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It is the coming home that makes me want to leave.

I don’t know how my father draws me into these things. He doesn’t even realize how angry I am. I look at him sometimes and see the blankness in his stare as I rage quietly from across a room. He has no idea. Since he yells at everyone with impunity and with no real rationale, I suppose he thinks I do the same. But when I rage, when I lift my voice like that, it is important. It is me exploding, and when it is me exploding near him, it is usually me exploding into painful, shattering pieces.

Now nearly anything draws me into this game again and again and again. Now, because there’s no reason left why I can’t leave.

Well, there’s a reason. My mother. My mother of course, who looks at me with those eyes and who even goes so far as to say ‘please’ in her emails, asking me one more time to come home. I can’t help myself. So I do. One more time, I do.

But every comment is an insult to my intelligence. Every move is a sign of the fact that he has no respect for the life I live now. I can’t breathe, I want him to love me so badly, I want to make this connection that takes ‘need to be here’ into ‘want to’. But I can’t. I can’t seem to find it, so I stalk up to my room, like I did when I was twelve and abandon this conversation I’ve been trying to start for years. I cry in the cold, because the heat’s never on. I try to sleep because there’s nothing left to do that doesn’t make me think one more time on why he won’t stop trying to hurt me.

We paused once and almost asked each other why we kept hurting each other again and again. But that was a long time ago, and he turned away, and I’ve gone too far to find it now.

I try to tell my mother to make him see, but I know now he treats her the same way he treats me. Only she can’t find the nerve to get away. I try to tell her to make him learn his respect, because soon, if he won’t, I’ll need to stop trying. I’m too tired to keep doing this year after year.

I won’t be home for Christmas that year. It’s sad, but it’s true. And I will mark that year as the greatest defeat of my life, when at last I give up on this battle and let him win his loneliness. When I let me lose, and at last can gain me my fatherlessness.

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