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September 25, 2023

The Gate Through Which I Entered

By Michelle Reale

My father stared at me wordlessly for hours, while I twisted myself, small and nearly insignificant into life. A harbinger of my future existence. The air we breathed was stunted with loss. My mother, in between feedings, smoked cigarettes while she scrubbed and waxed floorboards. Her skin crackled and oozed. In the black and white photos with scalloped edges, of which there are few, I am wide-eyed, and unsmiling, propped up by someone or something unseen. How I drifted in and out of both will and consciousness, not unlike the dying, and the auspiciousness of my arrival would haunt me. If I was encouraged, it was toward a garlanded future that those with a wandering eye always ridiculously aspire to. I would be welcomed with garish smiles, the proffered hand, the church incense that could sting the eyes and transport to faraway lands with just a whiff. What I knew was that the stultified emotions of the long undiagnosed could lock one away. A first memory of awareness: a decorative plate hung on the kitchen wall with my parents' wedding date in curly script, a painted old time likeness of them both. My small hand to my face, my blue eyes blink wide with recognition. My parents, my emotional inheritance and no strangers to the unspoken, reposed in far corners of the house, entertaining assumptions and predictions. A fly silently flew with agitation around the room, grimly without an exit strategy.   In time I would become numbed and habituated to a silence that I would never get used to.

Article © Michelle Reale. All rights reserved.
Published on 2023-08-14
Image(s) are public domain.
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