That's what my house is made of.
Walls upon walls of solid, cold ice. Ice that can instantaneously freeze the hottest sun. Ice that can split a beating heart.
Ice so cold, it burns.
The February weather is nothing compared to the dimmed lights and chilled floorboards of this place. To the stale air and creaking staircases. To the bitter decadency that seeps through the fibers of the carpet and under the chipped wooden doors that I've tried to bolt shut.
We never had great insulation in this house.
I could hear the crickets singing loudly every night during the summer. I could always hear the soccer games going on in the fields in the back of the neighborhood even from my room on the second story.
I could hear the neighbors' children come back from college, gossiping on the driveway every weekend. I could hear the television on in the bedrooms on the other side of the house.
I could hear your sharp and high-pitched, acerbic tones from the room downstairs as you spat out your cruel, unjustified words about me, day after day. Night after night.
Week after week.
Month after month.
With every insult that poured from your blackened tongue, I cranked my music up another notch and my heart beat a few beats slower as the night slowly swallowed my saline-drenched pillowcases.
We tried to douse the house in flames. We tried so hard in vain and painful attempts.
We took turns holding the heavy grip of the hose, sweeping blue flames across the walls, trying to warm the place up. Trying to melt the ice.
Trying to laugh.
Sometimes it worked. Sometimes we torched the house to the ground into a warm, melted puddle.
Sometimes we had months and months before it froze up again.
But this winter has been colder than ever. Probably the coldest one yet.
I can see it in my father's eyes. I can see it in the tired lines that run across his forehead and into his graying hair.
I can hear it in his weary voice, those sorrowful tones dripping out of the lungs of a man who has not rested in years. Sorrowful tones that lace every sunny word he speaks.
He always held the hose the most. He spent sleepless nights spraying the fire over the walls so we wouldn't be so cold.
But he's tired now. Maybe if I didn't exist, there would be fewer furrowed lines on his face. Maybe if I didn't exist, he wouldn't be so tired.
But maybe if you didn't exist,
we wouldn't have to try so hard to melt this cage of ice.
Perhaps the warmth of spring will melt the tension that hangs from the ceilings in sheets of rubber that we're forced to walk through.
Maybe Dad will finally be able to sleep.
Or maybe you'll sit there polishing your shiny knives, biding your time.
And then maybe you'll continue using them to chisel away every slick coating of paint on our young bodies until all that's left is our dry, powdery insides,
a lackluster youth,
broken smiles and deep furrows,
infinite potential that has been wasted away, not by lethargy and dispassionate volition,
but because our blooming minds and cheerful ambitions have been crushed, maimed, and beaten to death by your haughty pride and grudging bitterness.
We've all become used to treading on the frozen water you've laid down.
If we walk lightly, we can slide across. If we let a foot slip, we'll break the thin layer and be pulled down to our icy deaths.
If you still have any heart, please don't do this anymore. You don't have to do it for me. Do it for my dear sister, who still has years of untainted life ahead of her. Do it for my brother, who's still young enough to not remember the nights he spent drawing crayon pictures to tape on my sunken walls.
Do it for Dad. Because his life doesn't have to be as cold as yours is.
Just do it for Dad until I'm able to build him a sturdy raft to sleep on.