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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 prisoner


I watch her sleeping, as I have on thousands of nights like this. Her hands are loose, lost in some raphaelite pose. A whistle pulls from her nostrils. A window is open, flipping the curtains and the covers are pulled tight around her. At least she has this peace, I tell myself wandering into the kitchen for a nightcap.

Her days are consumed by pens and pencils, drawings of girls having slumber parties on polka dot sheets, of her imaginary version of Central Park where hotdogs are free, of a house in the countryside. We play card games at the kitchen table, shoving the empty plates to one side after lunch. We take walks to buy some fresh trout, or blueberries in the afternoon.

I ask her how it feels to be forced to remain in the city while all of her friends are on the ocean, or in the country with grandparents.
"It is ok." She tells me, her voice small and breaking.
"So you don't feel like a prisoner?" I ask.
She rests her hand on my shoulder.
"No, because I am with you." She explains.
I squeeze her next to me.
"But yes, it makes me sad." She adds, after a moment.




Comments

liv said…
there is simply no way to express the feelings after reading that - no words - no words
Rachael said…
This is beautiful. Utterly freaking beautiful.

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