• “SELINA STOP IT!” she would scream as her long fingers reached for my hips. My six year old voice would wail and scream, pleading so hard so that she wouldn’t hit me. However hard I fought, I still knew she was going to hit me. She would hit me and leave another mark, maybe on my face or my backside.
    “But mamma what did I do?!” I would cry out in confusion, half gurgled and mumbled through my sobbing. She would never tell me what I did wrong, she would just keep telling me to stop. Stop. Stop. Stop.
    I always used to think, Stop what? But I learned quickly that saying that out loud was a sure way to get another slap on the face in the shape of a hand or a pretty ring my mamma was wearing that day.
    “What did I do this time mamma!? JUST TELL ME MOM! JUST TELL ME WHAT I DID WRONG!”
    But instead of answering me, she hits me. She would always hit me.
    I would just sit and cry after that, thinking My mamma hit me. Again.
    My safe haven of comfort and kindness had been destroyed by her anger. My sanctuary was broken. My room became my prison.
    The back of the white door stares back at me as I look up between my tear drenched hands. Looking around the darkly lit room, I glance at all the smiling faces staring down at me off the shelves, pretending that everything is okay, and that my mamma always loves me no matter what.
    Liars, each and every one of them. The only really nice friend I have is my towel. My towel doesn’t have a face to fake a smile with, and it doesn’t have any hands or feet. Its just a simple piece of white cloth that’s fuzzy on one side. Curling up on the floor, I put my towel under my head, and cry myself to sleep.
    Looking back on it now, my haven wasn’t really something that you could describe. It was fun. It was happy. It was everything a little six year old girl could want. Although most people think of a church as a sanctuary or sacred haven, my place of peace was this small room meant only for me, but only when the door was closed.
    My room seemed a lot bigger then, the ceiling seeming to stretch on for forever and ever; a never ending space of white that continues up to the sky. My carpet was white as well, but it was always covered with toys of some sort. That’s what my room was mostly composed of: toys. Of course, being a little girl’s room, there were many different toys. Some were Barbie dolls; others were coloring and tracing books. But most of the toys covered my room were dusty stuffed animals and thousands upon thousands of plastic, miniature Disney figurines. The room smelled of must and plastic, leading to the millions of flies that were trapped between my blinds and the window. The bed had stuffed animals piled high on the blue bedspread. A large fluffy dog sat, staring blankly from atop that bed, taking up most of the free side. A cardboard cutout of the Little Mermaid covered the wall above my head when I slept, along with about six nightlights to guide my way through a dark, scary night of sleep.
    This was who I was when I was younger, a giant pack rat. I saved everything that made me happy and joyful as a child. You could find almost anything you wanted in my room, except for one thing. Books. I refused to keep any type of reading book in my room. I claimed books were, “icky and boring and not fun at all.” The little printed letters on the blank pages made my head swim with confusion and boredom. One of my favorite pastimes, besides dancing, was staring out my window at the stars. I can sometimes still remember having to climb on my mini plastic chair, just to watch the top of the neighbors drive by out of the tall blue-curtained window.
    As the years went by, I eventually got tall enough to look out of my window at the sky, but sadly, even though I was thirteen, I wasn’t tall enough to see the sidewalk standing flat-footed. I still had to stand on my tip-toes. I can remember that the stars looked so pretty that night.
    My mom isn’t at home, so I’m blasting AFI in my room, engulfing myself in the music. I want to lose myself tonight, because tonight is a special night. Tonight I give myself pure ecstasy. Tonight I reach the highest peak possible without taking drugs. I mean, what else can an emo girl do on a Saturday night when she is home alone?
    I reach under my bed and try to grab for the needle packet that I put there last night, but I can’t seem to find it, so I go downstairs to get the carving knife. That knife happens to be the sharpest knife in the whole house. As I clasp it in my hands, its cold metal slipping through my fingers, the words of the song “Miss Murder” are trumpeting out of my room:

    Hey Miss Murder can I
    Hey Miss Murder can I
    Make beauty stay if I take my life?

    I make the slow climb back to my room, anxious for the rush I’m about to feel. I sit down on my floor, taking deep breaths to calm my rapidly racing heart. Slowly I push open the blade, hearing each knot click into place. Ever so gently, I place the knife down on my left wrist, my right hand slightly quivering. I press down, applying pressure, until I can feel the knife wedged in between two thin pieces of skin. Ever so slightly, I pull the blade horizontally across my wrist. Suddenly I feel the rush. It filled my whole body in a pleasure I only know when this blade and I met. We were connected in no other way that could be reached with any other human being. I feel the cool metal swimming inside my skin, making the funny red water drip from its delicate kiss. I feel my cheeks lift into a smile, and I laugh out loud. Life is so good, oh so good when he was with me. My lover blade was almost done with his kiss to me. He was almost to depart me; I pay no attention. I’m writhing too much in pleasure to be depressed about him leaving me.
