sad girl diaries
 

Elizabeth Sheline '22

Fall 2017 

To my father,

 

I’d like to introduce myself,

Elizabeth

 

Female

DOB: 02/04/1997

Ethnicity: I never know what to put here

Two or more races

 

Short

Sporty

Sophisticated

Sarcastic

Shy

Strong

Sad

Depressed

No, no, we don’t talk about that, remember?

 

No, fuck that

We do talk about that

 

 

             I.

Insert Here: [Childhood]

Excuse me, I’m drawing a blank

For good reason

I was born

You were there

For all intents and purposes

Sometimes I wonder,

Does being present for one day

warrant twenty years off? 

Thirty years

Forty

I’m being mean.

“At least you have a father.”

At least you don’t beat me.

Or touch me.

Or whatever the hell those white men do

The ones that you arrest

The ones that you don’t talk about

I’m lucky, right?

I guess I should just be happy then

Happy I had one

Even if you weren’t around

Why weren’t you around?

No, nevermind

It doesn’t matter

I’m told it does matter.

But, when have I ever listened to what I’ve been told?

 

Grandpa died

I cried on the curb by the mailbox

Midday

Tuesday

I don’t know how old I was

Little

I don’t know how he died

But after that, you weren’t around for grandma either

And I’ll admit

I don’t know the full story

But we stopped going over there

She used to babysit

Have sleepovers

We’d pick up Grandma’s Pizza and

I thought she was famous or something

Like it was named after her

Christmas went by and

You paid the phone bill, cable bill

Even bought her a dog

I was there for that

You were there, but not really

I mean, that's kind of how it always is

Pay for shit

Hope it means something

I wonder if grandma ever felt that way, too

 

I never saw our white family again

after grandpa died

I guess that isn’t entirely true

I would see grandma once a year

Maybe once every two

But that’s kind of pathetic

Cause she was right over on the south side

I forgot Uncle Ernie’s name

And Terry's, too

“Who’s Buddy again?”

“And Missy?”

“What happened with Dad and Ernie?”

“Nothing, they’re just freeloaders.”

“They’re just mad your dad got out

and made something of himself.”

“Ok.”

 

I forgot about the white side

of our family

Even though, I was “White as hell,”

according to the black kids

from Eastgreen on the Commons

I always did my “homework and shit”

I liked school

And if that’s what made me white

then, shit I don’t know

The kids who had mom in middle school would say,

“Ohhh you Mrs. Sheline’s daughter, 

I didn’t know you was black.”

Never really knowing what to say to that

I told you so?

 

That’s the thing

I didn’t really feel black

But for some reason I still felt like I had to

defend myself

Defend my ancestors

Or something

“My great, great, great grandparents were slaves,”

I’d say, spewing complete bullshit that wasn’t

completely bullshit 

I mean, I wasn’t sure

My family 

came from Virginia and the Carolinas

I knew that much

I assumed they were slaves

Is that far-off?

Then I think

So what if they were?

Congratulations

For being black?

But

I don’t really feel black

 

            II.

Did you know I was lost?

Did you even want to help me?

Talk to me? 

No, because you don’t do that

Remember?

Say something

Anything

I just needed you to

Say something

Did you know I could hear you

Playing grandpa’s guitar downstairs

In the middle of the night

After work

In the dark?

Alone

Whose vodka is in the cabinet

Up over the stove?

Did you just need me to say something?

Anything

 

 

           III.

One time I saw you

for who you really are

I was fifteen

You always joked

And quoted movies

You have that Will Ferrell,

Steve Carell sense of humor

Dry

Crude

I’ve come to hate it

 

You were embarrassed that night

Because we had company

My company

Did you ever think

Maybe I was embarrassed of you?

That was it

Truly

As think back

It's hard to remember

Who was the joke about?

Latinos?

No.

A favorite of yours, but no.

Black people?

Ah, 2012

Wasn’t that when 

Trayvon Martin was

Killed?

“Rightfully so,”

I imagine you saying.

Whatever it was

It was something

Overtly racist

That awkward laugh

To yourself.

Uncomfortable

Nothing new

But we had company

She might've never noticed

Had it not been for me.

I said something

For the first time

Last time

Only

 

It was late and

You had to drive her home

I went with you

Even though it was just around the corner

You were pissed

Coughing

Why do you do that?

The coughing

Why do you have to be that?

Racist

When we got back to the house

You stopped on the front porch and 

Grabbed my arm

Tight

Blocking my way to the door

Mom was inside

In your bedroom

Inside

I just wanted to get to 

Mom

Inside

But she couldn’t save me

No one could save me from

You

It was as if your hate

Grew hands and 

Grabbed me by the throat

“I can’t breathe”

We aren’t allowed to say that

Your grip grew tighter around my arm

The pressure of your hate around my neck grew

Heavy, my breathing

Heavy

My heart 

Slowed

 “Don’t you ever,” you paused

Your bright blue eyes turned black,

“Call me a bigot.”

I think that was the first time I heard that word.

That was the last time I said something.

 

 

            IV.

You were more on guard after that

I heard this term the other day

Soft-porn racism

It made me laugh 

It felt

Familiar

It was in reference to George Wallace

His new strategy

A change-up from the hardcore

“Segregation forever!”

Bigot all the same

I think you took that on for a while

A sort of calm after the storm

But then

Terrorist attacks

Boston Marathon

San Bernardino

Ohio State University

Close to home

Somali refugee

"Inspired by the Islamic State"

“Fucking Somalians”

 

You didn’t really say anything

At least for some time

Nothing I can remember

Other than Malala jokes

Which are really fucked up

And show me

not only how you feel about Muslims,

but how you feel about women

But you didn't have to say anything though

I already knew

You would just keep the news on

You swore by it

And still do

Fox & Friends

There’s Greta

You fucking hated her

Because you said she was a lesbian

And wasn’t as pretty as Megyn Kelly

Sexist

But you don’t like Megyn anymore

Remember?

Her spat with Trump

Then there’s Bret Baier, 

Eric Bolling—again

Shows me what you think of women

The Five

Mom loves The Five

Hannity

O’Reilly—again…

 

I’m not entirely innocent

I watched it all too

Not even against my will

It was all I knew

We didn’t like Anderson

Because he was gay, right?

We didn’t watch CNN

the “Communist News Network,” right?

We wanted our news

“Fair and balanced”

            

 

            V.

I resent you

I do

That’s might be hard to hear

It’s not supposed to be easy

 

I resent you for the things you say

Under your breath

For the things you don’t say

But I know you believe

I resent you for taking away my choice,

What to see, believe, be

The land of the free

I resent you for taking away my family

For sleeping through my childhood

For refusing to acknowledge me

I resent you

For how you have failed

To raise your black daughter

 

 

            VI.

Now, you might think,

“Where is this coming from?”

Don’t act surprised

You were there last year

When you got the phone call

From the hospital

Yes, the thing we don’t talk about

You drove twelve hours to be by my side

When we both knew that was the last thing I wanted

I bet mom told you it was about Mike

Crying

“I can’t breathe”

All the crying

About a boy

A black boy

How dare he break my heart, right?

How dare you break me.

 

It’s so easy for a therapist to scrawl

“Dad”

across the page

Sex

Sex

Lots of sex

Trading in your white t-shirt and

the smell of your cologne

for smooth

black skin

legs intertwined

It’s so easy for a therapist to scrawl

“Dad”

across the page

But how the fuck is that supposed to help?

 

 

          VII.

I raise my hands up

Up over my head

You press the cold gun

Deep in my chest

You dirty, white cop

A pig, at best

With one single round

Release all my stress