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Writing is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement. Then it becomes a mistress, then it becomes a master, then it becomes a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster and fling him to the public.

— Winston Churchill

Wondering on Wednesday: What Questions Would You Ask?

Tomorrow I’m headed to Vermont to continue working on the memoir/book project I began in December. It’s a whirlwind trip in which my singular purpose is to race clock hands while foraging for memories and truth.

I’m excited to conduct more first-person interviews with my grandmother, mother and aunts and to unearth long-buried stones of grief and wisdom that meander through this story. I’ve repeatedly assured myself that the most important treasure to have ribbons ripped off in this telling is the perspective and history it will finally lay bare amongst people who share a lineage and a blood line; to gather our souls and release old burdens. That’s not entirely accurate.

In those miniscule chambers of our hearts where hope begins to grow, my truth is that I want to massage these project pages into a published work. I want to share it with anyone who’ll take the time to read and to discover that most likely not everything is as it seems. I want light to shine so radiantly that anyone who reads it, or talks about it, or thinks about it will wonder about the consequences of closed eyes.

As I work to sharpen my spade today and prepare for tomorrow’s flight, I wonder if I’ll have the courage to ask the questions, the insight to follow up and the knowledge to tie it together. I wonder if I’ll really have the guts to tell the story.

A friend advised not so long ago that Shout isn’t the place to publish pieces of this work. It’s too personal, she said, too difficult a subject for a mommy-type blog. I’ve wondered on many a Wednesday if she was right and I’ve avoided the barring of bones such posts require, until now.

This blog does not have a large audience, but the people who do routinely click through are not drive-by shooters. You’re intelligent, contemplative readers who engage with content and ponder life’s personal insanities right along with me. I realize I have a unique opportunity to ask for your input. I also know that sometimes you can’t simply dip your toes in the stream; the best way to discover if I have the courage to do something is to simply hold my breath and jump .

I’m shooting straight, or at least lining up my sights.  Help add to the cache of questions I’ll be toting to Vermont tomorrow and tweaking through the weekend.

I’m Wondering on Wednesday: If you picked up a book and read the following prologue, would you want to read more and what would you wonder?

I remember his hands shaking as they began to coldly caress my 12-year-old, half-woman body. He stroked the back of my head with a whisper while I sat frigid on the floor between his legs. Hovering above me from his favorite over-stuffed chair, the seat nobody else was allowed to sit in, he suffocated me with his stench of Marlboro Lights inhaled to the filter and stale coffee

My grandmother was hypnotically hanging laundry near the garden. I suppose she was wearing that funny little green apron with side pockets full of wooden clothespins. The spring breeze must have amused itself across the gentle curve of her burdened shoulders while she hurried to finish her chore and return to whatever was baking in the house. I still wonder if she realized in those moments she stepped back across the threshold, when he heard the door open and the gentle fall of her hurried footsteps as she rounded the corner and saw me on the floor, unable or unwilling to meet her eyes, did she know?

He’d shoved me away from him, sullied and dirty, abandoned to rearrange myself, my zipper and my training bra. Did she know it wasn’t cookies or cakes she needed to worry about baking for too long? It was a man’s lust for a child charring my soul that should have assaulted her nostrils and taken her breath away.

He still had jet-black hair. A full hat slicked back with 54 years of tonic, each follicle paralyzed and afraid to move. People congratulated his luck for not succumbing to previous generations’ baldness. It was fun to sneak up behind him and quickly run my hand back and forth through his perfectly coifed imitation halo. He would grumble good-naturedly and reach for me, but I’d jump just beyond his clutch and giggle wildly. He’d pretend annoyance and reach for his black comb, the ten cent kind you pick up while standing in a pharmacy check-out line. He’d pull it from the back pocket of his pressed and stone-washed jeans, and slowly, carefully arrange each strand back into place. It didn’t take long to fix his hair. He had been training it all of his married life.

Today I didn’t giggle. Today I got too close. Today he caught me and pulled me to to sit obediently at his feet. Something about the air changed, electrified. I could feel his anticipation before I actually felt his hands. Softly, gently, he stroked and kissed my head calming me like a guillotined rabbit. I could feel his warm breath on the back of my neck as he leaned in, bent closer and slowly slid his hand the length of my dark brown hair and into the scooped neck of my baby blue shirt. “You’re Grampy’s little girl,” he whispered again. And again. And again. It became his mantra and my betrayal.

But this is not my story, or even his. This is the story of a woman two generations before me, and of the women from a generation between. This was simply my journey into their world, their secret and their denial. It was in fact my initiation.

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