I wasn’t always so sad. There was a time, maybe a three years ago, that I was normal, but things took a dark turn since then. Today should have been a good day, I turned fourteen. My mom bought me a pair of sunglasses like the other girls on TV wore; at least she said they did. There weren’t many people at my birthday party, just my family. I don’t have many friends anymore. I became too much of a burden to them so they stopped inviting me places. I can understand that, it’s hard being me nowadays. It’s hard to feel like myself.
I didn’t plan on doing what I did that night, but it felt right. Mom was having a hard enough time supporting me, and dad was always working to help support the family financially. Even my older brother, Riley, would give some of the money he earned from his job as a boat mechanic. I know they were only struggling because of me, and with things getting worse, I decided the best gift I could give them was to not be there anymore.
I made my way to the cliffs behind our house that overlooked the ocean. I don’t even think I cried, I just felt the sea breeze, heard the waves crash against the rocks, and tasted the salt in the air. I didn’t even turn back towards the house for one last look (not much good it would do anyway). I took off my shoes, so they’d know where I went if they came looking, and stepped off. There were no regrets, I just walked. As I fell I heard the ocean coming closer to swallow me up. It felt like forever, and I was expecting for it to hurt, but I didn’t feel any pain. Despite the frigid March weather, the water felt warm, like when my mom would hug me. I opened my eyes and saw myself floating deeper and deeper into the ocean. My eyes didn’t hurt at all being open under water.
All of a sudden I could see golden shimmering light dancing in the water around me. I turned myself around and saw it was coming out of a cave. I didn’t know we had underwater caves in this part of the island. The light was so warm and soft; I had to see what it was coming from so I swam towards the cave. I followed the source of the light which always remained just out of my sight through the twists and turns of the cave-turned-tunnel. I kept following it until I couldn’t see the entrance of the cave and suddenly the light went out. I was, once again, trapped in the darkness. Then all of a sudden the light came back brighter than ever. It was so bright I had to close my eyes until it died down. When I opened them, I saw my house. I noticed I wasn’t underwater anymore. I breathed in the fresh sea air and my whole body tingled with joy. I walked towards my house and the door flew open and my dog Maisy ran out and jumped on me and licked my face. I gave her a big hug.
“I missed you so much,” I said. She licked a tear that had snuck out of my eye. Then I smelled my mother’s blueberry pie. Our part of the island had so many wild blueberry bushes. My mother and I would spend hours in the summer picking the blueberries. They were the sweetest I’d ever tasted. I went into the house and saw her drying dishes. She looked as beautiful as I could remember. Her hair was hazelnut-brown and curly and styled like Marilyn Monroe, and she had the brilliant red lipstick that I bought for her birthday many years ago. She smiled and I felt all the sadness from earlier melt away. I ran to give her a hug and she held me tightly and kissed me on the cheek which left a little mark because of the lipstick.
“Where did you go this morning Beth?” she asked.
“Just oot and aboot,” I said, mimicking my dad. We both laughed and she hugged me again.
“Come sit on the deck with me. I made sweet tea.” I loved her sweet tea so much! I followed my mom out to the porch. It was sunny and cloudless. As I passed by the mirror in the hall to the back yard, I caught a glimpse of myself. I looked much younger than I remember. I looked as if I was seven years old. My hair was tied up with a bright yellow ribbon and I was wearing my white skirt with yellow polka dots and a yellow blouse.
When we got to the deck, mom poured me a glass of sweet tea. Mom always made the best sweet tea. I took a drink and I could feel it travel down to my stomach. I didn’t realize I was so thirsty, I drank it in three giant gulps and put my cup out for more. My mom laughed and poured more.
“Your father and I love you very much, Beth. Don’t ever forget that. You’re our princess forever,” she said smiling.
She used to say that all the time to me when I was around seven but I hadn’t heard her say that in a few years. “I love you too mom. You’re gonna keep me safe forever, right?”
She smiled and ran her hand across my hair, “Of course, dear.” I smiled. This was the best I’d felt in years, and I didn’t know any of it was real or not. I wanted to stay in this place forever. Seeing my mom smile, having Maisy, sitting outside in the beautiful sun with her, it was all I loved in life before it was taken from me.
I looked off towards the cliff and saw my shoes and other things I’d left behind when I jumped. Suddenly my I felt my heart beat throughout my whole body.
“Mom, what’s that?” I asked pointing towards the cliff.
“Those are yours, dear,” she said, but her voice sounded different this time. It sounded raspy. I looked back at her and she looked much older, and she was smoking. Her hair was no longer neatly kept as it was moments ago, and it was graying. I looked back towards the cliffs and saw the grave we dug for Maisy when I was ten. I looked back at my mom and she was crying, and it was raining outside, and our house looked like it had been beaten by the weather. The paint was cracking and missing in parts, it wasn’t how it was when I walked in. I felt scared. I wanted to run away again. I heard my dad come in the front door. My mom stood up and went to him, and he held her as she cried. My dad began to cry as the storm outside picked up. Thunder shook the house from overhead. I saw my dad stop himself crying. He held my mom’s face and told her they would be okay. Then he picked up an oxygen tank and walked upstairs. The last thing I remember seeing was my mom turn back to look at me, but there was no joy in her face; only hurt.
I suddenly woke up in my bed. I tried to sit up but I was too weak. I couldn’t see anything; I’ll never see anything anymore. I heard my dad changing my oxygen tank next to my bed.
“Thank you, daddy,” I croaked.
“Anytime princess,” he said, and he leaned in to kiss my forehead. I could feel his cheeks were wet. He sighed as he left the room. I wasn’t always so sad, but now I’m sad all the time. I know they’re hurting because of me, and I’m not getting any better. I wish I wasn’t here so they could be happy.