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a peaceful protest

I was 16, and the thought of being forced to mention God as part of the pledge of allegiance was too hypocritical an act for me to play along with. Each day of high school began with this mundane recitation, as most people just stood with their hand jutting from a hip, the other dangling across their chest as they counted out the seconds until they could sit back down. They leaned against desks, and talked through it about what party and where it would be, if there would be a keg or a bonfire in the woods. I recited the words, omitting the "under God" part as a sort of half-baked protest. I was raised to flaunt my family's ramshackle atheism, as a choice of smug pride. We knew better, was the prevailing logic.

But one day, I could not stand and say any of it. It felt so rote, so hollow, so devoid of choice. There was no law that said I was required to say it. I knew this was my right, a form of free speech. My homeroom teacher was a legendary drinker, a trash-talking re…

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There are pockets, absences. In them, histories are hidden, memories stamped down under dry earth. There are episodes that have never been shared, fights and screams never repeated. I carry them in silence for a number of reasons. Some things are forced into shadow by warped law and influence. Freedom of speech is a privilege, and a vulnerable one. Some are edited by choice. Some are edited by necessity. The result is the same - an incomplete picture, a book missing pages, a song missing a second verse. 

There are dogeared boxes of papers that are too painful, too embarrassing too forgotten to yank from shelves, the smell of yellowing paper, the hot pang of failure on them. I cannot throw them away just yet, but plan to. Maybe I save some of them for E, scraps of evidence from a life she was too young to commit to memory, a life of wild-eyed desperation and daily drama. I don't know what she will do with them, but maybe they are for her to destroy, not me.

The past and present are both obscured, hidden behind drapes, unspoken. 

So much goes unsaid, I wonder what good it is to speak at times, to be play along with such lies, such deceptions, such over-simple truths. I used to get excited about theories about where truth exists, in hidden spaces between the known and the unknown - the gaps, the lines scribbled out of love letters. They were theories that inspired years of work, but only now do I understand the price paid for experiencing them first hand. To be mute is a prison I could never have imagined, a punishment that bites into fresh skin every day.

Comments

invisible woman said…
In honour of the burden of your silence, I shall leave you here a silent comment...
oldswimmer said…
save them for E!
Breathtaking. Again.

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