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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 liar, the lie

In the kitchen in the middle of the night for a glass of water, I smell the garbage. It stinks of chicken bones and rotting fruit. Tying it closed, I leave it there. I leave it there because that is what people do. I will throw it away tomorrow in the light of day, when I am dressed. 

When I am ready.

Monday is a holiday. Russia Day, the day the USSR went back to being called Russia. Another day of great change, or no change at all. There was a screaming argument with E's mother, with E joining in, begging to stay in my house. Her tears, her pleas mean nothing. There is a ruler, and the ruled. Decisions are handed down, unopen to discussion. The madwoman flashes her grin, her teeth, her fear tactics. She told me she reads the blog, that soon a lawyer will contact me or maybe not as she pretends to display mercy for dramatic effect. At one point, all that matters is what we believe. It becomes the truth. 

The liar and the lie create a perfect circle.



There is nothing to do but scream back, to reject her madness outright. There can be no surrender. The fight is all I have to defend E. The fight is what keeps me whole.

E stares at me with giant eyes. 
"Don't let her take me." She says, under her breath.
I want to tell her "the good guys always win". I want to tell her that "love is the strongest force in the universe". I want to tell her that her mother is just toying with us, as she has no friends, and no love in her life except for money. This game of tyranny is all she has left. 

This is why she is so dangerous. She has nothing to lose.

"Let's learn how to make a peanut butter sandwich." I tell E, messing up her hair and nudging her towards the kitchen.
"Nutella and peanut butter." She corrects me, bouncing on one leg and following.
"First you open the nutella, and let it get soft." I tell her, pulling it from the fridge.
She nods, suddenly serious.
"If you learn to cook something, you always feel better if you are sad." I tell her. "And if you already feel good, then you feel really great."
She looks up at me, resting one hand on my elbow.
She smiles.
I see the garbage, tied up and leaning against the cabinet. I take it outside, and dump it down the chute. The safety pin is still there. A man smokes a cigarette in the hallway as he reads a book. He is always on this windowsill, avoiding someone, hovering for hours by the glass bottle that has become an ashtray. 

Back inside, E holds the lopsided sandwich up to me.
"Do you want half?" She asks.






Comments

honey-bunny-bar said…
exactly the same parquet floors as we had at home, back in my childhood! you sent me all the way down memory lane
liv said…
Oh my gosh, she scares me. I'm scared for you and E and N too. I'm even scared for me...she's sooo scary.

Are those threats empty? Are they?

Please be cautious.
Annie said…
Ah.....I want that floor. I love the dogs in the flowers.

That is some serious piece of advice.

I have a lot of angst...and was just convincing myself yesterday that when I feel that way the best way out of it is to pick a chore and DO it! But, I like your way better - much better.....and I think I'll remember that idea!
Unknown said…
It's true - if you're sad and cook something it helps ease it just the tiniest bit. Or at least takes your mind off of it during the time you spend in the kitchen.

Your girl is so sweet ... you are both doing the best that you can, and maybe that is enough. Take care-
nicole said…
Ooops - "unknown" was me! Google confounds me sometimes ...

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