And eventually the rage died. The searing fire in my veins and the raging fire pressing at the back of my eyelids faded and left something… calm, almost peaceful in its place. All the emotions I'd ever felt had simply drifted away on a calm breeze and left nothing. Nothing at all, just a calm acceptance of everything. Pain and loneliness didn't matter anymore. I simply was and that was good enough. It was like floating, like sleeping. Suspended in this emptiness where nothing matters and the lines between you and the world cease to exist. You exist and at the same time your body is simply gone. And it's peaceful, so peaceful. To just have everything around you pale and go dull and all the emotions you used to feel are like pinpricks on your finger. Tiny, insignificant. There is nothing but existing and that's enough. You couldn't understand it. It's impossible to understand that kind of peace unless you shut everything out; the world, people, yourself even. Once everything is gone and you're alone, it just feels like floating. Floating through your mind and body and the world and you can't tell if you're dreaming or awake and the days and weeks pass and you have no idea where time ends and begins and it's good. Dreams don't matter anymore, time doesn't matter anymore and you don't matter; you never did and you accept that. That's peace.
That's how it was in the weeks following Mama's death. Except she hadn't died, she'd never existed in the first place and that was the way I was going to remember it. Just me in that big empty house and no one else. No friends, no family. Just me, existing. Floating. The doors locked, the shades drawn; it was my own little world. One that I had created; a place where I could feel safe for the first time in my life because there was no one there but me. And I would never hurt me, I would never touch me. I could imagine things, all sorts of wonderful lives and people that I had been and could be and was. I could build up this wonderful life for myself, one with a mother and a father that loved me dearly. And they were never gone. They were asleep, or they were off somewhere far away. But they existed, I could pick up the phone and call them whenever I wanted and I could hear their voice and they would tell me they loved me and it would be the truth. Except I unplugged the phone. And then sometimes I was born in this house. I had never left. I'd grown up with these walls and this musty, cramped smell and this was home. I'd never known anything else but this peace, this existence and it was nice. I wouldn't ask for anything other than these walls because these walls were the only thing I had ever known. I didn't know pain, I didn't understand it and I would never have to because I was born here and I would die here.
If you wait long enough, if you close the shades and keep the door locked for a long enough time and lie in one spot on the living room rug for long enough, the world stops calling. The people stop coming to ring your doorbell, they stop calling the name you once went by and they leave. The phone stops ringing, not that it could anymore because you cut the line, but the people stop caring. And not long after that, the sky stops looking so blue, the grass stops being green and the voices of children laughing and footsteps running down the street die away as the world stops caring for you. The world stops asking you to come back to it, and you're free to lose yourself in this peace. The people move on, they go about their lives outside, the ones they built for themselves and soon they forget about the little orphan girl that used to live in this house. The one that went in one day and never came out again. They stop thinking about you because they never truly cared. And once no one outside cares about you anymore, that's peace.
It's easier to forget than it is to remember. Some people say it's the other way around, that once you try to forget something it stays on your mind forever until you remember something else. But that's not true. To forget, all you need to do is tell yourself what you want to remember instead. You shut out all the pieces of the things you want to forget, you stop looking at them and you just rest your head for awhile. You find peace, your peace, whatever that means to you and you find it and you tell yourself lies. When you think about that thing it is that you want to forget, a whisper of a lie threads through your mind instead. You whisper the lies to yourself out loud, in your sleep (though you can hardly be sure what's sleep anymore.) You scream them, you weave them into your mind and your voice so they become second nature to you and you can say them word for word whenever you please. You write them on paper, like stories, you write them on the walls, you make it so that these lies are wherever you look in whatever you think so that eventually, you're living them.
I was born in Virginia. No, that's not true, I was born here, in this house. I know nothing but these walls. Think about the sky. Do you know it? Can you picture it? No, I was born in this house. The sky is foreign, it's something I don't know.
My name is Ophelia. But this writing on the mirror reads differently. Lolita. It's pretty, I like it. It suits the small girl I see looking back at me. The name is circled on this book in my hands, it rolls off my tongue in three long steps and I know it to be me. Lolita.
There's a far off inkling that my mother is dead. A whisper of a voice in the back of my mind that I can't get rid of. But I look around and I see nothing to show that she ever existed. No pictures, no possessions. If I ever had a mother, then I never knew her. Maybe she disappeared, left me in this house and ran away. Maybe she was keeping me safe from the world out there, one she knew was too cruel and painful to bring a baby into. Maybe I should thank her, maybe I should write that on the walls.
Tell yourself these lies enough times, and they're no longer just words on your tongue or scratches etched into your ceiling. They become a part of you, like a hand or a foot or a memory. And it's second nature to bring them to the forefront of your mind, vivid as if it really happened. Because it did happen, as far as you are concerned. Or it didn't happen, depending on what your lies are. In your world, these are your truths, and no one can tell you differently. No one can take your memories away from you, even if they're false ones. They're protected, deep, deep inside your mind and no one but you can make you remember, no one but you can forget. You become the lies.
Parts of your old self will still remain. Little things, little tics and twitches and somewhere behind the lies that are no longer lies there will be reality. Old fragments of the memories you once knew. They'll always be there, lurking, waiting for something to bring them back. And maybe you'll confuse which is real and which is false. Am I the girl that has never left this house? Or the shattered little whore with pain between her thighs? I know who I want to be, so I will remember that. You can always keep the precious memories though. The things that you need to look back on and smile at. Sitting at the piano on a mother's lap that never existed, listening to her fingers play out a gorgeous song that you shouldn't remember. I keep this, and the part of reality that goes with it.
And eventually, once the lies become the truth and you see the world with the eyes of this new girl, this innocent girl, this pure girl; the world starts calling again. And to this girl, it was the most beautiful sound she'd ever heard. She was hearing children's laughter for the first time, opening the shades and letting the blinding light flow it. The sun felt warm and good on her skin, and she would lay there, basking in the sunlight and soaking it in for hours. Like a little kitten, curled up safe in the rays of light. She started going outside, holding her hands into the breeze and feeling the air on her skin. The warm, heavy air, clinging to her skin like a blanket, feeling like a weight on her arms. She'd sit out in the yard, knees curled up to her chest and watch the fireflies at night. She'd watch them and laugh. Her laughter was beautiful, because it bubbled up from her lungs like champagne and it felt like the first laugh she'd had in a long time.
One day people came. They were these big men wearing dark suits with bulky weapons resting on their hips. Lolita was a bit frightened of them, as a far off memory crawled into the front of her mind. These men could hurt her like someone had in the past. But she wasn't going to think about that, she'd told herself she wouldn't so she didn't. She opened the door for them and they used a name she hadn't heard in awhile. Ophelia. They said that as if they expected a reaction and all they got was a blank stare. Ophelia. It was a familiar name. It was my name once, but no. I'm not going to think about that.
"Um, are you sure you have the right person?" she asked politely, innocently. The big men whispered amongst themselves, pulling out files and pictures. They checked them against the girl, rechecked. The girl and this Ophelia were identical, and Ophelia had never had any sisters. This was the girl they were looking for, the one whose mother had died, the one they were supposed to take back to her father.
They took her, and Lolita didn't object. They'd take some blood, just to be sure, though they were certain this was the right girl. The men shared a few sympathetic glances, having an inkling of what they were dealing with. A poor, helpless girl that had lost her mother, her dearest mother and shut down rather than deal with her grief. They'd make sure they had the right girl, then they'd send her back to her father, her biological father, and maybe she'd get some help. Maybe she'd recover one day and maybe she'd remember.
The girl just smiled a little bit to herself, because the sky had never looked quite so blue.