By Rikki Dubois
The silent observer sits on the couch, watching the events around her. The television is on, but she only watches it casually, with one eye. What she does watch are the people. They are laughing and talking and appear to be having a good time.
This is Christmas and the family has gathered, but it could have been Easter, Thanksgiving or even Groundhog Day. It is always the same. And the observer does what she always does. She sits on the couch and watches. Nobody sees her. Nobody talks to her. She is a ghost, sitting quietly, watching the television.
There are children in the room, but they play their games on the floor and do not talk to the observer. She watches as they giggle and squeal, eating chocolates and peanuts. They are having fun. And the observer watches.
The observer looks at her mother as she talks with her grandmother in the kitchen. They are looking at the turkey and the rest of the meal. Both of the women are smiling and discussing the best way to make gravy. But the observer remembers a different mother. She remembers a mother that embarrassed and chastised her. The mother that insulted and demeaned her. The mother that beat her. The observer does not like this mother. She does not see the woman talking to her grandmother, but the mean person who constantly made her feel less than human.
She sees her father talking to the uncles. They are drinking beer and smoking cigarettes. The observer likes to talk to her father. He has always been a kind, gentle person. Very friendly and caring. But she does not want to talk to her father, because once her father has had a few drinks, he starts to repeat himself and gets boring. So the observer sits by herself.
There is an uncle who tells off-colour jokes. He doesn’t use bad language, but the observer does not think these kinds of stories should be told in the same room where there are children. There are the other two uncles who have disagreements every time the family gets together. They may discuss the proper way to do a left turn at a boulevard or how to start a barbecue, but what never changes is that they are always adversarial, no matter what the topic is. The thing that the observer has noticed is that they are both saying the same thing and are arguing that the other person does not understand them.
The observer has a brother, but the brother would rather tease her aunts than talk to her. Which is fine with the observer, because her brother insults and degrades her anyway. So, it’s just as well.
At every family gathering, these are the events that unfold. Nothing changes. Nothing ever has. The observer sits alone and watches the people around her. Nobody talking to her. She is a ghost.
The silent observer is six years old.
Article by Rikki Dubois, a transgendered writer from Winnipeg. Her book “Muffy was Fluffy” helps children understand what it means to be transgendered. Order it today from McNally RobinsonMcNally Robinson.