She was never my girl until you took her and now that I will never get her back, I have reclaimed her. She’s certainly no part of you. For coaxing her off the bus in her plaid skirt and knee socks and taking her shopping for makeup, I forgive you because I was not able to give her everything she needed. For confining her in the motel rooms, I forgive you because I have no choice. If black humor is all I get, then I will laugh in my hell about how she got to travel. We never found the time. I understand you worked as a team during my daughter’s ordeal. One of you was the kind one, then, whose voice I hear like syrup sizzling on the tapes; to you I’m grateful; the two of you I forgive. For closing her mouth, I forgive you. She had more questions, I know, than I had answers, and more than once I raised my hand rather than try. She stepped off that bus and never came home and I forgive you. You think I’m naïve but you don’t know me. I have a complicated understanding of my feelings, one that doesn’t change if someone thinks they’ve sighted her somewhere. I know she’s not alive and that you never meant to bother me. Not having factored into your thinking used to hurt but I’m over it now. The tapes are a consolation and an anguish. They show her in her discomfort to be hopeful to the end. Frames of it are all I have of her beyond a certain age. If you know where it is, and I’m not asking, I don’t want the body back. I know our bodies are but husks and nothing will make me mourn one.

Copyright © June 11, 2009 David Hodges

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