Monday, April 25, 2016

On The Subject of Secrets


In the interest of inhabiting that braver me that I imagine, I share with you an excerpt from a work-in-progress, tentatively titled Surface Tension:

Are you the sort of person uncomfortable with secrets?  Well then there's a difference between you and me right there. I've got a lot of secrets and so, in a self-preservation kind of way, I'm comfortable with them. But just let me be clear: I don't keep things to myself because I'm particularly secretive, it's just that the kind of things I'm talking about rarely come up in conversation. I spend a lot of time in polite company. And I learned early on that it's more than secrets that make people uncomfortable. Sometimes it's truth. So to save everyone I just keep a lot of things to myself.

As I've said before, so much of our truth comes down to the stories we tell ourselves. This week I marked the day, three years ago, of my mother's death. Her leaving released me from my long held desire to protect her from having to bear the weight of the damage done. It was better to just pretend that we had all escaped, but in truth, that just made the reckoning of it even more inescapable. For me, anyway. And at this point, I'm the only one left.

Maybe my rememberings aren't exactly correct. It's difficult to look at the situation from outside of the girl I was. To get another perspective on those years when I was mute, you'd have to ask my mother but she's dead and anyway I don't think she noticed much. I don't think anyone else did either, we were all only trying to get by. And if you don't count the people living in the house, that leaves exactly no one who knew what was going on or would remember. The only guests I ever remember having at 737 were loud Uncle Auggie and his wife, Sissy. It was just that once when we all ate a meal together on the good plates in the dining room and my father leaned over and said about the roast beef: Put some salt on it, it'll taste better.  Eating was another thing I didn't do much of, but it was the only advice I ever got from him so I took it and still remember the feeling of choking back that dry, salty meat. I would have liked to say something to them, those large people so strangely occupying a silent house where no one noticed when you didn't speak and might have even preferred it that way.  

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