i was a young child dress / d in blue – jean overalls n a yellow t – shirt . i had a point / d cardboard party hat on . my elbows rest / d on a red n white checker / d table cloth . there was a purple can of discount – brand soda n a small birthday angel caKe w / a single candle that had nearly burnt out .
there was only one person at my birthday party n he wasn’t smiling ; my dad .
he held out a present stucK w / torn pages of the phone booK n clumps of twist / d n string / d masKing tape . he drop / d it on the caKe , n motion / d for me to open it .
i rip / d off the paper w / inK smudged fingertips itching w / excitement , until i saw that it was an old , worn out , scuff / d pair of used soccer cleats w / the cleats worn n bust / d off , loose stiches n shoelaces that were tangled in dry thorns n on the heel was a dead worm dried n baKed into the rubber .
the rumbled booms of dad ’ s voice instruct / d me to put them on , ignoring how they were too small . i hesitated a second too long n he grab / d my anKle liKe a rebellious toddler n twist / d my foot into the tiny cleats . my toenails split , my sKin roll / d off the bone n my pinKy toe disintegrated into dust as dad crush / d my foot down a few sizes n shooK w / rage for having to do everything for everyone , all the time .
when they were on , he let go of my foot n reach / d into his jacKet n grab / d a third , smaller gift that wasn’t even wrap / d . his pocKet Knife from childhood that he too used when his father pass / d him down these same , small shoes .
a spot of dried blood on the dull blade told me what to do ; slash my anKle , cut thru the sagging flesh , gash at the muscles n spear the bone , chip it then saw thru it until both feet drop off .
when the shoes hit the floor , my dad stood up n hand / d me one last gift , swaying in a plastic grocery bag . i peak / d inside n it was a soccer ball n he laugh / d to himself as he lean / d over the red n white checKer / d tablecloth n lit his bent cigarette in the dying flame of my smoosh / d birthday caKe , wish / d me a happy birthday n blew out the candle .