Friday, December 8, 2017

Pandemonium In Paradise: Part Smm Smm

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM!!!!

Dear Daddy,

My god, hanging out with people is SOOOOOOOO fucking draining today.
I hung out with Laura for a whopping hour or so and ended up walking
out on her. It was the first time I ever just up and left her with
barely a good-bye, but, suddenly, I just couldn't take her presence
anymore. She had very little to say, and so did I. So the majority
of our time was spent making shallow, superficial small talk to try
and ease some of the awkwardness that we both felt. Fun TIMES!

It wasn't so much her presence that was draining for me. It was the
music she wanted to listen to, and, more than that, the volume of it.
I just wanted quiet, but she almost always insists on listening to
music when we hang at the POWER office. And, being the coward that I
am, I never say no to her music. I know I can and she would probably
be all right with it, but, still, I can't bring myself to do it.

Normally, it is tolerable for a while. But tonight was different.
Loud, obnoxious advertisements kept playing on YouTube every time a
different song was about to play. Finally, in a huff and just plain
tired of it all, after only about Smm Smm songs, I said, "I'm going
home. I don't want to hear all these dumb advertisements. I'm bored!
Good-bye."

I could tell that Laura's feelings were hurt. Yeah, I feel somewhat
bad, but it wasn't enough to keep me there. And, more than the
boredom that I felt, was mind-numbing, soul-crushing agitation and
anxiety. Not like the panic attack kind of anxiety, just pure,
restless agitation that cannot and will not go away, unless you leave
the situation.

As I headed for the door, she said, rather sadly, "I know I'm not
always a thrill to be around."

Whether that was meant as some sort of guilt trip is beyond my
knowledge. She might have been sincere in saying that, but maybe not.
Either way, whether it was a ploy to keep me there for longer or to
take pity on her and apologize for me practically storming out of
there for no apparent reason, is also beyond my knowledge. And, at
the moment, I really don't care.

I didn't mean to hurt her feelings, but I also wasn't going to just
sit there, listening to her sing in her tone-deaf voice for the next
hour and a half that she wanted to hang out at Power before the last
bus was scheduled to leave the transit center and bring her home.

I used to sit through events that I didn't want to be at. Tolerated
them because I felt too polite, too timid, to up and leave. Not
tonight, though. Tonight I'm not taking any crap from no one.
Tonight, timidness and politeness are totally out of the question. No
doubt about it.

Tomorrow, I may awaken to the horrible feelings of guilt and shame for
my behavior, but I'll deal with the shitstorm when it comes. Because,
more likely than not, it WILL come. It's a fucking matter of time,
just like everything else in my life.

I had no comment for Laura's pitiful, parting words as I left. Even
if I wanted to speak, I just couldn't, for the life of me, think of
one, damn thing to say to that. So I just booked it out of there,
hoping not to get lost on the way home, being that visibility was shit
due to all the freezing fog hanging thickly in the frosty, fall air.

Still haven't heard from Chris today. I wonder if he's seen my blog
post about him yet. Surely, he's seen the e-mails I sent him.

As far as Giovanna is concerned, all she wanted was to talk, to see
how my day was, bullshit, bullshit. Her voice was riddled with
concern as she announced that she hadn't heard from me all day. As if
I didn't already KNOW that.

So, back to the pandemonium. Boy, do I get off topic a lot. Oh well.
Beats me, but it happens all the time.

So, do you remember how much I used to love to hand Chris things, like
money, coffee, food, etc? Yes, I'm using the past tense. Why, aren't
you mighty observant for a dead person?!

Well, that basically hit the shit hole when Amira turned three, maybe
even two-and-a-half, and started walking more rather than just sitting
in the stroller and allowing herself to be pushed about like a
pampered princess. Now, she is three-and-a-half and doesn't use a
stroller anymore. Why, you may ask?

Because Rachel has taken her place in it. So, whether Amira likes it
or not, she has to walk everywhere now, no matter what the weather is
doing. She particularly hates it when it's windy and the rain is
coming down sideways, hitting her in the face as she attempts to walk
with her dad to wherever they're going.

I used to be able to hand Chris everything and anything I wanted and
actually enjoyed it very much.

That is, until Amira Brigit Allert took that joy away from me and
turned it into her own.

Now, I can't hand CHRIS ANYTHING without her whining, crying, and
shouting that SHE WANTS TO DO IT!

I used to not really mind, or at least, tolerated going to the coffee
shop with Chris because I knew that I would at least have the pleasure
of handing the hot, steamy little Espresso cup to him, feeling all his
fingers in the process as I savored every second of the exchange.

Last time I tried to hand Chris coffee, I nearly had it knocked out of
my hand by Little Miss Brat Face. I was barely able to catch it on
time. If it had spilled on me, chances are pretty high I would have
gotten a decent burn on my hands.

"I...!!! WANT...!!! TO...!!! DO...!!! IT...!!!"

Over and over again, Amira screamed this chant.

"I want to hand it to Daddy!"

At that moment, I felt quite blessed to be blind. I am quite positive
I was attracting some very annoyed stares.

"Mama gets to do it," Chris said calmly.

Then, trying to diffuse the situation, he said, "But, you can hand
Daddy the sparkly water."

You'd think that would have been good enough, but, oh no! She
proceeded to yell and holler like a banshee. She kept halting
directly in front of me, almost making me trip and fall on top of her
with the hot coffee, several times, as I attempted to get it to the
table that Chris was sitting at.

At a painstakingly slow pace, I edged my way to the table, all the
while fantasizing about how awesome it would feel to just dump the
burning, hot liquid over her curly blonde hair.

Then, at least she would have a fucking REASON to scream besides
spoiled brattiness.

When I FINALLY reached the table, Chris practically snatched the cup
from me. He was eager to get the situation under control. I get
that.

But, what he forgot to think about was how sad I felt, not being able
to touch his long, skinny fingers as I, very slowly and carefully, set
the fragile cup into his outstretched hand.

Since that time, I don't believe I've been to the coffee shop with
him. But, before this incident, there had been many more times when I
simply retreated to whatever table Amira decided we would sit at and
just let her hand her father the damn coffee rather than order it for
him and bring the coffee to the table like a server would, and hand it
to him like I used to.

It wasn't worth it. It's STILL not worth it. Amira robbed me of that
particular joy, along with many others, so I've accepted it, though
grudgingly so, as I'm sure you can tell.

I know that being angry with Amira is irrational, but I just can't
help it! I know that most children enjoy helping out with chores and
handing their parents things, but, my god, she's with her dad all the
time! I'm hardly EVER with him.

And, it's because of them. Meaning, Rachel and her older sister, Amira.

Now, here's the real deal breaker for me. When Amira first started
throwing fits whenever I tried to hand Chris something, he used to
laugh and say, "Oh, you're so cute. Do you want to hand it to Daddy?"

For starters, it's NOT FUCKING CUTE when your children throw tantrums!
Period! It's loud, it's obnoxious, and it fucking makes me want to
pick them up by their necks and strangle and shake them into oblivion
until every ounce of air has left their lungs, and they collapse,
headfirst, onto the cement and die a slow, agonizing death.

And, why in the world was he asking her if she wanted to hand it to
him when she was screaming at the top of her lungs that, yes, she
wanted to do it. She wanted to hand it to Daddy.

I used to fantasize about becoming rich with my writing or whatever
else, someday, and handing Chris wads and wads of money. Pure, crisp
one hundred dollar bills, hot right off the press. Now, the idea
SICKENS me! It fills me with wrath, with hatred, with longing...

With despair.

For, Amira has robbed me of that joy, too. Whenever we go to an ATM
to take out money, I practically have to snatch the money out before
she can get to it. It's like being in a cat fight!

Once, I became so frustrated, I pushed her away from the slot where
the money comes out of. I didn't push her hard enough to make her
fall, but, boy did I sure want to.

I don't think she even noticed the push, though. Because, less than
five seconds later, she was squawking about how SHE WANTED TO HAND THE
MONEY TO DADDY, and attempting, unsuccessfully, to snatch the twenty
dollar bills out of my hand.

Even when Chris doesn't snatch things away to get Amira to shut the
fuck up, the exchange isn't the same. It's rushed. Before I can even
get to the third finger, he is already drawing his hand away to pocket
the money before she can get ahold of it and lose it.

So now, I don't accompany them to the coffee shop. Nor, do I feel any
sense of eagerness to hand things to Chris anymore. Paying his bills,
and "enabling him," as his parents and the majority of my family would
say, have also lost their appeal. All I want, now, is for them to
just leave me the hell alone.

For tonight, anyway. Feelings may change by tomorrow, at least with
this kind of intense ferocity, but I don't think they will be
completely departing any time soon, if ever.

The damage is irrevocable. Chris hates it when I say this to him,
which I have before when feeling these strong feelings, but it's the
truth. That's why he hates it. Deep down... Or, maybe NOT so deep
down...

HE KNOWS!

One time, in particular that is coming to my memory, is when I blurted
out to Chris that we just don't have anything anymore. Not when it
comes to a relationship.

He got very upset and discouraged when I said this to him, and that
was at least Smm Smm months ago.

Smm Smm more months have gone by and still, I feel the same about us.
It's just all about the kids. Nothing else. Though, honestly, I
don't know if he will ever admit that to me. And, even if he did,
it's a moot point. I already know this, HAVE known for a long time,
and have since started accepting this nasty fact and have started
moving on.

At first, it wasn't easy at all. I would get teary-eyed just thinking
about it. But, not anymore.

The other thing is, Chris and I seem to have absolutely nothing to
talk about anymore. NOTHING!

His explanation for this?

"Because I'm afraid to talk. I don't know when you'll get mad. And,
when you don't talk, it makes it harder for me to talk because I think
there's something wrong."

So, yeah. Of course it's MY fault. I mean, why not? Who wants to
take the blame?

I used to hate accepting blame, especially from Chris. It was more
the fact that I had disappointed him, had made him feel discouraged
and sad, that upset me the most. Often times, I did not want to
accept the blame, and fought it all the way like a toddler may fight
receiving a shot at the doctor's office.

Now, though, blame really doesn't seem to have much of an effect on
me. Good or bad. So, Chris, you win. I'll take it. I mean, why
not?

