I’m wandering through a fog. Spinning in inadvertent circles and bumping up surprised into the same unknowable chunk of landscape.
Tears spring up unbidden and spill onto my throat as I drive to work. No words inhabit me, only a few visuals and a gut tightening stab of unnamable emotion.
A mop of dark curly hair and large slightly almond shaped eyes in a narrow face peering over the counter into the bathroom mirror. A deadpan expression hides the hopeless fear and distress . A slash across my throat oozes blood from its swollen edges. The rest of the bruises and cuts are invisible to me in this mirror and I will myself to inhabit this world where there is no more blood. If I bend my knees a little I can’t see anything but a skinny little girl staring into a mirror, not even crying.
Losing weight is bringing this skinny little girl back into focus.
Every week we go to take care of my father-in-law. Last week he was drunk and abusive and demanding that all attention and all eyes should be on him at all times. There was blood all over the kitchen and on his hands. He didn’t realize that he had cut himself . He had tried to open a bottle of wine with a pair of nail scissors. He raged that people are breaking into his apartment and drinking his vodka.
I find myself at the table with my step-grandfather, staring at his hands as his self-important stream of consciousness flows over and around me. I was not hungry; I did not want to be there, eating a meal with or looking at the man who had just violated and shamed me. My grandmother was frantically feeding me. Forcing more food onto my plate, willfully misunderstanding my polite refusals. She must have known; she knew about her daughters, and the other granddaughters. I wonder about my aunt Mary. She died in that house at 22, with a toddler and a belly full of cancer. Did he leave her alone at the end?