“What have you done now? Are you a complete moron?!”
Here it came again – the barrage of contemptuous rage being flung upon me as my small body hit the floor and my self-esteem scrambled to salvage any small part of itself from the crash. I knew I wasn’t stupid. I only knew life wasn’t fair. Some adults loathed me because I wasn’t an idiot, because I challenged their unstable logic with my own child-like objective reasoning that hadn’t yet been poisoned by their biases. I was told I was being disrespectful. Some children hated me because I often inadvertently became the teacher’s pet through my inquisitive nature and love for learning. I was told I was being a suck-up. In those other places, by those other people, I was despised for my intellect. In my own home, it was declared I had none. That wasn’t really what made him angry though. What I never understood was why his hatred burned over me the way it did whenever I couldn’t perfectly please him at every single thing I attempted. He was my father, after all. Why could I only find safety in becoming a dumb mute around him? Why was it that the only safe relationship I could have with him consisted of flying under the radar, unnoticed, unscathed, but unloved? In the end, the answers didn’t matter anymore. It only mattered that it was easier to learn to be invisible than to brashly wear the brand of hatred that his angry eyes had seared into my soul.
That was the only way I could outsmart him.
This week’s prompt word is:
BRAND (noun) (3rd definition)
3a (1) : a mark made by burning with a hot iron to attest manufacture or quality or to designate ownership
(2) : a printed mark made for similar purposes : trademark
b (1) : a mark put on criminals with a hot iron
(2) : a mark of disgrace : stigma <the brand of poverty>