Story by Shalie C. Sweetnam
I began working on this novel as a means to explore my unorthodox childhood. Having had a serious relationship breakdown with my mother, I was interested in shedding light on my memories, and more importantly expressing my childhood voice. Drugs, alcohol, sex, Art and rock ‘n’ roll have always been a part of my life, which I don’t think really hindered my development, it accelerated it. Luckily my only form of rebellion was to run away from home to live with a normal family at 14.
I had close relationships with very charismatic adults growing up; this chapter describes my meeting my stepfather for the first time. I wrote it for his daughter, my half sister, who was born when I was 13. He passed away when she was 7 years old, succumbing to cirrhosis after years of alcoholism and heroin addiction. I’ve been working on these stories for over 20 years now, and like the mild forms of childhood abuse I experienced as a kid, I forget that they exist and have any value to anyone except myself. It feels good to share them again, to give my stepfather credit for guiding me through what could have been a painful and lonely time if he hadn’t treated me with such respect, and to show his daughter that there are many elements that make up a man, and that his kindness and generosity of spirit overshadows his many faults in my eyes.