She had misunderstood the monster. She didn’t know him. He had been around for much longer than she could even imagine, had met many little girls as smart as her and had become many of their bed fellows. ‘I’m you,’ he would say to her. ‘I’m you,’ and she would smile not understanding. ‘There’s no getting out from under this. You think I’m a stranger, and maybe I was, but not anymore, mijita. Not anymore.’
How could she beat something she didn’t see as an enemy? How could she teach herself to love again? How could she take the risk of looking over her shoulder one more time when she thought – she truly believed – that doing that sort of thing would kill her, would remind her she was already dead. She couldn’t imagine. She didn’t even have the words to know she still wanted things like that.
What’s worse is that, had she thought of it, she’d have known that it wasn’t her mother who could save her anymore. The time for that had passed. She hadn’t known it was gone forever from the very first day, from that very first morning she didn’t feel her on her bed. She wasn’t prepared, so she didn’t take the time to let it go. So it lived like a shadow over everything, haunting her every gesture, derived from those days when she was trying to get her back. Nothing had been given its own life, its own meaning just for her.
Everything had always derived from that heartache, everything was built from that place of absence, from longing, from the sense of emergency and the drive to make it stop.
She was right. Nothing on the other side of the door could fix it. But she was wrong that she was hopeless. There was someone who had come inside in her mother’s absence, but it wasn’t a monster. It was herself. She wasn’t dead. Far from it. She wasn’t alone. She would have to accept that the things she had thought were gifts had been for her, not someone else. She would have to accept that she could not have done anything to stop her mother from going, and likewise – the harder thing to admit – she could not have done anything to bring her back."