The man was a hard worker. Friendly, social, and funny. He was close to his family, and had many friends. People liked him.
He talked to the neighbours, participated in group activities, was there when others needed him.
He was easy to talk to, and liked to listen.
He opened his home to the poor and broken.
He liked animals, was involved in the lives of his children, loved his wife.
He was everything they expect a healthy, whole person to be – and they believed that is what he was.
The woman was quiet, and anxious. She had few friends, and spent most of her time with her son, who was often sick.
She didn’t often work outside of the home, and struggled to keep the jobs she had.
She didn’t joke, didn’t sing, was estranged from her family for several years, came from a broken home.
She watched the children, and allowed them to come in, but was not playful.
She was distant, and people didn’t know her well.
He was certain of himself, and she was unsure.
At his funeral, the large space was packed with people. She has lived most of her life alone.
When trouble came to their marriage, they blamed her. It couldn’t have been him, he was a good person. “She is crazy,” he said, “delusional,” and they believed him. He was a good person, they thought. She was hard to know.
The youngest would go with her. She was his caretaker, it is how it should be. The older children would go with him. “They are closer to him,” they said, and she believed them.
That their daughter didn’t speak must have been her fault. That all of their children had strong emotional issues during their teen years must have been her fault, too. “They will do better when they are away from her,” they said, and the young girl trembled.
He fought for his marriage, while she was ready to run – and they supported him. He was a good man, they thought – but the child knew different.
He talked to his children for hours, trying to settle them, it seemed. He confused them with his lies. “She is crazy,” he said. How should they respond. She is my mom, the girl thought, please don’t leave me with him. But the girl could not speak.
Maybe it was the house, the parents thought. She had never wanted to move there. So once more they sold their house, and moved.
What a sacrifice he has made for her, they thought. What a good man. She doesn’t deserve him.
She doesn’t deserve him, the girl thought, but not in the way they think. She is crazy, the girl heard repeating in her mind, and she was confused.
And then the girl found friends. She still couldn’t speak well, but it was nice to have people around. Her friends liked him, too. “He is funny,” they said. He is as sick as his jokes, she thought, but she still couldn’t speak well.
The boy liked her, her brother told her. He would like to spend more time with her. So she let him… and he saw things that others did not, and it made him uncomfortable. So he asked her, and the man went to jail.
Still they liked him, and thought him a good man. “The girl must be mistaken,” they said, and blamed her “crazy” mother.
It is true, she thought, but they didn’t believe her.
They went to court, but she still couldn’t speak, and the man was released. “It is as it should be,” the family said, “the child was mistaken.”
I wasn’t, she screamed, but the words wouldn’t come out. I know what he did, and it was worse than you could imagine.
Still she couldn’t speak, and they believed he was good. She knew different, but they liked him anyway.
She grew, and ran, and then he got sick.
And she returned with her son for her brother’s wedding. She visited him with her son, but she wouldn’t leave the boy with him. She wouldn’t let him talk to her son the way the man had spoken to her as a child, and he was upset.
“He is dying,” they family said, “she should visit him more.”
But they did not understand. They could not, or would not see.
The man was angry, and afraid his death would bring her pleasure – so he canceled his insurance, so she wouldn’t receive anything. I don’t want your money, the girl thought.
All I want from you is that you would KNOW what you did to me. That you would understand. But he didn’t… he didn’t tell her he knew what he did to her. She forgave him anyway.
And then he died.
But her mother was left with nothing to raise their disabled son. It wasn’t right, the girl thought, and took the guilt on herself.