You're stuck with the children all the time. That's got to suck. I
know you won't ever admit it, but, seriously, who in their right mind
would WANT to be with ONE child day in and day out, let alone Smm Smm
of them?

Personally, I think taking the blame is easier than dealing with the
kids. So, yeah, I'll take it. And, although it may seem like I got
the short end of the stick...

And maybe I did, after all...

As of right now, though, I am not at all convinced of this fact.

So, yeah, take a load off. Blame's on me. What's new?

You want to know what's new? I'm not fighting it anymore. I'm
accepting every, last bit of it.

Really, in the end, none of it matters. Lately, I've felt so
unattached to everything and anything around me, including my own
life, that, in a way, it's rather liberating to accept the blame
without the usual fight-or-flight response.

Many people think that not being attached to your own life is very alarming.

"How awful that must feel," many would say.

But, you want to know something? It really doesn't feel awful. In
fact, it feels great! It is the most liberating experience I think
anyone can ever undergo.

Because, really, if you're not attached to your life anymore, there's
nothing and no one holding you back. You simply find yourself
floating about, wondering how the hell you got to that place, then
quickly not caring because it feels so good to just not feel, to just
not think, to just accept what's thrown in your lap and move on with
it.

Chris has often told me that when I get like this, it makes him feel
discouraged and suicidal. All I can say is this:

Sorry, bud, but I can't help you. I'm not responsible for your
feelings, either good or bad. And, quite frankly, at the moment, I
don't really feel responsible for my own. They just keep coming and
coming and coming. There's not a whole lot I can do but sit it out
and express myself to you.

If you don't like it or can't handle it, that's fine. Then, go away,
and tend to your whiny children. They're the only things that make
you happy anyway, so, yeah, go to them. They need you more than I do,
anyway. So, just go to them and let me be.

Dad, I know this sounds so callus. So cold. But, it's what I'm
feeling right now, and I'll be DAMNED if I keep holding back like
this.

I may lose some fans over this, but whatever. It doesn't matter. At
least I'm being honest. At least I'm staying away from the children
while I'm experiencing these raw emotions, rather than pretend to
enjoy every aspect of motherhood like Jennifer did and abuse them
physically and emotionally until they are old enough to escape me and
try to live normal lives after how badly I fucked them up from abuse.

Giovanna hates the fact that I blog so publicly, especially when
experiencing such raw emotions. If she had it her way, I would simply
journal to myself, writing in a plain Microsoft Word document that was
for only ME to ever read.

I've tried that before. It doesn't have the same effect as publishing
it for OTHER people to read.

I'm sure Giovanna and Jennifer would call it self-sabotage. Chris may
even agree. He often accuses me of sabotaging things, so, yeah.
Maybe it is self-sabotage.

If it is, oh well. I'll deal with the repercussions later. For now,
it feels so incredibly good just to get all this rotten, festering
shit out in the open already.

But, yeah, seriously, Chris and I have, like zero stuff to talk about.
Here's a pretty perfect example of how a typical conversation between
us two goes these days.

Me: What did you do today, Smm Smm?

Chris: Went to the ZOOM-A-ZOOM (children's museum, but pronounced
"Zoom-ee-zoom" by Amira because she doesn't know how to say the word
museum yet), then went to buy pull-ups, diapers, and more wipes.

Me: Oh.

I mean, seriously, what in the hell is there to say about that?

Chris: Rachel still hasn't pooped yet today. Wondering if, perhaps, I
should try switching formulas on her again to see if it helps.

This whole constipation drama is an ongoing ordeal with Rachel. Yeah,
yeah, I know. That's my fault, too, since I've refused to breastfeed.

You want to know what ISN'T my fault, though?

The fact that breastfeeding hurts like a mother fucker, no matter how
much Lanolin you lube your nipples up with before and after
breastfeeding.

Ha! Take that! Finally there's some blame that I WON'T accept because
it doesn't belong to me. It belongs to evolution or to god or
whomever or whatever started humanity in the first place.

Me: I sure hope she feels better soon. Has she been crabby?

Chris: Yeah, she's uncomfortable. Amira's been crabby, too, today.

Go figure. When is she NOT crabby?

A long silence forges its way between us. It threatens to overtake
us, but I fight it as hard and for as long as I possibly can, though,
honestly, I am literally almost BORED TO TEARS with this conversation.
Because, it's the same, damn conversation we have almost every day.

Me: What do you want to do now, Smm Smm?

No answer. He's distracted, yet again, by Amira, no doubt. Or, maybe
he's just zonked out for a moment. Either way, it's irritating.

Me: Smm Smm.

Still, no response.

Me: Smm Smm!

Nothing.

Really irritated me: SMMMMMMMMMMMM SMMMMMMMMMMMMM!!!!!

Chris, finally, in the calmest voice imaginable: What?

Me: I said, what do you want to do today?

Chris: What do you want to do?

Oh, my fucking god, just answer the goddamn question. I asked you first.

But, then again, he often tells me that he's tired of always deciding
what we're going to do, along with other decisions, so, I guess he
feels the same way as I do. The frustrating part, is, usually, I just
feel so neutral when I'm around him and the kids that I truly do not
give one iota where we go or what we do, so long as it's a
kid-friendly place where Amira can find other children her own age to
play with.

And, where I'll have to interact with her and entertain her as little
as possible.

Me: How about the mall?

Chris: We already went there yesterday.

Okay, then why the hell don't YOU choose what we'll do?

Finally, after some debating, we go to wherever, and, as soon as
Amira, thankfully disappears to go play, Chris and I are, once again,
greeted with that over-sized, looming silence, threatening to overtake
us once again.

I truly have no clue as to what I should say, so, I go for a question
that will, with some luck, stimulate some sort of an intelligent
conversation that isn't about kids, piss, shit, diapers, and formula.

Me: What are you thinking about?

Pree-children, this question often would unleash a whole slew of
creative, and often forbidden ideas that would spew forth from Chris's
eager lips. Eagerly, I would listen, hanging on his every word,
enjoying his funny way of talking where he adds an extra syllable to
every word without even realizing it.

Just the sound of his voice, alone, was enough to seduce me. It made
me feel safe, happy, and warm inside to listen to him talk.

Now, though, it's very different. It's almost like the lights are on
in his head, but nobody's home. Very sad.

Chris, sounding weary and tired as usual: Just watching Amira play. I
think it's almost time for the baby to feed again. Let me see if
she's pooped yet...

Oh, the poop talk. At this rate, we'll be discussing the color and
texture of each, individual turd that pops out of Rachel's tiny ass.
Soon, Chris will have his nose to her ass, absolutely worshiping every
brown trout he sees because he's just THAT obsessed with her. More so
with Amira, though. Actually, Amira is his favorite. I can already
tell.

Will he admit it? Probably not. There's no need, though. I already know.

Me: Would you like me to feed Rachel so you can have a break, Smm Smm?

Chris: No. She has been really difficult to feed lately.

Yeah, like every, single, day, she's difficult to feed. Is that
really what's going on, or does he just not want me to feed her
because of her stupid, crooked neck problem? Yes; yet another one of
Rachel's ongoing sagas.

Again, silence. This time, I do not fight it. I'm done making the
effort. Besides, Chris has leapt to his feet because some kid has
pushed Amira or whatever, so he thinks he needs to go on Cujo
protective mode so that his sweet, little angel won't get a single
little scratch on her precious, little body.

Many times, Chris and I have ALMOST started a halfway decent
conversation. On nearly all of those rare and precious occasions, we
have been interrupted by one or the other. It's always something when
you have children, let me tell you.

Thank Satan for a wonderfully large scope of imagination. On a really
good day, I can easily sink down into one of my stories or daydreams.
Usually, in my stories and or daydreams, I am someplace else. Not
with Chris or the kids. I'm in a happy, peaceful bubble that cannot
be penetrated by anyone or by anything.

My bubble of imagination got me through my entire childhood. Without
it, I swear I'd have gone insane. Even more insane than I am now. I
got out of it pretty unscathed, if you ask me. But, that wouldn't
have been the case if I was some imaginationless prat who took people
seriously and stayed one hundred percent in the moment all the time.

On depressive days, or when I've come across a road block from within
the quarters of my mind, I am SCREWED. Literally, hating almost
every, mind-numbingly boring moment spent with Chris, sitting there in
silence, like a total idiot, hoping that I don't look too bored or
depressed to fellow parents who have brought their children to play.
Those days are the hardest. I usually try to avoid Chris and the
children at all costs during those days, because, if I can't mentally
disappear, I find myself growing more and more agitated as the boredom
worsens, as the silence deepens and thickens before us.

I wonder why Chris thinks I care about how many times Amira or Rachel
have pooped. I wonder why he always feels the need to talk about the
same, old, mundane shit with me every time we meet.

Yes, I AM interested to know how the children are doing. I do feel
some affection toward them at times, especially toward Amira because
she's more of a person than Rachel. Meaning that she can actually
hold a pretty decent conversation with me for a while, rather than
just crying and puking all over you because her retarded stomach can't
seem to figure out how to digest formula properly.

During my affectionate times, I DO want to know how they are. But,
don't spend the whole entirety of our time together talking about piss
and shit and why Amira STILL isn't allowed to have screen time, even
though she's halfway to four years old. It's those sorts of
mind-numbingly boring conversations, 24/7, that spiral me back into
the bitter, affectionless, cold, hateful mother that I can so easily
turn into if not shown much love from my partner in a significantly
long period of time.

Seriously, Dad, I miss the old days where Chris was still creative,
still mischievous, still excited about the Satan project and the
prospect of disgusting a fair number of people while it became more
and more noticed throughout the public.

Now, he never gets on the news. Remember all those pact with the
Devil ferry rides he used to take once a month at night?

GONE!

Remember the weekly meetings he used to hold at the Olympia Center for
the Satanic Missionary Society?

GONE!

Remember, all those delicious cookies he used to bake for the
meetings, for Satan, and even just to snack on while working on
creating new and improved fliers about the Satanic Missionary Society
to put up all over the Evergreen campus?

GONE!

All of it just...

GONE!

