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i laughed
2012-10-03 // 8:32 p.m.

I couldn�t have been more than 4 or 5. Living in the house with the window seat, where I shared a room with my sister. I wasn�t the kind to cause a lot of trouble, not really. I liked playing with dolls and making up stories. I believed I couldn�t read, because nobody had told me I could, but I knew how any way. My greatest vice, as it still is today, was staying up late. I wanted the night, always. I wanted the time for myself.

But I must have done something bad, incorrigible, irksome--something. I can�t remember. I remember being punished. I remember spankings, and I remember being hit with a belt. I don�t remember being hit with a switch or a stick of my own choosing, though it must have happened. It was certainly threatened enough around me. And I don�t remember the night things shifted for me, the thing that flipped the light on for me.

The change began when I understood crying didn�t help, and I trained myself for silence. I do remember stopping my tears. I was a small child, thin and slight of build. How do you hit someone so small? What did I do? Does it matter? Somehow I didn�t cry. My mind re-maps the feeling of a belt onto my thighs, and I can�t believe I didn�t cry.

And then I realized that silence was no good either. I was still there, still hurting, but quietly. I want to remember the first time I laughed. It is almost there, just on the edge of my memory. Manic, frantic, forced. But not tears. I remember fury. My parents, usually such loving people, getting angrier by the blow. Was this when the belt came in? My memory is liquid, it is tea in a mason jar just sloshing around, grown cloudy from time and inattention.

So I only remember laughing. Only know that years later, it came back to me with the first slap, this burst from my lips that brought down fury.

I think about power. Me, small and smart and not wanting to lose. Not wanting to cry at being hit. Me, leaning naked into a wall and laying myself out: desire and need and ache. Wearing nothing but a laugh that echoes around me, that gets me hit harder. That tells you, I like this. Give it to me. I can take it, take it all.


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