Family of Me

by Daphne
Updates Mondays and Fridays

Scene 19: Indulgent Fantasy

Bloom (High school me): YEAH! I want to go on all the rides!

Libra (College me): Whoa, slow down girl!

(Bloom runs on ahead, Libra following closely behind. A few paces back, Lark and I bring up the rear. Around us are all manner of roller coasters, food stalls, and other attractions.)

Mom (Present me): They’re enthusiastic.

Lark (20s me): I guess. Why did you want to bring us here?

Mom: I thought it might be nice to take a break from all the heavy emotional work we’ve been doing. You know, unwind a bit.

Lark: Come on, here? I’ve been to this amusement park so many times. It’s almost boring at this point.

Mom (smirking): Oh, is that so?

(I point to a roller coaster near where we’re standing.)

Mom (loudly): Girls! Let’s ride this one!

Bloom (calling back): Okay, coming!

Lark: Huh, that’s taller than I remember…

Mom (satisfied): You don’t say.

(The scenery around us shifts and the four of us are suddenly standing on the coaster’s platform. A single car with a row of seats four across is waiting for us.)

Mom: So, back or front? How about both?

Libra: This is going to be *awesome*.

(Bloom and Libra run through and take the two furthest seats.)

Lark: Hang on, this isn’t how this ride goes. Did you change it somehow?

Mom: Of course! It’s my memory, I can tweak it if I like. I can skip the line and move us right to the boarding platform, for instance. Or I can make it more intense than anything you’ve ever experienced.

Lark (apprehensive): Uh… I don’t know about this…

Bloom: Come on, we’re waiting for you!

Mom (taunting): You’re not afraid of a memory, are you?

(I take the seat beside Libra and secure myself. As I turn back to the platform, I find Lark has already taken the edge seat next to mine.)

Lark: Hell if I’m going to sit this out.

Mom: That’s the spirit. Okay girls, hold on tight!

(The car rolls out of the gatehouse and slowly starts its initial climb. I glance over at Lark’s nonplussed face for a moment, just long enough to smile before the car suddenly launches itself up the incline with the force of a wrecking ball and the speed of a hawk. In moments we’ve reached the top of the initial drop and have inverted into a corkscrew dive straight down. I feel Lark’s hand find and squeeze mine tightly as the car hurtles down towards the ground, twisting and pulling up at the last second before it flies through a series of loops and corkscrews.

At some point along the way Lark manages to let her inhibitions go. She releases my hand and screams out in exhilarated joy, arms stretched high in triumph. Soon the car is returning to the gatehouse; the entire journey taking a scant two minutes. The girls are chattering away excitedly as they leave the platform.)

Bloom: Oh man that was amazing!

Libra: That first drop was wild!

Lark: I know right? And then you’re just yanked right out of it! There were so many loops!

(I watch, satisfied, as Lark banters with her sisters for a bit, looking genuinely happy. After a minute though, Lark’s face clouds over and she drops back to walk alongside me, letting Bloom and Libra go ahead again.)

Lark: I know what you’re trying to do.

Mom: Oh? What’s that?

Lark: You’re trying to trick me into being a girl. It won’t work.

Mom: I don’t want you to be a girl, I want you to be yourself. I’m trying to trick you into taking off your emotional armor and allowing yourself to just exist. And for a minute or so after that ride, you did. How did it feel?

Lark: It… It felt good… I felt free. But it’s a false freedom.

Mom: Why, Lark?

Lark: Because I can’t exist there forever. That feeling is just an indulgent fantasy, and in order to come back to reality I have to put my emotional armor on again and be the person I’ve taught myself to be. It’s too easy to get angry otherwise, and that armor is the only thing keeping me from really hurting myself or someone else when I fly into a rage. All of high school was white hot fury for me; I’m not going through that again.

Mom: It’s funny you should mention high school.

Lark: What? Why?

Mom: Bloom is high school us, is she not? She doesn’t seem to need the armor you cling to so fervently.

Lark (worried): I… I don’t… I can’t.

Mom: Sorry?

Lark (frightened): I can’t let go of my armor, Mom. I know you’re right about Bloom. But I can’t accept it so easily. I’m scared to let go.

Mom: I told you I wasn’t going to push you. That hasn’t changed.

Lark (relieved): Oh thank goodness.

Mom: Just… Try and have some fun today. Okay Lark?

Lark: Okay Mom.