"DAYS OF DREARY" BY MIA SOTO
The door creaked open.
(YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!)
I snapped my head up, sighing softly as my girlfriend sauntered over, taking a seat on the stool beside me. I exhaled once more, rubbing a hand over my mouth. “Hey, Miranda.”
Miranda settled herself into the stool, allowing her chin to rest under her propped hand. “I see therapy is really helping.”
“It sure is.” I returned the sarcasm, perhaps a bit too much. “I’m certainly recovering well after seeing my class die right in front of my eyes. Maybe I deserve a gold star. What do you think?”
“I didn’t mean it like that, Char.” Miranda said, those fierce green eyes shooting me with exasperation. “It’s just… You’ve been in therapy for over a year now and Mrs. Gershlin said you’d start to… you know, take the proper steps to heal.”
I scoffed—this is why I loathed therapists, psychiatrists, or any other person who declared that their knowledge had superiority over my feelings. Damn Mrs. Gershlin, with her hideous skirts and her sunny disposition. Who was she to determine the next steps of my life, let alone fill my girlfriend with empty promises? Absolutely absurd, if you ask me.
“Are you?” She looked at me, concern brimming underneath the frustration. “You’ve been so different since that day and-”
“I watched fifteen people die right in front of me, Miranda. One by one, shot. Stripped from this Earth. Blood everywhere. Screams and sobs, pleads for mercy,”
Let’s not make her feel bad—
“Please don’t kill me, ple-”
I suddenly found refuge in my hands, allowing my face to collapse against my palms.
I could feel Miranda looking at me still, eyes beginning to glisten with guilt.
“He spared me, though, and I don’t know why,” I continued, as my voice trembled under the air. “He looked me right in the eye and said…”
(“You still have purpose, girl”)
Purpose I never found—
Purpose I never had—
but still, a purpose.
I twitched, shaking my head slightly. “Sorry, that was a bit much.”
“It’s fine.” Miranda sighed, rubbing a hand over her face, particularly over her lips. “Look, you’re right, okay? You saw things that nobody else will ever understand and you deserve all the time you need to heal.”
There was sincerity in her voice, but not enough to satisfy me.
“You don’t need to stick around if you can’t handle my emotions.” I said, bringing my eyes to her—focusing on the thick, bouncing curls of her raven black hair; the way she moved them around with her hand. I sighed, softly. “Millions of people across this country have given me enough charity. I don’t need or want more, especially if it’s something that you feel obligated to do.”
Miranda’s eyes softened momentarily and her lips parted. “What are you saying, exactly?”
I closed my eyes.
Nice and easy)
“I’m saying that you don’t need to feel compelled to stay.”
Miranda’s lips trembled. “Is that what you seriously think of me, Charlotte?” Her voice cracked softly. She crossed her arms, a look of betrayal painting her face. “Do you seriously think that I feel forced to stay in this?”
I looked away, like a coward—the coward I am, perhaps. My eyes focused on a small stain that decorated the usually pristine white tiles. “Your actions would defend that.” I uttered.
She responded with a scoff. “You’re kidding, right?”
My forehead began to boil with perspiration, so I remained silent and began to count backwards—a small gesture to reduce anxiety, according to Mrs. Gershlin. The one thing she said that actually became useful in my wretched life.
(5, the sweat
4, the footsteps
3, the murmurs
2, the announcement
“YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE!”
“So, what does this mean?”
I didn’t want to look up, but I also didn’t want to look any more helpless than I already did. Slowly, I brought my eyes to Miranda again, sighing softly. “It means whatever you want it to mean.”
Miranda’s jaw tightened and she huffed, exasperation once again radiating from her green eyes.
Then, she spoke.
“You’re breaking up with me, aren’t you?”
I sighed, biting my lower lip. I didn’t know, truthfully—was this a breakup? Possibly. I didn’t know, like how I don’t know most things anymore.
My delay in response irritated Miranda and she got up, shaking her head. “I don’t want to deal with this anymore,” Her hand rose, gesturing to me in a hostile manner. I flinched, but she didn’t seem to regard these signals of distress. As a matter of fact, she continued, raising her voice now.
“You seriously need help, Charlotte.” She hissed, stomping over to the counter and retrieving her handbag. Then, she aggressively threw it over her shoulder, before shooting me one final look of raw betrayal. “Don’t bother calling me anymore, got it?”
I didn’t say anything, I just blinked—lost, as the door slammed and Miranda went along with the cool wind of New York City.
Five years have passed since that day, and I never saw her again. Mrs. Gershlin offered me a bunch of pity after I informed her about everything, but I didn’t have the mental capacity to entertain it. I seriously couldn’t bring myself to. Miranda left, that was her choice. I’ve made mine now; it is time I move on too. Move on from everything, I mean.
Move on from the day my innocence was tarnished.
Move on from the loss, the anguish.
Move on from the screams.
Move on from the little creatures who visit me in my dreams.
Move on from Miranda, who was my sanity and purpose.
I don’t know where this path will take me, or what vortex I’ll fall into next. Clearly God has a peculiar journey intended for me, based on the experiences I’ve endured already. Who knows, who knows.
But, I suppose I’ll find out eventually.
Goodbye, Days of Dreary.
- Charlotte J.