I write about her in pieces; little digestible pieces so as to not demolish everyone’s day. A paragraph here, a situational anecdote there, but never too much at one time. I’ve seen the lights go out in the middle of a conversation, when the listener can’t process anymore. They’ll tilt their head and apologize as they attempt to understand how a seven year old can spend 33 days in a room with only a sleeping bag and a broken Polaroid. They’ll ask how I didn’t end up in prison and I’ll remind them I was allowed out for meals and bathroom breaks. And yes, I pretended to poop a lot. Like you, they’ll smile or laugh because poop is a funny word and it eases the unpleasantness of my story.
My mother hated unpleasant things. We all do to some degree, but she hated uncomfortable so much that she created an entirely new world in her head. A world where unpleasant things like little girls weren’t allowed and where the Holy Spirit walked among us. She would go on to visit seven times in eleven years. After the first trip, it was clear she’d much rather reside in her world than in mine.
We moved to Alaska the summer after First grade and it was to be ‘the adventure of a lifetime’. We would travel and camp and we would do it as a family. This ‘family’ consisted of my mother, myself, and our downstairs neighbor, Tom. That’s his real name. I’m fighting the urge to include his last name, phone number, and address not because he doesn’t deserve it, but because I’m too lazy to research libel and I don’t feel like a lawsuit today. He lived downstairs and within a month’s time, so did we. It just made sense. Why pay rent when you can pack up your seven year old and move in with a man you’ve knows for 30 days?
Tom was different. He was special. Tom had crystal blue eyes and he could talk to the Holy Spirit. Tom knew things, secret things, things only the Holy Spirit could know.
She would leave after dinner to wait tables at a shitty little diner. She’d return just in time for breakfast and then sleep until dinner. Rinse. Repeat. She didn’t know that when I wasn’t eating, I was climbing the walls of that room and I sure as Hell wasn’t going challenge the will of God by spilling my guts.
The conditioning started when he picked me up from the airport. It was just the three of us Tom, HS, and me. Mom was making the trip via Pinto and thought it would give me time to get to know my new dad. HS told Tom that I was too dependent on my mother, that I should trust him more. That at seven years old, I needed to get comfortable without her.
In the interest of helping me heal, he found things to do that weren’t conducive to little blonde haired, blue eyed girls. They were a hot commodity in Alaska and he’d hate for someone to snatch me when he wasn’t looking. I’d stay in the woods for hours, hoping the man who hated me would return and save me from the men who wanted me. At night, my fear of burning to death was addressed by leaving water simmering on the stove while he took his evening walk.
As I sat at the dinner table, I was about to learn that two hours in the woods were nothing compared to 120 minutes alone with him.
Good news! I’m not in prison and I just had fantastic morning sex. It’s okay. I’m okay. It’s just a thing that happened.