My first memories were of paper. Big bright white sheets flying through the air and being ripped free only to float down perfectly on the counter.
I remember balling up tiny pieces of paper in my fast little fists. I remember my mother’s laughter.
My parents owned a butcher shop on the outskirts of town. I grew up inside shop windows, between flashes of white packages, through the smell of salt and meat. I took my first steps on the stoop of the shop. I learned to sit up and roll over between crates in the storage room. I learned words spoken over the tops of counters. But I never spoke. I couldn’t speak.
My father became frustrated with me. He labeled me stubborn, lazy, not useful to him or the business. But my mother was different.
She suggested paper.