A Grain

woman sad

My daughter has the best of everything. Her clothes are from the finest boutiques in town, her wardrobe rivaling mine in size and quality. Her hair has been highlighted and cut by my own stylist from the time she was small.    I’ve given her everything she’s ever wanted. Things she didn’t even know that she wanted. Private dance tutors, acting classes, beauty pageant wins, cosmetic enhancements.  We want her to be happy. I thought she was happy.

When her teachers told me that Riley’s interactions with another girl in school could be considered bullying, I dismissed it, taking it with a grain of salt. Didn’t all teenage girls argue? But then I met the girl, Cassie, and her mother, in the principal’s office, and I saw something I recognized in her sad eyes. Riley laughed the whole thing off in the car on the way home, and I joined in, wanting to make her happy, to reassure her I was on her side, but my heart wasn’t in it.

Cassie is gone now. When I found out the news, I locked myself in my bedroom and cried the rest of the day. Visions of my own youth tortured me. Disdainful looks from the pretty girls with their perfect skin and shiny hair. My desperation to be accepted, only to have doors slammed in my face at every turn. I thought about the day I gave birth to Riley, when I promised her that she would never endure one moment of suffering.

Today, I dried my eyes and got on the phone to find my daughter a lawyer. They want to put her in jail, but I can’t let that happen. She’s my baby.

For Story A Day

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Sight

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“Where were you today?”

“Yeah, everyone was asking for you.”

It was the beginning of an interrogation. Kendall’s shoulders slumped.  She took a long sip of her wine, immediately feeling its effects.  Her antidepressants already made her sleepy.

“I didn’t feel well,” she slurred.

Mara, the oldest sister, groaned loudly as Kendall’s eyes lowered.  “Really, Kendall?”

“We ALL have bad days,” Lane, the middle sister, added, her tone dripping with fake compassion.  “I wasn’t feeling all that great either, but I pushed past it and got through.”

“We’re getting tired of having to cover for you all time.  People ask for you and we don’t know what to say.”

“Why do you care so much if I’m there or not?  What does it matter?”  Kendall asks, her hand shaking as she lifted the glass once again to her lips, droplets of wine falling onto the table.

“It’s about how it looks, Kendall.  We’re sisters.  Why won’t you let us in?”  Lane asked.

Kendall dabbed at the spilled wine with her napkin, not looking her sister in the eye.  “Because you don’t see me.”

“What does that even mean?!”  Mara yelled in frustration.

Kendall dropped the napkin to the floor and rose from the table without a word.

“And now she’s leaving,” Lane commented as Kendall walked past, throwing her arms in the air.

I’m already gone, Kendall thought.

*

Kendall opened her eyes.  She was in a strange room filled with light, surrounded by beeping machines, her nostrils filled with the smell of antiseptic.  She wasn’t sure how much time had passed.  An initial wave of despair and disappointment washed over her as she realized she’d failed.  I can’t even do this right.

A nurse leaned over her bed.  “You’re awake!  I’ll let your sisters know.  They’ve been waiting for…”

“I don’t want to see them.”

“Are you sure?  They…”

“I’m sure.”  She gave the nurse a tight smile.  As she left the room, Kendall laid against the pillows and closed her eyes.  In her dreams, she saw a woman, standing outside in a sun shining so brightly she had to squint her eyes, alone but happy.  She had a second chance and she wasn’t going to waste it.

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