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Misuzu

Lone Traveller

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29/NOV/2020

 

The past two weeks has been.. mentally numbing. I avoided going to the soup kitchen for a few days after the last conversation with Rae. She wasn't very happy with me when I did eventually start attending again. It was a bad idea.. for the first day, I didn't eat at all. The second day, I just slept. Day three was when I probably couldn't survive without either going back and facing Rae or resorting to stealing. I.. knew which path I'd rather take.

 

The longer things are going on, the more I keep thinking about how things used to be. But it's too late to turn back, that's all I know.

 

Today, as usual, I get up and I walk. I've stopped caring so much anymore about what happens to me or who sees me. It feels like I've stopped feeling much at all. It's clear she isn't looking, so why does it matter? I finally decided last night to ask Rae if she still has that place available at her house. I've realized now that nothing is holding me back from staying with her other than my own mind. 

 

I walk into the soup kitchen and walk over to the counter Rae usually walks to me to. The past week we've started sitting outside the staff room with the rest of the visitors. There's this older lady, who seems to get along with Rae quite well. She's quite nice to me as well and always keeps offering me parts of her food, even though I've already got plenty. She fits your stereotypical Grandma. I quite like her. She's got one of those smiles that's quite infectious.

 

I can see the old lady sitting in her usual space in the corner of the room, chatting with two of the other regulars, but I can't see Rae anywhere. Again, this hasn't been unusual the past while. Often she's out back and won't notice me until she comes back out, so waiting has become a staple for me. Minutes pass and, even though I'm not sure specifically how long it's been, I can tell it's longer than usual. I'm not particularly worried though. The place has also started becoming noticeably busier since the snow started falling more.

 

Eventually, one of the other members of staff, the one I usually see Rae chatting to, approaches me. She knows me by name now and asks me if I'm alright, why I'm standing there by myself. I tell her I'm waiting for Rae. She looks at me in confusion for a few seconds before it looks like she's realized something out of nowhere. Apparently, Rae had to leave the city in an emergency to go to another Hospital. She doesn't know if and when she'll be back. The lady offers me a menu but I tell her it's alright and wasn't hungry, I just needed to speak to Rae. And with that, I walk out.

 

Okay then.. it's just another person on the list. I can do it on my own. 

 

That's all.. that's all.  

 


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04/DEC/2020

 

I can barely move.

 

The snow started hitting hard yesterday. It's the worst it's been in ages and it's everywhere. Several times I've woken up with my face half-stuck to either a wall or a industrial trash bin.. I can't bare myself to lay down on the floor. It's freezing. I'm out of most of the supplies Rae had given me, but I still have the socks and hat at least. I'm scared one morning I'll wake up and not be able to get up at all and just lie there waiting to die.. fully awake and aware. If I'm going to die, I've always said I don't want to be aware of it. I.. can't imagine being, not after Dad. Knowing it tore my family apart. The day Dad died, we were barely all talking to each-other, but we stuck through it for his own sake. Once he was gone.. there was nothing for my family to cling onto anymore. Mum turned to alcohol and the rest of the family tried to support her but grew distant when they realized she had found content and comfort in it. 

 

Once again, I stopped eating for a few days after Rae disappeared. No longer having much of a reason to stay where I was.. I walked off in the middle of anger towards her. I managed to take some leftovers from one of the takeouts that had just thrown them out, but my stomach didn't agree. I've been feeling sick since.  I want to go back to the soup kitchen, but I don't know where I'm going.. not to mention I don't think I'd reach there if I tried. I want warmth.. I want food.. I want to feel safe again.. 

 

I want to go home. 

 


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07/DEC/2020 

 

As cliche as it sounds, waking up the next morning still feels like it isn't real.

 

After Mum stopped hugging  me, we both went indoors. She insisted on checking me over, so she found the pads that Rico's partner put on my knees yesterday. She wasn't too happy and kept asking me how I got them, but I was too tired to feel like explaining, so we both just decided we'd go to bed, talk about it today instead. I'm not exactly looking forward to it, but if it'll avoid an argument for a while.. so be it. 

 

One of the things Mum mentioned is that the landlord has filed an eviction notice against her. Apparently she's still with that James guy who she was seeing the night I ran off and he's said she can come and stay with him at his place in a few days time, so she'll contact him today and ask if I can move in with her as well. Right now, I'll take it. 

