The Incest Diary by Anonymous

The Incest Diary by Anonymous

Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Published: 2017-07-23T16:00:00+00:00

The legacy of incest in my family is long. My father told me that he and his younger sister were molested by their grandfather Paul. My brother has Paul’s original wristwatch, which Louis Cartier himself made for the Brazilian aviator Santos-Dumont, who, for a brief while, was thought to be the first man to fly. I have two things from my great-grandfather Paul: a silver crucifix that says Semper Fidelis—the marines’ motto—and the legacy of the use of small children for sex.

My father’s mother was raped by her father, the same Paul. She told me about it when she was dying. She wanted to talk. She had always kept things to herself, but now she was desperate to talk. She said that she got her cancer from keeping everything in. She told me not to worry about making mistakes in life, that everyone does, but don’t ever be overweight.

She ate one strip of bacon with peaches for breakfast every morning. She always had two greyhounds—Roger and Betsy. The names stayed the same, but the dogs changed. She collected rocks. Everywhere she went—from Nebraska to the Seychelles—she took away a rock. Some were small and some were quite large. She confessed to me that she really loved Curtis, the man she met in her reading group. They read The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and Virgil and Homer in their original Latin and Greek. My grandmother was close to Curtis’s wife. Curtis adored my grandmother. He and his wife had been friends of my grandparents, and they and other couples went on tours together. They went to Egypt and Tibet, to Sri Lanka, Namibia, Mexico, Japan. Curtis’s wife died, and at one point my grandfather was very occupied with his work, but my grandmother still went on the trips and so did Curtis. This went on for many years, my grandmother told me. And sometimes it was complicated. He bought her jewelry that she wore only when she was away from her husband. And years into it, Curtis would beat the shit out of her. Leave her with emeralds at her throat and sapphires on her fingers in a battered pile at the bottom of the stairs.

She told me she loved Curtis. She loved him and she forgave him. She hid their affair, but she couldn’t always explain away the marks. For a graceful, athletic woman it just didn’t make sense that she was always bumping into things with her face or accidentally falling down the stairs. She said she was heartbroken when she heard that Curtis had died rather unexpectedly. And the heartbreak was made worse by the fact that she had to mourn him in secret.

I told her to eat yogurt. I told her it had a lot of calcium and she needed calcium. I wanted so badly for her to live. She told me that cancer was the best thing that ever happened to her. It made everything clear. All the fights she’d had with herself for so long were over.


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