Identical, p.29

Identical, page 29

 

Identical
 



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  be. I could tiptoe around the real

  reason I’m here. But why waste

  time? “I want to know why Daddy

  won’t have anything to do with you.”

  Well, that’s very direct, isn’t it?

  Why is it important now?

  I could lie, tell him I want to

  know him, learn all about my

  roots. But I suspect he’d know

  it was a fabrication. “I need to know

  why Daddy is like he is. Why I am…”

  Who you are, he finishes. Hesitates.

  I’m not sure where to begin.

  Oh, I can help him there.

  “I don’t need to hear any

  happy stuff, if there is any

  to tell. I need to hear about

  when everything went to shit.”

  He Winces Slightly

  But agrees. I don’t know you from

  Adam, but someone should hear this

  story. Your father would carry it to

  his grave. How much do you know

  about Charlotte, your grandmother?

  “Only that she walked out when

  Daddy was a boy. Something

  about your messing around?”

  A nice way to put it. Yes, I cheated.

  I was lonely. Charlotte shared most

  of her time with a whiskey bottle,

  and so devoted little to your father

  or me. When she left, it was a relief,

  or would have been, except I had to

  work long hours. Your father was still

  young, so I placed him in the care of

  a neighbor, a woman I had known,

  or thought I did, for many years.

  Turned out I didn’t know her at all.

  One day I came home early and

  went to pick up Raymond. I knocked

  but no one answered, so I went

  around back, where I heard voices….

  He pauses, clearly unsure

  whether to tell me the rest.

  “Please. Don’t stop now.”

  I found your father, on a swing

  with a young girl, about his age.

  They were naked, playing with each

  other. Miranda was directing them,

  and her boyfriend was taking pictures.

  His voice breaks a little, and

  his eyes—Daddy’s eyes—spill

  the tears of this horrible truth.

  Your father gained his manhood,

  if you could call it that, at the age

  of ten. His photographs appeared

  in magazines, for the pleasure of

  pedophiles. And he blames me.

  Bam, Sledgehammer

  His words don’t so much sink

  in as they are pounded in, down

  through my skull, into my brain.

  So much explained. So much

  insight gained, in the space of ten

  minutes of ugly monologue.

  My grandfather’s voice quivers.

  He wasn’t hurt, not physically.

  But emotionally, he was scarred.

  I tried to tell him how sorry I was,

  but he wouldn’t listen. Wouldn’t

  forgive me. For eight years, we

  barely spoke. And after he left

  for college, I never heard another

  word from him. I followed his career

  as best I could. Was happy that he

  did well for himself. I kept thinking

  with time, he’d come around….

  Oh, no. Not Daddy. Once you’re

  on his shit list, forget it. But one

  burning question remains.

  “Why did you call about your

  ex-wife coming back? Did you

  really think she wanted money?”

  He crumples like a candy wrapper.

  I didn’t know what she wanted.

  She’d been gone so long, I wasn’t

  even sure she was still alive

  until she knocked on my door,

  wanting to know about you.

  I thought—hoped—it might

  be a way back into Raymond’s

  life. Your life. I’m…all alone.

  A Half-Assed Honk

  Signals my ride home is curbside.

  Better not leave them waiting

  too long, or I might get stuck

  watching Joel fish for tuna.

  Did I just think that? Fuck!

  “I have to go. My ride is waiting.”

  I consider what else to say.

  I’ll start with a hug. Grandpa

  …um…weird…stiffens a bit

  at my touch. “Thank you.”

  No, thank you. For giving me

  the chance to maybe get to know

  you. I don’t want to die without

  family knowing or caring I’m gone.

  Please stay in touch. Please?

  “I’ll do my best. But Daddy

  won’t like it if he finds out.”

  We exchange phone numbers,

  and he walks me to the door.

  I turn. “Can I call you Grandpa?”

  His smile is weak, weary.

  I’d be grateful if you did. Tell

  your ride to drive carefully.

  I’d hate to lose you now.

  The door closes behind me.

  Ugly Little Movies

  Replay themselves over and over

  in my head on the ride home.

  Thankfully the return trip is faster

  than the outbound was. If I hear

  one more frigging giggle, I’m

  going to blow it completely.

  I down yet another painkiller, chase it

  with a swig of the Turkey stashed in my bag.

  We drop over the top of the mountain,

  where the hills bump and grind toward

  the valley. I’ve admired this view

  hundreds of times, but today it’s different.

