1. a very nice guy

    Mary wasn’t Catholic,but the rule was you did not tell her mother that. Neither did anyone in the neighborhood go out of their way to mention Mary’s occasional lesbian lover to her mother. Plenty of people did, however, go out of their way to avoid mentioning it.

    Fortunately or unfortunately, for whatever it was worth,  Mary was not one of those people. 

    She did not avoid mentioning her preference for women at the bowling alley, where she and her mother both played on ladies’ league during the deep winter season. Nor did Mary go out of her way to avoid talking about her resolute queerness at the nail salon, where they both took their regular mani-pedi’s, quite often scheduling them together. She was not squeamish about reminding them at the service station where she and her mother both took their vehicles for oil changes. Mary had even once brought a date, a woman from the nearby city, to the local tavern for beers and pinball after a weekend of camping and hiking. 

    It seemed the only place in town Mary never once mentioned being a lesbian was at church, mostly because she hadn’t set foot in the place in over ten years.

    Regardless, you never discussed her daughter’s lack of religion with Estelle, Mary’s mother. It might not seem like such an significant oversight, except that Estelle was always, loudly, keeping track of everyone’s religion. Not that there was that much to keep track of. Everyone in town was either Catholic or Public, Catholic or Protestant, those were they only major denominations represented. But in Estelle’s mind, there was a clear, church-by-church social structure based on congregational membership.

    A structure impossible to relay without unintentionally offending someone. If not one of the Unitarians, then surely the Lutherans, or the United Church of Christ folks or undoubtedly the Baptists and the First Congregational Fundamentalists. Dunkers, dribblers, sprinklers but no Jews or Muslims that was for sure, not in Estelle’s town.

    Whatever Estelle’s official pecking order was, one thing was undeniable as far as she was concerned: Catholics were morally and in every other way superior to all other denominations. Furthermore, the good, rule-following, ritual adhering, volunteering to maintain Perpetual Adoration shifts Catholics were clearly the very best people in every imaginable way.

    Apparently, monumental powers of denial also afforded you bonus points on Estelle’s scale, and in this arena, she herself excelled. However, she never seemed, even once, to fathom a single reason to extend the harsh judgments she applied to all others, including herself, to her daughter. It simply never crossed Estelle’s mind. Mary was totally exempt. 

    For her part, this seemed to infuriate Mary, who hated her own unintended “passing” more than anything. She hated being considered one of the good, God-fearing, faithful almost as much as she loathed being mistaken for straight. 

    I met Mary’s best friend in a photography course we both took through the local parks department. He told me it was her one pet peeve in all the world. Passing as heterosexual, he said, drove Mary crazy. I guessed this was why she was so open, even in her mother’s presence, about her love-life. He agreed. I wondered out loud, then, if she might settle down now, with the laws changed. It seemed to me she might like to settle the whole matter once and for all by getting married to a woman. He shook his head vehemently, and grinned, more or less sheepishly, at me. 

    "Naw," he said. "She won’t do that."

    "How can you be so sure?" I yelled at his back as he left me standing in the parking lot outside the community center.

    He ran off ahead of me, then, to catch up with his wife, who was taking a drawing class on the same night. He put his arm around her shoulders as he came up behind her, then turned back to answer me. “Mary won’t marry a woman because she’s in love with me,” he said. 

    I saw them all together once about a year after that. I saw them from a distance at the July Fireworks Celebration. Mary was with him and his wife, she was sitting on a blanket bouncing their infant daughter on her lap while they wandered nearby, holding hands and laughing. I could see by the look on Mary’s face that what he had said was true. 

     

  2. envisioning {aristophane’s slice}

    A scene emerges central, critical, demonstrative and meaningful. Really three-scenes-in-one along with a zooming in and out in hypnotic teetering. Both music and voice over at different points along the way. It is a complicated set of shots, well-edited. The soundtrack big and bold, orchestral and pop-catchy at once.  A well of swelling music to dive in and float away to, too. A narrator who serves little purpose other than to give a pretty voice to the naming of the destinations we see on the screen. 

