Chapter 24

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Tiana POV

Today is the day I see my mother. It's the first thought that entered my head when I woke up and it's the only thought that's been playing in my mind since then.

I'm going to see my mother.

"Tiana?" a boyish voice filled with sleep calls from behind me.

"I'm going to see my mother today," I state, staring at the wall like I have been for some time now. I don't really know how long.

"You are," Tyson states carefully. I feel the bed shift and I feel a body settle behind me. It doesn't touch me so I don't move. I don't know if I can.

A strange emptiness fills me. It's the type of emptiness that comes from feeling too much and, therefore, feeling nothing at all. When everything becomes too much and your heart aches for something you don't know exists and you keep searching for some release, some relief, but all you get is nothing.

So all you can do is exist painfully. Achingly so. Not knowing what to do or how to act. All that happens is hurt and numbness.

The thing is, numbness is indescribable. Indescribable because it's nothing. It's nothing because it's too much and then nothing. Numbness is black and white mixing to make grey. It's acid and base mixing to make salt. It's too much and not enough.

It's loud and it's quiet and it's nothing. It's everything and it's something and it's nothing. It's hot and it's cold and it's nothing. It's full and it's empty and it's nothing.

Just plain nothingness.

"Are you alright?" Tyson asks.


I hear him sigh and I know I've failed some unsaid test. I expect to feel guilty or embarrassed but all I feel is nothing.

Always nothing. Fucking nothing.

"You know you can tell me anything right?" Tyson asks tentatively.

But how can I tell you anything, I think, when there's nothing to say?

"I know," I say instead, still staring. What am I searching for in the colours of the wall? What am I searching for? What?

"Alright, what's bothering you?" he asks.

"Nothing," I say, hating the word. Even the hate is muted.

I just want to cry.

"It's clearly not "nothing" that's bothering you. Come on, tell me. What's up?" he tries again but I just give him a smile. At least I hope it's a smile. How can you smile when you feel your heart ache for something you can't reach?

"It's nothing," I say, wondering about how true those words are. It really is nothing.

For some time it's quiet and I turn back to see him giving me an incredulous look. I guess he has a right to be incredulous, since I'm not acting like myself.

But who is myself? Who am I? How can I act like myself if I don't know who that is?

How can I not know who to be?

That's the thing about suddenly being free of intense control. You don't know who you are anymore. You base yourself so much with that force, letting that force control you until you forget yourself to become what they want. Never what you want. And, as time passes, you forget. You forget who you are and you become who they want. You become so completely them that you forget you. You forget yourself to become someone you never were.

And, suddenly, when you're given a chance to do what you want, you don't know what to do. You don't know who you are. Because you lost yourself in the torture. You lost yourself in the pain. You lost yourself in someone else. You let it deep into the silent parts of you until it became a whole part of you.

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