Several times, I've asked him whether he ever misses doing artwork,
whether he misses working on the Satan project. His answer is always
the same.

"I don't have time for much of anything these days. I'm stretched pretty thin."

Yes, I suppose that's true. He IS stretched quite thin. Again, I
don't envy him. I wouldn't want to trade his post for anything, not
even his eyes, which work about a thousand times better than mine ever
will.

"Do you ever miss the time before we had the children?" I've asked him before.

"No, not really. Sometimes, I wish I could sleep in, but, other than
that, no. And, I try not to think about those times much. This is my
life now."

I remember feeling absolutely STUNNED by his answer. I mean, how
could anyone NOT miss at least a part of their lives before they had
children? A part of me doesn't believe him. Because it just doesn't
seem real.

But, then again, Chris is a strange cat sometimes. So, yeah, maybe it
is true. Nonetheless, I can't wrap my head around it. Almost on a
daily basis, I go back and think about the good times Chris and I
had before Amira was born. I try not to dwell on those days too much,
but I honestly can't help but go to that place. My mind just wanders
there, on its own accord. I have no say in the matter. And, to be
quite frank, I don't mind that place. It's nice to visit, especially
when I need a strong reminder of why I fell in love with Chris in the
first place and why I still love him, despite our many differences
that have reared their ugly heads, more and more, as time goes by.

Chris doesn't disgust people anymore. He doesn't shock people anymore
by proselytizing, openly, about Satan the same way that christians
proselytize about jesus. These days, he's too busy trying not to
attract attention from anyone because he's so damn paranoid about
someone calling CPS on him. Hell, I think he might even be afraid of
his own Satan project now. And it's all because of the children.

Well, enough for now. By the way, Jennifer called about an hour ago.
Didn't leave a message. Which means she saw my latest post about
Chris and not wanting to be a mother.

Stupid bitch thought I would answer the phone and allow myself to be
ripped into by her yet again. For, about the third time this week.
The fifth or sixth time with Giovanna, and that number is after losing
count.

Seriously, Jennifer, do you think I'm stupid or what? Mad at me? Go
ahead! Leave me a message! Send an e-mail! I'm sure Daddy and the rest
would just LOVE to hear you in hysterics over the embarrassing things
I wrote that, without a doubt in my mind, made you cringe repeatedly.

I wonder what will happen with Chris. Tempted to call and see if he
has blocked my number, but a part of me just doesn't want to know.

If he has, no biggy. I'll just show up at his door if I need to talk
to him if he's going to get into "let's break up" mode after this
whole deal. Or, crisis, as he would put it, though, honestly, it
really doesn't feel much like a crisis to me. It feels like healing,
like being liberated from a horrid, infectious secret that would have
eventually driven me COMPLETELY off my rocker if I hadn't, finally,
gotten the vagina balls to address it at last.

I hope Chris and I can get past this because I really do love and care
about him. Even the children, too, though not as deeply as I love and
care about Chris.

But, if he can't get past the truth of what I wrote, then, so be it.
I guess he's going to have less money to live on as I will have to
start buying my own food, which means going out to eat since I can't
cook worth shit.

I love you, Daddy. Thanks for listening, wherever you are.

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM!!!!

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Pandemonium In Paradise: Part One

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM!!!!

Dear Daddy,

I'm finally going to do it. I'm finally going to admit to the whole
public, as well as you, that all is NOT well in paradise. Of course,
you probably already know this, but the rest of the world does not.
Or, maybe they have a SLIGHT idea that all isn't the grace and glamour
that I often try to portray in my letters to you, but they don't know
what to make of it, where to begin.

I've been holding back for a very long time. I've been wanting to
tell you what's on my mind for MONTHS, now, but, being the coward that
I often am, I chickened out. I didn't want to upset Chris and the
faint remnants of "normalcy" that we still have between us. But I
can't hold back anymore. I just can't.

I can just FEEL the excitement blooming inside of my mother, in
Giovanna, as they obsessively read this post. I can literally HEAR
their accelerating heartbeats as they push on through the text, their
eyes growing wider and wider as their interest intensifies. Can SMELL
the acrid stench of their breath as their breathing gets heavier,
faster.

Today is their lucky day.

NOT!

Before I go on to tell you what's ailing me, Father, I must squash
their happy bubble before it gets any bigger, any fuller, any more
deceptive than it already has become.

OH? Pouting, are you?

GOOD! I've got you two RIGHT where I want you. Where you've always
had me all my life, in suspension, dangling that tiny, bunny rabbit
carrot of hope in front of my face, than snatching it away right as I
am about to take a bite into the crunchy, sweet vegetable. May I ask
you two politely this one question:

HOW DOES IT FEEL?!

Oh? Unpleasant, is it? Well, welcome to the first nineteen years of my
life. Now, suck it up like I had to do for so long. And, as you
would say, Jennifer, spare me.

JUST...

SPARE ME!

One time, a couple of months ago, I wrote a letter to you, and, in it,
I mentioned Chris and the horrible living conditions I was subjected
to while we were living together. Well, of course Chris checks my
blog constantly, just like you, Jennifer, and he happened to stumble
across that letter.

"I'm sure your mom and Grandma were DELIGHTED to see you complaining
about me rather than them," Chris had said in his mopey, sad voice as
we sat in the living room of his shared house shortly after he'd read
the letter to you.

"I wasn't complaining about you," I told him.

"I was simply stating true and accurate facts."

"While leaving out a whole lot of detail about what lead up to the
studio becoming such a mess and why the ceiling got damaged."

I said nothing to this, but in my mind, I was thinking:

WHY don't you make your own damn blog and state your case. If you do
this, I'll link to your story. That is, if I figure out HOW!

Anyway, the point I'm trying to make is that Chris just knew they
would be ecstatic to see me picking on him, or whatever they thought I
was doing. And, after some pondering of my own, I agreed.
Self-consciously, I knew that ecstasy and elation were what they felt
upon reading that post, amongst other things.

But the damage had been done. The post was up, people had read it, no
doubt, and I had no intentions of taking it down. I highly doubted
Chris would, either.

So, to prevent this NEW burst of elation from swelling deep within the
holes in their chests where there should be hearts, I shall extinguish
it before the fire spreads.

For starters, even though I am currently very much unhappy with how
things are going between Chris and I, it doesn't mean that you are
going to see your grandchildren. In fact, Jennifer, quite the
opposite.

Rather than take Chris's ass to court and create a parenting plan like
you have been trying to corrupt my brain into taking action on for the
last Smm Smm years, I've decided just to give up. The children are
clearly his. They do not belong to me. And, even if they did, I
don't want them. Children, in general, not just my own, are way, way,
WAY overrated! They're WAY more work than they're worth, and, more
often than not, caring for them is a thankless task, only rewarding in
few and fleeting bursts. That's been my experience with dealing with
children, anyway. I'm sure it's not the same for everyone.

They don't even have my last name. Not that I mind that.

It was intentional, on my part, to insure that neither one of them
became tainted with the Levcun label. So, contrary to what you both
think, Jennifer and Giovanna, Chris did NOT brainwash me into agreeing
to give them only the Allert last name. It was actually ME who had
the idea in the first place.

Daddy, Jennifer says, over and over again, on an almost daily basis,
that I have just enough rights to the kids as Chris does. She always,
always, ALWAYS emphasizes that I should fight for them. And, by that,
she means fight for their right to see their grandmother and
great-grandmother. Always seeming to forget that little, tiny
detail...

That I have NO intention of introducing the children to Jennifer or
her corrupt mother at all! EVER! That I have not the slightest
inclination to do so, nor will I ever.

Basically, what SHOULD be blossoming inside the greedy, wicked minds
of my mother and grandmother, Daddy, is FEAR! Not joy. Not relief!
JUST...

PLAIN...

FEAR!

And, just to give fear a little company, why not add defeat to the mix?

Because, while I'm still in contact with you guys, with Chris, you all
get to know what's going on in my life, and in the kids' lives. But,
haven't the two of you ever brought yourselves up short with the
possibility of what would happen if I quit this whole charade with
Chris and moved on with my life?

How in the Sam hell would you have the slightest of inklings about
what was happening in Amira's and Rachel's lives if I wasn't a part of
them any longer?

No, you say? You HAVEN'T thought of that?

Well, start. Because it's about to happen. And, the more you tell me
to fight for the children, Jennifer and Giovanna the more it makes me
not want them in my life. Because, YOU are the ones who want the
children. So, naturally, so as to not be like you guys as much as
possible, I turn away from the very thing you want. And, it just so
happens to be the girls.

Don't fret over it, though. Even without you two always bashing me
about taking the kids away from Chris, hounding me with questions like
"what are you going to do now?", and berating me just because it so
happens that motherhood really isn't my calling, it wasn't all of your
doing that makes me not want them. It's mainly that I'm not crazy
about kids. Nothing personal to the children, I just don't like being
around them for very long. It isn't just them; I hate being around
ANY child for a lengthy period of time. It's just who I am, how I'm
made. Like it or not, it's the cold, hard, soul-crushing truth, so
deal with it, okay?

Just deal with it and save all your lectures, all your concern, for
someone who cares to listen. Because I'm not one of them.

You two surely didn't help, but you guys aren't the only reason behind
me not wanting them.

Anyway...

Where to start with the whole Chris thing...

Well, first off, it annoys the living SHIT out of me that he doesn't
have a damn cell phone. He knows, just as well as I do, that free
Obama phones still exist. Yes, he will probably have to fill out some
sort of paperwork and prove his income, but, once that's done, SCORE!
A phone from outer space falls into his outstretched hand, with
several hundred minutes and some texting time to boot. All without
sacrificing even a NICKEL!

He relies on using wireless Internet from places, like the mall,
Starbuks, and a few other places to check his messages to see whether
or not I've called him.

But, more often than not, he ISN'T in a place with wireless, so, many
times, literally HOURS have gone by before he FINALLY is able to check
his messages and see that I've tried to get in contact with him at
least five times in one day.

Or, so I used to. Lately, like today, for instance, I only waited
around for him for a half hour, then gave up on it.

