Author Archives: Alexandria

About Alexandria

Alexandria Constantinova Szeman, Ph.D. Author of New York Times Book Review's "Notable Book," & Kafka Award "Best Book," The Kommandant's Mistress. True crime memoir, M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, was a finalist in Santa Fe Writer's Project Literary Awards 2017.

Glue-Boy

His real name was Daniel David Davison III, but nobody called him that except Sister St. James and the principal every time he got sent to her office for disrupting class. He used to make fun of his own name all the time, saying, “3-D. I’m 3-D,” erupting into uncontrollable laughter. Since we were only third-graders, we didn’t get the joke at all, and he didn’t like to be called Daniel David Davison III, so we called him “Glue-Boy.”

First graders had to use paste spooned out of a communal tub. Second graders were allowed to have individual containers of paste that had to be stored on the shelves when not in use. As third graders, however, grown-ups that we were, we got to have our very own bottles of Elmer’s glue, which we were allowed to keep in our desks, and Daniel David Davison III could do amazing things with Elmer’s glue.

All day, every day, he’d paint elaborate glue-tattoos on the back of his hands and forearms. The glue was his paint, starkly white against the perpetually darker canvas of his skin. He created dragons and gargoyles, knights and castles, vampires and werewolves from his fingers to the edge of his stiffly ironed, short-sleeved white shirt. I sat beside him, in the last seat of the third row, and every day, he hunched over his bare desk, concentrating so hard on his fantastic designs that the tip of his tongue stuck out while the rest of us watched in silent admiration.

Sister St. James would be writing our lessons on the board or gazing out the windows at the river on the far side of the church next door, or sitting at her desk with her eyes closed while we did our reading assignments, and Glue-Boy would be covering all the bare skin on both his arms with swords and sorcerers, dinosaurs and treasures, pirates with ships flying flags with skull-and-crossbones. After he finished, he’d put the bottle of Elmer’s down on his desk, hold his arms out in front of him till all the glue dried, then turn and show us his creations.

Any time that Sister turned around from the board or her reverie at the windows, or woke from her afternoon nap and saw us all watching him instead of doing our work, she’d rush back to him, her ruler slashing the air. Glue-Boy protected his creations by bending forward over his desk, stretching his glue-covered arms beneath as Sister beat him mercilessly with the ruler. Then she’d march back up to the front of the room, collapse in her chair, and order us to put our heads down on our desks as punishment. After a few minutes had passed, we’d surreptitiously look over at him, and he’d smile, his head and forearms held high, not a single one of his glue-paintings destroyed.

One day on the playground during recess, I complimented Glue-Boy on his art. He nodded without even looking up at me, so I feared I’d annoyed him. Occasionally after that, however, he would find me on the playground and show me his latest work. As the year progressed, the colors got brighter and the designs became more complex. I thought all of them were beautiful, even if I didn’t know what they were.

Even when he started using paint instead of glue, covering his face and arms with gorgeous colors, he never lost the name “Glue-Boy.” Though Sister St. James ordered him to the Principal’s office every single time he came in with his face painted, though the Principal called his parents and demanded that all his paints be confiscated, though his desk in the classroom was finally isolated in the corner so that no one could be close to him, nothing stopped him from painting. The morning he came in with his hair dyed a multitude of colors, we gathered around him in awe while all the teachers and the principal ranted and threatened.

He was wonderful.

He was our hero.

I suppose we all suspected that, eventually, his body would not be a large enough canvas, so when he pulled a box of colored chalk out of his coat pocket during recess and began decorating the playground itself, no one seemed too surprised. Even the teachers had long since stopped trying to control him: we heard that his parents had threatened to withdraw him from the school and send him somewhere more exclusive.

And the teachers didn’t try to make me skip rope or run relay races with the other girls: they accepted that it was my job to hold Glue-Boy’s colored chalks while he worked. By the time the Monsignor came over from the church to watch, everyone had accepted that this was just the way of the world: this was Glue-Boy’s purpose in life. The principal and the Monsignor stood by in silence, watching as the colored chalk covered the exterior walls of the elementary school, in ever more fantastic and elaborate designs, as high as Glue-Boy could reach.

