Chapter Three: Tears of an Angel

I was frozen solid: still, utterly still… unable to move, unable to do more than slowly move my eyes. I shifted my slow-motion gaze from nothing, to nothing, to nothing more. I was buried in cotton, cloud, whiteness all around me. It didn't touch me. Nothing touched me. I was floating in a void empty of everything, completely naked and exposed as my long silver hair billowed around me and my wings were held stretched out by an unseen force. I felt like a butterfly caught in a spiderweb.

"Play your story for me, my darling daughter," a deep male voice whispered. "Show me your secrets and your world."

I let out a gasping cry as my vision burned with white light and an unexpected flood of memories swamped me…

I'm three years old again.

I'm lying in my bed reading Alice in Wonderland, even though I know that things are wrong downstairs. I know there's trouble between Mommy and Daddy again because they're yelling at each other. It'll get better later on, though: it always does. Daddy will go get drunk again and come back later all sad, and they'll go to their room to make up. I fall asleep, but when I wake up there are lots of men wearing funny hats and blue clothes standing in my bedroom. Mommy's crying loudly and screaming for daddy, but daddy isn't there anymore. A man wearing blue kneels down and tells me that daddy won't come home.

He won't ever come home again, because he died in an auto wreck.

A blinding flash of white light overtook my senses and the mental images shifted sickeningly…

I'm eight years old again.

Mommy's newest boyfriend is sitting at the dinner table next to her while I eat as fast as I can without being impolite. I don't want him to touch me like he does every night, so I try not to draw attention to myself in the hopes that he'll forget about me and do that stuff with Mom. Once I finish eating, I get up from the table and dart into the kitchen, where I quickly but neatly wash my plate and put it on the dry rack. I head into the living room, where Mom is already getting ready to go to her bingo games.

A cold feeling immediately sinks into my gut because I know that she's leaving me alone with him again.

"I'll be back in a few hours, Jim. Take good care of my Serenity," my mother says to the bald man wearing his leather jacket. He walks over to me and I hunch down, trying to make myself small as my hands start shaking. He puts his own big hand on my shoulder in what looks like a gentle way, but it really, really hurts. He's crushing my arm... he always does this, though.

"Oh, trust me, we'll have a wonderful time together," Jim replies with a cheerful smile, squeezing my shoulder so hard that I have to bite my lip to keep from screaming. I can't make a sound, or he'll make it worse for me when we're alone.

"Good, good. Behave yourself now, Serenity, and listen to whatever Jim tells you to do," my mom says, hefting her purse and walking out the door without looking back. I want to scream at her not to leave me alone with him, but my throat has locked up again. I look up at Jim and start to shiver uncontrollably when he grins at me like he always does.

"Ready to play our little game?" He asks, twisting my shoulder before pushing me onto the floor.

I close my eyes and try to hold back my screams while he hurts me in bad places, but I can't keep from crying after he's finished. He leaves me lying there as I cry like a baby, laughing as he walks out of the room and heads for the upstairs television, where he watches daddy's old dirty movies like always. I want to run away and find Mommy, but I'm too scared to try.

Another blinding flash overtook my senses and the images shifted, stealing my breath away.

I'm ten years old again.

I'm heading for summer camp because I was caught skateboarding at school again. I don't want to go to summer camp, but my mom's making me. She says it will be good for me, but I know she's lying: it's because I kicked Jim as hard as I could when he was hurting me again and he lied, telling Mom that he was trying to give me a simple hug goodnight. I feel both angry and relieved that she believes my step-dad and not me because it means that I get to go away from him.

It's confusing, though... because, somehow, I don't want to leave at all.

"I don't want to go!" I cry angrily, clenching my fists and tossing back my long white hair. "I don't want to!"

"Once you're there, you'll like it," my mom replies. "Don't argue with me, sweetie. Get in the car like a good girl."

We drive in silence, and they drop me off.

Mom hugs me; Jim tries to crush my shoulder and I slap his hand away with a glare. Later that night, I'm awake, pretending to be asleep in my bunk. Listening to the dainty snores, crying, and sleep-mumbling of a dozen other girls around me. Pretending not to hear Donny's footsteps. White nylon camp windbreaker bright in reflected moonlight, moving confidently, arrogantly.

He has the power. The councilor. We're just little girls. Why is he doing it? Why doesn't he just go away?

