Identical, page 26
Grandma Gardella called the other
day. We talked about it for a few
minutes, which is about all the time
she could spare for me. I swear
I could run away and she wouldn’t
me gone. Daddy is a different tale.
Sometimes I turn around suddenly,
sure he’s behind me. But he’s not.
Sometimes, even though I know
he’s miles away, I feel him watching
monitoring every move I make,
every twitch, every pee, every
thought, even. Sometimes, rarely,
that makes me feel safe, and that
scares me through and through.
Will I ever be able to leave Daddy
School Was Crazy
For a day or two, like Mom’s
celebrity had somehow worn
off on me. Today is better.
No questions. No jokes.
Everything back to normal,
at least as normal as things get.
Thank God for Ian, always
my reality check. And often,
my voice of reason. I guess
it’s good to have a conscience
hanging around somewhere.
The fact that he happens to be
a great kisser is a definite bonus.
At least as long as those strange
feelings about my father,
and how he can see beyond
the miles, don’t happen to prove
true. Then, considering how much
kissing has gone on between Ian
and me today, I’m toast. If so,
the kissing was worth every crumb.
One Thing Kind of Weird, Though
As hot as our kissing gets (and it
gets pretty intense), Ian has not
tried to take things further. Once
or twice, his hands have strayed
to certain places, places that made
me want a lot more than kissing.
But he always pulls back, intuiting
that, much as I might want more,
I’m really not ready to give myself
to him in that way.
All the way. Not yet. Everything has to be right.
In place. Hopeful. Fearless. Perfect.
He drives me home now and my
heart beats against his back, promising,
“I do love you. I do love you. I do…”
He stops around the corner from home,
out of sight of our windows,
of Hannah’s windows (just in case).
We are well ahead of the school bus.
We’ll let it go by before I walk on
home. Daddy took the week off.
Who knows where he’s at, or what
he’s doing? Even this is risky,
and we both know it. Don’t care.
At Last the Bus Goes By
I haven’t much time, at least
not if Daddy is home, aware.
I press myself into Ian, try to
absorb enough of him to get
me through the long night
without him. He doesn’t need
the words, but I offer them
anyway. “I love you so much.
More than life itself. I’d be
a total wreck without you.”
He looks into my eyes, smiles.
I know. I feel the same way.
My head shakes automatically.
“You’re so together. You don’t
need me to keep you that way.
But you are my glue. Without
you, I’d be nothing but broken
pieces. Completely useless.”
Never useless, Kaeleigh. And
you’re stronger than you know.
I Try to Keep That in Mind
As I arrive home. With Mom gone,
the house wears its usual aura
of hushed nonwelcome. I focus
on Ian as I tread quietly to my room.
Daddy is home, his bedroom
door open a crack, and through
it leaks his voice, thick already
with his usual escapes.
C-c’mon, Hannah. Y-you don’t
mean it. She’s gone and might
not ever come back to me.
I n-need to see you. N-need you.
Wow. Things went deeper
than I thought. I almost
feel sorry for Daddy. Almost.
Not like he deserves anyone.
P-please, Hannah. D-don’t
leave me, just like everyone
else. Please! Several silent
seconds pass before a solid
clunk tells me the phone has
fallen against the floor. And,
sequestered in his dark, lonely
cell, Daddy is sobbing.
I Close My Door
Turn on my music, slip
headphones over my ears. I don’t
want to hear him cry.
He’s a sad, sick man, who
deserves every tear, at least that’s
what I want to think.
I’m shredded, wrecked.
Completely confused because as
much as I hate him most
of the time, every now
and then, a sliver of love for Daddy
embeds itself in my heart.
Hard to tell who’s more
messed up. Daddy? Or me? And,
much as it’s the end result
that affects me every day,
I really have to wonder who or what
made Daddy become this way.
Babies aren’t born cruel
or filled with sick desire. Evil is not
intrinsic. It’s fashioned.
Soundless as a Shadow
I stay in my room all evening
Drawing any sort of attention
to myself would be an enormous
mistake. Shh! Turn off the music.
Every now and again, Daddy
leaves his own room, on a Turkey
hunt. Staccato footsteps accompany
his muttered threats and pleas.
You can’t leave me. I won’t
let you. I’m not a little boy
anymore. I’ll go after you.
Please. Don’t leave me!
I keep the bedside lamp
very low. It sheds a pale,
wheat-colored light, barely
enough to read by. Not
that I can concentrate on
the words. Mostly what I’m
doing is praying Daddy slips
into substance-fed slumber.
Back and Forth
He goes, bedroom to bar. Why
doesn’t he just take the bottle
with him? It comes to me with
sudden clarity that his pacing
carries him by my room twice
every round-trip. I extinguish
my light, hunker down in my
bed, as if hiding there might
somehow influence him to keep
on going. Going. Please go on by.
This trip is to the Turkey, and
it seems to take a very long time.
Maybe he fell asleep in the living
room. I start to relax, just a little.
And then I hear him, unsteady in
the hall. One, two. Three, four…
He pauses outside my door.
This time, the knob turns.
And I know why he’s here. I’m
the only one who doesn’t dare run.
I Want to Shout
Leave me alone!
What’s wrong with you?
Don’t you remember
who I am? Who you are?
This is not a father’s love!
I want t
Can’t you see what
you are doing to me?
What you’ve done to me?
What you’ve made of me?
I want to cry out,
I am your little girl.
I am not your girlfriend.
I am not your whore.
I am not my fucking mother!
But he is on top of me
and my shout is silenced.
He is inside of me
and my scream stays
there too. He is finished.
