Pinkie Promise with the Devil in OD OG

  • Jan. 30, 2024, 4:49 a.m.
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  • Public

We are all dressed in Sunday best the day you nearly run us over with your car.

Your nicest clothes are dark olive Dockers like mechanics wear & a plaid button down shirt, but you still reek of manure. My sisters & I are dressed in the palette of spring. The colors of petals have bled into the woven fabric, such diluted, pale watercolors…We are clad in the pink of apple blossoms, purple of crocuses, blue of forget-me-nots. White tights. Straw hats. Norman Rockwell innocence. We are playing in the backyard before church. We are little, we are children, we are unknowing targets…

You are mad at our father who has finally told you that he wants you off the property. And so, you hook your pinkie with the devil’s & shake on a promise to make my father sorry…Like the curse of the House of Atreus, you want to serve my father a terrible, terrible pie cradled in the bowl of his children’s blameless hands.

I am about 7 years old at the time, you have already been assaulting me in secret for nearly 2 years, daily. But, in this moment, that only later becomes trapped in the amber of traumatic memory, I am playing like a normal child. It is an ability and experience that you have mostly taken from me. I am sandwiched between my 2 sisters, one older, one younger and we are playing together. We are chasing each other around the mock orange bush. The perfume of the little white flowers is sitting heavily on the air, curling around us on the breeze. We pay no mind to you as we hear the sound of your cane percussively tapping its way to your car…We ignore the slam of your car door…a nearly fatal mistake. I am too busy focusing on my tiny, outstretched hands & how they just barely brush against my sister’s long hair, as she flits away from me. My gossamer touch, my spectral contact. We laugh, charging on.

My parents appear on the front step, ready to disembark for church. Distracted by their sudden presence, we don’t realize your car is barreling towards us till it is nearly too late, till it is looming over us like the shadow of an eclipse. I look over to see the grill of your car right behind me, like the terrible metal grimace of some angry machine. You rev your engine, the car snorting & clearing its throat like a bull with red in its sights. Plumes of smoke exhale from the exhaust….and then…you advance. The air expands with the screaming of terrified young girls, recognizable in its urgent glass-shattering frequency….a throat-closing sound that registers deep within the belly of any parent.

And there were ours. Standing on the front step.

I can see them still. My mom’s arms outstretched, screaming for us to run to her. My limbs are electrified….wired by instinct, lightning in my muscles. I feel an animalistic sense of self-preservation. I don’t know where my sisters are, but I am running. The hem of my dress hitches up on my thighs as my legs revolve like the roadrunner, the pistons of a locomotive. I hear a thought, “Get on that step. He won’t be able to drive up on it.” The car bears down on me like a reckoning. I feel my right foot hit the step. My sisters’ patent leather Mary Janes clip down on the cement as well. Home base. Safe. Your car rips out of the yard onto the road, blowing by us, as we all huddle together on the front step.

As an adult, it strikes me that my parents never leave the step. They never take a step towards us, even as the car nearly overwhelms our tiny bodies with your mission to remove us from the earth. They never call the police. They never even discuss what has just transpired. Instead, they round us up, buckle us into the car and drive us to church. We sit in our normal pew ahead of you.

Near the end of the service, as is customary, we are expected to turn around, shake your hand and say, “Peace be with you.” You lie back, “And also with you.” But there was never any such thing with you around…Even now, you are the nightly revenant, you rotten motherfucker.

Yesterday, I opened the obituaries to see your sister, my great-aunt, had died. No one in my family had been brave enough to call and tell me. Your name was listed in the obituary. Predeceased by her beloved brother: You. She was a nun &, like you, also morally skint…She purposely lied for you in the court case we filed to remove you from the property…even though she knew you would only continue to torment us. She knew about this incident with the car and others…like you shooting the dogs in front of my siblings and the cow, in front of me…Still, she perjured herself to keep you there, near us…using her habit to lend a weight to her testimony, a testimony that was ultimately false. “He hasn’t hurt or threatened the family. If anything, they’ve harassed him.” Her words help to seal our fate, signing us up for many more years of torture. Since seeing the obit, my brain is completely congested with thoughts and sensations of you…a rush hour traffic’s worth of memories.

Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Peace be with you. Supposedly this was the greeting Christ used after rising from the dead to walk again amongst men…next time you resurrect yourself to haunt me, why can’t you just wish me the same and then let go?

Written in April 2019


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