    One scene, the car scene, is really three merged and blended set of frames. Each of them as the driver of their own car, alone. Each as the driver of their shared car together, alternately in turn. The same scenery flashing by as they reveal how alike they look in this common necessary automatically performed activity.

    The second scene is them sitting together across from each other in a tall-backed old-fashioned wooden booth. The camera swings at severe and dramatic angles, slanting first up from under the table next down along one wall behind it. They are dressed identical right down to ancient scuffed Chuck Taylor’s, frayed jean hems, checked flannels. The lens swings and bends and glides back and forth and as it does they, through the magic of film, seamlessly switch positions and switch back again as the scene proceeds in a crazy mirrored mise en abyme of a conversation, complete with animated nonverbals.

    Finally, in the third scene they are floating and swimming, coaching and spinning, hair splayed skin glistening and water a reflecting assault of light back all around their bodies. They are in bright sunshine and in a crystal blue pool of water together and even in their buoyancy they move together, so similar. Matching. 

    All three components of the montage feel as if they are shot in slow motion but they are not, they are instead acted out with literal slow movements. Both actors, gliding, synchronized in perfect but, again due to film magic, seemingly unchoreographed unison, and all in perfect time with the music.

    These movements are primarily simple, uneventful, regular everyday gestures. This is obvious but so, then, is the point that they are utterly precisely, though still totally casual, exactly identical.

    When met, the desired effect communicates on all kinds of unspoken levels. It communicates about unspoken levels in unspoken levels. That’s what it’s meant to do; that’s its whole purpose. That and to be beautiful. And fun. Somehow both profound and intensely, inherently light-hearted. But not cute. Not one bit cute. 

    In a purely superficial sense, they don’t, or they wouldn’t look alike really, if it weren’t for the uncanny effect of their mindless casual exact sameness in movement. Their skin tones are remarkably similar but one is technically Caucasian, and naturally tan, the other Latin with darker hair and eyes. Both wear longish, but not extremely long hair, both push it back behind an ear habitually with their fingers in a distinctive gesture that is exactly the same as the other. Both have red lips and white teeth, one set full the other smaller and thinner. Both move sneakered feet in a similar manner under a similar posture. One has a trim beard, the other is a woman. 

    In sum, in the scene this is what we are seeing: A rolling surreally pitched view of them moving through and near each other in each of these settings, demonstrating in near live action slow-motion the way they move the same way. We see each set of hands move across the steering wheel identically. Rub their own head and loose hair in scruffley absent-minded patterns, twirling strands around fingers while singing or talking. They play with their ponytails the same way. They bite the edge of their cuticles the same. They prop their feet up on the heels and wag them on the booth bench of the other and we can’t tell which is which, whose feet next to whose hips. 

    The rest of the movie will include plotting and events to distinguish them, characterizations at times complimentary and at sometimes cruelly at odds. Their motives, outcomes, even their intentions will reveal their critical differences. But in this scene, in this bit It will be as if their everyday postures are dancing, unrehearsed, yet perfectly, always, together. 

     

  3. passed back to the present

    I was a psychologist in my first professional ife. I had a clinical supervisor once, we’ll call her Hugh. She wasn’t masculine and that isn’t her real name but her real name was unusual and Hugh is close enough to be a good cue for me. 

    Hugh’s specialty was domestic violence and child abuse cases and she was the primary supervisor presiding over my work with several African American boys I saw for extended periods. She also deftly guided me through some really sticky marital therapy cases that involved the potential for dangerous violence.

    {Perhaps there is no such thing as violence that isn’t dangerous.}

    She was in a long term, live-in relationship with her lesbian life partner and I was too young to even contemplate her age. She was clearly a legitimate grown-up with a successful career and a house and several pets and that put her in a whole separate league from me. But I remember people remarking about her youthful appearance and energy. “Can you believe Hugh is…” was not an uncommon phrase associated with her in my memory. I think she was in her fifties, even then, but my memory of her is way younger than the present day me. 