On the day I told Glue-Boy about my father and my divorced mother’s boyfriend, about what they did to me in the basement, in the garage, in my own bed late at night when my mother was asleep, Daniel David Davidson III offered to pour endless bottles of glue down their noses and mouths and throats and to keep pouring till the glue dried and hardened.

“Then,” he said, “they won’t be able to hurt you anymore.”

Glue-Boy was the first person who ever offered to protect me.

That made him my first love.

Related Posts
read an excerpt (chapters 1-6) from my memoir
and related chapters that are not in final, published version

M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, chapters 1-6

M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, chapters 1-6

The Birthday Cake The first time somebody tried to kill me, I had just turned four years old. I know that for a fact because ...
Continue reading
Head-Banger's Ball: Escaping Abuse the Hard Way

Head-Banger’s Ball: Escaping Abuse the Hard Way

Trigger Warning This post, though not graphic, discusses childhood sexual abuse. Life is unbearable, but death is not so pleasant either. Russian Proverb I was ...
Continue reading
At the First Meeting of The Liars' Club

At the First Meeting of The Liars’ Club

Trigger Warning Though not graphic, this post discusses childhood sexual abuse. I stood, mortified into silence, in front of my second-grade class. My teacher, a ...
Continue reading
O Coward Conscience

O Coward Conscience

Trigger Warning: This post, though not graphic, discusses childhood sexual abuse. O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me... My conscience hath a thousand several ...
Continue reading
Glue-Boy

Glue-Boy

His real name was Daniel David Davison III, but nobody called him that except Sister St. James and the principal every time he got sent ...
Continue reading
My Childhood on Planet of the Apes

My Childhood on Planet of the Apes

"Damn you," cried the practically naked Charlton Heston as he fell to his knees on the beach in front of the half-buried Statue of Liberty ...
Continue reading

© 2019 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. All rights reserved.
No content may be copied, excerpted, or distributed without express written consent
of the author and publisher, with copyright credit to the author.
Please don’t support the piracy of Intellectual Property.
Though this chapter was in the early drafts of my true crime memoir,
M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, it is not in the final version of the book.

Share

2 Comments

Filed under #CSA, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Memoir, Rape

Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter for Great Content

Related Posts

Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Old school #FF, my Lovelies: I let you know why you might like to follow these people. Mostly, my #FF suggestions are for good content ...
Continue reading
More Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

More Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Old-fashioned #FF FollowFriday, my Lovelies: not just a list of names, but info on the account I recommend that you follow. I can't guarantee they'll ...
Continue reading
Even More Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Even More Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Time for some old-school #FF for anyone on Twitter, but especially for writers and authors. These accounts give you great content to share with your ...
Continue reading
Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter for Great Content

Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter for Great Content

Time for some old-school Follow Fridays #FF, my Lovelies. I can't guarantee that any of the accounts I recommend will follow you back, but they ...
Continue reading
Cool Folks to Follow on Twitter

Cool Folks to Follow on Twitter

Good morning, my Lovelies. It's #WW and though I'm not sure exactly what that hashtag means, I thought I'd let you know about some more ...
Continue reading
Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter for All Things Writerly

Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter for All Things Writerly

Ready for some old-fashioned #FF FollowFriday? This isn't a list of names for you to blindly follow in the hope that they might follow you ...
Continue reading
More Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter For More Great Content

More Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter For More Great Content

Old school Follow Friday #FF, my lovelies. These accounts, whether or not they belong to authors, consistently give good content, for you and for your ...
Continue reading

Share

2 Comments

Filed under #CSA, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Memoir, Rape

O Coward Conscience

Trigger Warning:
This post, though not graphic,
discusses childhood sexual abuse.

O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me…
My conscience hath a thousand several tongues,
And every tongue brings in a several tale,
And every tale condemns me for a villain.


William Shakespeare
Richard III, 5:3:194, 208-210

In the middle of the night, in the middle of the closet, I pulled down all the clothes from the shelves and the hangers and covered myself with them. As my younger sister Amy slept in the bed next to mine, and our baby brother slept in his crib in the corner of our room, I dragged all the clothes, shoes, and toys over my legs, body, and face. Then I waited. I never knew how long it would take, so I just had to keep on waiting. Though I kept pinching my arms and legs to stay awake, I eventually fell asleep.

