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Not me, her

In 1987, I found myself trying to write about a high school girlfriend that had been molested by her father when she was a child. I was 19 years old, struggling to find my way through a screenwriting assignment about delivering character. The idea was to describe messy young love between two Sid and Nancy want-to-be's. But that failed, as I could not stomach oversimplifying her complicated past, events that shaped her life as a 16 year old with a mohawk, a smart mouth, a lingering stare. I understood that I had to start at the very beginning.

No one wanted to hear the story. When it was my turn to read in class, it even came to be that some of the other students asked to stand in the hallway before they heard another description of what happened in that lonely little house in the middle of nowhere. I was trying, and failing, and trying again to get things right, to explain how this happened, how it could happen to this girl, how this man found his way to acts of selfishness and d…

the little prophet

The snow had cocooned itself in filthy swirls around the streets and pathways. We trudge in the dim light, careful of the ice beneath the surface. I slide wildly, waving my arms around and E squeezes my hand tightly. I do not fall. She laughs at me, a bubble of happiness as stoic faces pass us on all sides.

One of the strays trots next to us, a German Shepherd mix. It noses our feet. E grows scared. I tell her to put her other hand in her pocket. The dog is glued to the sides of our knees, bumping against us. Her fear grows. I stop for a moment and it disappears into the crowd.


"I have an invisible doctor." E announces as we walk home from school.
"Oh really." I say, wondering if we are almost out of milk.
"He protects me." E continues. "And only I can see him. When I was born in one minute he was there and he never leaves me."
"OK." I say, fascinated by the way her mind works.
"And he only protects YOU?" I ask.
"Yes." She explains. "And only my people know about him."
"Your people?" I ask.
"Yes. Vika and you and my friends from school." She says.
"And N?" I ask.
She twists her mouth around. She nods a big yes.
"But not Mom." She says, defiantly. "She is not my people."
She breathes in deeply.
"If I clap three times he will fly down to me." She says. "And he is the one who put the computer in my brain and gave me robot bones."
We walk in silence for a bit.
"Do other people have their own invisible doctors?" I ask.
"NO." She says quickly. "Only me."
"Ah." I say, guiding us past the crowd in front of the railway station. We walk in the gutter now.
"And if you don't believe me, you are not my people." She said.


That night I watch her sleeping as I work late, the computer an unblinking eye on the other side of the room. The place smells of empty coffee cups and half-sucked lollipops. She has nightmares. She turns in her sleep. Last week she told me the secret name she calls her mother - Lepit - the maker of sculptures from plastilene - a moldable, temporary clay that never keeps its shape.

I sit next to her, holding her tiny hand as it instinctually grabs mine. I sing to her, the same melody I sang to her when she was one minute old, washing her tiny body in that blue plastic basin as the nurses gave me some space.

Comments

Omgrrrl said…
Big Funny Kid had a companion named Mento Mento. Mento Mento lived mostly in the garden. Some days Mento Mento was with us. Some days he was not. Some days I had to serve Mento Mento dinner. Some days he was only there for lunch.

One day I asked if Mento Mento was going to join us for something or another.

Big Funny Kid said vry matter of factly: "No. He moved to Africa."

"Africa? That seems like a far way away!" I commented.

"That is where his people are."
Mother Theresa said…
That's very cute..and a sweet ending. Is the expression "my people" to refer to those who see things your way common in Russia? I once had Russian friend who used to say that, and that's why I ask.
Annie said…
She must know her guardian angel. An angel with a funny doctorish personality, a "fixer".

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