This is blog of a woman who didn't know what she wanted and so chased after dreams and men in search of the answers...drunken hilarity ensued. Then one day she met a man who was everything she wanted, but he wasn't so sure. Then she did the unthinkable; after they broke up she gave him this blog address and she let him into her mind as well as her heart. Unbelievably, even after sorting through the sordid archives of failed relationships, one night stands and her lusty (and embarassing) pursuit to secure the heart of a certain young line cook, John somehow managed to fall in love with her too. Melina and John were married a little over six months after they started dating, running away to Las Vegas to seal the deal. You can imagine what the over/under bet was to see if they'd even make it a year!! Over a year later and they are still going strong...this blog has become their story. Need to tell me something? Email me at Melinalovesjohnny at gmail dot com
Check out my other blogs:
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006
Rough Draft... short story class is plugging on. I had to turn another (this time true) story* in. Unfortunately, I wrote it it in one work day. If you can manage reading the whole thing, I could use feedback desperately. Please don't just say it sucks...because that won't help this dying dog of a story.

I live alone in a pretty nice neighborhood where all the neighbors know everyone else is. We know each other's names but we rarely use them. Like an unspoken code we all prefer the cordial wave or the nearly imperceptible nod that comes from the safety of the mailbox or from behind a soapy car rather than have to actually talk to one another. I'm not complaining. I appreciate this.
My life is a very orered existence and because of this, it follows the same pattern every night. I read a book while I eat dinner--it's like a dinner companion who instead of talking, simply tells you a story. I've always preferred something involving tracking down a serial killer or some king of thriller where I can try and figure out who the the killer is and what the motive is. I have to admit though, I am one of those people who has to sereptiously sneak a peak at how the book ends. I've never been one for the books that have some girl's bodice busting open in the skillful hands of Fabio.
After reading a few chapters with dinner and cleaning up my dishes I like to watch Jeopardy. To be honest my trivia knowledge, not to mention my trivial knowledge is probably one of my greatest sources of pride. One that I usually reflect upon when I sit out on my front steps and watch the world grow dark. This is my time to think. I think about what I've accomplished thus far and what I have yet to do--both short erm and also for the long haul.
I sat on the steops last night and now my mind refuses to slow down, even for a moment. While I was admiring the pinks and greys of dusk I heard the Kellers across the street fighting. The warmth was starting to fade from the evening air and typically I would've headed inside, but last night, I sat immobile while Mr. Keller's voice drowned out the silence and young Kim Keller's screams ruined my own peace from the past.
The rules are that you're supposed to forgive and forget, at least that's how the saying goes, but no one really ever does and I don't think that I'm any different. I can never truly forget but I do think that it's strange who I have and haven't been able o forgive. Because I can't follow the rules, I've always imagined that I pushed these feeling and memories into an overhead compartment within myself. It's been a place I haven't revisited, but Kim's screams opened the storage space and spilled the contents within back into my memory.

At my house it always started the same way. Of course, there were warning signs, but to be quite honest, sometimes I knew I was pushing my father's buttons but I kept right at it. His temper was slow boiling, it took days before you actually saw it start to come to the surface, but sure enough, by the end of the week he was angry enough to hit. Like a priest who had one too many confessions, my father kept track of my weekly transgression and when he had enough of them, I was punished for them all. This is how it would start.
He would call me down into his den, while watching one of his numerous news shows, "Tara, get down here. Now!"
It was in the tone reserved for the days I was going to get my ass beat--a loud, shaking voice. It was not the goofy voice I would hear singing at some ungodly hour in the morning while he unloaded the diswasher on a typical day. I'd hear him summon me from the safety of my rooom and my head would swim trying to think of what I had done wrong, what he actually knew, and about how bad the night was going to be. These things were nearly incalculable but I weighed different scenarios in my head as I emerged from my room, trying to determine which failures were going to be highlighted tonight, and what kind of punishment that would entail.
Nothing was too trivial for him. The beatings were equal opportunities for all my crimes, whether it was a ten minute curfew violation or that time when I smart mouthed him on Tuesday, he remembered everything I did wrong. With each step downward, my coward heart would attempt to leap out of my throat, but somehow I kept it where it belonged, although it beat in my ribcage like a wild animal. My knewws and hands would shake as I made the slow mark down the eleven stairs that would take me to him.
When I wasn't sure what I had done wrong I would hide my hands in my pockets so that he wouldn't see that I was nervous. I'd smile the best I could, asking, "What do you need, Dad?"