My stepfather’s cursing woke me. When I heard the noise of squeaking bedsprings, I knew he was in my empty bed. The lamp got knocked over, and my stepfather cursed again. His footsteps came toward the closet. I put both hands over my mouth to prevent any sound from escaping.

The door opened. His huge hand groped among the toys, clothes, and shoes. My heart was thumping so loud in my ears, I was sure he would hear it. I couldn’t see Fred’s face: just the dark silhouette of his head and body.

“If you’re in here, you better come out,” said Fred.
I didn’t move.

“I’m the one paying for all the food you eat, and I’m not even your real dad, so you owe me,” said Fred. “Your mom tricked me into marrying her, and I had to take you, too, because your real dad didn’t want you: you owe me.”
He leaned further in, yanking at the clothes.

“It’ll be your fault if I have to do Amy,” he said.
Still, I didn’t move.

Eventually, Fred left the closet and got into Amy’s bed. Her cry was immediately muffled by his hand over her mouth. When Fred finished, he said the same thing to Amy that he always said to me and, later, to Jimmy Lee, even though Jimmy Lee was his real son: This means I love you.

After Fred went back to his own room and Amy cried herself to sleep, I hit myself in the head over and over for being such a bad girl. For making him do Amy instead of letting him do me. I was the oldest, I was the biggest, I was the one who should be protecting Amy and Jimmy Lee. That was my job.

Sometimes, though, I just couldn’t take it anymore.

In the middle of my ninth year, in the middle of my first year with a stepfather, when I finally came out of the middle of the closet, my sister Amy looked at me with dead eyes. She never said anything about what Fred was doing: she just ran as soon as he came into a room. Sometimes, she ran so far and hid so well that it took us days to find her. When she was thirteen, she ran away and never came back.

I didn’t blame her.

I blamed myself.

While her own children were small, Amy often complained about Fred’s sexual abuse. I didn’t owe him anything, she said once, and then, one day several years later, without explanation, she simply stopped talking about it.

When I was giving an interview about one of my novels on a radio talk-show, the host asked what had inspired the “intense and unsettling exploration of violence” in my fiction. I told him about the sexual abuse I’d suffered at the hands of my father, stepfather, and mother.

Afterward, Amy called me up, hysterical. She told me that she’d phoned every member of the family and asked whether any of the things I’d said on the radio were true. She claimed that every single person in the entire family remembered things exactly the same way, and that none of it had happened the way I said. Furthermore, everyone said that I was a liar and a storyteller, and that I always had been.

“Were you trying to embarrass me?” said my sister.
“By saying that our parents abused us?”
“Our childhood was perfectly fine and normal,” said Amy.

For so many years, I felt guilty for hiding in the closet when Fred was looking for me. Guilty for hiding in the closet, in the garage, in the basement, in the crawlspace, under the cellar door. Guilty because whenever Fred couldn’t find me, he hurt Amy or Jimmy Lee like he’d been hurting me since I was five. Guilty because even though my own mother knew what Fred was doing, she did nothing to stop him, so I thought I somehow deserved his anger and abuse. Guilty because Fred said it was all my fault for hiding.

But I simply couldn’t stop hiding from him.

After all my years of therapy, I guess I don’t feel guilty any longer. But I still feel sad that I wasn’t strong enough to take it from Fred every night. Every day, too, if that’s what he wanted. Sometimes I think I should have let him do me, and me alone, every day and every night, if that’s what it took to protect my younger siblings.

Even if they say they don’t remember.