He stops beside the same cot as before. It's wrong! What he's doing is wrong! It's bad! It's like Jim! Why doesn't Rosemary scream?! Why doesn't she yell for help?! Save her! Come on, don't pretend to be asleep! Don't press your hands over your ears!

Don't!

But it's too late, and Donny leaves with a sinister laugh.

I huddle down when Rosemary cries.

Yet another blinding flash ripped through my mind, shattering my thoughts as the mental images shifted again…

I'm twelve years old again.

I'm busy walking home from school with Bethany and Jessica. We're still wearing our academy uniforms and I'm thinking about the book report that's supposed to be due on Monday. I stop at the concrete pedestrian-bridge for a moment, listening to Bethany's nonstop chatter about her favorite website for animal help control, before I make my way up the two-hundred stone steps.

Lost in thought, I make it to the top and brush past a bunch other people who are busy going about their own lives.

"Hey! Help, he's got my purse!" an Asian girl screams, startling me. I look up and see the man dodging through the throng toward me, carrying a red purse in his arms the way a mother would clutch a baby. I feel my anger spike and run forward without thinking, tackling the man headfirst and struggling to hold him in place as people around me start shouting.

"Frosty, stop it!" Bethany cries, trying to get through the crowd.

"Let go of her purse!" I scream when he grabs my hair and tries to pull me off. "Ouch! Let go of it or I'll bite you!"

"Okay! Okay! Whatever you say, bitch! It ain't even worth all this hassle!" the man snarls back, throwing the purse into the air. I let go of him and dart around his body with a laugh of triumph, leaping for the purse with an outstretched hand. My small fist closes around the strap and I feel exhilarated with the victory I'd just achieved.

"Hah! I got the purse ba—" I begin to laugh, but then I halt and I feel my eyes widening when the man shoves me and I flip over the side of the pedestrian-bridge railing.

"FROSTY!" Jessica screams, and the people on the bridge go hysterical.

I don't care about that; all I know is that I'm falling face-first toward the highway nearly thirty-five feet below.

"Daddy, h—help me!" I scream, shielding my face as I hurtle toward the pavement. I feel myself jerk almost to a complete halt the moment the last syllable escapes my lips, shuddering violently as frozen air whirls around my body. I keep my eyes shut, fearing that I'm dead and already going to heaven, but then I open my eyes and realize that I'm being lowered to the ground.

It feels as though there are strong arms wrapped around my body: I can almost feel them holding me.

What the heck?!" I whisper, eyes going wide as I'm set on the ground, still holding the woman's purse and completely unharmed.

I'm just standing up when a car horn suddenly honks way too loudly.

I whirl to the side and freeze, eyes widening in terror as the tires of the pick-up truck screech across the blacktop road, heading right toward me. I'm hit by something heavy, but it comes from a direction I'm not expecting. I land hard on the sidewalk, scraping my arm as an elderly, balding man wearing glasses holds me in his arms. It's a miracle to get so lucky twice in a row.

"Are you all right?" He asks, sounding worried. "Did you get hurt?"

"I'm fine," I reply, shakily standing up and making my way back over to the bridge. I stumble up the stairs as a surge of people swamp me, asking if I'm all right. I nod and tell them I'm fine before I look for the Asian woman who lost her purse. I hand it to her and she hugs me tightly and says thank you over and over again before I run home without letting my friends know I'm okay.

A horribly painful flash seared through my mind, blinding me and shifting the mental images painfully…

I'm thirteen years old again.

I'm lying on a soft bed while Jessica checks my back again: she frowns when she realizes that the area around the highest point of the protrusions have become inflamed and swollen, but the worst part is the fact that the affected areas seem to be expanding. I'm breathing heavily as I lay there on my stomach, and my entire body is covered in sweat due to the fever. Bethany hastily runs down to the kitchen and grabs some ice, throwing it all into a baggie before running back up to the bedroom. Angela is sitting on the bedroom, clacking away on her computer with a worried frown: she's searching for information on weird bulges.

"Does your back hurt?" Jessica inquires softly, looking at me with trembling lips.

"Not exactly..." I explain, breathing rapidly and irregularly. "It feels more like I'm about to get a cramp..."

"I don't understand," Bethany whispers, staring at my back in horror. "How can it not hurt when it looks so... well, bad?"

