Dani had had another fight with her mom. Screaming over her shoulder that no one understood her and no one ever would, she stormed into her bedroom and slammed the door. Lying on her bed face first, chest heaving and hot tears stinging her eyes, the late light of the sun slanted in slits through her window blinds and painted a pattern of striped shadows across her back.
Why is everyone so stupid all the time? she railed in her mind. It felt good to say ‘stupid’ since her parents always told her not to use the word. It made her feel bad, and she wanted to feel bad right now.
She looked down at her fluffy pink sweater and green jeans and decided she looked much too sugary cute right now. Pulling them off, she went to her closet and pulled out her spaghetti-strap black dress. Mom always said she couldn’t wear it without a shirt underneath, so reveling in her defiance, she pulled the velvety material over her bare back. She tugged her black hair out of its side braid and let it hang loose about her round face. Now she felt sufficiently dark and mysterious.
Like the mysterious goddess she was, she went to her bed and laid down upon it, idle and staring at the ceiling. Mom had told her to stay in her room until she was ready to apologize, but since she knew she never would, she determined to stay there forever.
I will die on my bed just like this. They will find me, pale and thin from hunger, lying on my back, with my hands crossed over my stomach like this. That thought gave her great satisfaction. Won’t they just be sorry then? she exulted.
She rolled over, pulled out her second-hand ipod that used to be her father’s, and plugged it into the speaker. Slow, moody piano music began to play, and as she settled herself back into her death-prepared pose, she felt sufficiently funereal.
She closed her eyes and let the music take her on a wild voyage. First, it was just a tinkle, a simple melody reminder of sadness and loss. She thought of how her mother had carelessly lost her affections through her strict, demanding regimes. Serves her right because now she’ll learn. But it’s too late – she can never win me back.
Then the tune suddenly exploded into dramatic misery, violins and trumpets soaring into a riotous blend of weeping. She responded and pathetic tears rolled down her cheeks, catching in her ears and tickling them warmly. Perhaps my face will still be wet when they find me. But when she reflected that she wasn’t even hungry yet, let alone starving, she wiped them away. No point wasting good tears, she thought.
She had missed the transition in the music and listened again. It was now floating softly over a moonlit lake, resigned to its sad, lonely fate and welcoming the gentle lull of stream, wind, and quiet sky. She could see herself there, floating between earth and heaven, gazing at the gray clouds above with peace and hopelessness. Life is not a fairy tale, she declared to herself, and the tragic romance of the thought lifted her spirits. It is a miserable, literal place where people expect you to be normal. I am a princess really, but no one knows it. I am a saint, but no one sees it. I will be ground into course mediocrity just like my parents. Just to make them happy, I’ll marry some guy I met at a church function who claims to love God, but really fights with me once every day. Then they’ll be sorry when they realize I’ve ended up just like them. Don’t they want me to be special? Isn’t that what parents want for their children? Why do they want me miserable?
The music had grown urgent, intense, demanding. Her heart had responded, throwing insistent questions into her brain. They claim to love me but how do they show it? By not understanding me, that’s how. They can’t understand, in their benumbed brains, how all my actions stem from real purity. All I want is to be good and change the world. Why can’t the world see that? I’m not like any of them – I’m special!
Reaching its dramatic climax, rising in pitch, intensity, and noise, hurling its last great defiance into the void of the universe and expecting no answer, the music suddenly ceased. But then slowly, softly, it entered the final stages of the piece. No longer did it defy, no longer did it bewail, and no longer was it hopelessly resigned. Like a hammock rocked by the wind, it rested and swung, accepting the misery and pain but forgiving it too. Gently, it remembered the other facts of life – love, hope, patience, and quiet strength. Briefly recalling all the themes from before, but with a new note of healing in each, the piano was left alone again at the end. Richer for its journey and hopeful for the future.
Dani sat up and turned off the speaker. Her stomach was growling. She pulled off the dark dress and put back on her sweater and jeans. After all, it was kind of chilly inside. She went to the door and cracked it open. The smell of beef roast penetrated her nostrils. Well, she couldn’t really stay up there forever. Mom wasn’t stupid after all. She regretted calling her that, even in her thoughts. Quietly, she stepped out of the room, closed the door behind her, and went downstairs.
Image Credit: AK47 on tumblr – http://ak47.tumblr.com/post/75368829942