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Charon's Obol

i came out of the womb in 1978 sobbing. sixteen years later my mother sent me a typed letter while i was on a catholic school spirituality retreat, and she described the day i was born. she wrote that i was a happy baby. that i made their family complete. that it was the happiest thanksgiving they'd ever shared. she wrote about her feelings candidly, words I’d never heard her utter. she wrote about feelings i didn’t know she had.

like all children my mouth was solely functional. i learned to speak. food was taken in. sounds were emitted.

i was in 7th grade when i began sneaking food. snacks in between meals had to be hidden. otherwise there were questions asked that my mouth couldn't respond to correctly. I DON’T KNOW was not an acceptable answer to "why are you eating so much, why can't you wait until dinner?"

you know you're not supposed to eat that.

ryan always told me he loved me before i gave him a blow job. before it happened, i thought i wanted to do it. i wanted to give him a reason to stay. he always took too long. 45 minutes or an hour later i would get the nerve to take it out of my mouth and say, "can i stop now?" his vocal chords never had any issue working. he had a few recycled responses to my pleading that always sounded crafty and persuasive.

in passing years i asked myself questions that most people don’t have to ponder: will that chair break if I sit on it? when I got escorted off the platform of the roller coaster, will my brother believe me that i simply was too afraid to ride it? or did he see the security bar unable to close over my stomach?

eating became the answer to every question i couldn’t figure out. my mouth took in whatever i filled it with, and as my voice got smaller my body grew. i was 20 when i stopped talking to my parents. vocal responses were "nothing," "i don't know" and "fine." these are all lies, but I couldn’t dig that deep. all i knew was that i felt almost nothing, except hunger. 

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