The quiet tragedy of a girl falling apart on her roof, invisible to the world.
| The window resists as she fights to push it open. The cold air rushes into the darkened room when she succeeds. Mal flattens herself against the window ledge to squeeze under the top bunk and pull herself onto the roof. She balances on the icy wooden railing, curling her back against the house behind her. The music in her ears is deliberate and quiet, the soundtrack to her silent, midnight breakdowns.
Mal reaches into the pocket of her baggy, too big sweatpants and pulls out her bag of cigarettes and lighter, both obtained from the local smoke store, known not to card. The lighter sparks once before lighting, and she holds it to the end of her cigarette, placed between her lips. She inhales deeply to ignite the end and releases the breath, letting smoke fall from her lips into the still winter night. Tasting the acrid smoke and feeling the burn in her chest, she closes her eyes and tilts her head back.
The song changed as she waited for the chemicals to reach her brain. The lyrics have her remembering old friends that had hurt her, left her behind, had been lost. She opens her eyes to observe the night. The street is dark, lit only by two white street lights which cast strange shadows onto the trees and well kept lawns. The highway nearby is quiet as well, only the occasional passing car. The cold is penetrating until the wind blows, then it cuts through her thin sweatshirt and down to her bones, though Mal shows no signs of going into the isolated warmth of her room.
Her cigarette is half gone, the memories of her friends faces faded, like photographs worn from age. The faces of people who were once everything to her but now do not even see her fill her mind and empty her chest. She chokes on a sharp inhale, shoving a fist into her mouth to muffle the coughs she needs to let out. If she wakes her sister, she will disappoint those left in her life, and she can not risk it. The hollow burning inside of her lessens for a moment with the pain. Mal closes her eyes and mentally recites the numbers, the days, weeks, months that have passed. She replays the horrible memories filled with pain in a desperate attempt to block out the urges, curb the flow of deadly whispers in her ear that set her hands to trembling.
Her cigarette is on it’s last leg, so Mal crushes it and lights a new one. She wishes her life was different, that people didn’t hurt her, didn’t leave her. The music in her ears changes again and she huffs out a silent laugh at the lyrics that hit too hard. She just wants to be able to sob and scream at the world that raged at her. She wants to tell everyone what she really felt about them, about how they constantly hurt her. But she can’t, because that would be selfish and she will never be able to. She buries it deep inside, where it can only hurt her.
The cherry on her cigarette is the brightest thing on the street. Her eyes are dull and shadowed, her arms littered with scars and pen marks. Her breath is coffee and smoke. Mal’s soul is irreparably shattered, yet she cuts herself on the shards to save the people who broke her.
She inhales again, the slivers of smoke coming off of the cigarette enticing her, pleading with her to ingest that which should kill her. She dreams of sprouting wings and leaving everything behind, of letting the ghosts in her mind move on and just taking the leap. But reality is harsh when it reminds her that only birds and angels have wings, certainly not you Mal, it whispers.
Exhaustion burns behind her eyes, claws at her mind, and she takes another long drag. The ember flares yellow for a second, a brief instant. The music changes again and Mal finally feels the sweet sting of tears in her eyes. She allows them to fall, to burn their way down her cheeks before nearly freezing off on her chin. A sob bubbles up in her throat and she muffles it with her fist. Biting hard enough to draw blood, she lets the tears flow endlessly. Something breaks inside her, something changed and disfigured beyond recognition.
She puts out the cigarette and pulls out another one, her fingers numb and white. Mal stays out in the night, smoking and crying with her quiet deliberate music. She has only this time to herself, only this time to fall apart. It will never be enough, and it will never be over.