We’ve Always Known

Isn’t it ironic that you’ve been telling us what to think for eternity, while today you proudly pat yourself on the back for giving us the right to have our own voices?

 

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Beyond recall

He is in the darkness, behind her, his lips inches from her ear. He whispers to her. She cannot see him, but she feels his breath brush against her skin. Her hair rises, her skin prickling, her nerves electrified.

He is cold.

His words weep into her, his lies feeding her, not the stuff of health but a poison meant for a slow death, that of paralysis and the loss of any way to escape. Locked-in syndrome. An awareness, yes, of self and surroundings, but inability to move anything but the eyes. A single light on in a shack surrounded by a withered desert.

Yet she weaves beautiful stories from his lies, her fingers twisted in silk made of his venom. No one is there to see it in the darkness, and no one is around to hear it, so why does she do it? She has no one to impress; no one to convince of her sanity. She feels that she is; she is cold, she breathes, but is she alive? Is she mad, a fool?

Or is she nothing, in a space with his eyes only, defined by the way he sees her?

A fool nonetheless.

Shades of gray have become her palette. He leans into the other ear. His words have become her thoughts. His cold fingers touch her though she does not want to be touched. She weaves steadily, trying not to shudder at his presence, her eyes trying to see anything but the web, growing ever larger, barely discernible in the pit or hollow or cave or cell or grave, or wherever it is they dwell.

She trusts in the darkness. It does not lie, though it holds secrets. It does not change, though she once dreamed of the light. He is there with her, the enemy, the host.

She trusts in the darkness because it is home.

There is no other choice.

Slavish

Under her hand I build my empire

With her heart I invoke the sea

Her words are mine, and mine are theirs

And they echo, echo endlessly.

It is slavish prey for gulls to pluck

from the craggy rocks of ice;

for the fall is steep and the waves are deep

for girls who don’t play nice.

Through her mind I control my kingdom

With her fame I broadcast me

Her life is mine, and mine is theirs

And they gorge, gorge endlessly.

We are a slavish race to a constant pace

of information streams,

But within each day

is the obvious way

to get us

the

fuck

out.

Ichthys

You were born in a home barely large enough for the eight of You and Them, with a dirt floor and windows that sagged and sighed in the prairie winters, sending you into sleep with sounds of death in your ears.

Your childhood was a Promethean fable, a cycle of growing and receding according to the words of a man you’d never known, damning you to the ownership of another unknown man in your stifled future. You wept at night, and though the rest of Them heard you, you couldn’t help it. Because what escape was there within those weathered walls?

Preparing you, grooming you, shunting your light to make room for His. He took everything from you and you were supposed to thank Him for it.

A nod of the head, scraping of your fingers against your scalp. You are nothing, you feel, looking at everyone, but they don’t see you locked inside your prison, where you hide from His tongue. You are trying to feel yourself inside there, somewhere, in the recesses of your mind. The thought of Him finding you before you find yourself is, well, unbearable. You’d rather die than be His. You’ve always felt strong but contained; now is the time to unleash the pent-up energy, now is the time to escape.

In a ring of ash, you shed your scales. Your skin stretches, grows, breathes, and for the first time, you feel… You.

You are reborn, in a home of your own, the sounds of the city thriving outside.

But with each shaky breath, each passing moment, you realize that you are still alone in a sea of others. A car zips by, two pedestrians stare at screens and ram shoulders, barely acknowledging the collision. A dog is tied to a signpost, yipping and pacing, waiting for its owner inside the store. A man howls at pedestrians for food, shelter, money. A woman listens to music while eating a $2 hamburger on a bus stop bench, her eyes darting back and forth as she reads a used college textbook.

Your heart breaks, and you mourn the new life you’ve only just birthed. You are invisible, looking out at the world. You take another breath, stronger this time.

To be one in a sea of Others is better than to be one in a sea of Them. He isn’t there, and neither is the old you.

It is an uncertain but courageous freedom.

It is yours.

Gorgon

When you stare at her, she stares back, her eyes weeding out the lies, the half-truths, the bullshit, the shy come-ons that end up turning into something real, all written on your face and in the way you shift your weight. You’re tangible, your thoughts are not; women have been trained since the beginning of time to be mind-readers to protect their sanity, their bodies, their lives–know what he’s thinking, when to trust him, when to love him, and when to run, to fight, or to lie there and hope it doesn’t get worse.

She won’t tell you this, but she’s half here, half in another realm where she has power over you. She rises on waves of fury and self-righteousness, swelling from the depths of a world where she has control over her body and her destiny. She is all-knowing for real in this fantasy, not half-assed like on this planet, where she reads into every word and gesture before making that choice, rolling that dice. In the world of waves, she knows.

Your.

Games.

When you try to cut off her head, she is immortal, laughing at the pathetic attempts to control her after she has been ripped from her dwelling.

But on this planet, she is disgusting when she channels the goddess. She is a threat, she makes him feel a way he doesn’t understand; like he might not be immortal as he thought he was. He shrinks and recoils.

He thinks.

She is mortal.

Never mind that. Oh, cut off her head and spite her; a million other voices will join hers and defend her, knowing the risks, knowing the slander, knowing the rage.

From her blood warriors are born.

I see you

Hey, you.

I see you.

You’re still there. You won’t leave.

Maybe you can’t leave.

I guess I’ve gotten used to you by now; you’re there, loud, then you’re quiet, but lurking. Never gone; simply quiet. Likely plotting something. Do you really think I am that dumb, that I didn’t know what you were trying to do? Probably. They almost always do.

It is always a shock when you get loud. Once I woke up so convinced the nightmare was real. When the broom closet and the blood disappeared, replaced by the nightstand in the moonlight, I almost cried. My heart felt like it was trying to beat some sense into me. It’s the one you broke, but it still puts up a good fight every now and then.

When I saw you, your name, you were about a million miles away but that didn’t matter. It was you and you existed and you were still doing what you always did. At one time, you did it to me. Now I don’t know who you’re doing it to; I can only hope she doesn’t take it the way I did.

Some think I’m nothing.

It is with deep sorrow that I write of this revelation.

Does it sound ridiculous? That I would be so presumptuous to think that this is a surprise? That I could be immune to the judgment that everyone, no matter whether they are widely loved or relatively unknown, is subjected to?

I guess it might be. But still, it is a creeping feeling that managed to slip through the cracks. These are cracks that I thought had sealed; this is a feeling that, while ever present at a nagging level, I hadn’t felt surge into every fiber of my body for a long time.

Some think I’m nothing; I don’t want to be among those included.

That’s all I have to say. The rest of the words won’t come to me. They’re locked away somewhere, with everything else I’ve refused to face.