I am not his servant. I am not Jennifer's servant or Giovanna's
servant, either, for that matter. Nor am I the servant of Amira
Brigit Allert or Rachel Corrie Allert, though, many times when I am
stuck with the girls, I often feel like a slave because entertaining
Amira is so...

Damn...

EXHAUSTING...!!!

Daddy, I wouldn't CARE so much about Chris not taking the initiative
to go to DSHS and get a phone if he didn't guilt me about not seeing
Amira enough. But, the truth of the matter is, more often than not,
he's, outright UNREACHABLE. Like, I have literally waited ALL DAY
LONG for him to show up at my house or call me to let me know he's on
his way.

ALL DAY!

And he does guilt me about not seeing Amira as much as she wants to see me.

Have you ever considered for a moment, Chris, that, after a while of
dealing with the same, old shit, day in and day out, that the waiting
gets old?

So...

Terribly...

OLD...!!!

Not to mention, it makes me feel like you believe, whether it be deep
down or right at the surface, that I shall always make myself
available to you at all times.

Maybe I would see Amira more often if you made yourself more
reachable. Maybe not. Today, though, I know I would have seen her.

I had just published a story on the blog, felt very proud of my work,
and was ready to venture out of the house for the day, being that my
bout of the flu or food poisoning that I suffered with yesterday had
finally passed. Great, god in heaven, I sure as fuck hope so, anyway.
It felt like five thousand, double-edged swords were stabbing me deep
in the gut yesterday. Barfing and explosive, watery shits were the
only ways in which to relieve myself of the agony, but, boy, did my
body sure fight me on releasing whatever the hell it was inside of me
that was making me wish, even, at times, PRAY for the sweet release of
death to take over and open up my body so the spirit could finally
take leave after so many years of wanting nothing more than that.

Shortly after publishing my story, I sent Chris an e-mail.

Where are you, Smm Smm?

That was the subject line.

Tabbing over to the body of the email, I continued my message. I said
something like this:

Was wondering if you wanna do something. Just published another
story. Will leave computer on for a little bit, so please email me
and tell me where you are.

If you're at the mall or someplace else that's easy to get to on the
bus, I'll meet you there.

I love you.

SEND!

I waited for a half hour, repeatedly checking my email, becoming more
and more agitated and frustrated with every passing moment. The
rattling fan inside my poor, old dinosaur computer rang in my ears.
It reminded me just how old my computer is. Well, really, everything
that I own is old, come to think of it.

Most of the stuff I don't mind it being old and worn-out. Often
times, the oldies are goodies, too.

But the computer is a different story. Its time is ticking, meaning
that every time I turn it on, I find myself wondering if this will be
the time it finally crashes.

And, when it finally DOES kick the bucket, how the hell will I get
another computer? Mom has offered to buy me a laptop about a year ago,
but, of course, there was a stipulation. A very big stipulation.

She wanted to hand-deliver the laptop to me. Oh, no, she couldn't
risk putting it in the mail or simply ordering it directly from Amazon
and having it delivered to the mail drop Chris and I share downtown.

I mean, what if it got thrown by someone who was jealous? Or, what if
it got stolen? Or, or, or.

Her anxious reasons were endless, and very quickly after she delivered
the offer, I declined. It just wasn't worth it to me to put up with
the stress of having to deal with her all for a measly laptop. A
material thing.

I had no idea, and still don't, about where and how I will be able to
afford a new computer. Along with that, what program I will be able
to use that is accessible enough for a blind-as-a-bat user to
efficiently use on a regular basis.

And, on top of that, I'll have to LEARN how everything works all over
again. Even if I do, somehow, manage to get Jaws put on my new
computer, which is highly unlikely since Jaws costs about ten grand,
I'll have to learn the new formatting since I'm used to using a PC,
rather than Windows Ten or whatever the hell they're up to nowadays.

The thought of self-teaching sounds very frustrating and arduous.
But, the thought of going to the training and orientation school for
the blind up in Seattle for tech lessons sounds, outright, UNBEARABLE!
I HATE when people are always breathing down my neck, always watching
me, making corrections every five to ten seconds as the day crawls by.

Tech training with a professional trainer is IMPOSSIBLE for me. At
least at this point in my life. I get mini anxiety attacks just
THINKING about it!

So, naturally, all these thoughts are spinning through my mind like a
never-ending web, made by a very sinister and sadistic spider.

Finally, after a half hour went by and my computer kept rattling its
discontentedness at me, begging to go back to sleep, I turned off my
radio, checked my GMAIL inbox one more time to see if he had written,
and, upon finding that he had not, went to Compose and started another
message.

Subject: Turning computer off now. Going out.

Body: Tired of waiting.

You can't say I didn't try...

Let me know when you get a free Obama cell phone.

Pausing, I ask myself whether I want to bother writing anything more.
Deciding not to waste any more time, I hit SEND and listen to the
familiar DING as the message goes into Chris's inbox.

Then, my computer's wish was granted. After signing out of GMAIL, I
gave it the command to shut down. Without hesitation, it did so,
chiming a musical tone of farewell right before it blacked out into
unconsciousness.

Gosh! I sure wish I could just black out like that. The amazing
thing, is some people actually CAN!

Remember your friend John? Well, whenever he said, "I'm going to
sleep," and would sit back in the chair, sure as daylight, he'd be
snoring in less than fifteen seconds.

Giovanna is, or at least, WAS able to do that years ago. I often
envied her for that. Nowadays, though, she says she struggles with
insomnia. I wonder why that is...

Chris is going to find my last email upsetting. No doubt, in his
mind, it will all be my fault. Naturally, I will be the negligent,
uncaring mother who doesn't want to see her children.

The knowledge of that used to really mess with my head. Even as close
as a few months ago, it was hard for me to even fathom the thought of
making Chris sad or hurting his feelings. And, although it isn't my
intention to do so now, I find myself doing it, all the while feeling
numb and apathetic inside. Like, not giving two shits what ANYBODY
has to say about you or what they might be thinking about you right at
this very moment. Those sorts of lovely, pleasant thoughts.

I know Chris will tell me that I didn't give him enough of a chance to
reply, that I'm not patient enough. He'll tell me that he was wrapped
up changing one of Rachel's diapers or one of Amira's pull-ups because
she's still NOT using the potty, even at three-and-a-half years old.

"I'm always too late."

I can hear him saying that to me now, as he often does time and time again.

Usually, when he says this, I say nothing, because, really, what the
hell is there to say?

Inside, though, I often find myself thinking:

WELL, why don't you make some sort of an effort and STOP being too
late for everything?

And, by the way, why is it always MY fault that you take too long to
do just about anything? Why can't you ever admit that you're just too
damn slow most of the time?

Except, when you want to be fast and springy. Then, all of a sudden,
I find myself being rushed along at a much faster pace than I feel
comfortable or safe walking at due to my very limited sight, because,
oh yeah, you finally took the time to read the bus schedule and we're
about to miss the bus because of YOUR negligence.

Either that, or you got CONFUSED...

AGAIN...!

I've got to give it to him, though, Daddy. Those bus schedules aren't
easy to piece together. Once, I tried making sense of a bus schedule
that was given to me in Braille, but shortly gave up on it because the
graphs were just, outright, IMPOSSIBLE to trace, impossible to
comprehend.

But then, why not do what I do and just call the damn transit center
to get a clear idea of when a particular bus is coming or leaving?

Oh yeah, that's right.

YOU DON'T HAVE A FUCKING PHONE!!!

Here's the real kicker, Dad. This isn't the first time I've expressed
my wish for Chris to get a phone. I mean, it's a pretty reasonable
request, considering the times we live in now, right? And, what if an
emergency ever were to happen while he was out with the kids? By the
time he managed to chase someone down to ask them if he could borrow
their phone, it could be too late.

Anyway, the last time I told Chris, very nicely, about how nice it
would be for me to be able to call him whenever I needed or wanted to,
you know what his comeback was?

"Why don't we go to Wal-Mart or Target and you can buy me a phone."

Seriously?

SERIOUSLY?!!!

So, what you're telling me, Chris, is that, in spite of the fact that
a free phone is literally just WAITING for you to pick it up after
some paperwork is filled out, you expect me to Buy you one?!

Uh-uh! What kind of fool do you think I am?

What?...

Do you really think I'm THAT STUPID?!!!

Sometimes, I can't help but wonder whether Chris thinks I am made of
money. I mean, I overspend at times, but so does he. In fact, he
goes through it like water.

Time and time again, I've given him several hundred dollars in one go,
and, by the time the week is up, maybe a week and a half if I'm lucky,
it's all gone. Much of it going to coffee.

I understand that we all need to treat ourselves from time to time.
Especially if you have the horrid job of caring for two very whiny,
needy little brats 24/7, 365 days a year. Really, I get it.

But, I am NOT...

I repeat, NOT...

Made of money. And, although I'm sure you'd love it if I gave you
every last penny, I'm not going to do that because I deserve treats,
too. I deserve to be happy. I deserve to have money.

What I don't deserve is to be sucked dry month after month after
month, year after year after year. What I don't deserve is constantly
being guilt tripped about not seeing the girls enough when, you,
Christian Allert, are unreachable 99.9 percent of the time, especially
nowadays, when you no longer give Amira her naps and avoid the house
like the plague because you don't like most of the people who live at
the house.

What I don't deserve is you getting all mopey when I, occasionally,
overspend and take a taxi to Coldstone, while you go ahead and
overspend, like, all the time. With very little complaining on my
part, I must add.

Yeah, you see me get irritable. Yeah, you see me get frustrated with
you and the children. But, how can I not? It's like asking a deer not
to eat the plants, fruits, and vegetables in someone's garden, even
while the garden is right before their very eyes, beckoning them
forward with its sweet, seductive smells of tasty bliss.

What I don't deserve, Jennifer and Giovanna, is to be lectured, daily,
on how bad it is for the kids not to see you two. I don't deserve to
be attacked, Jennifer, merely for wanting to adopt a dog at a time
when it's not suitable for YOU, for whatever reason. Don't ask me;
I'm not Jennifer. That's one thing I've got going for me.

Really, Dad, I feel like just up and leaving everyone behind. Yes,
Giovanna. Yes, Jennifer. That means you guys, too.

