you are seven years old when you realize their expectations are different.
up until then your life was playing tag, ear-to-ear smiles, and holding hands on the playground.
it was scraped knees, hide and seek, and falling off your bike.
now all you know is bitter truths, fake smiles, and competition.
you must be the best.
you repeat it in your mind until it becomes the only word you know.
the only thing you hear.
the only thing you strive to become.
but this isn’t the real you.
the real you is waiting.
waiting to be heard,
to be listened to.
to be loved for exactly who you are,
not who they think you should be.
you continue to dream,
albeit differently than when you were younger.
you used to dream about becoming an astronaut, a dancer, a singer, an actress.
now you dream about flying.
flying away from the ruins you call your home,
you are fifteen now and you try to think about when you were younger.
the days before your parents forced you to see everyone as rivals rather than equals.
when you used to think the sun shone out of their eyes.
sometimes you think you see a glimpse of good that ignites the hope fluttering in your chest.
all too soon it is eclipsed by anger.
anger at you, anger at themselves, anger at the world.
you sigh; lather, rinse, repeat,
the cycle continues.
Leo and you stood outside of your
new flat, arms crossed as you helplessly watched the firefighters walk in and
out of what was supposed to be your brand-new home. Leo hung his head, rubbing
the nape of his neck as you looked on, grateful that you had yet to move in everything.
You scoffed and nudged Leo’s side.
“Aren’t you glad we didn’t move in last week like you wanted us to?”