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The car is absolutely silent. Neither says a word as they exit the highway, nearing their new home.
Daya sits alone in the middle of her new bedroom, moving boxes and pieces of furniture scattered around her. Not a sound does she make as she rests, unmoving as a statue. No expression adorns her shadowed face, her blue eyes blank and listless. Here, the sunlight does not reach her, instead skirts along the far side of the room, from the only source of light, a lone window on the right wall.
Does she think about her new home, so different, so strange? Maybe it will change her. Then again, maybe it's too late now.
Her mother, Margaret's heavy footsteps draw near to her room. Although there is no change in expression, surely Daya must hear them. The door opens and a woman enters her prematurely gray hair tangled and frizzy. There is nothing but sorrow in her expression. This is who her baby girl is now. It hurts to look at.
"Honey, do you need any help unpacking?" Margaret tries, stepping further into the room. No answer, but her daughter slowly turns to face her.
"You should go outside, it's a beautiful day. Dr. Perry says the fresh air will be good for you." They had arrived here early in the morning, before the sun had shown itself. Margaret was eager to follow Dr. Perry's advice, anything to help Daya. It was on Dr. Perry's orders that they moved here to begin with. She was willing to try anything, even moving thousands of miles away for her daughter.
Before falling to pieces here, she places her hand on Daya's head,
"Please, baby. Try. For me. I need you to try."
Alone in her room, Daya stares at the window, watching the light stream in. She watches for so long, letting her mind slowly drift in and out of conscious thought. It's a fascinating sight. One she can't remember ever seeing before. Then again, what does she remember? How many memories has she lost in this apathetic slumber that has clouded her mind for so long?
Does she remember, before they moved to that gloomy town? Those summers when she was rarely chased inside by the rain. A time when she was happy to just be herself. When she would go into her back yard and run and laugh and play with the sun until darkness willed her to sleep. She had been such a part of nature. So coupled with the sun. Her constant companion, like a safety blanket. Taken from her.
Slowly she stands, intrigued by this beam of light. Watching, watching… Something in her eyes flickers.
Downstairs Margaret sheds silent tears while unpacking the few things left. She working on a box that had remained packed from the last time they had moved. She recalls their old home, where the sun shone. The way Daya was when they lived there was inspiring, to say the least.
When Margaret took Daya and herself from that environment, she had thought only of their physical well being. Only of the times she had been hurt, the times when she would hold her daughter close to her and cry. She left to save her daughter from the same fate. She hadn't want Daya to be hurt, but she had never thought this was to be the outcome.
She chose the small, rainy town because it was far away. As far away as she knew. And it was safe. Safe from him. She never thought the town would hurt her daughter.
It wasn't long after they arrived there that things started changing. However, it took years to identify the problem.
Wondering numbly if ordering pizza would be the simplest plan for tonight dinner she grabs the phone, desperately pulling herself together.
Daya swiftly moves across the room so she is standing right in front of the closed window. It acts as a barrier between her and the outside world, where she sees people walking and children playing and a breeze lightly swaying the trees. Somewhere deep within her heart, Daya knows she wants to be a part of that. And why shouldn't she be?
Taking slow, steadying breathes Daya reaches forward, out of the shadow, towards the window pane. She throws it open and sunlight streams over her face.
I didn't know where I had been. I didn't know why I had been there or for how long, but I knew it was over.
Why I opened the window? Well, it seemed so wrong for me to not be a part of the world this way. The window had been in my way. I remedied that. That's all.
I had been in such a miserable state for a very long time. I barely spoke, ate almost nothing, and ignored my school work, friends, and even my mother. I had to see a psychologist, actually. Only now do I realize just how hard it was on my mother. But it's not like I could do much about it. Everything was beyond my control. It was like I had no energy to even think.
When I opened up that window, everything around me changed. The sunlight hit my face, I heard children's laughter. The fresh air brought a new perspective into focus for me. It was like waking up from a long sleep to find the world was so much better than it had been when I fell asleep. At first I thought the feeling would pass but when it didn't I couldn't have kept the smile off my face for the world.
Honestly, it's impossible to describe the trance-like state I had been in. As though the entire world passed by me without a glance and I didn't even care. All of the sudden I did care. I wanted everyone to know who I was. For far too long I had been separated. No longer.
I leaned my head out of the window to get a better view of the endless blue sky. It seemed to stretch on for miles, not a cloud in sight. Nothing to suppress or confine me. I began thinking. We had really moved a couple thousand miles away. This was a chance at a new life. Not just for me, for my mother too. We could start again, happy. Things hadn't been easy in such a long time. But now, anything was possible.
I closed my eyes and just breathed in the invigorating warm air, rejoicing in my newfound energy.
I walked slowly downstairs, trying to keep from yelling or laughing. I didn't want to scare my mother. The smell of pizza directed me into the kitchen where I found my mother going through a moving box to find paper plates and napkins. I smiled, shyly. I had long since forgotten exactly how my mother looked. It had been a while since I had noticed just how stressed she was, but beneath that I could see she was still a strong person. She was fighting for us.
Silence. For almost 30 seconds we stared at each other. She stood and took a step forward, her mouth open.
"Hey, mom. I'm… I'm sorry."
With that she nearly collapsed into my arms, shaking with tears. After one self-conscious moment, I could no longer refrain from crying with her.
I walked outside, and all around me I saw beauty. I saw the world in way I had been ignoring. I saw it from a new perspective. And life made sense.