It was a word she had always attached to herself, letting it cling to her uncomfortably like a wet shirt after a torrential downpour. It made her uncomfortable and slightly itchy. She shifted to get used to the feeling, but despite the longevity of it, she could never grow used to the discomfort.
Through the years, she grew into the aching feeling. She could never rise to her full stance as time wore on and at the ripe age of sixteen, she was beginning to feel the crushing weight of breathing every morning when she woke up. It wouldn’t let on as the days passed and she was beginning to break under the pressure of it.
This particular morning as she sat at the kitchen table hiding behind a box of freezer burnt egos, her parents sat before her. She realized where the sadness was bred.
Her mother, a crouched woman at the age of forty-seven looked about ten years older when you took in the creases in her forehead and the bent look of her. She hadn’t genuinely smiled in years and constantly had that lost look of wonder in her eyes – except she wasn’t imagining a great adventure, she was thinking how many miles she wished she could put between herself and this kitchen table. It was a fantasy she had never kept to herself. They say parenting isn’t for all. Her mother took to parenting and loving her child like a cloudy day to a sunny disposition. It didn’t connect well.
Her father was a stern man. He wasn’t stern in a way that was loveable and many (in particular her) wondered if he had every truly loved anyone. His purpose in her life was to criticize and blame.
I love you hadn’t been spoken in over a year and every conversation either ended with tears or with a sticky feeling of disappointment on both ends. It was a feeling she had to peel off of her and every few hours she would find a smudge to aggressively wipe away.
Not being loved or being good enough held its weight in her heart. As she chewed the freezer burnt waffles, she felt the hollowness in her chest. She had to be making a big deal out of nothing. She was being dramatic. That was what her father would tell her anyway. Her mother would avoid the subject and leave the room. So, she stuffed the feeling down. Unable to fully let it come to the surface because to do so would add to the feeling. And she didn’t think she could take any more at the moment.
Anchoring herself to the freezer burnt waffle, her burnt out soul find some solitude in the like item. Both spent and much to quickly.
Soon the table emptied, and the day wore on. The three lost souls making their usual patterns around the shared space and not a single one uttering what was burning deep inside because lonely was their way.
It was all she had ever known, how to orbit this house feeling light years away from her neighbors. At least they were lonely together.