I cannot escape the house fast enough.
The smell of a breakfast that’s lasted for years,
You could be born
and still not sit through the entirety of that breakfast.
I am through the door
down the steps
I’m walking that heavy sticky dream walk
never fast enough.
Something inside you urges you on
warning you of a mysterious danger behind you
but you just can’t move any faster.
My gait is jerky, anxious.
I see girls with their long legs and casual stride, walking in comfortable ease, the ground below meeting their delicate feet without any hesitation.
They make walking look easy, because it should be, I know that it should be. There are many things that I know should be easy, natural, instinctual even. I never received the instructional booklet.
I see the same people every day on this street and I have never felt the slightest compulsion to either greet them or push them into traffic.
I can’t avoid it
it is there
like a rotting beached whale
no matter how much the smell warns you
you are curiously compelled to touch it
maybe even poke it with a stick
and watch it explode.
It is a warm morning in May and under my layers of clothing I feel droplets of sweat making their way down my chest and between my breasts.
My armpits are sticky and
my thighs rub together ever so slightly ruining my life with each moist point of contact.
I look at everyone else and they are radiant and fresh like a fucking shampoo commercial while I am frantic and sweaty.
Up the steps of Parker High.
That institutional smell already greeting me,
floor wax and disinfectant, mold and green beans.
I make my way towards the bathroom, my sanctuary.
The mint green walls comfort me and the white porcelain cools me.
I am alone and I stand perfectly still with my eyes closed
desperately trying to gain composure
I can feel my face cooling and my heart slowing to a somewhat normal pace.
I open my eyes upon my reflection
startled and then dissatisfied as usual.
My face a splotchy mess of pale white and humiliation red.
My hair an indecisive brownish hue of waves, falls in front of my face and down past my shoulders, clumped and matted with sweat at the nape of my neck.
My petite nose I look past, no complaints.
My mouth looks tired, a mouth that twists uneasily with unsaid words and struggles to remain closed against screams that fight day and night to get out.
I do not look at my eyes.
I run hot water and wash my hands several times, use too many paper towels and hold the warm damp paper to my face, inhaling the sweet woody smell and feeling almost ready.
Louise, who the fuck are you? I am sick of you and I don’t think I can be a part of this relationship anymore. I try and try to get inside your head and all you do is laugh. Or shut down, comatose, you might as well be dead. I can kill you, you know that don’t you? I might light you on fire and watch you burn, edges curling, blackening, the crinkling pages glowing red, embers fluttering into the night air. Will that wake you up? Make you pay attention for a goddamn second and follow me the way I have been following you for all these years. Following you down empty streets, never-ending hallways, cattle call cafeteria lines, endless rows of bathroom stalls and through mirrored images, inside out and multiplied.
Have you learned anything? Did you ever really open your eyes? Was it I who looked away? Did you tell me to fuck off a long time ago and I didn’t hear you?
Late last night I decided to write something different, as a distraction. I wrote a fucking sitcom, seriously. I created about 10 different characters and stupid scenarios for about 3 different episodes. So, take that Louise, I might just say, “fuck you” for real, move to Hollywood, write terrible sitcoms and campy commercials for tampons and hairspray. Yes Louise, I might give it all up for hairspray.
The following is an excerpt from a story I began years ago. I could write about Louise forever and still never fully understand her, so finishing the story has been difficult.
I enter a stall and begin to count
I am not going to make it through this day.
Now I can move forward with a purpose and everything suddenly seems better and I can breathe. Even as I walk out of the bathroom and down the hall I feel more composed than I have all day, the world is moving at a much more accurate speed.
Just as I am approaching the edge of the school grounds I hear Rhonda from behind.
“Louise, where the fuck are you going?”
“Not without me, Bitch!”
She’s at my side and we are gone, free.
This is not a rare incident, sometimes I wonder why we bother going to school at all.
Rhonda lives with her Grandmother who promised to send her to Art School in New York if she graduates High School. So Rhonda makes only enough effort to guarantee her a diploma. I go because well, it’s somewhere to go.
“I saw Greg last night at Julie’s party, he was shit faced and being a total fucking idiot. He was hitting on every girl there, in front of their boyfriends. I swear he was trying to get his ass kicked just so he could get a black eye and be able to make up some bullshit story. The problem was everyone just laughed at him, no one took him seriously at all. He got fucking pissed, face all red and sweaty. So he finally gets so obliterated that he grabs a beer bottle all caveman style, grunts and all, and tries to break it over his head. Get this, the fucking bottle would not break. He kept smashing it into his head and the fucker would not break!”
“Rhonda, please stop.”
“Just trying to help. Really I mean it. I desperately want to help you to realize what a fucking retard he is. God, what the fuck is it? Huge cock, right?”
“Not a problem. I get it. I’ve put up with some real scumfucks for a big cock before. Not anyone quite as bad as Greg, but I haven’t seen the goods, so I won’t judge. Not too much anyways.”
“I really don’t want to talk about Greg.”
I never want to talk about Greg.
We met last year, I was a Sophomore and he had already dropped out the previous year when he would have had to repeat his Junior year.
I was walking home alone and he was on a bus bench, sitting on the back rest, feet on the seat, smoking a cigarette, arrogant and dirty, boyish and mean.
I could feel his eyes on me. It was strange, uncomfortable, exciting and I felt powerful.
I ignore him.
I ignore him as I walk by.
My pace quickens.
“What? You’re too good to talk to me?”
That’s what got me. People have always taken my shyness for uppity stuck up behavior. And I hated it.
I turn around.
“Oh, so you can speak”
“What do you want?”
“I just want to talk to you. What’s your name?”
“Do you want to know my name Louise?”
“I don’t care”
“OK, so what’s your name?”
“Ok, Why are you talking to me, Greg?”
“I just wanted to get to know you.”
“I think you look lonely Louise.”
That really got me. I don’t think I had realized until that moment how lonely I really was. I had Rhonda and while her friendship was beautiful and chaotic it was very undependable. When he said “lonely” I could tell that something in my eyes had shifted and he saw it with his own shielded lonely eyes.
That day he raped me.
I don’t think he ever thought of it as rape but I felt raped.
I think maybe virgins always feel that way their first time or maybe just me.
Afterward I felt like I had to continue seeing him to justify my guilt and shame. If I could love him then it wouldn’t matter that he had raped me and later in life I could just laugh about it.
I have yet to laugh.
I see him a few times a month and even with our erratic dating practices and his openly seeing other girls everyone still refers to me as “Greg’s girl”. I hate being “Greg’s girl” but I simply don’t have enough energy not to be.
He confides in me and often cries into my lap, he feels safe with me and he thinks he understands me but he knows almost nothing about me. I feel like a mother to him more than anything, a mother that he occasionally rapes.
So, I don’t talk about Greg.