And I don’t cry out,
but I do cry a bucket
of silent tears. He slithers
away and at last, I quietly sob
He Says Not a Word
Except a whispered I love you.
And as he exits, an almost-silent something
half-sounding like I’m sorry.
Is he? How can he do this despicable
thing to me, expect
me to believe he’s the slightest bit sorry?
Once, after an extended “visit,”
he pushed himself up above me, dared to
slur, Forgive me. Not my fault.
Whose fault, then? Mine? All I ever did
was try and make
him feel forgiven. Healed. Accepted. Loved.
Mom’s fault? Maybe. But why,
then, does he still want her? Still want to
love her, with or without sex?
Hannah’s fault? Someone else’s? What
wearing Daddy’s face, might come to me?
Most of me doesn’t care, just
wants him to leave me the hell alone. A tiny
part of me demands to know.
Are exhausted. Too little sleep.
Much too much unsolicited attention.
It is unsolicited, isn’t it? I don’t ask
for it (maybe subconsciously), do I?
Stop it! Can’t think like that, even
for a instant, or go completely insane.
My body aches. My brain aches more.
But I have to get up and go to work.
At least I won’t have to share a table,
share a couch, a room, a house,
pretending last night didn’t happen.
I’ve done a lot of pretending.
I pry myself from between
the covers, limp off to the shower,
hoping fifteen minutes of hot steam
and fragranced vapors can wash away
the scum. Scrub away the disgust.
Cleansed but not refreshed, I dress
in simple jeans and an unadorned T-shirt,
apply no hint of makeup. I want no
attention, no compliments, no come-
on nor get-off smiles. I want to be
Mother Teresa, helping the elderly.
Okay, it’s a ridiculous fantasy,
but one I desperately need right now.
Enveloped by November Fog
I walk to work. Slowly.
I see now, more than ever,
that I belong to Daddy.
My father is my keeper.
I can never escape to Ian.
Ian was only a fantasy.
A movie poster to focus
on when I have to hide
out inside my own head.
By the time I reach
the old folks’ home,
I realize I have to break
things off with Ian.
Not fair to let him keep
thinking we have a future.
Not fair to me to play
this game any longer.
I go inside, drowning.
Crying, inside and out.
The First Face I See
Belongs to William. He can’t
help but notice the state I’m in.
Straightaway, he puts an arm
around my shoulder. You okay?
I yank away from his touch,
like he’s fresh from the oven.
My muscles twitch, quiver,
begin to shake uncontrollably.
Greta, nearby, rushes to my
side, latches onto my elbow.
Come with me. No ifs, ands,
or buts about it, young lady.
Next thing I know, I’m in Greta’s
room, on her bed, tissue in hand.
I think it’s time you told me
this deep, dark secret of yours.
Oh, how wonderful it would be
to break down. Confess. “I can’t.”
This has to do with your family,
yes? Perhaps with your father?
Any hint of composure vanishes
in a tremendous hailstorm of tears.
Greta sits beside me. I should
have told you my story before…
Her Voice Softens
Remember once, I told you I met evil
when I was very small? My Satan
was a butcher, tall, heavyset, and
the face he wore looked exactly
like mine. He was my father, and
he believed he owned me.
A gasp escapes my best effort
to hold it inside me.
Greta continues. He would come
home from his butcher shop,
rank with blood and fat. Often
he stripped without washing,
and he would call me into his
bedroom, a calf to slaughter.
I was expected to bring a wash
basin and soap. “Cleanse me,”
he would say. “Take the stench
away.” Hands. Arms. Feet. Legs.
And by the time I reached the place
between them, he would be stiff.
And then he would tell me how
to touch him, before he laid
me on the bed and did the thing
no father should do to his child….
I cannot believe she’s telling
me this. Cannot believe this
beautiful, strong woman
ever suffered this thing.
When I met my Lars, I loved
his gentle way, loved how
he never demanded. I told you
my father found us together,
beat me because of it, and I was
afraid he would beat Lars, too.
But Lars didn’t care. He asked
me to marry him, and I so wanted
to, but could not imagine sharing
a bed with any man. Pleasure
from sex? Never! When I said no,
Lars went off to soldier.
How I regretted that decision.
Later, my father arranged
a marriage to a man no better
than he. But that is another story.
And now, if you will, I think you
should share your story with me.
Oh, How I Want To
But Daddy would kill me,
and get away with it. I can’t
ever tell, not even to someone
else who has had
forced on her by her father.
What if I ask for it somehow,
maybe subconsciously? Being
brutally honest with myself, it
How can that be? Not that
there’s any joy in it. Unlike Greta,
I want to know joyous sex.
It does exist outside of books,
it? I want sex laced with love,
and not warped parental
love, but the honest kind.
I want sex that makes me
not like some freak, some inbred
monstrosity. I’m not, am I?
one day be revealed that Mom
is actually my grandmother? OMG,
could there be even deeper secrets
that can’t be unearthed, never
IMH (not) O
In my not-so-humble opinion,
Kaeleigh definitely asks for it.
Feigned innocence invites
more than a frank come-on does.
Anyway, she tries to pretend
she doesn’t like it, but it
and she knows it. Feels good
with Mick, although that particular
chapter of my life is definitely over.
Even if he has forgiven the whole
truck episode, I prefer a guy who
have another girlfriend spoiling
for trouble. Someone like Ty, maybe.
Sex feels great with him, too.
I guess it might be nice for sex to
like the person you’re with
might even love you. But hey,
I’m not exactly sold on the idea
that love is, in fact, real.
find me one day, overtake
me, infiltrate my life like sunlight
snakes through the cold of morning?
Can love thaw me? Will it
I’m Not Even Sure
What love is, or just what it’s supposed to
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