    Hugh had a timeless quality. Being in the same room with her made me feel mothered in a way I had never known. She emanated not the least single bit of sentimentality and still I was certain she liked me. She felt no need or obligation to take care of me and yet I was totally certain she would. She left me with the distinct impression of friendship, bypassing my every instinct to calibrate us along some hierarchy. She felt like a friendly monk, the essence of wise patient interested engaged. Utterly, unquestionably trustworthy. 

    Her attention, her presence, and the natural relaxed wisdom she brought made it possible for me to be helpful to my clients in ways it would have otherwise been impossible for me to be. She believed in me and there was no room left over outside my reverence, awe, and respect for her, to dare to disagree. There was so much stable crackling unquestionable and safe power in her demeanor. You could feel the best you had to offer rising up in you automatically. With her leading me, it seemed impossible not to have a helpful impact. 

    Our most memorable collaboration was with a nine-year-old boy who was having night terrors in residential treatment. We didn’t often take such extreme cases for a variety of reasons, but the disruption caused by his screaming was highly motivating to pursuing regular appointments. The bloodcurdling nature of his dreams cascading through the population of other boys, jarred awake by the sound. So bone chilling and impossible to subdue was he during an episode that practically no-one on his floor was getting any sleep. Even if he was sedated and quiet for a night, the remembered sound of his fear reverberating in the ears of the other boys still caused nightmares to crop up daily - or nightly.

    {They transported him faithfully, to therapy two days a week to prevent the noise of his suffering from making them all crazy.}

    We’ll call him Nathan. He was the size of an average six-year-old, only much skinnier. His dark hair was cropped close and he favored colored shirts with white stripes going round him horizontally. His skin was darker than anyone I had ever met before, his arms thinner, and his eyes always shiny and almondy in shape and color.

    {They left a distinct flavor in my mouth and throat when he looked at me, expectantly. Mostly I savored it while trying not to cry.}

    My job, Hugh explained, was just to be me and be present in his company. Not to try to do or be anything other than me, she said. Just be yourself in the same room with him for an hour twice a week and everything that needs to happen will. She promised. I believed.

    It wasn’t just blind faith all the way, either. Hugh had the most uncanny ability to predict clients’ behavior from session to session. She might have made a million as a psychic on the circus circuit in another place and time or age. We’d listen to recordings and pour over the transcript of a session and then she might say, “Tomorrow Nathan is probably going to come in angry. He’ll probably call you names and refuse to play and…” Her predictions would play out with shiver-inducing accuracy. She would tell me what to do and, mostly, what not to say. How to find a way to be quiet. That was my major task. Be a present stable object for him to attach to and then… just keep doing that. 

    I didn’t really understand it, then. Or how it worked. Her predictions and all the underlying processes were a complete mystery to me. I felt like a deceptive fraud knowing all I could do was be there in the moment for him. To pay attention, bring my sense of the session back to Hugh and let her predict things for me, seemed like such a small and insignificant thing. By informing me about what I could expect, she would prepare me to return again the next time and just do more of the same, nothing. Being present, in the moment. She kept telling me this was the most important therapeutic thing I could do for him.

    And it all seemed to be working. After the first six weeks the night terrors became less frequent, a pattern that continued as long as he came to see me faithfully. After seven months there hadn’t been an episode for three solid weeks prior to the August hiatus. Then during my therapy vacation time they returned, only to subside again when we resumed in Fall. Something about the routine was working. 

    But I was not like Hugh. I had no ability to predict what was coming next. It terrified me and eventually, that terror led me to quit. I turned away from life in the moment, then, got serious about trying to predict better, finding a setting where the stakes didn’t so much matter. 

    {That’s left the part of me that is reaching constantly, since, struggling to get back to this minute.}

     

  4. two deep blue devils

    Eager at the end of something that doesn’t feel enough like a rope to even trust pulling on, with flailing fingers ambivalent as they alternate clutching at seaweed then flinging it away in spastic under the surface waves of wrists slung. She wants saved and freed by it at once.

