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What my dad didn't hear
He almost hit me today -- again. He stopped short and socked the couch next to my head instead. I recovered from the shock quickly this time, managed to stiffen the quiver in my lip. A severe cold flooded my system. Despite what I knew about alcohol, I imagined this was what a sizable amount would feel like when pulsing through my body: its frosty grip constricting blood vessels and turning my organs to ice. 'this is new' a voice in my head commented, in a removed sort of way, as if watching the situation unfold from a perch on the ceiling beam dad had installed last spring. It was the same voice that told me to keep typing. 'just keep your hands on the keyboard - don't let him think he's won.'
"And don't you think -" his 'tough' voice echoed in the spacious room, reverberating off pale green walls; but the voice in my head thundered louder yet. More cold. I wondered what chemical my body had released to make me feel this, wondered if they sold it in bottles.
He always got angry when he knew I was right, I reminded myself.
He had accused me of spending too much time on the computer, I told him it was homework. He pointed to the screen where words appeared at a speed that had taken me all of middle school to master.
"Don't tell me that's homework!" He's part of an older generation. He thinks homework ends at 10 lb. textbooks and lined paper. I shove the laptop screen back so he can get a better view.
"A.C.T writing essay" I read aloud, "No. I'm just doing this for fun." Out of the corner of my eye I could see his face tightening, the pitted jowls redening, despite his already ruddy complexion. And that's when he swung.
'Keep typing, even if it's just words, even if you have to change it later'
He was sputtering nonsense, still fumbling for the power he lost the day I began to think for myself. "Don't think you can control me, don't think you can control yourself!"
'Like hell I don't' the voice laughed. 'Can't you see me now, daddy? How my throat doesn't tighten anymore? My voice doesn't break and my eyes don't well up? I can keep the paragraph on the screen growing, and harbor my frosted heart, despite your s***-spew. How's that for control?'
"Not while you are in MY house!" words fell upon themselves, tumbling through the air. There it was: The Elephant In The Corner. That you view me as some temporary parasite feeding off your household. You never fail to remind me that none of it belongs to me, that I would have no part in it if you had your way.
If I don't think, it doesn't hurt. So I'll do the thinking later, when I'm alone - But I find that even in the security of my room, I am frozen. Every time he treats me like I am worthless I want to retaliate with all the facts of my life he knows nothing about: the boys who like me, the friends who care, and how damn lucky he is I stay out of trouble when it is accessible to me at every moment. None of it will make a difference. He still won't love me. I'll still wish he were dead. There's a stark contrast between me and other girls who complain about how embarrassing their dads are: "I wish he wouldn't sing when my friends are around!" they whine, while I silently reply..."I wish mine would choke."