  Today the hills are haunting,

  vague as spirits fooled into being,

  each blurring into the next in cool

  bronze succession. Indistinct.

  Yet somehow not quite meaningless.

  Like information gleaned, but not

  completely absorbed. Like ugly little

  movies, in semiconstant replay.

  I Should Go Home

  My cell has four voice mails,

  three from Daddy:

  Where are you?

  Where the hell are you?

  Why did you leave without

  telling me where you were

  going?

  Where the fuck are you?

  When will you be home?

  Are you okay? Do I have

  to come looking for you?

  I have to call him, but first

  I pick up the fourth message.

  Can’t believe it, but it’s Ty:

  Hey. Sorry I took so long

  to return your call. Been

  away at a seminar. When

  can I see you? Call me.

  Major Dilemma

  If I call Daddy, he’ll want me

  to come home, and who knows

  what kind of mood he’ll be in?

  (I’ve got a pretty good idea.)

  But seeing Ty—and getting

  wasted—is way up on my

  priority list. If I get high

  enough, I can deal with Daddy,

  as long as he doesn’t actually

  come looking and find me.

  He wouldn’t come looking,

  would he? And if he did,

  could he find me way out

  in the boonies at Ty’s place?

  Nope. No way. First I call

  Ty. He answers, second ring.

  “Hey. I’m in town. Can you

  pick me up?” He agrees,

  so I have Brittany drop me

 
at the park. “Thanks for

  the ride. See you.” Off they go.

  I chance a one-sided call to Daddy.

  “Hi. I’m fine. I’m with friends.

  Be home in a while.” Click.

  I’m Living Dangerously

  And I def know it. I power down

  the phone. I’ll have to deal with

  whatever consequences Daddy

  decides to deal me. But meanwhile,

  I won’t have my evening disturbed

  by the incessant interruption of a cell.

  It takes Ty forty minutes to get to

  me, too much time with nothing

  to do but think about today.

  And that means thinking about Daddy.

  No wonder he didn’t want Kaeleigh

  and me to have a childhood. He didn’t.

  I have no idea how I’ll feel when he’s

  punishing me, but right this moment,

  I can’t help but feel sorry for him.

  Finally the BMW cruises into view.

  I wave and Ty pulls against the curb.

  I give him my hottest smile. “Hey.”

  Hey. Great to see you again. Get

  in. He opens the door for me, not

  quite a gentleman. My place okay?

  His Place

  Is exactly what I have in mind.

  The top is down on the Beamer,

  the sun low in the sky, and it’s

  cold outside. So why am I hot?

  Feverish? Maybe. But I’m not

  going to tell him that and maybe,

  just maybe, the fever is hunger,

  not sickness. I’m starving.

  Starving for a high, a place to

  hang out inside my own head.

  Starving for touch. Pain, even.

  A way to feel. I need to feel.

  Funny how when your life is

  mostly bullshit, you turn off

  feeling. Sometimes it’s hard

  to turn it back on again.

  Last time I let myself feel was

  up on the mountain with Ian.

  When he turned away, I flipped

  the feeling off switch.

  But now, just imagining what

  Ty has in mind for me, for us,

  I flip it back on again. Good

  or bad, I’m ready to feel.

  Ty’s House

  Is the perfect place to hang out

  inside my own head. The first

  thing he does is disappear

  up the hall, toward his bedroom.

  He comes back with a party in a box.

  You want to get buzzed, right?

  I nod and next thing I know,

  we’re smoking black African

  bud. It’s not really black, but

  it’s definitely purple, the buds

  big around as my fist. And it

  tastes like absolute heaven.

  Almost immediately, my eyes

  grow heavy and my tongue thick.

  “Incredible,” I manage, sounding

  more like “increthible.” We both

  laugh, and I slide into a comfort

  zone. Part of me keeps shouting

  a warning. The other part tells

  the first to shut up, quit trying

  to fuck up my high. I realize

  Ty is a dangerous man. But I

  so want to walk that razor’s edge,

  take feeling to a whole new level.

  He senses my eagerness.

  His breath warms my ear

  and my heart double-times.

  How far will you go with me?

  He kisses my mouth. My throat.

  Will you let me draw blood?

  He bites my neck, and a moan

  escapes my mouth, unbidden.

  How high will you let me take you?

