Mama’s head lowered. “Goodbye, Mrs. Boone.”
She had sent my boyfriend and my best friend away from me, and I couldn’t understand what I’d done to deserve it. I started pounding against the closest wall to get Mama’s attention. See me. Notice me!
She turned, unmoved by my sounds. “Go to your room, Maggie.”
No. I pounded more and more, and she charged at me, wrapping her arms around me. No!
“Stop it,” she ordered. “You think about the kind of life you’d give Brooks. Do you really want him to give up his dreams to stay here with you? How do you think you could be in a relationship with him when he’s traveling the world, making a life for himself? Why would you do that to him? This isn’t right for you, or him. He deserves more than dates in this house. You deserve to be alone so you can get fixed.”
What if I wasn’t broken? What if this was just me?
Where was Daddy? I needed him to come home. I needed him to try to make sense of Mama’s mind. I needed him to fix this. I kept struggling in her hold as she dragged me up the stairs. “This is for your own good, Maggie. I’m sorry, but this is for your own good.”
I resisted, but she wouldn’t let me go. She wouldn’t let me free. I blinked my eyes and saw him. The devil.
He apologized for hurting me, apologized for pushing a few fingers into the side of my neck, making it harder and harder for me to find my next breaths.
“Mom! Let her go!” Calvin said, coming out of his room. He tried to get Mama off of me, but she shoved him away.
“Stay out of this, Calvin. Your sister is fine.”
No, I’m not. You’re hurting me.
Cheryl came out, and I saw the fear in her eyes. I was certain she saw it in my stare too.
“Mom,” she started, but Mama shut her up quick, too.
She dragged me to my room and shoved me inside. With haste, she shut the door, then held it closed from the outside. “You’ll see, Maggie. I’m doing this for you. I’m protecting you.”
What was wrong with her? Why was she acting so insane? I pounded on the door, trying my best to open it, but it wouldn’t budge. I shoved my body against it, over and over again. Let me out! Let me out! My hands wrapped around my neck, and I could feel him there with me. He was choking me; he was going to kill me. Let me out, let me out!
I couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t breathe…I didn’t know what other option I had.
I didn’t know what else I could do, so I did the only thing that came to mind.
I fell to the floor.
I lay face down on the carpet.
I opened my mouth.
And I screamed.
The door flew open and Daddy charged toward me. I was tucked in the corner of my room, my hands slammed against my earlobes.
Mama followed in after him, and he flew around, screaming at her, telling her to leave.
Mama cried and tried to get near me, but Calvin and Cheryl held her back.
Daddy bent down, staring me in the eyes, checking if I was okay. “Maggie?” he whispered. He choked on air. “Maggie.”
He combed through my hair, lifted me up.
“Let me near her,” Mama begged.
Daddy laid me in my bed and then ushered Mama out of the room.
I could feel him. It felt so real. He was choking me again. He was taking my air. He was back. It was real. It was real…
Daddy left the room to go scream at Mama. All they did was scream. Calvin and Cheryl came into my room.
The two climbed into bed with me and wrapped their arms around me. They held me tight as I shook in their grips.
Cheryl kept telling me I was fine, and Calvin kept agreeing as I cried into my sheets, shaking, feeling broken, confused. Scared. So scared.
Why did Mama do that? Why did she drag me? Why did the devil do that? Why did he kill that woman? Why did he try to kill me?
I shut my eyes. I didn’t want to feel. I didn’t want to be. I didn’t want to blink anymore. I kept my eyes closed. I didn’t want to see, but I still saw. I saw him. I felt him. I tasted him. I saw Mama, too. I saw her. I felt her. I loved her.
I hated her.
Why did she hurt me?
Why did she send away the things I loved?
Everything grew darker.
Everything became shadows.
Everything went black.
“You okay today, Magnet?” Brooks asked, standing in my doorway. He hadn’t been allowed into our house for the past week, and since Mama wasn’t home, I assumed Daddy had let him in. Mama had gone to stay with her sister for a few days, a request Daddy had made. I was happy she disappeared for a while.
Seeing Brooks standing there, leaning against my doorframe, broke my heart.
How was it possible?
How could you miss someone who was only steps away from you?
He didn’t ask to come into my room like usual; he stayed there with his hands stuffed into his pockets. “We fly out in the morning. We fly out to meet with the producer, to talk about our future.” He smiled, but it felt more like a frown. That made me sadder than I had known I could be. Music was his dream, and his dream was coming true, yet still, he seemed so sad.
I’m so proud of you.
He snickered and looked down at the ground, sniffling. “What’s going on, Maggie May? In your head?”
I don’t know.
He stepped into my bedroom. “Do you love me?”
“But you don’t want to be with me?”
I hesitated to write, because I knew my words would be confusing to him. I couldn’t be with Brooks, especially now. He had his dream finally coming to life, and the last thing he needed was for me to interrupt it with my issues. How could we date, with my parents falling apart? How could we be in love, with him halfway across the country? Even though I hated it, Mama was right. Brooks did deserve more than me. He deserved to be loved out loud, and my love was a whisper in the wind that obviously only he could hear.
He cleared his throat, my nonresponse seeming like all the words he was afraid to hear. “Do you love me?” he asked again.
He turned away from me for a second and wiped at his eyes. When he turned back, he gave me a tight smile and walked over to me. “Can I hold your hands?”