I haven’t spoken to you for so long. I haven’t had the courage to. But today is the day, the day I finally pour my heart out, even though you’ll never read it.
Today, you’re eighteen. Yes, that’s right. Weren’t you dying — oh, what a poor choice of words — to turn eighteen years old?
You would’ve woken up today to your special birthday breakfast that Mom makes every year (used to, I mean). You would’ve woken up today to your father singing “Happy Birthday to You” over the phone — yes, he couldn’t make it in time for your birthday, yet again, but he promised that when he does return, he will get you a lot of presents. You would’ve woken up to your cat suffocating you by choosing to sleep on your face, like every other day. You would’ve woken up to your phone blowing up with messages from your peers in high school, who’d ignore you on any other occasion, but, hey, today’s your birthday. You would’ve woken up to your best friend rushing into your room, yelling at you for being asleep — “Who on earth sleeps until noon on their own birthday?” — and telling you to get dressed because she has made up an entire schedule (on an hourly basis) for the special day, and you can’t miss out on a single thing! You’re eighteen, and you can’t wait to move out. You’d be going to college next month, a new city on the other side of the world, the idea of which always terrified and excited you.
I visited the home that my home, your body, spent her entire life in. I went into your room and almost laughed. It still looks the same, One Direction posters all over the walls, books scattered all over the desk, clothes all over the floor. Everything was left untouched, unchanged but, somehow, everything was different. The clothes have lost your scent, the room has lost the liveliness. Those four pink walls had watched you grow up, they had witnessed you crying yourself to sleep alone at three in the morning, and they had watched you lie on the floor, laughing with your best friend. I couldn’t spend another second in there. I went downstairs, tiptoeing as if my inaudible footsteps would wake up mom and dad. The cat certainly sensed something, but went back to sleep when I left the room. Mom… she looked dead — well, not literally — but she has forgotten how to live, her laughing grey eyes turned into mere shadows. Dad was home, for the first time, and he wished he wasn’t. Your best friend… I don’t know how she’s doing. She left town a few months after your death because that was the only option left; every place in this sad, little town had memories of you two fooling around attached to it. I hope she’s okay, but you tell me, will she ever be?
It has been horrible ever since you left, but today, on the seventeenth of July, it is even worse. Today is your day, everything reminds them of you. You are missed. You were loved — even though you didn’t realize it because your self-hatred was all you saw; it embraced you and, eventually, suffocated you. I wish you were here. I wish I was in you, where I belong, instead of here, the scary outside world.
Anushka Jha is a seventeen-year-old high school student, who is currently in her senior year, from Mumbai, India. She is an aspiring writer who wants to paint masterpieces on empty canvases with nothing but words. Check out her work on Wattpad and Tumblr.