Wednesday, March 17, 2010

He'd Be Nine Now

by yt sumner

I’m the eldest of five.

We all have different fathers, and none of them stuck around past any of our first birthdays, which made me quite good at balancing siblings on my hips. There’s an art to it you know, making sure their little coccyx isn’t rammed into your hipbone but resting on the natural ledge just above it.

That’s what adults said when they saw me out getting groceries pushing a pram with a sister on my hip.

She’s a natural.

You get so natural you can even balance two at a time.

It made adults laugh when I tossed my head and announced

I’m never having kids.

They said

You’ll change your mind when you grow up.

I changed another nappy and muttered

Not bloody likely.

I was precocious.

I was at that age where I’d just learned to sway my hips in that subtle way and not teeter but stride in heels. He looked ten years younger than he was. He told me about his fiance a week before I told him I was pregnant.

That’s when I changed my mind.

The counselor at the hospital said

You’re mature beyond your years and have a very realistic view of single parenting.

That’s when I changed my mind back.

My mother said.

It’s not fucking cancer, just make up your mind.

When I woke up from the anesthetic a woman was sitting beside my bed holding my hand. She said

You’re a good person.

I didn’t know I was crying until she wiped the tears away and I don’t know if I imagined her.

For a year he haunted me. I didn’t believe in ghosts but there he was, everywhere. A woman came into my work one day and looked at me.

It’s time to let him go. He won’t leave you until you do.

I laughed like I had no idea what she was talking about, like we didn’t cry each other to sleep every night. But still I went home, and that night, just like she said to, I lit a candle and said

how sorry I was

I said


and he left.

yt sumner lives in Melbourne, Australia and can’t let go of the fantasy that one day she’ll be chosen from the crowd ‘Dancing in the Dark’ style and be whisked off to some rock god’s love den. Yes, a den. She writes some – have a snoop at her blog and check out her latest postcard project ‘you and me’

1 comment:

  1. I think this must have been a really hard piece to write and that you did a beautiful job. Very crisp and melancholy.