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Jenny called her dad. We were driving. She had just gotten a job so we didn’t get to hang out as much as we used to when we were small and always laughing. Jenny laughed. “I love you,” she said to her dad. She said I should call you, but I couldn’t.
She told me to tell her why we don’t talk anymore. You and I. I never told anyone before her, I swear. I thought it would be harmless. Honest, sir.
She asked. Jenny. Jenny asked. And I told her. I said you used to say some words. I didn’t really like the words. I was gonna stop there, sir. But then I remembered.
I said you used to start out calm then rage. Said I was trying, then a disappointment. You said I wasn’t good enough, sir. I remembered. And I remembered more.
I said you used to walk away. A girl, so young, with eyes of hope. You couldn’t bear to watch me make mistakes. Jenny asked, and I began to remember, sir. I began to remember all that I had locked away.
I said anxiety. From when I knew the yelling would come. Anxiety. Punishment for not being the best. I remember, but I cannot see. My eyes were always clouded then, by tears. You squeezed them out of me. For hours, sir.
I said I ran away. Only a few times, only a few miles. You only noticed I was gone once. But it’s okay. I’d rather be forgotten than a prisoner. I remember being both.
Up and down and up and down the stairs. You’d always come back to say something more. Pound me further into the earth. But why? I was already buried. I couldn’t breathe, sir. I ran away so that I could breathe.
I said the house was shaking. I was shaking and the house was too. Stomps of a giant made things fall off shelves. Everything was breaking all around us but you didn’t stop the stomping.
I said I wanted to hit you. That one time. I was going to knock you with a pan. You told me to give up so many times, sir. I did, father. I gave up on you.
I don’t believe in anything. Not since I had those hopeful eyes. You used to say some words, sir. They could hurt as much as hands, sir. I don’t believe anymore, sir. Still, Jenny wanted to pray, sir. Jenny wanted to pray to lock the memories up again.