The arbitrary memories of a girl named grace

(Please play the song Marfa Lights 2 by Deuter during this story, do not repeat it if it ends before you finish reading)

I remember being confused as I was lifted by the neck while staring into my father’s eyes. It’s only a memory so I don’t remember what I did, I just remember the callouses on his hand when he gripped my throat. I was more confused than in pain…

 

I remember being read a bedtime story when loud stumbling footsteps penetrated the calmness in my mother’s voice. There’s a blur but before the memory ends I see an outline of a man gripping a woman by the neck in a familiar way. The image began to carve a hole in my chest…

 

I remember being happy during Christmas time when I would get more presents than all of my friends. I got some presents early from my mom, then went to my dad’s house to get more. He got me a Nintendo because I swore I’d never pee my pants again…

 

I remember being in the car near a Toys-R-Us when my mom told me to go to hell. I don’t remember what I did, but I remember the feeling in my stomach that made me gag and the relief I felt from staring at the rain drops running down the windows. It made me think the sky was crying for me…

 

I remember being sweaty as I ran around with my cousins in the yard, making footballs from tape and old tee shirts and wrestling later on. When my dad said it was time to go I hopped in his truck and forgot all about them, I felt glad to leave because I didn’t really care about them…

 

I remember being dropped off at my mom’s apartment. As I entered the elevator and turned around, I remember crying as the image of my dad would disappear from right to left. The redness in my dad’s eyes were drastically different from my red duffel bag filled with my clothes, but I didn’t understand why…

 

I remember being upset when my dad wanted to pick me up the coming weekend but it was my friend’s birthday. I just wanted to fit in and hang out with my friends but I thought he just didn’t want me to have fun because he was mean and selfish…

 

I remember being on a vacation with mom and dad. I can’t remember how happy I felt, but I remember the feeling of that smile on my face. It was as if my smile was connected to my soul…

 

I remember being in a house that my mom and dad were buying together. I thought I was dreaming but the look in both of their eyes told me that I was allowed to feel joy, it was ecstasy…

 

I remember being told to call my mother after she didn’t come back to the house for a few days. I don’t remember what she said first, but I told her never to speak to me again and that she was ruining my family and my life. I remember the unfathomable sadness that cracked in her voice after she broke an eternity of silence when she muttered, “okay”…

 

I remember being honest when I saw my mom again some weeks later and telling her I loved and missed her and I was glad to be back. I also remember I said that even though I loved her, I loved my dad more. I don’t remember the look on her face, but I have a feeling I intentionally forgot…

 

I remember being alone and surrounded by people. It was a cliche spilled from depressing poetry and books, but I felt like I really knew what it meant. My friends would go to their parents when something happened, but I could go to only go to my mom after what she reminded me about him…

 

I remember being unable to talk to my mom anymore, it seemed like we somehow grew apart but I didn’t understand what that could mean. I don’t remember how alone I felt, the sensation doesn’t seem describable, it’s just too blurry…

 

I remember being indifferent about talking at all. It seemed useless to even think about, so I didn’t. I remember the feeling of a bottle inside me that consumed all of my feelings. It just felt like a hole in between my ribs: uncomfortable and confusing…

 

I remember being… a husk of who I am…

 

I told my mom about what I remember. I told her about the irreparable damage strained on a parent-child relationship. As I told her, I remembered being held in the warmth of her arms near her family’s comforting eyes. I told her how only half of me could ever love her, because half of me didn’t really know her and she didn’t really know me. I remember the deep sound of my heart sinking and wishing that what I said was a lie…

 

I told my dad about what I remember. I told him the same. I knew him even less so I wasn’t reminded of anything, but I remember the agony that came with that realization. He told me of his yearning for love and the torment his failure had brought his consciousness. He told me of his envy when he sees a couple holding hands and how cruelly his old age has crippled him. He sleeps with dreams that cannot become reality, but his heart mourns only for itself…

 

Now I think to myself how numb my shoulders are that cannot tell me the difference between scalding and frigid showers. As I stand in the dark with hair covering my eyes and water that does not let me feel, I wonder how strange it was to be anything at all…

-Grace

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