She stood with the other girls, laughing, playing seeming no different from them. But she was. There was a pain in her eyes, a fear on her face, things that only I could have recognized, because the same things were upon the face that stared back at me from the mirror, she was like me. She never looked over her shoulder, not wanting to know what was coming next. Thinking that it might be to painful to bear, I knew the feeling. The feeling that you can't quite trust anyone that no one was truly there for you. The feeling that they will abandon you, like my father who abandoned me, I woke up one morning and he wasn't there. He had simply disappeared. He hadn't left a note, he hadn't said goodbye. I hadn't seen him since. No one had seen him since. He had simply disappeared into thin air. My mother and I had been absolutely inseparable after that, each one afraid that the other would leave as he had, without a trace. She had become depressed, drinking all night sleeping all day, disappearing for weeks on end. The girl, Nora, was the only one who understood. Her mother had left her. I begged her not to tell when my mother would leave. "She'll come back." I told her. "She always does," and she did.

But this time, this time was different. I was no longer the frail child I had once been, I was a hardened teenager. I learned to live on my own when she was gone, and when she was here, I learned to take the punches. I learned to watch from the sidelines and not interfere as my mother fell deeper into her world of despair. But this time, she was gone. Truly gone, I would wait up for her at night , hoping the door would open and she would walk in, spewing apologies about how she had left, about how she had hit me. But she never did, and after about a year I stopped waiting. But Nora never left me, she knew the pain. She knew what it was like to be me. Her father had dumped her with her grandparents as soon as her mother had left, grateful for the opportunity to get rid of her. I think I would have preferred that, rather than watching my mother slip away. But I knew that Nora would have done anything for a few more moments with her father. But Nora didn't get that, and we both learned to stop hoping. We were together now, and we relied on each other more than ever. She was my savior and I was hers. Nothing could change that. Not the endless insults that rained down our backs at school, not the sadness that threatened to envelope us, as it had my mother. We wouldn't let each other down like that. We were a package deal now, something that I never thought would change, but it did.

I didn't recognize it at first. She was more distant than usual but I thought it was just something at home.

"Why are we the ones with the crappy lives?" She would ask, frowning and scrunching up her forehead in thought.

"Because we're the ones that can take it."

"But what if we decide that we can't take it anymore?" I never answered that one, not quite knowing how. I never thought much of it though; it seemed of little importance then. But as I read the words on the note in front of me, the last thing she had ever touched, I knew it was the most important thing in the world.

"What if we can't take it anymore?"