Her hair. I remember sitting below her, holding my hands in a bowl to catch her hair as it fell in chunks from the scissors my father wielded unseen from behind her, and watching the small bits light from the sun as they disappeared onto the floor. I’d never seen anyone with her hair color before or since. It could be my mind has romanticized the memory but that color has never crossed paths with me since. Auburn. It doesn’t capture the rich fire or gold and amber magic that emanated from her crown. It smelled like heaven. Years later I realized it was a cheap, pink bottle of Suave shampoo and Dial soap. The smell of either make me sick to my stomach even at the sight of the bottle or wrapper.
At some point in my toddler reverie I had fallen asleep under the burnt orange floral patterned, cracked vinyl aluminum chair that my mother had been sitting in and the light had faded. The linoleum had grown cold and it was night. I was frightened. I called for my mother and I heard her crying out as my father screamed words of anger and ugliness at her. It was a heart strangling eternity before she came to me. I knew to wait and not seek her out. Daddy was angry again.
She came to me and lifted me out from underneath the chair. She told me everything would be alright and asked me not to cry. Her lip was split and bleeding, her blue jersey with the white lettering was torn, and her pretty hair was limp with sweat and coming loose from her braid. That was my first memory.