His knee jerk reaction was to hate her in that moment. It was how he responded to bad things happening in his life, trying to drag down everyone around him, reminding everyone that the world was a shitty place and that she couldn’t possibly understand the pain he was going through. But then he remembered, and he took a second and looked at her. For the first time in years—he really looked at her.
It had been so easy for him to forget what she’d been through, too. After all, they’d only met because they ended up in the same home—sharing that same room far too small for the dozens of children who stayed there, all because they had suffered a tragedy that left them without a home or a family. But she had responded to her tragedy by trying to make the rest of her life, and those lives around her, as happy as possible. It was easy to forget in her whirlwind of positivity that it was complete devastation that brought her to this point.
Then, he remembered the details. He’d pushed it out of his mind because it wasn’t something that he wanted to think about—and he was lucky enough that it wasn’t his life to have to remember. But he remembered, during one of the nights they were together in that group home, sitting alone in a dark corner because she couldn’t sleep, that he finally worked up the courage to ask what had happened to her, and she had finally gotten the nerve to tell him.
Her mother was crazy and her father was a philanderer. One night, when she was only eight years old, her father came home late—disheveled and a bit tipsy. Her mother hadn’t let her go to sleep. She had kept telling her daughter that she wanted her to see exactly what men were like, what kind of man her father was. When he came in, she started screaming about smelling the other women on him, and how he wasn’t going to keep disrespecting her like this. When he told her to shut up, that he could do whatever he wanted, that was too much for her mother. The gun was already out of it’s safe, and she went for it now. She watched it all. Her mother took out her rage on her father, before taking it out on herself as well.
She was eight years old, sleep deprived, hungry, and had no ability to truly grasp what she had just seen. If the neighbors hadn’t heard the shots and called the police, there is no telling how long she would have sat there, just waiting. It was less than a week later that she was dumped into a group home because there was no one in her family that would have anything to do with her parents, let alone their offspring.
She had every right to be jaded and bitter and terrible. She could throw it in his and everyone’s face that she had it worse than all of them. But she didn’t. She did the exact opposite of everything he did when he got upset. And just perhaps, he was the one in the wrong.