Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Nurse the Hate: The Film Clip

Like most major events in one’s life, this one came completely unexpectedly.  The email was direct, and to the point.  “My name is Susan and I think I am your sister.”  The body of the email revealed that she had been looking for him for years on and off after their parents had split.  He had been very young when they had been separated to different grandparents.  He remembered so little of her it was like trying to remember a dream.  She was now living in a modest home in Florida, and hoped to see him when she traveled to the city next week.  "It would be great to get caught up!"  Attached was a file.

He clicked on the attachment to reveal a video.  It was an old film shot on Super 8 converted into a digital file.  A small boy smiled for the camera in a dated style long sleeve shirt.  He must have been about four years old.  Behind him was a young girl around six years old mugging for the camera.   His mind inserted the whirring click of a film projector as he watched the soundless film.  It was him with his long lost sister.  He had seen photographs of himself at that age but never film.  It was odd to see himself in motion.  He struggled to remember the version of himself that he saw.  The boy smiled with complete innocence and joy, expressions that seldom found their way to his current face.  He couldn’t connect this boy who was undoubtedly him to the present version of himself.

His earliest complete memories were later in life.  He grew up with his grandparents and mother in a small bungalow.  He remembered almost nothing of his father, a man his mother reliably called “a bum” whenever she referenced him.  His mother would sit in the recliner in the living room with the TV on when he got home from school.  The cigarette smoke hung in a haze in the dim light with the shades drawn.  When she had been drinking, she would tell him he looked like his father with an edge in her voice that made him anxious.  He never saw his father.  The extent of the contact were the infrequent letters his father had written him which his mother always threw away without opening.  His father called long distance a week after his mother died.  His grandmother wouldn’t allow him to speak to him.  “You’re better off without that bum.”  That had been about it.

He stared at the video.  There was a cut.  He was now being lifted in the air by a young man.  He was smiling and laughing uncontrollably.  The man smiled and spoke silently as he moved him up and down in the air.  It must have been his father.  His father was so young in the film, just a kid really.  He must have been a 22 or 23 year old young man.  A petite pretty woman moved into the shot and leaned in to wave at the camera.  It was his mother.  She was almost unrecognizable as a pretty young girl.  He only knew her as the spiteful woman in the chair.  His sister bounded into the frame to hug her mother.  His head swam.  All those years being told his father was a monster.  He wasn’t a monster.  He was just a kid.  They were all kids.  The version of his family history he had lived with was a myth. 

His eyes welled.  It was too much to handle at 8:17 am on a Tuesday.  He clicked the video closed.  The email stared back at him and begged a response.  “Would you like to get together when I come to town next week?  It would be great to get caught up!”  He exhaled.  His hand paused for a moment over the keyboard until he clicked “delete” on the email.  He closed the laptop and got started with his day.  He could forget this if he tried.  


At June 27, 2017 at 8:52:00 PM EDT , Blogger Ken in sunny Florida said...

That's some heavy shit...


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