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BEFORE: Hot water burbled in samovars. You strolled cobblestone streets, clicking your heels. DURING: You sipped grass soup. Dug the ditch for your murdered mother. AFTER: You slaved stitching stockings in sweatshops. My alcoholic grandfather cracked open your skull with a cast-iron skillet. You danced at Roseland Ballroom, smelling of bleach and herring, wearing tangerine-colored wigs. You played Ken so I could be Barbie. Fed me Golden Delicious. Sang lullabies to my sons. You screamed in the hospital, “Mara, the SS are coming. Hide!” I kissed your forehead. Vowed I’d be okay. You closed your eyes.

Dr. Tamara MC is a child marriage, cult, and trafficking survivor/advocate.  She is revising her debut memoir, CHILD BRIDE, about her child marriage at 12, for which she seeks representation. Her work has appeared in Salon, Ms. Magazine, The Independent, Parents, Food52, Motherly, and more. Follow her on Twitter @TamaraMCPhD or Instagram @tamara_mc_phd.

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