“Make it stop please. Make it stop. Stop all the bullying and the insults and the insecurities and the worries and the pain. Please, please make it stop.”

                Laughter and screaming pierced the atmosphere and the little innocent kids running around affected her more than anyone else could know. A little boy came skipping up to her and held her gaze. That cheerful smile, those bright twinkling eyes brought about a youthful look no amount of beauty products could replicate. “Jie jie, are you okay?”

                Involuntarily tears streamed down her sunken cheeks as she stared down into those bright twinkling eyes. That little boy knew nothing. He was all but a little naïve boy who still believed that the world was perfect. He was protected by the harsh reality of the world by his beautiful child faith.

                He had not yet grown up to experience the lies and the unfairness of the world. He had not yet grown up to experience the bullies and the oppression of the world. He had not yet grown up to experience the pressure to do well and the pressure to be look good. He had not yet grown up to understand how fragile earthly accomplishments were. He had not grown up to understand how time was so precious. All he understood was that Earth was all but a playground, somewhere he could have fun and relax in without a care in the world.

                She had everything everyone wanted; a huge house, a happy family, many friends, class president, top scorer. It all went downhill when her father left. One day he was there, and the next he was gone. Something about war, they said. No one knew for sure what had happened., Nevertheless, his absence left a huge hole in her heart that could not be filled. Her mother suffered from depression, and her siblings started acting up. She was left in charge of her household at the tender age of 13. She lay in bed for hours at a time, living in constant paranoia. Her personality and her looks took a turn for the worse and all her ‘BFF’s trickled away. Desperate, she bought beauty products after beauty products, clothes after clothes, skipping meal after meal to get skinner and prettier to regain her popular status. They just laughed and sneered at her though, but that did not mean she stopped trying. Her grades deteriorated because of that, and she was stripped of her title of class president. Due to her addiction to beauty products and fashion, her family struggled at home, losing the big beautiful house, the black shiny car and all the precious artefacts passed down through the generations. Even then, they survived on bread and water for every meal.

                At night after she had taken care of her family, she would trudge back to her corner of the apartment and let the tears flow freely.

                She would let the emotions overwhelm her, the anger, the sadness, the pain, the torment. She would ask herself everyday what she did to deserve her situation. She would ask herself everyday why her dad had been taken to fight in the war. She would ask herself why there was war. The questions would repeat themselves in her head until she eventually drifted off to sleep in the wee hours of the day.

                As she sat looking down in those expectant eyes, her mouth cracked into a rare smile. “You know what kid? Things are not fine now and I am definitely not alright. But I know things will get better.”

                And there in those youthful, bright eyes she saw the hope that her dad had always told her to cherish and hold on to. There she saw her father, there she found hope. 

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