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Dinner wth Pretenders
Sweet cinnamon incense fills the air, floats across the room and wraps around every corner. It flies, seeking for an inch or two uncovered. I breathe in, remembering the sweet homely smell of innocence.
Shadows are cast, and the few candles lit create a comfortable glow. Our eyes settle easily, waiting, wondering, constantly thinking.
The five youngest sit in the back of the room near the old creaky window. A cool air flushes around them, yet they ignore it and continue on with their meal. The young girl, with sunny blond hair curled up, and painted cheeks, nibbles at her food. She takes a drink and the juice spills down her new dress, staining the pretty green bows and priceless fringe. She looks down at the mess and pauses. Tears begin to form, and fear floods through her skin. Her head spins around to her mother, too intoxicated to notice, and decides she’s safe for a while. She thankfully smiles, ignoring the stain and bites once again.
Elders flood from the kitchen to the small dining room, eagerly snatching a seat and finding a place around the long, cold table.
I bite deep into my food, praying I can swallow. Lumps form in my throat, my stomach, and my heart. I gag, and the mop of food comes spewing back up. I close my eyes and wince, begging my stomach to accept something, anything. I manage to swallow and force my stomach to cave in.
Two woman across the room roar into laughter and I assume another inappropriate joke spilled out. One woman laughs once more, and swallows deep from her glass of liquor, pretending it’s not. The horrid smell haunts her breath, floating around the room, yet no one says a word. It does not exist tonight. She laughs once again, and I can sense her unwinding. The other hides tonight, hiding her secret. She laughs among the rest.
A final woman catches my eye, she’s wearing long sleeves again. However, one sleeve is slipping, and I see the deep purple and black bruises for which she creates magical lies. So many times, she’s fallen down the stairs. So many times, she’s slipped and fell. Accidents, she calls them. My heart knows better. A man sits next to her with deep brown eyes of false pretense. His smug look is oddly familiar. He’s grasping tightly onto her chair, as if subconsciously warning her of the accidents to come. He’s haunting her. Her eyes scan back and forth, praying he will stay in a good mood tonight.
A young boy sits across from me, glancing at me with every move I make. When I look up, he quickly darts his eyes across the room, but I can feel him watching me again as soon as my eyes drop. He plays the game just as well as the adults. He laughs and cheers as if nothing has happened. His mouth curls at the ends with a smirk as I choke on my words. Not three weeks ago I could feel his strong arms around my neck as he lay atop me. I fought with all my strength, yet nothing changed. I sit at the table feeling the pain surround my throat once again, tightening, and as I beg for air, he tightens even more. I can not speak any longer.
The table around me shrinks, and the party of guests grows larger and larger. Each person with a secret, each person with an act.
My legs are too weak to move, yet I force them up. I feel like jelly, falling to the floor in a useless pile. I tell myself it will all be okay. As I turn away, his icy pool blue eyes follow me across the room.
I walk down the hallway, yet it seems to grow longer and longer with every step. I run, harder, pumping my legs until they cry for mercy. I keep going, pushing them past barricades. Suddenly I’m knocked down on the floor, and fiery red blood creeps down my forehead. I bang on the door, searching for the handle. Finally, the cold metal handle hits my hand, and I twist it open as soon as I can. I crawl into the bathroom, ignoring the darkness surrounding me. I don’t need light.
I throw myself across the floor and manage to lift myself up onto my arms. They have a icy burn to them, stinging and weak. I push myself off the floor onto the pearly bowl, gagging. The hands around my neck tighten once again. I spew my self onto the toilet, heart, soul, stomach and all.
Guilt settles into my stomach, creating a larger knot. I hit the lump, forcing it up and out, yet nothing comes.
Stained tears fall from my eyes, telling me things need to change. Quickly, I spring from the ground and fling the door open. I run to the dining room, the hallway almost nonexistent this time. As I enter the room, I feel the crowd gasping at me. I’m a mess, dinner on my shirt and stained eyeliner tears, however it does not matter.
I will not be like them. I will not pretend.
My feet float across the room until I’m standing right before him, facing the guilt and pain which has haunted me for so long. The room silences, a hush of waiting and eager wonder.
“It’s been three weeks sense I’ve spoken.” My voice is shaky and frail, however, the sentence emerges.
He stares blankly at me, then pushes out a laugh and turns away.
“Three weeks,” I bellow, my voice echoes through the room and into ears of the pretenders.
“But no more.”
He stares at me hungrily, like a tiger watching his meal parade around the jungle.
I speak, tell the story of the past sixteen years, of his strong arms and their disgusting secrets. I spill it out to a room full of pretenders, not knowing what will come.
“And you all are the reason I never spoke.”
I turn around and leave them in the perfectly lit room, with beautiful decorations and priceless colors. Fragrances of love, the smells of hard work and happiness. The candles in the room still with a soft glow, however the all know. There’s a deep black cloud growing inside every one of them, and no matter what the do, it will still exist. My heart takes me out of the door, turning my back on the dinner party of pretenders. I walk away, I leave my pain.