Chloe, Age 14, Ashland, OR
It's strange how things have a habit of disappearing right as you realize you need them. One second someone's there for you, holding you, whispering to you, making you promises, and then they're gone. Gone like that bird feather I found once, a pure white piece of exquisitely soft down, plucked out of my hand by the unyielding wind.

Without my father here, there's a gash in the otherwise perfect tapestry of my life. Sometimes I stop and I am just so confused. Sometimes I feel like I can't go on, can't take another step, can't force myself to bother with anything at all. People tell me that it will be okay. I'll get over it someday. Of course, I want to say, but someday is not now. I don't voice my opinions out loud because they are just words. Words, I've found, hardly make a difference when all is said and done.

Now I come here, to this spot where my father and I used to come. I swear I can hear our laughter ringing through the forest, bursting through the canopy of rainbow colored autumn leaves. Here is the circle of rocks where we used to build our fires on warm summer nights. We would crouch near the flames and slap away mosquitoes and laugh and laugh until our marshmallows were seared, and we ate them anyway, peeling away the hot black crust and burning our tongues on the delicious goo inside.

It's not fair, that all this would be taken away from me. It's not fair that my father got cancer and now he's gone and we will never laugh by the campfire again.
Time heals, they say. Their voices bounce around inside my skull, consistently hammering. I try to push them down but they fight. Time heals. Time heals. You'll be okay someday.

When is someday? Is it tomorrow or in a million years? It's vague reassurances like these that I hate. When is someday? Is it a mythical land far, far away, across many dimensions, many eons? A time I will never reach?

It feels like that.
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