I used to have a picture that was taken when I was about 6 years old. It was a picture of me standing beside my mother, who was seated on a blanket at a beautiful lake near our home. She had a very phony smile on her face. She had a sort of harsh, dark beauty about her. Her Cherokee ancestry was evident in her jet black hair and high cheek bones. I wasn't smiling. I hadn't yet learned how to be that phony. I was a beautiful child, but I had a sad, lonely look on my face, my wheat-colored hair was in disarray and on my foot was a bandage from where I had stabbed my foot chasing a frog with a pitchfork.
My father wasn't in the picture. My father was never in the picture. Ever. He wasn't in the picture when the demons would crawl into my bed at night. He wasn't there when I desperately needed someone to talk to. He wasn't there when I grew up into a young man, and, out of my need for a father, befriended a monster. He wasn't in the picture when the monster/father and 6 of his friends raped and tortured me. My father will be 100 years old next year. He's still not in the picture.