What Happened

December 13, 2007
By Kristy Kulhanek, Fayetteville, TX

In my mind, memories seem to fade away- mostly because I never want to remember my past. It is as if they are playing hide-and-go-seek in the 100 Acre Wood. As long as I never seek, I never have to remember. For some reason, this certain event never leaves. It haunts my every thought. It was the moment he changed- my father.

I remember every detail when it happened- when my life changed. I can still smell the scent of the fresh cut grass that flowed through the screen door on our house. In my mind, I can also imagine how things would be different. If it hadn’t happened, the walls wouldn’t forcefully keep such a disturbing secret. Also, the small sign that says “Happy Home” in our front yard wouldn’t lie to every visitor that comes.

As a child, I can remember classifying myself as a “Daddy’s Girl”. Every time I tugged at his hand and told him my feet hurt, he would prop me up onto his broad, strong shoulders. Pressing my sweaty palm into his accepting hand, I remember expressing my fear of falling. He promised, with everything he had, to never let go.

When it happened, my soul flew out of my body and into the atmosphere around me. I watched myself scrunch up helplessly on the sofa, as if I were road kill. Out of instinct, I began trying to apologize. With every “I’m s-s-sorry” I choked out, I felt as if my mouth was stapled shut. Every tear I shed burned a hole in my heart, so profound that there was almost nothing left. I looked into the eyes of this angry man and saw myself as a young girl. I was sitting on his broad shoulders, and my sweaty palm was grasping his hand. As my world crashed down, I watched my father let go.

When it happened, confusion roamed my mind. All sorts of questions jogged through my thoughts, bumping into each other and causing them to jumble up even more. Since when was it okay for parents to do this? What did I do to make my dad so frustrated? Will anyone else understand this situation? All of these questions, yet no answers seemed to fall into place.

After it happened, I went to church. I walked into God’s house with my head down, ashamed of what had gone on. As the glares of the congregation darted at me as I arrived late, I kneeled down in a pew and clasped my hands together. Watching my tears splatter on the pew in front of me, I prayed. My shoulders shook as I hysterically talked to and confided in God. Slowly, I wiped the tears from my cheeks, looked at the altar, and whispered, “Please, God, help me.”

Ever since it happened, an unidentified hollowness enthralls my heart. Sometimes, I long to have my daddy beside me. I imagine the typical moments a father and daughter are supposed to share- none of which include what I experienced. Even though we live under the same roof, we are strangers. I want so badly for him to tell me he’s sorry, to say he wants to start over, to make things right. When each day ends and I’m alone in my room, I realize that I’m attempting something so impossible that I would gain more success if I would try to breathe under water. But at other times, I find myself burying my head in my pillow trying not to scream. The sheets enclose around me, feeling as if rocks are pressed into my chest. No matter where I look in my house, I am reminded of that day. The family photos taunt me, pointing out my weakness. The back door frowns at me every time I enter or exit, expressing its pain from that hateful day he broke it.

Now, I live my days waking up after my dad leaves for work and coming home right before he goes to bed. When, if ever, we pass each other in the hall, I can hear my heart pounding loud, telling me not to cry. I can’t help but do whatever it takes to move on, even if it means without speaking to my father. Although my memories are playing hide-and-go-seek in the 100 Acre Wood, I still end up thinking about what happened. I secretly want to relive that moment to decipher what I did wrong, what I could have changed, and which one of us is to blame. So as I get into my car and head off to live in a fake world of simplicity, I look out of my rearview mirror into my past and wonder, “What happened?”

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