Where will I go, though? What would I do? Learning how to navigate in
a new place is, well, doable, I guess. But very, very stressful.

"Come back home!"

That's Jennifer's solution to every one of my problems.

"Or, if you don't want to do that, move to Port Townsend or Bainbridge Island."

She MUST know, deep within her heart, that I'm never going to do that.
And, when she invites me, she isn't simply thinking of us reuniting
once again. She wants Chris's children. Even if I did go to her like
she wants, it would still never be good enough. Not until she had all
three of us locked in that wire bird cage of hers. The place I'm
supposed to refer to as "home."

All right, I've said enough for now. Am going to publish this before
I chicken out, yet again.

Let the heaping pot of steaming, hot guilt begin.

Yes, it's coming. Chris will see this, undoubtedly tonight, in fact,
after he puts the girls to bed.

He will want to talk about breaking up, or, he might even block my
number. He will also, most likely, play the "I need to build my trust
back up in you after all this and it's probably going to be a while"
card. A card very well-used and EXTREMELY worn out. At least, in my
mind, it is.

Whatever. I'm not holding back anymore. All I want is to feel loved,
and, right now, feeling loved is definitely not in the deck of feeling
cards that are in my pocket.

Whatever Chris may think about this post, Dad, I still love him. I
still care about him deeply. But I don't feel loved anymore. I don't
feel wanted. I feel like the only reason Chris is happy we met, why
he is still with me, is because of the girls, and that's not love.
Or, at least it's not the sort of love that I want for myself.

I don't want to be merely a convenient arrangement for him. Either we
love each other in "that way" or we don't. And right now, I'm really
questioning whether I'm simply a "convenient" arrangement for him. Not
that he may even realize it now, but, deep down, he might think/feel
that way about "us."

Giovanna just called me. She left a message. Wonder what the hell
she wants. Probably to nag and lecture me some more. Either that or
to do more Theta on me. Or, maybe a combination of each.

Either way, fuck that. I just want them ALL to go away.

EVERY...

LAST...

One of them.

And yet, I'm afraid. I am very much afraid of that happening.

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM Smm!!!!

Late Night Visitor: Part Smm Smm

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM!!!!

The freezing night air shoves my long, brown hair away from my face as
the swing rockets forward. The night air is DETERMINED to get me as
cold as possible. West Coast weather is merciless. It gives no two
shits about anything or anyone except its own desires and emotions.

It isn't long before the swing is so high, I feel like my head is
about to smack into the moon at full force. It creaks in protest, but
I'm not worried. If Daddy thinks it's safe to swing on it, then it
is.

"Remember how I used to push you like this in the churchyard?" asks
Daddy as he gives my back yet another hard push.

"How can I forget?"

Indianola is a very small town. All that's in it, a part from some
houses and a shit load of trees, is a post office, a tiny corner
store, a club house where people can rent space for parties and
weddings, and, of course, the little church with the little
playground. The church that Daddy and I visited frequently when I was
very young.

"I wonder if the playground and the swings are still there," I muse to
myself as the cold night air continues to batter my cheeks and hair.
By now, I'm sure my cheeks are very rosy, my hair in tangles. I don't
care. My looks never really have been much of a concern for me.

"We never have been on a night time adventure like this," Daddy
suddenly says after a couple minutes of silence has gone by.

"Isn't this fun?"

"It sure is!" I tell him, excitement dripping from my voice like
melting, soft served ice cream drips off an ice cream cone.

"To be quite frank with you, I've always wondered what it would be
like to swing at night, with you pushing me higher and higher so that,
eventually, I would find myself to be one with the moon, clouds, and
the stars."

"Well, you don't have to burden your mind with wonder about it
anymore," Daddy calmly assures me.

"We will never be apart, ever again. This was just WAY too long. I'm
sorry I let it get to this point."

Oh, the questions. So, so many of them, yet I'm afraid to utter even
one of them.

I'm glad to see just how well you are doing. Your family is
absolutely wonderful. Your two children are absolutely breathtaking!
And, you couldn't have found a more decent partner if you spent half
your life trying."

"Yep," I say, relieved that there is, finally, one person in my family
who approves of him.

"He is a true gem, though he doesn't realize it. I try to tell him
often just how much I love him, how thankful I am to have him in my
life, but he never says much when I say all that. He just sort of
grunts, then either changes the subject or lapses into silence. Do
you think it's uncomfortable for him to hear me say this to him,
Daddy? Should I quit?"

"No," he says confidently, pulling a nearly empty cigarette box out of
his light colored jacket, then the lighter.

"Keep telling him how you feel with everything, even the bad.
Communication is ESSENTIAL to make a relationship last."

"Then why does he appear like he doesn't want to talk about it?"

Ch! Ch!

The lighter springs forth a bright, orange ball of flame that quickly
lands on the cigarette. Daddy sucks in, then blows out, long and
hard, into the night. His exhale makes a soft whooshing sound, like
faint traffic on a faraway highway.

"Well, a lot of things could be going through his mind. For starters,
he might not believe it."

"You mean, he doesn't believe ME?"

"Could be. More likely than that, though, he doesn't believe that HE
is any of the things you say he is. People who have been adopted have
a whole SLEW of issues that often haunt them for their entire lives.
A feeling of unworthiness and of being unwanted is one of the most
common things they feel. And, unfortunately, even with therapy, they
carry those unhealthy thoughts and feelings with them until they die."

Until they die. Until they die. Until they die.

The words echo in my mind like raindrops hitting the ground.

"Daddy, are you actually dead?"

As soon as the words are out, I immediately feel ashamed. Foolish. It
isn't an appropriate question. Why can't I just be satisfied with the
fact that he is right here with me, puffing away on his cigarette like
a steam engine and pushing me on the swing?

Why can't this be good enough for me? This is the kind of question
that Jennifer would ask if she were here.

A low chuckle erupts from Daddy, followed by a short, hollow laugh.

"Do I seem dead to you right now?"

"N…n…nnnnnoooooo," I stammer.

"I g…guess not."

"All right then," he says, then focuses his attention on his cigarette
for a while, neglecting to push the swing for a beat.

"Sorry," I mumble.

"Why are you sorry?"

"Because. It was an inappropriate question. I won't let it happen again."

Or, I'll TRY not to, anyway. Impulse control is definitely not one of
my strengths.

"Daddy?"

"Hmmmm."

"I want you to meet the grandchildren and Chris as SOON as they get up
this morning. This has been long overdue. Amira might be a little
shy at first, but she quickly warms up once you start playing with
her."

"I'd like that," Daddy says, but his voice sounds distant.

"I'd like that a lot."

Why does he sound so WEIRD? Apparently, I can't say ANYTHING right
anymore. We've been apart for too long. No matter how hard I try, I
don't think it's possible to resurrect the old times. Not with all
the time that has lapsed by.

"This is the most I've EVER gotten to talk to you in a very long
time," comments Daddy as he blows yet another smoke ring into the
blackness of the night, in the direction of the water that is situated
in front of my swing. The smell of it is comforting. It's not the
over-the-top, in-your-face kind of smell that often is the case with
secondhand smoke. It's very faraway and feathery. The wind's looking
out for me tonight. In that aspect, anyway.

"Yeah, I know it," I vehemently agree.

"I've had plenty of dreams about you, but in all of them, you're never
that enthused to see me. Come to think of it, you hardly spoke in ANY
of my dreams for the past eleven years. And, on the two or three
dreams that you did speak in, your voice sounded so... so...
DIFFERENT!"

"How so?"

For a moment, I close my eyes, trying to conjure up the last dream
that I had with him in it.

After contemplating this for some time, I say, "Well, I guess the best
way to describe it is... just... flat. Flat, emotionless, very
unattached to everything around you. One time, I had a dream with you
in it and Chris was with me. In that dream, you hardly paid any
attention to me, but, boy did you strike up a conversation with Chris.
Something about going to hell and Satan."

The memory is so fuzzy. The dream was ages ago, and, honestly, I try
to forget about it. I remember waking from the dream, feeling a sharp
pang of jealousy and hurt because Daddy seemed more interested in
Chris than he did me. Vaguely, I also remember wondering if the dream
had taken place IN hell. Wondering whether hell was real, and, if so,
was that where the almighty had really exiled him, along with all the
other sinners of this "corrupt, Satanic system," as Giovanna would
say.

Would I find myself in hell someday? Would Chris?

Suddenly, it hits me like a brick.

"Your voice..."

"What about it?"

"When you spoke in my dreams, on the very rare occasions that you did,
your voice sounded like it used to when you were having a terrible,
terrible hangover. Really hollow, really deep, really angry. Angry
or defeated, can't quite tell which one. That's how you always sound
to me in my dreams. That is, when you bother to talk to me."

Cigarette finished, Daddy reaches into the box for another one.

CH! CH! CH!

Another bright, orange flame leaps out of the blue lighter onto the
thin cigarette stick. Seriously, this is totally like old times.
Guess you can still smoke when you're dead.

But, he's NOT dead! Indirectly, he told me so. If only he'd have said
the actual words.

"I'm not dead. I'm not dead. I'M NOT DEAD!"

Uttering those words does not seem to be on his agenda, though. After
puffing silently on his cigarette for a while, he says, "Dreams are a
trippy thing. Remember back when you were younger and you used to
have all those nightmares about me?"

"Uh, yeah," I say, awkwardly.

"I remember the nightmares quite well. Isn't it a trip that I rarely
ever had nightmares about Jennifer, yet with you, like, every dream I
ever had about you was a damn nightmare of sorts."

We both laugh, thinking about it. Then, growing serious again, I say,
"But, why, Daddy, were you never really excited to see me in the
dreams? I mean, you acted so... so... COLD! Cold and distant. Like
you wished you could have been anywhere in the world but with me. Do
you even REMEMBER the dreams? Or, is it all in my head?"

"I'm with you ALWAYS," Daddy declares.

"I'm with you when you are awake, I'm with you when you sleep. I know
all that has happened, and, all I can say is that communication isn't
always easy. Not like it used to be. There just isn't as much
freedom anymore with certain things, like being able to talk to you
whenever I want to. Believe me, I have much, much more freedom than
I've ever had in a lot of ways, but the place I am in now DEFINITELY
isn't perfect."