  For once, I want to relinquish

  control. For once, I want to

  completely let go. “You decide.”

  His grin is pure evil. That’s my

  girl. He yanks my blouse over

  my head, spills me from my bra.

  He kisses, bites. I’m already lost,

  but hungry for more. He pulls

  me to my feet, hands all over me….

  And the Doorbell Rings

  Not just once, but three times,

  in quick succession. Fuck!

  Did Daddy find me after all?

  Who the fuck is it? Ty yells.

  No answer, but another ring.

  And another. I try to tug on

  my shirt, and am halfway there

  when Ty opens the door. I stare

  at the face framed there, eyes

  wide with anger and hurt. Ian.

  He pushes past Ty. Kaeleigh.

  What are you doing here, with

  him? You promised me…

  Promised? What did I promise?

  I shake my head. Kaeleigh promised,

  not me. “N-not Kaeleigh.”

  Ty takes Ian’s arm. Get the fuck

  out of here. He tries to muscle him

  toward the door,

  but Ian yanks away, comes over,

  puts his hands on my shoulders, looks

  into my eyes. Who are you, then?

  I’m…I look at him, so full

  of love for me. Me. Am I Kaeleigh?

  No. Goddammit. I’m, “Raeanne.”

  No, no, no! His head twists

  from side to side, until I’m sure

  it will spin off his neck. Raeanne

  is dead, Kaeleigh. She died

  in the accident, remember?

  Listen to me, Kaeleigh.

  What is he talking about?

  I’m not dead. I’m right here,

  and I’m…too fucking stoned

  to deal with this now. “What

  are you talking about, Ian?

  Can’t you see I’m not Kaeleigh?”

  Ian’s eyes are wild. Scared.

  Confused, like an animal

  in a trap. Please, Kaeleigh.

  Why does he keep calling

  me that? I’m not Kaeleigh, I’m…

  Wait…What did he say

  about an accident? Yes, yes,

  there was an accident. Daddy

  was driving and they took…

  Mom and Raeanne Away

  Not me. Didn’t

  take me away.

  Raeanne. My sister.

  My identical twin.

  I called out to her.

  She didn’t answer.

  Mom came back.

  Raeanne didn’t.

  Ty turns vicious.

  Ty? Who’s he?

  Look, she said she’s not

  this Kaeleigh person, so…

  But I am Kaeleigh.

  Wait. Who am I?

  Who am I? The room

  begins to spin.

  Goddammit. Too much

  fucking good bud.

  Is that the problem?

  Don’t think so. Afraid

  that’s not the problem.

  Ian turns toward Ty,

  and his look stops the

  bigger man’s approach.

  Something’s wrong

  with her, but she is

  Kaeleigh, and her twin,

  Raeanne, was killed

  in an accident years ago….

  “Stop saying that!

  I’m not dead….”

  Yes, you are.

  “…can’t be dead.

  I’m standing right here.”

  Someone is, but

  not you.

  “I don’t want

  to be dead….”

  I Think I’m Dead

  Voices. Arms around me.

  Hands, familiar. Ian’s hands?

  They don’t belong to me.

  They belong to Kaeleigh.

  Kaeleigh isn’t

  dead.

  I am. Lights. Floating.

 
; Motion. Noise. Ian, beside

  me. Come on, Kaeleigh.

  Everything’s okay. I’m here

  for you always. He says

  I’m not dead,

  but he still thinks I’m her.

  Am I her? If I’m her, where

  is me? I can’t go away, not

  all the way away. Kaeleigh

  is weak, no match for Daddy.

  If I die,

  she’ll die too. I’ll always

  be right here. Ian doesn’t

  have to know. Daddy

  doesn’t have to know. Even

  she won’t

  know I’m still here. I’ll

  have to hide better, always

  be Kaeleigh. It’s a new game,

  but necessary for me to

  survive.

  Kaeleigh

  I Wish I Were Dead

  I’m sick. Confused. Hot.

  My muscles ache, twitch.

  They tell me it’s withdrawal

  from OxyContin. I smell

  dead,

  sweating death from my pores.

  Three days now, and nothing

  feels better. I keep puking…

  did I once puke on purpose?

  Is that part of me dead if

  I’m not dead,

  and if it is, am I half-dead?

  I don’t understand. I don’t

  understand. Big blocks

  of my life are lost to me.

  Big blocks of time, spent…

 

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