standing there…tears falling as I stir the food. dinner has to be prepared before anything. i wipe my eyes as more tears fall. echos of several rounds of “mom” falter in the background. music plays in my head to drown out that nagging voice. the voice that is telling me no. i glance at the kitchen shears out of the corner of my eyes. the music begins to get louder. the voice is quieter. i keep myself busy as they eat. cleaning the dishes for the millionth time. sweeping the floor. picking up clothes that are only visible to me. breathing becomes shallow as arguing ensues. i have no strength to tell them to stop. i sit at my desk, writing a letter that never becomes finished. silence finally as they are finally sleep. i stare at them in their peaceful slumber. they will be happier in the morning. the voice begins to speak up. i begin to play back reminders of why this pain began. the voice is quiet. i go downstairs. into the bathroom. the kitchen shears have appeared once again. i stare at myself in the mirror wishing she was a stranger. but she is me. this broken shell of a woman is me. this woman who can’t get it right. this woman who repeatedly fails. this woman who wears a happy face but cries daily. this woman who has no one. she. is. me. the voice starts to come around. say what you want…this deed is done. they will be happier when their problem is gone. everyone. the release is jolting. the pressure disappears. expectations diminished. freedom with every gasping breath.