He said you girls will always be my number one most important thing in this world. It felt very true, until it wasn’t anymore.
He said we are going to have to kiss on the playground. But only because they want us to. No choice. He didn’t want to either. The crowd surrounded us, pushing, cheering, smiling. The teacher’s whistle blew and it was time to return to the 6th grade. The back of my arm wiped the saliva from my upper lip, chin, and cheeks.
He said it again, and again, and again. The words hissed and hung in the tan leather of his extravagant car. Weekend after weekend the words repeated and washed over this brain. Women who have sex are whores. Never have sex.
He said take this necklace, I will miss you after you move. Let’s be pen pals. His sweet second grade hand-writing a precious memory tucked away in the pages of my childhood journal.
He said do you want to go to the football game with me? New school and a new crush. The innocence; the electricity of our knees touching while shivering on the bleachers. The smell of high school concessions and crisp leaves in the fall air. The lights over the field shining down on the athletes as we watched. The familiar car lights pulling up to retrieve us. Hands interlaced, but only for a few seconds. Comforted to sleep by images of his pretty face; pointed nose, thick dark eyebrows, sharp cheekbones. The anticipation of the bus ride palpable. The rush of excitement as my shoes met with the bus stairs. The sounds of the whispers. The name in the whispers was mine. The blood draining from my face. The lies washed over me, like a bucket with too much water poured over my head, into my nose and mouth. Drowning in the feeling of betrayal. The sentences with our names were horrible lies. The ruining of my reputation in an instant. Confused by his kind, hand-holding innocence. Long term damage by untrue words spoken from his lips like wildfire in a matter of seconds.
He said you girls should come back to our hotel room. We’ll play cards and drink beer. He left the sliding glass door to the balcony cracked. The sliding glass door, his one mistake, and the only viable escape. Come out and look at the stars with me he said. Crashing of balcony furniture,aggressive scuffling, ripped clothing. His friend, a living angel, walking toward that sliding glass door, opening it gloriously wider, tilting his head quizzically at his red-faced, attacking friend. Running, running, running through that beautiful space between the sliding glass door. Running through the humid Florida night clinging to my sweat soaked skin . Running to freedom through the lobby, away from that hotel, and that strange, scary, teenage boy.
He said you have a gift, you should keep writing. A teacher that was otherwise insignificant in this life, in this mind, were it not for this statement.
He said nothing as he used a fleeting moment in a pool filled with people to rip my bathing suit off and grope me.
He said she’s my number one now. Sometimes things change. You girls need to listen to her because she’s your stepmom now. And then everything changed.
He said you’re no longer my daughter. You’re nothing to me. It was truth.
He said I’m sorry for what you have been through. I’m glad you’re here. You’ll always be a sister to me, I’m here for you and so is my family. This was truth. Truth that felt good.
He said of course I’ll sign. If it will help you buy your first car, or help you in any way, I will do it. You’re my niece, I’d do anything to help you. And because of this and because of him, I bought my first car.
He said just hang out with my older brother while I’m upstairs hanging out with N. He thinks you’re pretty; he remembers you from that party a few months ago. He was 21 and I 13. My friend later descending the stairs, jovial, beautiful, content. My state of mind a flagrant contradiction to hers. He got up and waved good-bye. We walked back to her house. I wiped his saliva from my chin, my face.
He said among the hundreds of tulips of every vibrant color covering every inch of my teenage bedroom, with white lights woven in between, will you go to prom with me?
He said That prom dress you wanted, it’s yours. I’m buying it because you deserve it, and I love you. And the dress of my dreams became the dress I wore to prom. Forever grateful, this I hope he knows.
He said I’m sorry for what you’re going through, we’re always here. You’re a good kid and I hope you know this. He was a man of few words and his few words meant the world to a sixteen year old girl. It was never forgotten, heartfelt, and so uplifting in that moment.
He said get in the f-ing van you slut! Gripping my wrist, my body hanging out of the open passenger side door, the van accelerating through the parking lot. Pulling, spitting, shouting obscenities, the man pulled as hard as he could to get all of me inside. A strange man, in a van, nude from the waist down. Pull, pull, pull away. Asphalt, hot, trip back to work. Call police to report. Horror, horror, saw you again; your smile, your stare searing through my flesh. Off to Boston, go, go, go, press the gas; leave this real life nightmare behind.
He said through tears and the kind of hug that makes it hard to breathe, I read your diaries while you were gone. Please don’t be mad. The sounds of the airport loud and distracting. Wrought with emotion, he continued on You don’t have to worry anymore in your life. I want to marry you… I love you and I want you to know I will never leave you. It was truth.
He said Congratulations it’s a boy! And the universe, God, love, and all of the emotion that embodies being human swept through this mind and body. Entangled experiences that shaped my unique world falling, falling away from me. Paradoxical.
He said I love you, Mom. Then later, They said I love you, Mom. And no more beautiful words were ever spoken to this mind, this heart, this human, this spirit. And I believe it to be truth.
4 thoughts on “He Said”
Amber, that’s stunning. It made me teary here in Australia, eating my breakfast toast and avocado which is suddenly hard to swallow because of all the emotions your writing has brought up in me. I’m SO SORRY you had all those terribly violating experiences (what woman sadly hasn’t on some levels?), but I’m so glad there were good men in there among the pain, and now you have a wonderful husband, and the chance to raise two more good men! Good on you for channelling it creatively, and with such courage. Blessings and love, G x
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Life is beautiful, we have to go through the dark spots to really appreciate the beauty. I am so grateful for the lovely human beings in my life now! Thank you as always for your thoughtful and kind words, and for reading my stuff. It means a lot!
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I’ve been meaning to tell you …As a dad of 3 little girls, this entry hit home in more ways you can imagine. Thank you for opening yourself to the world with your amazing life experiences.
This feedback means more than you know. After putting it out there, I felt that it was too personal and that it would make people very uncomfortable. When I write things that may change how people feel or think about me, it’s a very scary thing. I’ve often questioned my decision to put this piece out into the world, so the fact that it made an impression on you makes me feel it was a decent decision after all. (* Breathes sigh of relief*)