#13 Ashley Rupert

| November 13, 2011 | 0 Comments

You’re ten years old and your life sucks. Your mother is dead, your father – who had to be bullied into even admitting your his daughter – has taken you in begrudgingly, because as bad as an illegitimate daughter is for your reputation it looks even worse to abandon her. He doesn’t love you like Mom did, never did love you at all, and probably never will love you either. It’s a month after Mom’s funeral, after she left you in your dad’s care and swallowed a handful of bills and a bottle of Grey Goose because in today’s economic state a mother with terminal cancer is worth more to her daughter dead than alive. Technically, your life has never been better: the roof doesn’t howl and cry during thunderstorms; the Gap sweater you’re wearing now probably costs more than your entire wardrobe combined; and you never have meticulously calculate what you are going to eat again. But Mom is dead, Dad doesn’t love you and his wife.

Let’s not talk about his wife or his other daughter. The real daughter.


You’re thirteen, and life just got worse.

Three years of learning to carefully balance passive-aggressive rage and hatred between yourself and your father’s wife (she insists, at every turn, that you should call her mother, and you make a point of not calling her that) has just gone to waste because she’s won.

She has won and the only reason why you don’t just go and curl up in a ball and die is because it’s what she would want. She wants you dead just as much as she wants her husband alive. Somehow, it’s your fault he’s dead, even though you weren’t the drunk one, weren’t the one behind the wheel of the car, weren’t even in the same damned city because the bus you were riding back after the choral competition was late. None of that matters because to her, because she’s a widow now and can hate you openly. Has reason to hate you, because of the two reminders he left in  this world, the daughter she can’t stand is the one who inherited everything she loved about him.

Her grief doesn’t make you feel pity for her. It just makes your own hatred stronger, because you know now that you’re in for the fight of your life.


You’re sixteen and can’t go to university.

Oh, you definitely thought about it. You’ve got a shoebox full of pamphlets of universities and colleges. But no matter what you do there’s no way you can make this break even. You’ve calculated how much it will cost and you can’t afford it. No university will take you if you can’t prove that you can pay it, and there’s no way that you can ever do that. You’re working every day after school just so that you can eat. Most of it goes to food and your father’s widow’s shit-strange ideas, like making you pay rent even though you don’t have anywhere else to go. Anything that is left goes towards your “Get the F*** Out of Dodge” fund. You can’t remember when you last slept for more than six hours, balancing work and school because sleep is for those who don’t routinely have plates thrown at their heads which they not only have to clean up afterwards but also pay for the replacement. You’re wearing the same clothes you wore when you were thirteen (and thank God you’ve only grown thinner since then). You’ve slept at the women’s shelter so often that they recognize you now (but don’t know your name because you use a new one each time). Your life is so similar to when Mom was alive that you cry yourself to sleep most nights because she isn’t here.

If your life was a fairytale, you’d have been visited by your mother’s ghost by now, or a fairy godmother. Or even a f***ing talking fish. But this is real life. You don’t have an ugly step-sister – your half-sister is probably the only reason why you and her mother haven’t managed to kill each other yet – and don’t even have a regular godmother.


You’re eighteen and a handsome prince doesn’t whisk you away. You leave behind whatever you can’t carry and take the first bus out of town after you get your high school diploma. Sometime around midnight you cross the state line, but you don’t worry about the Greyhound disappearing or shit like that. There’s no magic in this – just blood and sweat and tears and gasoline carrying you out of this hellhole life.


You’re twenty-two and spinning on a sparkly pole while wearing a rhinestone-embellished bikini. You don’t yourself, though, or the men who dress like your father did and shove five dollar bills at you. They’re pigs, but you don’t have to go back to the widow and sell her your soul in exchange for a roof over your head. There’s no way you’ll ever go back to that, you think, dancing in four-inch, plastic heels.


You’re twenty-six and life is not perfect, but definitely better. The first dress you’ve ever designed has finally sold and the shop has asked for more dresses, more designs. Something has gone right for you. A lucky break, if you believed in luck. Luck is demeaning, though. Luck implies that the long nights and early mornings and every wound, old or still festering, was all for naught. That you didn’t get here under your own power but because some benevolent person took pity on your existence and helped you and took all the glory. You’re damn sure that if anyone tried to help you now that you’d punch them in the face.


You’re twenty-nine and the half-sister you haven’t seen in over ten years appears in your shop. Your partner, a girl with raven black hair and wicked temper and the most beautiful smile, doesn’t recognize her, and you nearly don’t either, not with her heavy with child and lined face.

Her mother is dying, she says. She wants to see you, make amends.

You almost do, you almost go back to the town you swore you’d never return to until you realize that she only wants to see you because she has forgiven you. She has forgiven your for something that was never your fault, and wants you to forgive her for everything she did to you.

If you were a better person, you might have. You’re the girl who had to whisk herself away from the evil step-mother and save herself. A better person than you might have been able to forgive her, or at least fake it for a dying woman, but then you wouldn’t be you.

The night she dies, you don’t know it. Your half-sister doesn’t call you, angry at you for not coming to her mother’s deathbed, and you only find out a week later when someone foolishly sends you condolences for your step-mother’s death. You throw out the bouquet and design a lily-white dress that you wear to the funeral with your four-inch heels.

You wind up in your partner’s arms, shoes dangling in her hands, because you can’t walk in four-inch heels any more.

Category: 2011, Drama

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