I wanted to walk., to talk, without the goos and woos of my tongue. I wanted to be understood without really knowing it. As if my toes already knew what the ground tasted like; as if my thighs already hungered for the carpet; as if my hands wanted to eat at the branches of trees; as if my mind was ready to refuse my father.
I wanted to go to school, like the little girl in pigtails across the street. Her strawberry hair flowing through purple rounded beads. She skipped alongside her father, looking up at him like a star in the sky. Her long socks touching her healing scaly knee, skirt grazing her thighs, her hand tight around his pinky. Father and daughter.
I wanted to be a big kid, out on the blacktop. Not needing naptime, not fighting over a stuffed animal with a girl named Britney. The big kids weren’t sectioned off in a gated playground with the constant hawk-stare of the kindergarten teachers. They weren’t fenced away in a prison, they all had different faces, unrecognizable.
I wanted my voice, like the way an eighteen year old had it. Teenagers decided what to do with their lives and were able to do whatever they wanted. I watched them draw out their keys from their front pockets, whirl it around their fingers and sit in their new cars. Able to speak their minds, burn bridged with family members that were never really there in the first place.
I met my father, who waved at me distantly. Who took faded in and out of my life like dying batteries, a looming gray cloud. He got me a stained stuffed animal, he thought I liked pony when I really liked bugs. He wanted a cheerleader, not a daughter who would speak out her mind in rambles, a freight train. I reminded him of my mother.
I wondered what I would look like at fifteen. If my fading brown hair would be long and straight, wobbling past my bottom. I wondered if I would have the fair skin, without the acne dimpling into my body. If my lips would be full and rounded like the girls in the magazines. If my stomach would stay sunken back behind my ribs, not layered in fats and jiggly skin.
My father had another daughter and told me she was my sister. She wasn’t. She won’t be because in the future, I will have never met her and even sometimes forget her name. He will become a father to her and for the rest of her life, she will be his only daughter.
This was the year of my first serious relationship. Wasn’t he suppose to be taller, protective, and may be even have a deeper voice? When I received my first kiss, I imagined that there was going to be a spark or a firework that would rain around the small space between us and hold onto our lips, to us. Holding onto our feelings like the color pink. Pink latching onto our bodies like mummies, but there was nothing.
It was my first heartbreak. When I felt the shatter in my stomach, felt the dribbled of my feeling release from my lips. It was the age that I saw what a man could do. Manipulation embracing his face like some circus clown. He held up the whip, making sure all the tigers did the tricks, held up the signs to remind the crowd to applaud. Men became scary to me.
I didn’t want to look at them, not the way that they pushed their hair from their moss eyes. I wondered what drove them to take women, what allowed them to get away with rape. What allowed their future to be put above all else, “did you lead him on?”
“He has such a bright future, don’t do this to him.”
Months before eighteen hits, I wonder if it will feel different. If being on my own in less than a year will hurt. If I will still be afraid of the men who hurt me, who would wonder what I could offer. I wonder if I will be protected. If there will be punishments longer than three months for the men who hurt us women. If there will be no more excuse.
If I could go back to being young, to when I was five and I was surrounded by that fenced playground with people all around ready to pick me up by the shoulders, bandage me up, kiss away the pain.
I am reminded that, my younger life will never come back into my grasp, that’s it over and it’s time to grow up. That I will have to push myself up, on hands and knees, and find the light again.