A/N: Unlike the other fiction I've posted (which are all half-aborted crap that my brain regurgitated throughout my college years), this is a story that is honest, difficult, and something I needed to write down.


- I -

I want to rewind my life.

This desire has followed me for the better part of seven and a half years, nipping at the edges of my consciousness during many quiet moments. It's pointless, but sometimes understandable. The burden of regret continues to weigh on me well into my mid-twenties, and no matter what sage advice flows my way, I haven't yet discovered freedom from the memories. Don't misunderstand. When placed into perspective and compared to real world suffering, my history holds very little dramatic substance. I'm not a victim, and I'm no one special.

In fact, I'm partly to blame for my circumstances.

Recognizing my own responsibility in where I've ended up is a start, but the bitterness doesn't dissipate, doesn't lessen. I can step back and objectively tell myself, "You're letting the negativity consume you, which is no way to retaliate against your perceived enemies. Get your head out of your ass, out of the past, live in the present, and work toward a better future. This is the hand you've been dealt because of the choices you've made, so bear with it and move on."

And most times, I do bear with it. I'm just like everyone else, with my own unique set of ups and downs. Still, I have moments when I slip. Triggers appear in many forms, bringing forth emotions I'd buried but never managed to let go. Each instance of remembrance increases my cynicism, hardens my stitched-up heart.

Strips away more of my humanity.

Again, the things I went through are a joke compared to others who have experienced far worse. But even knowing this, my personality has always been predisposed to clamping onto grudges and letting them fester. Logically, I realize this behavior is unhealthy. Mentally, I'm content to wallow in my pathetic pool of blame, guilt, and anger. Because for an obsessive-compulsive individual who has always striven for unrealistic perfection, I'm dismayed that I can't restart at a point where I can fix all that went wrong.

I've been a gamer since childhood, and I couldn't even begin to count how many times I've reloaded previous saves to make my playthroughs perfect. If there is one thing I envy about the pixelated characters in video games, it's the ability to rewind, restart, reload. Wipe out the timeline of one reality to start another. Make it possible to achieve perfection. And yes, I know. No one is perfect. Nothing is perfect. Perfection, in itself, is an absurd concept that people shouldn't pursue excessively. Even so, I wanted a degree of perfection in certain aspects of my life. It was idealistic, improbable.



And yet, for someone so enamored with the idea of flawlessness, I spent a majority of my years with little faith in my own traits and skills. Self-esteem during middle school? Nonexistent. Introverted, shy, and an Army brat, I saw little worth in making friends when I'd have to leave them behind during my family's next move. I invested all my free time into novels and video games, playing out the lives of people who weren't me.

"Oh, Viola… you and your video games," my mother used to sigh.

It was an escape from absolutely nothing.

My family life was warm and close. I was blessed with loving parents and a loving sister. My school life wasn't horrible. Classmates generally ignored me and left me alone, which was what I preferred. However, that didn't stop me from comparing myself to others.

For a long time, I thought of myself as "ugly" because my looks failed to match up to the general standard of beauty in my peer group. I wore huge glasses, dressed in clothes that weren't stylish for my age, and toted around an acne-infested forehead. My mother prohibited makeup and eyebrow grooming, so I accepted my "hideousness" and acknowledged my good grades as my only redeeming quality.

Talk about epitomizing the socially awkward nerd stereotype.

But curiously, through it all I harbored a sense of narcissism and arrogance. "I may not be attractive, but I have a good relationship with my teachers, the adults. I'm academically smarter than 90% of my peer group. Therefore, my immature peers are inferior to me," I used to think to myself. A very misguided perspective, but it took a very long time before I learned better.

During high school, I simultaneously blossomed and grew a bit rebellious toward my parents. After taking some control over my appearance by gaining access to cosmetics and fashionable clothing, my self-esteem rose. Those superficial tools were a crutch; a jumpstart, if you will. I felt better about myself, so I put forth the effort in making friends. I garnered some popularity by joining the dance team. I managed to enter the dating scene during my sophomore year. My first boyfriend and I lasted only a few months, but we've remained best friends ever since. My second boyfriend and I dated for over a year until we had to break up since we were both moving away. My third boyfriend…

So predictable, so cliché, but it's always a significant other, isn't it?

By no means is he the sole source of my long-held gripes. He's just one facet. But out of all the facets of my mind's tarnished and shattered reflections, he still shines the blackest.

People have told me it's stupid to have regrets. "Things happen for a reason, and you shouldn't want to change your past because they made you who you are today," they love to spout.

And what if I hate the person I've become? What if I'm still struggling to change and move forward precisely because of those things that happened "for a reason"? What if I still tense whenever I see triggers, which I can't avoid, since they're everywhere?

The anxiety, the recurring depression, the suicidal thoughts… why shouldn't I want to change the events that led to them? People say we choose how we react to things, but what if some of us don't have that choice?

As much as I sound like I'm blaming external factors for my own unhappiness, I hold myself most accountable. None of this is meant to be a complaint; rather, it's a confession of sorts and an introspective look into my thought process. Much of my story will reveal a soul that can be cruel and spiteful, perhaps without sufficient reason, but this is who I am.

And perhaps I deserve some of the things I've gone through.

When I said I wanted perfection, I meant I wanted to meet my fate wholly, completely. Like achieving 100% completion at the end of a game. That was my idea of perfection: attaining everything I was meant to. Not… this. Not where I am now. But on the other hand…

Maybe I did obtain perfection. Maybe this is where I was supposed to end up. And wouldn't that just be the most twisted irony?

The worst part is that I can't go back and find out if I could have gotten better than this, had I done something different. Too bad this is real life, not one of my games where I could return to a checkpoint and try another path.

Oh, Viola… you and your video games.

Toward the end of my adolescence and on the verge of my adulthood, I thought I had most of my future figured out. I had dreams and aspirations. Nothing too ambitious, but they were enough, and I did what I could to pursue them. To this day, I wish I had drafted alternative goals. Because those dreams and aspirations? They were all a waste of time.

It would be so easy if we had the option to redo everything. Easy, and weak. And yes. I've always been weak, especially when I thought I was strong.

I want to rewind my life.

Restart at the crucial checkpoint.

Reload the last save in the summer of 2005.


A/N: This chapter turned out more reflective than I'd intended, but the rest of Viola's story will continue in a chronological structure. Thanks for checking this out, and I would appreciate any feedback!