I’m From Little Rock, AR.

by Spencer Smith

I’m From Little Rock, AR.

Right now I am sitting in the kitchen by myself; I have not spoken a single word in over two hours. My family is sitting in the room directly across from me – I can see their backs clearly as they talk to each other. They have not made any word or motion to include me in their conversation.

There is no physical barrier between us, but we are separated. The separation is more than the corporeal distance that can be transversed in a matter of seconds were I to stand up and walk into the room. No, this distance takes a much greater time to bridge. And each day they do not move, I step further away.

I know the moment I enter my family’s home I become a different person – a less happy person. I lock away a part of myself because it is expected of me, and because, at least for now, it is better than living without a family. I choose to choke back my indignation, my pain, my present suffering, my hopes, my fears, and, in essence, my life in order that my family might cling to this false reality we have constructed.

There is a word which, much like in this essay, is not spoken so much as it is understood. It is an awkward presence that everyone is forced to acknowledge in their own mind, but is at the same time publicly denied. It is a word that you cannot speak aloud for fear that you will disrupt the delicate familial balance that exists.

But the quiet corners, the eddies of conversation, where only two or three people stand, it is the subject of every hushed whisper. Subtle tilts of the head, shy glances and half made gestures in my direction that if made in a single instance would seem innocuous, but after time it becomes more than coincidence. It becomes something that I can no longer attribute to mere chance.

It is this distinct knowledge that places me in the position of being an outsider in my own family. In a place which most people find comforting and welcoming – a place of safety and refuge – I find to be hostile and embittered toward my very presence. Through no fault of my own I have at the same time become a stranger in my own home and an orphan.

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