THE PLACE I AM IN NOW?! What the HELL is THAT supposed to mean?

"Daddy, we're together. We're at Percival Landing, remember?"

"Yes," he says softly.

"That we are."

For the first time during this whole ordeal, I feel distrusting of
Daddy. He isn't making any sense. And, the wind has either changed
direction or Daddy has started purposely blowing the smoke onto me,
because, suddenly, I find it repulsive. It's making me want to puke.

Bringing my feet down hard onto the oatmeal bark, I begin to attempt
to stop the swing. It takes seven hard kicks to the ground before
it's slowed enough for me to feel comfortable jumping off.

"Hey!" Daddy grabs my shoulders. The swing lurches, abruptly, to a
shrieking halt, then stands there, quivering with exhaustion, waiting
for me to get off and let it rest.

"Where're you going?"

"I need to stop for a minute," I tell him.

"Swing sick?"

I nod, feeling temporarily incapable of speech.

Tentatively, I stand up. The ground lurches underneath me, and I
begin to topple forward. If it weren't for Daddy rushing in front of
me to catch me, I would have done a face plant.

With one, quick, motion, Daddy has scooped me up into his arms. This
time, we're facing each other. I reach up and touch his nose.

It's a short but rather pointy nose. Nowhere nearly as big and long
as Jennifer's nose. And, unlike mine, it's bridge is short and
narrow, the nostrils, not as full or wide.

Wanting and needing to touch something on Daddy that we both have, I
reach down and, sure enough, it's still there. The tiny, deep dimple
at the bottom of the chin. In the exact same place where MY dimple
is.

Daddy just stands there, savoring the moment, savoring my touch. It
feels so good to be this close to him again. My distrust evaporates,
and I lean my head against his shoulder and just take in his familiar,
long-lost scent.

"Bryan's sure got one hell of an appetite," Daddy says after several
silent moments have gone by.

"Are you sure he's not going to eat the rest of the trees out of house
and home?"

That saying never has made much sense to me. Now, especially, it
doesn't. Trees don't have a house! They live outdoors.

For some silly reason, I start cracking up. Daddy looks at me for a
long moment, then joins in. Again, familiarity strikes. Like
before... like the old times, when I was younger and he was...

Well...

Around more often...

It's the only way I know how to describe it...

I could be thinking one thing and Daddy just inherently KNEW what was
on my mind. Rarely was an explanation for my random laughter or
outbursts of excitement necessary. He just KNEW!

When I was five, I was firmly convinced that Daddy had the ability to
read minds. Or, at least mine. I don't remember ever telling him
this, partly because I didn't want him to dismiss the thought, and
partly because I didn't want him to think I was a nutter. If Daddy
had assured me that he was, by no means, a mind reader, it would have
taken the fun out of this mysterious connection between us. So,
wanting to preserve my imagination, my innocence, I kept the thought
to myself and basked, joyfully, in the prospect whenever it reared its
playful, intriguing head from the deep recesses of my bottomless pit
of make-believe thoughts.

No one else shared this mysterious connection with me. When I was
around my mother's side of the family, or even around Daddy's mother,
and I would suddenly get lost in an uproar of uncontrollable laughter,
an explanation was ALWAYS necessary. No doubt about it.

"I'm SERIOUS!"

Daddy wipes his streaming blue eyes with the back of one hand when he
is finally able.

"That tree of yours hasn't stopped eating for a second since we
arrived! I think the other trees are having the same concern that I am
having. Just LOOK how closely they have packed together, heads bent
close together, as if collaborating with one another on how to evict
this tireless monster from their territory."

I take a peek. Sure enough, the trees DO seem to have banded closer
together. And, although the wind is still blowing a bit, they are
perfectly still. Too caught up in worry to relax their bodies and let
the wind rock them to and fro. They are as stiff and as unyielding as
dry, old, cardboard that hasn't been used in a very long time.

"Bryan is a very generous tree," I say loudly, more for the benefit of
all the trees than for Daddy. After all, Daddy isn't a tree. He
doesn't need to eat thousands and thousands of pounds of soil and rain
each day like the trees do.

"He will make sure there is plenty left over for everyone. And, I
don't really think it's possible for one tree, alone, to eat an entire
park's worth of rich, chocolate cake batter soil. Isn't that right,
Bryan?"

"NEVAEH INSIDE THE
NNNNNNNNNNN-EEEEEEEEEEEEE-YYYYYYYYYYYYY-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOO-WWWWWWWW-SSSSSSS-EEEEEEEEEEE!"

"What on EARTH did he just say?"

Daddy is immediately intrigued.

"He said "Nevaeh inside the nose."," I tell him.

"He has all sorts of ways of saying it according to his moods. But..."

Again, I find myself brought up short.

"But what?"

"You said to me earlier that you KNOW everything that goes on with me,
awake and in sleep. So, how couldn't you know what Bryan was trying
to say? This isn't something new that he's just started to do. He's
been saying Nevaeh inside the nose for YEARS now!"

I hate how this feels. Hate having to confront the only person in the
world who has ever fully accepted me for who I am. Well, mostly,
anyway. Chris has accepted me the most, even more so than him, but,
before Chris's time, it was Daddy who did all the accepting, who ruled
out condemnation and negative judgment of me.

Unlike Jennifer.

Unlike Giovanna.

Unlike Grumpy Grandpa.

And, even unlike Grandma Chris, his mother. We sure had gotten close
when I grew into a teenager, but there were many things that she just
couldn't accept about me. My active imagination was probably the
biggest one.

Daddy doesn't answer. He simply carries me over to Bryan, then sets
me on my feet.

"How's it goin' Bry?"

Daddy reaches over to touch one of Bryan's long, inviting branches.
Branches that are swaying, lazily, in the wind, which has started to
pick up again.

"Good," he answers Daddy in his usual growly way.

"Want some?"

"Oh, why the hell not. Blood sugar seems to be on the up and up.
Last time I checked anyway."

Diabetes? Daddy STILL has diabetes?

Then, he CAN'T be dead! How could he be? When you die, all your
ailments, all your suffering, all your pain...

It goes away, doesn't it?

That's what most everyone seems to believe anyway. Except those
crazy, fear-hungry, power tripping christians who try and instill the
fear of eternal hell fire into as many people as possible so as to
gain profit from the tithes of their god-fearing, obedient,
scared-to-death little followers. God's "flock of sheep."

Daddy drops down on all fours, lowers his head, opens his mouth, and
begins to hungrily eat the rich desserts all lumped together before
us.

I stand there, gaping at him. People can't eat grass! People can't
eat mud! People CAN'T EAT SOIL!

Sure, it is cake and mousse and batter to trees, shoes, my cane, etc.
But not to people. To us, it is indigestible, tasteless GRASS, with
cardboard tasting dirt underneath to serve as a nice choking hazard.

Or, is it?

"Come on, Mommy," growls Bryan.

"Come be in our world. It's way better than yours. Way more fun and
interesting."

"Yeah, it's okay," pipes up Mary Meyers as she hurls herself down next
to Bryan and begins wolfing down rich, sweet cake from rich,
well-cared for grass.

Nevaeh is next. She plops herself right down in between Daddy and
Bryan. Then comes Chrissie, and Smm Smm. All of whom are staring up
at me, absolutely shocked as to why I haven't joined them in
celebration yet.

"Well..."

I bow my knees, stoop a little lower. The rich smell of chocolate
drifts up to greet my nose seductively.

CHOCOLATE!

Am I REALLY smelling?...

No.

NO!

It CAN'T be!

STOP IT! It's GRASS! That's what you are looking at here, Ashlee!
Nothing more than grass, mud, and dirt.

Get a damn GRIP! None of this is real! Go home! Go to bed! The only
way to get rid of this is to sleep.

Panic sets in as reality runs up to grab me from behind in its death grip.

I don't know HOW to get back home. Honestly, if Daddy hadn't carried
me, I wouldn't have gotten here to begin with.

Trapped! Stranded! That's what I am.

And, there's not a single person in sight to ask for help on this
blustery, freezing November night.

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM!!!!

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Happy Birthday

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM!!!!

Dear Daddy,

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday dear Daddy,

Happy birthday to you.

Good, ole December fifth. Today, you would have been forty-nine.
Forty-nine! That's all! Yet, you never made it that far. Drugs and
alcohol robbed you of this birthday, as well as ten others. Drugs and
alcohol also robbed me of a father. They stole your personality, your
health, and, eventually and inevitably, your life. And, as if that
weren't enough, they took my very soul away along with yours.

It's a very sunny, cold day here in Olympia. A perfect fall day to
have a 'loungin day, warm and cozy in your trailer. Or, would you
have had a house by now?

Today is very much like it was eleven years ago when I found out you
had passed. Cold, clear, cloudless. It was on a day very much like
this one, that Bryan, my tree of laziness, had been created.

Despite the cold, people are out and about, frantically trying to get
their holiday shopping done. If I had a choice, I'd be outside, too.
But I can't go outside. Not yet.

The Housing Authority is conducting an inspection of my apartment
sometime today. Because poor people apparently don't have anything
better to do all day but wait for them to show up whenever it's
convenient, they told me that I need to stay home and wait for them
between the hours of eight AM and four PM. They don't have the key to
my apartment, so, naturally, I have to be the one to let them inside.

As time ticks by, the more nervous I am becoming. What if my house
isn't clean enough for them? My toilet is BEYOND filthy. Time and
time again I've tried to clean it with shampoo, because I hate the
stench of bleach, but it appears to have no effect on the perpetually
rusty, stained toilet bowl.

I'm SURE you know the reason behind my hatred of bleach. Every time I
get even the SLIGHTEST whiff of the horrid stuff, I'm immediately
brought back to Jennifer's house. And that's not a nice place to be,
neither in reality nor a mere flashback.

I wish the inspector would have come bright and early. If he had, I
wouldn't have time to feel nervous. In the morning, when I first get
up, I'm so groggy I don't care about ANYTHING. If he, meaning the
inspector, started giving me "grief", as you would say about the
unclean toilet or whatever else, it would have simply rolled right off
me.

