She thought about her dreams. It felt good to finally do something she'd wanted for years. When she was little, she had been convinced it was her mission to save the world from the people. As she grew older, it was to bridge the gap from nature to the people. But then slowly her classes turned from environmental to people, as she was fed the belief that the people needed more help, and she had to give it. In exchange for her dream, was paid money to buy the house she was sopposed to want, publicity to feed the need she never had, and a reputation to people she realized she didn’t care about.
She could hear herself think these thoughts, and immediately felt guilty. She was privileged to be able to have all these things. She was selfish to bite the hand that fed her. So many people had legitimate problems, and she was just being whiney.
She sat down at the kitchen table, and her fingers drummed on a notebook laying out.
It was a gift Kyle had given her for her birthday. She was touched he remembered her old passion to write, but insulted because she regarded it as a cruel joke. She hadn’t had time to write in ages. There were always more important things to do.
On the cover, was the question, “What is your greatest achievement?”
He’d written it as a sweet gesture from the time she’d admitted feeling useless. The question was meant to spark her inner self respect, but the same feelings now arose as they had when she’d opened it. She wasn’t proud of her accomplishments. She wasn’t proud of the strives she’d taken to get where she was, because the reward wasn’t something she valued. But she’d kept it up because it was the right thing to do, and gave her respect from her peers, and money to look cool, and she accepted that she was sopposed to want that without question. He prized her for these accomplishments, so they must mean something.
She felt disgusted with herself, and wanted to cry. She shunned the urge to burst into tears, because it meant she wasn’t maintaining the perfect image she had held for so long. But she hated the self restriction placed on herself to restrict her image, and felt further ashamed. There was no one even in the house to see her. She remembered she’d used to love to cry, and considered it a strength to show weakness because it meant acceptance of flaws. Currently she couldn’t even cry alone, because she wasn’t allowed anything but contentment in her current life.
She recalled too many incidents of hidden imperfection. Girls wore makeup to hide blemishes that were considered wrong to have. Boys coated themselves in sprays to the illusion they naturally smelled anything other than man. She thought about how the cool kid was always the one with the guarded emotions, because it was acceptable not to feel things. The intriguing mysterious one was the person who didn’t have the strength to show their flaws. She had fallen victim just like everyone around her.
She pictured humans like sheep, only following the accepted way of life. They were afraid to confront the force that was herding them, and would rather form to society and go nowhere.
She realised the pain of those who identified apart from the accepted normal, and respected those who had the courage to break from the crowd. She had always been one to shun the loud people, but now she realized she’d been part of the crowd tearing down the people who had the strength to listen internally and advocate.
She realized again why she had loved to cry when she was little. She was showing she had emotions, and advocated what she truly felt. There was accomplishment in advacation, not a pickiness that should be shot down. The only difference between smiling and crying, was crying was admitting sadness instead of happiness, and that was sopposed to be a bad thing. She had been taught she wasn't allowed to not be content with her situation.
With that, she thought about all the things she hated about her current life, and she wished she could cry. She hated the people in it, and the actions she did to please them. It was all busywork that meant nothing. She hated them materialistic goods she surrounded herself with, and the time constraints she’d created to weed all the passions from her life. She was fueling the source she hated most. She hated her weakness to fall into the path of society, and most of all she hated the self she had created to cover up the old one who wasn’t brave enough to fight for what she believed in. She felt as if she had been punched in the heart.
She tried to embrace the fact she was unhappy. The uneasiness inside wasn’t melting, and she had the urge to cry harder, but she felt stopped up. She’d trained herself for so long not to cry it still felt off and awkward.
She’d learned to cut away the discomfort of the present by silencing her desire for change. By distancing herself from her emotions she learned to cope with the present the logical way, but she stopped feeling happiness, and now she couldn’t feel pain. It was as if her brain had severed her heart. Obligations had silenced her passions and now she could no longer feel.
Now she longed for emotions to get the best of her. She wanted to feel the most of her emotions: the fullest of happiness, the freeness to cry. She wanted to get the best of her emotions.
Then she remembered Sam had said the same thing. She couldn't believe he'd slipped into her unguarded mind in such a vulnerable time, but now almost tauntingly he was just another symbol of how she had constricted the life out of herself.
He had told her she was fading, that her self-hatred was killing her and she needed to escape to a placeshe could be free from judgment. She told him that would be giving up, and he left without her. He had been right, and she couldn’t see it until her dilution fell to pieces at her feet. Now she wished more than anything she hadn't let obligations walk all over her life. He flowed free with passion, and she bittered herself always hating that she didn't try harder.
She fought the urge to box up and hide this sudden change in thought. She couldn't allow herself to just drop everything and go all hippie. There were more substantial things in life. She was wasting prescious time playing with her hair, and drowing in the past. It didn't get anything done. Yet she found herself remembering him saying, "You need to open your mind, Taralynn. Allow the ebb and flow of change to alter your existence the way change naturally does."
He had told her those very words the last time he saw her, and then he left her to be the girl who silenced her heart. A part of her fought to regain those passions, and another side instinctively began shutting it down and telling her it was silly to want something so unproductive. But this time she saw herself shutting away her freedom, and wondered why. What was so scary about following passions. She tried to think of anything worse than slipping in accomplishmens, but deep inside she wondered if it were worth it if she found happiness.
