Cold fingers caress the back of my neck, and I hear a young woman whisper in my ear, “She hates you.”
Is it true? I wrong, I was I bad? I have this vague sense of unease and jolts of panic contract my heart. As the anxiety gets worse my body temperature increases and I start to sweat. Oddly my legs get cold and numb like the blood is no longer circulating in them. It becomes harder to hear the words spoken around me until it all sounds like a million crickets chirping inside my head. I’m in a social situation unable to get up and leave. My spirit begins to disconnect from my body and float a few feet away. For a while at least no one can hurt me.
I know I’ll have to come back into my body. I’ve earned the punishment, and I should hurt. I deserve to feel the ache in my chest and the stinging verbal slaps across my face. “You will be sorry you will pay.” My father’s mantra rooted deeply into my head more meaningful than ever.
“No communication using words, gestures or body language.” Those words gave me a sense of nostalgia a feeling of a childhood home. Breath used only to sustain life not to give life to concepts created by heart and mind. Understanding early on that the hugs and kisses only existed in front others. Pushed away verbally and physically when it was, “…just us.”
Everything will hurt me because it will never be what I want to hear. I will react instead of thinking clearly and logically. I am worthless unable to control my sinful desires. Greedy because I don’t feel complete with what others would consider an abundance. I ask for the connection willingly. Having never tested my endurance at the intensity of unintentional cruelty that will be inflicted I take full responsibility for being unable to control my heart should it implode.
And then there was you. Giving freely what others hoarded, you asked me for nothing in return. Theoretically, I understand, but my heart is still confused even after all this time. Standing close to me I feel your heart feeding love into mine. There is understanding in your eyes and a smile upon your lips for me but for what reasons? While I long to ask, “Por que.” I cannot get past the fear that everything will hurt me because it will never be what I want to hear.
Hesitantly I walk into the laundry room the air humid and smelling faintly of bleach. I need my mom’s permission to go on a four-day camping trip with Nina. Desiring to spend time with my love and her family. Even though we were keeping our relationship a secret, I still wanted to feel a part of them.
“Mom, I want to talk to you about something important.” I attempt to make eye contact, but she is concentrating on socks and jammies.
“I don’t have time right now,” she says with a little bit of impatience and anger in her tone. Does she know where I’ve been? Her hands moving quickly amongst a pile of socks turn into birds with long sharp beaks jabbing at tall grass.
“If I were to help could I get you to talk with me?” My heart beats a little faster I need her to say yes, but it is never easy to have a conversation. It is hard to know what she thinks.
“Estas bromeando?” She laughs as she brushes past me. “You’ll only help to get what you want is what you are saying? Finish the rest I need to make dinner; your dad will be home soon.”
“Mom, please come back I just used the wrong words.” Before my brain could react, my hand reached out and grabbed at her left arm trying to stop her. She whirled around, and for a split second, I saw beautiful ballerinas in bright colored dresses twirling.
Head whipping back from the force of her open handed slap I lost my balance and fell. I could feel the heat radiating from my cheek, tailbone aching from falling on my ass. I try to get up as fast as I can in case she’s looking but she’d already walked out the door.
Holding back my tears I whisper to myself; I want this, I have to work harder. Heart racing I take deep breaths so that I can focus on my failure to engage my mom. I rushed in without thinking the conversation through. I lost control of my body because I gave in to emotion. The solution then is to do the opposite.
I retreat to my room to plan out my next steps.
High on empathy, I’m reading minds. No compromise. Fortune telling is my cognitive distortion. I’m failing, unwanted, unloved. I’ve read the final line before I started the story.
I am lost inside myself walking on forgotten paths. I loop around then I’m back where I started. I am searching for something precious. I can’t remember what it is, but I can feel the emptiness in my chest. It hurts so much when I breathe I wish the pain would stop.
I stumble into awareness feeling so fucking lost and alone. Standing in the middle of a crowded street filled with strangers pushing, bumping and shoving into me. Struggling to fill my lungs and feed oxygen to my brain I panic. I try to rush through the mass of hot sweating faceless bodies without falling. Tripping, arms flailing, knocked down I am crushed.
Opening my eyes as my coffin lid closes I am trapped inside. My lips are sewn shut my nose plugged with cotton, empty I lay in the darkness. Somehow not needing to breathe I’m still alive. I am exhausted but don’t remember the reason for it. Slowly filled with a sense of contentment, I relax into the satin pillows and allow myself to float away.
I am standing behind her my arms around her waist. Pulling her petite body into me, kissing her shoulder then her neck, breathing in the heady fragrance from her hair. She pushes back into me rubbing her body against mine. Looking over her shoulder, she says, “That wasn’t meant for you.” I nod my head and sigh, but I don’t let go instead I nip gently at her ear.
She learned her from her dad to strike. Her aim exact, words bloody my soul. I gave away power in return for love, a sacrifice to pain. I allow her; understanding her deep-seated need to hurt to feel whole. Mature and wise in love.
I am driving up a curvy mountain road in the snow. Lost in the dark, searching for the route that will take me home. I wonder if I’m dreaming I don’t remember anything before this. I want to pull over to the shoulder, but there is no guardrail only orange safety rope with big sections missing. Beyond there is only darkness, and I imagine a steep drop off. If only I could remember my name, I’m confident I’d know if this were reality or a vivid dream.
I have to drive faster the snow is starting to pile up and drift onto the blacktop. Looking into the rearview mirror, I gasp and quickly direct my attention back to driving. A little girl sitting in the backseat arms outstretched she’d been reaching out to me. Pale white face and hazel eyes. Her mouth opens wide in a silent scream. In my head, her wail, “Why did you kill my family?”