I was five and I remember hating him because of his face. I could tell he was weak and I loathed him before I was old enough to know that we’re all animals and that our survival depends on how we manipulate our own and others’ weaknesses. I don’t recall leaving my house and how I found myself walking alone down the path that led to my preschool. In my memory we were the only ones there that morning. He stood several yards away. He was waiting for me. I dreaded that I would have to look at his face up close when I reached him. He probably thought we could be friends. The frail boy didn’t know that I was born thinking no one was good enough to be my friend. Maybe my aloofness made him crave my attention even more. I wouldn’t even allow him to attempt to vie for my approval.
Poor little frail pathetic boy, that’s impossible. It will always be impossible.
I just wanted to get to class and my plan was to ignore him. Just like any day. But when I got close his expression caused me to feel a brand new emotion. I know now it was contempt. The kind that makes you inflict pain. His face made me want to hurt him. I didn’t even think. I stopped, put my hand on the back of his neck and threw him against the ground with as much force as I could manage.
There was no blood and no crying. He remained on the floor face down and I walked away. He was my first suitor and that’s all I remember about him.
In my late twenties I suffered from anxiety attacks and when I told my grandmother she told me not to worry. She said the anxiety would go away as soon as I turned 30.
The complex things are eventually forgotten, devoured by time and their inherent difficulty. You won’t remember why you are unhappy.
She told me that it was the simple things that hurt the most because they stayed with you forever. Like your grandfather asking for beans even though he knew I’d drop the goddam plate on his head. She was right. She was also right about my anxiety. When I turned 30 I felt as if I would be happy forever.
It was hard not to think about the simple things while I worked on his disappearance. If I had been able to focus on my planning and not think about what was exceptional about him, I would have finished the job much sooner. While I debated my options I’d catch myself smiling remembering his charm and his hands. I’m not good at making stuff like he was. If he had seen me struggling with the rope and fucking up the knots he would have laughed at me and taken over. He built things and it seemed there wasn’t one manual skill he didn’t possess. I wonder if all people who come from the earth are the same. I will ask the Lama if I ever find him.
I hear the scream in the distance. It’s the loop of my dreams. The wind is his friend and ally and together they torment me. No one ever tells you love is a prison. The yay-sayers swear the world is driven by love. It’s true, but it’s not the good, imaginary kind. It’s the kind that has already been spoiled by reality; the kind that makes you want to claw out your heart. I miss looking at his hands while he worked the most.
If you ask for justice, you’ll never get it. You have to make your own.
We had a fight after he found out I made an appointment with my doctor. He tried to make me feel guilty for not trusting that he could take care of me; for doubting that he was committed to making me happy and protecting me. He said I wasn’t feeling well because I wasn’t eating properly. He said he would feed me delicious and nutritious food and that I would get better soon. He said doctors were killers. He said he was the only one that knew what was best for me.
I agreed not to go to the doctor and we made up by fucking in every corner of the house. The pleasure did not mask the pain growing inside me, it heightened it. But I liked it
That afternoon, while I napped, he went out and returned with the things he needed to secure my jail.
I suspected it was petty to want romantic love when men with guns walk around shooting children in the head. I also suspected the man in my house was like those men outside. Still, I wanted it. Stupidity trumps everything.
The smells of smoke and gasoline mixed with the stench of cow manure. I couldn’t move and I wasn’t in pain. The car was out of sight but the sound of the horn got louder and louder so I tried to concentrate on the birds’ chirping to slow down my breathing. I whispered, “I did this to myself. I did this to myself.” The sun blinded me and I shut my eyes.
I remembered what he did to me to hurt me and feeling the pain but I don’t remember what the pain felt like. I had lost the emotion behind the emotions. They’re really good at killing stuff, especially a woman’s love and tenderness. “I did this to myself. I did this to myself.” I began to feel calm and after a while I was able to turn my neck and lift my head slowly. I saw the round mound that was my belly moving up and down, up and down. I didn’t care for what was inside it and I caught myself smirking. I lifted my head further to see what was just behind my stomach in the background. I saw the car wrapped around the tree.