    The gasping gulping coughing spitting spiting laughing hysterics that make up her facial expression map the chaos of her situation as she wavers. Hung and sagging some, like an electric wire or the shingles and window frames of an old house or the flesh of an ancient man, draped between the salvation of the boat and the emancipation of immersion in the sea. 

    To breathe with gills promising the dark cool quiet of the silent ocean floor, what a lovely place for resting in the constant vibration of water bathing each and all the creatures together in their wet, salt connection. Versus the words of spoken language waiting for her, already landed, in the bag, captured should she choose the dry alphabet of educated speech. 

    As if there exists any choice. Shame on her, for the details of what she has become attached to.  And for the settlements we all make.

     

  5. slingshot.

    You were more naked when we were sitting in the bar. The louder the jazz band got the more honest you were. Your clothes and armor dissolving in the notes and the words of my story. Excited and invigorated and as a result devastated by the truth that life is unendurable and yet everyday endured. That no matter how exciting, it is still so full of requiring, demanding needs. Needs need boiling down to essences then needing scrounged through for what matters. Needing to make what matters. To make it first and then to make it matter. To let go of every anger that binds you to regret about your own choices. To find the voice of what you want. I might rub off on you, but only a tiny little bit.

    You were less naked in the dark, stripped of clothes and vibrating. Literally shaking with energy. Enough to almost take you away but not completely. You were thinking about what it might mean, continually. You were dressed in your own nudity. Wearing it like camouflaged armor. I saw you. I felt it. I was an embrace with what is your surface. The comfortable skin and the lost flesh of meaning within. It was the first reach of a hand out of darkness. But it had nothing to do with me. Much less sex. You are looking for abrasion to sand off the surface.

    As you said when we were sitting there, dressed in public. You said yourself you have no opponent. There is too much void. You reach out to attach. In hope of finding a place to attach to, a place to swing from. To launch yourself back out free once you are stronger. It is lovely, and a good plan. I am just not the stable framework necessary to sustain it. I am just a slingshot, my friend. 

    Tagged #prose #jillc
     

  6. mix well with sweat and cardio

    Here they are, lying down flat backs against the soft mattress, eyes pointed at the white textured plaster ceiling, side by side. Not so much holding hands but alternating, taking turns, studying the other’s hand while they are speaking. 

    They are seeing how many jokes they can remember, one from each then back to the other, irregardless of quality. The goal is merely to have something with any kind of punchline to say when it’s your turn. 

    When one is talking the other gives their hand over to manipulation by the listener’s hand. Who might examine it, closely or tender or rough. They might puppet it around, flop it back and forth or make crude signs with it. Whoever’s turn it is to tell a joke, they just have to keep speaking, no matter what is going on with their hands. 

    They have been at it for awhile. They are laughing hard by now. What started as muffled and staunched snickers has progressed past chuckling to full blown gales and is well on its way toward guffaws. 

    At which point, they are one joke away from the moment when their laughter fully overtakes them. Then they are pounding their feet against the bed. Knees bent and flat soles thumping the sheets, switching back and forth in exaggerated flutter kicks and bouncing themselves up and down, up and down, straight into even harder crack-ups. 

    Furthermore, with so many hysterics, each of their parts have swollen to trampolining, high jumping proportions. Humor being the sexiest thing ever.

     

  7. segmented

    We are near the historic and refurbished train station, sitting at a picnic table made of metal laced together in a diamond pattern with the seats and surface attached via awkwardly bent and connected legs. The sun is bright and I am wearing sun glasses sometimes pushed up on my head. The ground is too much concrete and the air feels like a thing passed artificially through a prism. Nothing about the scene is cozy. 

    I recognize that my body is distinct from the cottony clawing bubble of your admiration, which has engulfed me like a thick woolly cloud for several years now. I see myself existing free of it even as it hovers like a black, livery, lung of a placenta in the air between us. Slick and crumbling, a playdough ball of pickled meat. I am elated with fear to be outside of it.

    You are proceeding with what you are good at. From the ball of matting you wield deftly a conversation, woven, net of words that snares me only superficially. I can see the oily elixir as a separate entity and the embrace extends just far enough to run it’s hands over me. It cannot make purchase or establish its grip. 

