Yana Osovska

And It All Came Crashing Down

“How are you?”  It seems like a simple question, and one usually has to answer this question several times throughout the day. “I’m fine, thanks.” A simple enough response. Is it? Did you know that, on average, a person lies thirteen times a day? That was one. But this was only one person asking, what if five people asked you? The number would go up to five. Maybe the better question here is, how many times a person tells the same lie a day? Faking the same warm smile, the illusion of happiness, that I had perfected over the years. Things have always been shaky with my stepdad, but the more time passed, the harder it got to pretend.

It all started in mid-winter of 2018. I was fourteen years old. It felt like my life was sloping downhill, and the worst mistake that I had made was not talking about it sooner. Every day I would come to school, talk about generic things like homework and volleyball, but I never brought myself to talk about what I was going through. That made it real.  The idea that everything was fine at home, as long as my stepdad was not there. Even thinking about it now sends chills through my body. 

After a tortuous month of keeping a secret about what I was going through, I finally brought it up to my mom. By that time, it was February. I told her almost everything at the time, and when I thought things could not get worse, they did. My stepdad started to keep me in the car after practice, sometimes for hours, telling me that I would never amount to anything. That it was not my fault, but the way my mom raised me. He would perpetually degrade both me and my mom, telling a fourteen-year-old girl that her mother was worthless. But then, the next day, he would be sweet and loving. I never knew what side of him I was going to get. At school, I did my best to just go about my day, and sometimes, I wished the school day would not end.

My mom did everything she could for me, but there was no escaping. There was nowhere to go, and at the time, my mom did not work since she was pregnant. With all of this, another tragedy came. My baby brother had died a week before birth. After this, everything was fine. There was no fighting, and for the first time, I felt at peace. Sounds morbid, right? Death had brought peace to my family, but even that did not last long. 

A couple of months later, things went back right to how they used to be.  But I do not have enough space in this paper to go through all the years, so let us skip over to the spring of 2020; COVID spring. What was good about that spring? Well, I did not have to see anyone, I did not have to go to school and smile when someone said, “Good morning.” After all, faking an “I’m fine” was much easier through a computer screen, with my camera off. 

During that time, the roof at my house was leaking. When it rained, my mom and I would have to put buckets to catch the water. We begged my stepdad to hire someone to fix it, but he said he would do it himself. So during one hot morning in May, I was on the roof, tearing away shingles so that he could find the leak. When all the shingles were off, we laid a tarp over the bare roof. We were supposed to continue tomorrow, but tomorrow turned into next week, and next week turned into two weeks later. 

By then, it was mid-June, and the tarp was still on the roof. One night, I had fallen asleep on the couch while I was watching TV; two days later, the ceiling fell on the floor. Yes, you read that right; the ceiling collapsed right on the couch and the floor. I thought about the night I fell asleep on the couch. What if the ceiling would have fallen that night? 

That week was the last week that my mom and I spent in that house. We packed up as much as we could and left the house forever. And even though nothing at the time was ideal, I finally felt free. I could finally answer without lying because now I was fine.