Now, though, since I've had hours to mull over all the scenarios of
how the inspection could go, both good or bad, my morning carelessness
has faded away, and now, despite my efforts to stay calm and
confident, I have become nothing more than a giant bundle of nerves
inside.

Nerves... and questions.

If you were alive today, what would we be doing for your special day?
Where would you be living? In a house? Trailer? Mobile home?

Would you still be staying in Kitsap County? Or, would you have
migrated to Olympia so you could be closer to me and the
grandchildren. YOUR grandchildren!

Would you be eating lemon meringue pie, coaxing me to try just one
bite to see whether I have, by some miracle, developed a liking to it?
Would your mother and I still be on good terms? Would we all be
celebrating your day together, as a family should?

Or, would you still be the same, old person with the same, old
self-destructive habits that, ultimately, brought you to your demise?

What would I have bought you for your birthday? Something, no doubt,
that has to do with Star Wars...

But WHAT?!

Would we go to Red Robin and have them sing you happy birthday and
bring you a free hot fudge sundae? Or, would you have wanted a low key
celebration, as your mother often did?

Would you own a car? Or, would you ride public transit like me?

And, what would you think of your two, beautiful granddaughters?

Sweet jesus, the inspection is OVER!

Alex, the inspector, just came and went. I think I passed!

As he left, Alex commented on how easy it is to inspect an apartment
without any furniture in it. He was literally here for less than
noses (5) minutes, and, then...

BOOM! Gone, gone, gone like the wind.

Jennifer often bitches and bitches about me not having anything to do
with furniture, but you know what, Daddy? It makes living so much
easier, so much simpler.

If I had couches and chairs and coffee tables all over the place like
Jennifer wants me to, Alex would have had to move everything around so
as to get a better look at all the outlets and whatnot. It would have
taken him much longer to get the hell out of here!

Fuck Jennifer and her need to keep her house full of material shit.
It's fine if she wants to live like that, but it's not right for her
to go projecting that onto me.

Then, she wonders why on earth I never want to visit her, why I never
want to introduce her to the grandchildren.

But YOU would know Rachel and Amira, Daddy! You would have gone to
both births if you were alive, so long as you were sober. I would
have seen to that.

When I was in active labor with Rachel, I couldn't think of much due
to the excruciating pain I was often in. But one of the thoughts my
brain WAS able to conjure up during that hellish but beautiful time,
was how much I wished you were there. I longed for you to hold my
hand, to talk to me, to massage me "soft so it tickles."

Remember how I used to always say that to you when we gave each other
massages? You always seemed to love giving me back massages, soft so
it tickled. I, on the other hand, HATED giving you massages. Not so
much because it takes work to massage someone, but because your skin
was so dry and flaky that it always came off of your arms, legs, back,
and hands, and would almost ALWAYS wind up underneath my fingernails.
Oh, how I HATED the sensation of dry, flaky skin flakes under my
nails.

How would your skin be today? Would you have managed to find a product
that resurrected it after so many years of being dead? Or, would it be
just as it always was, dry, flaky, and always making you feel a great
urge to scratch, scratch, scratch, littering the floor with white skin
flakes as you continued to itch away.

Can you believe it, Dad? Alex didn't even CHECK the toilet! So,
basically, I wasted HOURS of my precious time scrubbing away at a
toilet bowl that simply REFUSES to ever be clean, only to have him not
even PEEK at it?!

I feel both elated and annoyed about this. Elated because he,
undoubtedly, would have said something about the disgustingness of the
toilet's innards. I mean, how could you NOT?

But I'm annoyed at myself for not having listened to Bryan. Time and
time again, he growled at me, telling me I was wasting my time on
something that didn't matter, something that WOULD never matter. Yet
I let fear envelop me, just as I pretty much always do.

Speaking of my imaginary friends, what would you think about them?
Would you think I had gone certifiably insane? Or, like everything
else I ever told you, would you accept what I had to say and accept me
for who I am? Just like you always did?

Just so you know, I AM, officially, certifiably insane. Smm Smm times
of being thrown into the loony bin will do that to you. I mean, they
HAVE to diagnose you with SOMETHING when you're in there to give the
APPEARANCE that they're actually doing their jobs. So, after only
talking to me for a whopping five minutes, I was given the label
BIPOLAR, Type ONE DISORDER, WITH PSYCHOTIC FEATURES, as an
afterthought.

What would you think of all the Satan stuff? How would you react to my
Satanic blog?

What if, all this time, you really HAVE been alive, and you suddenly
happened to come across this huge blog, filled to the brim with
various shows and stories, and discovered all these letters to you.
Would you be HAPPY to know just how often I think of you, how much I
miss you? Or, would you feel the same way the rest of them feel?
Disgusted and worried about me all at the same time.

I'm going to do something to honor your day today, a part from
publishing this letter. Nothing too huge, just like to keep it
simple. Something Jennifer never seems able to do.

Chris is taking Rachel to her physical therapy appointment to work on
her tilted head problem, so I think I'll dink off while he's doing all
that boring, mundane parent stuff and go get some rainbow sherbet with
chocolate ice cream, mix them together, and feast.

I love you, Daddy. Wherever you are, I hope you are okay. Maybe one
day, we will be together again, in a way where we can communicate. We
WILL be together in death someday, that is a given. But, wouldn't it
be nice to be able to talk again someday? To touch each other, to hold
hands, to share secrets no one else could ever know or understand but
us.

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM!!!!

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Late Night Visitor: Part 1

HAIL SATAN!!!!!!!!!

HAIL SMM SMM!!!!

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHH, I think to myself as I set the heavy cake pan down on
the kitchen counter by the never-used stove and oven in my apartment.

FEELS good to be home at last.

The cake, remarkably, is still intact, even though I hadn't held it
completely straight during the trek to my house. Even though I tried
to stuff the dollar store cake pan, unceremoniously, into my backpack
with no success.

It's a chocolate cake with chocolate frosting. My favorite. Chris
made it for me tonight. All of us, demons included, feasted on it
while it was still quite warm and the frosting just slightly melted on
the top, oozing down the sides of my large slice as I ate it.

I'm about to walk into my bedroom to listen to the radio when a quiet
knock sounds at my door.

WHO the HELL wants to contact me at three o'clock in the morning?

"You don't have to answer the door for anybody."

I can hear Chris's voice as the knocking persists. Chris isn't here,
though. It's a memory of him telling me that a while ago.

"Ashlee."

Daddy?!

NO! It can't be!

I stand there, completely frozen. The knocking finally stops.

"Ashlee. Ashlee. Ashlee."

"Daddy?"

Very slowly, I walk toward the door. Put my hand on the doorknob. Then wait.

"Yes, it's me. Please open the door."

THIS isn't REAL, I tell myself.

THIS isn't real. Your dad's dead. He's been dead for nearly eleven
years. You're having a hallucination, Ashlee, and a damn serious one.
Go to bed and sleep it off right now.

Yes, it has to be a hallucination. Daddy's gone! I'm losing touch with reality.

"Ashlee," the voice persists outside my door.

"Ashlee, don't be afraid. Please open the door. I want you to touch
my nose. In an earlier letter to me, you said how you wished you'd
gotten a chance to touch my nose. Well, here's your chance. I'm
right here. If you open the door, you'll see me. You'll be able to
touch my nose."

GO ahead, open the door, I think angrily to myself.

GO ahead! Nothing will happen. The moment you open it, you'll see
that there's nobody there at all. Then, you can put this all behind
you and go to sleep. If you challenge the voice or hallucination or
whatever the hell this is, it will go away. JUST DO IT!

My heart is banging in my chest. So hard it hurts to breathe.
Perspiration beads have popped up all over my forehead. I feel
slightly dizzy, slightly ill.

"You're NOT real!" I say angrily.

"Shut up and go away! I hate you! Leave me alone!"

Silence. Dead, bone-chilling silence. It sounds louder than ten
freight trains passing a train station all at the same time, while
blowing their whistles.

I hope I've done the right thing. My therapist has told me, as well
as Chris, come to think of it, to challenge the voices when they
invade my privacy. I've done it before, and, more often than not,
they retreat once it has been established that I am on to them and
know they aren't real

But, not always. Sometimes, they remain.

Very, very slowly, I turn the lock and open the door. I hold my
breath without even realizing it. It's a bad habit I've picked up,
somehow. I do it when I'm panicking.

I want so badly to see him on the other side of the door. I want so
badly for this NOT to be just yet another one of my hallucinations.

And yet...

And yet...

I, so badly, do NOT want him to be on the other side of the door.
PLEASE, my Dark, Unholy Lord, please, oh please, just let this be yet
another hallucination.

Because, if this really IS him, I'm afraid of what he will tell me.
He's got to be ashamed of me for sure. I've turned out so much like
Jennifer, and there doesn't seem to be a way to change that.

I've become a liar like her, I've ruined more than my fare share of
friendships, and I am the worst mother in the world. I am not a good
person, and I dread the day I get to see Daddy again, maybe in the
afterlife, where he will tell me openly what a piece of shit I have
become, before turning his back on me forever. How he used to think
that the only thing him and Jennifer ever did right together was
create me, but not anymore. Now, most likely, he thinks it's the
worst mistake he's ever made. Making me. And, he's right. It WAS
the worst mistake, and nothing will ever match up to it again.

I don't want to see Daddy. I'm too disgusted to show my face to him.

Slowly, the door opens. The hallway is brightly lit, and nobody is
walking around like usual during the daytime hours.

Everybody is asleep. Like I should be.

And, there he is. Just like he said he would be, standing very still,
right in front of my door.

He is wearing a white jacket. Or, I THINK it is white. It's the same
one he used to wear when...

When...

He was alive.

But, he IS alive! He's standing right here in front of me. Just
staring at me without moving, without speaking.

"Daddy."

My voice comes out in a choked whisper. I cannot BELIEVE this is happening!

Why, after eleven years, has he decided to show up now?! What is this all about?

"My god," he whispers.
"You are SO beautiful! I've missed you so, so much!"

Tears sting the back of my eyes. Slowly, I reach up to touch his
face, then abruptly let my arm fall back down.

