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HEIRLOOM by Paul Tran • Cleaver Magazine
HEIRLOOM by Paul Tran We know how the story goes. A pirate leads her off the boat, onto the shore. He rapes the other women first, shoots them in the head, feeds their bodies to the ocean’s aching blue mouth. A pirate leads my mother from the boat to the shore. He strips her down to her soiled cotton underwear, feeds her aching body to the ocean’s blue mouth. She swears he did not rape her. When he strips me down to my cotton underwear, my father sets me on his lap like a Barbie doll. My mother swears he did not rape me. She tells me to stop making things up. My father sets me on his lap. Like a Barbie doll, I obey when he commands me to open, to keep it a secret. He warns me not to make things up. His touch leaves a stain I cannot scrub clean. I obey. Every time he commands me to open, I keep it a secret. Even now, years later, long after he disappeared like a ghost, his touch remains a stain I cannot scrub clean. I am not asking for you to believe me. Even now, years later, long after he disappeared like a ghost, my mother still sees the pirate in her dreams, the ocean’s infinite hunger. She is not asking, but I believe her. Truth finds a way to exact its obscene measures.