When you’re at your daughters’ piano lessons and the instructor’s husband asks you if you were ever a boxer. It’s just that your face— he says, and you interrupt him to say it’s probably that your nose has been broken multiple times, and your older daughter interrupts her lesson to ask how you broke it. I’ll tell you later, you say, and on the walk home you tell her for the first time about the man who raised you, that he broke you—your nose and your will—and that she will probably meet him at her aunt’s wedding next year and he’ll probably call himself her grandfather but he’s not, and she looks at you like Don Draper’s daughter looks at him at the end of Season 6 of Mad Men, like she is reconciling the man she knows as her father with this man who happens to also be her father. And the next morning before school, when both of your daughters are trying to pet the dog and your younger daughter suddenly starts wailing on her sister, punching her on the shoulder and chest so intently that you hear the smacking sounds before the scene unfolds to your conscious mind, and that broken thing in you somehow breaks again, you rush up to your youngest daughter, grab her by both arms and yank her up so she can only look into your eyes in helpless terror, and you scream, WHY DID YOU DO THAT? YOU DON’T HIT YOUR SISTER! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? And she starts screaming, seeing the violence in your eyes, and you put her down and look away in shame as she runs to her room and barricades her door, and your older daughter is looking up at you from the couch while rubbing her arm with that look on her face again, wondering who this man is sharing a body with her father. And you go to the bathroom, blast the water, and weep.

What are the Sneaky Feels?

AuthorJohn Proctor