The Honest Truth

Image of Set Stories Free - 2018
Image of Short Story
“So, how are-”
“If you ask me how I’m doing I swear I’m going to punch you,” My desperate anger brings out the hot-tempered part of me.
“Okay,” he says solemnly.
We both knew I wouldn’t do it. I wasn’t violent. But these past 2 months and 12 days have been making me someone who I wasn’t. That’s normal, right? I was supposed to change if a huge part of my life changes? Yeah, that is normal.
People have finally stopped asking me how I’m doing with those sad, sorrowful eyes. Like I’m a puppy that’s just been kicked. They ask me in public, with half the people around us listening in and waiting for an answer. They didn’t honestly expect me to start rambling about my true feelings. I knew that. Those people asked just to be polite, not because they cared about the answer. My answer to them was always, “As good as to be expected,” then they would respond, “If you ever need anything, let me know.”
But this is different. We aren’t in public, but in a small room. His eyes tell me that he wants to help, but I know he can’t. No words can make this better. I’ve thought of them all when I’m hidden in my room and the tears start running.
He doesn’t know what I’m going through. He is forty with a mother still alive, I am eighteen with a mom in the ground. It wasn’t fair- and I know that life isn’t fair, and it never will be, but knowing that doesn’t make it hurt any less. I am more than just a puppy that’s been kicked once. I’m a little girl that’s been kicked repeatedly. Every second of the day, with every memory and thought that’s entered my mind, they’ve been harsh kicks to the heart. All those kicks abraded it, leaving it so empty that the hollowness' wails back to me in a never-ending loneliness.
I briefly close my eyes, forcing those thoughts away and make my face go blank. ‘I should just tell him,’ a part of me whispers. ‘He’s not important to me, just a someone in my life mixed with thousands of other someones.’ I trust him, he’s been a family friend all my life. He’s a cop too, and I know he notices things that others don’t. He probably saw through my façade. Trust him, be raw for one hour with a someone. Be brave enough to be vulnerable. It can’t make it worse. I open my eyes and look at him.
“Everyone dies,” my words seem dry, “It’s not that big of a deal.” Everyone’s mother will die.
“Jenna, this is a big deal. Your mother is gone.” He is now leaning forward in his chair, and we are only a few feet apart. I feel like a pebble and he's the boulder.
“All of my siblings have spouses. They have someone, and then there is me, and I have no one to help me through this. Just myself.” I can feel the frog rising in my throat, and I know I’m going to start crying soon. “This... torture will never end. I need her here. I need her to be there when I bring home a boy for the first time, I need her on my wedding day, I need her when I figure out I’m pregnant, I need her as a grandma. I. need. her.” I’m crying warm tears that are steadily falling down my cheeks, but I am still in control of my voice. “Everything reminds me of her. Certain songs on the radio, colors, smells, certain phrases people say. I can’t go more than two minutes without something reminding me.” I do a quick scan to see his reaction. His face is open and ready to listen. “It’s like I am in this endless cycle of feeling so empty inside I wish I felt something, and then I feel so sad I can hardly breath. I don’t even care if I’m alive or dead anymore.” Those words are the ones that my brain never could quite get to. I wasn’t suicidal. I just didn’t care because sooner or later my sister was going to die, and my brother, and my best friends, and the man before me. I’ll feel this pain until the day I die. Maybe if I do die, and if heaven were real, I would see her again, and I wouldn’t have to mourn but watch others mourn for me.
I knew I couldn’t do that to them. I knew I needed to keep going. I take the tissue he hands me. He probably thinks I’m suicidal. “I don’t mean that I’m...” my eyes dart away.
“I know,” he says. He rises from his chair and sits next to me. His actions are confident, but I know there was nothing he could say to help. I hope he doesn’t tell me he loves me, him loving me doesn’t make anything better. He better not say that he’s sorry. “Jenna, your mom still loves you. She will keep loving you forever.” He wraps his arms around me in a hug that I knew would last for however long I needed.
My mind is too shocked on the words and the hug that the panic in my head is frozen. I hesitantly wrap my arms around him. I know he can protect me from any physical dangers, and his arms are strong yet gentle. For the first time in forever, there is a new emotion that settled on my stomach. It was small, and I knew it would end when we broke apart, but it is still there to relieve myself from just an ounce of that pain.
I felt safe.