a surface of insentience
I agree to be hypnotized. I believe going deeper might slow my tapping foot.
My left foot is always the first thing to unfold. My face gives nothing away.
Tennessee says horrible things about me. She waits to hear the clang of my
car door after work before she starts talking. She tells everyone in the office that I
fucked the Marketing Director to get promoted. I hate my job.
Tennessee doesn’t know my problems. I hope she finds comfort in the lies she
spreads. When I go home and cut myself, I don’t think about things like this.
Tennessee wears short skirts with frosted pink lipstick. She turns everything
into an innuendo. She makes jokes with men that turn my stomach, because I know
their filthy thoughts. And I want to tell her, but she’d never believe me.
No one ever believes me.
Sometimes if I hear a certain rhythm it makes me cry. It doesn’t even have
to be a sad song. Usually it’s a track that makes my eyes close and my shoulders
sway, a song that makes me wish I were better at explaining things. Sometimes I
think if I could explain the way music makes me feel then people would understand.
But I’m not sure that’s possible.
My father’s mother, Grandma Lucile, had chocolate brown eyes and crimson
hair. She used to pour hot water over loose tealeaves and tell me things, things she
said no one else knew.
“It’s ok child,” she choked one winter afternoon when the lung cancer crept
into its final phase. “I swear to you, you will never be alone. You are never alone.”
She died two days later.
When I was little, my parents stayed up late fighting, and I stayed up late
listening. But as soon as I walked passed one of them the following day, they could
tell I knew more than they wished.
I wish my mother never slept with another man. The marriage was
irreparable after that.
I remember when I got rid of my virginity. His name was Lyle. His hands were
cold like snow and hard like rocks. He asked if he was being too rough and even
though he was, I told him I was fine.
I have a few habits, and that’s one of them. Saying, “I’m fine.” My sister,
Louise, says it’s one of my talents, like when I convince everyone that I don’t throw
up every day and night.
But I’m not supposed to talk about that.
Prescription drugs don’t suit me, because beneath it all, I’m an anarchist. I’m
also an aspiring atheist. Unfortunately, I learned too much too young.
My grandmother said she would explain, but then cancer killed her. And I
wanted to stop believing in God more than ever.
There’s an empty eight ball on a dirty taxicab floor. And I’m wearing
headphones when the driver asks where to take me. I somehow blurt, “49th and
10th”, the place where he’s waiting, upset that even drugs can’t get me talking
straight about where I should go. Where I’m meant to be.
I stumble out of the cab and stutter-step into Times Square. There’s a hard
grip on my shoulder, a familiar man’s grip, a man that I know is dangerous even
before he opens his mouth.
He’s supposed to meet his wife for dinner in forty minutes, but the meeting
ended early. If he wants to help, he could give me time to compose myself. Instead,
he slides a sweaty hand into my coat and onto my bare shoulder.
“I’ve got you sweetie,” he says.
I want to tell him he doesn’t have me at all. I want to spit in his face. Instead
he somehow earns a “Thanks, I’m fine.”
I knew I shouldn’t have done those tequila shots.
My best friend Lisa says that she’s seen people on television being
hypnotized. “They learn all sorts of stuff about themselves,” she says. But I don’t
think I’m out to learn anything new.
I just want to fit in.