undeniable irreversible it’s tuesday i’m 3 and sleeping on a bed of two armchairs pushed together but don’t worry they’re plush and they’re new and she doesn’t know this is the last time she’ll have a complete family her parents are in the bed next to her makeshift one and that’s the only memory she’ll ever have of them all living under the same roof.
in some years will come another memory of the little girl crying mommy please let’s just go as her mother spots her father he’d been sitting in a taxi crouched so that they wouldn’t see his face and demands what they call now child support payments.
she’s your child too.
she can’t remember what he replied but she can remember his scrunched up face turning redder and her panic rising as she desperately tried to pull her mother away from the taxi mommy mommy what if he runs us over mommy please let’s just go.
when i close my eyes i am 4 listening to the whirr of the electric razor and my grandpa’s humming. he is a bass maybe tenor i do not know but i hope to ask in the days of our resurrection as we walk hand in hand once more. i no longer recall his scent but that doting grandparent fed this wild haired child with a golden spoon and she grew up to be fury herself no but really she’s just figuring out how one can have both so much love to give and so little will to live.
if you know, let her know. she keeps asking, you see.
i’m 5 and playing outside the playground is empty save for the grandfather from the blue building next to her own blue building who smiles and beckons her over—
when she later tells her mother what he did, the horrified silence will deafen those tiny eardrums she didn’t know it was bad she didn’t she just didn’t she’s a child but he smiled and his own grandson even smaller than her was playing just a few feet away so how could she how could she how can adults do that she was just 5.
i was just 5.
it’ll take 11 years for the girl to remember and when she does she’ll cry sitting in her high school english class her favorite but she did a lot of remembering and even more crying in that place maybe that’s a new theme now crying and remembering because who the little girl was well it was me
you see, it was me.
but don’t worry you see her mother told the little girl a story of a lady in a Russian magazine who’d also been touched as a little girl and now didn’t want to kiss her fiancé she imagined the couple sitting in the backseat of a car the lady had short hair and was pushing away the unrelenting man but really she did want to so you shouldn’t let that happen to you my dear said mother and the little girl nodded because she was 5 and she didn’t know this was called abuse.
she didn’t have a fiancé and she didn’t want to be like some lady in a Russian magazine with a fiancé she didn’t want to kiss and she just wanted to be a good girl because she was 5.
i was 5 and we never spoke of this again.
mother, did you forget or are you hoping that i did?
i’m 6 and i’m screaming mother left me in the house and she locked me in the room and she’s only next door at the neighbors but i’m screaming and screaming and nobody comes running. i want to get out i need to get out mommy mommy mommy mom—
why doesn’t she hear me she’s only next door.
i climb up on the window sill tippy toes but my little fingers can’t unlock the balcony door i’ve stopped screaming but i’m going to jump out of my skin please please please please.
it’s been hours and i can’t even remember what i did wrong to have been locked in here why doesn’t she come back why can’t she know i need to get out i can’t do it anymore i grab the little stool and start smashing it against the glass panel of the door it doesn’t even make a crack the stool is heavy but the little girl is in a panic it’s all a panic she needs to get out she needs to get out she NEEDS TO GET OUT—
finally the glass breaks. she tries to remove the rest of the broken glass as best as she could but she’s 6 and she’s tired and she just needs to get out so she climbs over there’s glass everywhere she’s halfway out and her mother opens the door to the house.
it’s wednesday i’m sitting on a couch with the stripes and running my fingers over the scars on my inner thighs over and over again. it’s been more years than can be counted on two hands but the glass had cut into the little girl’s flesh so the memories are more than that they have a prop, they have proof. the scars are faint but they remain.
i still remember.
and she’s working on forgiving her mother for trying to give her to her father after that incident. i just can’t handle you anymore why would you break the door you knew i would be right back you knew why didn’t you just watch some TV i can’t do this anymore you’ll just have to live with your father from now on.
she changed her mind but only after i’d packed up everything even the little plastic cutlery for my Barbie house. i kept it in a matchbox. i can still smell the scent of the softening cardboard package.
mother, i was 6.
i’m 7 and it’s coming to an end i’m with my uncle and he’s drunk god he’s drunk they’re lying on a blanket in the shade of that summer house and he’s screaming at the little girl because she needs to pee but won’t pee in front of him and he’s insisting just pee NO only pee right there! what do you mean you won’t how DARE you talk back to me YOU little—
and he begins hitting her. my cousin the eldest of the bunch is in the house and i know she hears everything but i don’t call out. he’ll just hit her too and she’s always been so small and frail.
i was 7, only 7.
when my mother returns that night she looks at my black eye and asks if i got bit by mosquitos and when i say no he hit me just like he used to hit you mom but i don’t say that because i didn’t know not then she starts screaming and everyone’s angry at him mom if this was your childhood and i know it was mama i’m sorry and she soothes me i wish i could have protected you i wish i could have given you a childhood.
i get a puppy before we leave that summer a st. bernard mix a sweet little thing but i never asked for a dog and maybe just maybe it was an apology and an attempt to give me the childhood that she’s always wanted me to have but could never give me.
i’m 8 on our kitchen walls are tiles of white and a single sticker on each square pasted on in years past by little fingers and a mouth full of sweets or some gum with which the sticky little pictures first arrived.
it is a symbol of my grandpa’s love that his sweet kindergartener became the head of interior design.
i’m 9 when my doting grandpa dies i’m on the couch looking through the pictures of our new home and new town and new country several oceans and twelve time zones away i took those pictures with a disposable camera the ESL teacher bought each of us the ones of squirrels were
my favorites and they’ll be his favorite too i’ll send them to grandpa because i told him about the squirrels on the phone and he’s going to want to see before he visits and just when i hold up a particularly good one to show mom who was sitting in front of me at the desk talking in hushed voices on the phone with relatives back home i remember i had a smile on my face grandpa would love this one she turns around but she isn’t smiling as she lowers the phone and says i think your grandfather passed away.
the little girl will later learn that his last words would have been to ask someone to tell my mother to love me as he had because who will love my little girl when i’m dead who.
i’m still asking that question myself.
her childhood home exists only in memories now she can still remember the exact color of the carpet in the foyer it was red it was red with green on the sides and the dog is gone now the little girl didn’t even get to say goodbye we had to give her away when we moved twelve time zones away.
i’m only a child in these memories.
i’m an adult now i have so much love to give and so little will to live and still haven’t figured out how that could be.
so if you know, please let me know. i keep wondering, you see.
Elana is a proud member of the Mount Holyoke College class of 2017. She is a Sociology major and an Anthropology minor because she believes variety is the spice of life. Elana enjoys reading and writing poetry, short stories, and articles about sexual health and philanthropy. Her work has appeared on Bedsider.org, the Mount Holyoke News, and the Mount Holyoke Office of Advancement’s website. She is the Mount Holyoke Fund Fellow, the President and Founder of Bedsider MHC, the Chair of the Student Philanthropy Committee, and the over-committed older sister of three brilliant, kind, and inquisitive children. In her free time, she likes to have 5-hour conversations with her advisor about the social networks of Mount Holyoke, dating apps, and her Big Plans for the future.
Elana served as a Publicity Director for the 2016 Blackstick Review.