I really like this writing thing! I decided a week or so ago that I would write a book this summer, but last night a few pieces clicked into place. Why not start now? So here it is, a piece of a chapter from somewhere in the middle, maybe 1/3 through the arc of the story.
I scrunched down under my pile of blankets, pulling my head into the nest so I didn’t have to see anyone. I took a shaky breath and shuddered as it escaped me again. Why did everything have to be so hard? I never even wanted this stupid move.
I used to know what I was good at. I used to be good at things. Now, it’s like a whiny toddler has taken over my body. That toddler seems to like knocking over the block tower of my life. And I– the real Lena–have to figure out how to rebuild it.
Hearing footsteps on the stairs, I squeezed my eyes shut, took a giant breath and held it. I’m not here. I’m not here. If I’m not here she’ll just go away. I really can’t take one more thing tonight.
Her footsteps came into my room and the bed sagged as she sat on the edge, but she didn’t say anything. Eventually I had to let out my breath. As if that were a signal, I felt her hand on my back. She still didn’t say anything, but she rubbed circles in my back the way I liked her to. I twitched away from her to the far side of the bed. There was that toddler again. The more I needed someone to comfort me, the more I lashed out. I breathed again and counted to ten. The mattress shifted again as mom laid down next to me and gently rubbed my back again. This time I didn’t move away. Anyway there was nowhere else to go except the floor.
After what felt like an entire swim practice I heard her voice for the first time. It was soft, like she knew she was talking to a scared three year old and not a middle schooler. I sighed at that thought.
“None of this has been easy for you, I know.”
I rolled my eyes in the dark.
As if she’d heard my eyeballs she continued, “You didn’t ask to move. I know that, too. You’re not happy right now because of a decision that I made.”
A self-righteous puff of air escaped my pouty lips.
“Look. School is harder. That’s a big part of why we’re here. You’re still smart. It’s going to get easier. Swimming is harder, you’re aging up. That doesn’t mean you’re worse at swimming. It means you’re swimming against the big kids, now. It’s going to take more work than you’ve ever needed to do. They both are.”
Without thinking about it, I rolled to lean into her. A tear slipped out from under my eyelid. School was hard. Swimming was worse. And I was already worker harder than ever. I still couldn’t seem to get anywhere.
Her arm was around me now. She gently pried the blankets down away from my face and rested a finger under my chin. She looked directly into my eyes as I blinked back new tears.
“You may not believe in yourself right now. I understand. But I will believe in you until you can.”
Her warm lips pressed against my forehead. We stayed like that. My eyes closed and silent tears crept out, leaking down one cheek and across the bridge of my nose. I breathed in the scent of her. Chocolate of some kind, and dough. When my breathing had evened out to match hers she rubbed her cheek against my forehead and kissed me one more time. Standing up, she straightened the covers and tucked them under my chin. Then she [rubbed] my hair as she left.
I heard her footsteps fading as she went back downstairs.