“Would you believe it if someone told you I was the daughter of Mark Ruffalo?”
Because there’s a little girl in me that died too fast. She burned to ashes and rose into an adult, a guardian for her brother and the family dog. For so long, “dad” was synonymous with “damned.”
Everyone asks about your parents, plural. They don’t get the hint when you mention only your mom, and want to know about the sperm donor that fertilized your existence. They ask and don’t realize, couldn’t realize, that images of that man and his banging fist make you think of how you should’ve spared your mom the pain of your existing. Hop in a DeLorean, grab a Time Turner, go back and tell her to get away. Don’t worry about me, just get away from the shouting, the drunk nights, the home firefights.
But objects of fantasy can’t alter reality’s history, can’t change that I’m here, can’t change all the times I wished I wasn’t. They can’t make the change, but I’ve had years of practice wielding a pen and carving stones.
At six, I couldn’t turn the car around when he abandoned my baby brother on the road. I couldn’t press the brake on any of the inebriated highway cruises. In high school, I couldn’t bite the blade of the machete he thrust to my face.
Finally, finally, I can tell you who my dad is not. That lost girl can live in a daydream where a curly haired gentleman encourages her passion for camera lenses and foster a love for chasing mountain lions. People would look to my mom, to him, then understand how I came to be.
So, yes, I am asking if you could believe Mark Ruffalo was my dad. I could.
Artwork by Martine Johanna