I drive away from you.
As the distance between us grows, I expect to feel calmer, safer. But adrenaline still pumps through my heart, pushing through my veins. My body sings with the luxury of a new emotion: anger. It takes all worry about what the future brings and pushes it into the backseat. For now, I’m free from you. From your judgment, your rules, your temper.
Your fucking rules. At first, they felt random and haphazard, but you carefully crafted them to stack the deck against me. The house always wins, so you became the house.
You are worthless. Selfish. Inconsiderate bitch. You can’t do anything right.
Just like building a snowflake out of a piece of paper, you started with something whole, then cut away the excess. A snip here, a cut there, the unwanted parts of me sloughed off, falling to the cutting floor. Self esteem, feelings of love and hope, a sense of fairness—you punched your holes, snipped your corners, and I unfurled, exactly in the shape you wanted. How pretty.
A snowflake doesn’t know it was ever anything else.
I keep driving, saying aloud the things I never could say to your face. Like how you never did a goddamn thing for me. I did your laundry, washed your dishes, cleaned your floors, mowed your lawn. When I got my license, I ran your errands. Everything you ever did for me served you in the end. Over the years, I got skilled at looking behind the curtain to find your true motivation.
Even “favors” that wouldn’t cost you a thing, like a night at a friend’s house, you’d make me pay. “What are you going to do for me?” My whole life, I’ve been paying. Paying back, paying with time, paying with favors.
Paying out of my own hide.
You called it discipline, but I was onto you. There was nowhere to put the misery of your forty-year-old, dead-end life, besides your own fists.
I learned when to hide. Like a mouse hiding from an owl, I hunkered down, flattened my ears, breathed shallowly. I’m not here. I’m invisible. Fueled by alcohol and god-knows-what, your nocturnal hunt never ended well for me. You screamed and raged and punched and slapped your anger into my skin.
You never were sorry.
I keep driving, turning over the pieces of my anger like stones in a pocket. I revisit each time you hurt me, replaying the scene in my head.
Like the time I decided you would never hurt me again. I begged you to stop and you wouldn’t. Please stop. Please, Mom. Please. Please.I felt blood coming out of my nose, out of my mouth. My tooth went flying through the air.
That night, I sat on my bed with my head bowed and my own tooth in my hand. This wasn’t life; it was a long, slow death.
Today, though, I wouldn’t let you hit me. I hit you, instead.
I hit you and fucking ran.
I start screaming at you, though I know you’re not here. Or, are you? These stones I carry around with me, they’re you. They’ll always be with me, a part of me that I can’t shake. I scream until I’m hoarse, until there’s nothing but the tears I would never let you see me shed.
I can’t stop driving. If you catch me, I’m dead. Maybe you’ll kill me; maybe you won’t. If you fail, I will succeed.
Maybe I’m already dead.
I just keep driving.