DEBT OF A DAUGHTER by Devon Raymond

Devon Raymond

A man who is your father tricks you into believing that there is no price to pay for being his favorite—that you are free to accept all of his attention, and presents, and praise. So you delight in the laughter you provoke during games of I Spy, and you abandon yourself as he sweeps you across the living room in dance routines worthy of Fred and Ginger. You don’t yet know the cost of seeing yourself sparkle in his eyes.

Your father plans all along to extract payment, and when he does, you block it out. There is no place for his act in your ten-year-old mind. You live with it unknowingly as it twists the wires in your brain and paints blackness where there might have been light; your first kiss is not a crackle of joy but a wave of dread. You grow yourself around the sleeping knowledge, never intending to wake it.

But when the truth is pressed so tightly within you that it seeks air through random bouts of crying, when your rage erupts without perceivable cause, then you crack yourself open for a therapist you barely know. And there it is. The crime you buried for the man you called father.

Pain floods your days as you try to recognize your new self—the self who can barely hold on at times. You panic at the sight of your own Christmas tree, its branches dangling remnants of the past. You lose touch with what’s real, nearly calling the hospital you’ve chosen to come take you away. Unable to shake the blame you have pinned to yourself, you are convinced that relief lies only beneath the folds of the ocean’s soft eternity.

But you resist.

Instead, you gather up the terror and the tears of the young girl who shook beneath her covers after it was done. You stop drowning her voice with alcohol and allow for the possibility that she owed her father nothing.

Then slowly, as you smooth the broken clay of the past inside of your edges, you soften, lighten. You almost feel whole. You are less afraid to engage in the present. And in the present it’s a shock, but not a surprise, when your father pulls the trigger on his Smith & Wesson after writing Have a happy life to his girlfriend—the girlfriend whose apartment he bloodies.

It’s not a surprise that he leaves no words for you—that he has robbed you again.

And it’s no longer a surprise, but a triumph, that you are still here.

Devon Raymond earned her BFA from The Juilliard School and worked for many years as a professional actor before turning to writing. The manuscript of her full-length memoir, If I Hung the Moon, was selected as a finalist in the Autumn House Press nonfiction contest. She lives in Los Angeles, where she began her adventures in nonfiction with the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.

Read more from Cleaver Magazine’s Issue #39.

Submit to Cleaver!

Cleaver Magazine