The Empty Room

Angela entered the empty room. It had stayed empty for 11 months and 16 days, after everything had been put away into drawers, cupboards and drawers within cupboards. A person who didn't know better would mistake this room for a guest room that was never used, but Angela knew better. She shut the door carefully behind her

She knew the clothes, the novels, the diaries, the posters and a few nondescript odds and ends had been filed away carefully by Aunt Heidi because no one else could bring themselves to do it. It had been hard for Heidi as well, but she was always the anchor of the family and she had to lead by putting on a brave face.

Angela really missed Kristina, now more than ever. Her sister had always been there for her when they were younger, someone who would help her with her homework, who would listen to the woes of her pre-teen life. From the window she could see the dilapidated tree house that their father had built for them more than 10 years ago. When he died a few years later, no one could maintain the tree house anymore and it fell into disrepair. Just like my relationship with Kristina, she thought.

Angela opened the smaller cupboard, taking care not to make any noise, not wanting to wake up her mother who had slept little in the past year. She was looking for the note that was stuck in the black diary, the one that had been rarely used. Perhaps because it looked so classy, it had been saved for writing special thoughts or experiences but had remained mostly empty till the end. She wanted to read the note once more, even though she remembered the gist of what had been written. Perhaps she thought it assuage her guilt.

Dear Mama, it began. I'm so sorry about this. I'm sorry about everything. I tried to make things better but I couldn't.

Angela sighed. With the benefit of hindsight she knew that the problem wasn't as big as it had seemed then. At the time, a pregnancy seemed the worst possible thing that could happen to a teenage girl.

Ever since I went to the clinic I haven't been able to think or talk or do anything else but think about this.

Of course, an abortion itself wasn't so bad. Angela knew of at least 4 girls in her school who had had an abortion and though people never forgot, they were able to graduate and move on to college. The real problem was ...

no one understands how I feel about him and you think you know him because of what you've heard other people say. he promised me he had stopped using months ago and was clean now but ..

Rolf was a recovering addict who had been given a job at the school as part of a program to help such people get their lives back on track. It was later found that he had had troubles keeping to his regimen and had shot up once or twice after taking the job.

that didn't matter to you. and he would have stayed clean if we had just kept the baby like we wanted but he couldn't take it.

Angela now knew this was bullshit. Yep, he couldn't take losing the child he had had with a 17 year old girl and so went back to heroin instead of helping her through the ordeal. Rolf had stopped coming to school after that and OD'd a month later.

and I can't go on without him and without our baby. Im going to join them both now. I will always be ...

Again, bullshit, but she realised that only now, after so long. Angela felt guilt no more. It was more a visceral hatred that she wanted to take out on the paper in front of her. She wanted to tear it to pieces, but she knew she wasn't capable of of tearing or breaking anything.

The door creaked open for the second time that night. Hannah hadn't entered her daughter's room for the last 11 months, but she thought she had heard a noise there tonight. "Who's there?", she said to the empty room.

... your little girl, Angela.

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