My Daughter’s Background

I have no bloody idea where this is going, though I can tell you it factors into LMNN, somehow; it’s rather shoddy and not at all edited, but it’s the first coherent bit of fiction I’ve managed to kick out in a couple of months – happy pills are great, but while they’re fiddling with dosages and assorted medical cocktails involving them, it plays hell on both sleeping and the creative process – so I felt like sharing. Let me know what you folks think!

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Mommy wasn’t always mean. Sometimes I think I remember her pressing her face into my hair and sniffing, laughing with me when I started giggling because it tickled. Other times I think about when she brought the puppy home and hugged us both tight-tight.

But I know I remember her coming into my room one night, and she was all gross and sad with snot hanging from her nose and tears coming out of her eyes, and a big soggy wad of Kleenex in her hand. She said a lot of things then, about being a tough little guy, and how I needed to be to strong.

I remember the brown bottles that smelled real bad. Mommy’d aways had a few of those bottles, there were lot more after that, and Mommy smelled like them a lot more of the time.

I don’t remember my Daddy. He was super tall, so tall he made the sun go away if he stood in front of it, and his face was always scratchy, no matter how much Mommy chased him with the razor. I remember sometimes he’d yell when him and Mommy were downstairs and they thought I was asleep. I remember one time I saw him scratching Miss Winters’ back really hard while they were hugging, and both of them were making funny noises. That’s the last time I saw Daddy, and almost the last time I saw Miss Winters, except that time she came to the door and Mommy got real mad and threw things at her.

I remember Oscar. How he smelled when we’d been out in the yard, playing in the grass that Daddy used to mow, and Mommy didn’t – good – and how he smelled the last time I saw him, when Mommy got mad because he’d knocked over one of her bottles and spilled the stinky stuff all over the floor – real bad, so bad Mommy put him in the shed.

After Daddy and Oscar were both gone, it was just me and Mommy and my dollies. They were my friends, and we had lots of fun. Not when Mommy was home, because she’d get mad and say we were too loud and sometimes she’d come in my room, all scary and sometimes bloody, and kidnap one of my dolls, and a few minutes later the furnace would come on and it’d smell like the time Gina put her pretty Elsa plate on the stove when it was still hot and it got all melted. Anytime that happened, we’d have to hold a funeral, because I knew they weren’t coming back.

Sometimes I wondered why there hadn’t been a funeral for Daddy or Oscar. They went away and never came back, so they should have them. I asked Mommy about it once, but she didn’t answer, just started crying, so I went and hid in my room and asked my dolls, and they said I could have my own funeral for them, so I did. I did a sermon and everything, and then I drew pictures for them, to show them if they were watching like Miss Winters used to say dead people did.

I kept the pictures on my shelf, behind my dolls, and so Mommy didn’t see them at first. Not until I’d had a lot more funerals.

I only had one dolly left when Mommy found the pictures. She was my favorite, so I always hid her when I heard Mommy coming, or acted like one of the others was my favorite when she caught us. I know it sometimes hurt her, so I always apologized and gave her cookies or let her hide under the covers with me to show her she was the best, but I still worried that sometimes she was extra sad about me acting like I loved someone else better.

She was my favorite because she was sad all the time. She had a little tear, even, and always was holding out her hand because she just wanted someone to hold it. I could tell her all the things that were making me sad, and hold her hand, and then she could cry them out and they’d be gone.

That’s why I kept the pictures with her. They made me happy because I knew Oscar and Daddy could see them and would remember me, but also sad because Oscar wasn’t there to wag his tail and lick my face, and Daddy wasn’t there to lift me up and scrub my cheek with his and call me his little Punkin.

I wanted to share them with someone, somebody who could tell me they were good and that they loved me for making them.

Mommy wasn’t always mean, but I didn’t really remember the last time she said she loved me. Even before she got really mad and sad, she didn’t say things like that, even though she acted like it. Sometimes I told my dolly that I wondered if she was just pretending, the way I was pretending that some other doll was my favorite so Mommy wouldn’t hurt the sad dolly, but she never answered me.

The time Mommy was meanest was when she found the pictures. She’d come in my room when I was sleeping, but the door creaking woke me up. I kept my eyes mostly shut, though, because the last time I’d let her know I was awake, she’d sat at the edge of the bed and stared at me for a long time before she started telling me a story, which I thought would be nice, but pretty soon the prince was being mean to the princess and the castle basement was full of monsters and the princess was all alone until she captured some of the monsters and drug them upstairs, but she didn’t make friends with them, she just hurt them to make her own hurt better. It was really scary, and I kept having nightmares about the monsters in the basement coming up to eat me or hurt me like they had been hurt, and sometimes I would think that Mommy was the princess in the story, and maybe me or my dollies were the monsters. So I pretended to be asleep.

She stood in the doorway, breathing funny. It was hard to see her because she hadn’t left the hall light on – the hall light, and my nightlight, had been gone since after Daddy left and before Oscar went to the shed – but it was easy to smell her. I wondered if maybe she’d been sick or had gone and filled up the tub with the brown stuff and tried to take a bath in it or something. If she’d been a cartoon, I bet there’d have been those wavy lines all around her, but this wasn’t a cartoon or a scary story, this was real.

Mommy had two things in her hands. One was blocky and brown, probably one of her medicine bottles.

The other thing I didn’t recognize but it made me shiver. Something about it was scary; the long shape, the little bit of shine coming from it, the way she was holding it up near her face. It looked bad. Badder than what my dollies looked like when I saw them in the trash after their funerals, badder than Oscar when Mommy put the rope around his neck and drug him away, badder than Miss Winters when Mommy sent her away after she hit her and yelled at her, badder even than the sheets on the nights when Mommy’s stories about the princess and the monsters made me sick or wet the bed. It was just bad. The worst bad ever.

“Little bitch.”

Mommy’s voice didn’t sound like her at all. It was gruff and scary, lower and meaner than when she told me about the troll that wants to eat the goats. And she said a swear, that she hadn’t done before, at least not when I was around.

She walked past me, not even looking at the bed, but going to the shelf where my sad dolly sat, watching her with teary eyes and one hand stuck out. I didn’t think Mommy wanted to hold hands, though.

Mommy walked up to my dolly and lifted the bottle to her face. I heard it sloshing, so it must have been pretty full. Maybe ti was an extra, a reward Maybe Mommy wasn’t actually mad, but was having a party or giving away presents. Mommy didn’t seem in the mood for a late Christmas, though.

She took her other hand, the one with the shiny thing, and swept my dolly off the shelf. My dolly went flying into the corner, landed on her head, and her tear fell off. The drawings I’d done fluttered into the air and started falling slowly. Mommy snatched one of them and stared at it for a long time. She started shaking, like she was cold, but it was warm in my room.

I was afraid. I didn’t know what I was scared of, but I knew something was very wrong. I wanted to rescue my dolly, wanted to run away, wanted to do something, maybe even just make everything the way it was before Daddy went away, when they fought sometimes but they were both there and both loved me.

I did the only thing I could. I tried to pull the covers over my head and roll over. I even made a fake snore. Maybe Mommy would think I was sleeping and feel bad that she’d almost woken me up and she’d go away, like a bad dream. Maybe all of it was a bad dream.

Mommy knew. She started talking, waving my drawing around and making flapping sounds with it. I hoped she wasn’t ripping it…

 

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There’s more, but my hands hurt a little too much from transcribing all of that, so I haven’t had a chance to copy the rest of the pages into Pages or Scrivener. We’ll see where this one goes… wish me luck!

 

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