Charlotte Bolay

Sometimes I curl up, squeezing my knees to my chest in the corner of the living room, the whites of my eyes shining with terror, reflecting moonlight. A deer in headlights. Anticipating the sensation of plunging head first into ice water, chills coursing through my body when I see it again. 


Sometimes I don’t expect her to come. And she does anyway. 

Ever since I escaped moved out when I was eighteen, a fresh start in a new house in a new city, ever since I bought the house that I thought was so cute with tulips that were flushed baby pink, I’ve been seeing her. 

She appears in the most unexpected places. In my rearview mirror. In puddles on gray rainy days. In the reflection of a steaming mug of hibiscus tea. Anywhere, everywhere. 

I’m standing in front of my mirror, staring, and she’s staring back at me. Waiting. I won’t cry this time. I’m not afraid of ghosts. 

She gazes upon me with her cold glassy eyes, always the same stare of judgment. I am not a disappointment. I am not a disappointment I promise. I am not 

a n d s u d d e n l y h e r f a c e t w i s t s i n t o a g r o t e s q u e s m i r k a n d s p i t s t h e s a m e d e r a n g e d l a u g h o u t o f h e r p a i n t e d, b l o o d r e d l i p s. i c a n s m e l l w i n e a n d s m o k e, a f a m i l l i a r s c e n t t h a t r e m i n d s m e o f w h e n i w a s y o u n g e r, w h e n I w a s a l w a y s r u n n i n g, r u n n i n g a w a y. i d o n ‘ t m i s s h e r. b u t s h e w a s a l l i h a d. 

A scream lodges in my throat. In an instant my hand, balled into a fist, penetrates the glass and shatters the vision of her once pretty, now pallid face into a million shards. But I know in my heart she’ll come back tomorrow and the next day, both of us silently waiting until the end of time for an apology that we 

both know will never come. If dad hadn’t left it had happened differently, could we have lived in the fantasy of smiles, summer days and ice cream I had always chased? Maybe. 

Sometimes I return her unsympathetic gaze, because I didn’t deserve this. 


Sometimes in the deepest hours of the night I pull the sheets over my head and wish I could go back, because all I ever wanted to do was make her happy.