Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By Cailey Tarriane

I pinch myself to stay awake, the flesh that isn’t marked with wounds. My senses on alert, my eyes vaguely making out Petra’s shadowy figure. My eyes have adjusted to the small room for a long while, yet I remain unknowing of what to do.

I raise a torch above my head, praying it could give me ideas just as the sunlight did.

“It happened again,”Petra looks angry at anyone but herself. Ironic. “Get me out of this.”

I can see her sitting on a large cardboard box, looking out the window. She isn’t pleading, but her body is shaking to the point of convulsion.

“Tell me what you’ve done, Mom,”I look into Petra’s hazy, bloodshot eyes.

She shoots me a look that makes my spine tremble, my eyes darting across the room. Spilled drinks, ripped clothes, crushed boxes with contents that smelled. I repeat my order, looking down to the blood on the floor.

Petra’s reply isn’t coherent. ‘’How do I hide this?’’

My thirteen year old mind is nimble from coming up with quick solutions, so I think harder.

‘’I want to help you; let me think.’’

She gives me the silence I need, slumping on the cardboard box. The lid crushes with her weight. I cautiously move closer, raising her legs. It gracefully falls into the box, and without thinking, I cover her body with the torn clothing laying on the floor.

Petra snores. Too loud for me to think. I cover the box with a sturdier cardboard lid, cutting holes in it with a nearby knife. I push my face closer to the torch. It trembled; the sweat in my hands was coming from more than a summer night’s heat.

Ideas filled my mind, operations to get my mother out of something she didn’t even tell me about. The right and the wrong is out of consideration, only the motive. I could pull off an escape, successfully continuing my life. This life. If victory tasted like this, I shivered at the thought of failure.

Maybe that’s what I need. Failure. No.

I bang my head on the walls, cursing its paint that was tearing off, but cursing myself above all. The torch slips from my hand, its fall echoing with the company of shards of glass. I don’t know where it comes from.

But the sun is rising; I don’t need my torch anymore. Should I go with the hard choice with a harder future, or the hardest choice with a mediocrely hard future?
I turn to the largest cardboard box in the room. I can still hear Petra’s snores, but muffled. To choose her escape and fulfilling it is success, but failing it without an attempt is bravery.

What did failing mean anymore?

I have precious minutes left. I open the box’s lid, lean in, and kiss my mother’s cheek. She looks so peaceful, and with a decision in mind, so was I.

Coming from outside, police sirens boom in my ears. I look down to the shards of glass, to my reflection. It was the face of someone who knows what to do.

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