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Please begin with an informative title:

The guy they tried to pass off as my father was a redheaded balding guy named Brian. I must have run the probabilities in my head, the ones all children know when they look different from their mothers. I started calling him Uncle Brian and he started to hate me. I asked about my coloring and was told I took after my grandmother. My grandmother explained I looked the most like her mother, a woman named Florence who loved to rockhound and follow tide pools along the Oregon coast until one day she slipped and the cancer seemed to drag her out to sea. First her leg. Later the rest. Florence advocated the kind lie: get married and tell her Brian is her father.

Brian and Mom didn’t stay together. But I visited one weekend.

The house was big, I remember that. Some soap company with pine trees and a gravel driveway with large rocks. I brought a baton I liked to spin. There was a big yard with a dog. What kind of dog doesn’t matter when you’re five. The bright sun, a thick chain attached to the dog house. Faded paint and splintered wood. The links were heavy and large in my hands.  The dog ran out of the house and made circles around me, wrapped the chain around my body before I could move and I screamed when the house fell on top of me. All I could hear was the dog barking. Dried grass poked through the chain.

Bryan came to untie me and we went to the basement.

This was the bowel of the house, lit by television snow and a caged light bulb. And spiders, so many spiders.  I tried to come upstairs and several men shouted me back down. I could hear them talking above. Later there was not enough water in the bath and dead McDonald’s cheeseburgers. Brian tried to get cartoons to come in on the television. I stayed the night down there in the spider corner.

I liked to gallop instead of walk when I was a kid. When I came outside I trotted down the driveway. At some point I tripped and fell on the gravel. Blood covered my knee and Brian wrapped it in a stained rag with duct tape. I remember the spongy infection later.

I found my baton somewhere and remember thinking the sun hurt my eyes.

Maybe the sun will always hurt my eyes.

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