 

It's already the early afternoon when I wake up. I'm not surprised. It's the first time I've slept on a bed in a month or so - it was actually sort of uncomfortable at first. Guess I stopped being used to it after a while. I roll myself out of bed, sort of reluctant to. I'd stay right here if I could. I can tell that Mum's already awake, since I can hear the television from the living room. That's one thing that's not changed, I suppose.

 

I leave the room and eye her from the doorframe. She peers down back at me and motions me over. Stepping into the living room, it doesn't even feel like the same place anymore. I think she must see the confusion in my eyes, because the next thing she says is "Emmy helped me clean it up. Figured that.. if the landlord was going to come to take it away, might as well take some of the effort away from him," before sighing. I nod and go to sit down on the sofa opposite her. I'm not sure what to say to her. Do I ask her how she is? Do I apologize first? Do I just.. explain? 

 

"Ellie.." she starts, "I don't expect you to tell me everything, not if you don't want to. I know I wasn't the best before, I wasn't in the right place. I'm sorry.. I stayed with Emmy for a few weeks like I promised you I would. She got me with this guy she knows who's supposed to help out people who are recovering, but.. I'm better now. You and me, we can both have the life we deserve, see?" As she says that, she reaches forward and takes both ym hands. Her voice is trembling again like it usually does when she's on the edge of having one of her breakdowns. I take both her hands back and interrupt before she can go any further. "Look, Mum... it's fine. I promise," I say with a small, forced smile. I don't want the first day I spend back with her to be like things were before, so i need to try and keep her grounded if I can. "How about I make us both some breakfast or something?" I follow up with.

 

She lets go of my hands and leans back. "It should be me who's making it," she goes. She stands up before I can say much else, looking back down at me. "What did you want? Cereal? Scrambled eggs?". "Cereal," I say, without second thought. Who knows I would've missed cereal so much? I certainly never imagined it at least. She nods and smiles, running a hand through my hair before moving away. Whilst I hear her messing around with the bowls and plates behind me, I look over at Dad's old reclining chair and can't help but smile a little. I wonder if he's happy to see us back together again. 

 

Maybe I'd better text Rico again in a bit to let him know I'm alright. I still want to thank him and his partner for everything they've both done for me. 

 

Minutes later, Mum returns with the cereal. She hasn't got any herself, but I expect she already ate considering the time of day. Even if you were to take away the fact that I've been gone for a month, this is awkward. I haven't sat down for a meal with Mum that isn't during a breakdown in.. well, I'm not sure how long. We both sit there in silence and she goes back to watching her reality shows on the TV. "He said it's alright, by the way, El'," she perks up. I raise my head a little, looking back at her. "James said you can move in with us". I chew for a moment, nodding before letting out a quiet, "When?". She ponders for a moment and looks like she's about to break something I may not like the sound of. "Well.. it was supposed to be on Thursday, but.. since you're back, he says we could move in today if we wanted to. There's a spare bedroom he's set up for you."

 

"What about the stuff we've got here..?" I ask timidly. I never really liked asking her questions that made it sound I was going against whatever Mum wanted. it was one of those things that usually made her angry or upset. "Well.. there's not room for much stuff at James', but.. if there's anything here you want to take with you, I can talk to him about it, see what we can do, eh?". I swallow and let us both bathe awkwardly in a moment of silence. "What about Dad's old chair..?" I go, my voice more quiet than before. Mum sighs, like she has no clue what to say. It makes me realize just how much of her I lost to the alcohol beforehand.

 

"Look, Ellie.. I'm not sure us taking it with us is a good idea. I need to move on from your Dad and.." she stops talking. I see her voice of reason still hasn't improved much either. I don't want to argue with her, but already I can feel something ticking off inside me. Okay.. deep breaths, that's all I need to do. Don't let this turn out sour, don't be the reason it all goes to ground zero again. "Mum, please.. it's all we have left of him," I stutter, trying to find my own voice of reason. "If you don't want it, it's fine, you don't have to, but please, let me have it in my room or something". My right finger scratches against my trouser leg a few times. For some reason that's something I've always done when things get awkward or if I'm upset. I don't know why though. "Please," I beg again, just looking at her. 

