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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…

hard water

We are all together, celebrating deep into the night. E is chirping like a little bird, at one moment plinking the keys of a piano, the next swapping the costumes on a small army of dolls. N is chewing on dried persimmons, talking to an endless stream of relatives on her phone, all wishing great things for us this year. I slurp down champagne after champagne, not the slightest bit drunk. 

I see everything with a cold eye. It has started to snow. A woman's lipstick is smeared. A bored teenage boy is about to fall asleep. There is a perfect handprint mark of flour on my jeans from the dinner I cooked earlier, in our apartment.

My thoughts run to the minutes just after midnight, driving to pick up E. She emerges from behind that door. She tells me her mother will leave her with us for the entire week. The madwoman claims to have fallen in the bathtub and her brain has been hurt, that she will soon go to the hospital and will only be better on Saturday. E winces at the transparency, the half-baked lie. It saddens her, but not as much as she feels good to spend a week off with us. 


The dim light in the sky tells us nothing about the hour. The streets are silent. E is hungry for an egg sandwich. N will sleep for another few hours, her perfumed shoulders a warm mound above the blankets that I sneak in to kiss, wondering when she will rise.

And then after picking through the leftovers, after some board games and E has gone to sleep, we watch films late into the night.

The house is clean. The dishes are washed. There is nothing to do, for once. There is nothing to wake up early for.


A cautious optimism fills the hours. So many battles behind us. So many won. I see a march to progress in E's face, and in the drawings she makes. We are like water, eroding the hard edges of rocks. We bend, but never stop. We are wearing the monster down, molecule by molecule.





Comments

Banker Chick said…
Have a wonderful and Happy New Year.
Sarah said…
Happy New Year! I love reading your blog. I have three Russian children and I really feel for all you are going through with E. and her Mum. All the best for a wonderful New Year!
Omgrrrl said…
In the words of Tom Robbins, Beowulf that Grendel.
Elizabeth said…
Wishing you happiness, health and peace this year!

Liz
pegbur7 said…
Wishing you a wonderful new year.

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