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Dad, Part I

I don't remember how old I was. Twelve, eleven, something like that. It's crystal clear in some respects, hazy in others. But I remember pleading with him to not kill all the roosters. Still not sure why I cared so much. Maybe because they were a funny little gang. Maybe because I liked animals. Maybe I'm pretending to not care right now because it's still painful that he would do that.

So we got Mom’s permission. When he wouldn’t listen to us, insisted that this was what he was doing, we begged Mom, showed her our research that said you should have more than one rooster. She said okay, tell Dad to leave one more of them alive so we have two. We ran outside to tell him.

We were an axe chop too late.

He showed us the headless body, still flapping its wings.

I don't remember who laughed at us for crying, him or my brother, but someone did.

I hid behind a chair in the living room because there was no privacy in that house.

There are too many memories crowding me.

Not missing him when he had to go work in South Dakota. Being so mad and confused when he wouldn't apologise to my younger sister for yelling at her over something she didn't do. Him holding my leg down while my mom squeezed pus out of it, and me screaming screaming screaming. His blank eyes when I kept on burning myself when ironing his shirts.

I don't quite know how to explain the feeling I got when he lectured me, in that louder-than-normal-but-not-yelling voice he used. It would make me shut down and shut up. I avoided looking at him, just endured it until it was over. Did my best to not earn it, but people never earned that. Dispensed free of charge, whenever you ate in the living room, or questioned a religious practice, or played too rough with your siblings, or wore a white top with a black bra. It was like he thought I was getting on an express elevator to hell if I didn't believe everything he said. But instead of that making him scared and sad, it made him angry. How dare one of his children defy him by being unredeemable?

We are fallen creatures in a sinful world. This is something he taught me. And I do believe it. But it confuses me, how he approaches it. If we are all fallen, does that not make us all equal? Shouldn't it mean more compassion and mercy, shouldn't we be humble and kind? He is not any of those things. His version of mercy is shooting something when it's in pain. I'm sometimes surprised he took me to the doctor when I had pneumonia, instead of telling me to get over myself.

If I did something on accident, he would get mad. And I would defend myself, saying “I didn't mean to!” And his response was always “well you didn't mean not to.”

What the fuck does that mean? Do people go through each day, listing all the stuff they shouldn't be doing at that second so they can avoid doing it?

As a child, I did not understand that logic. As an adult, I still do not. But now I see, I don't understand because it doesn't make sense. I used to think I didn't understand because I was stupid. Progress.

He has not tried to contact me since I moved out, which I appreciate. Granted, he doesn't contact anybody. Probably because if he had friends, they would realise how sadistic and soulless he is. And he can't have that. That would mess up his own self perception as benevolent master of the house, good Christian, hard worker. And there are few things an evil person will fight for as much as their belief that they are a good person.