Perfectly Imperfect(2)

By: Harper Sloan


I take a deep breath and watch my father exit the vehicle before reaching out and offering his hand to help Ivy, my sister, as she climbs to her feet. At that moment, I wish with all my might for this to be just a dream. A terrible nightmare that I’ll wake from at any second.

“Willow, get out of there, now,” my father snaps his demand at a hushed whisper. His head faces forward, but his voice carries softly enough to get my attention.

Balling my fists and squeezing my eyes closed, I pray. To be a little stronger. To be able to get through this without breaking into a million pieces. To be the person whom my father wants me to be. Someone more like my sister.

When I reach the opening, I awkwardly swing my legs out, making sure not to bump the door with the hard cast around my left foot. My mind immediately realizes the error in my stalled timing when my eyes meet my father’s sharp gaze, burning with hatred and annoyance.

Toward me.

Because I’m the reason we’re here.

His arm is wrapped around my sister while her body is tucked tight into his side. Her soft sobs are muffled against his suit jacket. He doesn’t move to help me. Nor does he move an inch when I struggle to climb out of the vehicle. His icy blue eyes say everything he wouldn’t dare vocalize with this many people milling around us.

Hurry.

Get your act together.

Stop being such an embarrassment.

You’re the reason we’re here.

You pathetic fool.

He moves his foot slightly, and I hear my crutches clink together when he connects with them, telling me without words that will be the only help I’ll be getting from him.

My muscles ache with every movement. They complain when I push myself out and scream in agony when I pull myself to stand next to the open door. The arm I used to shove my body off the seat sends searing pain to my bruised ribs. Each movement steals the breath straight from my lungs.

And the sharp intake of breath I force when the pain becomes too much causes my father’s eyes to harden even further.

God, please help me. Take this all away. Everything.

When I’ve finally made it to my feet—well, foot—he starts marching forward. Ivy’s small body pulled tight to his side and not one backward glance to make sure I’m following. The uneven earth under the wet grass makes my trek more challenging, but I’m determined not to give him another reason to be unhappy with me. I make sure my footing is solid, and I swing my body forward carefully.

I make it to his side well after they’ve been seated and move to take my seat next to him rather cumbersomely. I don’t look up. Seeing the look of pity mixed with grief on everyone’s faces around us would cause me to crumble, but I know if anyone were to look at me with the same blame my own father does … my heart would be forever ruined.

Instead, my eyes lock on the mahogany wood that holds the only person I know loved me in this life.

I will wear this mark of responsibility for the rest of my days. This burden of death will never be erased. After all, I was the one driving the car that night.

It doesn’t matter that a drunk driver was the cause of our wreck. I wasn’t able to prevent the crash that took my own mother’s life. I wasn’t able to stop her from dying.

As the final moments of my mother’s funeral play out around me, all I can focus on are those last memories I have of youthful happiness. When my father’s hate for me wasn’t something so tangible because it was shielded by a mother’s love. My sister’s contempt wasn’t thickly choking me. When I didn’t hate myself for being alive.

I had everything in one second, and in the next … I had nothing. A void so dark it’s killing me.

And now … now, all I can remember is how my father’s booming voice berated me from the foot of my hospital bed. His words, laced with the venom of hate, telling me I should have been the one who died that night. That my mother’s life was worth more to this world than that of her bastard daughter.

He made it clear he will never be able to look at me the same after taking his perfect wife away from him. I looked over, seeing my beautiful sister wrapped in his arms, before looking back down at my lap. The narrow seat I’m sitting on pinches my thighs when I shift, and with a deep sigh, I realize that when I took his perfect wife, his perfect life, and killed it in the crunched remains of my mother’s car, I tainted the future with nothing but imperfection. After all, he was right … I came into this world as a bastard and the world would probably be better off if I went out the same way.