Saturday, February 24, 2018

How can a girl like me ever claim to be innocent?



All I want to be is alone. Why do I feel guilty when I haven’t done nothing wrong. 
Then I raise the corner of the mattress, which is where I’ve stashed away that old picture, the one that was glued in the middle of the second page of the album. The sight of it calms me down, at first. 
I pick it up and study every detail—like I’ve done so many times before—because like, the image may go on fading, until in the end, nothing’s gonna be left. I’m so charmed by it. This moment delights me as if I had lived it, even though—or maybe because—it’s stolen.
In it, a baby is about to be lifted from a cradle by his mama. His face, it’s awful close to the surface—but barely visible. You can only guess it, ‘cause the paper is a bit damaged, and most of the lines is like, out of focus—except for a dark contour, which is still intact, marking the shadow of his long, curved lashes. 
I put a hand to my belly, and touch my lips to the image, right there, over that shadow. I wonder if this is how my baby’s gonna look, and marvel at the thought of how his eyes would change when he wakes, or falls asleep, or rolls them, like, in the sphere of his dreams, and then later, when he grows up to become a man, ‘cause it’s so easy to fill in the details on a page that’s like, almost blank. 
On the other side, right there behind the cradle, the mother—whose lips, and cheeks, and freckled nose, they’re all just like mine—she’s leaning over him, with open arms. 
Her face is serious, without the slightest smile. She’s looking directly at the camera, at the one taking the picture, whom I’ve previously imagined to be Lenny—but today, I find a change in her. This time, it’s me she is facing. 
The way she looks at me is severe, critical, even disapproving. I bet it’s because the laugh lines have dimmed with time. But then, her eyes! Oh God, they’re so clear, so full of pure, glorious light; which, for a moment, brings me close to despair. I’m in awe. Look, I have goosebumps! The two of us look the same, just like sisters—but oh, how I wish I could be more like her!
Me, I don’t have nothing more I want to say in my defense—except to ask you again: put yourself in my place. How can a girl like me ever claim to be innocent?

Anita in My Own Voice


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