sitting alone at work, 8:47pm, the billing & documentation for your one-person caseload complete, your hand hovers above a small forest-green notebook from staples, scrawling a list of memories & suspicious details, as delilah’s evening radio show plays from the stereo. as miley sings (miley fucking cyrus), there’s always gonna be another mountain / i’m always gonna wanna make it move / always gonna be an uphill battle / sometimes i’m gonna have to lose, you begin to weep. you self-soothe, your hands clutching, fingers fidgeting, your mouth murmuring words you might use to comfort a girl crying to an awful pop-radio song, but you, that girl, are not given peace.
at home, you ramble & rattle to ears in ohio that have drawn out the many ribbons of your dustiest secrets. you don’t mention miley, or the crying, or any of it, & you are okay. you talk honey, students’ sense of entitlement, her ability to play the wooden recorder. when you hang up, you cannot sleep, but when you do, the sleep is peaceful.
so peaceful that you wake at 5:04am, four minutes after you should have punched in at work. the morning goes smoothly, easily. turdbird at the kitchen table soothes you, the dimples pinning the corners of his smile, the quiet chuckle that reminds you of a cartoon dog you watched in your childhood. you come home & nap as labyrinth plays in the background. you live, always, with the TV on. when you sleep, you dream of chasing a kitten, escaped from an antique store, down a street, of a boy stopping & writing down information about the cat & how to contact you if he finds her, & you are grateful, grateful, but he tears the page from his notebook & hands it to you, saying, see you later. another boy grabs your arm, & when you see his face–pocked like bukowski’s but worse, like he slept with his head on a wet, crinkled pillow for a long time–you scream. this dream grants you a voice, & you run. you enter the antique store just as the lights flicker out for closing time, & the kitten is there, & you are breathing hard, your heart beating full & deep like a bass drum.
in the shower after you wake, you howl. awful noises tunnel from your open throat, but you are alive–you are no longer voiceless–you are awake & warbling. the water erases the snot from your face, the saline from your eyes, leaves no trace of the sadness, the betrayal, the anger you are just learning to channel. you are okay. you are alive. whatever was done to you, you survived. you cannot lose.