Oh, Girl: A Brief Memoir About Nights Spent With The Chi-Lites

Oh, Girl.

Mom couldn’t stand the silence of night after Dad left; couldn’t stand the blaring introspection. And she couldn’t sleep alone. I wanted to sleep alone–needed to curl up alone and be. I was eleven years old, sleeping in a goddamned waterbed with my mother, and my six year old sister between us.

The bed was a fancy one with a darkly stained headboard; on either side of a lightly smoked mirror were shelves decorated with glass bowls of potpourri, and a pair of brass sailboats set upon polished rocks–an anniversary gift from Dad to Mom. The radio alarm clock with glowing green digits took up the bottom shelf on my side of the bed–the side Dad had abandoned. Cars 108 played softly.

I always lay awake a few hours after bedtime, anticipating the vomit. Tara was quite poorly the first few months without Dad; she’d awake in the night, vomiting tar-like sadness into a fucking Tupperware bowl. I would rub my sister’s back while Mom stroked her hair, and wiped her mouth with a damp cloth. I will never forget that sound of violent retching.

I swear on my life, every night that I finally fell asleep in my mother’s bed, I would awake early in the snoring dark morning, sweating, and The Chi-Lites would be singing, “Oh, Girl.” And I would cry tears so hot, they burned my cheeks; heavy ones that ran into my ears.

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