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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…

bears

Snow is falling, with the loose-boned abandon of a wounded animal. It is colder then cold right now, -30 at night. A wind whips up. Trees are cracking as they bend into it. The baby is restless. There are dirty dishes in the sink. A guitar leans against a stand, unplayed. I move from room to room, catching my reflection in the iced up windows. As usual, I do not recognize myself. I am not that man with a crust of bread in his mouth and a few slices of hard cheese balanced in a bowl. 

Everything comes to a complete stop. 

January is always like this. It is not a new story. 



Someone is painting in the hallway and the reek of turpentine and chemicals wafts under the front door, one more selfish act. All of the rooms are kept closed to keep in the warmth, but I throw doors and windows open hoping the fumes will go away. The air runs into my nose, hard sharp breaths inside. I decide to go to buy bread.

In the path, a handful of glittery hearts flip in the wind. They are scattered in all directions. Maybe someone got married today, and they are on their honeymoon in a hotel room far from here. Or, maybe they are just upstairs sipping strong tea. I kneel down, convinced I need to take a picture of one of them. An old woman appears out of nowhere, grumbling behind me, cursing as I delay her. I gesture to the red and purple hearts and she sneers. She hobbles past me, her ancient fur coat like the shell of a bear hanging from her tiny shoulders.






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