Stroke

My mother told me about his
stroke one night
when I was 
in my dorm room at
college
While the rest of campus was
off partying and
making mistakes
 I was taking a break
from writing a
paper
Sitting indian style in
the middle of my
unmade bed
talking to my mother
I was returning her
16 missed calls
and 9 worried answering machine
messages
She was telling me all
about back home and the ghosts
I ran away from
Did you hear me she said
He can’t even move the right
side of his body
He’s lost all use of his right hand

I hadn’t heard her
I was spiraling into a
blackout panic
Cold sweat nausea
The truth bubbled up
to the surface
12 years of hidden shame
vomited out when I finally
told her
That’s what he deserves for
touching me
It should have been worse

I cried when I told her
It felt like I’d let her down
somehow
I heard how hard my revealing
secret hurt her
The way it knocked the
breath from her body
and how she asked me
in a whisper
What did you say
I couldn’t bring myself to
repeat it
Once was enough
Instead I rustled some papers
I gotta go mama
I have to get this paper done
I’ll call you tomorrow

She sniffled
You always say that and never do

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