“Bobby* died,” my mother mentioned to me emotionless. She’s always forgetting to tell me someone back home has died. The news usually happens after she mentioned their funeral.
“What did you do today?” I might ask. And one of the things on her list will be that she went to so-and-so’s funeral. A moment of silence will pass between us, then she’ll ask incredulously, “I didn’t tell you she died?”
This was different, though. First, there would be no funeral, and I’m sure she’d been waiting for the right time to tell me this news, in person. She’d probably rehearsed it. I know because my mother, like myself, is one for storytelling and enjoys a bit of flare. Her announcement had no flare.
“Bobby who?” I asked.
“You know. … ” her eyes gave me a look of knowing before repeating his name, “… Bobby.”
And then I knew.
The little girl I still carry around with me, who wears one of her favorite, handmade, plaid dresses with the white collar whispered “good” resolutely at the news. But I said “Oh,” aloud. We looked at each other awkwardly for a bit, then I confessed.
“My immediate first thought when you said that was ‘good,’ but now I feel a big emptiness. I guess emotions will come later.”
Bobby was the first person who sexually abused me.
There’s a story there, but I won’t tell it now. I only want to say that there is a story, a story made up of stories. Stories don’t end just because antagonists die. With their deaths, sometimes come resurrections of stories. Even cast away stories never actually die. And though wells are deep, they’re not always filled with water but obscurity. They’re sometimes hollow, with only the words we’ve shouted into them, looking for something, receiving only echoes in return. Those bellowed words leap and writhe until they sleep, and we watch them fall away—our stories crumbling, hoping the enemies of our happy endings too will fall.
Agonize in the abyss, Bobby. The truth of our story will meet you there.
*This name has been changed because I’m more gracious than I should be sometimes.