We all have skeletons in our closets. Hell, I’ve been dead nine years. Ain’t that enough?
After years of being relatively free of you, I am sinking into a dark depression, a depression I didn’t know was possible.
I never wanted to leave my daughter with you. Ever. And then one day you were on the road and stopped by my home, and I had to go to a function at work, and you and your wife insisted on watching Ania. I felt sick all night.
Remember Cesar Chavez. A Mexican dad. As a young teen, I stood in front of Meijer’s alone, begging people not to buy non-union grapes. I went on and on about the living conditions of migrants. People stopped to ask why I didn’t have friends, something to do. I stood there alone, Dad because you said that it was good. I cared about Chavez, but you wouldn’t stand in front of no grocery store.
You had a fit if we bought a pair of Levis. We had to wear union-made clothes. When I bought my first car, an old Honda, you yelled, Don’t park no Nip car in my driveway.
You’d be yelling about NAFTA, jobs going overseas, kind of the same way you ranted about the boys I dated: How can you date a Nip? What, you think you’re too good to date someone from a factory? You have to date that boy from that fancy school? What, now you’re dating a taco bender? What, you got pregnant by a black man?
Your geography skills didn’t extend too far from Michigan, except for when you gambled in Atlanta City, then retired in that trailer park in Yuma. But Dad, I met the father of my child in India.
When I got home, you were watching basketball, summer Olympics, and Ania asked me: “Mommy, what’s a spook?” Then the two of you said to me after I expressed my anger at your blatant racism. I didn’t know that was racist, did you?
But this isn’t why I’m writing Dad. You’ve been dead nine years, and now, it’s like you’ve come back to life. Had you been alive and sitting there in the kitchen, I wonder what you would have said. You’d probably agree our country needed a damn wall around Mexico.
At first, I could tolerate the rants, but when we saw the video over and over and over about grabbing pussy, him laughing about it with his friend, my tolerance ended, and I felt physically ill.
I remembered you and your gas station friend talking about swapping your daughters for sex. Me. Your daughter. You said this in front of me in the basement. You boasted about how you used me sexually.
But, what I really worried about was, did you try to put my nine-year-old daughter on your lap? Did you try to do anything to her beneath a blanket while you sat on the couch?
Yeah, I know. I get it, Dad. We all have skeletons in our closet. Your lame excuse for abusing me for years. Do you honestly think most people have those kinds of skeletons, Dad? Maybe you are right: There are a lot of men like you.
Diane Payne is the author of Burning Tulips (Red Hen Press) and co-author of Delphi Series 5 chapbook. Her publications include: Obra/Artifact, Map Literary Review, Watershed Review, Tishman Review, Whiskey Island, Kudzu House Quarterly, Superstition Review, Blue Lyra Press, Fourth River, Cheat River Review, The Offing, Elke: A little Journal, Souvenir Literary Journal, Madcap Review and Outpost 19. She is the MFA Director at the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
During the election, I felt sickened every time I saw that video where Trump boasted about grabbing women by the pussy. It dawned on me how Trump reminded me of my father. I wrote this because I have a feeling many people see Trump as their father and may feel this same repulsion, this same agony, this perpetual disappointment, this lingering grief.