Status: Complete. Short. Enjoy :)

It's Not Your Fault.


He can feel everybody's eyes on him, but that's starting to feel normal by now. Just a few months ago, he was an anonymous boy with a dream and now he's a writer sitting down in front of a small crowd. His first book is going to be officially released today, and he can barely contain himself. He's squirming on the chair, sitting back and trying to control the way his hands are shaking. His editor's figure, sitting next to him, is slightly comforting, but it doesn't erase his anxiety altogether.

The crowd starts lining up at his editor's orders and, soon, he's faced with the first smiling face. He can take them. He can ignore his shaking hands and shake foreigners' hands for the sake of his book. He brought this upon himself, writing a book about his life that ended up being a success before it was actually published. He didn't want this. He just wanted to let it all out, get rid of his feelings and overcome his past. He didn't ask for fame, but his editor says he can't control it now and he can simply surrender to it.

So he does.

He meets the first person and shakes her hand, gives her the first autograph he's ever signed. He's not buried in shame anymore. His past is over and he's through with his haunting memories. He put it all out in a book and it's releasing him of every ghost he's ever had in his soul. He's over everything and he's ready to move on. He's now focused on what really matters, and that's these people and their warm, understanding smiles.

"Thank you so much for your testimony. It's a light at the end of a dark tunnel. I don't know you, but I'm proud you made it out of your troubles," the first woman says, looking straight into his eyes. He doesn't look away, swallowing his fears down and seeing his past in her eyes. He's been trying to deal with female motherly looks, but now he can barely remember why he avoided them in the first place.

It wasn't your fault. You were only a child. You didn't know what was in the flask, you didn't recognize the smell. You had never smelled anything like it before. You didn't cause any of it. You didn't do anything. You didn't do it. You didn't do it.

The repeated words clobber your brain and haunt your dreams. You wish them away, but every night revolves around what happened and this guilt that you feel. Yet it's not your fault. You didn't know. You didn't do it. Calm down, it's not your fault. It was an accident.

"Look at you," she tells you motherlessly. "You can't ever stay out of trouble, can you? I can't leave you alone, not even turn my head to the side for a few seconds. You have to destroy everything, don't you?"

You don't want to listen to her, but you can't block her out either. She's your mother and you've been taught to respect her, to honor her with all your heart. You can't talk back, can't risk any more of your health. And today you can't even look at her, ashamed of what your mistake did to your body.

"Look at you," she tells you again. "Who's going to look at you now? You will never be a child again, not with those marks all over your body, all over your face. You're always going to be a monster, the careless monster who threw alcohol into the fireplace. The monster that blew our living room up. Don't expect me to respect you again, not with those marks on your face. You will always be the one who did that to yourself."

You didn't do it. You didn't do anything wrong. You were playing by the fireplace and she didn't store the flask away. You didn't know what was in it. You didn't know it would explode right up in your face and leave you these marks forever. You didn't even know fire could be so harmful.

You didn't know. You didn't do it. You didn't do it.

"I admire your honesty and your courage," another stranger tells him, shaking his hand. He watches her slide the book over the table, closer to him, so he can sign it. Before he does, he keeps listening to her words. "You made me believe that the world is good to you if you fight against your insecurities. Thank you so much."

There are many more examples of thankful people, women and men, stopping in front of him, looking into his eyes and asking for his autograph. This feels severely flattering, because he knows he's no better than anyone else. He just went through a horrible life and purged it all in 200 pages. He's just a forever scarred man, lucky enough to become friends with an editor who was willing to publish his life story.

"You're a good for nothing! You can't make your quota because you disgust people," he yells at you, slapping you hard across your scars. It's still not your fault. You can't force people into buying your stepdad's articles. You can't put a gun to their heads or beat them up until they buy you anything. You can't make your quota because your hands are tied.

You didn't do anything wrong, yet he blames you for every single one of his losses. He threatens your life, curses your soul, for a sale you cannot make. You didn't do anything wrong at all.

"My customers refuse to make business with a creature from hell," he insists in telling you off, like you're to blame for his miserable life. "Everyone refuses to be served by a scarred face like yours. You should hide it, wear a veil, wear a mask, cut it off, I don't care. Just do something for the sake of my business."

He slaps you again and you flinch away, taken by the powerful blow to your head. It's not your fault, but you take it all. You don't bother to rebel, because you know how useless it is. You can't run away from the scars you were cursed with in the first place.

By the middle of the afternoon, he's feeling exhausted from staring at so many people, listening to so many hopeful and thankful messages. He doesn't despise them, quite the opposite; he yearns for them and wishes he wasn't so tired to listen to every single person that's in line.

His editor notices the change in his behavior as well, when he starts nodding more and responding less. They know he's tired. They know he needs to go home and be with his books, just him and his shelter, to relieve the pain of being himself. They hurry people up, shorten the time each person gets with him. He signs more and more books and, then, almost at the end of the line, a singular voice catches his attention.

"What have I told you about those papers?" she says, her voice slurring from whatever she's been on for years. You're so used to this by now, yet you can't help but notice the difference. She's not really herself right now. This is not who you've always lived with; this is the stranger that takes over her when she goes out for work later than usual. She always comes back an alien.

She always yells at you. Yet you didn't do anything wrong.

You just didn't have the time to put all of your books away, to tuck them neatly under your bed before she saw them. You didn't have the time to hide the pens in your hoodie. You didn't have the time to get to the closet and pretend that you're just getting ready to go to work with her another night.

You didn't do anything wrong. You just didn't expect her to come home like this. It's not all your fault. It's not.

"Hello, Peter."

"What are you doing here?" he asks the familiar face, not avoiding her eyes. She looks different somehow, so composed and… beautiful, even. And it's strange to see that she overcame her past too. Her eyes are no longer foggy, there are no dark bags under them either. Her expression is clear. Her face is made-up. Her hair is brushed back into a ponytail.

However, he won't let himself fall in her fishnet again. This pretty face doesn't mean anything to him as of now. It's just another stranger. He won't be fooled or played again, so he just slides the book over the table back to her. He won't sign this copy. She doesn't deserve to know what's been going on in his head since she left.

"Please, I just want to apologize," she begs of him, placing her hand on top of his. He looks up into her eyes and reads the honesty, something he has never seen in her. "I'm clean now and I'm seeing everything much clearer now, especially my mistakes."

He's just silent, waiting for her to turn around and leave. When she doesn't, and because her eyes are so bland, he takes the book and writes down a special message. Just for her.

The day your mother beats you up is the perfect night to storm out of the house. You take off into the woods, in the dark, perceiving everything with the only bright spot left in you. You still have your soul and there's nothing brighter than that. It illuminates the way and you follow your gut.

It's the best night ever.

You've never done anything wrong. Yet this is the only thing you've done perfectly right.

Run, boy. Run for your future. And thankfully you'll never have to see her face again.

"Are you alright?" his editor asks, as soon as she leaves. His editor squeezes his shoulder and it's comforting.

He nods assertively. He's alright. He'll never be wronged again.