    I am free of it and I watch you staggering, drunk in a pool of intoxicant desperation, grasping at me with all the reasons she is not my answer. Correct as you are it won’t matter. You no longer have the power to snatch my hands for holding. You need me to reach for you. 

    And in that moment I know. From then on my knowledge of it never falters. If my demeanor seemed at times to waver, it was mere slippage in the facade of time. I will never again hold out my hand in your direction. 

    We were sweating, then, and the bench etched its diamond pattern in the fat on the back of my thighs. The flesh oozes through the holes no matter how skinny you are. The mood was too neutral to be cold. Just hard and plastic-coated and over. 

     

  8. the music’s timing undefined

    For weeks now I’ve been thinking about scales. The scale of sleeps. The sound of octaves of consciousness dropping out at the bottom and the time it takes to move up and down the days of a life of lifetimes. 

    The way small animals that don’t live very long still have to contend with the same number of hours in each day as humans do. A whole life in three years or less if you’re a rat, still less than that for most insects, barely more for a toddler. Something miserable in between those spans and a human lifetime if you’re a dog or a cat. Lots of trees and some other creatures live even longer than people.

    But for all creatures, the planet spins the same. Their night dark as long as my night, their days bending the same stretch of sun away as mine. The seasoning of time in a year. 

    I am preoccupied, too, by the scale of accumulation. How much longer is a ten-minute wait to a two year old who has only lived through 784 nights compared to my own tally of over 17,000 sleeps. As the insignificance of ten minutes confronts me so does the changing rate of the time that is left, when compared to what’s passed in the past. 

    When I was five and six years old I used to be consumed with the nonchalant attitude the grownups had toward Christmas and birthday celebrations. My horror was only compounded when I figured out that it had taken only thirty-some odd seasons for my parents to grow so jaded. It seemed to me, clearly, that even a total as large as eighty Christmas celebrations in a lifetime could not possibly be enough to make it routine. And here I am, twenty-years an atheist in my forties, shunning pine trees and wrapping paper with equal vehemence. Leaving the candles off my cake as if my remaining years are a dry forest in danger of catching fire. 

    I guess my biggest burning question is how we can even agree on anything as abstract as a definition for what constitutes life. What arrogance we assume in comparing everything to us. We can’t even keep decent track of our planet spinning and waltzing around the sun. We are so uneven, unmeasured. What a crazy unkempt cacophony of a symphony it would be if anything even remotely like a human was in charge of keeping time. 

     

  9. nowhere far

    A creature soft sleeping curled around a chest releasing puffs of breath turned woolly. Floating up with neck stretched, comfortable but back to raise exhales, lifted through mist with cloudy insistence.

    Light ballast against the slow floating sink of soothing moving down and through with gravity’s steady pull toward a root. Bedded in the floor of the deepest chamber, magnetically. Held in a warm round vessel of strong liquor swallowed, a tummy of heat coating and splayed out. An echo ellipses through limbs, swims trailing streaks back into the middle. 

    Into this fiber, from another side of life in a different time and place, comes a needling with no string drawing through. A tender snag, a snippet gripped gently and pulled back. To another plane. 

    A level below the bottom, follow an opening, cotton strands of consciousness banking and sliding, gliding deftly pouring over a lip soft full-edged ring-sucked, like wet sand down the hourglass. 

    Afterward, a doughnut of fluff, cupped in the palms of gentle hands. A vortex empty center. Lifted up and encouraged to stand on legs wobbly, inhaling deep to fill the space beyond tired. Engulfed in the exhaustion of traveling within. 

    A cat named sleeping betty, her claw a spindle, spiked into a spun sugar bouffant dream. She pats at me, toying. Gracefully, she places the pink pads under the silk fur of one paw across my tail. She smiles as my spinning legs wheel in a direction that takes me nowhere far from here. 

     

  10. i’ll be your second

    The first night that spring I slept with the window open, under flannel sheets with freshly shaved legs and the revelation dropping from the ceiling like the cloud of a toxic bomb in reverse.

