On My Own...


by Andrea Lena DiMaggio

On my own; pretending he’s beside me
All alone, I walk with him till morning
Without him, I feel his arms around me
And when I lose my way I close my eyes and he has found me

The girl sat at the desk; bathed in the glow of the laptop by a cold light in an otherwise darkened bedroom. The window was opened to a page filled with pictures from friends. One stood out; almost a painful reminder, the young man stood next to a very pretty girl; his arm around her waist. A quick click on the ‘x’ closed the window followed by another click to sign off.

“I…” Even in the privacy of the bedroom in an otherwise empty house; parents away on their weekly date and sister off to see her new boyfriend; a sigh and a stammer as if the whole room was filled with taunting and laughter. Accusations from no one but deep inside as real and as sad and painful as if they had been delivered by a best friend. Best friend…

“Why can’t I be found?” She asked; her memory flashing quickly to the picture of the happy couple.

“I’m so stupid.”

She stared vacantly at the blank laptop screen; as if the offending images still displayed her frustration. The boy was ….just beautiful. She couldn’t get over how handsome he was, nor could she ignore how pretty the girl beside him was; a match made in heaven, even if it was her own private hell as well. She wanted to be angry at the girl, but she couldn’t. It went beyond more than not being jealous; she loved the girl in the picture and wanted the best for her. The harsh reality of caring too much for both filled her heart with conflict and pain; as if it was being split in half.

“I’m so stupid.”

She repeated the mantra; wanting so bad to be mistaken but feeling at least that she at was correct in her self-assessment. She wasn’t stupid at all. But no one could convince her otherwise.

She stared at the object on the desk; an instrument of deliverance that could provide relief in mere moments in a minor way or an arduous journey that could end all of her pain. She picked up the blade and held it lightly; a soft touch for the moment. She dragged it down her arm; starting at just below the elbow and finishing at the large group of freckles just above her wrist. A soft, warm glow filled her even as the dark flow dripped onto her jeans. She winced and laughed at the pain; the dual sensation filling her with a pride that she had both overcome the temptation to end it all and the relief that the pain brought for the moment.

And I know it’s only in my mind that I’m talking to myself and not to him
And although I know that he is blind still I say there’s a way for us

She thought of the picture once again. As in every recent memory, the face of the girl changed; becoming her instead of her rival. She imagined looking into the boy’s eyes. And every time his eyes were sightless; seeing without comprehension the love before him. Ignoring her to look past into the face of the girl she had sought in some way to replace; even if for a fleeting moment of recognition. But those eyes were blind to her; who could blame him when he had the love of the one whom he loved back. It didn’t matter to her since it was still painful.

She looked down at her arm. The track was almost fading as the river of blood had stopped its flow. She took the blade and drew it across her wrist; as near a final act as it could be without following through; the blade left a very shallow slice; she had become proficient in hurting without harming. A wince from the sting; she dropped the blade onto the desk.

“You’re a coward!”

She stared into space, imagining what the boy would say if he knew how much she cared. No coward; she was as brave a soul as anyone might wish to know, even if she didn’t know it herself. Some dilemmas resolve over time. Some end when one side gives way to another. And some never end; even if the sting of disappointment fades like the pain from a well-worn blade. She looked at the laptop once again; the glow was dim, but the room lit up enough for her to note her own reflection on the screen. She shook her head.

“I….don’t even know you!”

She bowed her head; feeling like a stranger to herself, she put her hand to her face and began to cry softly; the crying that begs silence because anyone might hear and try to comfort the inconsolable, even if she was all alone. And she hated crying; a futile exercise that did nothing to help but did much to leave her vulnerable to discovery. The paradox of wanting so much to be known while staying anonymous.

In the rain the pavement shines like silver
All the lights are misty in the river
In the darkness the trees are full of starlight
And all I see is him and me forever and forever

I love him, but when the night is over
He’s gone; the river’s just a river

The silence of the moment was interrupted by the sound of a hard rain outside her window. Looking out, she saw reflections of ambient starlight mixed with the lone lamp down the block; leaving the street silvery grey. She always loved the sound of rain and the loud patter seemed to soothe her.

She looked down once again at her wrist; another moment of temptation. What a lovely sendoff it might be; the sights and sounds of things she loved followed by the pain and bliss of release as she pressed the blade once again to her wrist. This time it was just a bit harder, but still safe enough. The blood trickled once again onto her jeans; a favorite garment of praise, she thought, that somehow would remove the spirit of heaviness, as the song goes. But it wasn’t release enough, either. She scaled the blade across the room and it flew out the open window into the warm rainy night.

I love him, but every day I’m learning
All my life, I’ve only been pretending

Without me his world will go on turning
A world that's full of happiness
That I have never known


The voice came from the bedroom doorway. The familiar face of her rival smiled warmly as a wave got her attention. The girl held her hand up….her left hand revealed a sparkle that more than caught her eye.

“He asked me to marry him, Jan. Isn’t that wonderful?”

“Yeah, Sis,” came the happy sigh even as the sleeves were pulled down to guarantee the pretense would continue. The girl ran to the desk and threw open her arms.

“He wanted to…. But I couldn’t wait. Will you stand up for us?”

A smile and a nod; the sleeves serving a dual purpose by removing the evidence of tears. The girl offered another hug and the embrace was followed quickly.

“I think Mom and Dad are home. I’m so happy, Jan. This is the best day of my life.”

She blew a kiss before running out the door and down the hallway. Jan looked again at the blank screen and beheld an image that both disappointed and somehow satisfied. At least she would be happy with him, and that would be enough for now. Jan looked out the window once again; disappointed and relieved at the same time that the blade lay out in the pouring rain. He shook his head and laid it down on the desk and wept.

Without him, the world around me changes
The trees are bare and everywhere
the streets are full of strangers

I love him
I love him
I love him
But only on my own

On My Own
Music by Claude-Michael Schá¶nberg
Words by Alain Boublil and Jean-Marc Natel (French lyrics)
and Herbert Kretzmer (English adaptation)
As performed by Samantha Barks

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This story is 1429 words long.