I didn’t like them. I wished they weren’t my parents. I wished I’d never been born. I screamed and ran to my room into my tiny, dark closet in a futile attempt to disappear, unborn myself and return to the womb or heaven-- any place than where I was at that moment.

It seemed to have worked, as neither one of my parents came after me. Our apartment seemed to have been struck by a violent silence. There was no movement. No crashing of dishes. No sobs or curses flooding the air. Not even the slamming of doors. Only a foreign silence that frightened me.

Had I performed a magic trick and disappeared into nothingness? I dared not open my closet door to find out. I curled into a ball on the dusty hardwood floor between a basket filled with my toys and Ellen’s shoes and cried myself to sleep. Some hours later, I awoke to the continued silence but found the courage to open the closet door. My room was as Ellen and Daddy left it--an unmade bed, clothes strewn over the floor, empty beer cans and an ashtray filled with tiny white irregular square pieces of paper that reminded me of Chicklet candies.

I walked into the living room to find my parents huddled together on the floor, where I’d left them hours earlier. Frozen in what looked to be a struggle. Even in sleep, they could find no peace together. Is this what family looked like?

I got on the floor and crawled to them for a closer look. Ellen’s body and tear stained face was turned away from Daddy’s; her hands tucked underneath her chin as if in prayer. Daddy’s right arm draped over Ellen’s shoulder. I couldn’t tell if he was trying to push her away or turn her around to face him. His left arm was under his bent head. His moustache was filled with dried snot and the remnants of too many tears.

I crawled around them a couple of times, kissing their faces, trying to wake them. I could not take the silence any longer. Daddy opened his eyes and sat up, slowly shaking his head. After a moment, he saw me than stood up and scooped me into his arms. Still no words. Only tears. He took me to the couch and held me for a long time, alternating between stroking my head and kissing my cheeks. He kissed me more in those few minutes, than he had in my eight years of living. I didn’t want him to let me go.