ode to a worm

This was only meant for you to read. But, then, there was nothing that I ever had that she had never tried to steal. Everything I touched, she wanted it for her own. You were one of those “things.” In your arrogance, you believed that you took her, never realizing that she had taken you all along. How much I wanted to see you both ride to hell on dragon’s wings. No. Scratch that. Dragons are too good for either of you. Wings of turkey vultures, perhaps? Yes, bleak and black and horrible. Harpies’ wings more like. Let there be nothing shining on you in your descent.

But, I was not made for vengeance. And I was not made for hate. Nonetheless, here I am in the prison you created, which I have since reinforced for many years with bars of steel and razor wire. Is my fate mediocrity? Is my fate bitterness? You know how much I hate the taste of bitterness. It is acrid in my mouth. I much prefer the taste of sunshine and daisies and crisp, clean water. I prefer the feel of warmth and light. Not cold, dark despair. You are the albatross, and I how I long to escape you. You are an imposter. A liar. A thief. A cheat. My despair. My downfall. My destruction.

Oh, but, you always want to be the hero, the champion, the wonder boy…. Don’t you? Isn’t that the problem? Did I fail to see the illusion you crafted? Did I dare to see beyond? Was my fault in understanding and accepting you the way that you are, instead of the way you wished to be seen? You are no romantic figure. You are no great hero. At least not to me.

Oh, yes, I have read the same books and walked in the same luscious forests in my mind. I have lived in paintings, in music, in tales, in romantic notions, and in waterfalls. In lighting and in rain. Just like you. But, I knew there was more to heroism than someone else’s impression of it. Crafting an image for yourself does not make it so.

Plunge now into the depths of me and understand what you have lost. What has flowed through your hands like water? It is the gossamer lady, who lives only in thought and memory, haunting you like a wraith on the wind.

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Grandfather

Lots of people address their spouses as “mother” or “father,” I suppose. But when he did it, it was fraught with meaning of a much darker nature. There was a sickness in it. Something that made my stomach turn, and which my young mind understood, even then, was something far deeper than mere words.

Was it really there? Or was it something that my mind intuitively applied, having analyzed his behavior? I was little, but I understood the sickness even then. It was a cancer that infested men’s souls. Women’s, too, of course. I saw too much of it in one lifetime, which is what my childhood was. I read him, it seemed. Knew how much pleasure he derived from the squirming fears of others, from their discomforts. He was a bastard, pure and simple. Little wonder that I envisioned pushing him down the basement stairs in that wheelchair of his.  He made a grotesque image, one that could only be cleansed by injury, or so I dreamed. In my mental world, I had the power of an avenging angel, and how I longed to bring that into the physical world. To make it all right and clean again.

I despised him.  Not just for his violence or his evil, mind you. No, I detested his weakness as well.  He was disgusting in every sense of the word.  Preying on his wife and his children, and later others. Like Alexander, who wept when there were no more worlds to conquer. But, he’d always seemed to find another victim to conquer. Except me. I would never, ever break. And I think he knew it. So, he appealed to his ready stable of victims instead, punishing the father for the sins of the child as it were.

How I loathed him. His thick, Coke bottle glasses that made his eyes appear larger than life, amplifying his twisted soul. The spittle that would collect around his ever-running mouth, which spouted abuses of every sort. His crippled, bulging meat sack, perpetually clad in a set of absurd pajamas. Sweaty and fat, hair mussed up. Squatting on the couch like a great, fat spider, contemplating its prey; yet forever sitting sidesaddle, like the emasculated Freud-case that he was. Did I mention that he was a sick bastard?

How I longed to be their deliverer. The truth was that I had always feared those stairs, much as I had feared heights and water and fire. They were dark and narrow and threatened to drag you down into their depths, and I imagined that whatever dark creature reigned over the basement would just keep you there forever. Like the shadow people that threatened in the night. And I could envisage no finer fate for my enemy than that which I feared the most, and, instinctively, too, I thought there could be no greater fate for a bully like him than that of having no more worlds to conquer. Alone. Alone was the proper Hell for him. Alone and cold and vulnerable and pissing himself in a corner with the weight of his horrid wheelchair bearing down on him.

I even spoke it out loud one day. I don’t know if they were horrified or proud. Or whether it had ever occurred to them as a possibility.  But I never let go of the dream. At least, not until he died.

Finally.

I could not pretend, even for her, that I was sad.  There was little point in pretending to my father, for I had unashamedly confessed my hatred for him many, many times. I wonder if that was a disappointment to him or a comfort.  I was made to go to the Wake of course. It felt dishonest to me; and, when she kissed his cold, heavily powdered casing, I wanted to wretch.  I couldn’t have been very old. I think I was 7 or 8. And all I could think about was that I was happy that he was dead. He was a horrible man. A true monster. And, finally, they were all free of him. How could I be anything else but happy?