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Column: A defining moment

‘And just like that, a whirlpool of sparkly shards goes swirling around the toilet bowl – a three-year battle flushed in three seconds.’

%22He+looks+me+straight+in+the+eyes%3B+the+emotion+in+his+eyes+isn%E2%80%99t+pity+or+anger.+It%E2%80%99s+concern.%22
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Column: A defining moment

"He looks me straight in the eyes; the emotion in his eyes isn’t pity or anger. It’s concern."

Photo by Stephany Jara

"He looks me straight in the eyes; the emotion in his eyes isn’t pity or anger. It’s concern."

Photo by Stephany Jara

Photo by Stephany Jara

"He looks me straight in the eyes; the emotion in his eyes isn’t pity or anger. It’s concern."

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I’m dreading the spider jump – not because I’m scared of heights.

I’m scared of spotting people I know, or more importantly, people spotting me.

But Sophia, my 6-year-old sister, begs to go so I say yes because secretly I do enjoy still acting like a kid, to be distracted.

I need to be distracted.

Need to fill the void, fill the emptiness, the dread, the guilt.


 

Flying through the air feels liberating.

It makes my boots a little less heavy.

Then I notice the only worker there who’s actually doing his job; interacting with the kids, joking with my sister.

Playing the peek-a-boo game.

Pulling her way down so she’ll go even higher.

For a while, bouncing is fun.

Until he pulls my sister’s socks off when she comes down as a joke.

I’m dreading that because 1) feet are ugly, not debatable, and 2) my ankle is still healing.

He wouldn’t do that to me, right?

I’m a blossoming woman – he can’t touch me, right? I’m too old for that anyway.

We have that mutual understanding that it is not OK to touch people’s feet, right?

Right?

That’s when his attention turns toward me.

And as much as I try to dodge his grasp, my defeat is inevitable.

He pulls off both my socks.

Maybe he won’t see.

Maybe.

But he notices, holds on to my legs and doesn’t let go of his grip.

“What’d you do to yourself?”

Embarrassed, ashamed and surprised, I hide my face from the feeling I know all too well: disappointment.

“I don’t know.”

But my silence, the reaction, the perfectly formed scratches on my ankle say anything but…
a fall,
my cat,
an accident.

Out of my peripheral vision, I see my mom clearly confused at the man who’s stopped me. Although she fails to understand what’s going on, this man, whose name I’d later find out is David, sees right through me.

Sees through my wandering eyes, my clenched fists, my bouncing leg.

He looks me straight in the eyes; the emotion in his eyes isn’t pity or anger. It’s concern.

“Look, I get it. I’ve been there too.”

He pulls up his sleeve, shows me an ugly, badly-healed scar.

The ridges and bumps of the scar taunt me, give me the chills because I see what I’d become if I didn’t stop what I was doing.

I stand in silence; shocked, confused. I’m even scared.

He pulls out a crisp $5 bill from his wallet, tells me about a good smoothie place around the corner.

“Be nice to yourself. For once.”

I’m not into smoothies, but I get one anyways. Because it’s more than just blended strawberries, bananas and milk.

It’s pure kindness, worry and sincerity all wrapped in a cheap plastic cup from the mall.


 

Shiny blobby rectangles speckle the porcelain bowl.

A sick, almost nostalgic, feeling overwhelms me.

I look down on the razors; they seem harmless, non-threatening.

Before I can debate any longer, I flush the toilet.

And just like that, a whirlpool of sparkly shards goes swirling around the toilet bowl – a three-year battle flushed in three seconds.

With that flush, my boots become a little lighter.

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Column: A defining moment