It would be easy to write about family, if you didn’t have to write the truth.
I have been trained to let truth go, like a balloon that slips from your wrist and floats away.
My senior year of high school my English teacher, Ms. Davies said to me,
“Faye, when you put your pen to the paper, you have to write the truth.”
I thought about it for a moment. “I can’t,” I said.
I thought about why I loved Ms. Davies. I loved her for her honesty. She was a little bit mean, sharp as a whip, loved words and used them better than anybody I knew. She had a sense of humor that could win wars. She preferred
wrap skirts with a turtle or whale motif, edged in contrasting fabric. She was on the edge of overweight. Her hair was cut into a highlighted, practical, perfectly formed shag with two curls flattened by each ear that never moved. I imagined she was afraid of nothing. She invited us all to her house and made cherry pie bars with a graham cracker base, a cream cheese filling, and a can of cherry pie filling poured over the top. She had a sweet tooth.
The truth in my house was not allowed. They didn’t like it.
It was too loud to hear and too ugly to look at, like car wrecks. That is why the police rope those things off.
My stepfather denied it. He was like Trump, or the former USSR, whom they told us, rewrote their history books.
My mother would flat out shut it down.
“I don’t want to know about that.”
My grandma would get you to watch her color TV. Or offer up cake. Her motto was, “just don’t think about it.”
In my family I am known as the one who doesn’t speak. I became the best at it.
My ex husband, when he decided to leave, preferred that I not mention it in public.
All these years later, I hear
Ms. Davies talking to me. And I don’t know.
I am going to make a video about how to cook a turkey.