You, The Stranger.

My hair is short now, short and dark. I’ve grown out of my little girl curly locks and I’m taller than you’d remember. My freckles faded and I can match my own clothes, even my socks. That I learned at an early age, I had to. I can write in complete sentences and even color inside the lines. Things I couldn’t do when you were around. Not that you’d even remember any of that. Alcohol always had it’s way with you.

I went to college. I graduated with honors and sports awards; took my tennis team to states; scored the winning basket to a college basketball game; broke a PR at a home track meet, none of which you were at. You’d know all of that if you were around. But to no surprise, you’re not. I’m well on my way to building the life I want, working my ass off to not have your life.

I am a grown up now, a woman of my 20s. It’s been a long road since the last time I’ve seen you, a road you must have gotten lost on. A road so long I can’t even picture your face. A man of my own blood and I can’t picture your face. I can’t hear the sound of your voice. I only know you in the form of pain and absence.

Sometimes I wonder if you’d recognize me, given the chance. If you could pick your own daughter out of a crowd, your own ship wreck, drowning out at sea in a thick fog.

Some days it saddens me to think, you’ll never know me. To know you’ll never know the mountains I had to climb to become the person I am today. The distances I had to walk to get away from the person you were making me. Or how long it took me to fill the emptiness of the void you so easily left behind you. You weren’t there to count my tears, you were the reason for them. I think about how absurd it is, the power that someone can have over you, when they aren’t even there.

Absence doesn’t make the heart grow fonder. Absence makes the hate grow stronger.

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