When I was sixteen I went to stay with a friend’s family. Though I am forever grateful for the time they kept me, I cannot help but write a creative essay of that experience that so deeply touched me.
Another Secret in That House
There were many secrets in that house, and I was one of them. To the outside, I was a charity case. How wonderful of them to take me in! It must be nice having a teen girl in the house again! Oh, no, we didn’t mean it that way. We know you could never replace her…
I knew I could have never replaced her. When everyone was gone—either at school or at work—and I had found an excuse to stay alone in that house, I glided from room to room, touching things gently. Lightly. There was the one room, her room, and I dared to go inside.
It was a bright room, full of natural light. It was expensively furnished in wood, with little trinkets on the dresser. There was a little jewelry box. I lifted the top—Garbage Pail Kids cards. She must have been so cool, a true ’90s child to the core.
There was a bed there, made up, and I didn’t know why. Nobody slept there. Or, maybe her mother did, on nights when maybe the tears flowed too hard to share a bed with a living person. On nights when all she wanted was to smell her scent.
I was gifted some of her shirts, but they never quite fit. The color, the shape, the style… Her mother looked at me and in her eyes I saw that the shirt didn’t fit in other ways. The beauty, the attitude, the charm. I was simply not her.
I felt that I was brought in for a specific purpose, and I had failed that purpose. I was not outspoken. I was not funny. I wasn’t into art and could not play an instrument. I was just there.
And with the spotlight of someone who had been made a perfect template from which to measure all, the scrutiny fell on me, hard. The spotlight soon became a crosshair, and I the target of her grief. Inadequate doesn’t begin to describe what I felt, though it’s a start.
I had been held up and measured against and I had fallen short.
And though I understood the grief with the misguided empathy of a teenager, I had to leave. I could no longer be compared to ghosts. I could not compete with the memory of something so sacred. I could no longer bleed from the soul.
I, one of the many secrets of that house, left, empty, having spilled myself for the love of a mother that would never be my mother, as a daughter that would never be her daughter.
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