*Content Warning: This piece has references to addiction and abuse, which may be triggering to some.*
My mind circles with stories.
Stories of the daffodils my daughter painted over my mocha colored eyes and the soft touches from my son when my mind was bruised from begging you to put the bottle down, to not look at another pair of red lips, to come down from your never ending high so that you could hear the little voices saying, “papi, watch me dance.”
It took a lot of courage to carry the three of us out that door, but I tied up my hair and threw on a mask so my children would not wonder why we were leaving, but rather wonder what adventure we’d move on to next.
Sophia carries a tattered Rapunzel doll and reaches for my hand, Mateo’s on my right hip, gripping on to my arm. You aren’t home, you are probably at a bar, with your “panas,” looking at long legs on display.
I allow myself one, two, three, maybe four weeks to scream in to my pillow and sob in the shower and mindlessly flip through moments that were never even real – but never a tear when little eyes watched during the day.
On the fourth week, my daughter pulls out paint brushes and paints wildflowers over the bruise you left the night you abandoned me in a hotel to go drink vodka with God knows who and then came back and spewed venom at me. She paints sunflowers over the cracks in my heart from when I found pictures in your phone of a body that was not mine, and texts saying you just couldn’t wait to see her again. She hands paint brushes to her brother and he paints planets in the crevices of my brain, where my thoughts that echoed “insufficient” finally yelled back “you’re a damn goddess.”
It is not their job to fix me, such a heavy weight on such little shoulders. But, they were Van Gogh and Matisse when I was a black canvas. My children turned blood to paint and bruises to portraits.
And it’s a shame that such small hands had to be the ones to create a masterpiece out of the painting that you never finished.