I leaned my head against the wall and sighed, taking a deep breath in. My nose was running red and the blood trickled to my top lip before I could wipe it down with my ripped sleeve. The trail of maroon lingered and the white cotton shirt I had decided to wear was now stained. My cheeks felt flushed, and my hair was tucked into my collar as I sat on the cold cobblestone of Via Condotti. It was about 10:27 at night when I ran away from home.
“Hey, Ingrid, I love you!” The voice of my deceased mother rang in my ears, time and time again, and like a broken record, it kept replaying in my head. Mainly at night when the silence grew loud.
June 17th 2004, a year today since my mother passed away.
My nose stopped bleeding and the clotting finally started. Every breath hurts but at least I didn’t have to soak any more of my shirt in blood. I sat up straight and looked across the road. There was a little boy leaning on the corner of a store. He was eating a piece of bread but he looked quite happy. Unlike me, his nose wasn’t bleeding and his shirt wasn’t soaked in blood.
I decided to get up and try to befriend him like that would solve all the issues in my life. As my feet touched the cobblestone, I instantly froze. The humid trail from last night’s rain left it frozen solid. I carefully walked over to the boy, making sure I didn’t step on any broken glass. I sat down next to him and asked;
“What are you doing here, out in the street so late?”. I checked my watch, the time was 10:33 pm.
The boy then looked at me, his eyes filled with tears and his nose began to run, only it wasn’t red from blood. He then looked at his piece of bread, and while twirling it around he sniffled. Wiping his lips and the back of his ears, he looked up at me again.
“My mom and dad are fighting again. Mom just gave me a piece of bread and told me to leave.” The boy sniffed “I don’t know where to go anymore, or even if that house is where I’ll live next week.”
I looked at the boy and he looked at his feet. I knew what he meant. I knew how a small disease could just keep growing and growing until your family breaks completely and you feel like it’s all your fault.
I know what he means. I sometimes just look at photos of my mom and wonder ‘Why did you be so selfish? Why did you die and leave me here in this messed-up world? Just why?…’
I looked down at my bloody sleeve, wondering what I could do to comfort the boy. I can’t take him home because ever since my mother left us, that place really broke down, the spark that was once there now fully snuffed out. It was already broken, but her death worsened it.
Looking at the young boy, I felt a sense of safety. Both of our homes have been wrecked. I can live the same way as him. On a deeper level, he understands me and everything I’ve been through, even if I haven’t said anything to him.
There was no more blood. My cheeks were back to their normal colour. I untucked my hair from my collar and left it to flow down my shoulders. I took another look at the boy and said
“I know this might sound stupid but scars fade and wounds heal. We cannot simply sit and stare at these past pains forever. You will be fine. Trust me. Tomorrow is another day and tomorrow is different from today, and that’s something amazing.” I smiled, knowing my scars were still there and that my wounds had yet to heal.
Written by Maria Secara and edited by Caitlyn Blaauw. Published on 20/8/23. Header image by Amelia Hu.