Possessing My Daughter, section one of a short story
I think the human race somehow needs to evolve beyond children. Beyond parenthood. I certainly didn’t want to be a mama. I resented it and I still do. Even from the land of the dead, I still begrudge her all my time and effort. She took so much, so much from me. She was never grateful, never. That’s why I’m making her write this now.
I almost had an abortion, but her father talked me out of it. He could talk a dog off a meat wagon. He carried me off across the desert to Las Vegas to get married. My own father was so angry when he found out. There I was, suddenly, on my own at 19, out of my father’s house. My new husband and I took a small apartment in Venice Beach.
David had this asinine idea of being an artist. He had this notion that my father should pay the bills indefinitely. I had dropped out of college halfway through sophomore year. I was seeing a psychiatrist. It was 1959 – need I say more? Freud was God. My doctor said I hadn’t resolved my Electra complex. That, he said, was what was making me so tired. I slept more than 12 hours a day. When I wasn’t sleeping, I shopped and went to parties. The only bad part was knowing that eventually I’d have to make a decision and do something with the rest of my life. It appeared that being deb of the year in my hometown wasn’t going to cut it much longer.
The first boy I loved broke my heart. I vowed that it would never happen again. So I did nothing to repair that broken heart. I let it stay broken. It was the only way I could think of to protect myself. It’s been so long….
Since I’m already dead, I suppose you’re wondering what the point of all this is. The point is this: I don’t want anyone else to suffer what I suffered while I was alive, and especially not what I’m suffering now that I’m dead. Passing from life to death was supposed to bring me some sort of enlightenment, wasn’t that the fairytale? I was supposed to experience an end to all my worldly cares – joy, peace, rest, or just plain oblivion. Well, I didn’t get any of those things. I’m not surprised: why should my death be any different from my life? I got the exact opposite of oblivion. I got awareness and clarity of vision, a vision so merciless and sharp it would make my head hurt, if I still had a head. Yes, I see everything clearly, for the first time, and let me tell you, I’d settle for oblivion any day of the week. All I want to do with my death is shake all of you by the scruff of the nectk until you get clarity of vision, too. Then maybe, since you people are still lucky enough to be alive, you’ll do something with that vision while you still can. Maybe you won’t end up like me.
My poor daughter, even after I died I wouldn’t let her alone. I visited her over and over again in her dreams until she couldn’t stop thinking about me. I took control of her heart and her mind – actually, now I see I did that the day she was born – and I never let go. Now I can see how I really wanted her to tell my story all along – that’s why I raised her the way I did, to give her the necessary skills. It was like heating iron in a forge and pounding it into a useful shape. She’s writing it all down, every last bit. I won’t let her stop until she’s done, and I’m satisfied.
Oh, she’s so much like her father. What a mistake I made. I’ve told so many lies since then that I’m not really sure what happened between us. I think he could sniff out the complications I carried and wanted nothing to do with them. He didn’t want to hear about how I’d suffered during my parents’ divorce and their custody battle over me. He didn’t want to hear how I’d stopped eating after the judge sent me to live with my father. He didn’t want to hear how much I’d hated boarding school. But I do remember wanting to have sex with him and him turning me down. He was too fastidious to have sex with a girl he thought would make for a Problem Breakup. That would only make the problems more problematic. The excuse he used was that he still had a lot of schooling to get through – a year or two of college, then law school – and he couldn’t afford to get serious with anyone. Not, he said, that I wasn’t beautiful and desirable. The issue was I was too beautiful, too desirable, and getting serious with me was apt to derail his train, headed for success. He’d lose sight of his goal, and so we had to stop seeing each other.