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The Day that I Quit Keeping Secrets


I quit keeping secrets

one day

when the bomb inside of my stomach

threatened to detonate and

destroy me

and everyone around me.

It was not easy,

you see,

for the mask that clung to my face

for years upon years

would not budge,

as I stripped it off slowly at first,

but realized this was not the way

for skin peeled with it

leaving me

silently screaming,


in excruciating pain.

I understood that quitting

(in my case)

meant ripping off the band-aid

that had been

put on me

at an early age

with a glue that appeared

to become more adhesive

as each year passed.

The day I quit keeping secrets,

all hell broke loose

for quitting anything

that has become a part of who you are

is near impossible.

Looking back,

I remember this day vaguely,

in snap-shots…

I am sitting in a car with a woman

who keeps glancing at me,


chattering away as if the silence,

if left unbroken,

will absorb us both,

casting us into some kind of


I am in a white room

sitting in a cushioned chair,

the woman holding my hand,

my hand that is so cold that

it feels dead.

I am in a new room

with a desk and windows,

being asked questions about a secret…

my secret.

Each question causes my face to redden,

more and more,

as I,

an embarrassed thirteen year old,


“Don’t you know

that people don’t talk about these things,

as you ask me for details,

dirty details,

as if discussing weather?”

I am hiding behind a sofa,

a soda machine

humming to my left,

radiating heat to my body,

which is so cold that it feels as if it is

not mine. Not mine.

Not mine.

“Come out,”

(The officer says)

“Come and see your mother.”

But I cannot see my mother,

now that she knows.

I cannot see my mother.

I cannot see my mother,

now that she knows.

“Mom stop crying,”

(I plead to her

as she clings to me,

clings to me as if her life

depends on it)

“This isn’t your fault”

I say,

“This isn’t your fault”

Fault. Fault. Whose fault?

Guilt, Shame, Guilt, Shame.

Whose fault?

That day we went home,

his truck still in the drive way,

a testament of

unfinished business.

I listened to music

as if my life

depended on it

as she cried and cried,

stuffing big black garbage bags.

So many big black garbage bags.

I will always see those bags,

looking malicious

as if they were stuffed

with bodies

instead of clothes

and other

personal items.

Perhaps they were filled

with each and every secret,

each and every lie

that was ever told

to keep my secret.

Each bag sitting on the curb

waiting to be taken

to the dump,

as if erasing

any trace of him

will erase the past.

That is the day that I quit;

The day that I quit

keeping secrets.


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( )

I have no idea what I did for my fifth birthday.

Before the age of six, my family and I lived in the Big Apple, a city so grand that it’s bright lights and loud noises swallow up time as if it were bagged cotton candy at the Ringling Brother’s circus. There are bits and pieces of memory that remain clinging to my small fingers as I attempt to remember, however, it is all in vain for these remnants appear to have minds of their own, choosing when and how to show themselves as I chase them through rabbit holes and into the great beyond.

My tenth birthday was spent at a bowling alley in Melbourne, Florida, the polar opposite of New York City where people smile kindly at you and the sun tans your cheeks even when it’s overcast. Long days are spent at the beach until entire summers blur into one another, a merged aroma of sunscreen and salt air, the screeching of seagulls ringing for days to come. On days like this, my younger self wondered at the phenomenon that occurs when one retires after a long day spent in the ocean. As your head hits the pillow, your brain has not yet caught up and one feels as if they might still be floating on the Atlantic.

I get carried away remembering these days of naive innocence.

My friends and I ate pizza and drank sodas by the gallon, competing against one another until the sugar took effect and we became silly, tossing balls backwards and overhand, earning scowls from our elders and receiving worried exclamations from my mother who was sure that we would soon be thrown out, never allowed to return again.

I don’t remember much that happened before I began to see the world and my life for what it was. I just remember that I was happy. Whenever I hear older people say that ignorance is bliss, I go somewhere deep inside of myself, realizing how true this is.

My fifteenth birthday took place in the same town during a time of darkness that even the strong Florida sun could not illuminate. My world had been turned upside down and my friends and mother looked at me constantly, studying my face to make sure that all was well. I think they half expected me to fall apart or go insane, and in some way I suppose I did although they never knew it.

We had a cookout at a beautiful park that harbored the river, eating barbecue and playing sports such as tennis, football and basketball. It was a hot day and we all enjoyed holding cold cans of soda up to our sweaty foreheads, realizing that the drinks’ perspiration were much more refreshing than our own. Even this birthday I do not accurately recollect, other than¬† recalling the feeling that I was a captain on some grand ship trying to reassure my crew that all was well as I frantically scooped water with a small bucket back into the ocean, our ship sinking lower and lower, as some irreparable damage already determined our demise.¬† I think that the sunshine state highlighted the gloom that consumed this period of my life, as the sun shone much too bright, my party guests laughed much too loud, and everything appeared untruthful. It’s as if the planet picked up my cue in deception and worked with me to maintain a steady flow of calm composure.

My twentieth birthday has not yet come. I cannot remember most of the time leading up to this transition into adulthood, and yet it remains upon me. I am in college and the world is brighter. I am no longer an innocent, nor do I still dwell in darkness. A new state brought with it a new hope. A hope that radiates in the darkest of times, when I see how cruel the world is as well as a hope that rests and rejoices when I am reminded of how beautiful everything has the potential to be.

This world is so beautifully tragic, and although more birthdays are not promised, I am confident that they will come.


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