I see it from outside. Always outside, just a few feet to the right. You’d think I’d be above, looking down, like someone who is dying, or maybe lucid dreaming. But either of those would have been preferable, I guess. It’s funny – it’s the second worst thing that ever happened to my body, and I wasn’t home for it. Just observing.
When I see it, the room is a vacuum. The participants are moving slowly. The (non)air is honey, but honey is sweet in its stickiness. This is just an impediment. Have I slowed it down? Do I think that on one of these visits, time can be altered entirely? Mostly, I view it with a degree of impassivity.
She is young. She’s glowing like a beacon. For those few months after 9/11, her fear makes her stand out. She vibrates with urgency brought on by current events and embroidered lingerie and impending career choices. For the first time, men swarm around her. It is too much. The second breakdown is on the horizon, but right now she doesn’t see it. There’s too much on her. He’s too much on her. She’s choking on the honey. Her mouth is sealed. If only he’d look into her eyes – why doesn’t he see?
He is heavy, a hulking mass of olive skin and tangled black locks. Beer soaks his breath, but in the (non)air between them, this has no meaning. Once, long ago, when air was still a thing, he kissed her until she was nothing and everything. He promised to be her first, though things never work out for fools of 16. Now, with four years between that moment and this, he has forgotten his tenderness.
The weight she once requested is too much. The honey is in her lungs. The last coherent part of her is screaming “NO!”, but you’d have to have her magick to hear it. He is drunk, and slow, and stupid, and soon to be cruel. She is outside now. She is me. I’m watching every second. I’m bathed in shame.
She can’t move. Her arms and legs are useless. Maybe she had too much to drink. Maybe she had the wrong thing. Maybe she was drugged. Her body is choking on fear. Outside her, I writhe with righteous anger. The shame burns away. I have nothing but hate. I will him to look down – look her in the eye. He loved her once. Now what?
He sees. Too late – far too late. He stops. He falls asleep. In a few hours, she will get dressed, then crawl to the bathroom, lock the door, and go to sleep. When she wakes, I’ll be inside again. The anger and shame and fear will braid together, cinching her gut. We will leave the remnants of the house party with best friend, clueless, in tow. We will shoot that stranger, once adored, a sad, small “goodbye”. We will fly back to Louisiana, pet our kitten, hug our friends, keep all of this a secret forever.
I see it from the inside. Who will look me in the eye? What will they see?