Resilient is a personal essay about a newspaper article that portrayed my family as being highly dysfunctional and abusive, while looking at how I saw my family growing up.

Snow has started falling, but Chris doesn’t notice when I point out the window. We’re sitting in the small booth in my grandmother’s kitchen, our grandfather’s old-fashioned radio blares overly joyful Christmas carols even though it is two weeks before Thanksgiving. The smell of baking bread wafts from the oven across the room as temperature becomes almost stifling.

Chris won’t take off his fleece even though he’s sweating. He is sixteen now and has been living with our grandparents for about three months. He keeps telling me how much he loves it here, how much better it is. The cards slide through his hands like a silk cloth. He deals them out for another round of two handed euchre.

            As he slaps a card in front of me, I grasp his wrist. Time stands still for a moment as I move my free hand to the sleeve of his shirt. As if in slow motion I push the sleeve of his gray and black fleece up. He jerks his arm from my grip but not before I see the criss-cross of scars. It is the first time I have dared to look at his scars so openly and it will be the last.

            I’m only fourteen, I think to myself. I shouldn’t know about things like this.

            “If you’re so happy here,” I say, trying to keep my voice steady, “then why are you still cutting?”

            “They’re dog scratches,” Chris mutters as he begins to look at the cards he has dealt. “Don’t worry about it.”

****

            A newspaper reporter asks my brother and me for an interview. I am sixteen and have been living with my grandparents and my older brother, Chris, for about a year. When I ask her why she wants to do a story on us she explains that she is interested in the idea of resiliency in children. The Mental Health Boards of Licking and Knox Counties have started a Resiliency Board to study just that matter. Chris, my grandmother, and I were invited to be a part of this group of about thirty people of all different races, genders, and ages.

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