theconsequences: pink hair edit by <user name="runninginheels"> (🎸 baby don't let winter come)
When her teacher asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she didn’t have an answer because she didn’t have a realistic point of reference. She knew she didn’t want to be a drunk like her mother or invisible like her father. At only eleven years old, Mack didn’t know of any other options. Girls who grew up in doublewides with no electricity didn’t become mayor like Izzy’s dad. Her teacher was insistent, however, and Mack finally replied ‘a doctor,’ with a drawled out, sullen tone as she sank deeper into her desk chair. Her teacher seemed content with that answer.

Mack, however, was not.

The concept of her future had never bothered her before, and it was a strange sensation that it did now. Discontent built up under her skin, itching like an invisible rash, and it sat there for days. It was that week that her mom brought home Todd, and things changed for a while. Todd was nice. Todd didn’t get drunk and stare at her developing chest with glazed over eyes. Todd paid the bills and got the electricity turned back on. Todd helped her with homework and gave her ketchup with her chicken nuggets. Mack liked Todd, and that’s how she knew he wouldn’t stay.

He did for a while, though. The day before her fourteenth birthday, he slipped into her room with a large, black, strangely shaped case and laid it down on her bed.

“What’s that?” she had asked, staring down at it. It looked old; the black leather peeled off the smoothed curves of the case and the metal clasp was dirty and tarnished.

“It’s a birthday present.” Todd had a beard, and it was one of Mack’s favorite things. She still remembered how it tickled when he kissed her head and how his mustache seemed to eat his lips when he smiled. “Open it.”

The guitar she found inside wasn’t in any better shape than the case. It looked old and worn, but filled with character. Like it had been loved in its youth, played and strummed and carried and protected, and something inside of Mack stirred when she realized how lucky she was to receive such a gift. She picked it up, and Todd taught her to play.

And then a month later, he left.

The things that had changed with his presence went back to the way they had been before. Her mother had never truly sobered up over the few years Todd lived with them, and whatever small steps she made in that direction backslid in his absence. The trailer slowly crumbled again, filled with smoke and the stale smell of booze, and Mack spent more and more time hiding in her room, strumming her guitar and singing quietly to herself. When they ran out of ketchup, her mother didn’t buy more. Mack didn’t notice. She had long ago out grown chicken nuggets.

Todd had been gone for three months when she sat in a beat up pick-up and let Robbie take her clothes off. The first time wasn’t like it was in the movies. It hurt, and she bruised her elbows in the bed of the pick-up, and afterwards, Robbie dropped her off a mile walk from her house because driving all of the way there would have been out of his way. She had her guitar with her, the handle of the case clutched in her hand, because she had meant to play for him but never did. And with the case by her side, alone on the empty road in the subtle glow of the New Mexican sunset, Mack realized what she wanted to be when she grew up.

She wanted to be a guitar. She wanted to be held and loved, to create beauty and magic with another person, who then would tuck her away in a worn case and protect her. She wanted to be so deeply cared for that when her time with them was done, they didn’t throw her away, but instead gave her new life and a new home, and the ability to create again with the love of someone else. Mack wanted to make someone feel about her the way she had felt the day she had been given her guitar.

It was a dream she knew she would never achieve. It was more out of a reach than being a doctor, or the mayor. It was the first real lesson she remembered learning, as she stumbled home on the dirt road, the dry desert wind nipping at her cheeks and brushing the hair from her face in blonde spirals. Next to her, a crumpled piece of garbage someone had tossed out a window rolled next to her on the dirt ground, and she stared down at it with her steely blue eyes. It was an unfair question for her teacher to ask, Mack decided. No one ever taught you in school that there was a difference between what you wanted to be, and what other people would make you become.

    word count: 845
    warnings: implied sexual situations

Mackenzie Jolene Stuart

you can't wake up
this is not a dream