Effigy Burned Letter

by Jocelyn McKinnon-Crowley


So Dad sent me a letter. I understand, he sent it with noble intentions. It read as a condemnation of my entire being. It served as a confirmation of all my self-doubts in a glorious fashion. I lost all my self worth to a sliver of dead tree speckled with typos. All the things I need to fix were printed in forever ink. And my self-hating doubts saluted by another in indelible inedible words.
So I did what is only natural to do with a soul-destroying letter from a condescending parent. I set it on fire in my kitchen sink. But first I tore it to shreds. The hopes of a parent make a wonderful ripping sound. Then I formed the torn up shreds into a little man. An effigy, if you will, of the perfect child I shall never become. Then, as I took out my pink, sparkly bic lighter, a horribly irreverent thought struck me. If this is a ceremony, I should read something to commemorate the ashes of advice. In a fashion I hoped would be sufficiently nauseating to my father the pastor, preacher, and all around God-lover – I wrote out a benediction to my little man in the rhythm and style of the all the religious phrasing and speeches I’ve had to listen to over the years.
Verbatim this is what I wrote, “we gather here today in honor of the absent holy father. His vain, glorious, passive, yet merciful, attempts at solace and advice stand before you, embodied as the beautiful, burned and scarred figure on fire here today (at this point I lit the bastard up). Born of the virgin hate. Suffered under blindness and signified dead by daughter. In the name of the father- may the voice of the pastor ever guide your flock and keep you in perfect, reverent solemnity and smugness. I baptize you in the name of helpfulness. Amen.”
Now my apartment smells like smoke because I burned a little letter man who told me what I didn’t want to hear. Problems only I have #21.

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