Good people of Aftermath. . . and Grumplestiltskin . . .

I am enjoying a stay at the bucolic estate of a friend, my own Aftermath. I haven’t blogged in over a week. Oddly, each day I did not post, my hits climbed. It seemed that not writing made me far more popular. There seemed to be a message in that since I had suspended blogging that I could focus on cutting a third of the words in my novel that it might be considered by an agent – which is as close as I have yet gotten. It’s difficult going, this cutting away of myself, and yesterday my hits started – at last – to decline. So, an entry.

Thursday night. Last. My Florida sister brought my Mother to dinner. The two of them had spent the preceding week in California with my brother-in-law in the home that he and my Connecticut sister had designed and to which they were making their way cross-country to retire last October when she died.

A year ago. Almost. Thursday night. Last. Which happened to be one day after the 52nd anniversary of the death of my father. A death from which we never recovered. A death around which we built our entire lives. A vehicular death that infected some of us – this ghost worshipping cabal of his widow and all six of his children – so that whenever another of us was driving away, we’d stand and watch the car going, waving until it was entirely out of sight.

Every goodbye might be the last.

We broke ourselves of that habit. We shattered, in fact, apart. I was blamed. I was quietly voted out of the family, tsk-tske-ed about, mythologized no less than dead Daddy in order that new sadly indefensible behaviors be excused. Having been carefully, bruisingly schooled as a child in the dangers of speaking up, standing up, fighting back, I suffered in the Catholic-catechism-silence I’d been brainwashed to believe would result in eternal reward, that now-incomprehensible “be quiet and accept that there is, in fact, always a reason even if it is only that you, Charlie, deserve to be unloved”. The great trick there being, you see, that whole fairy tale about how finally one would be embraced and recognized and seen in heaven.

It was, finally, the cruelty of my family that gave me the gift of no longer believing in god. In ever after. In eternal reward. And I started getting very, very angry about the things I had allowed to be taken from me, the things I had given away by being silent.

Then, my Connecticut sister died. A year ago.

Everyone started talking again. Sort of and almost. But, here is the thing, the stories no longer match. We cannot go back in time and change the ways in which we hurt. We cannot rebuild a trust which -it turns out – was a myth all along.

So, Thursday last, my Florida sister and my Mother came to dinner. They were late arriving but I felt them coming, that pseudo-psychic thing I have going on sometimes – and so I walked outside, knowing the car was coming. As it did, thirty seconds later they drove round the corner. Dinner. Departure. I walked them out. I watched them go.

And go. And go. Realizing that once again I was unable to stop waving until the car was so far away I could not possibly see it, not even a hint of its tail lights. I was there. Still. Outside. Driveway. Arm in the air. Unable to go inside. No matter how long I waved, stood, they were gone.

Gone. In ways worse than death. It’s true, I can never again see my father – who I remember not at all, nor my aunt, nor my Connecticut sister. But worse than those losses, I can never again have the family I once thought I had. That was an illusion.

Since Thursday. Last. I have been having vivid dreams in which the dead and the lost keep coming to me. My aunt. My sister. Almost every night. And worse, dreams in which my living family members, and some friends, ones who broke my heart and trust, come to me, come at me, and I am trying to speak to them, but all I can do is cry, my voice is gone. In these dreams I am trying to talk, trying to speak, but nothing will come out but tears, sobbing, breathless, painful, awful, agonizing, impotent tears and I never, ever get to say what it is I need to say. I never get my truth told.

Twice now, my aunt and sister have come and lifted me, walked me out of the rooms where I was trying to tell these family and friends who broke me how I felt and what they’d done.

I’ve made arrangements to donate my body to the state anatomy board. I just need to sign one more form. It seems clear I am being called.

But, before I go, however that happens – and I suspect it will be a heart-attack during one of these dreams – because my heart is broken, that much is certain – I need to turn into MiracleCharlie again. This Grumplestiltskin shit is as bad as the Rasputin gig was. Back to me. Now, to figure out what that means.

I know this, I am a good person.

I write that because I do not really believe it. I have, somehow, never believed it. In addition to which, I have been ashamed to face my not believing, allowed my guilt about it to be used as a cudgel by those who would manipulate and control me, and terrified to allow my sorrow and anger about all of this to rise, fearful that its expression and articulation would consume and destroy me.

I need to face the abuse I have taken, accept that I took it, that I am responsible for that reality I lived and, somehow, finish editing this re-drafting of my novel. And, I am not so foolish as to miss the parallel that in my dreams I cannot now speak, have lost my voice, and in my life I seem unable to get this novel into the world.

I sit here, not editing in this moment, wondering if I really should be speaking. Maybe I have lost my voice in my dreams because there is nothing left for me to say.

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