Excerpt from Breathe

Breathe
by
Diane Copeland
     Breathe. That’s what I tell myself when life proves too much for me to handle, and the anxiety consumes every part of my mind and body, devouring me, leaving me broken and damaged, once again. My Name is Becca and I’m thirteen years old. I haven’t had to tell myself to breathe for over six months, until now.
I sat on the front porch swing of my new home, a huge farmhouse built of stone. I call it our castle. To me, it looks like something out of a fairy tale, three stories of pure magnificence; every stone carefully put into place, filled with colors of gray and white. My two favorite spots are the front porch and the balcony. The porch wraps around the entire front of our castle, but it’s made of wood, not stone. My new mom, Bernie, says it’s because she added it to the house long after it was built by her great granddaddy, back in the 1800’s. Bernie said it was hard for her to find anyone around these parts to build a stone porch the way she wanted.
     The balcony rests on the second floor and the curved stones are wonderful. You can only get to it from Bernie’s room, but she let me sit out there with her when the weather was nice. One time, shortly after I moved in with Bernie, I slipped into her room; curiosity got the better of me. After looking at all of her gorgeous dresses, I took the white one, covered in what looked like diamonds and put it on before walking out onto the balcony, pretending to be a princess. I know I’m too old to play princess, but I never had a chance to do it when I was younger. Bernie caught me in her dress as I twirled around on the balcony. I almost had to tell myself to breathe then. I lowered my head letting my long, stringy red hair cover the tears swallowing up my green eyes, preparing myself for a whippin’. Bernie came towards me, as I held my breath, tightening every muscle. Then the most unexpected thing happened. She gently raised my head, brushing my hair back with gentle hands, and she smiled. She gave me a kiss on the cheek and told me to stay right there while she fetched her camera. She wanted to capture this moment for an eternity, because I looked so beautiful. I call her mom now.
     I never knew my real mom. She died when I was born and my daddy never talked nice about her, but I don’t believe everything he says. I do fancy living in our castle, it’s a big change from the one-room dump I used to live in with my daddy. On a good day, he let me sit in the old lawn chair, instead of the floor with the roaches. I moved here with my new mom Bernie about a year ago after my daddy beat me so bad I nearly died. I don’t remember much about that day, except him starting to beat me, striking me in the head repeatedly. I remember running out the door before my world went dark. Bernie told me that a neighbor called 911. I try not to think about that day anymore………
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