"Give me a mirror..." I immediately whine, trying to get up only to be pushed back down.

"You'd better not, Frosty," Jessica soothed, pulling her white hair back into a ponytail. "It'll hurt more if you see it..."

"Jessie, what am I...?" I whisper, making all three girls pause; my yellow eyes begin watering as I lie there. "What... am I?"

"You're our unofficially adopted little sister, that's what you are..." the girl replies. "Now hush."

"Why me?" I whimper, breathing rapidly and clutching the pillow beneath my head as the bulges on my back twitch. Without warning, the protrusions start moving around and pain sears through me: when I let out a cry of pain, Jessica and Bethany jump in alarm and stare at my back with wide eyes. The enormous purple bulges continue to move... but then the skin splits open like a hard-boiled egg and blood streams down my back like a river. "OW! It hurts! It hurts! It hurts! D-Daisy, please! It hurts! Help me!"

"I don't know what to do!" Angela exclaims, looking as though she's about to freak out at any second. "Just hang on, okay?!"

"It hurts!" I bawl, squeezing my eyes shut; Angela's eyes widen when she sees the skin on my back expanding rapidly. Jessica immediately wraps a thick winter sock around her thumb before bolting over to my side.

"Bite on this so you won't bite your tongue!" the girl raps out, hastily holding her thumb out; I shakily do as I'm was told, but Jessica winces when my sharp teeth clamp down on her digit, slicing through the first few layers of the sock. Jessie actually loses her balance when I thrash in agony, screaming past my clenched teeth: the girl crashes down to the floor and knocks over a chair.

Then a splatter of blood comes from my back and I scream, releasing Jessica's thumb.

Soon afterwards, my wings unfurl for the first time and I pass out.

I winced when I found myself back in the void of white, but before I could recuperate, another flash seared through my head.

I'm fourteen again.

There's only two weeks left before I leave Alaska and move to Chicago—away from my friends, Bethany, Jessica, and Angela. The four of us are sitting in Angela's car on our way to the nearest mall, but I'm feeling too depressed to get into their conversation.

"This will be a great trip, won't it?" Angela asks me as she drives, directing my attention from the mountainous scenery to her smiling face. "We're going to make your last few weeks a blast! Maybe we can even manage to get some special cosmetics to cover up Jessie's new pimple!"

"Excuse me?!" Jessica demands hysterically before frantically digging in her bag for something. "What pimple?!"

My guess is that she's looking for a mirror.

I shake my head with a sigh and look out the window again, wanting the three hour drive to Juneau to be over already. After Angela reassures Bethany that she'd been joking about the 'non-existent, festering pustule of malignant ooze' that was currently resting on the tip of her nose, they began talking about their families.

"So, my aunt Bettie sends this note back to my parents reminding them that she'll be away in Bali all next month doing an intensive Pilates-slash-yoga retreat with Rodney Yee—" Angela's in the middle of saying as she drove.

"Who's Rodney Yee?" Bethany interrupts chattily. "And what kind of a name is that?"

"He's one of those sexy yoga gurus." I answer quietly with a small giggle. "I think he trained Cindy Crawford."

"Yeah, yeah, whatever," Angela sighs. "Anyway, I heard my father telling my mom that she isn't going to Bali at all—she's having a knee lift and a toe reduction, and she's establishing her alibi early so no one will suspect anything."

"Toe reduction? Ew!" I exclaim, wrinkling my nose in disgust. "That's disgusting!"

"I know, right?" Angela states, nodding gravely as she watches the road. However, her lips visibly twitch with laughter despite her mockingly grave countenance. "She's got these humongous clompers, and nothing fits her feet right except Easy Spirit pumps. She wants to wear money shoes."

"You know, Frosty—like Manillas and Choo Choo's." Bethany adds. "The expensive shoes with the ten-inch heels!"

"Manolos and Jimmy Choos, Bethany," Jessica corrects, cracking a smile, "but you get the idea."

"Right. So as I was saying, she can't because her feet are too big." Angela continues in a sinister voice. "After the toe shortening and a little heel shave, she's hoping to be able to cram 'em into stilettos."

"Er…" Bethany states, seemingly at a loss for words. "That's very… um… interesting…?"

"Ew!" I squeal with a shudder, squeezing my eyes shut as I poke the tip of my tongue out in revolted horror. "Bethany, have you gone bonkers or something? Interesting? That's the most twisted thing I've ever heard!"