    And then it was over. Our kiss had ended.
    No I think, not yet.
    And so, my lover blade and I started another long and passionate kiss, continuing on late into the night.

    The next morning:
    My mother and I were arguing in the morning. She had woken me from my sleep, seeing the twenty red marks running across my forearm. Her feet were planted firmly in front of my door, and I was planted firmly in front of my bed.
    At this point in the argument, she is crying, hard, and I am standing, not shaken, not tear-stained, but angry. My anger rooted from her displeasure from me and my “behavior”. She tried to change me into her perfect image, again.
    After wiping her eyes, she looked up at me through sad eyes. “Who are you,” she sobbed, “and what have you done with my daughter?”
    I said nothing to say to that. I just stared her down, pretending she was nothing, and that she was the enemy in this war called home. I was the gun while she was the deer, helpless in her own defense.
    Slowly, after seeing my hawk-like stare, she backed out of the room, drying her eyes and crying all the while. I could still hear her crying as she walked downstairs to do the laundry.
    I slammed the door, wishing she would die.
    My room was a Satan place, full of nothing but hatred for my mom. The blue bed spread still rested on my mattress, but most of the shelves were clean of Barbie dolls and Disney figurines. My walls were becoming covered in dark pictures, because in reality, I wanted my room black. Since my mother wouldn’t let me, I took it into my own hands to make sure my room was as dark as me. Being dark person that I was, I also didn’t have many friends. People were afraid of me at school. I had a very close knit group, but not many close friends that didn’t indulge in the same “activities” as I did. So in place of human friends, I took up reading. The first book I became intrigued with was Green Angel by Alice Hoffman. In the book, the main character’s family dies in a fire, and the whole town burns, leaving her hometown in complete ruin. That’s what my world was like. I related to this character very well, and ever since I finished that book, my closest friends were the paper-backed covers of another adventure. My book shelf, which in the past contained nothing but plastic toys, held many books. Only one shelf was completely filled, but the shelf below it was quickly losing free space. The room still smelled of must, but a new smell was added to the mixture, burnt hair. I always straightened my hair. That way, if I was caught crying in school again, I could cover it up with my straight bangs.
    Opening my closet, I grabbed my black sweater and my cut-up jeans. Today I was going over to my boyfriend’s house. I had to look my best for him, so that maybe he would think I was worth something. When I pulled the sweater over my head, I was hoping he would let me please him today, because that’s all I was good for. I heard a honk outside the house, which meant his mom was here to pick me up. So, quickly grabbing a large band-aid from the bathroom, I hurried out the door in my dark clothes with my hair covering my face, hoping my mother would die in some horrible car accident on her way to work.

    “Hey mom, I’m home.”
    It’s a Saturday night, and I’m home from my boyfriend’s house. Three years have passed, and my mom is sitting and watching TV.
    “Did you have fun at Jay’s house?”
    “Yeah I did, thanks for letting me go. How was your day?”
    “It was okay. I didn’t do much. I did some laundry, then I went over to Mark’s for a little while. You need to show me how to work that Rock Band, because me and Mark don’t know how to do it.”
    “Okay mom, just tell me when you want to learn.”
    I go over and give her a hug before I head off for bed, but before I close my bedroom door, my mom says, “Selina?”
    “Yeah mom?” I curiously ask as I turn around to face her.
    “I’m really proud of you,” she says through aged and kind eyes. My mother has been through so much of me that when I hear her say this, I know she is telling the truth.
    Feeling a warmth spread through my body, I smile and I say, “Thanks mom. Good night.”
    “Good night, babe, I love you.”
    “Love you too.”
    Closing the door to my room, I look outside my window, and see the full moon between the blindfold. I go over to it and gently pull up the shutter. At this time, I no longer have to stand on my tip-toes to see the sidewalk beneath me. I can see the whole yard below my window, including the neighbor’s yard across the street. A flashback crosses my mind of all the times before this night that I had looked out the window.
    Now that I think about it I thought to myself, most of the times I stood here looking up at the stars, I was always mad at my mom. We used to fight all the time I reflect, and we never used to get along. I always wished she would die, and she always wanted me to be better. I stop for a moment, letting the silence ponder around in my thoughts. Then, having a sudden moment of spirituality, under my breath I say, “Thank you for bringing my family back together; because, if you hadn’t, I probably wouldn’t be here right now. Thank you.”
