“The first time was when I was eight. I’d been bouncing on the balls of my feet, waiting for my best friend outside in the scorching hot playground, but when she arrived, she told me she wanted a break from me and was going to go play with someone else today.”
The first time was when I was eight. I’d been bouncing on the balls of my feet, waiting for my best friend outside in the scorching hot playground, but when she arrived, she told me she wanted a break from me and was going to go play with someone else today. A small tear tugged at the threads of my heart, and a small crack rooted itself in my heart, so I rushed to the bathroom before anyone noticed the crack. With tears streaming down my face, my shaking fingers landed on the hidden button by accident. But when the soft flesh of my fingertips collided with the well-concealed button on the base of my neck, everything was okay. The button took me back four hours before. With those extra four hours, I thought of a solution: I wouldn’t go to school that day. It gave her the break that she needed but spared me from the pain of being told she needed the break.
Of course, I know restarting doesn’t really change anything, but it at least gave me the option of pretending it never happened.
The next time was when I was 11. I’d heard through my friend, who heard through her friend, that my friend had told someone that I was an embarrassment to be friends with. The secret made its way through the furtive chain of people until it made it to me. And as those words were whispered back to me, the same way they had been whispered down the chain, a fracture opened in my heart. And surprise! The fracture was in the same place as the one that my eight-year-old self had sewed up sloppily three years earlier. So I ran to the bathroom to sew up the new fracture. I hit the button and got my extra four hours. This time, my solution was a little more direct. I decided if she was going to call me embarrassing, I may as well just do it first. So I walked up to her slowly. I’m really sorry, but I just – I-I-I don’t know if I wanna be so close. I’m going to be honest, you’re a little bit embarrassing to be around, and I think I might need a break from our friendship. The moment the words escaped, there was a slight guilt that blossomed in my chest, but I ignored it. I watched the tears form in her eyes, and she shook her head and ran off. I wondered if maybe she was running to the bathroom to push her own button.
After that, I started using it more frequently. With each use, I sewed up the same fracture that kept appearing in the same place until my heart was a jumble of threads pulled together sloppily.
I used it for the 26th time when I was 13. I had been friends with these two girls for three years. We’d made a promise that our friendship was for life. We’d looked each other in the eyes and told each other how much we valued our friendship. It was your typical middle-school, coming-of-age-movie type thing. But obviously, three aren’t best friends. Two are best friends. Three is a pair of best friends and an extra. Apparently, I was the extra. Three months after we had made our pact of friendship, I figured out that they had been having sleepovers together every month. In fact, they had made it a tradition. Another fracture. Off to the bathroom. Better sew it up. Tears streaming down my face. Hair being flung out of the way. Fingers searching for the button. Finger. Button. Finger. Button. Finger. Button? Finger. No button? Finger. No button.
That was the day the threads tore, and the fracture, no longer contained, etched itself into my heart, a cruel, burning emblem that had seared the words:
Into my heavy, broken heart for everyone to see.