I don’t want the hate; I don’t want the fight.
Tonight I make her feel loved.
A part of me knows it’s selfish, because I don’t deserve her or any of this. But tonight I need to feel loved too.
The Coverless Book
“Do you think Mama will be okay with it?” I ask Caroline, nervously peeking up at her. The silk is like water under my fingers. So smooth and easily flowing. “I’ve never worn anything like it.”
“It’s perfect for your first date,” Caroline tells me with that sweet Southern charm.
I turn around fully to face her, repeating my question, “But do you think Mama will be okay with it?”
Caroline’s expression falters.
“I think your mama would love it, Emmy,” Caroline says, forcing that false smile to her lips. She’s worked for our family since just before I got sick. I know all her tells and that smile she’s plastered on her face is only there to hide the truth. She hates my mother, but I don’t know why.
“She’s sick too,” I whisper defensively. “That’s why she’s not here.” The excuse falls flat, just like it does every time.
“She’s not sick like you. She’s just in pain,” Miss Caroline corrects me.
Those in the most pain, cause pain. My mother told me that once. It was a while ago and she said that’s why she doesn’t see me very much. She doesn’t want to hurt me. I know it kills her inside to know what’s happening to me. “Pain is a sickness, isn’t it?” I ask Caroline.
The false smile wavers as she reaches down to pick up the pair of shoes. “Your first pair of heels,” she states and pretends she didn’t hear me. She does that sometimes. She doesn’t answer me when I ask questions. I know they’re insignificant, but I have no one else to talk to. Some days I wonder if I’ve spoken when she does that.
I only know I have when I hear her sniffle. They don’t like to see me like this, frail and losing weight and muscle like I am. No one does. I’m not just sick; I’m dying. That’s what the doctors say.
Smoothing the ruby red silk fabric with my hand, I turn to the mirror thinking, Jake will like me in this dress. He won’t mind seeing me sick. He doesn’t cry when I tell him I’m invincible, not like Mama and not like Miss Caroline.
Jake thinks I’m pretty. He thinks I’m sweet.
“Soup, Emmy,” Caroline calls out and I can hear the spoon clinking against the porcelain.
“Is it- “
Before I can finish, Miss Caroline nods and says, “Of course it is. I had to make your favorite for today. Drink up, baby, you need to be strong.”
“I already am strong,” I tell her with a smile, feeling the excitement of tonight. “Haven’t I told you? I’m invincible.”
The story grips me as the pages turn. A young boy and a sick girl, falling in love even though they know it won’t last. I can’t help but to think it’s not that simple. I hate her mother and I like Miss Caroline, but I feel sorry for Emmy. It’s funny how they feel so real when I curl up under the blanket and let the night disappear in between the pages of The Coverless Book.
Lines of a dark blue ink run along the pages. And with every line, I add it to the list in my notepad.
Those in the most pain, cause pain.
I don’t feel sick when he looks at me like that; I can only feel cherished with his gaze on me.
Agony is meaningless; only love can relate.
There is no pattern. No reason to think there’s a hidden message lying inside. But I do. I can’t help but to hope that I’m missing something. Anything. I just want my sister to tell me something.
Or at least I did. Days ago.
Before that night with Jase. The night everything changed. Somehow, he took my fight away, but with it, there’s relief.
It’s been two days and he hasn’t messaged me, and I haven’t messaged him either.
I don’t know how it happened, but everything feels different now.
With every thrust against his bedroom wall, he forced the air from my lungs. He took it, he made it his. The air, my body… and more.
Forgiveness and understanding can do something to a person. Especially when you don’t feel worthy of it.
When I stepped out of that bathroom, not knowing what the hell I was going to do or what the hell I was thinking when I cuffed him, I wouldn’t have fathomed he’d be there facing me.
What did I think would happen even if I did get a name from him?
That somehow he would let me out of his gilded cage after he admitted what he lied about? That he wouldn’t hold it against me that I’d cuffed him up and threatened him?