|-paul fryer's 'heaven and hell|
i want to write the story of us.
expose all those moments
you've forgotten and meant love to me.
swim inside those details
that have been falsely accused of being trivial.
it was inside the minuscule that you became a god
and transmuted my reality
into unrequited, overlooked memoirs that have defined my life.
i want this story to be my thank you letter.
a confession that perhaps will redefine
the words that have become dull from overuse,
the truest i love you i can submit.
perhaps it will slay the beast of apathy that lives in your breast.
the small indie doc tells the tale of two sisters who were victims of sexual molestation. by their father’s best friend. who lived in close proximity. NO,WAIT.ITGETSBETTER. after their parents find out…they confront the molester who promises never to do it again. in response he gets castrated, lobotomized, and left wandering the desert without food or shelter. oh wait. that didn’t happen. cue the reality reel - he promises never to do it again, goes to counseling once, and for the next decade these girls are forced by their parents to see this man in various different contexts, the main one being fucking everyday life.
the documentary is squirm-in-your-seat inappropriate (favorite moment? main character stating…”oh it was normal for me to play with my dad’s penis”) but what is most evident is the utter failure of the parents to protect their daughters. i have many opinions on the fuckery their parents put these girls through but bottom line – the doc’s main storyline is about these two women confronting their attacker many years after in an attempt to gain some sort of closure.
it is heartbreaking, provocative, and in some moments so endearing, but ultimately if you are looking to find hope in humanity – this film is not going to give you that. it’s a testament to how society fails the victim, even long after the victimization has occurred. meeting the molester on camera, the silence and tension in the room was alive with emotion. and once the scene was over and the credits rolled, i’m not sure if i was better off never having heard of it in the first place.
what remained was an intense desire to find out the man’s name. there is about ten seconds devoted to revealing that the molester’s son had been arrested himself for sexual attacks and you see his family struggling to find answers. is sexual misconduct, violence, and violation genetic? is it taught through behaviors only a genius psychotherapist can deconstruct?
the documentary tries unsuccessfully to allude to the dangers of pornography as some sort of ass-backwards explanation to this horrid human being’s conduct. but in a society that is closer and closer to complete censorship, is this the right course to take? pornography is not dangerous as long as there isn’t any exploitation. and as long as mainstream media continues to lace their messages with religious morality, things like speaking out about sexual abuse will continue to be taboo. talking about sex will continue to be taboo. which will always be counterproductive in identifying the demons that prey on people. sex isn’t bad people. what is bad is the exploitation, victimization, and violation of anyone who isn’t a consenting individual. end of story.
you are intrinsically bad, little girl. axiomatic said an old writer once.
axiomatically inherently intrinsically bad.
i threw the bottle with a flick of my wrist and enjoyed the sound the glass breaking on the wet asphalt below my window. grabbed the other that was still full and waiting for me, a little present of possibility. sweet tasting oblivion. the liquid had a way of burning that made me think of antiseptic.
the thoughts overcrowded and jumbled, the codex of the rapture, the epistle of the sorrowful.
gospels they all were. the gospel according to the forgotten.
i emptied the second bottle out of spite in just a few minutes and found myself once again staring back at the distorted reflection at the bottom of the hollow glass. this time, without blinking, i smashed it against the wall and felt around for the edges.
i would cut you out of me in order to no longer to wear this victim’s skin. and as i began to raise the jagged point towards my face, the void came up in a wave and swallowed me away.
i slept the sleep of self-inflicted martyrs, heavy and empty and devoid of all comfort.
what woke me was the sound of the violin playing softly and as i blinked sleep away slowly, i realized that it had all been somehow undone. the years of being tossed to one jackal after another, the living fear and then the hatred and disgust, the breathing husk of a girl that was my existence.
the violin. the song weaved itself to me, a cradle. and on the dresser, as i looked for the source, i found that it was coming from a music box. i stepped gently out of bed, anxious that a heavier footstep might crack this reality and have it all fall around me unexpectedly.
wooden, smelling of cedar, it was smooth, deeply etched with a vine pattern and nothing else. it was empty and unlike most music boxes, it did not hold a dancing figurine. it simply played for the dancer in my mind, the figure i had once dreamt to be.
delicate but strong, like the violin strings that weaved together the melody that held me in a sway of subtle ecstasy.
with a smile, i picked it up and for a moment, felt an immense sense of relief, gratitude, and the purest of love flow through me. and once again, without the blink of an eye, i raised it over my head and smashed that sweet serenading object. with a twang in objection, the song wound down, now only a sickened parody of its former perfection. the world wavered in the lightest of quicksilver and i was back where i belonged. back to where truth is always ugly but it will always let you know where you stand.
the splintered wood was evidence that it had been real. but who the fuck said i needed rescuing?
a continuation…read the first part here: Part One
growing all the while, lily was an unordinary child. she excelled in all developmental tests. she drew admiring crowds of people whenever iris ventured a stroll around the neighborhood. bright grayish green eyes incited cooing and lily always dutifully responded back with her own infectious smile.
