That Boy

December 2, 2008
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The strained, stretched, blood red neck of my father looks as if it has a heart beat of its own. I know what Daddy says, I know what I’m supposed to do, what I’m supposed to say. I’m supposed to say “Yes, sir,” nod my head, and do as I’m told. But I can’t. He always thinks he is right, has to be right. And he is, most of the time. But this time, oh, this time he is wrong. This is the time, this is the brief place where he yells and his face turns red and his eyes water and his mouth moves with endless, useless, pointless words tumbling out. That part, that moment, where his yells, his face, his eyes, his mouth create a place so cold and lonely and wrong and empty, I feel warm. I feel warm in my fingers’ tiny nails, I feel warm in my toes on my feet. I feel warm in my lips on my closed, silent mouth. I feel warm in my stomach, where my empty organs should be digesting. The yelling keeps coming, followed by more useless, meaningless words that I should hear, but can’t. The face keeps changing color, a deeper red with every stupid word. The eyes keep bulging, creating the wet stuff. The mouth keeps on moving, an escape for those tumbling words. And the warm spreads. He is wrong, this time. He is so wrong. I’m supposed to say “Yes, sir,” nod my head, and do as I’m told. But I can’t. I say nothing. My head does nothing. I do nothing. I wiggle my toes and let the warm spread some more. I like the warmth, the soaking, penetrating feeling of it. As he pushes words out of his throat, words that hold no purpose, as he bangs on the nearest tangible surface, an attempt to scare me into submission, as he raises his voice to the highest decibel, forcing blurred language into my ears, as he makes his face transform into madness, a failed strategy to enforce his wrong, ever-so-wrong point. As he does all of these things, that same warmth seeps through my body. I have shut my father out, drowning out his mistakes with my thoughts.

“That boy,” my father calls him. “That boy” is the source of this strange warmness; this over-taking, breath-quickening, heart racing, butterfly-making warmth. “That boy” says my name in his husky, wood-scented voice and this same warmth crawls up my throat and flows through my lips with each breath I take. “That boy” whispers love into my ear, makes the warmth burn my tender, already pink skin. “That boy” traces my small hand with his long fingers, and the warmth shocks my palm, scorches up my arm. “That boy” curls his pink lips crookedly over his teeth, and the warmth pulses through my fleshy lips. “That boy” lets my endless, nonsensical rambling invade his ears; somehow I make perfect sense to him. “That boy” travels the furthest distances just to watch giggles overflow from my mouth. “That boy” challenges my thoughts, rivals my opinions, and agrees when he should. “That boy” does everything so right, yet my parents scream in their tearing voices he is so wrong. They can’t ever know the beauty, the power, the strength of “that boy.” If I let them know what “that boy” does to me, how he makes me want, ache, love, sing, dance, fly; he’ll be taken away from me. And so will the warmth.

And the screaming, the yelling continues. He doesn’t shut up, he won’t shut up. My father lets the insignificant, hurtful, damaging words fall out of his mouth and drop like knives into my skin. He lets the hurt spread, lets the pain penetrate me, tries to kill the warmth “that boy” creates in me. But the warmth is stronger, so much stronger than he is, stronger than his cutting words are, stronger than his twisted, angry face. I nod my head. I give him slight satisfaction, in hopes that his mouth will shut and the tumbling, stupid words will silence. I do not, I refuse to say “Yes, sir.” To say those words, to speak them aloud, is an irrevocable contract, a contract which states that I have agreed to the above terms and understand the consequences if I should breach it. Well, I do not agree to the above terms. I do not care for consequence. I do not say “Yes, sir.” I simply push my father’s nasty words away, and make more room for the warmth.

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