It was like every other day. There was no possible way for it to be better nor worse. I was alone again, perhaps the zillionth time in my life. My thoughts were my only companions while I slowly withered away in the confines of the four walls I called home. In my room, I sat with my back to the door and my knees to my chest. It was long past anyone's bedtime. There was not a sound to be heard except for the occasional hoot of the owl or the watchful bark of the dog next door. I watched as the moonlight smuggled through the window blinds and sliced through the darkness akin to a silver knife and lit up the photograph on my nightstand. Lightly treading over to it, I pick up the photograph and run my hands over it. The cracked glass and bruised frame were evidence of the neglect and hatred it had received throughout its life. There in the photo is a seemingly happy family, successful by the rolls Royce in the background. Anyone else would remark that they were a lucky family and the daughter was as opportune. Not me, though, only I could tell the forced smile on my face and aggressive grip of my mother on my shoulder.
A light tapping could be heard on the other side of the door. So light, it almost seemed like it was willing me to ignore it. I sigh and cast a cold look to the offending photograph in my hands and wear a sadistic smile as it slips from my grasp and shatters once more. I have no regret.
Bemoaning the thought of having to open the door to meet reality but do so anyway. On the other side stood miss periwinkle, my governess since I was five. Her face was contorted into a forced smile as she used all of her willpower to be pleasant to me. And so I return the expression, I pretend to be pleased to see her.
"Your parents are due to arrive in ten minutes, young mistress," she drawled, feigning respect and interest.
Instantly, her words cause an overwhelming feeling of sadness and betrayal to weigh upon my chest. I blankly nod to my governess and shut the door behind me with another word.
I shake my head in despair. "Here we go again," I think. I look to the vanity mirror, frown at my disheveled appearance, slowly pick up the comb, and beg it doesn't break. My untamable knots are pulled into a tight braid. My oversized grey hoodie is traded for a pretty pink princess dress and my sneakers for tall six-inch heels that I was bound to trip over in. The foundation my mother bought me for Christmas is generously applied. "Hope it will be enough that ugly face of yours," she had said, tossing me the 'gift'. I just pray it is enough to cover my dark circles and that the bags beneath my eyes would go unnoticed.
I slip out of my room as quiet as a mouse, "As unwanted as well," I muse. Just as I approach the door, the maid has let them in. Mother, with her nose upturned, struts into the house like a spoiled queen and surveys me as one would a stray pup while making the decision to either kick it into the mud or risk ruining the shoes.
"Decent," she sneered, "But next time, wear more jewellery," she then walks past without so much a glance.
I look up to see my usually stern father and almost take a step back. My brown eyes widen as his own blue ones soften in sorrow. I blink, thinking it is a trick of the light only to see the same softness.
"Laelynn," he whispers. My name sounds foreign on his tongue. It was so long ago he called me by name. He takes a step towards me with outstretched arms, "I'm so sorry,"
I step into the hug and wrap my arms tightly around him. I rest my head against his chest as he stroked my ivory locks. The tears I didn't realize I was holding back till now flowed down in a gushing waterfall.
"You promised!' I choke out, the feeling of betrayal now stronger than ever, "You promised!" I shout again and push him away from me, "You promised to make time! You promised to be here for me this time!"
Father looked at me sadly, his eyes shadowed over with grief and guilt. He pulls me into his arms, and I break out into inconsolable sobs, "I'm so sorry, sweetheart," he whispers, "I'm so so sorry,"
"Fifteen years," I mumble, clutching the front of his shirt tighter, "For fifteen years, you promised you would celebrate my birthday with me." I scream, "FOR FIFTEEN YEARS YOU LIED TO ME!"
The sadness in his voice catches me off guard and then melts my heart into a puddle, and I decide to dwell over it no longer. It didn't make sense to cry over something that would never come true.
"You lied to me," I finally mumble, giving in to my fate.
Father lets go of me and awkwardly pulls out a small lumpy package from his briefcase. He hands it to me with a sheepish smile. "You might be too old for this now," he said, running a hand through his salt and peppered hair, "But I hope you like it,"
I slowly take the package from his hands. It was wrapped in silver and green wrapping paper with just too many stars and a loose silver bow. It almost looked last minute, but my heart glowed at the prospect of having even received a present from his hands. I rip the wrapping paper away and gasp at what my hands now held.
A purple teddy bear with big black beads for eyes and adorable tiny ears. It seemed to have gone through a rough time in the past. The bear looked up at me with an innocent expression, and I crack a smile.
I looked to my father, who was observing me all the while, and hugged him tightly and attempted to convey all my gratitude and love for him, which I couldn't express in words through that one hug.
"Thanks, Dad," I said with tears in my eyes.
He gave me one of his rare genuine smiles, "Happy birthday, my darling,"
Fifteen years later, I look over to my daughter tucked in bed. In her arms lie my teddy bear, the first and last gift I had ever received from my father. I turn off the lights and look at the stars out the window.