I start to count down the words:
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CHILDHOOD WAS A RIDE IN THE RED AND BLUE
(the title counts too right?)
Imagine you are six years old, the world around you before this point shone a dismal shade of short-term blackness.
Your first memory begins as your fathers pickup truck -the soft leather of the seat beneath your feet, wind blowing through your hair- speeds down a Northern highway somewhere between your hometown and one of the many hamlets that makeup the rightwing prairies you were unfortunately born into.
No one knows why a mother would take her own daughters life in such danger, but to you this ride is the first time Mom has ever paid more than an ounce of attention to her only daughter, to you this memory will always be full of the sweet smells and blissful freedom of childhood.
Why is it when you look back even now that smile still feels somehow right?
You can close your eyes and smell the faint sweetness of a strawberry shaped air freshener dangling below the rearview mirror, Jack Daniels flows freely across her lips, not a drop wasted through the cigarette clinging to her lip, and a can of MGD balances next to the well of menthol butts in the ashtray. People may think this an odd combination for your first memory of happiness, but we all have those smells that take us back, this happens to be yours.
“Come on Audrey… Dance baby!” she screams through the menthol haze cranking the Barbra Streisand ballad to Max and swerving ever so slightly off the road. Even the tiny hairs on the back of your head feel for just a moment the freedom that is the open air as your body is tossed this way and that with the swerving car, you cling to the open window and stand back up gaining your dancing feet. She laughs, her voice was less… coarse then, full of airy wonder, and you laugh too.
You are only five miles from your town but you could have been to the moon for your excitement when Mom turns to you to ask “What does that sign there say Au’ baby?” You look in quickly before it passes and then back to Mom, the wind blowing your long curly brown hair around the truck cab, your hat long lost to the open road, you shrug.
“Bloody...” she pulls over to the shoulder next to the farm of a lady in a flower hat. You can remember her smile, not like your own mothers but full, questioning. Mom leans over you to ask the smiling lady in the flower hat what direction we are traveling. Her hair smells like this memory.
Imagine you are six years old, your first memory is preceded by the smells, and sounds, and excitement of spending an hour alone with your mother, completely without reason or appeal.
Your happiness begins as you climb the two feet of freedom and ride for the first time in the front of a police car.
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500 words! (well 499 but who's counting)
Why I choose second person I do not know, maybe I knew it was not my story, maybe I knew I had to tell it this way to devoid the emotion of not really being there. All I can truly say is putting it down in black and white makes me feel some how fraudulent. My mother may not have been there for me emotionally but she definitely did not abandon me, she would never hurt me.
It is sad, I have always wanted to be hurt, just to feel I am worth my own voice, to know I can heal and so I can have a life worth knowing. When my father left I was so young, he was never really apart of me.
Could he be the other in the life I could have lived?
Am I the faded framed photo sitting somewhere he looks to wishing, knowing he made a mistake?
Or are these just again the stories I tell myself incase the life I live is not good enough?
In this story maybe I am the driver, hazardous, carefree, intoxicated with power. Maybe the YOU is truly the other option, voiceless not from fear but lack of choice.
I have never allowed myself to be hurt just in case I would never heal.