Despite best intentions I haven’t entered #blogbattle in quite a few months, but this month I made it! Here is my entry. 🙂
“The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.”
It was a quote that stuck with her since her childhood, words she carried so close to her heart that they left an imprint that could never be erased.
She wrote them, over and over, sat on the floor of her bedroom, with the muffled noises of the neighbours seeping through the walls.
Her laptop cursor blinked, reminding her with every passing second that she hadn’t written a word yet. Her pen traced over the words once more, “the flower that blooms in adversity…”
She threw her pen down, fighting back tears. What was the use in believing when things never changed?
The laptop cursor kept blinking.
She took a shuddering breath.
Why was this so hard?
A steady bass rhythm set up through the walls. She closed her eyes, for a moment naively believing she could will the noise away.
It never worked.
She didn’t stop hoping, in a tiny corner of her heart. The corner where those words were imprinted. “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.”
How could she keep believing?
She got up and paced the length of her tiny room with silent slippered feet. Back and forth. Back and forth. Back and forth.
She had to start. She had to write something. Anything.
The cursor kept blinking. The bass kept thudding. She kept pacing.
Rain began to patter on the small window, steady, then faster, then hammering the world’a anger at her.
She dropped onto the bed. “Please,” she begged in a whisper, “just a sign. A small sign?”
The rain hammered, running in rivulets down the dirty glass. The music got louder. The cursor was still blinking.
“Jen!” He shouted through the door, hammering. “Dinner’s on the table. Get down now!”
An involuntary shudder ran through her, and nausea turned her stomach.
“Be there in a minute!” She called back, and grabbed her laptop, staring at the blinking cursor.
Just be honest, just be you, her college tutor had said, explain why you want to do the course, show them your passion…
Her passion…how could she explain to potential universities that her passion was getting away from home? That all she wanted was for any university to want her, just so she could leave here…Just so she could run away.
She didn’t even really care what course she did…she couldn’t think that far, didn’t have the energy…not when all her energy was going into surviving.
He hammered on the door again. “Jen!”
“Coming!” She flipped the laptop closed and stood, bracing herself for the next hour.
Her phone screen lit up at her touch, reminding her, “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.”
How long? She mentally calculated the days as she walked down the stairs, her footsteps light. Couldn’t make noise. Not allowed.
By the time she reached the dinner table she had lost track of her maths, and had found the only answer that mattered. It was too long, far too long until she could leave.
She sat at the table, in her spot, across from her mother, her father and brother on either side of her. The empty spot where her sister used to sit was still there. Still empty.
Her mother served the food, with the same precision and silence she always used. Steam rose. It had to be hot.
She waited for her father to start, once her mother was seated, and ate in the same measured pattern as everyone else around the table. Now and again her eyes strayed to that empty spot, and she knew she shouldn’t, because sooner or later he would notice and then-
His fist hit the table, making the plates and knives and forks rattle. Making a little water spill out of the vase in the centre of the table. Her shoulders hunched in, head down.
“Stop looking at that spot!” His voice wasn’t quite a shout, but she wouldn’t have been less frightened if had been.
“Sorry,” she mumbled, what was left of her dinner blurring through tears.
He leaned in close and hissed, straight into her ear, “And don’t you dare cry.”
She swallowed, held her head up, blinked back the tears, willed them back inside of her. Then she had to swallow her food, push it down past the lump in her throat. It was more than a lump, it felt like stone.
At the end, when everyone had finished, and her mother had carefully, silently, cleared the plates, her father said, his voice level and calm, “Yo should both go back up to your rooms and finish your homework now. Bed at nine, you know the rules.”
She didn’t reply, it wasn’t expected. She just slipped off her chair at the same time as her brother, and made her way back up the stairs, the small, thin frame trailing her. She didn’t meet his eyes. Couldn’t. If she had she would have cried, and that would only have brought worse down on her.
So they both crept into their rooms, closed the doors with only a tiny click, and said no more.
She let the tears fall. Silent. She had learned the art of crying silently years ago. She didn’t understand why her friends made such a noise when they cried. It wasn’t necessary.
Her stomach hurt, and she wanted to scream, but the doodles of flowers blooming in adversity reminded her what she had to survive for. She made herself breathe. Just breathe.
The cursor was still blinking at her.
A message lit up her phone screen. It’ll be okay.
She smiled, her heart aching, staring at her brother’s avatar.
I hope so, she replied, then deleted both messages, knowing he was doing the same on the other side of the wall.