ix. [song] the only exception -- paramore

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when I was younger I saw my daddy cry

and curse at the wind

he broke his own heart and I watched

as he tried to reassemble it

Andrew is no stranger to heartbreak. He is no stranger to broken families. And he is definitely no stranger to all the horrible things love can do to a person you think you know.

His father "loved" his mother.

His mother "loved" his father.

Or so he'd thought.

Andrew might have been only thirteen when it had happened, but it was old enough to hear the shouting matches. It was old enough to understand that something wasn't right in this cliché of a family, where there were smiles everyday and music and laughter and a white picket fence round their house on a hill.

The shouting lasted for sometimes hours at a time. Andrew would take his younger sister, Isabel, only six, out for ice-cream or a bike ride or something else so that he would not have to endure explaining to his sister why there was no singing or laughing or smiles in their home anymore.

And then the day came when his mother told his father to leave and never come back.

and my momma swore

that she would never let herself forget

Honestly, it is all a big blur. One minute he and Izzy are coming back into their house, laughing and talking about trivial things, and the next there is the sound of his mother screaming and then a window breaking.

Andrew tells Izzy to stay put, then rushes in to assess the damage. His heart sinks.

His father is drunk as hell. Again.

His mother is sobbing hysterically. Again.

Only this time, his father has a suitcase packed to the brim of assorted clothes and his laptop and one picture frame of the entire family with his mother's face ripped out.

and that was the day that I promised

I'd never sing of love if it does not exist

And that is when Andrew realized that his father was leaving. Leaving forever and maybe not coming back. Ever.

And this is also when thirteen-year-old Andrew promises himself, staring at the wreckage of what remains of his family, that love does not exist, it never existed, and he never wants anything to do with it ever again.

How painful a promise to make to one's self at the simple age of thirteen.

Years pass and Andrew is grown up now. His mother still lives in the house on the hill, but it is silent there. There is no music, for it reminds her too much of the man she used to love. There is no singing, for her vocal cords had worn themselves out a decade ago from the stress placed on them screaming at her ex-husband every night.

Worst of all, there is no Isabel.

Isabel died at the age of sixteen in a drunk-driving accident. She was sober, the other driver was sober, but the people in Isabel's car were not sober. And it only took one distraction, one slip-up, five seconds of her eyes off the road to end it all.

Everyone died that night in that car accident. Isabel was the only thing Andrew really had left of the happy, carefree life he used to have. The last one he ever truly loved.

Now, there is no love. And that's the way it will always be, he tells himself.

And as he walks down the cold, snowy street to get his daily coffee at his favorite, tiny café, Belle Nuit, he tells himself that self-pity is unbecoming. He closes his eyes, wishing he did not feel guilty, even after twenty-two years.

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