"I love you" rarely escaped my lips, but there was one phrase that I loved as a child: "I hate you." I would say it to everyone: guests that stayed at our home, waiters at restaurants, distant family members at reunions, and the like.
Not only would I say those fateful words, but I would narrow my eyes into slits until I could hardly see. Narrowing my eyes made the room darker, and it seemed that my hatred itself was darkening an entire room. It made me feel dark and powerful, like Maleficent on the Disney version of Sleeping Beauty. Her appearance on the screen paralyzed me with fear when I was four, but by the time I was six, she had become my icon.
Through the narrow slits in my eyes that represented a dark queen, I would look through my eyelashes and concentrate all my hatred into my gaze. If I concentrated, I could feel the "hate" escaping my body, emanating through my eyes toward the person I was hating. It felt so good.
One of my favorite things to do was to "hate" random people. I did it in department stores, hotels, anywhere my mother would dare take me. I would wait until my mother ran into someone she knew or was otherwise distracted, and then I would quietly undo the restraints of my Minnie Mouse child leash.
The first thing I would do is run to the nearest clothing rack and hide in the clothes. It was tricky because I had to hang on to the top and pull my legs up on the bar so my mom couldn't see two little legs sticking out the bottom and find me. Sometimes it was a contortionist act because some of the racks had mirrors that would catch my reflection. I had to twist away from them, hiding even my little fingers grabbing onto the bars.
It was worth it, though. As soon as I heard the faint squeaking of the hangers, I knew that someone was looking at clothes. As soon as the clothes drifted apart, I would poke my head through the lighted space in between the abyss and say "I hate you!" with all the fury of my soul. Sometimes I would add, "I hate you because you are ugly," or something to that effect. Always, I would look at their eyes, boring into their soul.
"There you are!" my mom would say in a singsong voice, rushing toward me with far more urgency than her voice indicated. She would then make some lighthearted apology to the person and laugh musically as she firmly gripped my arm, cutting off all circulation. She would pull me away to the car, never losing her grip. I would get it when I got home, but I can't say that it wasn't worth it.
Several years ago, we were going through old things, and my mom got a sentimental look in her eye as she pulled something strangely familiar out of one of the boxes. I instinctively knew what it was. "Trish," she said in a motherly voice, almost tearing up, "It's your leash!"