Young Mary runs screaming through the small house which stands on the end of a cracked road nearly surrounded by overgrown fields.
Her pants hang loosely on her small waist, her dark hair of curls is a mess and she's wearing no shirt but she's excited. A happy smile adorns her face as she continues to run and scream with the new stuffed lion Daddy just staggered in with and handed to her.
He thinks the wilted roses for Mommy and cheap toy for her will make up for the fact that he's been gone all night and has returned looking like shit and smelling like booze.
Mary is happy, Mommy is not.
They've already had their loud argument and she is now leaning heavily against the kitchen sink with a cigarette in her mouth and he is sitting heavily in front of the TV which is littered about with empty beer cans and he's already opening another.
This action doesn't make Mommy any happier but the main cause of her stress is coming from the young girl who is still running and screaming!
Daddy speaks lowly asking if she will shut the kid up.
And Mommy sneers flicking the half used cigarette into the sink complaining that Mary is not just her kid!
But at the same moment as Mary again runs by, Mommy moves to snatch her against her arm and shouts for the child to sit still and shut up!
The young girl screams in protest and tries to yank away from her mother's grip but this annoys Mommy even more and she screams again, for her to shut up!
Mary does not.
This time when Mommy screams at Mary she strikes her hard against her cheek in such a way it silences the young girl but forces her down onto the ground where her knee scrapes against a faulty bar from the wooden floor. And she's no longer screaming in joy but in pain and the tears fall freely and Daddy looks annoyed and Mommy lights another cigarette.
Daddy sneers some sarcastic comment about her parenting and Mommy again snaps,
But whether it's to Mary or Daddy it's hard to say as she forces the child to stand and drags her into her room.
She slams the door and leaves the child alone her knee still bleeding profoundly.
The lovely full grown woman walks slowly up the stairway inside the grimy and dingy apartment building. There is vandalism on the walls and the stairwell lights flicker on and off every now and again with uncertainty. But despite her surroundings she has a pleasant smile on her face and her expression is calm almost tranquil.
She does not live here but she's made this climb plenty of times before. Eighteen stories, she's counted.
She is dressed in a dark blue blazer and bright colorful skirt and her usually wild dark hair is tamed by a large hair clip.
She opens the door to the apartment roof and steps out into the cool October night air.
The wind greets her in a gentle breeze and her skirt blows lightly along with it.
It rises just high enough to make out the scar on her knee.
Perhaps it's because her clothes are ugly, plain and boring and she wears the same thing more than one ought to.
Perhaps it's because of her wild curls that she can never seem to contain properly and her hair is always wild and embarrassingly poofy.
Perhaps it's because she likes to keep to herself to keep anyone from finding out that Daddy's a drunk whose beatings upon Mommy are beginning to increase.
But whatever the reason Mary is just plain and simple the object of every child's ridicule at school.
At recess she stands alone and tries not to gain the attention of the boys who like to throw school balls at her. And she tries to ignore the girls as the talk and giggle and look to her with rude expressions and sometimes chant,
'Mary, Mary quite contrary has a face that's oh so scary!'
Over and over until it's seared in the young girls mind.
The young woman hums a tune from her past.
Why she hums it, she has no idea because the words have never brought her happiness.
It's one of those songs that you hate that you can't get out of your head and when you catch yourself singing it hate yourself all the more.
Still humming she makes her way slowly to the apartment buildings ledge.
By the time she is twelve she finds she rather enjoys singing. By the time she is fifteen she's made up her mind to become a famous singer.
Mary makes sure to practice every day.
One day she gets into a heated argument with Mommy.
Maybe she said something she shouldn't have; maybe Mommy was still in for a fight after the latest screaming match with Daddy.
Either way no one's to know for sure who was at fault.
But then Mary screams that she hates her and when she does become a famous singer she'll leave them both and they'll never hear from her again!
And in a fit of rage her mother slaps her and screams how she'll never be anything and she'll never let her leave!
And she slaps her again.
And when she tries to strike her a third time Mary attempts defense and to try and escape her mother's attack.
But she never hits back.
No matter what you never strike your mother back.
She's standing at the edge now.
She's staring down at the fast cars and bright lights and moving people.
This world is loud and sick and dirty and life is a ball and chain that drags you down till you just can't breathe anymore.
But if she wanted she could rid herself of that ball and chain.
She could escape.
She knows how.
It'd be simple and quick.
And everyone's always looking for the easy way out…aren't they?
She's seventeen now and things are finally looking up.
Daddy's no longer in the picture and things are a little more bearable now that Mommy isn't always fighting losing battles and cleaning up after drunken passed out bastards.
Her music teacher is astounded over the progress she's made over the years and swears she has real potential. And she'll be graduating soon and the escapement of high school is always a joyous thought.
Life is good and she's just so happy that as she walks home that night from tutorials she completely misses the man hidden in the dark narrow alley till it's too late.
He grabs her and he's got her mouth covered before she can scream and he's pulled her into the shadows without a single witness in sight.
He forces her down onto the cold hard pavement and takes out a knife and tears fall from terrified eyes as he demands for her silence or he'll kill her.
But when he starts to cut away her cloths she makes another muffled scream in panic. He brandishes the knife close to her face and she again is still.
But he has trouble keeping one hand on her mouth and trying to undo his pants with the knife still in his hand so Mary takes her chance and bites hard against his hand!
He cries out instantly withdrawing the hand and once he does Mary screams!
But it's cut short when he slashes the knife across her throat.
Thinking the scream may have alarmed someone he takes off leaving Mary stunned.
The young girl is left once more to bleed alone.
The young woman continues to stare almost as though in a daze at the world below her.
