Page 166

ily car remained in the field. He walked all the way to his mother’s house, and she drunk-drove him home. They were both sloshed. My father’s eyes rolled around in their sockets, trying to find a focus. Then he saw the three of us in our nightgowns, watching from our bedroom doorway. He smiled, a big, dopey smile, like he was a five-year-old who’d just arrived at a birthday party. There was blood on his teeth, too. He didn’t appear to recognize a single one of us. Soon after this, I became terrified of riding in the car at night because I couldn’t see my parents’ faces, only the backs of their heads. They were often angry with each other and silent, so I had no auditory confirmation it was still them. I stared at their silhouettes with a growing suspicion that when they turned around, their eyes would be gone, replaced by spinning silver discs that sat in expressionless faces. Every drive home in the dark turned into a silent panic, me gripping the door handle should I need to jump from the car. *My daughter has those same blank eyes in my dreams, and right before the static fills my brain, she gives me that same loose-hinged smile. My panic turns into fury as I ask her the same questions my mother asked my father. I say her name over and over, but no matter how many times I repeat it, her eyes continue to skim over me, through me, past me. She is alien and gone. Anger and fear sweeps through me, and I am lost to terror. Then, I slap her. That was the first dream. In the next dream, I boxed her ears. In another, I shook her. In the last one, I scratched her face. In every dream, it’s right after I’ve become so unimaginably violent with her that her eyes clear and she comes back to me, which brings me back from my rage. Our eyes latch as we process what I’ve done. The horror of my actions renders me mute and then I am trying to hold her like I did when she was an infant and we spent every day together on the loveseat with her cuddled on my chest. I am beside myself with remorse and grief as a torrent of apology pours out of me. Please, I’m so sorry, it was your eyes, I take it back. But she resists me, and we are forever split apart. Her eyes go cold as she turns away and leaves me for good. When I awaken from these dreams, my chest aches as if I have pneumonia. I ease myself through the morning routines and afternoon doldrums with the pace of the infirm, creeping around corners lest the dream’s memory bites me again. I’ve never felt this intense panic and rage toward my daughter except in these dreams. I’ve certainly never felt violent. Freud would tell me these recurring nightmares are a manifestation of sublimated rage toward my father triggered by the fear of my daughter leaving home. My therapist would say it’s the Adult Children of Alcoholics version of empty nest syndrome. But knowing this doesn’t help me shake the dreams. One time when my daughter was a toddler, I took her to the community swimming pool. She wore a bright pink bathing suit with navy trim that stretched across her little rounded belly. She had Princess Ariel floaties on her arms. I tied her hair up into a tiny blonde sprout on top of her head. I held her in 158  Wind/Mill Prizes

Profile for Hofstra University

Windmill - December 2016  

The Hofstra Journal of Literature and Art

Windmill - December 2016  

The Hofstra Journal of Literature and Art

Profile for hofstra