I Can’t Tell Him

Vidiya Dawah

Photo Credit: Franco Lautieri/Flickr (CC-by)


My scalp pricks with pain as I try to pull my hairbrush out of my hair. I set the brush down with the strands of hair I had to rip out on my dresser. The mirror looms over me, the only way to avoid its gaze is to look down, but like a magnet my eyes are drawn straight to the center. Eyes red at edges and trembling, I try to take a breath.

“Nothing happened. I’m ok. Ok I’m ok.”

My heart pounds as I try to rid my mind of all thoughts that swirl and swim through my head like rainwater. I close my eyes and tilt my head upwards, straightening my posture and shutting down my mind. My entire world is oppressed under a frigid grey fog, there’s no source of light, but no source of shadows either.


I jolt from my stupor and grip the edge of my dresser, I can’t see him in the mirror, but my eyes are still stuck in my reflection. I can tell what he looks like though, his hair is a curly mess of dark ink and he’s wearing his usual sweats. The only thing keeping him from becoming a shadow is his translucent pale skin and blue veins that pop against the black.

“What happened this morning?”

My mind dredges up all the memories I’ve spent the past six hours trying to silence. They come in slow waves as I relive the nausea and discomfort from before. I’m going to touch you. Everyone is going to touch you. The world is out to get you. Once you turn 18 I’m gone. You’re running away from your problems. You’re not like other children. You’ll be all alone. You’re hurting me. You’re unreasonable. You’re pathetic. You’re a freak.

“Nothin’ happened. M’fine. Totally fine.”

I look up at him over his shoulder and give him a small smile. He leans against the desk and looks at me out of the corner of his eyes, arms folded and sweatshirt bunched up.

“You were screaming when he was in your room. He didn’t mean any harm.”

I swallow back my vomit of words, all my excuses burn the back of my throat like acid. What do I say? He’s creepy, he’s scary, he’s weird, he’s gross, he scares me. It’s not like you’ll believe me, so what do I say? The truth tries to claw out from my body, starting as a numbing feeling in my toes, then making its way up to my torso where it settles. It claws at my stomach until it reaches my heart. It pounds and pounds until my vision fades away and all I can see is my ripped up heart, covered in punctures.

“He wasn’t trying to hurt you.”

He says it with such a softness and sadness in his eyes that I have to hold back my laughter. Everyone loves him, he’s such a good guy, he’s been through a lot so we have to forgive him, he’s trying his best, he loves you, he’s not in his right mind, he’s sick, he’s ill, he’s our Dad.

I want to laugh. I can’t tell him.


Email: vdawah7663[at]bths.edu

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