Warning: the following piece contains strong language, adult situations, depictions of physical, emotional, mental, and sexual abuse. Reader discretion is advised.
Mommy and Daddy fucked. They made me. According to the sound-carrying heater vents, they turned into parents and the bed-squeaking stopped.
I walk in the bathroom as Daddy’s getting out of the shower. He screams at me to go away, but I’m the one who wants to scream, What the heck is that thing?! I think about how creepy a naked father looks, so I draw what I saw on the back of my homework. The picture stays in my backpack until my teacher discovers it; crumples it up without a word.
Mommy slaps my face with subtly demanding insults disguised as caring advice. When I’m in the bathroom, splashing slippery sulfurous well water onto my watermelon-pink cheeks, she raids my closet and reads my diary. I ask her not to do that again. She smiles in a not-nice way and tells me it’s no big deal, there’s no privacy in this house anyway.
Stuff Daddy teaches me when we go fishing: Mommy’s crazy–jealous that he prefers me over her–that he chooses his daughter, despite my many failings that make him angry enough to black out. He drinks beer that smells like moldy bread and stumbles over chairs and flips tables in a drunken brutish rage.
He hates my inertia; loathes my lazy lack of ambition…but I have the power to re-instill his faith in me. I just have to try harder. I have to be better. I have to do everything he says. I have to obey. I have to be perfect, because he is faultless and there is no possible way I could ever live with disappointing him. I would rather die than shame him–he told me so himself. Why would I ever doubt my own father’s wisdom? He knows me better than I know myself.
Mommy’s a cheater. She fell in love with the blond-haired waiter who wears a Miami Vice mustache at the bar where the servers serenade their customers with Broadway show tunes like “Some Enchanted Evening.” She blames me for blowing her cover, even though I didn’t know Daddy didn’t know she had a dentist appointment at a Motel 6 on Tuesday at noon. I thought he might have wanted to contact her in case of emergency.
My punishment: to spend every other weekend babysitting Mommy’s boyfriend’s kids. I watch them pull the heads off the Barbies I still play with, and sit stock-still as they doodle on my arms with ballpoint pens. Apparently, my dolls are collateral damage; my skin is a sketchpad. Girls are more fun to ruin than toys. Mommy agrees.
When I’m at Daddy’s place–a freakishly neat, one-bedroom bachelor’s pad wallpapered with bathetic “life lessons” he swears are the product of my mawkish imagination, I do anything short of murder-for-hire to avoid his fierce backhand. Sometimes I catch the blow in transit and feign the role of unperturbed pitiable pacifist.
He swears he loves me. I have an easy time believing him, because he keeps repeating it.
Mommy kisses me with intent to suck my juvenescent essence so that her lips will plump up and twenty-five years will vanish from her matronly frame. She wants my perky tits, bright eyes; Anne Frank’s hope. If I let her, she could be my everything. I could live inside her squeezebox that used to house me.
But I’m Daddy’s girl. I’ve known his abuse since he first accused Infant Me of not providing him with sufficient eye contact and paying poor attention to his needs. I don’t have to try to understand him. He wishes he treated me better. A volatile man can’t be expected to control himself. He has fixed limits in how much backtalk he can handle. It’s always someone else’s fault.
I move in with Daddy after Mommy and her new family purchase one-way tickets to the Bahamas with the remainder of her alimony check. I don’t complain–I’m lucky. Who could ask for more than four windowless walls, an inflammable roof, and the constant threat of paternal love? If the boot comes down too hard, he didn’t mean it that way. If he walks in while I’m changing, it’s my fault I picked a bad time to take off my clothes. If he needs to release some tension in/on/around me now and again, I don’t hesitate to demonstrate my usefulness. I’m the pillow that doesn’t punch back.
I must remain relevant and amusing, but remember not to voice my opinions–Daddy doesn’t want to hear those unless they reflect his own. I keep the peace; he’ll keep me, as long as I live to please him.
I have become, above all, a lovely pet.
© Jane Bled 2017-2018
All Rights Reserved.
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