I keep thinking what’s going to happen after they both sign the papers
A bald headed eagle, with hands that moved too fast and ears that rarely listened. He is a hot cup of coffee I was constantly trying to balance but I got burned too much, I learnt how to let the water cool before I poured it into the cup, how to stay awake without it, how to keep warm without the heat. Until I stopped making coffee.
He is the reason why I hate louds, sudden and harsh, why my body shudders and hands shake dropping plates to floors at the random sound of my name in a high pitched voice. The reason why guns on screens feel like they have pierced my flesh, loud, unpredictable and hot, ten years old with palms stretched out flat against the wall, the anticipation, the wait, the feeling after the second, third, or fourth lash always felt like the first. He taught me love came in the form of formal greetings, tears, pizza, that bike that never came and keeping up appearances. I know that blood doesn’t mean family, he took me in, raised me in a way he best knew how.
I first learnt hate that day, the day the broom bend against my knee and the kitchen wooden spoon was headless. I felt it stem from a place so deep I imagined hell was build on, even as I wiped the traces of urea from the floor in the hallway, I could hear his heavy breathing over the sound of men chasing a ball. I still find football distasteful, like most of the things that made him smile then.
Is a scratched vinyl record that plays whenever her brow is furled. She repeats till the walls, windows, ceiling and even the gate outside heard her frustrations. After, when she has stopped spinning and her world is no longer a ball of unsettled emotions. She becomes laughter, jokes, love stories and diet plans.
I didn’t realize how much I admired her till I saw her buckle under the weight of holding our ceiling up. How her tired shoulders ached after work coming home to cook. I watched her watching from the sofa ,as tornado winds came in from the east and west, how she hit me in front of him so he wouldn’t lay a finger on me that day. She calmed storms, then after the lights were off. She would sneak into my room and hold me in a tight embrace whispering apologies.
At times, I understood, I was grateful, other times, I was angry watching this woman I called my mother shrink into the corner, he would raise his voice and her head would lower before the dam broke, she would walk out before his hand made cable meet my back, she didn’t stop him. I hated the weakness in her.
I am the extra baggage, the puppy that was taken in because I came with the keys. I am a body of countless mistakes that needs to be fixed. A warrior in my eyes, but not the kind that made it out in one piece, I have left pieces of myself I wish I still had in order to survive. I am not victim, not anymore. I am just the painting you have after you let your paint balls explode. That feeling when you jump into the pool and the water slaps your skin. I’m awake but dead inside, a stress ball, ex-punching bag, my mother’s diary, my brother’s care-taker, and almost mother. I am yet to give birth but I know what it is to wish you could shield your young ones from the sound of bombs being thrown back and forth.
I am everything they say I am, a seed planted at the wrong time in the right place, I am a tree just trying to shield my brothers from the storm, from being used as target practice, their bones are still growing, too weak, too fragile to be used as rope between a game of tug and war.
I am also young, and tired, trying to survive varsity. I can’t live up to all your expectations, don’t have much to my name, can’t be a mediator for you. I don’t know how to speak unless I’m intoxicated till then I write books full of undelivered letters.
We were the egg yolk and my parents were the whites.
There were times my mum, ranted to loud too long, I’d stay up counting the number of times she would say the same thing different ways, while scrubbing the kitchen floor, like she could clean away the messy marriage and tomorrow at breakfast, things would be clean and pretty. Like she could pack rainbows and sunshine into our school bags for lunch but the bread was stale and bitter. The juice was sour milk and I stopped feeling hungry. it stopped feeling like home.
We were never allowed to play outside so when my father left I’d man the gates so I could watch the smiles on their faces as they were given a chance to be kids. I learnt how to grow up, live different lifetimes in books so I was content, and still learning how to not hurt, how to not be scared for my brothers. We wanted to grow, but the Whites said wait, so we waited.
I can almost hear my dad trying to talk my mum, for some reason it always came out the sound of thunder and lightning and his lips moved like he had eaten something hot. I watched from the corner of my eye as they pushed and shoved, and sometimes they moved forward together but most times, it was apart, further away from each other. There were permanent cracks in our egg shell home.
we will be scrambled.