By Christina Carlson
I never could speak in metaphor. Instead, I scream my words in repetition, praying that one iteration of my meaning would penetrate their walls. So many words have been lost this way.
Silence became my friend. My heart can’t be hurt if it is never noticed.
I silently play The Game of Life in the corner by myself. “Where’s Chrissy,” they say.
Dad asks questions but never waits for my response. Conversations with him turn into a series of unexplainable problems with no attempt at solutions. The words, “Chris, can you just do it for me?” end many of these talks. He never waits for my response.
My sister rolled her eyes when I read something I wrote for our little brother’s funeral. To say that I chose silence is like saying Gionni chose to die.
“These fucking Democrats,” Dad says.
“Be careful,” I warn, knowing he has been doubling down on the far-right Facebook videos since the election has grown close.
“They’re all fucking losers,” he says.
He launches into another series of unexplainable problems but my ears protect my brain by engaging a sharp buzzer in my head.
“Dad,” I interrupt. “Dad, I am a Democrat,” I say.
He knows. There have been many nights this year when the buzzer in my ears has also protected my heart.
There is a pause– a jerking, awkward moment of silence.
“Yeah…” he says, “but we have to forgive you of that because you went to college.”
Mom listens. In quiet moments, together. She listens and she folds me into her, hugging my heart for just a breath. In these moments, I am seen, I am known, I am loved. And in these moments, I allow myself to live in the lie that I am enough.
My sister says “Go cry like you always do.” I am 5. I am 13. I am 30. She is saying it now.
My husband says he supports my dream. “Go be great,” he says before listing off all the ways I put him last.
All the quiet moments come raging from my mother’s mouth like a river without a dam.
You did this, she spits.
You opened your mouth and built these walls.
* * *
Christina Carlson is an MFA graduate from Randolph College and writes from the parts of Las Vegas that have nothing to do with The Strip. She writes true things that sometimes turn into lies and lies that sometimes tell the truth. She worked for many years on the Las Vegas Strip and likes to think that time is behind her but is continually surprised by the way it pops up in her stories… which happens quite a lot.