He had such predatory skills, he could entrap anyone I think; even the mostly innocent. He'd start off slowly, and build up his questions until I had finally incriminated myself. I turned myself in every time. All he ever did was give me the rope to hang myself with. Well, that's not entirely true. Sometimes the neighborhood boys acted as my father's own private Gestapo. They were my friends, but my father bribed them with trips to the batting cages or to get ice cream. It was easy, these were boys who were raised in the shadow of divorce and were dying for a little male attention. They were comfortable with him and answered all his questions because the questions themselves seemed innocent. After a while, when I learned where this information leak was coming from, I made sure that whatever mischief I was involved in; that the boys were my cohorts. If they were guilty too, they would think twice about telling him anything.
Dad was a master interrogator; the first question would be fairly easy to answer. "Tara, I found the tage to your new shorts ripped off, did you rip them?" Even though I would try, he would never let me answer right away, he had more to say. I wanted to simply roll my eyes and tell him that everyone ripped the tags off their clothes, but I knew better. It may be a small thing to me, but this a monumental display of disobedience to him.
"I specifically told you that you ruin clothes that I spend good money on when you don't take that extra second to cut the tag off with a pair of scissor."
I could see him getting angrier and angrier with me because I hadn't answered him yet, he hadn't let me! This was where I had to make the quick decision of whether to lie or not. IT was risky because if I lied and was caught, the beating would be worse. The worst thing a person could do to my dad was to lie to him, but it was best thing to do if you could get away with it. I couldn't hesitate any any longer; otherwise he would know that I was making the decision. Swallowing air like someone drowning, I kept my head down and said, "Yes" as I tried to keep my voice from trembling.
"Look at me when you talk to me. Don't look at the ground, " his voice commanded as it got progressively louder, "Yes what? What did you do wrong Tara? Tell me."
I always made that mistake too. You have to answer a question completely. I remember looking straight into this stranger's eyes which usually belonged to my dad. Normally they remindedme of the dark, still water of the creek behind our house but today there was nothing but rage reflecting in them. I said in a quiet voice,
"Yes, Dad I ripped the tag off of my shorts."
"Tara," he began in his dramatized tired voice, "you can't even follow the simplest of directions. When are you going to listen to what I tell you? Do you think I talk just so I can hear myself speak?" You never answer this question because there are more to come and they will only get progressively worse. You must pick your battles.
"What's this I hear you went into the woods again when I told you that until you know exactly what poison ivy looks like, you're not allowed to go in there? Christ, I'm sick and tired of hearing you whine about how much your legs itch."
"Dad! I was only in there for like a minute because Natasha's mom asked me to go find her." Another mistake, you should never try to reason with him or try to make him understand. Reasoning is like talking back and talking back is never allowed.
"Well this is just great!" he said throwing his arms up in the air in a exaggerated way to show his exasperation with me. "So let me get this straight," leaning over the arm of his La-Z-boy and pointing at me, "you'll do what Natasha's mom says but you won't listen to your own father? Don't you see something fucked up there?" As he spoke the veins in his neck rose and pulsed as his face turned a blotchy red. This was never a good sign. Time to turn to the panicked plea.
"No Dad, that's not..." I tried quickly to say something to get out of trouble, to explain, but he cut me off. He always cut me off.
"What? That isn't what you did? You didn't do what Natasha's mom asked you to do?
I knew I had lost the battle. It was pointless to even try so I kept my face expressionless and stared at him. I ignored the words that continued to prod at me and began to wonder waht it would be like to peel his face off and see what was going on behind it. I imagined it was cold and sterile--like machinery; no margin for error just constant calculations and adjustments.
"Answer me damn it! You went into the woods when I expressly told you not to do so, right?"
"Yes but..." I pleaded again for him to just listen to me, but I knew that hew as going to get out of the chair. That was a bad sign; you're safe until he gets up. He would sit in teh recliner while I had to stand in front of him being grilled. Then he'd usually get up and scream at me within two inches of my face. We can thank the Marines for teaching him how to "break a person down to build them back up correctly." In a hiss he repeated himself, "You can't follow my instructions no matter how sinmple, can you?"