The trauma momentarily submerged, she allowed herself to ease open that mental box of memories and take a peek into her past. The first thing she remembered were his bright eyes. The heartache that grabbed her was momentary. She could never forget the power of a first love. Some things never fade. Like his smile, now so crisp in her mind. He had such a bright personality, sparked by so many passions. HE would never age. In the time she hadn't seen him she was sure he'd still be the same. People with that much spirit could never die out.
She wiped her hands on a dishtowel, done with pain, and escaped into her bedroom to make the bed where she could distract herself from his haunting presence. She wasn't doing herself any good by regretting the past. She had to accept he’d moved on, and she’d chosen her path for a reason. Dust flitted into the air, and his contagious excitement slipped into her mind. There was always something he had to do, right then and there. Together they would laugh and drop all expectations to live a little. She cringed remembering a particluarly unpleasent night when he’d tried to force freedom down her throat, and she’d fled to the safety of structure. That was the night he’d told her she’d killed her heart, and left.
She sighed. She wished their lives hadn't traveled down the paths they did, but things occur and changes happen, and she was scared to believe anything other than what had happened, because wishing to change the past was a bunch of wasted time.
She would have liked to say, “and with that she closed that chapter of her life and moved on”, but like a good book, the favorite pages, after being open so long never quite close all the way. She found herself wandering to the things she could have done differently. How life would have been altered if she’d listened. If she wasn’t so stubborn. If she wasn’t so confused.
Her elbow knocked a book off her organized desk, and her heart jumped. She hadn't been surprised in so long. Tight and orderly, she was in control of every aspect of her life, and yet things still occurred without her consent. She found herself absentmindedly trying to collect her cascades of hair into a bun, and then stopped herself. She used to live by spontaneity. His motto was: “do something that scares you every day. You can't die until you've lived. Might as well start now.” And she had waved him off, saying she didn’t have time for skydiving, or shelter dog walking, she had to work the next day. And then he left. He was put second best to things she didn’t even like. There was always work to do, and the first thing to go was him, then her passions, and finally her youth. She had killed herself.
Her heart ached. She absolutely hated every aspect of her present life, and she missed her childhood. She couldn't control the regret that seized up inside of her, and she was overwhlemed with a dizzy feeling. She felt she was made of guilt. She was going to internally explode. She didn’t deserve to live another second because she didn’t make use of the life she was given. She let it become corrupted by society and petty boys and bitchy girls.The regret of forcing herself into false relationships, of maintaining untrue displays of who she was to the world, began to push up and she didn't want to pay the consequences. She had lied about her feelings to the only person truly listening: herself, and it was taking its toll.
She had forced herslf into a world that only allowed shallow destructive people. She had surrounded herself with people that pushed themselves too hard, and never gave a moment to love themselves, and look up to see the sky. She shoved her body into tight clothes, and never walked barefoot along gum paved sidewalked and glass covered streets.
She became overwhelmed. She couldn’t handle this world. It had ruined her, and it was too late to change it. She had locked herself into her misery. She didn’t know how to be happy, and life was too short to change.
An anger tidal wave seized her entire being, and she hated her life with a passion so strong she wanted to end it right then and there. She wasn’t allowed to live by her passions. She had to give her dreams up to a passionless society and she had never lived at all. If that was the way the world had become, she wanted no part of it. The desire to follow her passions envoloped her, and she wanted to be free of a world that killed them. She would not support this life. Without another thought, she raced from the bedroom , shoved open the door with rage it wouldn’t move for her, ran around the kitchen table furious from all the times she'd had to clean it when she wanted to dance. She would make that choice no more. She stumbled on the stairs outside, condemmng the cement stairs she had asked for when the truth was she despised cement, and she embraced the ladder that led to the roof, and flew to the top finally free of obsticles.She looked out over the meadow, and beyond that the busy city. Her toes curled over the edge of the roof, and the rage drained out of her, for beneath her was an old rusty bathtub.The plug to her tears was released, and they fell in small earth shaped globes down into the white tub. She was realised from society’s corset.
This was the tub Sam had given her. With all the rage he'd given her, he'd also granted her a gift. It seemed like such a silly gift, but old and useless, she had kept it hidden away. She had forgotten about it until now, heart hammering, it lay beneath her. She remembered why he had given it to her. He had joked about her beginning to lose her inner fire, and had given her a bathtub. She had assumed the obvious answer: water drenches fire, might as well end something fragile so it doesn't break. He wasn't so shallow. He told her it wasn't to drench her fire, it was to fuel it. This shower was meant to go outside. In the open. In plain sight. She laughed at the time and told him it was crazy, but was secretly intrigued. No one had the guts to shower naked in the open. Not just anyone had passion flowing from every pore that could run and present their living being to the world. This was an empowering task not just anyone could take part in. She realized it wasn't too late to take back her life. She could pick up where she had left off. She owed it to your missing childhood. Challenge accepted, she climbed down from the roof and began to plot how to live her life, making use of her time given. It wasn’t damaged beyond repair, merely flawed, and she began her quest to cleanse it. Sam had given her an opportunity to grab her childhood back from her fears, and she was finally brave enough to try.