February 12, 1897
So, there I was.
I trembled because it was expected, not out of some misguided fear. The classroom seems infinitely larger from the front and the students, infinitely more intimidating. The boys sat with their smug grins, hidden behind stoic expressions of feigned disapproval. It is all in contrast of truth, just like me.
It is getting hard to breathe.
Deception is not me but it is what I have become. I do not even know where the lies end and the truth begins anymore, but the world I have constructed is coming tumbling down. Nothing can stop it now, the light will shine on the dark shadows and all my secrets will be revealed. Maybe Penelope is right, maybe it is time to run.
It began with the little things and I suppose that is how all things begin. One lie leads to another and another and each step is small in its taking and rationalized easily by the standards of the step before. Still, there comes a point when you look back at where you have come from and realize it is such a long way to fall. I do not know where it went from insignificant to wrong, perhaps it never did or always was, but it is not the issue now in any regard.
What happened to me?
The face in the mirror is no longer me. The innocent girl with the grand dreams of a fairytale life haunts me with the disappointment showing sadly in her eyes. I thought I knew right from wrong. Somewhere in the twists and turns I have lost my sense of direction. I thought by holding onto a purpose I could find my way, but without direction, a purpose can lose its luster until all that was once good and right slips away.
The pain is right and good. I would cry if I could, perhaps before it is over I will. My upside down view of the room seems more right than the upright view for which I traded it. Smiles are like frowns and that means something although I do not know quite what. Expression is in the eyes and mine are vacant.
The sound was hollow as my soul. I knew there was trouble on the horizon and I pretended not to care. My father had been so secretive in the summer months and strangely silent since I returned to school. I should have known in September, but it was not until late in November I began to worry in the slightest. Self absorption is my only excuse and it is a wretched one.
Even after Sylvia’s letter I told myself all was fine. I knew better, but I liked the fantasy. I flirted with Mr. Sumter, as if I had not another care in the world and shamefully, I did not. I took joy in the annoyed expressions of my friend, Penelope and when she spoke of family I changed the subject to avoid talking about mine.
I did nothing wrong I told myself. I did nothing right either, myself told I. Now, it is too late and there is nothing to do but wait and hope and pray. Father’s business is no more, the apartment is as it was, full and empty. Mother is gone, father is gone and I am here.
Something terrible has happened and I think it might be all my fault.
“Do you think you can behave now?” Dr. Phallic asked.
My eyes were tearless. My heart held an honest answer, but I compromised once again and said the sensible words. They were another lie, but what is one more?
“Yes, sir. Sorry sir.” I said.
“Good, then take your seat, Miss Bassett.”
I have my reasons for what I have done, but they seem less just now and more selfish. I thought if my goal was to help others it would naturally follow that I would help myself, but that is wrong. If I cannot help myself, then I can help no one at all. It was arrogant to think otherwise.
I righted myself once again and sat rigid in my chair. The sting was comforting but nowhere near what I deserved. I wonder what he would do if I wadded up a page and threw it at him in class tomorrow? Perhaps then he will make me cry.