Beatrice Vee, 8th - Los Angeles, CA
Hannah picked at her food, slowly moving the vegetables around her plate.
“Not hungry?” asked her father.
Hannah shook her head, smiling apologetically. Her father sighed, took her plate, and went to wash it in the kitchen.
“I’m sorry, Dad. It’s just-”
“It’s alright, Hannah. I know I’m not a good cook.” he said, cutting her off abruptly, last week’s grief still sharp and fresh, forcing a gap between them.
“I’m trying to be happy, Dad. I’m trying to be braver. Stronger. For you, but-”
“I get it, Hannah,” her father said quietly, gritting his teeth. “I’m not Mom. I don’t look like her, cook like her, laugh like her. You don’t need to explain yourself.”
Hannah sighed, looking at her father. They were never close, as Hannah always preferred her mother’s company. Her father was always busy, working overseas.
She didn’t even look like him. Hannah had strawberry blonde hair, green eyes, and a sweet smile. Her father was dark-haired, dark-eyed, with a stern face and a frowning mouth. She had never seen him smile.
“Dessert?” he finally asked, turning to look at Hannah.
“No, thank you.” she said quietly, turning away. The last time he made dessert was exactly a week ago. When Hannah’s mother had passed away from the breast cancer that had been slowly taking over her life. Slowly erasing her, piece by piece. First it was her energy, then her health. Then her hair, breasts, and finally, brain.
Death took her quickly; by the time she came back from surgery, she was already gone.
Hannah stood up. “I’m going to my room,” she said, attempting a smile.
“Should we watch a movie?” her father asked, smiling back at her. She saw through it easily, but didn’t say anything.
Hannah nodded, turning back and settling on the couch. When her father came he didn’t sit next to her. He sat down a couple inches away, almost as if he was leaving space for her mom.
She wanted to tell him how much pain she was in. How much her heart hurt, how much she missed her mother.
But the words were stuck in her throat, reaching only the tip of her tongue, then disappearing.
She was such a coward.
“Such a brave girl,” her father murmured, stroking his daughter’s hair. “I’m so proud of you, Hannah.”
Hannah wanted to scream. To shout, to pound her fists against the walls and floor. She wanted to yell at her father for being so distant, at her mother for leaving her.
But she faltered. The screeches never left her mouth. She heard them echoing in her head, carving her brain out. The ghosts of her pain erasing her, just as they erased her mother.
“I’m not brave,” Hannah finally said, tears rushing down her face. “I’m not brave, Dad! I’m sick, and I’m tired, and it hurts! It hurts so bad,” she sobbed, curling up against her father. Her hands formed tight balls, and before she knew it, she was punching the couch. Pulling at her hair, letting go of the screams that she didn’t know she could voice out loud.
“Hannah!” her dad cried, catching her wrists and sitting her down again. “Listen, honey. You’re braver than you think-”
“No, I’m not, Dad! Stop telling those lies!” she yelled, standing up from the couch, putting her shoes on, and grabbing her mother’s jacket.
“I’ll be back soon.” she lied, stepping out of her house and into the cold wind.
Her father shouted to her, pleading with her to come back. But she couldn’t.
After an hour and then some, the tears stopped flowing, the chaos of the evening slipping away from her.
She dried her eyes and slumped down against the nearby bridge. Curling up into a tight ball. Tired, and impossibly lonely, she sighed deeply. Hannah’s eyelids closed, drawing her into a peaceful, calm sleep, one from which she would assuredly awaken the next day.
Students 6th-12th Grades