By Mary Ellen Gambutti
Once you were a young girl, a girl who played and sang. You came to know many were not yours and not many who were your own. Proud ones set you up as special because you came from somewhere. But where, they didn’t know. Some said you were just like them, but little did they know! Behind a curtain there was a life a life of a girl and two others who kept you and made a family. The girl who was you was fitting in. You played it right by coming on the scene like some special star. You knew the smiles, the steps, the songs. You that was she was, “Wow!” they said, and that would keep anyone smiling, wouldn’t it?
And in those days you learned you were different–you were different and not the same—the ones who kept you told you so. And you told the others. You said you were not like them. You seemed the same, except you knew you were not. You didn’t say you were content with the difference, but you did tell them why. And your difference was distorted. The reasons weren’t clear. After all, you looked the same, you looked ok. But there were times when you were not, were not OK.
Later, you learned you could make a difference, be someone. You’d make it work for you. The charm could work. Lie about little things, since there was nothing big to lie about, and you learned you had power and could do it. You could lie to make the power grow strong. But you lost favor with the ones who kept you, and you became confused to find yourself stuck.
It rained day and night, time changed, life changed. Then one day you came to us and told us of your hurt. You told us how and we said, “Ooh!” and looked and said, “Wow!” Some said nothing and didn’t understand. Some wondered why he would do that–why he would hurt a girl like you. Why she would throw that at you, why he would use a belt to make those marks show, use the heel of his leather shoe, and when you were 16, the back of his hand, like he learned from his long dead father. You had to get away when the yelling wouldn’t stop. When the tears were bitter and salty and your gasps wouldn’t let up. When he made you get a wet wash cloth for your face when he was done with you. When you hated him.
Because you were special. Because you weren’t like us. He wouldn’t permit you to be like us. Not if he could help it. After all, you were not his, but you were under him. He had control of how you would be. You must be special because he adopted you. He had no idea who you were, but you’d be the best if he had to kill you.
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Mary Ellen’s stories appear, or are forthcoming in Gravel Magazine, Wildflower Muse, Remembered Arts Journal, Vignette Review, Modern Creative Life, Thousand and One Stories, Halcyon Days, NatureWriting, PostCard Shorts, Memoir Magazine, Haibun Today, Amethyst Review, Soft Cartel, CarpeArte, Borrowed Solace, Mused, Drabble. Stroke Story, My Journey There and Back is her short memoir. She and her husband live in Sarasota, Florida, with their rescued chihuahua, Max. She writes at https://ibisandhibiscusmelwrites.blogspot.com.