The wind blows again but it cannot hold her back she places one foot atop the very ledge of the building, then the other.
The wind blows again only this time it does distract her as it nearly takes with it the thin scarf that's tied loosely around her neck. Her hand raises fast to clasp the item down and she works quickly to tie it more securely around her neck.
She wears a scarf around her neck all the time.
She's very self conscious of the scar underneath it.
Her mother is fidgety in the hospital. Mostly because she cannot smoke in here and she has to leave every twenty minutes to get her daily intake.
The police caught her assailant a few days after the attack and told her had she not escaped she would have been third in a rape spree and everyone tells her she is a very fortunate girl.
And she thinks they're all liars.
No one comes to visit her except the little family she has on Mommy's side and it's actually her first time meeting most of them.
They give her praise and 'Get Well Soon' gifts and this is the first time her mother's ever interacted with her without calling her a name or belittling her.
But none of it matters.
She doesn't care for any of it.
She simply wants to be left alone to drown in a misery unlike any other.
The doctors tell her, her vocals have been badly damaged.
Her voice will never be the same and singing will no longer ever be an option.
And she thinks her attacker should've just killed her.
Sometimes during the day the young woman finds herself envious of the birds that fly overhead.
They twitter and sing and make light gorgeous sounds when she can barely even speak.
And a songbird that can't sing is a joke.
But at least they can still fly.
Slowly she stretches her arms out at her sides.
And for a second it's nice to believe…that maybe she can to.
There will always be someone to tell you that dreams can come true. And I very much hope you believe that.
But you must also be aware that life is not a fairy tale and dreams can also die.
This is what Mary knows to be true.
And in a fit of rage and sadness she takes to tearing down all her idol singer posters from the walls, she breaks away all her music CD's including the demo's she had recorded of herself.
She smashes away her karaoke stereo because really what good is it now? And then she simply takes to tearing down her whole room! Shove items off her dresser, smash away picture frames, tear up her bedding, break anything breakable.
And the whole time she's trying to scream and all that comes out is the faintest wail and the whole thing is just really quite sad.
Her mother soon rushes in takes in the chaos and instantly takes her daughter up in her arms screaming for her to stop and begging her to calm down!
Mary tries to pull from her hold but her strength is dwindling and in the end she simply falls to the ground in tears sobbing without barely any sound and Mommy is right there on the ground with her. And it's really quite astonishing because even when Daddy was at his worst Mary had never seen Mommy cry before.
Through their crying Mary speaks her voice a weak whisper that Mommy can just barely make out,
Mary doesn't lean ahead. Mary doesn't plummet foreword.
She simply stands there with her arms out wide allowing the wind to pour over her.
She breathes in…
Then breathes out…
She breathes in again…and this time she holds her breath…
And finds something to believe in again.
"It'll be okay babe. You'll be okay…" Mommy sooths and for some strange reason…maybe because this is the first time Mommy has ever spoken to her like this.
Mary kind of wants to believe it.
She kind of does.
"I want you to breath…go on take a deep breath."
"Now breathe out-not so fast! Breath in…hold it…now breath out."
Mary does just as she's told.
Her mother tells her to repeat this several times and then she tells her,
"Now just hold your breath for a moment…Take time to think it all over. Just hold your breath."
And Mary does and she holds it for as long as she can before she exhales deeply. And it comes from the very pit of her stomach as though she's releasing all her stress and madness and her sorrow and hate.
Everything comes out in one single breath.
And afterwards she wants nothing more than to curl up into her mother and cry the night away.
So that's just what she does.
And her mother holds her close and keeps promising that she'll be alright. That she'll be okay.
She swears everything will be okay.
And Mary finds something to believe in again.
Later that night Mary makes the drive out of town into the more suburb part of the city. She passes scattered houses and drives over a cracked road till she reaches the house at the end of the road nearly surrounded by overgrown fields.
She doesn't knock on the door, simply takes the key from under the mat, unlocks it, and makes her way in.
Her mother, who is now old and gray, is surprised to see her so suddenly and unannounced.
But she doesn't ask. She simply yells at her now adult daughter, in a gruff and rough voice (thanks to years of cigarette smoke), for not taking her shoes off before coming into the house.
Mary rolls her eyes because to this day her mother is still always trying to pick a fight with anybody for nothing. She complies with the demand.
She makes her way to Mommy and sits down next to her on the couch. Mommy is watching some old sitcom rerun.
Mommy snaps at her that if she needs a place to stay she can sleep over for just the night but that's it.
But while she's snapping at her gruffly, she allows her hand to rest affectionately upon Mary's knee. Mary takes notice of the withered fingers as they graze lightly over the old childhood scar on her knee.
And somehow it's like everything's coming full circle…or something.
Mary thinks on this only for a moment before answering that her apartment rent is still paid in full.
And between Mary's quiet whispers (which is now her only way to talk) and Mommy's low smoke abused words their whole communication process is quite a sight to see.
Mommy sneers that if that's the case she shouldn't worry about her asking for money.
Mary smiles at this and again quietly talks telling that her job at the college teaching sign-language is going fine and she wouldn't dream of asking for money because she probably has none anyway.
At this Mommy punches her hard on the arm.
Mary makes a pained face grabbing onto the spot her mother hit.
After all these years her mother can still smart her.
But her pain is nothing but banter and her mother gives her a smirk and a knowing look.
And Mary smirks back still dutifully aware that (even in the playfulness) you never ever strike your mother back.
She scoots closer to the old woman and places a kiss against her withered cheek instead.
Her mother's smirk softens into a genuine smile.
They sit in silence and watch the old sitcom rerun together.
And just as Mommy promised they and everything else are finally okay.