“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside of you.” The girl had grown up reading that quote, an amateurish watercolor on a piece of torn paper that was tacked to her aunt’s kitchen wall.
“Auntie? Why do you have that old piece of paper up there, way up high?”
The woman sighed deeply and looked into her mug of tea. Childhood went by faster than ever, but there were certain stories that wouldn't fit into a six year-old’s world.
“The writer who said that - can you read where it says ‘Maya Angelou’? She changed the world by writing the stories of her own life. She was a poet who talked with presidents and she had a deep, powerful voice.”
This was when the woman began to pray, please let that be enough. When her niece came to visit her tiny apartment in this blah bedroom community, every inch of the place was examined, so she ought to have expected this question.
“Yeah, but why is it way up there by the ceiling?”
Because I needed it to be there, but not there, the woman screamed silently. The truth behind this painting was too important to lie about and yet too raw to speak aloud.
“I hung it way up there so I had something to look at when I do my neck exercises.” That was a sad attempt an explanation. On the bright side, maybe that lame little story would remind her to stretch now and again.
“Did you paint it?”
“Yes, honey, I did.”
“But you’re not a artist!” the girl exclaimed, skipping over that cumbersome “n” in her passion.
“No, honey, I’m somebody in a cubicle.”
Apparently cubicles weren't interesting to children either. “Yeah, but what does ‘agony’ mean” she asked, making the word sound like it rhymed with pony.
“Something that really hurts.”
“Oh, ok. I don’t have that. I tell all the stories in my heart.”
The nice thing about being cross-examined a first grader is that you can pull her onto your lap and rest your chin on her head so she cannot see the tears in your eyes.
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