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In this piece, I write about early childhood trauma that confused me and made me feel home was not a safe place. I couldn’t have been more than 8 years old, and was already inadvertently set on the path toward putting other people’s feelings/needs before my own.
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One August, a man I loved tried to kill me.
Only he didn’t kill me.
Earlier that day, we had gone kite-flying.
I stood quietly by his side watching the blue of the kite blend with the blue of the sky, watching him control the kite, make it do what he wanted it to do.
Later that night, he took my body and showed me that his was stronger.
That he was in control.
His leg weighed tons, and I couldn’t wiggle out from underneath him. At first, I thought he was just fooling around but he wasn’t laughing and he didn’t get off of me even when I told him I couldn’t breathe.
Afterwards, he took my head and tried to make me believe that he wasn’t a monster.
But he was.
Even though he sent me long, love letters filled with apologies.
Even though he put a heart-shaped rock on the windshield of my car.
Even though he tried to make me remember sweet, summer peaches.
I could only picture them bruised and split down the middle.
I remembered how he pushed me under water and tried to drown me.
How it almost worked.
Except it didn’t.
Every August, for over twenty years, I find myself remembering this man.
And, strangely, I feel an odd sense of gratitude.
Because that night, in a stranger’s room, in a borrowed bed, I learned that I could be broken.
But I also learned that I could put myself back together again.
And somehow, it’s August again and I find myself in a park wrestling with a kite.
It is windier than usual and tough to fit the cross spars in their slots because the kite fights me impatiently.
I think it knows what I have planned.
Finally, I stand up. The tails snap, wanting.
I run backwards, feeling the pull.
I run, turning my back to the wind.
With the front of the kite facing me, I release it into a gust and pay out line and pull back to increase the lift.
In thirty seconds the kite is far out over the lake, pulling hard.
I run around the muddy field, making the kite dip and soar, dive and swirl.
From the ground, I control that rainbow diamond in the sky – make it answer my commands.
I remember how he hated things that refused to be controlled and so it is with great swelling pleasure that I release a new kite each year.
I like to imagine him chasing after the dropped driftwood reel, his hands outstretched, the Screaming Eagle kite a quarter of a mile up, blazing.
NOTE: This piece originally appeared on Deb Bryan’s blog. I needed to call this one home.
Warning: This post contain content that may trigger survivors of abuse. If this is an issue for you, you might want to skip today’s post.
They have been playing this song on the radio a lot.
And it’s bringing things up for me.
See, there is this man who is trapped in the fabric of my limbs’ history.
For better or worse, we got tangled up many summers ago, and even though I set him free, he returns in memories.
When I think back to the best night of a most perfect summer, I remember fluffy white towels and hot showers and blueberries bought fresh from a crooked fruit stand.
Stevie Nicks sang for us, husky and low.
He was the leader and I wanted to follow.
And it was good.
When we said goodbye that August, I leaned against a brown Chevette. The leaves were still green when he put his hands on either side of my head and squeezed. He took a red lollypop out of his mouth and when we kissed, our teeth scraped together.
I should have known then. Because lollypops are too sweet. They are filled with artificial flavors and colors and objects in the mirror appear closer than they are.
One year later, he used his body like a weapon and blew me apart.
So I think of him each August.
I can’t help it.
These days, we have no real connection.
But I wonder if his wife knows about what he did. His children?
I wonder what they might think about the man in the expensive suit, if they knew he once gutted a girl like a fish.
How well do we know our partners? And would we really want to know their darkest secrets?
What music brings you back to dark places?
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