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Tromp L'oeil

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Have you ever taken into consideration what is reality and what is not? Each and every day we pass by hundreds of people wearing various expressions --- happy, sad, excited, anxious. We mask our feelings, our worries, the truth with a mere smile. Facades are created --- illusions overpowering reality. In French, this is called: Trompe L’oeil, two words that have seemed to become my life motto. Growing up in a small Colorado town has taught me a few things about life, especially Trompe L’oeil.

My parents were a very happy couple, as they never hurt one another. It was a great life for them, really. They moved to a beautiful town in the mountains where their jobs paid well and the payments on their house and other living expenses were shockingly minuscule. They had settled down to create their very own family and it wasn't long before a few months later, my father came home to an ecstatic wife where in her hand held a positive pregnancy test. Dad dropped his suitcase and hugged my mom with joy; both anticipation and elation budding within them like Spring flowers. Finally, as nine months passed, our family became validated when I was born -- and thus begins my strange story.

I grew up unaware of the powerful forces beyond humanity's knowledge, or what terrible things they are capable of doing to innocent people. As far as I knew, the worst and most gruesome of actions I was ever aware of was that of ignoring a hungry man or woman on the street pleading for spare change. Even as I grew older into my early teenage years, my comprehension of different dimensions ceased to enter my mind, thus allowing me to live in my own pretentious la la land built by my imagination and ignorance. However, my parents were the type of folks that attended Church every Sunday --- never daring to miss a single sermon. To be honest, I never paid much attention during the Mass merely because when I was younger, my mother allowed me to bring my beloved toy dinosaur and well, I was more interested in its plastic talons and teeth rather than the word being preached. Then as I grew older, my interests shifted from the toy dinosaur to the girls that attended the services with their parents, so I presume you could say I attended Church, but wasn't really there mentally.

For the most part, everything seemed to be normal. Mom and dad were happy, my grades and basic school life were perfect, and on both the interior and exterior view of the three of us, our family life appeared to be and was the ideal example of that of the families seen in old black and white television shows. As I neared the beginning of my junior high school career, however, I noticed mom and dad becoming noticeably miserable. Dad lost his job and mom started to drink. It was getting to the point where it would be a miracle if they didn't argue twice a day. Eventually we stopped going to Church altogether because my parents couldn't stand being in the same room with one another for over ten minutes and just the mere exchange of glares between them made their blood boil. I struggled through middle school with failing grades and had no hope of advancing into high school. Not that I honestly cared, really. I had more prominent concerns to trouble myself with than the purpose of cell membranes and how to use proper grammar. When I look back and ponder those past years for a bit, I have to admit that it truly was a depressing life for all of us.

As I entered my 7th grade year, it wasn't long before my father began coming home later than usual --- despite the fact that his job had been terminated. My mother spent most of those nights swinging her wine glass up, head tilted back as the violet tinted poison washed down her throat. All I was capable of doing was running my fingers along the broken glass of the large family portrait hung upon the wall in our living room; the cracks in its glass symbolizing the new-found tears in our family’s foundation. My mother and I soon discovered that dad had been cheating on her with several women and that very night, my mom nearly killed herself.

Ponder this for a moment: What would you do if at the age of 13 years-old you heard a bone chilling and blood curdling scream emit from your bathroom? Not just any scream, but your very own mother’s. Now, contemplate the added terror of managing to break through the door’s lock only to find her sitting there upon the floor --- razor in one hand, a handful of pills in the other as ruby tinted liquid flows down her arms from the incisions she’s embedded within her once so healthy and beautiful skin.

Thankfully, I had managed to talk her out of proceeding with her suicide attempt, but I will never forget the feel of her frail body as she wailed into my shoulder; her sobs wracking her body and my own as I sobbed with her. My very own mother, who was once so strong and exuberant, the life of the party, young at heart and wiser than a scholar themselves, had become exactly what she and everyone fears to become: Weak. Fear is our own creation and she had succumbed to the evil within; allowing her inner monsters to emerge victorious, but they weren't going to halt at her. No, you see, these demons finally were able to taste a drop of blood and their thirst for more would only intensify making her very own fiends my own.

A little less than two weeks later, both of my parents hopped into our family's Sedan and took a drive out to the court house to file for a divorce. The travel there was the usual melancholic event, but for once in what seemed like an eternity, both of them never uttered a single word to each other. Sitting alone in the backseat, tears silently spilled over my eyes as they escaped down my cheeks and dripped onto my jeans. I was too engrossed in my own mental scenarios of how my life would be from this day on and who I would choose to live with due to custody issues to even notice a driver pulling out of the bar parking-lot across the street; clearly intoxicated.

Within what seemed like a blink of an eye, the truck rammed into the passenger side of our car; the sound of metal clashing with metal piercing my ears. Shards of glass and chunks of car bits were spewed all over the road; steam from the engines polluting the air and discoloring it to a musty gray color. Luckily, since my father was driving, he took the least damage. However, my mother was unfortunate enough to be in a position where a thick steel rod flew off the opposing truck’s rack; breaking through the window before lodging directly into her right temple.

My father, who had somehow managed to dodge the remainder of the moving rod, froze in his spot; his grey eyes wide as he stared in bewilderment at the woman he had spent majority of his life with. Though they were both on their way to be separated from each other, he had truly departed with her whole being entirely without so much of a single farewell. The pained look in his eye, the way his fingers gripped the steering wheel until his knuckles whitened, the way his whole body seemed to be paralyzed, his eyes glassing over as his teeth clenched to the point where the bone structure of his jaw jutted out through his skin, it was at that moment I knew he would never forgive himself. Whether he liked to admit it or not, considering his stubbornness, my father would always love my mother and he would be willing to sacrifice anything and everything if necessary to get her back.

“Son,” his flat tone of voice complimented his expressionless face as he stared at the gruesome sight before him, the blare of sirens adding background noise, “don’t worry. Everything is going to be okay.”

And with those words, I felt my blood turn to ice as my father turned to me; grey eyes somber as he managed to crack a smile despite the tragedy that had just occurred.

To be continued...

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