Write The Story (A Family Mystery Uncovered)
It was Sunday evening. The weekend on the river was almost over and we were all kinds of sad. Going home the next day after a four day weekend. I didn’t want this family miracle to end so I had not packed for home yet as if that would delay our leaving. It was almost dusk and everyone was sitting out by the river just drinking in the peace. The sun was setting over the “Suwannee.” To say it was orange and yellow does it no justice. The beautiful cypress trees, the hanging Spanish moss that dripped from the trees like old tinsel on a Christmas tree was dissolving my stress. The river was the color of iced tea and it flowed quietly past us slowly on it’s way to the gulf of Mexico. Our family was not very good at reunions: aka we never had managed to pull one off. Really never tried. I had pipe dreams but i knew my family would never come. So this was truly a miracle.
Being back in the river house on the where it happened was enough to bring up memories I had no desire to revisit. I kept secrets back then. Bad secrets. Secrets of things that had been done to me by someone who should have been protecting me.
I walked through the house remembering the nineteen sixties when I was in my pre-teens. My sister was in college, my oldest brother was in the Army in Vietnam . So it was just the two of us, my brother and I ,and we played in, on and around the Suwannee River. We had a Lilliputian+
boat with a small Johnson outboard that I would use on the river, as the river had canals I could explore. A few houses down from us there was a sandy beach I would take the boat there and pretend it was an island. With food to eat, a drink of some kind, I would stay for hours. Reading, doodling in a notebook or just being there free to daydream.
My mother and my dad divorced in 1963 and she remarried a year or two later. My stepfather was not a nice man. He did things and took pictures of me wearing nothing. I hated it and tried to stop him but couldn’t. So my mind would leave my body when he did this. I would think other things. I would look at the wallpaper. Because I could not look at him. I never did.
Books rescued me. I had a curiosity about everything. So I read. I read on the bus. I read at home. I read in the cafeteria at lunchtime. I read in the car. I even read in the bathroom. Books were also my armor. If I was sitting alone in the cafeteria with a book I wasn’t really alone.
They say that if a group of people got together and put all their troubles in a heap and could swap them out, we would prefer our own. Not sure I would not prefer another persons problem instead of mine.
The pictures. The pictures haunt me. He said he hid them. I should have demanded he give them to me. Wishful thinking on my part. I was like a well trained seal. When he arrived I knew to go to “my place” and get ready. So I did. I divorced my mind from my body and watched the show from somewhere near the ceiling.
This three day weekend was my opportunity to have a marathon search for the pictures. I wanted to see my face. I remember how I felt, or at least i thought did.. but I needed to let that little girl know how sorry I was that I didn’t protect her better.