Glass heart by Min Young Kim

It’s a recurring idea nowadays – the idea that appearance isn’t everything. The lesson has circulated through the media. Don’t judge a book by its cover. You never know what’s under the surface until you spend your time trying to understand. 

It applied to me quite often, and I was uncomfortably aware of it. I had top grades, honest friends, a loving family and almost no stress in my life. What could I possibly have felt insecure about? 

In fact, my life was going too well. I never experienced a traumatic event in my first fifteen years of living. My well-being was protected by my affectionate parents, particularly because I was a girl. I gradually became conscious of how mentally weak I was. My emotions were fragile. Whenever a friend said anything mildly insulting about something I loved, I felt my chest crack. Once, a girl I was vaguely acquainted with declared that she hated my favourite TV show. I couldn’t sleep properly for two weeks. 

It was almost as if my heart was made of glass.

And I began to weld the cracks in the glass as time passed. There were never big cracks; just small ones. But the glass wasn’t quite smooth, even after welding. The scars would have to remain for a while. 

I became afraid. Criticism, no matter how mild or constructive, was enough to make me break down in tears. Who knew what anything more would do to me? My only solution was to build a wall around my glass heart and shield it from attacks, most of them foolishly augmented by myself. I lived like a coward for years, keeping up the appearance of solidness. I made friends, but no best friends. The closer we became, the more I felt uneasy.

And now, in this moment, where my mother is lying still in the hospital bed, the iron wall I carefully constructed is being teared down as if it’s tissue. A monster – it’s a beast, clawing away at my chest, reaching for the inside to spread itself like mould. I realise too late that it wasn’t friends that I needed to be wary of, but family; yet I couldn’t have pushed away their love. I stare at her lifeless body, helplessly feeling the monster scratching at the last part of the wall. The nurse opens her mouth, and I will her not to say it, I pray to God – 

“I’m sorry,” she says quietly. “She’s passed away.”

The monster disappeared. The wall was no longer there. I glace at the nurse numbly, meeting her apologetic eyes. I feel a small crack open in the scarred glass. 

And my heart shatters.