The air felt softer, and the atmosphere didn’t choke my every breath. My spine did not shiver, nor did I feel a sense of death only a doorstep away. These were the thoughts of a person who’d escaped the life she was forced to live.
Along the smooth dark wood floor of a newly owned apartment, a girl with long brown hair and dark honey-brown eyes dragged her suitcase while the little spools of her hair stuck to her smiling face. The sun’s glare shone like a spotlight shining in the open living room area.
Visions of a cozy yet quaint home became the blueprints of what she
“So this is what it’s like to feel at ease in your house. This is…my home.” She whimpered with the few tears spilling out from her sun-glazed eyes. Like a puppy running and struggling to survive in the harsh streets, she’d finally found a place of comfort and warmth.
The word “Freedom” only seemed like a dream in the past, but in these four walls, as the beaming rays of heat entered her home, she could feel that what she had once dreamed of could finally be her reality.
The image of change and freedom was enough to make her sensitive heart flare uncontrollably with glee; from this point, she didn’t mind that there was a possibility of struggle and hardships awaiting in the future because knowing that she successfully escaped her inevitable death was enough to keep her going.
Vivid blueprints of a cozy home erased the fact that the room was empty and plain. Her little heart pitter-pattered with excitement, knowing that she could make this quaint space her own.
Eager to move into the new life she’d built for herself, her boxes packed with her belongings quickly emptied while the blank, white-painted rooms filled with them. Once she finished unpacking her necessities, she sat on her wooden black dining table with her laptop, scouting for the perfect job to fund her vision of freedom.
“Hmm, where to begin…Well, I have to find a job outside of fast food service. I can’t handle something so stressful when I have to study hard to keep my scholarship. Just thinking about it gives me goosebumps.”
‘Beep, Beep,’ her microwave sounded, finishing the noodles she’d prepped for dinner.
“Yes, finally! I was starving!”
Extremely hungry, her stomach grumbling like an earthquake, she sprinted to the microwave and ignored how hot the glass bowl had been.
“Weirdly enough, this is the first time my stomach doesn’t feel nauseous at the smell or sight of food. I guess it’s because no one’s breathing down my neck or haunting my space anymore.”
Food always smelt like garbage in the past, and her stomach rejected it at the mere sight. Eating felt much more difficult when her abusive family made her feel like a pig who’d eaten everything in sight.
Setting down the bowl on her placemat, she heard her tummy rumble and felt her mouth salivating.
“Mmm! This is so good; I was craving ramen. Huh…?”
The window by her table stood beside her directly and shone through it, the illuminating light of a single star in the dark blue sky. “It looks like a star that would only come once in a lifetime. How lucky am I to be able to see it?”
Instinctively, her eyes shut, and her hands clasped each other while a wish she’d been praying for her whole life came to her empty mind. “Please let me be free; I’ll give anything, so please let this freedom last…”
Opening her eyes, she felt her heart darken, her throat tighten, and a soullessness within her. In her heart was the tiniest flicker of hope that came along with her wish. Every hope, however, ended in heartbreak when things only seemed to get more complicated after wishing for anything good, as if the world was reminding you that you’re not deserving of such happiness.
She’d brushed past the idea of her wish to finish the last bits of noodles stuck to the inner sides of the bowl. After eating every last drop, she got ready for bed, and yet even wanting to go to sleep was hard when she spotted the letter from her family she’d been putting off reading.
“Deep down, I know that not one word of love will be written in this letter, so why am I still foolishly holding on? I really hate myself for being so weak for the family that tried to destroy my well-being.”
Though her heart resisted and her palms rubbed against each other, her thoughts were filled with curiosity about what the letter held. “This is the last time, the last time that I let them change my mind.” She opened the letter and inside was a poorly handwritten note that she already recognized as her older brother and father’s handwriting.
‘You must be asking for trouble, you wench. Do you have any idea what the people are saying because you decided to throw such a tantrum and run away from home? I’ll be lenient if you return home now and beg for my forgiveness, so come home before you ruin things as always.’
What was I expecting, a hint of longing for the sister he lost or maybe even a bit of sadness for my disappearance? No, I shouldn’t have hoped because the more I hoped, the more I sobbed when reality would destroy my fantasy. How depressing it is when getting slammed with the truth, she thought while the tears collected in the waterline of her eyes.
“…I can’t…I-I don’t want to look at this anymore!” She tore up the paper, flinging the crumbled pieces in her trash bin. They were the very knives that stayed stuck in her breaking, unhealed heart. Flopping down on the bed, her tears stained the pearly white sheets into light gray water droplets near the areas of her eyes. After a few minutes, she dozed off into her dream, remaining in the dark with nothing surrounding her.
“You brat! Everyone might think you’re my daughter, but you’re nothing but a low-life parasite I wish was never born!”
“Looking at you’re pathetic face makes me want to strangle you to death, so don’t look at me unless you want to die.”
“We’re not sisters; I don’t even believe we’re the same blood because how can something related to me be so filthy and sickening?”
“Father? Do you think you can call me that when you’re nothing but a stain on our perfect family? Call me father again, and I will chain you up again like the animal you are.”
These were the common insults of the past I’d hoped to escape, but mentally, I still feel trapped in the moment I wish I could forget. They echoed like the high-pitched sound of glass shattering, the sound that made my ears want to bleed. Forcing herself out of the mental prison, she frantically woke up with tears streaming down her supple cheeks.
On the outside, she cried, but on the inside, it was war as she struggled to keep her inner screams contained. Her eyes mirrored the depth of someone who was in profound misery, someone who fought hard not to let their pain consume them whole.
Sweat dripped from her neck to the point she looked as if she was suffering from an intense heat wave. Her breathing became rough and coarse while the sounds of her cracking voice were let through her compressed throat.
She jerked away the blanket and sped walk barefoot on the cold tile floor to get a glass of tap water to calm her nerves. I was blank in those moments; I had no idea what to do with myself. My thoughts were scattered, and I felt frozen with shock. Even then, taking the first sip seemed like a challenge.
I thought I finally escaped, but it was as though they were dragging me back to the bottom. Her chest tightened up as she hyperventilated, her back crashed into the wall, and she found herself sliding down it with an overflowing river of tears.
Why does life have to be so cruel? The thought kept eating away at me. I was supposed to be free now, so why does the past keep invading my life? After escaping, she still had to deal with the trauma she’d faced while under the control of her demanding father.
The reward of being free was bittersweet, but to her, she’d only ever wanted to be free even if she became homeless or jobless. She wanted so desperately to leave the supposed place that was her ‘home.’
Unexpectedly, a sudden crash hit her ears; her body jumped as she came to her feet.
“What was that!?”
With every step, her body trembled rapidly, and the sound of her heartbeat thumped through her ears. Peering through the doorway, she could see a light; it did not feel eerie or dangerous, but it was relatively warm, she thought.
Her curiosity peaked, moving further into the bedroom.
Inside a portal, of all things, a portal stood in the room an inch away from the bed. It glowed in a bright purple and blue color that was captivating and intriguing; it felt like it was calling for her and persuading her to come closer.
In her eyes, there was a flare of the wonder that filled her reflective eyes; without hesitation, she moved toward the portal as if it had been drawing her in.
“Is this a dream? Am I dreaming right now?”
She extended her arm steadily and slipped her hand deeper into the portal.
“…Wow! How pretty…”
Unconsciously stepping through the portal, the entire thing closed behind her.