A Cyclical Life

This piece contains references to alcoholosim, emotional abuse, and sexual assault

208
Cyclical Life by Nourya Cohen - Photo by Alex Garrow

She stood in the waiting room for hours simply wishing for just one thing in her life to go correctly. She had even allowed herself to hope, logic be damned. But as usual she had been let down. She knew what the doctor would say before he even opened his mouth. She knew that life would always be there, waiting for when she was weakest to attack. It was a common theme in her life. From the minute she was born, she had been let down by someone. The first person to truly disappoint her was her mother. Her mother had left when she was only three years old, supposedly in search of a better life. She had never looked back, never bothered to see how her daughter was doing, never cared for the girl she once claimed to love. No, instead she left her with her drunk of a father, who was the second person in this wretched life of hers to disappoint her. He would throw bottles of beer at her, and would use her hard-earned money to get himself even more drunk. Her life continued in this cycle of disappointment. She had left home, hoping to become a nurse, only to end up working the night shift at a bar getting paid the bare minimum to survive. She had big dreams and every single one of them had been crushed. She finally saw a way out, a light at the end of the tunnel, but that had been crushed, too. She had allowed herself to hope because she didn’t believe there was a bottom lower than the one to which she’d sunken. If she didn’t feel like her chest was caving in, she’d probably laugh at how funny it was that she never learned. You’d think that life would have someone better to continually attack, but then you’d be wrong.

She had been fooled by his soft brown eyes, his passionate voice, and his gentle touch. The way he spoke her name “Lily” like a prayer, and looked at her like she was the only person in the world worth noting. He was charismatic like that; being around him made everyone feel special and happier just for knowing him. She never understood what he saw in her, and she was in no place to question it either. Seeing her now she wondered what he would’ve said. He probably would have tried to cheer her up. She knew there was no use now thinking about such things, but she just lay there, replaying the moment in her head when she realized he was gone for good.

Days passed. Her life cleaning up after drunks was as monotonous and repetitive as it had ever been. Every night, men would grab at her, and every night she would clean up puke and blood. Each night bit away at her soul until she finally found herself in the same state that James had found her. Except this time there was no small bit of hope in her heart to keep her going; there was just the fear that this place was as good as it got, that death would be even worse. So she continued with her routine, until a few days later when her blood test results came back.

She was pregnant. This was one of those things that changed everything while also changing nothing. She could not let an innocent child, James’ child, live the way she did. She could not allow that child to become her. So she did what her mother did. But the difference was, she did it out of love, and she didn’t plan on leaving her child with an abusive drunk. She wrote the child a letter, telling her that she wished she could’ve raised her, that she wished she could be the one to make her daughter’s face light up, but she knew that if she had any hand in how this girl grew up she would’ve ruined her, and besides, she couldn’t give her the life she deserved. So she bid James’ child goodbye, and hoped one last time that life would grant her this one mercy, and find someone better to screw over.

If you or someone you know is a survivor of sexual violence or suffering from substance abuse, please visit our Resources section for links to organizations that can help.
What do you think about this topic? We want to hear from you!
Join the conversation!
Nourya Cohen
Nourya Cohen is a 16-year-old high school senior and lives near Los Angeles, California. Her parents are from Israel, and her grandparents are from Brazil, France, and Iran. Nourya’s hobbies include learning other languages—specifically Chinese, Hebrew, and Spanish. This past summer, she lived with a host family in Xi’an, China, where she immersed herself in the language and culture. Nourya also competes in Public Forum speech and debate.
Accompanying photo: “Drowning” by Alex Garrow