not to come when my mom had to deliver the little ones for their time with their father. I tried to be somewhere, anywhere.  I couldnt stand the hurt in his eyes when he saw that I was happy. The outright betrayal.

Instead I forced myself to focus on the kitchen. Not my kitchen anymore. It was easy, then, blinded by the vast white cabinets that lined the walls, contrasting the black almost too perfectly. It was easy to lose myself in a memory. Or the ghost of one, perhaps.

It was winter; that was evident in the way the crystalline flakes of snow clung so desperately to the window. I thought to myself that maybe they were hoping for some warmth. Maybe they were simply sick of falling and longed for something to hold onto. I knew the feeling well.

My smile was wistful, my eyes gazing out across the vast room, all bleached white cabinets and grey slate upon the walls and those damned counters; I never knew why they haunted me so. They were like a sea in which stainles steel appliances burst forth like glaciers.

"You're looking down." Anna's voice caught me off guard. I hadnt noticed her leaning against the counter, at that odd place where the bar jut out into the sunroom.

Crossing into the room, I distracted myself by opening the fridge. No matter how I scrubbed it, I could never get it perfectly clean.

Eggs. We would need eggs.

Turning to Anna, I simply shrugged. "You know me," I replied vaguely. "I definitely need this, though."

It had been a tradition of Anna and I since the depression had struck in October. She was our nanny, a severly Christian woman of twenty-two, who brought to the atmophere an air of safety, of home and security. Things that never seemed to permeate the thin walls. She was there to take care of the little ones, but these days it seemed she spent more time taking care of me, wiping my tears and reminding me of all the reasons I had to live.

While she was preheating the oven, I made my way to the pantry, a chamber of clutter and neglect, soup cans and boxed potatoes like forgotten prisoners in all the drama of life. it had that faint smell of flour and dust. Absently I pulled out the oil, sugar, flour, and vanilla. "You brought the chocolate chips?"

Anna grinned as she held the bag up. "Have I failed you yet?"

As we mixed up the ingrediatns for our well-loved toffee bars, we chatted lightly about anything trivial. Never about my life, though. That would be tempting madness. The raw pain of Rise Against beat softly in the background, a dull cadence our voices mostly drowned out. The taste of the batter filled my mouth as I stealthily snuck a spoonful. Of course, nothing got past Anna. But she was smiling as she reprimanded me.

All the sounds and smells and the reflection in the black counters swirled like the snow out the windor, until I found myself falling against the counter for support. Stop, I screamed within my mind, but I couldnt do it. Hot tears stung my acidic green eyes. This was not the time to break down. This was not the place.

By the time my mom reemerged into the room, I had managed to compose myself, though I was keeping my gaze down. In the shining surface of the marble, a broken shell of a girl, mostly hollow within, stared back at me. Vacated, because with nothing inside there was no pain to feel. She looked so much darker in the reflection.

Perhaps that was why I hated them so. The girl there was a perfect picture of the shadow inside I so longed to escape.

It used to be my kitchen, I thought bitterly as we drove away. Like it used to be my house. My street. My life. Now it was a ghost. A shadow. Another thing I deathly wished to forget.

END

The End

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