Related Posts
read an excerpt (chapters 1-6) from my memoir
and related chapters that are not in final, published version

 

M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, chapters 1-6

M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, chapters 1-6

The Birthday Cake The first time somebody tried to kill me, I had just turned four years old. I know that for a fact because ...
Continue reading
Head-Banger's Ball: Escaping Abuse the Hard Way

Head-Banger’s Ball: Escaping Abuse the Hard Way

Trigger Warning This post, though not graphic, discusses childhood sexual abuse. Life is unbearable, but death is not so pleasant either. Russian Proverb I was ...
Continue reading
At the First Meeting of The Liars' Club

At the First Meeting of The Liars’ Club

Trigger Warning Though not graphic, this post discusses childhood sexual abuse. I stood, mortified into silence, in front of my second-grade class. My teacher, a ...
Continue reading
O Coward Conscience

O Coward Conscience

Trigger Warning: This post, though not graphic, discusses childhood sexual abuse. O coward conscience, how dost thou afflict me... My conscience hath a thousand several ...
Continue reading
Glue-Boy

Glue-Boy

His real name was Daniel David Davison III, but nobody called him that except Sister St. James and the principal every time he got sent ...
Continue reading
My Childhood on Planet of the Apes

My Childhood on Planet of the Apes

"Damn you," cried the practically naked Charlton Heston as he fell to his knees on the beach in front of the half-buried Statue of Liberty ...
Continue reading

© 2019 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman. All rights reserved.
No content may be copied, excerpted, or distributed without express written consent
of the author and publisher, with copyright credit to the author.
Please don’t support the piracy of Intellectual Property.
Though this chapter was in the early drafts of my true crime memoir,
M is for Munchers: The Serial Killers Next Door, it is not in the final version of the book.

Share

2 Comments

Filed under #CSA, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Memoir, Rape

More Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Related Posts

Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Old school #FF, my Lovelies: I let you know why you might like to follow these people. Mostly, my #FF suggestions are for good content ...
Continue reading
More Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

More Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Old-fashioned #FF FollowFriday, my Lovelies: not just a list of names, but info on the account I recommend that you follow. I can't guarantee they'll ...
Continue reading
Even More Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Even More Great Folks to Follow on Twitter

Time for some old-school #FF for anyone on Twitter, but especially for writers and authors. These accounts give you great content to share with your ...
Continue reading
Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter for Great Content

Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter for Great Content

Time for some old-school Follow Fridays #FF, my Lovelies. I can't guarantee that any of the accounts I recommend will follow you back, but they ...
Continue reading
Cool Folks to Follow on Twitter

Cool Folks to Follow on Twitter

Good morning, my Lovelies. It's #WW and though I'm not sure exactly what that hashtag means, I thought I'd let you know about some more ...
Continue reading
Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter for All Things Writerly

Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter for All Things Writerly

Ready for some old-fashioned #FF FollowFriday? This isn't a list of names for you to blindly follow in the hope that they might follow you ...
Continue reading
More Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter For More Great Content

More Great Accounts to Follow on Twitter For More Great Content

Old school Follow Friday #FF, my lovelies. These accounts, whether or not they belong to authors, consistently give good content, for you and for your ...
Continue reading

Share

2 Comments

Filed under #CSA, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Memoir, Rape

The Butcher Birds

Each morning as we walk the farm’s perimeter,
we find victims of the butcher birds: grasshoppers,

beetles, lizards, frogs, snakes, mice, impaled on cactus
spines, thorns, or barbed wire. Sometimes we see one of the

birds itself, perched on a branch or fence-line, the black
mask around its eyes and hooked beak resembling the

masks of my childhood heroes. My daughter doesn’t
like the look of it, and she doesn’t want it to

shriek: she wants it to sing like other birds. She can’t
understand why I won’t let her take down the bird’s

victims. While I try to explain about nature’s
laws, about marking territory and mating

rituals and survival of the fittest, she
keeps on trying to grab hold of the barbed wire, the

cactus spines, or the thorns, trying to free the dead.
One day, when we come across a grasshopper, still

alive though impaled, his kicking legs frantic, my
daughter becomes hysterical, not believing

there is no chance for him to survive. For the rest
of the day, she is inconsolable. She sobs

over her mashed potatoes at dinner, and then
buries her face against my wife’s neck and shoulder.

In the night, her cries wake us. The murmur of my
wife’s voice, woven with my daughter’s sobs, reaches me

through the walls like the hum of my father’s voice through
the walls of my childhood home in the summer of

1969 when young boys from small towns all
over the country were coming home in boxes.

