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The Griffin | Kara Melissa

The griffin, griffon, or gryphon is a legendary creature with the body, tail, and back legs of a lion; the head and wings of an eagle; and sometimes an eagle's talons as its front feet.

 

You started to show up in my dreams again when I was pregnant with my daughter, my second child. I began to worry that I was still in love with you and not my husband. I quickly googled “dreaming about ex-boyfriend while pregnant, meaning.”

 

You always came to me at night, in the heat of the summer, sweat over my brow, between my thighs, in the crevices of my knees, the ones I could no longer see because my belly became an obstacle.

 

Your birthday, just a week and a half after my daughter was due, was ingrained in my mental calendar. It was the hottest time of the year. July. You would both be Leos. Google said it was normal to have these sorts of dreams when pregnant, the ones about past lovers.

 

Over the years you continue to weave yourself into my dreams uninvited, like the day you walked into the staff lunchroom at the international school in Bangkok, where I thought you could not reach me.

 

You took my virginity in layers. First true love. First long-term partner. First lover. First real broken heart. But second abandoning. My dad did that first. You were not supposed to follow suit.

 

We were meant to travel the world together, teaching from South America to Southeast Asia and anywhere in-between. Like your divorced parents. Divorce was something we both never wanted. We decided to follow similar dreams, separately.

 

Wasn’t that safer anyhow? I watched your eyes glaze over, heard your words slur together, tossing back one more drink, already having drunk everyone under the table. You had not changed in these two years we had spent apart, following our own dreams.

 

It’s been almost a decade since my daughter was born. I still have the dreams sometimes. They come from the deepest part of my subconscious, bringing the past to the present. I told you about my life recently, on Linkedin. “I can imagine you in your home on the bluffs

 

with your children, it’s a beautiful life,” you wrote. And then, “I am living with my partner, who is actually an Early Years teacher. We are happy. Thank goodness.” As though there was doubt in a happiness that accompanies a long-term relationship. Perhaps you lost your

 

fear. I didn’t lose mine, but instead I lost love. “I’m proud of you and I can feel your strength,” you wrote, in response to my MFA Graduation Reading. The one about my son and flamingos. I imagined you there, in your home in Hanoi, with your partner, your wings

 

open, your paws grounded, your talons no longer at the ready. And then I let go.

 

Kara Melissa (she/her), a transplant Torontonian and mama of two (teen and tween). An international teacher, turned SAHM when her son was diagnosed with cerebral palsy. She provides free writing workshops for folks in need, in addition to disability advocacy work. You can find her work in the The Calendula Review, Tampa Review, Drunk Monkeys, Today’s Parent, and elsewhere.  She holds an MFA in Creative Writing, Nonfiction, from Antioch University LA. She is a 2022 recipient of an AWP Intro Journals Project Award. Visit karamelissa.com for more.

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