On this day a celebration of my life as a fatherless girl
To the outside world, we looked like a Buster Brown ad. Mom Dad chubby baby girl. Upon closer inspection, this family, this picture a figment of the pure imagination. He is my mother’s second husband and vigorously denied paternity. The cute chubby baby a problem.
In my 16th year, I understood there to be a pact between them; an agreement involving me that my mother and I paid dearly for in fleshy bits of bloody soul.
The first slap I recall came at six years of age. Open hand, hard to my left cheek. Crackling — like the last piece of breaded chicken thrown into the hot oil. My face stung, red swollen the sound echoing throughout my body.
Why? I will never know. But I surmise my continued existence annoyed him. I had been a very sick child, my mother and her parents worked over me steadily with teas, roots and herbs, anxious prayers and supplication. My survival was miraculous.
I excelled in school yet lived on the set of a horror movie. To my eternal shame, after several attempts to escape the madness, my beloved mother turned away from me.
I continue to live in pain, my body in unrelenting physical distress. Abuse mutates cells and molecular structure, or so I’m told. Why do you not numb the pain? But really what is life without it?
There are fathers walking children to church out my window, and I grieve for those that are actors. The kids who will melt slowly into the morass of despair. I throw blessings into the still morning air.
He is old and feigns illness. She has left this earthly sphere. I have cobbled together a life I love.
I grieve for all the women and me — members of this unfortunate sorority. I weep for my inability to protect my body from the onslaught. I am sorry I lied to keep up appearances.
But on this occasion this particular Sunday morning, I am not sorry I lived.