Sorry it’s not more, these pages were harder to decipher, they’re faded and stuck together in some places so that I can’t make out all the handwriting but I’ve typed up what I could.
It was almost cold outside. Cool enough so that I forced the stubborn zipper on my jacket closed and crossed my arms over my chest. I wanted to run back to Sara, to have her hug me and say that she was wrong and th…….(It doesn’t stop here, just can’t make out the handwriting, there are smudges and some rips in the paper.)
…My mom died (ineligible few words)… I was three. No one ever told me how or why. She was there one day and gone the next. I remember her though, as strange as that may seem. I remember everything about her. She was spectacular, full of energy, honest and strong. She used to make up songs about everything, sunshine, cereal, traffic. She had a laugh I still hear in my dreams, not delicate at all, hearty, loud and undeniably full. She was my weight in the world. With her gone everything shifted, fell.
With just my father and I left the house became cold and hard. I wasn’t smart enough, pretty enough, never enough of anything to make him proud. I’d thought being a tomboy would make him happy, and maybe for a while it did. That was when we would play catch and he taught me to catch fireflies in ventilated jelly jars. But then everything changed. After that the only thing he I can say he taught me was how to survive. He’d taught me to shoot a gun when I was young enough that the recoil knocked me repeatedly on my butt, taught me to fight with sessions he called ‘love taps’, mixed bourbon with my milk making sure I would sleep giving him the freedom to spend his nights doing things men like him did. I’d missed my mom. At night I would talk to her, sing songs she used to sing. When I woke up alone I would slip on one of her old nightgowns pretending she was wrapping her arms around me and singing me to sleep.
I was seven when my Dad brought home a woman who stayed. She hated me immediately. I think she thought it would make him happy and it did. Together they became creative, took pleasure in finding new and inventive was to punish me. It became difficult to recognize my body without the bruises. I got used to sleeping outside on the picnic table when they refused to let me in. I got smart, stashing a blanket, Archie comic books and snack bags of potato chips by the basement window, pulling them out whenever my knocks at the door went unanswered. I didn’t mind those times so much. It was quiet and calm. I could almost forget about them. In much the same way they effortlessly forgot about me.
On my eighth birthday I’d been late coming home from school. The house had been quiet when I approached. My knocks had echoed unanswered against the wooden door desperately in need of a new coat of paint. I’d thumbed through my mind trying to pinpoint what I could have done, what I needed to apologize for. I’d fallen asleep trying to figure it out and woken up the next day still unsure. I was sure they had never come home. The sound of his rusted car’s struggling engine had snapped-crackled-and-popped loud enough to wake up the deepest sleep, and my eyelids had cracked open in response to bright sunshine and nothing else.
All day I’d waited for them. The next day too but they’d never come and I never saw them again. A neighbor had noticed me after the fourth day squatting to pee alongside the fence before calling child protective services. In less than 24 hours I’d been in the system, wrapped tight in it, accosted by it, by years squeezing in suffocating and abrasive. Houses I’d learned to ghost my way through, tears I’d learned to lock inside. I’d promised to save them for something true, something beautiful or meaningful or real. Not for cardboard families and rooms still thick with the scent of kids who’d come before.
When the time came I’d walked away from that life heading straight towards someone else’s idea of what is real. I had been completely wrong when I thought I’d found what I was looking for, that thing I could wrap up and slip in my pocket as family. I’d been desperately wrong, so blindingly wrong I’d cried fresh tears on a park bench and walked away from every newness I’d built. Now it seems I may have been wrong again, but this time, regardless of what Sara said, I was determined to do something about it.
I needed to accept the possibility that it might literally take me forever to find what I needed. Leaving Sara sitting on a floral comforter with an inheritance of three orange packets of chicken flavored noodles I found my little blue Honda parked on the street and climbed inside. Watching day move into night I stretched out as much as possible against the squat back seat trying to line my thoughts up in a way that made sense. I wanted out. I wanted out as soon as possible. The only way to do that was to be clean. Otherwise I’d always be tied to the Taram. I needed to find someone to bleach me, which if Sara was right, (and she always was), brought me right back to being impossible.
I’d have to go back to Essex, find somebody who might help. Someone who knew someone who’d been cleansed, maybe even knew how I could reach them. Problem was I didn’t know anyone who could help me, didn’t know anyone who knew anyone who’d been wiped and that put me back at square one. My eyes were growing heavy closing on their own. I rolled on my side bunching my jacket for a pillow. I would sleep for now, and tomorrow do anything but stand still. Run until I couldn’t run anymore or came up with something better.