It paralyzes me, but It’s indefinable. Worse than disgust or dread, It shrouds me in a timeless instant that no Psychologist can describe. In my dreams I run from It, with my legs sometimes forgetting their purpose. Triggers are sudden and sporadic. The blue I hate because this is the color I came home to. The worn beige carpet I abhor because the memories it keeps. Large boxed TVs with plywood siding propped on floors because he lived here on the recliner I detested, with his legs crossed just so. Shirtless and barefoot, watching Tombstone with analytical determination, as if watching just once more would confirm him as Wyatt Earp, a man with purpose, instead of a nightshift worker in a factory. I’m immobilized around upholstery with flowers and stark white furniture. Ducks, geese crossing signs, and bonus rooms make me wince. The death of her stagnant bedroom dominates my dreams. I’m trapped there with the ghastly pink walls and wrought iron bed. Knowing if I don’t escape, I’ll become her. Forever tortured by the pills in my bottle, my only actions being driven by the amount left. I hate true crime and paperback books with pictures. He’s at the bathroom door in my dreams, tapping his knuckle lightly to make sure I’m in the bath, where I stay until my skin becomes pruned beyond recognition and the touch of my towel makes me cringe. I escape by climbing through the bathroom window leading to the unfinished porch. The bathroom window, once painted shut, now used as a smoking station after every recovery—a silent tell all to our neighbors that she was once again sober. I’m on the porch, the porch he threw my dog from. I can see our kitchen table, where we never had a meal. I pass the dining room with the peel on tile that I used only as a walkthrough the long way to my room but a way I took to avoid him, his continuous presence being given away by the Brave’s announcer. Listening to sports games, wooden picture frames, curios, country chotchkies, and my brothers blue bedspread with no backing—like houses bricked only for the one side that matters. I pass the kitchen with the appliances that mama spray painted blue because we couldn't afford new ones. I see the fridge, always empty except for Cokes, and the cabinets always bare except for medicine. Saying farewell to my only childhood consistency, the sound of pills rattling in their bottles, being counted and recounted—having no concept of the hope and devastation they bring. I escape in my dreams. I won’t claim a home; the one I know I hate
I began running at 10. My consistency. Escaping pills, broken promises, and resemblances of a father I grew up loving but am grateful is dead, averting explanation to a family that honors secrets above truth. I stapled a letter on the heart that killed him the day he was buried to guarantee our story would rest with him forever the way it would me. Deceits, deceptions, poached purity. Starting at five and ending when his guilt disclosed him. I wiped away his touch in vain. She never questioned the unbearable burn; reality would cause a relapse. I wiped until I bled to erase his pollution that still haunts me; wiped to undo his chilled touch; wiped to rid myself of his grimy hands; wiped to mask his ever-present nightshift smell. The toilet paper carried our secret. Working at night seemingly for more money; placing items into boxes on an assembly line to limit himself from putting things in me. I ran from dark. My dolls as my ally, a fortress two deep; hiding my feet--the ones he loved. The ones I kept buried until he was. A fortification of counterfeit protection; my hope. Itsy bitsy spider, full moons, night lights. I return to the Ford to hold her in the backseat as she unwittingly traced the red upholstery while she spoke, praying to move a mountain like Jesus did. The sun's glare protecting her from the disbelieve in her mom's eyes for once not vacant when she rejects truth to entertain her utopia. I hug the boy in the front seat to lift the responsibilities he was burdened with and the memories that still track him. I hug her on the couch while the fan slices the tainted memories that even it can't handle. Brother's playing, she's wasting, he's betraying. We kept the secret. I can't bring her shame with me; her memories too concrete. Mustaches, unions, baseball bats. She ran to survive. I write to know her
I'm in the playroom. The playroom that hosts our laundry and toys; the playroom where he broke brother's rib. Our escape. Where I found my tumor. The tumor that would turn me in on myself, the tumor that would confirm my nightmare. Fearful of makeup, shaving, and men. Rejecting anything avowing who I was. I'm looking in the bathroom mirror; the one he used. The bathroom that's closed in; the one we hid in for storms. I cover parts of my face piece by piece, attempting to reveal the boy who wasn't there. Awkward, but no boy. My fantasies. Little girls dream of castles and knights, I dreamt of transparency.