 

She looks back up at me, heaving a sigh and seemingly lost in contemplation. Does she do what her daughter wants or what she feels is best for her? Was it wrong of me to ask? "I'll.. see what we can do, but I can't promise anything. I'm sorry," she says. This is the first time I've seen her this calm and simultaneously upset ever since Dad got sick. It's.. really unnerving and I still feel on edge, like she's going to snap any second but I won't know it.  Not wanting to say anything or make things worse than they already are, I just nod. "Thanks, uhm.. for the cereal," I say and push myself up, following my old routine of putting the bowl back into the sink. It's at that moment I realize how much I've not done for a whole month. Slept in a bed, eaten cereal, washed up, got dressed, had a proper shower, or even been able to properly brush my teeth now that I think about it.

 

It's as I think that, that I've decided what I want to do next. "I'm gonna go take a bath" I state, looking over my shoulder at Mum, who's already seemingly forgotten about the conversation and, once again, gone back to her TV screen admiration. She doesn't respond to that, but what can you say to it?

 

I run myself a bath, and it's the same feeling I got when I was having that hot chocolate with Rico yesterday. The feeling's just so overwhelming that, right now, everything feels okay, even if it isn't fully. Well, not yet at least. I'm trying not to be too optimistic about Mum, but at the same time I don't want to do the opposite and shut her down if I were to call the difference I see in her just temporary, or a lie, but who knows..

 

Maybe everything really will be okay. 


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25/DEC/2020

 

Even though this will be our third Christmas without Dad, it still feels weird. Not necessarily because he isn't here, but because it's 10am and Mum hasn't cracked open a single bottle of alcohol yet. 

 

We ended up moving into James' apartment a few days after Mum and I spoke. She said she wanted to make sure I was comfortable with her again before we brought somebody else into the picture. I managed to convince her to take the reclining chair in the end, but it's sat in the corner of my room so she doesn't have to keep walking past it everyday. I've not been able to sit on it quite yet though since I still haven't unpacked properly.

 

She seems a lot more happier with this James guy than I've seen her in forever. I don't really speak to him much, though. I somehow get the feeling he doesn't like me; probably because of what I did to Mum, but maybe it's just because we haven't really got to know each-other properly. Either that or I just don't want to get to know him, considering Mum's past partners. He works at a nightclub in the center of town, which is probably how those two met. Whilst Mum usually stuck to small, local bars, occasionally she would pull the "go big or go home" card. I haven't bothered asking, mind you.

 

Funnily enough, his place isn't far away from where I slept the night before I came back home. I'm pretty sure it's on the same road. It's stopped snowing as heavily, but it's still a white Christmas, so I can safely say I'm satisfied. The snow is a lot more prettier being inside in the warmth. It's not too bad of a place. He's done it up quite nicely. There's two bedrooms, one for me and those two. My room's not that much bigger than what it was at home, but it's comfortable, and that's all I want and need. Even the living room and kitchen are separate, which has, bizarrely, been the one thing that's taken me the most time to get used to. 

 

Mum's gone back to drinking on occasion, but James and I have been trying to help her make sure it stays that way. We've had two arguments - one about the possibility of me going back to school and another about me wanting to go out on late night walks. She says this area is too dangerous. Arguments bother me, but these ones are normal family ones, right? She just wants what's best for me, so I understand why she feels this way. I just sort of wish she would see it my way, too. The evening is when I tend to get more irritable and, even after the past month, walking is still one of the things that I find calms me down the most. So when I feel my body getting tense or my head start to hurt, walking's what I do. It's what I've always done.

 

We've all decided to not really celebrate Christmas the "traditional" way this year. We have a small Christmas tree that Mum wanted all three of us to decorate together, but it would've reminded me too much of Christmases years ago, so I sat out. I felt bad for it, but I just couldn't bring myself to take part in it. We're still having a Christmas lunch, but instead of turkey, we're having chicken. It was cheaper and easier to find since we sort of left it a little late to gather Christmas supplies this year. We're still having roast potatoes and everything else, though. We skipped the gifts this year as well. None of us were really sure what to get each-other. 

 

I think I might see if there's somewhere I can go this evening. Mum's been talking about drinking a lot today because "it's Christmas". Even if she has been mostly sober for the past few weeks, I'm scared that if she keeps going that it'll just take one drink too many for things to go back to how they used to be. Perhaps if I'm not good enough of a reason not to, then maybe James will be?