I don't want to break the spell. Surely, this isn't real, and,
because of this, I can't touch him. If I do, he'll vanish instantly.
And, with much certainty in my gut, I KNOW that this will be the last
time I'll ever see him again.

"Come with me," he says softly.

"Don't talk, just come with me."

"Why can't I talk?" I whisper.

"Because it will disturb your neighbors. This isn't, exactly, a time
to be chitchatting in the hallway."

"But, YOU'RE talking."

SEE, this ISN'T real! If it was, people would already be opening their
doors, demanding us to go inside of my apartment and quit disturbing
the peace.

"Not necessarily," points out Nevaeh.

"It's the weekend. People that live in the city and in this complex,
in particular, are used to people coming and going at random hours on
weekends and, even on week nights, come to think of it. People, in
general, are more tolerant of noises and comings and goings during
weekends. So, nobody would think much of you talking out in the hall
at three-fifteen in the morning on a Saturday night."

"So, then, IS this real, Nevaeh?"

"Yes," she tells me confidently.

"He's right here. Reach up and touch his nose."

"Later, Nevaeh," he says quietly.

"When we get to the park."

Park? What park? I am confused.

"Go inside and put your warm, winter coat and shoes on."

I am about to obey, but fear suddenly grips my throat, tightening it
so much that I can barely get any air flowing through the airway.

"I need to touch you right now," I tell him.

"I need to know you are definitely real."

"Very well," he says.

Then, without warning, he reaches up and gently brushes my cheek with
one of his long, callused fingers.

Fingers that once played the guitar with stellar speed and confidence.
Fingers my uncle Mikey envied and tried to compete with, only to fail
miserably every time he tried.

Mikey always wanted to be as good as Daddy. But he never could be.
There was just nobody on Earth like my daddy.

Goosebumps appear all over my body. In a good way. All the anxiety
and doubt I have been harboring immediately melts away.

Yes, this is real, all right. And I'm going to go to the park with
Daddy and catch up on some very long and lost time.

I invite Daddy into my apartment, but he declines. I think this is a
bit odd, but I don't ask questions. There is no time to waste. I
feel like our time is very limited, not to be wasted with fruitless,
pointless questions.

So I hurry back inside, grab my coat, shove my feet rudely into my
sneakers, which complain loudly and try to bite my feet to show their
discomfort, and I let myself back out into the hallway. All the while
worrying that he will be gone when I come out.

He isn't. He is standing right where I left him.

Automatically, I reach out and grab his hand. It is warm and inviting
and I immediately sink into step with him.

His hand has dry, flaky skin just like before. This time of year
always was hard on his skin.

"Which park are we going to?" I ask him once we enter the elevator and
the door closes noisily behind us.

"Percival Landing," he responds as the elevator slowly makes its
descent to the lobby.

Percival Landing! That's Amira's favorite park. Mine, too, come to think of it.

"It's the only park around here that has swings," explains Daddy as we
stand together in the elevator, waiting for the door to open up.

"Amira really enjoys this park," I say to Daddy.

"I know," he tells me, guiding me out of the elevator.

"She's very much like you in a lot of ways. She makes me very proud."

There are so many questions that I have, yet I cannot bring myself to
ask even one of them. This is so surreal! I remain silent because I,
honestly, fear that, if I begin grilling him, he will suddenly
disappear.

I can't break this precious time with him, I can't! And, what kind of
a welcome back would that be, anyway?

Certainly, it would be Jennifer's style to immediately punch him again
and again with question after question after question. And, although
it is very tempting for me to do the same, I refrain.

Daddy opens the door with one, strong hand. It's cold as fuck
outside, but I don't care. My coat is unzipped and I shiver a little,
but I don't zip it up. I don't want to let go of his hand. EVER!

So I walk with him and let the night air mercilessly bite me with its
sharp, unyielding fangs. Frostbite fangs.

"Come on," Daddy says, suddenly coming to a halt just around the
corner of my apartment building.

"Hop on! Bet I can still give you a shoulder ride."

Laughing, I say, "Daddy, I'm not sixty pounds anymore!"

"Well, you're close enough. Now, hop on or we'll never make it to the park."

It's been so long since I've gotten a shoulder ride from Daddy. For a
moment, I just stand there, feeling stupid and self-conscious, because
I forgot how I used to get up there. Did he pick me up and swing me,
backward, onto his shoulder? Or, did I, somehow, climb up there on my
own?

"What, afraid I'll drop you?" he teases lightly. I can hear the
laughter in his voice. It isn't unkind laughter, though. It's filled
with undying love and compassion.

Suddenly, I find my feet leaving the ground. I scream loudly, very
much in surprise. I haven't been man-handled in a very long time.
I've forgotten what it feels like.

And, just like that, I find myself on top of Daddy's shoulders. On
top of the WORLD!

The scream turns into wild, joyful laughter as Daddy begins walking,
briskly, toward the park. Or, at least I THINK that's where we're
going. Why would he tell me otherwise?

Oh well. At the moment, I really don't care where we're going. As
long as I'm with Daddy, I feel safe and whole and happy.

"Wow, you have gained a pound or two," he says, panting a little, as
he continues to walk. I have my arms slightly wrapped around his neck
to keep from falling backward. Daddy is holding on to the lower half
of my legs, near my ankles, to steady me.

Just like the old times. The only difference is, it's now 2017 and
we're in Olympia instead of Indianola. Oh, yeah, and I'm a shit ton
older than I was when I got my last shoulder ride from him.

Percival Landing is quite close to my house. We get there in less
than five minutes.

Suddenly, fear grips me again as I realize something. A puncture
appears in my very inflated happy balloon. A puncture, I fear, that
may very well be the end of my happy balloon.

"Uh, Daddy?" I say, nervously squeezing his neck just a little.

"Hmmm."

"The park is closed right now. We can't enter it or else we'll get
busted for trespassing. I really don't want to go to jail. The idea
of jail really scares the living shit out of me."

Daddy merely laughs quietly.

"There's nobody here," he tells me.

"The cops have better things to do than patrol an empty, cold, wet
park at three-thirty in the morning."

"What are they doing?"

"There's a protest going on near the train station downtown. People
are blocking it again. Something having to do with coal or something.
Who knows what these hoodlums are rioting about now. Can't keep
track."

"Amen to that."

We reach the large lawn of the park. I can smell the sea air, mixed
with the smell of sweet, wet grass very strongly. The sky is very
damp. Another rainy and windy day lies ahead of us.

"Get as much chocolate mousse mud and cookie dough blizzard with
chocolate ice cream rain in your system as you can now, Bryan," I tell
him as Daddy's shoes squelch loudly in the very muddy grass. The
soil, here, is totally saturated. This is a perfect place for Bryan
to feast before the storm.

"Why?" he says in his growly voice.

"Because it's supposed to get very windy later, and, when that
happens, I want you inside."

Bryan says nothing to this. When I turn back to make sure he's going
to mind me, I hear him already munching away on the yummy, rich mousse
mud underneath the chocolate cake grass, with chocolate cake batter
soil thrown in to the smorgasbord as well.

Embarrassment floods me, suddenly, as I realize I've been talking
aloud to Bryan. SURELY, Daddy doesn't know about my imaginary
friends. He COULDN'T know! And now, he, undoubtedly, thinks I'm a
loony toon. Great!

"Sorry," I whisper ashamedly, lowering my head and closing my eyes.

"I still talk to myself a lot. Never quite broke out of that habit,
though Jennifer tried just about everything to get me to do so."

"Gotta give her credit for trying, eh?) says Daddy with a heartfelt laugh.

"She never could tame you. Neither could I, though, honestly, I never
wanted to. In my eyes, you were my perfect little angel. I loved you
more than anything."

Why is he using the past tense? He doesn't feel the same about me
anymore. I KNEW it!

But then again, how could he after who I have become? I was RIGHT to
be afraid and ashamed for Daddy to see who I truly am. I was right to
not want to open the door. I wish I wouldn't have.

"What's wrong?.

By now, Daddy has stopped walking. It is so dark outside. The sky is
so heavily clouded over that no moon or stars can be seen. Yet, I can
tell that we have reached the swings.

"I'm just thinking about who I have become. You don't love me anymore, do you?"

"Hey, come on!"

With one sweeping motion, he has me back on solid ground. This time,
I don't squeal. I'm too caught up in misery and self-hatred to notice
much of anything but what I'm currently feeling.

"Honey, I will NEVER, EVER stop loving you."

With that, he throws his arms around me, shoving me against his chest.
He is so warm and there is a very faint smell of cigarette smoke and
unlaundered clothing. I inhale deeply, taking it all in.
Immediately, I am comforted.

There is no need for me to say "Really?", or "How can you still feel
this way even after everything you've seen? How can you still love me
when you've just now witnessed that I talk to imaginary friends?"

All feelings of self-loathing disappear. Staring up into Daddy's
face, I whisper, "I love you, Daddy. Never leave me again."

"Okay," he whispers, leaning in to kiss me warmly on the lips.

"But you'll have to come with me."

There is no time to speculate on what he means by this. His kiss
touches my lips and I am immediately lost to the sensation. It is
very unlike my mother's and grandmother's icky kisses that they so
freely lavished onto me, even though they were never asked for or
welcomed.

It is a dry kiss, for one thing. Their kisses are always wet and,
more often than not, they leave lipstick marks on my cheek or lips or
wherever the kisses are planted.

When DADDY kisses me, I am immediately warmed up inside, from the very
tippity top of my head, all the way down to the points of my stubby
toes.

And, his kisses are always welcome. I even look forward to them.

"Come on," Daddy says, breaking away from my embrace.

"Get on the swing. I want to push you hard and high into the night."

Rejuvenated by the physical closeness, I race over to the nearest
swing, hop on, and laugh as I hear Daddy's footsteps approaching me
from behind.

"Hope old age hasn't gotten you into the habit of being swing sick,"
he says with a laugh as he gives the swing a mighty shove.

I do, unfortunately, secome to swing sickness from time to time, but,
tonight is going to be different. I just know it.

So I say to him, "Nope, I'm still a spring chicken! You can push me as
high as you want and everything will stay inside."

"Good," he says, giving the swing yet another violent push.

"Because watching someone puke isn't, exactly, my idea of fun."