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Fiction--If Only

By Jessica Bowman; For The Clock
On October 17, 2017

If Only 

Jessica Bowman

For the Clock 

At my college there was a sort of Zen garden. It was tiny and only sat about five feet in each direction. It was a circle maze of flat stones. The plaque beside it read that its purpose was to go on a journey through the maze and find peace in the middle. My roommate and I joked in a sarcastic pessimistic way. I silently hoped it would provide what  it said it did. We walked the maze. I'm not sure what I expected, something big? Some sort of revelation that would change my life for the better. Nothing came of it and we walked off like we came in. Sarcastic and mocking. A year later I look back at it under a moonless starless night and think, “If only.”

I wonder often if my roommate felt the same thing. In the tumul tuous course of our lives I imagine she must have felt that a lot. Kayla never liked sharing her life though. Doing so would mean spilling forth every one of the dark reasons that lead to her self-mutilation. And of course then she would hear the ‘I’m sorry’s and the pity talks. She would worry her mind with the idea that none of the people around her actually cared for her after she revealed her beaten past to them. That they only pitied her. And wanted her to feel welcome but didn’t really want to welcome her. I of course knew this. But it wasn’t until the first nine weeks of college that I understood exactly what she meant and how even I had contributed to this cesspool of pitying people.

In all honesty there could have been quite a lot of experiences that drove me and Kayla to the decisions we made. Perspective is a matter of the mind and one can connect a seemingly remote experience to the worst memory of their childhood quite easily. Never will I be able to claim I had been through the hard times that Kayla tried so hard to hide from the world. Often though I have wished I had that privilege. Privilege...Can it even be called that? It’s a curse, Kayla knew that. But how ironic it was that the zen garden provided the exact opposite of what it was supposed to. Not a way out of our troubles but instead the reason that reminds us why we wish it had worked in the first place. A way to laugh about them maybe? But all in all definitely a reminder. 

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