“HOW ODD: Invisible Pain is Always The Hardest”

How odd, isn’t it? You learn something about yourself from pain.
 
When you were still a toddler, your mother took you to a clinic for a vaccination. You don’t remember much, but she said you’d always been an unusual little girl. While your big sister and your little brother were crying during the shot, you barely blinked. Instead, you gazed down at your little arm – where they’d injected you.
 
Then you looked up and just glared at the nurse. Obviously, you weren’t happy that she did that to you. Your mother said you had your father’s eyes, that familiar sharp glare every time he was upset.
 
How odd, wasn’t it? Some may have claimed what a brave, strong little girl you were.
 
When you were four or five, your father took you to his favourite secondhand bookstore in the east side of the city. That night, he was busy chatting with the store owner. You got bored, so you strayed away, completely unattended.
 
A black cat had attracted your attention. It was tame, so you were playing with it for a while. You’d wanted to take it home with you, but the cat just wanted to leave.
 
So your simple, childlike mind made you grab a dirty plastic bag from the nearby dumpster. You’d wanted to put the cat in it. You didn’t want it to go away.
 
You grabbed its tail.
 
“MREOW!” Slash! You pulled your hand to your chest. The black cat stalked off. There was a ghastly red line along the back of your small hand. It was stinging painfully.
 
You didn’t cry. You didn’t have the chance, because his thunderous roar was already right behind you.
 
“WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! DON’T EVER LEAVE LIKE THAT AGAIN!”
 
You said nothing and just looked down. You let him drive you home. Too scared of being yelled at again, you hid your clawed hand. It was bleeding a little.
 
That night, while every one was asleep, you quietly snuck out of your bedroom to wash your hand in the bathroom. After that, you returned to sleep.
 
The next day, you caught a fever. Your mother frowned at the brownish line in your hand, but you said nothing. Besides, you were much too young to play ‘connect-the-dots’.
 
How odd. They always say children are the weakest.
 
Maybe it’s you. Like, when you walked with a cup of steaming hot coffee in your hand and your colleague accidentally bumped into you. Splash!
 
It wasn’t you who had screamed, though, despite your burning hand as the coffee dripped off your fingers.
 
“OH, MY GOD! I’M SO SORRY.”
 
How odd. You weren’t acting tough, because it had really hurt. There was a few seconds of a delayed reaction. Some of them had wondered: Is it even normal? Are you?
 
However, other forms of pain are different stories. When you were called a ‘freak’, ‘fatso’, ‘ugly’, and other nasty names bullies had used to provoke you. When you were laughed at or stabbed in the back. When people lied to you or disappointed you in any other ways, even when you knew that they didn’t mean to.
 
When love breaks your heart…again and again and again until you have grown sick to death of the same result. When every guy you have really loved either doesn’t feel the same, goes away, or just belongs to someone else.
 
Sometimes you wonder: Why even bother?
 
When your father died. When your hazel-eyed best friend moved back home. When your pets and two other friends died too.
 
When you feel like nothing but a failure, letting so many people down. Every moment of weakness you still openly despise, because so many have believed that you are always strong enough for anything in this world.
 
How come your eyes are always like two broken dams after somebody has planted a bunch of active C4s in them? Boom. Splash. Waterfalls.
 
Just like that. What a big, weepy cry-baby, some jerks may say. Too bloody sensitive for your own good.
 
How odd, but maybe not so much. Maybe it’s your own frustration, since invisible pain is always the hardest to handle.
 
Worst of all, you can’t even pretend it’s not there at all…
 
R.
 
(Jakarta, 5/10/2017 – for Jakarta’s Couchsurfing Writers’ Club Weekly Writing Challenge at Caribou Coffee, Sarinah-Thamrin, Central Jakarta. Topic: oddities.)

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