 

Either way, I think today will still be sort of nice. 

 


 

 

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27/DEC/2020

 

I never should've fucking come here.

 

Today was supposed to be good. It was supposed to be happy. We were supposed to have the party all together.

 

I knew it. I knew something was up the moment they took longer than 20 minutes to come out of that damned Hospital. When somebody says they won't be long and they end up taking ages, what are you supposed to fucking expect? It was too quiet. We rode back in silence. He didn't even come inside with us, he just said he "needed a minute". That was enough for me.

 

I want to shut off and go to sleep but his brother calls me up before I can even hit the pillows. It's cancer. Fucking cancer. Again.

 

He says "he'll be fine" and that "even though the survival rates of his type of cancer are 53%, he'll be fine", "we need to be there to support him". How the fuck do you expect me to believe such bullshit? I've seen it. I've seen what it does to people. It destroys them. It destroys their families. It destroys everything and everyone. 

 

Even after that, he still has the audacity to come down and say "Hey! Do you want to cut the fucking turkey?" like absolutely nothing is wrong. I sit upstairs with the others and play pretend because that's what everyone else seems to be doing as well. Does nobody want to acknowledge it? Absolutely nobody? 

 

How fucking dare he. 

 

 


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01/JAN/2021

 

Happy New Year, I guess. 

 

It's almost a week since things changed. I still don't know what to do.

 

I managed to land myself a part-time job at one of the fast food restaurants down in Del Perro. I'm not sure if they were just that desperate for staff or if the bruise still lingering around my eye won me sympathy points, but I start in a few days. I have training tomorrow, but for some reason it's at a God early time of 8am. I'm not sure if I've been up that early since I stopped going to school. Nonetheless, it's what I have to do, so I'll do it. It's just one day.

 

Lately, I'm trying not to think or feel much, but it's difficult. I don't even understand why I feel this way. One moment it's like nothing has happened. The next I go back to being angry, and then sad. Some days I barely spend time in the house, other days I do. I wish I didn't feel this way. It shouldn't be me feeling this way. Everybody else seems to be managing it just fine. Nothing has changed between all of them. It's just me. I feel so selfish and I wish everything would just shut up. I wish all those thoughts and feelings would all just disappear and that I could be the same way everyone else around me is.

 

What must he think of me?

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03/JAN/2021

 

All I can see in me right now is her. The anger, the selfishness, the self centeredness; everything. 

 

Walking didn't help at all today. I can't count the minutes or distance I walked before I gave up. We're having good days, but everybody else is still the same, with only me that has changed. I don't get it.

 

Rico has moved to doing chemotherapy at home. Both him and his brother keep reassuring me that he'll be okay, but no matter how many times either of them tell me, I can't seem to shake out the imaginary fact in my mind that he will die from this. I don't get it.

 

Being able to support him helps, and it doesn't help. Distancing myself helps, and it doesn't help. I want to die, but I don't want to die. I want to live, but I don't want to live. Can you understand others without becoming others first? Why am I making this all about me? Does thinking this way make it even more selfish than it already is? Am I seeking justification or am I seeking punishment? Am I seeking comfort or solitude? Am I seeking both? I don't get it.

 

I feel everything but nothing simultaneously. I want to feel nothing, because everything is more overwhelming. But if I feel nothing, I do nothing, and if I do nothing, I think of everything. I don't get it.

 

Today, I hit the wall so hard my knuckles bled, but for a moment, it felt alright. Like every bit of anger I felt towards myself got transferred into that object. It was a painful form of nice, but if you think about it, that nice isn't nice at all.

 

I don't get it.

 

 


 

 

 


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04/JAN/2021

 

I fucked up everything.

 

She just wouldn't shut up about it. How the fuck do you not realize when somebody very clearly doesn't want to talk about something? I shouldn't have even been there.

 

Rico took me to a bar that he owns in the middle of town. I figured it'd maybe be okay there if I stayed hidden at the back, but I just couldn't. Is this really what my Mother used to be around all the time? It's like I can't even hear myself think, even though there's barely anybody here. I try sticking it out, but I just can't. It's the kick in of the flight or fight response, the build up of tension you feel, the one that makes you feel you could just open your lungs and scream on the spot, but that would just be inappropriate.

