I’m around six years old.
My brown hair is scraggly, my leg warmers are uneven on my legs, and there is a space where my two front teeth will soon be.
I’m standing in front of my dad helping him tie his tie; a morning ritual between the two of us. It’s quiet, and the room feels empty; it’s just us in this big, old grey farm house.
Our moment is interrupted by the forceful knocking at the front door.
I run to the steps and peek over the railing to see who is there. It’s my mom. “Dad, it’s mom!” I yell excitedly “Don’t answer, come upstairs.” “Why, why can’t I answer?”
I hear the loud noise of glass breaking and falling and the thumping in my chest goes into overdrive. My dad tells me to stay put and he leaves to go downstairs.
I don’t remember point A to point B, but somehow I’m now next to my dad downstairs, pulling on his arm and begging him, “please let me go with mom, please.” He’s not talking to me. My mom and dad are talking, but I can’t hear them, I just know she wants me and I want her, and I’m so confused about why I can’t go and why she broke the window and I wonder if she’s hurt.
And then she’s gone.
But I’m still here.
Daddy says she broke the glass with her purse, and that she’ll be fine.
I can’t remember too many things before that day, and after is a blur as well. It’s a funny thing, memory, what sticks, and what hides. I’m told I lived with my mom for the first three years of my life. I think we lived in Alaska, and the memories of then are scattered; I don’t know if they are from living there or visiting her after I lived with my dad. I know we had a brown house, and there was snow, and there was a girl named Moriah who would steal my tea set, but I let her, so I guess it wasn’t really stealing. She would stuff everything into her pants and my mom and I watched her as she walked awkwardly home. And then there was the earth quake. I was on the toilet and she was holding my baby sister. The house would shake and then stop, and I wanted her to hold me but she couldn’t because her arms were full with a baby. Yes, and Keith, her daddy, who always called me “pumpkin head.” I remember those things, but that’s about it.
Then there was Arkansas, and Georgia, and a new husband, and then a boyfriend, and then I lived with her and I saw what an alcoholic was for the first time in my life. She looked like my mom.
I can’t tell her story, but I have one to tell. I have a story of what it was like to live with her for three years in Georgia. I have a story about a teenager living with her alcoholic mother, her alcoholic mother’s boyfriend (who was half her age), and a time when a razor was dangerously tempting to a broken girl.
I don’t like sad things. I like beauty and happiness, and who wants to talk about dark things. But there is a story to be told, and it wants to be told, and while there is dark, there is also light. So maybe, bit by bit, I’ll let it out. As she sees fit.
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