I couldn’t see him but I knew he would eventually come out of nowhere and punish me. I closed my eyes and visualized the wall back home. “I never loved you.”
I had seen him walking and pushing his cart a few times. I wanted to offer him some help, food or money, but every time he slipped away; disappeared around the corner. I never spoke to him until that day.
I stood in the middle of my necrotic garden feeling inadequate and defeated. Nothing would grow but odd-looking weeds and I had given up. I would have to build a deck or lay some tile to cover that obnoxious dead earth. I had bought the house for the backyard alone and I didn’t need to be reminded of yet another failure. I was stuck.
I turned around and there he was. He looked me straight in the eye and extended his fist. He opened it and on his dirty palm were about a dozen seeds. I stared at his hand. It was smooth and small; too perfect for someone in his condition.
“Take,” he said. “Take.”
I obeyed and took the seeds. His slanted eyes were kind and contained what I interpreted as wisdom and knowledge.
I didn’t understand what he meant.
He swung his arm in a sweeping motion. “Throw.”
“Oh, I get it. But no. Look, I’m no good. This garden. No good.”
He shook his head. “Throw.”
I smiled and humored him. I threw the seeds and they were scattered across the garden.
He closed his eyes and said a prayer in a language I hadn’t heard before. When he was finished, he turned around and walked away.
I have been looking for him. I was about to give up when I saw him inside a dirty, old Volvo that was parked a few blocks from my house. He has to help me. I don’t know what else to do.
The tragedy is all over the newscasts. On Christmas Eve, an upper-middle class Connecticut home went up in flames. Three little girls and their grandparents died in the fire. Only their mother/daughter and her boyfriend survived. As she tried to save her family, neighbors reported she screamed, “My entire life is in that house.” They’re saying the fire was caused by sparks from the yule log cinders which she and her boyfriend collected and deposited in a trash can outside the home. The firemen were unable to get there before the house was engulfed in flames because the house didn’t have working smoke detectors.
I imagine the family in front of the fire, singing carols, eating, laughing. I see the little girls’ excitement over Santa’s impending arrival. I feel the adults’ happiness and satisfaction over the girls’ anticipation. They kiss, go to sleep, and one human action later, their life is gone.
I see my time with him as a bizarre hole in the time continuum. It was something that had to happen to me so that I could see myself and some truths, but also for some other reasons that are not yet clear to me. I was never meant to know him for longer than I did. I am grateful that I was able to love even if it was for such a short time.
I’m inside that woman’s head now. She closes her eyes and concentrates. She goes back in time. She sees herself sitting close enough to the cinders so that she can reach into them. Without hesitation, she sticks her hand in over and over until it doesn’t burn anymore. She sees herself replacing the batteries in the smoke detectors. She clenches her fists, grinds her teeth, and shuts her eyes so hard that her head hurts. Then, someone forces her eyes open and she’s back in the present. She will do this for the rest of her life and will never allow herself to think of or remember anything else. This mental repetition will be the only thing that will keep her alive.
A life can change in one second as a result of a bad decision, intentional or not. To be alive is to make mistakes but we never expect them to be irreversible. It’s very hard to accept and if it has happened to you already you don’t ever want it to happen again.
If you have the chance to make things right, do it. It’s a priceless gift that most of us never get.
What I lost when I accepted my relationship with him was only one of my fabrications, is bitter. What I gained, unbearable. Now, I must find a way to live with the bitter and the unbearable; the loss and knowledge of an unwanted future.
I thought it was something but it turned out to be nothing. It took me a while to realize it and I never thought about it until I was stuck on that road, driving, next to him. The second it clicked in my head it made sense and I acquired that evasive knowledge. I sped up but he didn’t say anything so I decided to crash the car into the tree. I didn’t want to hurt us. I just wanted to make the nothing go away.
No one will ever know how important that love was to me.