I slammed the book on my nightstand harder than I expected, half wishing it would wake my mother and have her rescue me like she used to when I was younger, dashing in to ward off whatever demanded warding. She would sit next to me and hold my head against her chest, rocking back and forth, assuring me that could fix all of my problems. I waited to hear her footsteps.

There was nothing but white noise--bubbles of the fish tank, an air conditioner's motor, the whir of a box fan and my muffled sniffling. I took shallow breaths and bit my lower lip almost hard enough to draw blood, the pain stifling what wanted to be screams.

This was my first night at home after graduation. My first night sleeping in a foreign bed in a house that seemed much older than when I left it. I was sleeping in a guest bedroom, a room I used throughout high school, but I still preferred to think of it as a place for temporary rest, a bed in which I paused before moving on with more important matters.

It was also the night that I realized I would no longer be seeing my friends on a regular basis. I stared at the ceiling, reflecting on the past. I thought about her. I began to cry. I felt so weak. Pitiful. "Get over it. Move on." But I couldn't. I can't. "Get over it."

My tears thoroughly permeated my pillow and when I finally did fall asleep, my sadness followed me through my dreams. I couldn't stop thinking that there was something wrong with me. Every vivid sequence highlighted another flaw.

Every day I try to convince people that I'm confident, strong, unmovable, independent. If I had even a tenth of the confidence I portrayed, I would make a decent human being.

I thought of her smile, the way it highlights her eyes.

The next morning, long before anyone else's dreams had ended, I awoke with a knot in my stomach and a perpetual headache. I turned on my right side and noted the book on my night stand. The spine read:

"My Antonia" by Willa Cather.

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