Where The Waterfall Starts

This is where the waterfall starts.

She paces the room weary and voice fading, whispering curses at me, at her mother, at her existence. She is exhausted from screaming, but this is worse than moments before as she shouted her list of reasons I’d burn in hellfire. She stops pacing and she melts into the floor, puddled beneath the wall where we used to hang her report cards. She’s right. She isn’t our little baby anymore.

 

When I first laid eyes on her she was made of porcelain. Skin whiter than I’d ever imagined a person could be, but flush with color like painted dolls. She struggled to open her eyes and she hated sunlight. She was jaundice. We’d spend hours sitting in the sun light, trying to turn our baby the right color. And she lay there still, so still, sometimes fear would grip me and I’d wake her. I was always careful not to shake her.

 

Her mother and I had been promised a baby boy. We had planned for him and fought over which distant uncles names sounded the most in fashion for our son. We settled on David, a strong name, a biblical name that felt powerful. We wanted our son to be born under God’s favor, even though we struggled most times to believe. We painted the walls green, because it was too cliché to paint them blue. Either way it would have been wrong.

 

When she was 6 we had our very first fight, her too stubborn to admit she didn’t understand what the 3 plus six equaled and me too excited at a chance to play with her young feelings to realize I should just explain things sometimes. A life lesson. She sat back on her little toes, and she told me she hated me. Words a father never wants to hear from his child. She huffed off into her room and she slammed the door behind her.

 

Two months ago, when she walked in the front door, she collapsed. We rushed her to the hospital, my wife holding her in the backseat of our station wagon, and me driving like stop signs and red lights didn’t exist. Her mother and I held hands as we waited impatiently in the sterilized room they gave us to sit in. Apparently they do this when your wife becomes hysterical. When they called us into the room, she cringed at the name David. Like it made her sick.

 

She has spent so long trying to explain her heart to us. And we have been betraying her, unable to hear the cries echoing through our house. We have been trying so hard to convince her that we know her better than she knows herself. It’s a delusion we have been perpetuating.

 

There is a woman laying on the ground beneath the marks where David’s name is written in pencil besides the different heights she has been over all these years. She’s right. She’s not our baby boy anymore.

 

This is where the waterfall starts.

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