March 1, 2008

Lifestyles

What was Lost

by Megan Sebestyen

I thought I could make it look like a movie stunt. In movies, everything works out the way a character envisions it, and in that moment, I felt as if I should be a character in a movie; I wanted to step outside my own life.

I was all alone. I had run away from everyone. My entire family was at the hospital, at my dying Granny’s side, somehow able to comfort themselves and each other. But I had run away, unable to handle another second of hearing the whispering respirator force air into her cold lungs, unable to stand watching those display monitors with the unpredictable lines dance above her drained face. I could not listen to one more doctor mumble the disheartening truth, so I had run to my house, alone, without a key.

When I reached my familiar front door with the flecked green paint, cheeks burnt from the lines of tears, legs leaden from the run, lungs fiery maroon from the stress of my escape, I felt confused. Why was I here? Was I a coward trying to hide from the cold clasp of death? Or had I been brave to run, to get some time away from my Granny’s labored breaths? As I rested my shaking head against the worn door my father kept declaring he was going to repaint, I tried to comfort myself with a memory of my Granny outside the hospital. I couldn’t. Sweet memories of her standing in front of me, hands in those torn apron pockets as she greeted me from school were drowned out by the empty image of her - cold, pale and delicate like the china plates she collected - in that bare hospital ward.

Whatever force had propelled me this far led me to the conclusion that the only way to get into my locked house was to break in. In a manic frenzy, as if I could no longer control my actions, I darted the perimeter, searching for an entrance, leaping crossways over the unkempt bushes my father had meant to trim and ignoring the bites they left on my sweaty ankles. Dad had said she would be okay; it would all be okay. He had lied. Time was breathing down my neck, infusing my strained veins with an unsteady panic. In that instant, it seemed finding a way inside was the single most important task.

My eyes darted across the house, finally resting on the window to my room. A screen, freckled by memories of recent rains, was all that separated me from the coveted interior. The inside glowed golden like Christmastime, safe, away from all the pain of the outside world in which I stood.

Before considering my actions, I hoisted my weight onto the aged garden spigot my father meant to replace, which was located beneath the window. I felt the plastic of my sandal squeak against the odd shape of the faucet. The spigot slipped as it turned, the cold steel delving into the soft flesh of my unsuspecting toe. Like a rock climber, I extended my arm above my odd crouched position on the wall to grab at the flimsy screen. It clattered, coming out of place with surprising ease and hanging oddly in the window frame like a loose tooth. After straightening my leg, I felt the ledge and pulled, feeling the weight of my body raise to meet the window. The tired shorts I had been wearing all summer tore against the rough edges.

Grunt by grunt, I heaved myself inside, feeling my body rest at last. I sat there, broken, under the broken window. The light inside was dim, highlighting the shadowy edges of objects. Or was the glow from my blurry vision, dimmed by my careening heart? My toe glowed red with blood, my ribs ached from pulling against the ledge, and my mind raced. I had broken inside my own house, and “I wanna go, go home,” was all that could escape my broken lips.


Megan Sebestyen is a student at The University of La Verne in Southern California, pursuing a degree in Journalism and Creative Writing. Having always loved to write, she aspires to work on a magazine staff. Her work has appeared in The Durango Herald, The El Diablo, and Escape Artist Travel Magazine.