Nineteen years ago today, I held a green kitchen telephone receiver to my ear and listened to the world end.
You never realize that the world is going to end when it does. The day it happens is never one of the days that birds decide to see what all this 'gravity' nonsense is all about. The day it happens will be a Tuesday, and it will start like any other day; you wake up in the silence of blackened pre-dawn, stagger across cold, hardwood floors to a colder, harder tiled bathroom. You rinse everything that needs rinsing, find your way to the kitchen, mix yourself a very tall, very caffeinated drink that will ensure you will always remain very short and very caffeine dependent, and you make your way out into the real world.
You stand at the bus stop in a coat that is too thin, with shoes that have no socks, and you watch the twinkling stars begin their daily retreat, as morning threatens to break. You hop on the bus and rest your head against the aluminum window frame, still frozen from the chill of the night's air. You ride south and ever so slightly east, watching the blazing sun in all its staggering enormity tear its way out of the water that covers the horizon as far as you can see.
This reminds you to recite your blessings. Your life happens on the very outermost edge of the world; there art thou blessed. You survive each day to witness a close-up of the mightiest star of all being re-born every morning; there art thou blessed. You have woken up again, only to have truest of beauty burned into your eyes and your heart and your mind, again
; there art thou blessed.
You arrive at your destination; a high school you've only recently entered, having been forceably removed from your previous one some two months previous. You still use the map given to you on your first day of admission, not having had enough time to learn unfamiliar halls and unfamiliar faces. You meander through your first few hours of your second semester of your second school of your junior year of high school. You find your way to your drafting class, which will last until the end of the school day. You busy yourself with Buick engine blueprints for the auto department (or maybe it will be the Boeing engine this day, for aviation) and when you hear the door swing open, you hardly notice. Until you have to. Until you're forced to accept that she just walked in the door, again.
You don't know why she's come here, but you're certain it can't be good. The last time she walked in a drafting shop door you spent the next eight weeks alone in a dark room waiting for her to come and put you both out of your misery. She tried on occasion, but she is weaker than you realize now, nineteen years later, and besides...truancy officers have an uncanny knack of catching up with everyone, and so you were shoved back into a slightly rearranged world.
And here she is again.
And suddenly, you can't breath. You can't remember how you ever learned how to breath. You taste blood, and you think it's rage but it's actually your
blood pouring from the insides of your
mouth that you've
bitten straight through. You run to a water fountain and when the water hits the back of your throat, you heave into the fountain.
You see her behind the glass doors of your instructor's office, and when she knows you've seen her, when she is sure that you know that she knows everything there is about you, that you will never, ever have a sanctuary, she rises, shakes your instructor's hand, and leaves. She doesn't even acknowelege your presence in the room; she simply walks out the door with a laugh.
You've never seen her willingly laugh before.
You run. You run as fast as you can, as far as you can. You come to a phone booth, you enter it and you call the only person you can think of to call and you tell him everything. You tell him every detail you've tried to protect him from for over a decade. You tell him everything you've been too confused, too afraid and too ashamed to admit out loud. You tell him you are afraid, and he tells you to carry on about your business, silently, and pack. He tells you he will fix this.
He is two thousand miles away from you at the moment.
You carry on about your day, gather your belongings, hop back on the bus, ride north and slightly west, then begin the walk back to where it all is all about to come to a screetching halt. Your too-thin coat and your socks-less feet don't bother you anymore, because, you've learned, fear is the single greatest source of heat in the universe, and you think that the sun must be terribly afraid of something (probably heights) and this comforts you slightly as you walk into that door and everything you know awaits you.
You can create heat where there is none; You are as powerful as the sun.
She is still laughing when she sees you, a condescending laughter that is sickening to hear, doubly so when aimed at your head. She laughs because she knows she has
you; you are terrified and she is as unpredictable as the weather.
The barometric pressure is dropping all around you. There isn't enough air in this room for the both of you. One of you isn't going to make it out of here whole.
And one of us didn't. I'd argue that neither of us did, in hindsight, but that is simply me romanticizing the effect that the loss of a daughter would have on a mother. I wouldn't know because as far as I am aware, she's not spoken of me since that day, when I sat on a green, kitchen wall phone like they don't make anymore and listened to my mother discard me.
She told my father he had 48 hours to collect his trash, and he told me to pack quickly. She told my father she didn't know what she might do to me if I wasn't gone by Thursday, and he told her he knew exactly
what he'd do to her if she did. They talked logistics that I couldn't hear over the screaming in my brain. We all hung up, and I crawled through the kitchen, into the living room, behind her chair and up to my room. I packed everything I could carry into the only luggage I had, my school backpack and two plastic grocery bags. That night she screamed at me from the bottom of the stairs, "You can never come back. Your brother can come back, but you never can. There will not be one trace of your existence in this house when you leave."
And I've never spoken to her since. I burned everything of mine I could burn, I sliced or tore or cut the rest and threw it all in the dumpster outside our front door. Sixteen years of my life was buried alive in that dumpster, and I've spent the past 19 years trying to ignore its screaming.