Como luceros fríos

Sobre el olivar hay un cielo hundido y una lluvia oscura de luceros fríos.

02 February, 2008

The ache starts in my chest and spreads through my veins. The abuse I can handle; it's the happiness that cripples me. - Laura Wiess, Such a Pretty Girl

. I was preschool aged and wearing footy pyjamas. It was almost Christmas and the tree was in our tiny house. It was the yellow house then. The tree was resting in a red base and I got to help change the water. When we decorated the tree I had the important job of hanging the star. It was plastic and yellow, with a blond angel on top. The wings were more like fairy wings and had blue netting covering them. I dearly loved that star. I loved stars. Daddy put me up on his shoulders so I could reach the treetop and Mommy took a picture for the big, blue album.

. During the summer, when school let out, Friday was mall day, which meant Friday was book day. Daddy went to the bank to deposit his paycheck and I got to go to Waldenbooks and pick one book for me. He would go to the hobby store and look at trains while I got to browse the books as I pleased. I was allowed to buy any book, from any section. Sometimes we would go and eat at Eli's, a real sit-down restaurant with dark, heavy wooden chairs and tables. They had spaghetti and I loved it. After we ate, they had a bowl of Dumdum suckers by the door and I got to pick one. Always red for me. I liked watermelon.

. He played math games with me, taught me how to figure it all out in my head, taught me the short-cuts and patterns. It caused me trouble in school because I usually couldn't "show my work," but I was proud of having such a smart Daddy.

. She took me to see David Lynch's Dune in the theater. He gave me all the books.

. He took me to see The Empire Strikes Back. Twice. And the Muppet movies. He was just as excited as I was.

. Since he worked midnights, she let me sleep in her bed a lot when I was small. We would make a tent with the pink and yellow quilt by lifting our knees up under it. Every night I was in there with her, she would sing songs to me and I can still remember how they go. Way down yonder in the paw-paw patch...

. Every Easter she hid my basket somewhere in the house. She made the most elaborate baskets with bizarrely cool stuff in them. I think he helped. Every Easter morning when I woke up I would tear around the house, looking for my basket. And my little brother sometimes would cry because he couldn't find his, so I would help him.

. Every Christmas he bought her a Lifesavers Storybook. It was a package that had different kinds of Lifesavers candies and the box looked like a storybook. He put them in her stocking. Every year she would pull them out and laugh and I would be happy because it was Christmas.

. I watched a Star Trek marathon with him. The Trouble With Tribbles was our all-time favorite.

See? I would tell myself. They were good to me. They loved me. I was lovable. There are no memories I have of my childhood that hurt more than these ones. They are what send my body into self-comfort mode, rocking back and forth and folding forward to ease the pain in my chest. I was their biggest fan. Every good thing they did was infinitely precious, every memory cupped in my hands and hoarded, replayed over and over. They kept me a prisoner with all those things. They gave me just enough to keep from telling on them, because I didn't want to lose those little things I had. All these things that made them human and made me have compassion for them. These memories that, even now, make me crave their love like I've wanted nothing else.

There was no mercy in that house. And now I am thirty years old and I have tattoos on my arms of two incarnations of mercy. But I have no mercy in my heart for me. All this remembering. I just want to call my mother and ask her to tell me about her garden. Sing me a song, Mommy. Sing the one about Valentine's Day.


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