I’d fold my fingers

**Caution.  More disturbing than heavy.**

 

About the age of five, I learned how to fold my fingers.  Some children learned to shout or scream or shut down or sulk.  Other kids would kick and cry and close their eyes.  I learned how to fold my fingers.  I’d fold my fingers.

I’d control my father with my folded fingers.  I’d stretch out my arm, I’d fold my fingers and my dad would rage.  I’d sit high atop my chair behind the table in front of the window in the breakfast nook, wallpapered in white and yellow, and I’d fold my fingers.

In a household which was the width of my universe, which was the only thing I knew, I’d exert the only control I had and I’d do it with my dad.

This same dad who controlled me with fear, a fear that I carried with me from the moment I woke up and tried to clear my cobwebs to the time I went to bed and tried to find sanctuary and safety in the net of my bed, I’d control and I’d control him the only way I knew how.

My father’s means of control was fear, mine was riling him up with anger, an anger I could stir simply by folding my fingers whenever I felt him coming down on me or on my mom.

When my father would get angry, instead of running from him, I’d egg him on.  I’d sit carefully.  I’d sit straight-backed and bravely.  I’d sit defiantly and I’d do just as my older brother taught me, just as we rehearsed many times over in his bedroom closet; I’d bring my dad to the brink.  I’d extend my right hand to my dad and I’d fold my fingers.  I’d fold all of them but one… the middle one.

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