the curse itself, weakened for a while, allowed iris to give birth to the first healthy, full-term infant, jacob. the little boy was extraordinarily strong both physically and mentally and due to lily’s small frame, most people confused the siblings as twins. jacob though was not of the same temperament and experienced long bouts of colic, crying inconsolably for hours on end. and although the two were close for a time, it grew very apparent that the brother and sister could not be any more different.
time passed as it tends to do. the tendrils of the curse curled around the once happy couple and the dissolution of marriage soon followed. returning to her home, to her mother’s warm kitchen full of siblings and support, iris felt confident that she would have more than enough help in the raising of her children. william sold the home he had once so hopefully purchased in a happier time and followed, determined to be close to his children.
as lily grew to learn all of her maternal family members, she soon learned also of the dark nature of humanity. often when she found herself alone with a cousin or distant relative, she was frequently prodded and touched in the most secretive of places, as if it were the most normal thing in the world. slightly confused, lily passively accepted this in silence since none of these encounters had yet caused any physical pain, only a slight tremor within her stomach and confused thoughts as to what it all meant. instinctually she knew that these secretive meetings were wrong and could never find the words to describe nor the person to whom she could explain. lily only stored it away in the silent parts of her mind to be later examined. a deeper, wordless understanding of people began to build inside and instead of anger, it was mostly pity she found herself feeling as she lay awake at night. aside from that, lily loved her new home and above all books and starry nights and the smell of her maternal grandmother’s cloth-filtered coffee.
she grew, despite the random touchings and began often to feel restless. the sensation of homesickness that would swell up within her tiny body for a place she could not describe. there simply did not exist the words inside of her mind. and although she smiled frequently and giggled on cue when on display, inside she was melancholy and dim, unanchored to reality.
a chance meeting happened one day with celeste, as william with good intentions brought his two young children to meet his mother. the house where she lived held scattered seashells, disheveled and unkempt dolls and altars that overflowed with old, melted wax of all colors. two cats circled the kitchen and the old woman as she shuffled the small family into the cramped sitting area, fussed over her money-making son. idle chat and hollow sentiment passed over the ears of young lily while she daydreamed until celeste’s green eyes settled on the young girl’s face.
“you have the face of a woman who will be young in her grave, forever beautiful,” the woman said.
lily blinked slowly and felt a swell of will surge within her. almost angry, she held her silence as well as the woman’s gaze. unresponsive. the silence in those seconds cradled moons and suns and unspoken battles.
it was the old woman who finally looked away, turning to william to ask if he would like anything to drink.
that time was the last that celeste ever addressed lily specifically, placating william by asking after the children but never again inviting them over for a visit. the old woman kept her distance, knowing that her own words, as it is within the lore of time forgotten, would be returned three-fold. lily would only remember the dolls that seemed so sinister and the stirring of a knowledge that had not fully revealed itself yet.
it may have been that that chance encounter angered celeste. or perhaps fate had plans for lily’s mother iris. but lily had not yet reached puberty when illness descended once again on the now barren iris. bed-ridden for days, young lily would watch her mother sleep the sleep of the forgotten ones, the sleep that was so deep that often none could wake her.
while at the table of her maternal grandmother, jessa, enjoying the smells of cooking and coffee, adults chattered away and lily, pretending to be daydreaming, heard in passing the first mention of the curse of celeste and of the poor health of her mother. and although she did not stir nor turn to look at the people gossiping, she instantly called to mind the face of the witch and felt again the swirl of energy tossing within her stomach.
let it be hers then, lily thought. let her darkness eat her away in the same place my soul is now crying, in the very pit of her stomach. so let it be hers.
kissing grandma jessa, she went off then to play, returning to the uncomplicated thoughts of a child.
the touching continued. lily’s story would bring with it moments of intrusion, of violation, of penetration, and of blood. it would bring her more and more distant from the mother who had tried so hard to keep her alive once upon a time and the father who never learned how to truly recognize his daughter.
she grew into a woman, cordial and charming when socially needed but often solitary, waiting, waiting, waiting for a time when all curses and hurts would be done with.
iris dissolved slowly, fading far from the vibrant and beautiful young woman who had wanted so badly to be a mother. she was now an angry and short-tempered woman afraid of being without a man. of dying alone she often remarked, although she had children who loved her unconditionally.
lily was close to her mother’s age, the age of when the curse first manifested when news arrived that celeste had died suddenly from a cancer that had eaten away at her stomach. she died, drowning in her own blood and greed. lily attended the funeral and attended to her father as a dutiful daughter, knowing that things were coming full circle. as she passed the casket, lily felt closely in tune with her own soul, with her own will and undaunted, was pleased at how strongly it stirred within her. she walked past, swathed in regality.
iris, despite her infirmaries, continued to amaze doct ors at her resilience and strength, as if her body possessed the will to defy illness from within its very own cells. lily could do no more for her mother and felt finally content in simply loving her from a distance.
as for the child who was to have never been, lily grew farther away from the family that had created her. farther away she traveled but no matter where she found herself, that sense of homesickness never faded. but of what would happen to her, the narrator of this story can not say.
what we can leave with is this: there are outliers among crowds all over the world and lily will always find herself counted among them. the stories that would come of that are yet to be seen.
perhaps for now, we can sign this…
and she lived happily ever after.