Tell me which side I’m on. These words echoed from ear to ear in a time that dripped destruction and gravely lacked sobriety. We were lost astray in a world that we had claimed was our kingdom; drowning in a pond we believed was our ocean. We would walk the streets, despising outsiders. These streets were ours and we enforced this knowledge. We would come alive in the heat of the day, angered by the world, infuriated by our foes and sickened by our situations. He who was greatly neglected by all who should’ve cared, he who was utterly abused by whoever could get close enough, she who grew in the shadow of her drug-thirsty brother and uninterested father, and she who faced darkness in the hateful eyes of an unknown man. We all had our stories, but that had no matter. This kingdom was a sanctuary, which held no room for judgment. When faced with each other, we became each other, one in the same.
Although we held different pains, we were each faced with a common, unrelenting burden that we shared. Approaching constant failure. We had come together in a bond as each of us gave up on hope, forgot true happiness and wanted nothing, absolutely nothing, but freedom. We had spent endless nights searching for this freedom, hoping we would find it in the smoke from our lungs, maybe in the breathless sky or the alcohol that stirred our souls. Slipping smoothly into an easier state, we would set fires, scream until our throats bled, and swayed to the lyrics of The Chosen Pessimist by the band In Flames.
We skipped, we danced, we flew. The skin of our knuckles would split against what ever object had the unfortunate role of surrogate. This was not a terrible time. It was in fact wonderful – perhaps not for our wellbeing – but for our souls. We found hearts in a seemingly heartless world. We sensed justice in an unjust world and we did it together. I fell in love for the first time and finally, I found a place that I truly belonged. It wasn’t perfect, but it was ours. Something we truly believed could never be taken away from us. And how wrong we were.
We were ruthlessly torn apart by our situations and the ways of the universe. The ringleader was the first to go, his mother finally deciding to leave the abuse behind them. Soon after, my love left to Pretoria after unfairly being accused of drug use. For a while, it was just my brother and I. Together, we stayed strong, spoke of our troubles and advised one another. It wasn’t long before he, too, had to leave. He was shipped off to boarding school because my parents could not take a second to realize that his behavior was due to a painful lack of love. And there is me. I was left to wander through the memory filled streets, lost in my empty heart and lonely to the point of despair. Trying to fight the feeling of abandonment, trying to remain in their memory. Carve my name in stone. May I never be forgotten.