Disclaimer: I hereby warn that this is copy written material for a novel that I am working on. If it is copied or used without the express permission of the author for any purpose in any publication or otherwise, legal ramifications and losses will be determined in a court of law. With that being said, enjoy.
She watched me intently, the disappointment in her muddy brown eyes, as I searched to grasp the words that slid beneath the grip of the swirling grooves in my fingertips. I sat silently instead; the family secrets that kept all of us quiet for so many years. Knowing that we were outcasts of a large family with a deep past that very few knew or would speak on.
How could we have this conversation now? In this living room with its dark stained walls from soot and ash. She knew all there was to say, honestly. They were shared secrets that many had taken to their graves, but yet I couldn’t help but to think that this large family, the one that refused to acknowledge us in our best of years or our worst, with few exceptions had judged us quickly and swiftly.
That judgment never turned inward where the blame should be placed, but instead pointing a stiff finger of an unknown magistrate. Only God himself should judge, I thought. We knew this, but alas this was not the case. Is it not easier to judge those surrounding you than to take that hard look into the intentions of your own soul? The day hot we found solace inside this tiny air-conditioned space. Though it didn’t put ease to the surrounding and mounting tension that grew with each second of impending silence.
How could I explain…why I felt that allowing this man to write to my daughter was the absolute worst idea that I could fathom. “Don’t you understand why I don’t feel comfortable?” I asked her. She looked at me, a mixture of being perplexed and convinced of the reason. “Yes and No.” My mother responded. How could she say, “No?” What was there left to figure out? She started again with a connotation of denial in her voice. “He is in prison, you realize?” I did realize, that alone was enough to make the uneasiness of the situation that much more tantamount.
Did I really have to come out and say the obvious? Of course I did. She wouldn’t truly want to understand unless I stood firm and the memory of something too uncomfortable burst forth from the background of my mind to the foreground of the conversation. I had to tread lightly enough to not find myself in an excited emotional state, but calm enough to make my point; clearly and coherently. “After what he did to me when I was young. Do you really think that I would feel comfortable with him writing to my daughter? My ten year old daughter?”
She stared at my quizzically for a moment, trying to process my words. She knew exactly what I meant and the incident that occurred. The epidemic that ran rampant in our family was that of denial. It seemed that with each generation that it was deeply ingrained in our DNA; the one coping mechanism that we had for seemingly countless centuries. Our family was seriously messed up and nobody seemed to notice. My mother knew, she had known since childhood. Many situations that she had blocked from her memory but were stirred again by the memories of other family members that had witnessed the atrocities set forth and experienced by her.
Yet nobody intervened, well almost no one. One aunt of my mother’s, one time, for a two year span had nursed her back to health upon suffering a severe case of impetigo caused by neglect. Her health was saved to some degree, but her mind and soul would grow to block out some of the worst memories, whilst others still haunted her. Again, the denial kicks in and she learned to pretend that life was fine and fair because she had run far away from the small town that she once called home. Holding on to secrets that even she could barely utter.
However, life was no better, on the outside maybe. Perhaps. The generations of secrets, scandals, abuse, and anything else imaginable would somehow seep through. No matter how far away she ran from that tiny town, the effects were felt. History seemed to repeat itself in some ways, though unintentional, their implications deep.
Roots grounded into hardened hearts, like vines with a vice-grip. Inescapable for even myself, once believing that, like her, life was fine and fair. It really wasn’t. It was completely random and I grew up wondering what wicked curse had been placed upon this family name that had carried over so many times. How it was that I looked into my mother’s eyes and saw a reflection of myself. Her pain was my pain, and her loneliness my own.