"Oh, that's nothing compared to the other stuff," Angela laughs evilly. "She's been a complete nut case ever since she moved to Massachusetts. For instance, she has a therapist for her houseplants."

"Are you serious?" I scoff, blinking rapidly as Bethany bursts into laughter and Jessica gags herself. "A therapist for her houseplants? Angie, you've got an aunt who outclasses the Joker from that new Batman movie in the loony department."

"I know, right?" Angela laughed. "My aunt is a serious quack."

"Okay… we're getting way too close to the Bizarre-o zone," Jessica snorts sarcastically."Let's change the subject."

"Yay…" I mutter, blowing a strand of hair out of my eyes as I sigh again and lean back against the seat of Jessica's silver Volvo. When Jessica and Angela start bickering about a school history project they'd remembered was due tomorrow, I tune them out and look out the window again as the mountain scenery flashes by, thinking about everything.

I don't want to leave them.

"SERENITY!" Jessica suddenly shrieks, shaking my arm and startling me so badly that I try to leap out of my chair and end up bruising my chest because of the seatbelt.

"What?!" I cry, jerking back to the present and glancing at her with wide eyes.

"Don't act like you didn't hear me calling your name. I may be ditzy but I'm not an idiot." Jessica snorts. "I was trying to ask you whether or not you want to have a sleep-over at my house tonight."

I look at her incredulously before I taunt her with mock enthusiasm.

"Oh, sure!" I dramatically exclaim, flapping my hand in a ditzy manner. "That would be, like, the most fabulous thing in the world, Jessie! There's only one little problem: your parents don't know that I'm hiding my own personal pair of feathered pillows right under my clothes. How will I manage to hide that from them? They smother me with love!"

"Oh, right… I almost forgot about your wings," Bethany sighs in dismay. "That'll be a bit of a problem."

"We could go to her house," Jessica suggests, then looks at me and hastily adds, "That is, if it's okay with her family."

"Yeah, it would be okay with my mom." I sigh, rolling my eyes as an unwilling smile tugs at my mouth. "She doesn't really care since she'll be passed out drunk by the time we get there."

"Great! Time for a girl's night! We'll braid each other's hair and make fun of all the dorky boys who have crushes on us!" Angela cries happily, looking away from the road to smile at me.

"ANGIE! LOOK OUT!" Bethany suddenly shrieks, pointing at the road ahead of us.

Angela's blue eyes dart away from my face in alarm, but as she looks out through the windshield her eyes widen and she lets out a startled cry. She jerks the wheel sharply to the right, trying to avoid the young, blonde-haired woman standing stock-still in the center of the black highway. Bethany lets out a shriek as Angela loses control of the car.

It spins around sickeningly, causing me to involuntarily let out a scream of my own and clutch both sides of the seat. Angela struggles with the wheel as Jessica screeches hysterically—trying to turn it this way and that as her car spins first towards the trees, then toward the guard-rail that blocks off a two-hundred-foot drop into a stony chasm.

"I can't control it! Hold onto something!" Angela cries hysterically, gripping the steering wheel as Bethany lets out a terrified wail and grips my arm. I look up with horrified eyes, watching dizzily through the spinning windshield as the car careens toward the woods. I close my eyes and brace myself just as the front end of Angela's car smashes into a pine tree and our momentum causes the car to roll. All four of us scream as the car flips over and over again, jolting us violently as the windshield shatters inward and sends square chunks of safety glass flying into our faces.

The car continues to roll downhill, smashing into trees and ripping off Jessica's door in the process.

The girl's seatbelt snaps off by accident, so I try to grab a hold of her arm and keep her in place—but just a second later we smash into another tree and she flies out of the car with a hysterical cry. I scream her name right before she's crushed to death by the Volvo and lets out a horrifying screech. Bethany and Angela are screaming as we roll dizzyingly, but then we slam into another tree and a branch impales the metal of the car before it flips in the opposite direction.

When the car finally rolls off of a precipice, the unexpected feeling of falling snatches the scream out of my mouth.