    Pulling off my T-shirt and jeans, I slowly turn on the light closest to my bed. I walk back and turn off the main room light, for even though I am sixteen years old, ten years away from using six nightlights to guide me through the night, the darkness still scares me when my eyes haven’t adjusted. Pulling the covers over my head, I reach up and shut the smaller light off, leaving me in complete darkness, and waiting for sweet sleep to sweep me off my feet.
    My room has completely changed. The room no longer smells of burnt hair or must, but of pumpkin spice or sweet vanilla, and the bedspread is now a deep purple. There are still some pillows on top of the bed spread, and there is only one stuffed animal resting there. This animal is a small panda bear holding a bamboo leaf that my boyfriend won me at the county fair last year. The carpet is still white, while the room has stayed covered in millions of pictures. By now I have almost run out of space on the walls, leaving only the ceiling, but that’s because on the ceiling there are beaded hangings in deep purple and blue hues. My dresser has millions of candles and a picture of my dance team, smiling happily right before Spring Show of 2008. My curtains have finally changed color. They are no longer that dusty blue color, but are now curtained with black lace, entwined with purple Christmas lights. Even my smallish book case is filling up. To this date I have almost run out of room on most of the main shelves.
    My whole life is always surrounded by change, whether it be in my room, through me, or even through my loving mother. Through my whole life, those things continued to change with my age, interests, and personality to open up.
    Growing into the woman that I am now, I went through many changes in my adolescence. First I wandered through the childish laughter and joy stage where I enjoyed myself through pack-ratting stuffed animals and plastic toys. During this time, my mom and I had a rough time standing on each other’s terms. I was a small confused child that sometimes became too much for my mother to handle, and she was a woman under stress from her recent divorce, just trying to find a way to get by with a small child. When I was this young, six year old, I couldn’t see how hard my mother was struggling, and so I thought that she hated me. I believed I always did things to make her upset. Now that I’m older, I understand she was just scared for my and her own future. Now, I understand she truly loved me.
    Then I entered the world of emo children, throwing all Disney items and Barbie dolls from my room. Barbie dolls scared me after the age of nine. During this time, I went through some devastating changes for my family, and also my room grew with it. I threw out most of the stuffed animals, and began reading more and more. During this time, my mom and I had a rough time standing on each other’s terms. I was a young woman who was confused to her purpose on the planet called Earth, while she was just an average mother trying to deal with a young woman who couldn’t seem to find herself among the rest of the crowd. When I was this young, thirteen year old, I couldn’t see how hard my mother tried to save me from myself. I couldn’t see how confused she was and how cruel I was in return to her kindness. I believed she was always out to ruin my life. Now that I’m older, I understand she was just scared for my and her own future. Now, I understand she truly loved me.
    As of today, I am average. I do not class myself among a single stereotype, but among many. My room is a collage of all things that make up me, myself, and I. I now enjoy the Disney store and Hot Topic when I go to the mall. During the present, my mom and I still have a rough time standing on each other’s terms, but it’s only about the small things. We hardly ever fight anymore. I am a young woman who enjoys talking to her mom about a lot of different things, and she is a loving mother who is glad to have her normal daughter back. At the age of sixteen years old, I can finally see how hard my mother has pushed just to make my life possible to live. I can finally see how in the past, everything she decided and will continue to decide is in my best favor. I believe my mom will always be there for me, and I believe that the past is what makes us who we are.
    They say that, “yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift, and that’s why it is called the present.” Now that I am older, I understand what this means. I understand that yesterday is something I can’t change and never will be able to, so I need to get on with my life in preparation of tomorrow. I understand that tomorrow will come soon enough; sooner or later in that tomorrow, I will become a mother just as my mother has done, and her mother had done before her. And when I become a mother, I will wish for nothing but the yesterdays that I slowly let slip me by. But most of all, I understand that today and everyday is worth living only in the moment. Live for change. Let it surround you as another presence in your life. Just as my room has physically changed around my emotional life, it is a physical reminder that tells me just how far I have come. It shows me that I stopped living in the never-never of the yesterdays, and I stopped worrying about what was waiting for me in the tomorrows. This room is who I am, reflecting every aspect that makes up me as a human being. But I know that the tomorrows will always come, and my room will continue to change with those tomorrows and me. They will change into something even more ready to give as a gift, to none other then the Great Gift Giver: life.