a conversation with my five year old self

A Conversation With My 12 Year Old Self: 20th Anniversary Edition

Something I have never told anyone: I have a cassette that I recorded when I was five or six years old on my mother’s portable tape-deck. It starts off very sweetly with a terrible, warbling little song I was obviously making up on the spot about how completely, blisteringly great it would be to live in an edible country, where I could eat any time I wanted. I haven’t listened to it in a very long time, but I seem to remember that the ground was made of chocolate, butterflies were made of fried chicken, and all my imaginary trees grew both fruit and candy. Honestly, the song is freakishly adorable. You can practically hear how ash blonde and wide-eyed I was, even if maybe I was a bit too hungry. Then the shouting begins. It’s my delusional father in the background, obviously just in the next room, loud, cruel, and toxic. It gets louder and louder as the recording continues. And I don’t even seem to notice. I wonder, listening as an adult, if the door between the rooms was even closed. Memory says it probably wasn’t. My twee little song continues. Eventually the shouting leads to sounds of violence. I treat it like wallpaper. Something smashes, then, worse, the violence gets quieter, a lot more personal. My father is still loud, but my mother barely makes any sound at all. They might as well be birds singing. I still pay no attention. In fact, I don’t acknowledge them at all until the very end of the recording, which I can barely get to anymore, when I say, cheerful as anything, “Sorry, Me! I have to go. My mommy’s hurt. I hope you like this later! Bye bye!”

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