“How could you do this to me?”
“Please, Please, I can-“
“Explain? No, you can’t. Get out of my life and don’t come back until you are ready!”
I woke up covered in sweat with tears running down my face. A strangled noise came out of my mouth that strangely resembled a sob. My body shivered with fear and adrenaline of the nightmare. I could feel the emotional pain twisting my heart. I pushed the covers off and sat on the side of my bed. I placed my head in my hands, allowing my thoughts to take over. I allowed my demons and angels to confront me in the moment.
The nightmares and demons taunted me in my sleep. They flaunted my mistakes, making me watch them over and over again. It was like a broken record. I could see all I had done. I could how the others reacted to my violent outbursts and manic lies. I could see my innocence slipping away from me. It fluttered like a butterfly among a meadow of flowers.
My demons created the nightmares from my memories. Some days, they stayed truthful to the actual events. Some days, they rewrote the story into even more of a horror novel. It was tearing me apart, leaving invisible scars on my soul. When I looked in the mirror, I did not recognize the person I saw. Instead, I saw a monster staring back at me. I could see the lies and the sins carved into my skin, invisible to the rest of the world, but still a very visible reminder to myself.
I could not hold on much longer. I needed my innocence. I needed to get back home. The monster was going to take over if I did not stop it. I needed my family. I needed to hear my father’s voice, speaking words of wisdom. I needed to feel my mother’s comfort, her everlasting love. I needed to be with my brother, one of the few I could talk to. I needed their forgiveness. I could not handle this lifestyle anymore. I could not handle the lying, the cheating, the everything.
There was no time like the present to head home right?
It had taken me a few days to get home. After all, I had to scrape together the money for bus tickets and I had to walk long distances to reach the bus stations. I had made it home. I stared up at the window of my house, which looked into the dining room. My father, mother, and brother all sat around the table, silent and unfamiliar to each other. Time had not been kind to them. It had left them with visible scars and it pained me to know I had been the one to cause them. My father looked hardened and weathered; he seemed to have lost his kindness. There were new wrinkles in my mother’s face and she looked more tired than before. My brother seemed to possess years that went far beyond his own. Where was his youthful innocence?
I took a deep breath, taking each step slowly up to the front door. My demons began to taunt me with questions in my head, trying to tear me away from them. What if they did not want to see me? What if they did not remember who I was? What if they did not love me anymore? I began to shake as I pushed the door bell. I had to remind myself that they were my family. They loved you, no matter how much of your innocence you had lost. That was the point of family: No matter how much you screwed up, they were the same people who would be there for you.
“I’ll get it!” My mother’s familiar voice said in fake cheeriness. It pained me to hear her natural happiness had left her. I could hear her rush over to the door. I tried to swallow down the lump that had made its way into my throat. Oh god, the thoughts in my head were racing at a million miles an hour. I took a deep breath as my mother opened the door. “We are currently having dinner, how can I-“ She said, before dropping off.
“Hey, Mom! I’m home!” I said, with a small smile. I was not sure what to do next. I wanted to hug her, but I was not sure if it was the right move.
The waterworks began and she reached to hug me. I really wanted to hug her back. After a few seconds, I did, rather awkwardly I will admit. The two of us stood there for a few seconds, while my mother sobbed into my shoulder. I tried my hardest not to sob as well, but tears did spill out of my eyes, no matter how hard I tried to blink them away.
“Vanessa, what is going on here?” My father said, walking over along with my younger brother. My father’s face froze as he saw me along with my mother. His mouth dropped open and my younger brother smiled. The two of them rushed over to me, wrapping them arms around me.
The four of us stood there, holding each other in a mess of tears and emotions. I do not know how long we stood there, but it felt like an eternity. I was happy to be here with them. A weight had been lifted off my chest and I could finally breathe again. My demons weren’t taunting me and I could feel my innocence again. I felt like a new person. I felt whole again. The hole in my chest was gone. It felt fantastic.
After a while, the four of us pulled away. “Well, why don’t we go inside and have dinner to celebrate?” My mother suggested, looking younger once again. Her natural happiness had come back to her.
“Sounds good!” My brother replied with his youthful innocence. I could see the little kid I grew up with in that moment.
My father patted my shoulder and gave me a kind smile. His face seemed younger and kind. The three of them began to walk in. “Is it really okay that I come in?” I asked, not fully comprehending what had happened. Even though they were happy to see me, where they really going to forgive me so easily?
“Of course, honey. We know you have done some terrible things and made some bad choices, but we are still your family. We have been waiting for you to return. We missed you so much. I know you don’t feel that you can be a part of this family, but we still want you to be. We forgave what you did a long time ago. After all, family is the people who still accept you when no one else will. ” My mother said wisely.
I smiled, accepting the invitation. I may not be able to reclaim my innocence, but I can always be forgiven. I can always start over. I can find a new kind of innocence here with the people I care about.
Word Count: 1,193