306 Words About My Alcoholic Father

I talk about you in the past tense and people avert their eyes with sympathy. I talk about you like you’re a ghost, a fictional narrative from hundreds of years ago. I talk about you as if you’re dead… But you’re still in the basement, getting drunk on $2 beer and yelling at the referee.

I inherited my tremor from you, and my small, cramped handwriting. You called yours, “chicken scratch.” When I was ten and wrote stories in a notebook, you bought me a manual on self-publishing. I left it untouched on my desk and you yelled at me for “not using my resources.

I know nothing of your past before me. Eighteen years under the same roof and you were still a stranger to me. You scared me when your voice became thunder and your footsteps were like lightning. Living with you was like tiptoeing around a landmine.  I was always consumed with fear you would explode all over the house.  I lay awake in my bed at night, afraid that you would come inside. The idea of you overpowered me and I lost myself in paperback pages, listening for the creak of the bedroom door

I was nine when you kicked me in the knee. My body hit the ground and suddenly I was a crumpled mass. Tears streamed down my face and you apologized, not for hitting me, but for not hitting me hard enough.

As a freshmen in high school, I was violated by your words when you told me that I had “nice legs.” Anger and disgust welled up inside me but I had learned to say nothing. I felt your eyes draping into my skin as I walked out of the garage. Your words crawled under my clothes and left me feeling dirty. I will never forget that feeling.  But I am forgetting you. TC mark

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