It started off as a game.
Or so she thinks she remembers. Possibly fueled by that recurring dream she had of his chair; she’s only ever seen one like it in her life.
A celery green armchair on wheels that he kept at his desk. It use to swallow her up, spin her around and traveled with her through three cities. She doesn’t remember what happened to the chair but twenty years later she still remembers the dream.
The chair is perched on a tottering mountain of books in a deep dark hole. Her father is at the top urging her to join him. If she looks around all she sees is a darkness so deep shadows don’t exist. Eventually she makes it to the top, she climbs into the chair and the mountain of book sways precariously. She knows it’s going to topple but she’s searching for her father who disappeared.
The chair finally tips, spilling her and all of the books into the black abyss as the heavy tomes fall around her.
She remembers jerking awake each time before she hits the bottom. She remembers having this dream multiple times; each time vowing to not wake up until she reaches the bottom.
The game stars one day when she’s in bed with mother watching a show that featured real life 911 calls. She can’t remember why her mother is not at work but her father comes home and she remembers slipping under the covers to hide from him. Her parents are laughing as she ignores his calls to her and squirms away from him.
She remembers feeling a dark, perverse pleasure from ignoring him. She remembers feeling okay with the thought of no longer having a father. The knowledge of how bad and wrong it is, but it feels so wickedly good.
She plays the game a few more times until one day she’s in the front seat of the car and the sky is blue but all around her is grey concrete. Her father is angry, he’s asking her why she’s ignoring him and if she doesn’t tell him why RIGHT NOW he’s going to open the door and throw her over the highway! She only has ten more seconds. One, two, three… He will do it! She better believe it! Four, five, six, seven… He’ll throw her from the car and she will be DEAD and he won’t care and her mother won’t care, because who wants a daughter who’s such a bad girl?! EIGHT!!!!!!
“I was just playing around!”
And then she’s furious, she’s so furious at being only six years old and unable to explain why. She’s furious that she’s sobbing uncontrollably and she’s furious because she’s a little bit terrified because she knows he’d do it. When he’s that mad she knows he’s capable of doing anything.
He’s still yelling at her to STOP CRYING, because it’s ALL HER FAULT, and if she wasn’t such a BAD GIRL none of this would be happening. While all this is going on she can’t tell if these are dreams or memories but she remembers a fun week at her aunt’s house with just her mother. It might have been near Christmas but it was definitely winter time and her mother was refusing to see her father. Her aunt and her lover are telling him to GO AWAY, and to SLEEP IT OFF and her mom is sitting in bed with her arm’s crossed staring at nothing. And she remembers popping her head around her aunt and asking if Daddy bought her a present?
Eighteen years later and all these memories/dreams feel like the truth, she has stories and some pictures to support them but… but…
Why was he driving over a highway after her ballet lesson? They hadn’t moved to the third city yet. And she has pictures of them happy together during this time. She remembers him buying and teach her Monopoly and catching her cheating. She remembers reading to him every night.
But the game she started was real, because six years later he started playing too.
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