 

I take myself outside so I can get some air. I can just go back in if and when I feel ready. I wish I had brought my headphones with me, I could really do with shutting out for a minute or two.

 

Out of nowhere, this lady with the brightest color of green for hair that I think I've ever seen. She leans on the same wall as me, and it's like the same feeling indoors shoots back. She wants to know "my story". I don't want her to know my story. Rico says he knows her. I don't know her. But she won't stop persisting, saying she'll "find out anyway" and "has her own way of knowing" so I "might as well tell her". I don't want to tell her.

 

The only thing I can think to do is walk away. I need to hit something, and I don't want that something to be her. But if I don't get away from her, I fear I won't be able to control myself. I say that I'll be back in a minute, and I turn the corner. Her and Dexter are following me. Why are they following me? I said I would be back in a minute. It's not like I intend to go far. I just need to god-damn breath. Why can't hey understand that?

 

I'm not listening to what they're saying, but all I can hear is my phone just ringing over and over again. My head hurts. It's like I can hear everything going on all at the same level, and all at once. I just want it to be quiet. I just want everybody to shut up. 

 

"God! Can't you just fucking leave me alone for a minute?!" is the next thing I find myself yelling. Shit.

 

Knowing I can't turn back from this now, I keep walking. I can hear Dexter talking to somebody on the phone behind me as I trail ahead. The next thing I know, Rico is sat in his car next to me telling me to get in.

 

How selfish can you get? You can't take care of yourself, so you cause the people you should be supporting to end up supporting you. You just make it all about you all the time. They don't need this. They don't need you. All you're doing is causing stress and getting in the way. If you didn't exist here, everything would be okay. They would be okay.

 

I can't deny him. As I sit beside him, he goes on about how I can't just walk off like that. I know this already. Just get it over and done with.

 

He tells me I can get out and walk if I want to. Right now, I just wish I could vanish on the spot. If I stay in the car, it's nothing but an awkward car ride and distracting him from things he could be better spending his time doing. If I walk, it's nothing but a disappointment, but I've let them down enough tonight for it to probably even matter.

 

I choose to walk. I don't know where to walk to. I can't go home. They don't need me there. They can't want me there. It's not where I deserve to be. It's not what I deserve. It's not what I deserve. It's not what I deserve. It's not what I deserve.

 

It's not what I deserve.

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07/JAN/2021

 

I can't sleep.

 

It's ridiculously early in the morning. I've barely slept since that night at the bar. I know I need to talk about it, but I don't want to. I'm not sure I'm ready yet. But at the same time, what if I'm never ready? What if it's just something that I have to do?

 

Fuck it..

 

I pick up my phone. I know that, out of all people, I probably need to speak to Rico about this, but I can't. He doesn't need it. I just want him to focus on himself without worrying about me, so.. maybe this is really the best option. Then again, Rico is Dexter's brother.. he's also got enough on his plate. Is this really any better?

 

I don't have time to answer or make excuses for myself. My phone dings back. Guess there's no turning back now..

 

Sneaking out of this house without Rico hearing me lately has been making me feel like 007. It's next to impossible. I leave him a note as usual just in case. Last thing anyone wants or needs is a search party. This midnight curfew can be a bit of the pain in the... nevermind. He's only trying to keep me safe. I shouldn't complain.

 

We drive around for a bit in silence before pulling up by the canals. I quite like the canals, but it's different in the dark. The narrowness of the alley and the sound of the rushing water that you can no longer see.. it sound of makes it a bit spooky, if anything. It still feels weird not having to deal with these alleyways every night now.  

 

He doesn't say anything, so I suppose it's me who has to start this one off. God-damn, how do adults do this..

 

I start with having him make a promise. Don't tell Rico. Do I think he'll keep it? Maybe, but I just need to hear it right now. He swears on it, one of those pinky promises you see younger kids making.. but it'll do. And then it spills. I explain everything. How I'm worried about Friday. About Rico. About work. The more I talk about it, the more and more fucking stupid it sounds. This was a bad idea.

 

He doesn't say anything, like he knows there's more to it but doesn't dare pry, hoping I'll prompt it myself. Is he wrong? No. Should I talk about it? Probably. What if it makes him feel worse, though? What if it stresses him out? What if it makes him worry more? I wish I could go back to feeling nothing.. that was so much more easier.

