““Family always finds its way back” That was her mantra. Sometimes I’d catch her staring at me, deep in thought. It was like she was plotting something from the very beginning, like she knew I was never enough and that one day, one day she’d have no use for me and I would end up alone, broken, weak and held prisoner by a mad man.
I was never the strong one; that was my older brother. He had the looks, the charm and the slick tongue that found a way to get him just as much into as it did out of trouble.
I was never like that. I was never like any of them.
That had to be why she sold me. I hope I was worth it.
“Fire of the Lord” That’s what our surname meant. So my mother, who spoke more and more about the importance of family the bigger her belly got, drilled it into our heads that all we had to do was follow the smoke, because that’s where the fire will be, that’s where family will be.
But I couldn’t do that even if I wanted to. It’s been days since anyone’s offered anything more than a cold, tasteless meal and a quick senseless beating.
The beatings are something I kind of miss now.
Part of me hates myself for thinking like that, but I can’t help it. When he beats me, the man my mother sold me to who always smells like cigarettes, at least then I know I’m not invisible. At least then, in between the screams and the cries and the begging, I know that he sees me and he knows I’m still here. Without the beatings, I’m scared that he might forget about me and the food will stop coming.
I wish I had been invisible before I was brought here. If my mother hadn’t seen me and I had been part of the furniture and nobody felt threatened by me, or if I was quiet and didn’t eat too much, maybe then my mother wouldn’t have done what she felt she needed to do.
If I was smart enough, though, I would have seen it coming. She did warn me. She’d always tell me that I didn’t belong with them. She told me I was beautiful and delicate and too precious. She must have been lying. Nobody throws away something that’s beautiful.
I’ve been in the dark for too long. The boarded window just below the ceiling is the only thing that gives away the day and night. Right now it’s too dark, so it must be night.
My mother must have had her reasons for giving me up, so I can’t hate her for doing what she did. We’re not a rich family; it’s just the three of us, probably four now, and so each of us has to work hard and make sure we provide for the family. This was her way of providing for the family. I can’t hate her for surviving.
It just means that I have to survive too. Maybe if I showed them that I can be strong too, that I can be a fighter and I can work hard too, maybe then my mom will keep me.
All I have now is a box with two matches, a wooden door, boards against a window and the clothes on my back.
If I make a big enough fire, maybe they’ll see the smoke and come find me.
This is how I’ll prove to them that I can be better, before the smoke takes over my lungs and before the fire takes everything, maybe they’ll see that I’m just like them. Maybe they’ll see that I’m family.”
“I would fall apart”
“I would get back up again and move along. Life’s short; you fall and you get back up and go at it again”
“My husband would be right there to pick up the pieces”
“I don’t know if I would be able to pick myself up again”
“Everything I held back, from years ago to last week, would come crashing down on me and I would literally suffocate. I’m a ball of repressed emotion; I would not survive an open wound”
“I would look for someone to help save me, maybe. Maybe I’d let it be and fall apart and just let it happen”
“I would definitely let it all out. I don’t want that toxicity in me. I’d rather fall apart today, than keel over tomorrow because of all the stress I put my heart through”
“I would pray; seek counsel from the bible and hope that those who have gone through it have encouraging words for me in my time of need”
“I wouldn’t want to come back. I would remain in that nightmare, swallowed whole by it and I would surrender to it because I think it’s a safe space in its own way. Our minds can’t cope with something, an external, stressful and dangerous stimulant, so our mind goes to the darkness to help save what little sanity we have left. I would remain there where I have a shot at being whole”
“I fall apart everyday and I’m made better by it”
“I would document it. I’d use the experience to feed future literary journeys. I would welcome it hey”
“I’d have to reassess my entire life and the people in it if I fell apart and had nobody to turn to”
“I would remain with myself. I want to come undone in the privacy of my own evils so I can exorcise them in my own way, deal with them accordingly and come back with a clean slate. That way I can do it over again and wait for the next time I fall apart”
the gentrification of my emotional self has come to an end.
It ends when the realisation that I too, the self they came so save, have been left destitute and displaced by beings who wield maturity like warriors in battle, deftly and with skill inherited from a bloodline of emotional
privilege sureness superiority.
This obvious operation will now come to an end, because the boy you so carelessly moulded into a distorted version of obedience has broken and is baring the wounds you carved into his skin for the world to witness.
I and he will no longer cater to your desires. We will no longer look to your aspirations. You are not the beacon here.
The light arrives in the night, when the wall has fallen, when the shackles have been broken, when votes have been cast, when the flag has been raised.
The light has arrived, the regalia donned and the salute offered because I am here to stay and I am proud of who I am.
You were always my muse
I used your image, the lines on your face, the timber of your voice, the smell of your skin as fodder to fuel my literary libations.
I took the words you so innocently offered me, the touches you so carelessly threw my way and the confusing in my direction to create worlds, emotions and feelings that hinged on the very breath and word you possess.
I used you.
I took what you had, what you had given me and I used it all to fashion a universe where our casual encounters, gentle and often heated exchanges were more than figments of a vibrant imagination, but they were water and air, and life, they were real.
I made sure to inhale as much as you could unknowingly offer, held it all in and breathed life into the very creations that fixed me… tried to fix me.
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