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A childhood tale: coming of age or surviving a battle?

When I showed my husband this photograph that a relative recently found, he said "You look exactly the same." Only on the outside, I thought to myself, a tinge of the old hurt flashing in my heart before I shook it away. By default, by shame and instinct, I hid the fear, pain, and loneliness I felt at home. I put on a mask for these family gatherings, knowing that letting on what life was like for me would be met with further wrath, denial, or worse, I’d receive no help at all. I experienced none of the ease, the joy, confidence or love that showed on my cousin’s faces, in their bearing, in the smiles from their parents. They preferred not to know what was clearly going on in my life, not to see it, or deal with it, the aunts and uncles, grandparents. It took more than fifty years to write the story. Writing it was a balm of truth to my soul. My face may look the same, but I am not. To be published in 2024.

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