 

I stutter it out. About how my Dad died from cancer. It's not the same as the one Rico has, but watching him go through everything my Dad did.. the chemo, the hair loss, the discomfort, the weakness.. it's like being in that moment all over again. I tell him I'm angry. I'm not angry at Rico, but I'm scared with the way I am that it's what either one of them believes. Dexter tells me he thinks we're all angry at the world, and that we all have our own demons. I get it, but.. I'm not exactly sure that's what's bothering me most. It still feels like something's irking me, and I know I'm about to speak of something that probably sounds ridiculous.

 

I know that anger is a "normal"... regular emotion, I know everyone has it, but.. it's the way I handle it. The way I swear and walk off, the way I hit things. Even if it's not people.. it's still the same thing. All I see is my Mum, but I don't want to become her. Not in a million years. Not ever. Admitting things in your head is one thing, but admitting things out loud is something different. I can already feel myself trying not to tear up. I'm not sure how well that's going.

 

Dexter reassures me that I'm nothing like her, that I'm a "good kid" who's "been through things a sixteen year old shouldn't have to go through". I don't feel like a good kid. I feel like a monster. He says that none of it is on me, but.. it just doesn't make sense inside my head. The moment I left, she was fine. She got herself help. She was better. Then I came home, and suddenly she wasn't better any longer. That has to be my fault. It can't be anyone else's. 

 

I don't know what to say. There's no logic or reasoning, and I know deep down that Dexter is right.. but in my head, all I can hear is that things are still the same as I thought they were.

 

"Do you think everything's going to be okay?" I barely mutter. Dexter says he does. I don't think it will. I want to make Rico proud of me. Not even just Rico, but Dexter.. Lani, Hana, Lucas.. my Dad.. I want to show them I can be better than this. Can I be better than this? Dexter tells me he's sure Rico's already proud, but.. how can he be? With the way I storm off, how I constantly lie to him to cover things up.. how could somebody be proud of that? According to Dexter, it's because I try to do the right thing by coming back and explaining, that it's how you learn from mistakes that define you as a person, and not necessarily the mistakes that you've made. My stomach feels like it's sinking all the way to the ground.

 

Then the next challenge drops. He recommends that I explain all of this to Rico tomorrow. Then the problem is he's going to want to know why I've not been honest with him. I don't have an excuse for that. Truth be told, I don't know why I haven't. I've had so many opportunities to be. So many times that he's told me it's okay to talk about how I feel. So many times that he's told me to say what's on my mind, and I've still kept lying to his face the entire time. I really am the worst..

 

Dexter reassures what I already know. The whole "honesty is the best policy" thing, saying that no matter what happens, Rico will support me. "But it shouldn't be him supporting me," I say. "It should be me supporting him". He talks about how support comes both ways, but.. it doesn't feel right, no matter how you put it. He's the one going through this, yet I'm still acting like it's all my problem. 

 

"I don't want things to end the way they did with my Dad," I reconfirm, but Dexter says I can't think about things that way, but already I can feel his words slipping away as I get lost in my own mind of thoughts again it. Before I know it, my own eyes are burning. I don't have to say anything. He says that he's always here if I need him, whether that's for a talk, for a hug, or for anything. And that was it. I scoot over and bury myself into his side. What the hell am I doing? But I can't bring myself to do. All I can do is sit uselessly and cry, just like I always do. The only thing I'm probably good for.

 

How dare you show him yourself like this?

 

Thirty minutes later, we're sat in the car back outside the house. I can barely keep myself awake, but I make a promise to do my best to try and talk to Rico about it. Maybe it's the least I can do. I drag myself back indoors and, to my relief, the note seems untampered with. Maybe he really didn't hear anything. Wishing I could gracefully and quietly roll down the stairs as opposed to walking down them, I finally get myself into bed, feeling like I could fall asleep right now and just stay like that for the rest of the universe's existence.

 

I can't decide if today was a good idea or a bad idea. Talking about how I felt was like a weight physically being lifted off my shoulders, but mentally it was like 5 weights got lifted and then 15 more different weights got dropped back on. I hate this so.. god-damn fucking much..

 

 

 

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