Was it really you swinging around that ancient oak tree, brown
hair bouncing in the breeze like a perfect partner, your eyes
sweet eternity of youth? Even through the faded film and the
tired machine you jumped right off of the screen. I don't believe
I've ever met
that girl, Mother.
He took you as his in the age of Aquarius. He had that
unforgettable smile with the unforgivable space between his two
front teeth, that
was luckily never passed down to me. He had the charm of one
thousand princes, I've seen him cast his spell on those reels of
had the poison of one thousand snakes, you were bit in the end.
What was it like before time froze you? Were there swing sets and
ins that witnessed dreams from now forgotten, Technicolor
screens, the speaker boxes standing as best men at the union of
first fruits? Were any of us conceived in a backseat? Did your
dad approve of the safe information he was given on your new
was the first meal offered to your prince; running home one day
"Oh Mother, you won't believe! Please, Mother, please!"
"Ask your father" is what she said.
Father was in charge and always took charge; you could bet
another drink on it. Always another drink. You'd found your
prince but Father
was still King. I'll bet it was roast beef, his favorite fodder.
He'd bury it in black pepper to your whole family's amazement.
You wouldn't go
near a roast now, would you?
You got him home after studies, but there was a look in his eyes
when he laid them on the layout; a hut at best with five
siblings. He said
nothing but you knew. You knew more than ever that something
wasn't right. You wanted to tear that bottomless beer right out
of your dad's
hands and hurl it far from existence. How much did that beer cost
Father? How much does comfort cost? The math didn't add up. You
never forgave the old drunk.Your prince still pined over you
though. A sigh of relief. Close call.
For a time, the dream blossomed. You found a little palace of
your own, planned far from the home you knew. You lived where
looked like plastic and maids whispered among themselves in green
spite. You confused comfort with affluence and your prince found
better paying job. At some point came the settling in; there came
the burps, the snoring, the skipping of consummation; there came
love, love beyond the surface of things, something you hadn't
seen on a drive-in screen. Love is a bittersweet blend of beauty,
instead of sex, bad breath and methane gas.
Then came the dream's end like a sudden storm on a sunny beach, a
bare knuckled backhanded conclusion to the day. All you had said
was that dinner was cold from sitting so long. How dare you
disrespect! You tasted blood for the first time. You'd need a
stitch or two. What
would you tell them in the emergency room? The color ran from
your face. Where was the prince? Who are you? What have you done
him? You smelled the beer and you thought of Dad. But Dad never
did such a thing! Dad could deliver the goods with a word alone.
followed up with flowers and sweet love songs in his cute pitchy
voice. Oh, how he charmed those grade six students with similar
one of the best teachers the board had to offer:
"Da-da-dum-da-dee-dee-dum…I am sorry that you're sad. Learn the
math and you'll be glad!"
He'd close each number like Charlie Chaplin tripping over himself
and the kids got straight A's. Why did they love him? Why did you
him? Why did that priest love him when he asked you leave at
last, as divorce was unholy; to hell with your scars. He was home
on time for
a month and you were back in his arms. Another sigh of relief.
There were more harms to come. Dad often smelled of booze and
strange perfume at odd hours. Your throat was torn from trying to
answers out of him. Perhaps he needed more love than most, you
decided; just a little more love and the drunken frog will become
once again. He showed no signs of slowing though as you cleaned
faster, cooked better and laid him down often. You would force
him, you determined. You bore three of us as you mastered your
pain. You dragged us through our days and hid us safe within
walled rooms of the prison by night as furniture flew and sex
could not calm the storm. Your tears would finally fall in hidden
rooms. If you
cried in plain sight, he didn't notice anyway. Eventually you
disappeared entirely, like a framed flower slowly fading into the
wall from the
torture of time. You looked out of your sad window into life,
whatever life was supposed to be, and you planned your escape.
I must admit that you wanted him the very way he was. We all, in
one way or another, to harvest the seeds that were planted in us
our consent when we were but sprouts ourselves. How utterly cruel
life can be; a universe that would see us starve and die without
of love, to feed us a poison apple when we're most vulnerable.
Perhaps somewhere sits the Creator of it all, maneuvering the
"What will they do if I do this? Hmmm… "
My dad was your dad; they were the same, save for the broken
teeth and backhands. Daddy dearest was the dearest you'd ever
and you sought his face in every crowd until you found the one to
fill the shoe print he'd left on your grand design.
Your memories are all but erased now, and the look of a warrior
composes your face. Life will be safe behind your mighty sword.
wonder from time to time as you paint on your mask in the mirror
each day, was that dusty dream even real? Did a princess once
Na, couldn't be so. A sigh of relief; you didn't miss a thing.
Life was always this way:
"Toss those reels, it's not me."
But your heart kicks and rebels as scenes from a dozen drive-in
movies flash like lightning in the corner of your eyes. You look
though a burglar was in your midst, but you turn away while he
slowly, carefully robs you, marking the clock, knowing
the exact hour that your house will be empty at last.
You're here with me now. I can feel you. We're sharing this rainy
afternoon in the insulation of silence while the weather pelts
and the keyboard ratta-tat-tats.It's just us. I am humbled by
Don't toss those ancient, dusty reels just yet, Mother. We can
still push one more take through the lens.