Title Our Authors

The Screaming Summer of 2003

By Lee Nelson

I was broken.

We both were

but could she

be broken?

 

She had learned

to scream

with exceptional

success

elsewhere.

Co-parenting.

It happens.

It's challenging

and Linda Blair

arrived

for the summer

and I was hardly

a man of God.

I was hardly

a man at all.

 

She would scream

screams

perhaps heard

on D Day

or in

factory accidents

or in the distant wings

of asylums

screams

from the 9th circle

of Hell's fluffy

pink bedroom

with a chronically

strangled

happy

bear

in a purple dress

screams

that would leave

Buddha

dragging a smoke

on a shorlline

with a 5th

skipping stones

defeated

incredulous

to reason

and she

would scream

some more.

 

Allowing her

to scream

without

acknowledgment

wasn't working.

She was winning

as I would

stand

at the

ends

of my property

to hear

what the neighbors

could hear.

The cops arrived.

They were

incredulous

too.

 

I knew few parents

other than my own

and the parenting

advice

of the

non-parent

is as

useless

as the

battle advice

of the

non-combatant

and I received

lots

of that

advice

and she

would scream.

 

My young son

began

to grow old

with me.

One day

finally

in a perfectly

dirty

white tank top

he entered

her pink

fluffy Hell

drew his arm

back

toward himself

in an untaught

backhanded

fashion

and clocked

her exhausted

blushing cheek.

 

She stopped.

She stopped

ever so

briefly

and we rejoiced

in the brief

moans

and hiccup

coughs

and guttural

exhausted

bewilderment

of perhaps

a goat

with an

upset

stomach

and in all my

brief

gusto

of suppressed

joy

I yanked his

guilty arm

and him

into the

hallway

and was at a

complete loss

for words

but preferred

silence

anyway

when he said

 

"Do you hear that, Dad?!

Do you hear that?!"

 

"Yes!  Yes, I hear that,"

I replied.

 

"What are we gonna do, Dad?!

 What are we gonna do,"

he asked

demanded

begged

beyond anyone's

years

of undeserved

suffering

of me

of an indifferent world

of an indifferent god

or an absent

child

psychologist.

 

"I don't know, son.

I don't know,

but we

can't

do

that."

 

I called him son.

So formal

so desperate

so never before

or since.

 

I sent him away

on his bike

hoping he'd

return

and grabbed a beer

and turned on

the tv

and began

to cook

Sloppy Joe

as she chose

to scream

again

 

until finally

like a faucet

she just

shut

off

and presented

hungry

in the kitchen

with her

strangled

delirious

smiling

purpled dressed

bear

wiped her snot

and tears

and said

 

"That smells good,

Daddy."

 

I drained the burger fat

into the sink

with hot water

and I was

drooling.

I don't think

she noticed

but I'm pretty sure

the bear did

 

and we both sat

as I made

plates

of

Sloppy Joe

and

Kraft

mac n cheese

and peas

and my son

arrived

just in time

hungry

sweaty

ready

to eat.

 

There were smiles

on all of us

as we ate.

We chewed

and looked at

each other

with the purest

smiles

ever to

fruition

within a family.

 

 

These battles

won

are the greatest

triumphs

of love

but they're

vile

victories.

 

We don't talk

about them.

We don't

know

how to.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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