Growing PainsRose Rosario
Three short stories by Rose Rosario
Copyright © Rose Rosario, 2017
All Rights Reserved
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
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I remember the day we were no longer a family. I remember the pain. I remember the guilt. The guilt was for allowing them to argue as if I wasn’t even there. As if those elevated voices didn’t sting my heart. I decided early on to swallow the pain. Push it down to the very bottom of my soul like I was packing a bag for an extended trip. Why did I need to show how fragile I was? So everyone could feel sorry for me? Fuck being fragile.
I took a drag off of my first cigarette. I thought inhaling the poison would dull my pain. I coughed. It made me hurt more than what I was already feeling. My head felt light. Again, I pushed away the pain and took another drag.
“Look at her,” Phil said. “She’s got an edge to her now.”
“Go to hell,” I said to Phil as I flicked the half smoked cigarette out of my grasp. The kids in my new neighborhood think I came from money. They think I’ve been sheltered. It pisses me off because they are right. How fast did it all change, though? It was like a magic spell had teleported me to another life. I was starting all over. The dreams I had envisioned for myself felt wrong. I could feel my stomach rise into my throat every time I had these thoughts. I wanted to cry until I remembered I wasn’t fragile anymore. I took out a cigarette and stared at it. Have you ever watched someone smoke and you think-they are really enjoying that. I wanted to enjoy it. I wanted it to mask my pain. I stumbled through my backpack for a lighter. I lit the cigarette and inhaled, being more careful this time. I felt the poison hit the back of my throat like a boxer to a punching bag. I coughed again. I was sure I would never be one of those people that looked like they enjoyed their cigarette.
“There’s the neighborhood princess,” Phil said. The rest of the group bowed as I made my way down to the bus stop.
“Here I am,” I said. I normally don’t mind being teased. When it’s in good fun, it’s almost flattering. The thing is, their assumptions weren’t far off. I mean, I never thought of myself as a princess, ever. It was a good life. I didn’t get everything I wanted, but it was carefree. Although, since the separation, my mom’s crying has lessened.
I stayed after school to watch the kids that I’m now grouped with. The ones from “broken homes.” They laugh. They smile. They all look happy but when you sit down and watch them, they are different. I’m not sure if you’d call it more mature. That description doesn’t seem like a good fit. It’s something in their eyes. It’s something in the way they carry themselves. It comes to me like a painful memory-they’ve lived through heartbreak.
I take the late bus home and make the walk up the hill past the golf course to my mom’s. As I turn onto my street, I see Phil. Ugh. I’m not in the mood but it’s too late. He’s seen me. As I approach he meets me halfway.
“You weren’t on the bus,” Phil said.
“No, I stayed after school today.” He offers me a cigarette. I take it from him.
“Do you want to go for a walk?” Phil asked.
“Sure.” I don’t want to, but it’s better than being home alone.
“Do you even like smoking?” Phil asked.
“I don’t know yet,” I said as I close my eyes and take a long drag of the poison.
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