I used to fall asleep to visions of my own funeral; we’re sorry to inform you all, but she was hit by a school bus on her way to school today, but no, something more heroic; she died here in this kitchen because it was the right thing to do, because nobody gave her a chance, listened to her, I’d imagine the way mom and dad would sop up my blood, laughing, saying there’s one off our hands, let’s focus on what matters now, and nobody except the three remnants of this family would remember anything, even notice the empty desk in the classroom, nobody, nobody…
I was six years old at the time.
My funeral would be small; nobody would show up except the school principal because it was mandatory he show his presence with respect to the loss of such a young, bright soul, but even his face was twisted into some forced expression of sorrow that was anything but genuine. My funeral. I wouldn’t want anyone there anyways because I’d hate that pitiful attention, people mustering small oceans that would roll down their cheeks and they’d dab at them with their overpriced handkerchiefs—who even uses handkerchiefs in this day and age? And all ten people in attendance, including the gravediggers, would just toss me and bury me and move onto something more enthralling, a movie perhaps.
A movie. Some replayed reel that spun through my mind every night as I tried to go to sleep, and it plagued my mind all the time until I grew a fear of dying because the idea of their laughter, or the impending need to watch movies, was so painful to even think of.
I don’t want to die.
I don’t want to die and yet dying seemed like the right thing to do, you never listened, I was living in fear, fears of what I don’t even know but it was fear. And thus I sat in silence; twelve years later my soul’s dead, I’m an empty frame going through the animated motions of a triple major college student.
Making you happy is the only thing that’s ever brought pleasure into my life. I live vicariously through whatever makeshift grin can grace your wan face, and every so often even when I do well, I’m still not awarded. I don’t know what well is anymore. I’ve failed these last few years trying to understand what success is, slaved away at internships and classes to satisfy you, thinking that somehow that would satisfy me as well. I don’t know what I want anymore. I don’t know what I am anymore, other than a poorly warped projection of what you’d want me to be.
I’m dead, you know? I sleep through the days, and at night my mind races in bed, and when I talk to people my mind whirrs with the thoughts of whether you’d approve or not, whether I’m making the right decision or not—everything I do is to please you. Quitting is bad. You told me it’s what losers do, backing out of the challenges of life because they’re not strong enough to face them. I’m strong. I’m weak. I’m existing in a façade of your ideals, persevering through everything that’s brought me hell, and let you down along the way. I don’t want to die because it’s the ultimate quitting. More than dropping AP courses or bailing from a Finance major, or settling for a safety university. I won’t quit because I know you’d be sickened by me. I won’t start living because you’d be sickened by me. Enjoy your hollow shell of a daughter, because she can hardly enjoy herself.