"Such a lovely, well mannered, but quiet girl"
"Needs to come out of her shell, but otherwise, perfect student!"
"Shy, but sweet and smart"
The loopy cursive may be faded and smudged on pink carbon-copy paper, but the same messages echoed back through a dozen years of report cards- a quiet but lovely girl. What every parent hoped for.
But inside, she felt alone and scared. Insecure, a victim without circumstance.
The perfect child, she would sit cross-legged on the Persian rug and watch the static black and white TV, blasting out Leave it To Beaver or Walter Cronkite, a well-adjusted girl with secrets going on right there on the couch behind her, behind seemingly invisible veil.
Emotional abuse. Schizophrenia. Methamphetamine. The illegal gun trade. Discussions of overdoses, the KKK, prison, prostitutes, and blacking out, all the while she seemingly was oblivious. The quiet, perfect child.
Demons danced in the shadows unabashedly, whispering in her ears with their raspy voices, "are you afraid of the dark, little girl?" She feared her room, yearned for the comfort of home; felt abandoned by her parents yet drawn to their hugs and false security.
A host of haggard untouchables, toothless, legless, hopeless, came in and out like the pumping of blood through veins, seeking the illegal goods provided in her family. At age eight, she could (if she had ever wanted) negotiate a drugs or arms deal, but not explain the meaning of family, religion, safety. She saw the TV world as just that, a pretend world where there were three square meals, smiles, kind words, baseball games, and slumber parties, a world beyond her reach behind the fiberglass of the television.
In a world unfit for children, she existed quietly, afraid to shake up a volatility not of her understanding.
The worst experiences, by far, were those haggard men. They would mention, while standing over her, "Hey she's gonna make a hot wife!" while their stinging alcohol breath wafted down like poison gas. They would swoon over her beauty, her hair and eyes and how she was a looker. All the while, her parents turned a blind (or imtoxicated) eye. Nothing much ever came of it, but every day she could feel predatory eyes, imaginary lips licking over her luscious prepubescent body, the demons lurking in every corner, and appearing in reality daily to get their score and more.
The predatory demons left their scent for decades, wisps of fear leaking into everyday interactions, like a permanent tattoo, an ominous unshakable presence. When her collection of psychologists asked her, "what's wrong, ehy are you here", it all came back to her and she wanted to recede into her shell even more, in hopes hiding from life would hide her demons.
...Work of fiction after reading a psychological thriller...