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Dear Alfredo

Dear Alfredo,

I traveled back in time today. I had to. I couldn’t help it. And I have papa to thank for that. This is exactly why I never go back there. That place. The home that haunts me and the people heaven created to love me unconditionally, yet they never did. Papa especially. How can mama love a man so vile he takes pleasure in his own daughter’s pain?

Edmund, that’s the name of your greatest tormentor my love. It’s what I call him whenever I want to get even. He wonders at my audacity and if he could have his way he would hit me senseless just like he does mama. I see it in his eyes. I also see the way his hands shake and his fists knot in bridled fury. The last time he tried it I sent him flying flat on his stomach. My fifteen years of teaching self defense had finally paid off. If mama couldn’t put him in his place, I would. And I did. Now I am paying for it.

You should have seen the twinkle in his eyes today. You remember how his eyes start dancing whenever he stirs up something and waits for it to brew? I watched him today, with the intensity of a boxer facing her opponent in the ring, daring him to cross the line yet again. You should have seen how his Adam’s apple kept twitching from both restraint and excitement. He was on home ground, so that gave him the upper hand…although that never stopped me from acquainting his face with his floor in a much more intimate manner than his feet ever will. Only this time, it was my tears he was feasting on when he croaked, “still no man in ya life huh? Shouldn’t be surprising. No man would want ya knowing you were fucked by that-” I had inched closer to him so he could say that derogatory name straight to my face. Lucky for him, mama stepped in, like she always does and pulled me away.

So yeah, I thought about you today Alfredo.

Oooh, dear Alfredo. You should see me now. I look nothing like the girl who used to make your stomach get all tied up in knots, and send shivers down your spine and all the way to your feet until you couldn’t help but break out in dance. On certain days you said I left you speechless. You should see me now, perhaps you would understand why papa’s eyes dance so happily at the sound of my breaking heart. My head is all hair and my eyes keep sinking into the back. Although mama will tell that it’s my face that’s all eyes, because now that I’ve lost so much weight, they look like two huge holes leading to an endless abyss. I don’t feel pretty anymore, but that’s okay.

Time has not been kind to me Alfredo. But neither were you. If your love has kept me alive all this while, I wonder how mine couldn’t give you the will to keep fighting, to want to live more than anything, to be with me. Just as I do now, fighting to stay alive for the part of you you left me with, without even knowing. He is both my torture and my joy. He is you, but he also isn’t…will never be. How could you say you love me but still leave me? I could have shared your pain, I wanted to, desperately. In fact, I did, and still do. Now I have both your pain and mine to carry alone. And soon I’ll have to carry our son’s too when he learns about how his papa left.

I used to think that our love is the only constant thing in my life that the years have not tempered with, but I was wrong. Because on days like today, I hate you. I hate what you did to us.

How could I not see it coming?

I never had to ask you. I always knew. It was always there, your unfaltering love in the face of danger. You had many a secret up your sleeve but your love could never be that. It was neither subtle nor lukewarm. Neither was it overpowering or burdensome. It was just…enthralling. Captivating. Hypnotizing. I knew the day I looked into your eyes that I would forever be your willing prisoner. Every now and then my mind wonders to that mid-summer morning when it first happened. I had not woken up that morning hoping to find love. But I found you.

It had been a while since I had given up on ever encountering something…or someone as extraordinary as you. You feared nothing. You always looked danger in the eye and forced it to smile back at you. You lived every moment as if it were your last. Perhaps if I wasn’t so consumed in your love, I could have seen, maybe even sensed or heard the monsters you were trying to keep at bay. I had once entertained a fairytale ending for myself, but I was only five then. Since then, I had seen too much of life to even entertain the possibility of a love that could rival one straight out of a Regency novel. And with a father like mine, the tide was tuned away from my favor even before I came into this damned world. But there you were, in a wrong place and at the wrong time. The stars never saw you coming my Alfredo. You smiled my way and changed the face of my fate immediately.

How was I to know you had traded yours for mine?

At the top of these stairs, on a door to my right lies a five year old with a smile exactly like yours Alfredo. When I open that door, he ‘ll awake from his light sleep because he’s been anxiously waiting for my return, just like you used to…and like I’ve been doing these past five years. I’m gonna hold that boy so tight in my arms all the hate I feel for you right now will leave through the pores of my arms. And then I’ll forgive you, again.

And again.

My dearest Alfredo.