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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Prisons and Graves

Slowly, pieces of the story are coming into view and falling where they ought. It's a struggle to write, having spent so many years being told over and over not to ever talk about these things, at least, not outside our family. When a girl I hung out with briefly had become witness to the aftermath of a particular struggle, she confronted my mother in front of a lot of my friends, dangerously and recklessly so. I left on the arm of another friend who had been sheltered from any of the true goings-on in our house. My mother caught up to me as we left the building, whispering in my ear, "I told you not to tell anyone. Now look what you've done."

I was often reminded that telling meant breaking up our family, disjointed and fractured as it was. So, I naturally kept quiet. I had seen enough "Burning Bed" movies to know, it don't end so well for the victims who told or fought back. It's either the grave or prison for us. And every day above ground has got to be better than one behind bars.

It's no wonder I struggle now to dig into the garbage of my past. The mess is worse than week-old mayonnaise and over-ripe bananas mixed in with used sick baby diapers, gravied with vomit. But I don't know how else to get close enough to my characters to let them tell the truth.

So, my fingers dig into the mushiness warmth, staining my fingernails and making my gag. But if I pull it back, maybe the characters can breathe long enough to tell the story that prevents one girl from saying "yes" when everyone else knows it'd be better if she ran screaming from the page, yelling, "no!"

This is the ladder, though, that allows me to climb out. If I dig long enough, I can leave myself with enough strength to toddle up and breathe, too. I just have to find a way.

copyright - All rights to the work posted on this site are retained by Cass Van Gelder. If you'd like to use some of my work, please ask. To do so, the permissions must be spelled out in writing...from me...I meant it. I have mean cats; don't make me use them.

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