Shadow

by Jennifer on February 14, 2008

Today’s post is in response to a prompt over at Weekly Anamnesis, which offers a one-word writing prompt each week. The blog’s authors are working to get it going again, and I’d like to see it get some more participation, so I thought I would contribute. If you’d like to participate, here’s how. This week’s prompt:

Shadow

I am invisible here, which is a good thing to be if you live in this house. I am in my closet, crouched beneath the clothes hanging above me. A dim bar of light reaches for me from under the door, but does not find me. Dresses tickle my face, and a hanger of belts swings back and forth in front of me. The closet smells like shoes. I lean against the toy box, its wood cool against my back.

From the other room, past my closet door, through my open bedroom door, and the one into my sister’s room, the sounds come to me. The sounds of Her striking my sister. The sounds of my sister’s cries. An equal number.

It is my job to count. It is something we do for each other, my sister and I. We are each other’s witness. It is important to know the number, to know how bad it is. More than the last time? Or less? One way of knowing where we stand.

I have no memory of when we decided to keep count for each other. It just was, and would be. For as long as we needed.

Thirty-two. Thirty-three. More.

I’ve lost count.

The shadows hide me. It is dark.

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Tootsie Farklepants February 14, 2008 at 5:51 pm

Absolutely heartbreaking. I don’t even know what else to say.

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Slow Panic February 14, 2008 at 7:23 pm

I’m with TF. That breaks my heart.

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ByJane February 14, 2008 at 7:23 pm

Absolutely….

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liv February 14, 2008 at 7:35 pm

Oh, my precious girl. No more hiding in dark shadows. Be safe in the sun. ((hugs))

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Kellan February 14, 2008 at 8:30 pm

Jennifer, this was beautifully written, but frightening and sad. I so hope it is not from your real memories – I hope it is just from your gifted imaginations. I hope it is not from your life!!!! Take care and thanks for sharing this beautifully written passage. Kellan

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Jennifer February 14, 2008 at 8:38 pm

I wish I could say it was made up. Thanks, everyone, for your kind words.

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Brenda February 14, 2008 at 9:37 pm

(I think I can have a short comment this time….I think!)

I believe it took a lot of courage to post this, but also write it. It is part of the threads that you can’t unravel and keep surfacing, and this time the usual seamstresses weren’t bringing it to the forefront. Very well done, and so glad that chapter of life is (mostly) behind you.

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flutter February 15, 2008 at 2:26 am

This is phenomenal writing love, but shadows are for people who don’t shine like you

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HRH February 15, 2008 at 2:47 am

My heart is breaking.

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Marlee February 15, 2008 at 4:37 am

What a cool idea! And you are *such* a good writer (sigh)…

BTW, I swear I will get to the meme you tagged me for. I suck at them so they take me a while! 😉

Oh, and I THOUGHT my husband’s head was out of his ass earlier tonight…but it was only an illusion…

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Angela February 15, 2008 at 2:27 pm

Oh. This is heartbreaking and beautiful.
*Sigh* I’m feeling melancholy this week. Your writing suits me even more, then, I suppose. It’s so sadly relieving to find connection with others who know your experiences, isn’t it? It’s a good thing, but so sad that it is a good thing.

I love the idea of this prompt. So wide-open…because it is a simple word. Not a question, which can box you in…just a word. I wanna do it. I’ll wait until next week though?

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Kellan February 15, 2008 at 11:46 pm

Hi Jennifer –

Hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day. Have a good weekend and I’ll see you soon. Kellan

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Jen February 16, 2008 at 7:45 pm

This brought tears to my eyes. I am so sorry. My heart breaks for you.

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Autumn February 17, 2008 at 2:54 am

I honestly don’t know what to say, other than to celebrate the courage it took you to do this. It was beautifully written and heart wrenching to read. But, I applaud you your voice- you have a gift, that much is very obvious.

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Jennifer February 17, 2008 at 3:30 am

Your comments mean everything, and I thank every one of you. I probably couldn’t have written it all that many years ago, but time does have a way of giving you power over things.

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Emily February 17, 2008 at 5:24 pm

You and your sister as each others’ witnesses. That is a very powerful thing to be for one another. It cancels out the silence.

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