I gave up, "No Dad. I'm sorry." I said weakly. There was nothing more to say.
"You're no better than the fucking do, except at least she learned to listen to me," his face mpw a deep explosion of red, the vein over his right eye throbbed sickly. I forcued on it, not bothering to hear what he was saying. It didn't matter after this, because we were past the point where he would camn down. The next and only step from here was the basement. I swallowed thickly, waiting for him to give me the invitation to go down the four steps and bend over his blue weight bench. The invitation was slow coming that night. Again, not a good sign. Hewas still screaming about something-- I couldn't focus on what, I was too distracted by beads of spit that would fly out of his mouth and moisten my cheeks like tiny wet parachutes. I wated to flinch, but I knew that too, would be against the rules. I just had to ride it out. Sometimes the punishment came quickly, but days like these, I had to wait for it.
"Tara, go sit in the basement until I decide what I'm gonna do with you." He sat back down in his recliner, turned the volume of teh television up, doing his best to pretend to ignore me as I walked down the steps. It wasn't until I was standing by the bench that he'd lean over and push the door shut, muttering something about not wanting to see my face. The evening had been carefully scripted and now it was playing out just as he had planned.
And now this; seven years of torment hit me last night on the steps. Seven years of not thinking about it, making sure that my life was completely ordered, that there were no hidden dangers and somehow--here it all was again--removed from the secret overhead compartment in my head and emptied out in my brain. I couldn't stop the memories from coming back now. It was about once every two weeks or so we'd make a trip to the basement. The only things that changed were what he used to him me with and what was given to me the next day to make me not think about how much the bruises hurt. That year I managed to score a new Seag Gensis, a Diamondback bike with pegs on the back wheels for tricked I never learned, trips to the movies on school days when there was a bruise that shouldn't catch the eye of a school administrator, and tons of new clothes. I was envied by all the kids at school for being so spoiled. I never once corrected their mistake.
Sometimes he would use a board, or one of my mother's Dr. Schol sandals, you know the ones with the wooden bottoms? I can still remember the noise it made when it connected with my ass, like a hollow crack. I thought that if you heard it, you'd never forget it. But I had forgotten it in until last night, hadn't I?
I wonder if Kim across the street has heard it before, or if she soon will. I sat last night on the strep until well after midnight, reliving times I had though I"d put away for good, their argument kept me frozen to the step. I heard what my neighbors must've heard from the safety of their stoops or front porches. We probably ruined their evenings, they probably went inside, and shut the windows to get any peace from our skirmishes. And I did exactly what they must've done, listened with hungry ears and then did nothing.
Mr. Keller's muffled anger oozed out into the streets and I heard the familiar pleas from Mrs. Keller to leave Kim alone. She sounded just like my own mother who would try to get involved. Weeping she would try to be my champion, "Tommy, she's just a kid..." she'd trail off ringing her hands because she couldn't think of a better argument. I tried telling my mom that when she tried to stand up for me, she only made it worse. Dad would just get angrier with me. I'm sure Kim was thinking the same thing; she should probably tell her mom that.
I hate myself because I sat there last night, with my ear tuned into the harness across the street, angrey that the noise, that the memories were blocking out the summer songs of the cicadas. I saw the light go on in their basement and my throat closed. I couldn't stay there any longer. For the first time in years, I found myself curled in a ball on my bed, crying myself to sleep.
So today. The day after. I'm wondering if he really did beat her and if I would be able to tell. Old wounds had been opened and I learned what kind of coward I really am. I don't want to know if Kim got hit. I resent her. Tonight after Jeopardy, I'm going to close the windows and put the air conditioning on in case I need to block out anything that might go on across the street.
The rule is that you forgive and forget. I've forgiven my father but I'venever been able to fogive the neighbors who let him get away with it. I'm such a hypocrite.
*Names have been changed (obviously) but this is just one dandy true story.

Labels: ,

posted by Melina at 4:36 PM