Name: Anonymous Age: 11 Gender: female “My dad is talking to other women. I don’t know what to do.”
Seeing that post on an online forum, she stopped scrolling. An echo sneaking from the back of her head had her heart skip a beat. Checking the replies, she covered her mouth with her palm in order not to allow a cry to come out, a habit she used to do at… those times.
“Tell him you know, but not face-to-face.”
She recalls begging him to spend the weekend with her best friend who lived in another city. She wanted to go alone, which made him, a protective father, refuse. As stubborn as she was, they had tons of discussions about going. One of her intentions was to text him with everything she kept inside as soon as she was anywhere else. Eventually, that plan was an epic failure.
“What are you thinking? Talk to ur mom.”
Telling her mom? Nah. But she did try to drop hints. Reading the sentence again, she almost heard her satirical tone, recollecting a letter she had written to her. It was supposedly an apology for yelling at the mother, in which she mentioned being overwhelmed and stressed out over several things. She does not remember them laughing or anything. They seemed concerned. Maybe worried. The only thing she is sure of is that she couldn’t say a word.
“What’s wrong with y’all defending the father! Your supporting adultery!!”
At her age back then, she was good enough of a student to catch that grammatical mistake. However, she didn’t know what adultery meant when she heard it. However, she concluded that it was an “adult” subject anyway.
“Maybe talk to an older person, better be a male.”
She has undoubtedly heard this one before as well. Male figures. She constantly wondered if all men were the same, but then this urges the question of whether normalizing something makes it feel better or adds to its disgust.
She turns off the screen, leaves the phone aside and covers her whole face now. Her hands are the only ones carrying it all every time. The only male she looked up to was a teacher who looked exactly like her father. He had all his remarkable traits and boosted them to a higher degree. He listened well, without judgment; gave the same valuable advice, yet without nagging her about following it. And little did she know he was way closer to the father in character, cause he was seen once or twice checking out his co-worker; his female co-worker.
That day, she wished it was someone else telling her he was throwing glances. She wished it was a rumor spread by silly teenagers. But it was her own eyes that saw it. How would one act like nothing happened in front of his eyes. She cursed herself for being there, for still looking up at him, and for being once grateful he looked like her dad. She cursed people who wished her a husband like her father. And why wouldn’t they? He was an absolute gentleman, a successful doctor, a charismatic leader, and a loving husband and father. That is how he looked like to her mother, to everyone, to anyone, except her.
“Yo, first of all… why are you snooping on ur dad???”
The other day her son asked what a punchline was. As she remembers telling him it normally came at the ending of a speech, she looks at that one, that ignorance-showing one. It is always the first thing you hear when talking about— these things.
Two days before Christmas 2002, her mom and siblings went shopping. She stayed home because she was sick. She had this holiday habit of eating a generous amount of every kind of food till her stomach ached for the following two or three days. A daddy’s girl she was despite all, they spent those few hours watching random videos and almost crying in laughter. What dad found funny wasn’t her cup of tea most of the time, but the sound of his laugh was the kind of music she wished he would never have stopped playing. When he went to make them something to drink, a message popped up from someone named “Jane” asking if they were going to meet that night. Facts like Jane always found their way to her. Leading like that chat box, evidence like the rest of it always had her on her bedroom floor. Just like how she is at the moment.
“Look him right in the eye…”
It suddenly gets too blurry to read the rest of that comment.
She tried to go downstairs but ended up sitting on the last step. It is guilt burning inside; did she, too, stab her mom in the back by concealing it? Her trembling, sweaty hand could not hold the phone any longer. She once had all the air of the room dancing around her; now it is escaping from her body, leaving her with a crushing emptiness. Her heart wishes it could just jump out. She starts cussing out, giving herself names she had repeatedly promised she did not deserve.
At the end of the day, Laurie shuts her eyes, wipes away the tears of the past 21 years, and manages to pull herself together. A few moments later, she picks up the phone again and “dislikes” all the comments, wondering if people would even remember they made them. But they better do, and some better regret how they talked with an 11-year-old. They could have said something else—something she could have done. Then, she finds her way to the three little dots at the top right of the post, clicks on them, and selects “delete.”
The only thought remaining is what her mother’s reaction would be had she known. Born in India, marriage to her was a sacred bond that was not easy or even permitted to break. Laurie’s mom was too kind, and too emotional to handle such a “thing.” And Laurie always hated to be like her mom.
Everything in Laurie’s life has been happening in silence. She loved her dad silently cause she was never taught to show it. The image she had of him collapsed silently as she never had the guts to face him. Prayed for him silently. Forgave him silently. The silence was the most deafening sound that kept her awake at night. For the first time, she decided to burst the bubble she could not breathe in. She looks out the window; the same man is standing outside. He is leaving ample space on the doorstep, unwilling to huff what is remaining of their love. Remorse is still setting fires in his eyeballs, and ashes are still floating around to impair her vision.
As she opens the door, she sees the eyes of her father on her husband’s face, and a song from the next door comes aloud…
A cracked house, not totally warm or cold You say your heart is aching Why are you the one aching? Off the road, you’ve been waiting for me To give you a green light So you could freely go You say it’s not like how it seems I say that’s not how it feels Wish you knew how it feels
A broken door, not fully opened or closed I’ll lay all your chances on the floor Release you like a bird Free to come back or go It’s whatever you say It’s whether you want For there is no place for pities anyway I’ll be okay.
Amira Waleed is an enthusiastic literature student. Growing up in Cairo, Egypt, she has immersed herself in the oceans of writing in both Arabic and English for a long time. When she was around the age of 11, she began to get inspired by several English song lyrics. Therefore, it was not long until she started writing her own. Eventually finding her place in poetry, she published her first book "Missing Notes" at the age of 16. However, she is more pleased with her current writing attempts. Going to the Faculty of Al-Alsun (languages), Ain Shams University and studying English as her major, she has delved deeper into the art of writing and analysing different works of literature. Besides, she won the poetry award in the writing contest at the faculty in her first year. Finally, whether it is poetry, prose, essays, or —hopefully—stories, Amira's dominant attention is on what each of us is looking for inside and the feelings and thoughts surrounding our minds.