It’s pitch black again as you’re driving home. The wind whirls around the world outside, the radio static barely drowns out the noises in your head. When did it get so loud? Each thought screams at you. Reminders of all of the mistakes you’ve buried in the backyard. Did you forget what happened the last time you dug them up? All of the ghosts coming out to play. The skeletons in your closet morphing into bodies of the people you used to love. People who used to love you. People who have found warmer homes elsewhere. It’s cold this time of year but never as cold as it is beneath your ribs. Drives like this feel like forever when no one’s riding shotgun in the passenger side. The laughter now an echo from the back of your mind. When was the last time someone told you it was going to be okay? Or has it been so long that the word “okay” isn’t a feeling but a faraway place you uprooted from the day your mom stopped coming home. Trauma has many names but never this many faces. A deer jumps in your path and you almost step on the gas instead of your breaks.
Are you still looking in the rearview mirror? No matter how far you drive the person you're waiting for isn't getting any closer, life passing you by with every mile. The destination unknown because they don't want to be found. This year the holidays were cold because every present you unwrapped was another memory you wanted to forget. Lies that were ******* with pretty bows to trick you into believing people come back. No matter how many times you try to light the tree, the star at the top just gets dimmer. Like the way your eyes do when you look in the mirror and realize no one is standing next to you anymore. Nothing remains but a ghost. An exoskeleton of the person you used to be. A person who believed that not all people were onions decorated like candy apples. That not every exterior was hiding a black hole. Now you're stuck in the void that ****** you in, running in circles looking for your way out. Sorry to break the news but there is no rescue crew on its way to save you, no rope is going to slip down and pull you out. Disney painted your head with lies because Prince Charming is the one who fed you the poison apple, and he isn't going to wake you up.
I catch you sitting at the diner counter again at 2am, the fourth day in a row. The waitress comes over and hands you a black coffee. I stare, but you don’t turn around and catch me looking. You’re glaring into the mug, like somehow you’ll drown in the warm murky mix. Like somehow if you keep looking your problems will dissipate into the rising steam. Like somehow it’s the answer you’ve been searching for since you were born. You wanted an answer. Something that would make everything come full circle. It’s been years of you driving down an endless highway, passing every exit because you don’t know how to stay in one place. Even ghost towns won’t harbor something so deeply damaged. A person who can only pull the emergency break when they’re afraid they might crash. Crash into what? Not everything walking by you is a catastrophe. Accidents only occur when you forget to pay attention. Just like how you forgot that your side door mirrors were broken. Those objects are not closer than they appear. You tried to slow down but they only seemed further away. Everything you’re trying to hold on to is slipping through your hands the way sand falls through the hourglass. Tick tock. Did you forget that people need affection if you want them to stay? They are not dolls you can glass-case until you feel like playing with them again. Not everybody enjoys being a toy. How long has it been since someone sat in the passenger seat? The car rides must be lonely when there’s no one around to fill the silence. You can blast the radio as loud as you want to but that won’t block out the hollow feeling in your chest. The one that sits where your heart is supposed to be. Something that music can’t fill. Your mother once told you that history repeats itself but did she mention that only happens when you refuse to change the scenery? If you always stay on the same road you’re never going to snap out of it. Break the curse. Realize that love is sitting at the base of every exit if you weren’t so scared of swerving into oncoming traffic. The only head-on collision that’s going to happen is when you grow too tired of driving alone that you forget to keep your eyes on the road. When you realize you placed yourself in your own hell and your breaks finally give out. When you fall asleep at the wheel and never wake up because you were terrified of letting somebody else steer.