    Each of us is invested in being convinced of our own unpleasant weird uniqueness. Because if we give that up, the trade off. There is always a trade off, cool spring night to soft blanket, nakedness to sweat, knowing to being something important.

    Sew the trade off. Sew the trade off shut. The guts slipping squirming out between the cut are the reality that if we accept we are similarly part of all of everything human there are too many consequences.

    Well there are so many. Humans and their trade offs. But at the top, if we are not ourselves different than all the rest then, well when. Well then, the other must be as self-absorbed and greedy and thinking themselves the middle of the universe that needs rescuing in order for the world to continue on as us.

    And if they are the needy center how will they be able to see that I am my own and nothing has two nuclei. The only hope for our own savory saving by a savior is if they are not a center themselves but rather a periphery and therein so much different are we from each other. I want someone the same enough to understand me!

    But it is a total lie we tell ourselves. That we alone are freaky and alone. No, we are surrounded by shredding heavy gravities. Exactly the same as us. We can pretend we want to be normal all day but we don’t. The truth is we don’t. That is what terrifies us first, and foremost. 

     

  11. not shushing, the opposite

    Have you ever detected meaning in the pattern of my breathing? I am imagining a “conversation” conducted solely in breaths. Snuffles and patterns, out and in, sniffing and blowing and snorting. Inhales and ex, short and fast and long and slow and… awww-shhhhucks.

    Such a conversation would surely take place in the dark, on flat backs, horizontal and shoulder to shoulder. Or spooned in the pitch black of night’s drawer. Close up, but without looking.

    The sort of conversation that begins without touch but knows it is akin to more tangible sensation. It proceeds in that direction, then. It is a prelude. Yes. Just. Just air and chests, swells and crests, bellies and deflation and cloudy puffs, temporary and full of meaning.

    The way the gut squeezes in to make room, empty space inside, for the next breath. The way it tickles when you listen to each others’ bodies saying that. 

    Tagged #prose #jillc
     

  12. unilingual

    In my dream I am surrounded by men in benevolent bodies reaching with stories. They propel me forward on smooth arms and strong thighs. They fix fiercely gentle eyes on all the space around me when they are not looking directly into mine.

    Speaking low and friendly, tones echo through smiling mouths near the verge of laughter spurting from their delight. They delight in our shared presence, treasured company. A warm belly wrapped round my middle and rubbed as if every word springs from my existence and nothing else. Heartened we are held in each others’ minds.

    We know this because the shape of our hands tell an experience into being of life in human form. Temporary glorious burning comedic lines of flesh and time drop in sways, undulate in descending waves into layers that fill all the space around us. Our bodies are revealed as letters, as strokes of meaning in the language of something much larger than all the gods we have ever dreamed.

    We are. The only language.

     

  13. a hands matter holding

    Together we explore to discover the place where words meet the edge of meaning and see that what remains is inadequacy. Specifically, here, my grievance centers on the word “know” in all its utter, glorious, staggering audacity. Claims to be the junction that connects us based on evidence, based on data, based on knowledge — this is nothing short of ludicrous. I am not interested in merely getting to know you. That would be a class, a task, an episode of show and tell, at best. 

    When we reached across from the darkness, dragging shadow with us, when we touched hands, we held something beyond learning and at once more immediate. The sensing of another, the swimming in shared perception, in your perception conjoined to mine, in swirling layers of experience, engaging each other to create nested layers of interaction. A thick, intricate, complex weaving laced and strength knotted into co-creation. Co-creation of moments. A mosaic of moments in the shape of love. Understanding, empathy and dancing all at once more completely within each our own and each others’ consciousness. A deeper way of being. However fleeting, undeniable in its power to enrich life. 

    Less-than-zero sum population growth. Reducing the number of individuals without accommodating death. However temporary, a condensing distillation of human quality to potency and power expanded through collaboration. Shared awareness beyond. Beyond self and way beyond what is held in the notion of known

    Instead the connection resides in fiery light. It welds. It does not reach. Not for permanence nor for control nor for fancy. It is a hand holding, a side-stroking, a spoon, an animal, a twist. It swims through us and between us holding on and letting go. It is tangible and vibrant and rhythmic. It beats and reverberates. At its grace and its mercy, we submit and are each and always separately and together, altogether transformed. 

