Falling on deaf ears

Her name is Abigail Spencer. On the fridge, next to the finger painting from her first day of school, is a faded piece of paper with ‘Abigail’ written on it, the handwriting large and childishly uneven. It is a reminder of that afternoon she had raced out of the classroom towards her mother, proudly bearing her first signature.

Abigail knows that her parents used to love her. They told her so. They used to tell her that it wasn’t her fault; the fighting was just because sometimes grown ups don’t agree, but as she grew older they gave up trying to protect her. She learnt about the true nature of people earlier than most children do.

According to Abigail, people are vicious and selfish at heart and no matter how hard you try, you’ll end up bitter and horrible in the end. So she doesn’t try to care; she doesn’t see the point. In her seventeen years, she’s earned a reputation as a pessimist and a cynic and she knows it, but somehow she can’t bring herself to care about that either.

Sometimes, in her more detached and lucid moments, she wonders why she is the way she is. She blames it on her childhood; when one is surrounded by anger and hatred, how can one grow up to be anything but full of anger and hatred?

There’s a game Abigail used to play when she was a child. It doesn’t have a name but it’s easy to play. She used to close her eyes and imagine; writing stories in her head where the characters live happily ever after. She used to believe they could, somewhere in the world, come true. She used it to distract herself from the numbing mindlessness of the world around her and sometimes it even worked.

There came a point in her life, though, when Abigail realised that it couldn’t be true. That was when she realised she was too old for games. That was when she realised her fate; to live out her life in a state of suspension, never really happy, but not exactly sad either.

Abigail takes pleasure in the small things. She loves the smell of wet dirt after the rain and the sudden swooping feeling she gets when she misses a step on the stairs. She loves the coarse sounds of sandpaper rubbing against skin and seeing her face reflected in the glossy paint that covers the walls of her bathroom. She loves the shock of heavily spiced curry and the bite of a cold wind.

Her parents, on the odd occasion when they actually talk to her, say she has a strange outlook on life but Abigail doesn’t care about that either. If there’s one thing Abigail believes in, it’s that no matter how much people think she needs to be fixed, she doesn’t need their approval. Is that cynical? Of course.

Abigail is, if nothing else, predictable.


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