I used to think that my pain was the gift for all Iíd endured. I thought that rage, resentment and loss were the things that gave me depth, made me sexy, interesting, different. I thought that my reaction to what they did to me was the only action I could take.
He pulled out the bottom drawer and just looked down. He almost never looked at me when we did this. I knew what to do. Iíd been sitting indian style infront of the T.V. with my two little brothers and he came down the stairs in his robe. Iíd forgotten, I guess. Iíd become so aware of my body, become so aware of how little skin those girl dressed covered, but he came down and looked straight at the white crotch of my panties and I knew Iíd messed up.
"Come in the kitchen Joanne. You need to help me with something,"he mumbled through his mustache.
Can someone just get used to pain. Can it become so normal, so routine that itís like breathing, something you feel but forget about the second you exhale?
My brothers didnít look up. " Transformers" was on and we were right at the part where all the little robots connect into one huge robot and take out the bad guys. It was our favorite part. My knees cracked when I stood up. I walked around the corner into our cubby hole kitchen and waited next to the sink, running my fingers ove the puddles left on the counter. He pulled out the drawer and I remember the serene wrap boxes peeking out with their serrated edges and when I stepped up onto the edge of the drawer I remembered to not let my toes touch and get cut.
Men always smell like yeast to me. The tangy sweet on the back of their knocks. The thick moldy smell hidden under their balls. When theyíre gook, they smell light like wonder bread, clean and fluffy and sterile. When theyíre bad, theyíre just stale.
The top cupboard had been left open. I could smell the bread molding from all the bags stacked up in there, no one wanting to throw out the heels. When he pulled down my panties I was watching ants crawl around a jar of Skippy. What he pushed at me was soft, warm. When my mom talked about it to Aunt Becky , she always called it rock hard, like a power tool. Iíd played with the electric drill in the garage and I wondered if thatís what it was like when he was touching my mom with it. It just felt like the firm arm of a teddy bear to me.
What would I be with out it? How would I see things differently? Itís hard admitting that most of my pleasure has come from punishing people for my pain. Most of the connections Iíve had with other people came from shocking them with my pain. Would my soul be flat if it hadnít been tortured?
He was rubbing on the outside of me, dry and resistant. My brothers were changing the channels. Moving faster, his hair tickling my bottom. As I put my hand down to scratch he stopped, spit on his hand and made it all wet down there. "Fmp, Fmp, Fmp." the channels were changing. Terry had the remote and Evan was whining. He moved faster behind me. Grabbed my hand with his spitty fingers and held it into the pile of bread. They were fighting now. Three thirty every weekday they fought over that T.V.
When something engulfs you, when it covers your every pore, fills the miles upon miles of your intestines, when every wrinkle in your brain feels created by it, itís hard to believe youíre any thing under- neath it. When your bones were fromed in chaos, isnít that what holds you up?
I knew he liked hearing them out there. We could hear their bodies twisting around eachother, fighting for the remote. He breathed heavier, pushed at me harder. Pressed his mouth into the back of my head. I counted thirteen bags of bread, four cereal boxes. Terry threw the remote and it slid across the linolium past the refridgerator, into our secret. He kept pushing at me, clawing at bags of bread around my hand. I turned my head to look at the remote control on the floor, letting the terror send waves of acid through my belly. He pushed his tongue into my ear. Louder and faster.
If I come closer to me, will I shock myself? If I allow my whole story to take root in my heart,(that I loved them, that I trusted them, that at the time the attention seemed almost worth it) will I have the courage to tell it? If I creep back into my body, will it be big enough to hold me? If I reject my instincts to run, to fight, will I survive?
Evan crawled across the floor towards the remote with Terry pulling him back by the leg. I watched till Evan looked up, straight into my eyes. We had the same eyes. I always liked that. Weíd gaze at eachother and whisper about seeing ourselves from the outside. He stared into me, understanding how my eyes felt in their sockets. "Get away" he gasped when he saw my brothers. Evanís eyes wavered, moved to the floor. He didnít look up when he turned back for the T.V. I closed my eyes as it squirted, sticky gue onto my dress. He shrank down. Loosened his hand over mine. Fell to his knees and shook. Sobbing, rubbing his face in the mess he left on my bottom. "Iím far, far away. Iím under water." I thought, "Itís all just buzzing from some machine." I tried to ignore him as he cried about the men when he was seven. The ones who took him in the big white car and pushed their things in his butt and mouth. "Iím a deep sea diver, far under the sea."
He cried against me till my mother cane and curled him up in her arms and took him away.
If I forgive, does it say that what they did wasnít wrong? If I let go, if I cry myself clean, if I let him be a hurt little boy and her be a scared, beaten woman, will I know who I am? If I donít speak with a vengeance will I be heard? Will peace fill me as much as anger?
I remember hours later looking down at my feet. Running my fingers over the cloused bottoms and still feeling the creases from my time on the drawer. I remember thinking how strange that calouses held imprints much longer than the soft places on my body.
I used to think that pain was my creator. That rage was my only nourishment. I was right for so long. Iíve been wrong for longer. I wonder how long I will let these creases stay on my caloused heart.