    Tagged #prose #jillc
     

  14. bleak & sanctioned

    She wants to know if you can count someone strong if they started off as unbreakable from the beginning.  Neither one of us thinks so. Invincible seems like an evil superpower. 

    I tell her to tear it all down or resign herself to building a perimeter around her. Pay some attention to who she let’s cross. Establish her own safety zone and develop a protocol for addressing the evil bits she inevitably lets through. 

    In either case, her next questions slather themselves over the opposition’s reaction, as she tries to anticipate what they will do. They will be like all abusive humans have been, I promise.

    They will be disproportionately indignant, as if they have never lost anything of real value before. 

                     ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    She knew instantly when she met him that he had raped women. It was a thing that only happened a few times in her life but when it had she had no doubt about it. There was no wishy-washiness to worry about. She didn’t question the fact of it, she just never knew what to do. Three out of four times so far, hard evidence that she was right had come back to her, later.  Each time she had wanted to die for a little while when she found out about it. 

    Now this was number five. And the evidence that she was right in her prediction piled up around her. In her first-hand experience and in stories reported to her. Everything suggested a deep-seated misogyny lived in this creature and she knew from his self-reported accounts that he viewed women as sexual objects. He agreed he was comfortable exploiting women for his own pleasure. He felt it was natural, he was entitled before he “settled down”. 

    She knew that any consequence she could enact or affect against him was realistically short-lived and highly limited in scope. She knew anything she did was only likely to antagonize him to be more hideously violent in some not so distant future. To some other woman. She correctly accepted without question that her culture would shelter him enough to provide him with the freedom to do horrible things to others, no matter how valiant and lucky she might get in her efforts to thwart him.

    The best she could do. The absolute hideous option she was left with, was to effect minimal consequences, such that he would not be in her line of sight next time he perpetrated. 

    She was ashamed. 

    She built a perimeter. All the while dreaming of tearing it all down. 

     

  15. vacuums and the persistence of purpose

    Given how hard it has been for me to let myself need anything, I was surprised how quickly and obviously my awareness of the thing I needed rushed in. As if all it needed were it’s exact absence for me to feel it and know it in a sudden rush of unquestionable intuition.

    The way a vacuum draws. The way it destroys itself. The way its definition is its undoing.

    The way I could not name it. The way asking for your simplest sensitivity seemed ridiculous to articulate until it was gone. The way my sensitive response to your, more than likely unintentional, insensitivity was a slick filet knife. Even tempered and well-filtered, my pain the thinnest blade made for slicing. Slicing layers of myself free.

    Beginning with the first layer. The layer of your protection. The layer that needed to be everything smooth and easy and not need. This failure to be granted the one thing I now can only see in its absence I needed but can’t reasonably count on, this failure has freed me to need it. I suddenly feel completely reasonable expecting it and consequently in my outrage at not getting it. Your sensitivity felt brisk in absence. 

    There is no blame just surety in my own deserving. I deserve not to feel that again. No matter how accidental, it is unbearable even merely as a risk.  And I was the one who put myself at risk. It’s one thing to drink before you know. Another, another thing entirely to drink again later. 

    So not getting what I was afraid to need has freed me to need it in a way that means I won’t give myself a chance to get it again. Get it either way. Smack in the face or need met there are some things, places you’ve gone, you can never unclaim.

    A flag on a stake that even drawn out and laid down leaves a hole in the ground. Unmistakable and round and a reminder, not a line because that is not how time works, just a small circle around which the rest must recline.  

    A vacuum around which all future interactions must stay far enough distant to avoid falling into the draw of that cold empty place. Each misstep feeds the void and makes the hole bigger.

     It makes play far away, outside the range of the crater, easier. Feeds a different hope of returning to picnic one day. It’s a circle, like all things, and the persistence of purpose.