hi, i'm Mia. i'm 12 years old now, although i may look i'm not. it's my birthday today and i should be happy. so i smile when people talk to me and let them kiss me on my cheek and hug me and say they hope i have a great year when all i really want to do is sit in a a dark room alone where everything is quiet and cry, and cry, and cry until the pain in my chest goes away. i can't though - Ma told me to pretend like nothing happened and i don't want to tick her off again, so i will do as she says.
it's not like i cry because i WANT to. i don't like crying. it makes me eyes puffy, my nose runny and it also makes my head hurt very, very badly. it makes me want to hate the world, it makes me feel like the world hates me and then i want to be alone because no one loves me and i love no one. i don't mind being alone, but after a while it gets lonely because deep inside i don't really hate the world - it's just that everyone hates me. and so i don't like crying. but then i HAVE to because some people say hurtful things all the time and then i just can't help myself. most of the time i just can't hold myself back and i say things i don't really mean - i just say them because the person hurt me and i want to hurt them back. i try not to, doing that only makes me feel even more terrible but it's like when i'm hurt there's another Mia in me - an evil one - who just takes over and i can't ever, ever stop her.
this morning, however, i didn't say anything because it really was my fault and it doesn't hurt all that much when i know it is. also, the other Mia doesn't rise up when we both know we've done something wrong. but it hurt today because there were lots of other things i was blamed for and i didn't really understand why. Ma said i should study a little because i have an exam on Monday but i didn't want to. it's my birthday and no one studies history on their birthday. besides, tomorrow is Sunday and i can finish up all of it tomorrow. also, Aunt Carroll had given me my first Agatha Christie - And Then There Were None and i wanted to read so, so bad. i told Ma, but she wouldn't let me read it and so i thought of doing what i'd see Jenna do in class - Jenna makes Mrs. Stanley think she's paying attention in class but she really isn't. she puts her BOP magazines in the middle of her textbook and pores over pictures of the Jonas Brothers (she has a crush on all three, and i always tell her she can't marry all of them and she has to pick one but she doesn't care). but she never gets caught because to the teacher it looks like she's reading the lesson and not the magazines.
it worked - well, kind of. the book is so much thicker than the magazine and it took me a while to master the knack of holding them both together right. it all went smoothly until, when i was half way through the book, Ma's shadow loomed up behind me. i wasn't prepared for that. she caught me and what followed wasn't very nice.
she said lots of things - about how i was a cheat, and how i'd even dared to cheat people on my birthday. she said i was a very, very bad person and she called me a b*tch. she also said she loved my brother so much more, because he was so sweet and he would never do such a thing. she said i was the reason she and Pa didn't get along very well together, and that it was because of me that everyone at home was always in a bad mood. i'd made her life hell, that's what i'd done.
i stopped paying attention after a while - the other Mia helps me do that too. she fills my head with a funny "white" noise which blocks out everything else. i stopped looking at Ma too. i just stared at a page in the book and stared, and stared until all the letters turned into funny, wriggly black squiggles which made me dizzy. i started to cry then, and then the "white" noise stopped and Ma went away and the page wasn't wriggly, squiggly and black anymore - it was back to normal but wet because my tears had dripped down my nose and fallen over it.
i didn't want to ruin the book so i shut it and put it away.
i apologised but Ma ignored me the rest of the day, even when people started coming over for lunch. she spoke to me once, when she pulled me into the kitchen and asked me to stop sulking, and smile and be cheerful - she'd had enough of me already. she didn't want to give Pa another reason to yell at her - because he would. he'd say she was the reason why i was such a b*tch. that was when the other Mia, who just couldn't take it anymore, said something which i don't remember. all i remember is that it earned me a slap across my face, and a sharp rebuke. and Ma reminded me again - i'd better be cheerful or else...
i wanted to tell her that i really wasn't sulking and i couldn't pretend to be happy because:
a. i felt guilty
b. i was a b*tch
c. no one, not even Pa, Ma, or my brother (my brother and Ma always take each other's side) loved me
so i'm going about smiling now, and trying to laugh when Uncle John says things and breaks into loud guffaws, even though the things he says to me aren't really funny. i play with Kate and Keira, and even let Luke tear up my Zac Effron poster because i do not want to get mad at him, tell Aunt Carroll and be a b*tch. i do everything Ma told me to, and i wait for her to smile me at just once because it is my birthday, and i am sorry for what i did this morning and i'm trying so hard to be good.
but Ma doesn't notice.
and i find myself waiting for everyone to leave, waiting for it to get dark. then i can turn off the lights and slip into bed and wonder if i'm really a b*tch, and cry because i know i don't want to be one. also, i'm hoping that someone will come looking for me because they want to be with me. and when they find me crying all alone in the dark, they give me hug - a nice, big warm one - and tell me that they absolutely couldn't bear to watch me cry like that because, after all, i was the one who gave them reason to be happy.