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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…

in-between (there is no name)


The streetlights blink off, and we cross the road in darkness. Our breath hangs in the air. There is a tent of trees going yellow and brown, a wet path, a certain silence reserved for making our way in a dark like this. 

This is the moment, when dawn has not come and the night is surrendering. We are in-between. 

Our steps make soft noises as we weave around the biggest puddles. Old women suck on cigarettes. Young men stick their chins in the air, putting their hands in the pockets of thin coats. A dog pulls hard on its leash. E looks up at me, her face glowing in the dark air. She knows I must go away soon, for some days. This is the last morning we will walk to school together for a little while. 



Later she will jump on the bed and sing some Ramones at the top of her lungs. She will cry for a while in my arms. We will pack a bag with her toothbrush, a comb, her school clothes. I will tuck a fresh empty journal in them, with a message from me on the front page. 

She will ask me later what it says, as no one can read my handwriting. I told her to write it all down, everything she feels when I am away. I tell her it will make her feel better. I promise this. 

"Just like your Monday stories?" She asks me.
"Exactly." I say.

On the plane, I keep thinking of that moment when the streetlights go off, that in-between feeling. Not here, and not there. Not night, not dawn. It has no name.


Comments

Mely said…
Have a safe trip.

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