The Rectangular Glow

Growing up, my life was riddled with uncertainty.

I was scarcely acquainted with a safe space to thrive.

Much of my time away from my abuser was spent hiding inside a pantry next to a bag of rotten potatoes, whispering jokes to expired cans of SPAM, or sharing my distain for homework with the dried up roly-poly’s curled up at my tiny feet.

I used to memorize the rectangle of light, peaking underneath the doorframe of that very food cupboard, like it was some sort of religious text.

It was key to my salvation, like any decent holy text would be.

Nothing about it felt unusual.

The other kids at Sunday school always talked of the mighty God and praised him like they would their favorite type of cafeteria pizza.

No matter how salvation was served, it was expected to be excellent.

Still to this day, I do not like cold pizza.

Pizza is best served hot and with a plethora of toppings.

No, pizza is not fantastic no matter how it comes.

The same with God.

My opinion has been nearly consistent since grade school, about God, and about pizza.

To me, God was that sliver of yellow glow gently reaching towards my toes as I waited out the rage of my abuser.

I would wriggle my tiny fingers at the floor, pads covered in clusters of warts, and put on a puppet show to pass the time.

The Vienna Sausages always demanded an encore, but the bottles of salad dressing, dated back to the Vietnam War, preferred the stand-up routine.

Actually, it was more like a “squat-down” routine, but that is not important to this story.

My abuser was family and as a family member I had a responsibility to wait out their fits.

At least, that is what he told me.

He never hit me, my skin was far too treasured to mark and if I came home to my mother looking like a six-day old banana, questions would naturally follow.

He was extraordinarily cautious to never mark me, on the outside.

Nevertheless, that did not inherently mean he never concealed rage deep within his rapidly maturing bones.

So, to combat these moments between caressing the prickled goosebumps of my inner thighs and his abrupt urge to slam my face against the bathroom mirror, I hid inside of a musty pantry with food that was neglected just like me.

Solidarity with Hamburger Helper.

Unity with Creamed Corn.

Harmony with Bush’s Beans.

That is how light became the extended pale hand of deliverance.

That is how darkness became the creeping sensation that felt like cough syrup.

Thick and constantly got caught up inside of my throat.

I am still afraid of unnatural darkness and cough syrup makes me gag at the age of twenty-six.

Despite all this awfulness, I have grown to look back at these memories fondly.

Now when I look at the warm glow of a candle, I feel a flame burning deep within me that has been there since childhood.

Survival is messy and strange, but it is also lovely.

Survival is dusty cans of chili and pickled eggs, but it is also that rectangle of light that brings you home from it all.

I will never forget that soft glow.

I will be that for you.

Just take it slow.

I am light.

I am here.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s