Others came home without arms, without legs, without
any light in their eyes. We thought the ones who came

home in one piece were the lucky ones, but even
they were broken, pierced by butcher birds on the far

side of the world. That was when my brother came home,
right after I turned thirteen, and we thought the war

was over for us. But my brother was damaged
in ways no one could see, impaled on his jungle

memories.  One rainy morning, he went behind
the barn, put his pistol to his head, and slipped free

of whatever had caught him. I was the one who
found him. My father collapsed under the weight of

his tears, my mother rarely spoke afterward, and I
learned to hold my breath, to feel my way around sharp

corners, to keep watch during all the long dark nights.
When my wife comes back after soothing our daughter,

she says I mustn’t take the child with me when I
walk the farm, I must protect her from the butcher

birds’ atrocities, I must check all the barbed wire
and the thorn bushes around the house, and I must

remove the dead. All the dead. She doesn’t want our
daughter to grow up traumatized, and she thinks that,

somehow, I can protect her. The next morning at
breakfast, our daughter seems herself again, singing

to her doll between bites of oatmeal, twirling her
dark hair into ringlets around her finger. When

I finish my coffee and try to leave without
her, she objects. When my wife tries to explain, our

daughter cries and stomps her foot. My wife urges me
to go on alone. I am halfway across the

yard when the door slams, and I turn to see my wife
on the porch, holding our daughter by the waist. She

is so angry, our five-year-old daughter, caught in
that soft, maternal vise. No words could describe the

desperation of her anger, the helplessness
of her fury, her face contorted with tears and

shrieks, her tiny arms straining toward me, her weightless
legs kick, kick, kicking the heavy and blameless air.

Related Posts
Read some of my other poems,
and excerpts from Love in the Time of Dinosaurs

Auggie Vernon and the Eclipse

Auggie Vernon and the Eclipse

He has everything he needs set up in the back yard: two triangular UPS shipping tubes held together by duct tape in the middle, with ...
Continue reading
Field Trip to the Serpent Mound

Field Trip to the Serpent Mound

Once again our professor reminds us that we have not come here to see the Serpent Mound but to see the geological formations beside it, ...
Continue reading
Holiday

Holiday

  Day followed day, and this and that Seemed to be happening As always, but through it all Already loneliness was seeping. Anna Ahkmatova I ...
Continue reading
Portrait of the Poet as a Woman

Portrait of the Poet as a Woman

Your second wife calls to say that the children get ill after you bring them home Sunday night it must be something they eat what ...
Continue reading
Should, Should Not

Should, Should Not

after a poem by Czeslaw Milosz A woman should not love a man, but if she does, she should keep the child of their breath ...
Continue reading
The Lies Our Parents Tell Us

The Lies Our Parents Tell Us

The Lies Our Parents Tell Us begin in childhood: you're not dumb, you were not an accident, the sight of you doesn't make us sick, ...
Continue reading
The Toast

The Toast

To God, Who did not save us. (after a poem by Anna Ahkmatova) Let’s drink a toast to this dreadful old house, filled with lost ...
Continue reading
While the Music Lasts: Poem to My Younger Self

While the Music Lasts: Poem to My Younger Self

For most of us, there is only the unattended Moment… or music heard so deeply That it is not heard at all, but you are ...
Continue reading
images copy

Portrait of the Poet as a Woman: The Creative Process

If you don't count the short stories about vampires, shrinking girls, and monsters that I wrote -- and tried to sell as little books -- ...
Continue reading
The Butcher Birds

The Butcher Birds

Each morning as we walk the farm's perimeter, we find victims of the butcher birds: grasshoppers, beetles, lizards, frogs, snakes, mice, impaled on cactus spines, ...
Continue reading

© 2019 by Alexandria Constantinova Szeman.
May not be reprinted or excerpted without written permission.
Please do not support piracy of Intellectual Property.
This is a new poem: it does not appear in Love in the Time of Dinosaurs

Share

2 Comments

Filed under #CSA, Childhood Sexual Abuse, Memoir, Rape