We're held suspended upside down in the air, hovering weightlessly in dead silence before the front end of the car smashes into solid stone, flips upside down, and slams us all into the ground headfirst. The jolt of the crash both snaps my left arm and causes the seatbelt to slam me into the seat. I manage to grit my teeth against the pain, but my right arm is pinned against the huge wooden branch sticking in through the windshield, my left arm is broken in half, and I'm being crushed to death by the seatbelt. Angela is alive and conscious, but she's crying hysterically from what I can hear.

"Angie…" I wheeze, scrunching my face up in pain as the blood starts rushing to my head. "Are you okay?"

"I-I… I-I-I think th-that I'm o-okay…." Angela peeps almost inaudibly. "Nothing's b-broken, a-at least."

"Well, can you please… help me then?" I squeak, panting for air as I struggle to free myself. "I can't… breathe!"

"What do you mean?" Angela asks in alarm.

"I'm stuck! The seatbelt is crushing me and it hurts like a biiiiaaatttch!" I finally wail in a wheezing voice; tears start trickling from my golden eyes, rolling up and into my bloodstained silver hair as I hang helplessly upside down.

"The seatbelt has you p-pinned!" Angela stammers. "We n-need to g-g-g-get you out of it or it'll suffocate you!"

"No shit, Sherlock!" I whimper, squeezing my eyes shut as darkness begins to sweep over me. "Help... my head hurts..."

Just as my mind begins to blink out, I feel a small jolt and my head suddenly slams into hard metal, bringing me fully back to awareness as the pressure on my chest disappears. I take a deep, choking, gasping breath as life rushes back into me and begin crying hysterically, hiccuping every so often as Angela touches my arm. I glance at Bethany since she's closer than Angie and I feel my insides freeze.

The girl has a branch sticking out of her chest.

"Bethany!" I squeak hysterically through my tears, touching her arm.

"Frosty…?" she asks weakly, not opening her eyes.

"Yes, Bethany! It's me!" I whimper past my sobs, feeling terrified as I take her hand. It's dead cold…

"Frosty, tell Dad that I'm sorry I can't clean the gutters like I planned to," Bethany whimpers faintly, opening her glazed brown eyes so she can look at me pleadingly. "Tell him I'm sorry that I couldn't make it to his birthday..."

"You can tell him yourself, Bethany," I assure her through my tears as Angela struggles to find her cell phone. She pulls it out and contacts the emergency paramedics. "You're going to be fine, okay?"

"Don't lie to me, Little Primrose," Bethany chides with a small smile. "Promise you'll tell him?"

"I… I, um… yes, I promise," I finally whisper, giving in as I burst into tears.

"Thanks girlfriend…" Bethany sighs, hand slowly relaxing in mine. "I love ya..."

"Bethany! Hold on!" Angela wails frantically, shaking her arm futilely. "The ambulance is coming, so don't die! Please! Please, Bethany, don't die! Don't! Jessica's gone, too, and when Frosty goes away I won't have anybody left! Pleeeaase! Bethany! Frosty, help me! Huh…? Oh, no! Frosty! Are you okay?! Don't you die on me, too, you silver-haired sneak!"

Angela's voice slowly disappears as my hearing dims, and the image of her face begins to fade. I can feel my heartbeat slowing down and a blinding light engulfs my mind as my breathing slowly comes to an end. I can hear the voices of the dead in my mind as I slip away from myself and my heart stops completely… yet somehow, I'm still aware of everything.

"You grabbed my arm and held me in place when my door flew off and my seat belt snapped," Jessica says, biting her lip with an anguished expression, "but I let go of the dashboard when I knew you had me! I trusted you! I trusted you with my life, and you let go! I wouldn't have been crushed if you just hadn't let go! How could you do this to me?!"

"If you hadn't distracted Angela, we wouldn't be dead right now!" Bethany cries, clenching her fists. "You'd better tell my dad what I wanted you to, or I'll never even think about forgiving you!"

"Guys, I'm sorry!" I wail, using my right hand to reach for them since my left one is useless. "It was an accident!"

"So what?!" Jessica screams angrily. "It was an accident that got all of us killed!"

"I'm sorry!" I wail, covering my face. "I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to! Really, I didn't! I'm sorry!"

"Okay…" Bethany sneers, "that phony poor-me routine is getting old and pathetic. Tell my dad what I said since I can't do it, but don't ever think of me as your friend in the future: I've written you off of my friends' list forever."

"Same here, bitch," Jessica states nastily.

"Clear!" a voice echoes as they turn away from me and walk into the light.