Once upon a time you heard the word 'goodbye' for the first time. Even without a definition you could feel a pain in your chest as you watched the one who spoke it walk away. The first of many to come, something that no textbook prepared you for. Every time it was a little more painful, paper cuts that slowly turned into flesh wounds. Invisible scars that would last you a lifetime. Nobody else could recognize the agony it left but you sure felt it every step of the way. It was like living in a cartoon where a rain cloud hung over your head as sunshine followed everybody else. Three days ago someone said it to you for the thousandth time. Something snapped inside of you that day, although you can't tell whether it was a rib or the last string holding you together. Each record you play to drown out reality is another conversation about love that makes you wanna scream. You dig for something more but this time nothing else lies beneath what's on the surface. X marks the spot but there was no buried treasure, just a chest full of the empty promises people couldn't keep. You might as well bury yourself back in the hole you spent so much time digging up. Better to be safely guarded than sorry you ever showed someone love. The clock stopped the day they walked away but somehow it still manages to tick. Each one a reminder of another second spent longing for a future that doesn't exist. A broken clock is right twice a day but it isn't going to tell you how long it'll take to fix what's fallen apart. This is a disease called abandonment and you can cry in front of hospital doors all you want but there is no cure.
When you were in grade school, your teacher told you that you would be perfect for the role in the school play if you had only been a few inches taller. You cried about it to your mother who tried to remind you that one day you would make the perfect fit for the role in someone else’s play. Have you told her how you were trying out to be the lead for someone who made you believe in yourself but you didn’t make the cut? They told you it wasn’t working out anymore. Something about how their mind changed, someone better fit for the part. You pressed pause on the television remote a million times but nothing seemed to put off the massacre that came after. The entire audience watching as you walk off the stage. Did you always feel like you weren’t good enough? Just like the classroom toy no one seemed to play with for more than a few minutes, passing it off to someone else and cast aside at the end of the day. Left alone on the floor in the dark because no one cared enough to place you gently in a place where you belonged. There wouldn’t be any room for you in this play. The spot filled by someone with a better smile. Better eyes. Better personality. The lines you rehearsed render useless if you don’t remember when you’re supposed to say them. The director giving you a blank stare because you couldn’t say “I love you” back. Was it stage fright? This is how it feels to be in the spotlight, to be the main character in someone’s movie. Maybe you forgot that this roll required someone with more emotion than that. Nobody wants to watch you choke up right before the happy ending. Your parent’s divorce didn’t teach you about those, it only left you with the reality of being the inevitable victim. The person who gets shot by the hero stealing your lover because they’re the goody guy. The one who runs off into the sunset as everyone else takes a bow. The one who was a few inches taller. Fast-forward. Now the curtain closes after your final act. You hear the audience clap because this is the one where you decided to disappear and never come back.
Can you still hear it when the angels sing? Your car radio only seems to play static stations these days, as if it knows how empty it's gotten inside of your head. Damaged goods, that's what your mother always called it. Something that's just not good enough because the last person to touch you didn't read the signs that said, "fragile, handle with care". Did you forget to tell them your bones were made of glass? Did you let them know the person before had already shattered a few? I guess that's why you drink so much, just something to numb away the pain. It must be hard to feel anything at all when you're two bottles deep, passed out in someone else's bed because you cling to anything that remotely resembles a home. Something warm, at least that's what you'd like to think. If only the people who touched you didn't quit so quickly. Cold turkey, hands that turn your skin to frost. Nothing warm about it other than the heat in your cheeks at night before you start to cry. You're just feeling sorry for yourself because there's no "do not disturb" button for you to click. No way to tell someone you need to be left alone because your heart is too wounded to fight another war. If only you hadn't been so nuclear. Full of energy that bursted and took out the wrong people. Always pouring yourself into a new body and constantly coming up empty. You've given away so many of your pieces that there's no way to connect the dots and define yourself. Stuck in a body you no longer recognize. You'd like to call it identity theft but the person inside can't scream out quite loud enough. Somehow they've fallen so far down the rabbit hole that even the Hatter thinks it's far too gone to bring back. I know when you were little they said that if you ever got lost to just call for help, but there's nothing more you can do when nobody wants to pick up the phone.