A painful surge of electricity zaps my chest and I jerk.

"Wait!" I gasp, stretching out my hand to their receding forms. "Don't go! Don't leave me all alone! Please!"

"Clear!" the voice cries again, followed once more by the zap.

"Bethany! Jessica!" I wail, mind fading away eveb as my heart begins beating again.

"I've got a pulse! I've got a pulse! She's gonna be okay!" the voice cries.

"Do we have any identification of the two bodies?" another voice asks.

"Bethany Davies and Jessica Graven, according to the driver," The first voice replies. "This girl right here is Julia's foster daughter, Serenity Primrose."

"That's the girl Julia Primrose adopted?" the voice asks in a shocked tone. "No wonder… she's a real beauty."

"Shut up and make Serenity better!" Angela cries angrily.

I quickly slip into a deep sleep.

The worst flash out of all the rest blinded me with an explosion of both sound and light as the images shifted again, eliciting a ripping scream of pain from my throat as I clutched my head in agony…

I am fifteen years old, only three months younger than I am today. I'm walking out of the gym in my new school, feeling sweaty from some one-on-one basketball with one of my male teammates, Chase Logan. I walk past the coach's office where the man stands screaming his head off. It's none of my business, so I intend to walk past without looking.

"What's the matter with you, Jessica?" He shrieks angrily; I slow my walk upon hearing the name and glance through the glass door. Jessica Avery, my new friend from the junior varsity cheer-leading squad—in her jersey and a matching mini-skirt—is sitting there with blonde head hanging as tears fall from her eyes.

The very sight has me feeling cold to the bone: she never cries.

"You disgust me!" the man continues screeching. "You make me sick! Your ditzy little happy-go-lucky attitude out there on the field makes me want to throw up! You might as well be a prissy little slut! Are you an idiot, or some kind of freaky Malibu Barbie with that fake smile plastered on your face all the time?! Change it so the crowd actually likes our team!"

I immediately open the door and step inside, even though its none of my business. Some part of me, some part of my brain, has taken over my body in a flash with no thought and no hesitation to mar my actions.

The switch has been thrown.

Rage and adrenaline are flooding my arms and legs, sending icy chills radiating off of my body as my slender limbs become stiff with the still-unfamiliar repressed energy that sometimes freezes things in the world around me. My mind slides away for a moment and I'm crying on the floor again with my dress hiked up around my waist, feeling hurt and violated because of Jim; it slides again and Rosemary is crying on her cot after Donny leaves with his nightly laugh.

"Leave Jessie alone, coach!" I snap angrily.

"What are you doing in here, Primrose?" the man snaps at me. "Get the hell out of my office!"

"I can take care of myself, Frosty! Just go! I'll meet you outside!" Jessie yells, nearly hysterical as she looks at me with a face streaked with tears and anger. I'm two feet away from the coach: he's twice my size, but older and fat in the middle.

"Leave Jessica alone," I repeat dangerously, stiffening in anger as ice unnoticeably begins forming on my hands and arms, freezing my sweat into solid, shimmering beads.

"I ought to kick your ass!" the coach roars.

"Screw you, Serenity! Screw you!" Jessica screams at me. "You act tough when you don't got anything to back it up! I've written you off my friend list for good, so get the fuck out of here!"

I stiffen and turn around as Bethany Davies' and Jessica Graven's last words come back to me. Feeling a pain that buries itself in the deepest part of my heart and soul with the blade of an emotional knife, I walk out of the room before I do something stupid... like maybe freezing them both in solid walls of ice. This is the last straw for me, and from this moment on I vow to never trust anyone but myself since everyone ends up hating me either way.

I vow to never let anybody get close enough to hurt me.

Being alone is better than being destroyed.

I returned to the world of white with a gasp, body going limp as my consciousness began to fade away.

"Ah, now I see..." the voice said gently, sounding almost sympathetic in a queer sort of way. I tasted a lot of blood only a moment later and blacked out, consciousness spiraling down into the deepest of darkness as memory-induced tears fell from my eyes. I may have been an angel for all I knew... but that didn't change the fact that my life had honestly been a living hell from day one. I remain distant from others. nit not because I'm afraid of having my heart being broken. I remain distant because my heart broke a long time ago, and I didn't want to put the remaining pieces into someone's hands.

I am better off alone.