In case you thought otherwise, I am not a good person.

To the beautiful, multi-talented one.  Dark hair, pale skin, lips made for verbal evisceration.  How can you just look like that?  Do you know what I look like when I go to work?  I look like shit.  You don’t even have to consider it, do you, the way that clothes might fall on you, the way your hair will move in the wind.  Every fucking day, I have to consider how best I can conceal myself.  And your beauty falls off you in spades.  I despise you for it.  But I love you for it.  And you don’t even know my name.

To the tall, invaluable one.  Rosy cheeks like you’re out of some fucking Christmas cartoon special.  Hair gel always perfect and sweet-smelling.  Plaid and khakis and your $300 stethoscope.  You are more intelligent than I will ever be.  You have accomplished more in your life than I can even comprehend.  Sad little poor girl trying to get into vet school, and you can spout off pharmacology and surgical procedures while you’re taking a dump.  You have no idea how much I envy you.

To the wasteful, successful glutton.  Shiny head and shiny toys along with it.  If you sold every single one of your “accidental extra purchases,” you could probably afford sustenance for an entire state.  “Oh, it’s Tuesday.  Target’s New Release day.  Better buy something.  But wait, I think I own that already, don’t I?  Oh well.  I’ll keep that one in the plastic wrap.  It’s a collectible, you know.”  I HATE that you can go to a world where I wish I truly did exist.  I hate that you can fly without feeling like you’re in a coffin.  I hate that you can afford to be generous, and that you can give people what they want for holidays or random days because I have never and will never make as much as you do.

To the sultry-eyed, smoky-voiced one.  So honest and well-spoken.  Flexible in body but not in spirit.  You warn against comparing yourself to other people, but it’s like Da Vinci pointing at your stick figure drawing and saying, “That’s so cute.”  Every camera loves you, every headphone loves you.  You tweet fortune-cookie adages, and when I look at them, I click on the heart, but there’s an emptiness in my chest where I tried to hollow out the jealousy.

roam

Sometimes, I’m awake.

I’m not unhappy.  Nor have I let go of sorrow.  (That cloak is my old stand-by, you know.)

But I find myself wandering in the night.  Why would I leave the bed where she slumbers so peacefully, stretching like a cat and smelling the way she does?  I go to the living room and sit in darkness.  No, it’s not a metaphor.  Here I sit, staring at a screen that’s a little too bright, but damn, I don’t know how to turn the screen brightness down on this thing, and what a fucking first-world problem.

What compels us to leave our partners’ sides?  Why do we seek some kind of — is “solace” the right word? — in blackened rooms with only the moon-lit blinds to illuminate the curves of the furniture?

Not everything sleeps at night.

The cats are awake.  Though I can’t see them, I can hear them, their pitter-patter across the floor, the soft jingle of a toy, the lapping of their tongues at the water bowl.  The dog sleeps as languorously as the girlfriend does, stretched out and breathing a world of dreams.

When I was a child, I was so terrified of being in the dark that I would stop drinking fluids after 6pm to avoid having to use the bathroom in the middle of the night.  Not a single strand of hair spilled over the side of my pillow.  Not a fraction of an ankle ever went uncovered by a blanket to be exposed to the monstrous night.

Darkness was a great fear.

And yet here I sit, night after night, in this saturated stasis that once frightened me so.

I  believe I could scare myself very easily right now.  I could think of disfiguring things, of rocking chairs moving by themselves, of eyes lurking behind doorways.  And yet…I feel a sense of peace that I don’t feel in the daylight.

And it’s in the darkness that the words always come, burgeoning out of me, drawing me up and out of bed like a puppeteer and its marionette.  I always have so much to say, but I never say it because I never think it’s worth saying.  Some days, I think my sporadic writing is for the best.  Other days, I feel I’m doing a disservice to the written word.

If I were a word, wouldn’t I want to be written?

How awful then to be a story, a memory, a lyric, a stanza, and to never be expressed.

 

… this screen is too fucking bright.

the words are gone

On the evening of June 11 2016, I fell asleep beside the love of my life. I met this person three years ago. I read a blog. The words were raw and beautiful and haunting, and I would irrevocably fall in love with the author.

On the morning of June 12 2016, I awoke to the sight of the love of my life stroking my hair. I could see unshed tears and a sorrow that I knew I’d never be able to dispel for the rest of our lives.

Before saying anything, I was warned in a choked voice: “Don’t look at the internet.”

But the first thing you do when told not to look down from a great height is to look down.

I looked down.

Forty-nine. Dead. Somewhere in Orlando. Forty-nine. 49. That’s a football team. 49. That’s an odd number. Forty-nine. That’s three syllables. Four. Tee. Nine. Dead. Dead is only one syllable. Like a drum beat. But it’s a drum beat that’s been stopped.

I only had the number. And then I was told the location of the slaughter: a queer-friendly club.

I rolled over to my side and looked at the slivers of sunlight through the blinds. “I need to garden today,” I said in a monotone.

“Okay.”

I have a vagina. The love of my life happens to have a vagina.

To some, I am sick. I am a violation of nature. I am damned. I am misinformed. I am going through a phase. I am confused. I am experimenting. I am purposefully behaving radically.

My three-year-old nephew recently whispered to his grandmother that I loved my girlfriend, and that we were going to get married. And then he smiled. To my nephew, I am not a label. I am simply alive.

People have beliefs. I have beliefs. There are differences in everything, from the number of white blood cells in a body, to marijuana legislation, to brand name vs store brand, to right-handed and left-handed. Life is a product of differences.

So technically, it doesn’t really matter if you believe that what happened in Orlando was right or wrong. What I believe about it doesn’t matter either. Because at the end of the day, forty-nine people stopped existing. Because of one man, the lives of forty-nine people stopped. Just, stopped. Those are the cards on the table. Except they aren’t cards but lives, and the table is a scuffed nightclub floor.

On the evening of June 12 2016, my girlfriend fell asleep before I did. I listened to her steady breathing, kissed the bare skin of her shoulder, and quietly sobbed against her back. For the love that I felt for her. For the rightness of it to me, to her. For the forty-nine people who won’t ever fall asleep again because they’re asleep forever now.

Be on whatever soapbox you want. Pontificate or garner votes or condemn with whatever god’s lightning bolt. But for the sake of sake…have some fucking goddamn respect for the dead.

Dear Alice

Your veins.

It’s supposed to be a curse.

Why, then, does everything seem more alive when you’re defective?  You shudder and wretch, and you make them cry blood, but you are so powerful.  I can’t touch that.  No one can touch you.  And you fight against the ones that played with your DNA, but you’re still so beautiful.

I will NEVER be what you are.

You thanked him for making you human, but you were never ordinary to begin with.  You’ve always been…defiant.  A red dress, a leather jacket to ward off the cold, but the chill is from the virus coursing through you.

I’ve never wanted to be so sick.

Can I be diseased like you?

Because I’m so broken, so easy to flatten and press into a cage.

The cage is frightened of you.

Tokyo or Suburbia, New York or sheets of ice.  Nothing can stop you.  You make massacre out of your chains, and you still sigh when he tells you it’s not over.  It may never be over, but why would you want it to desist?  You’re magnificent in motion.  I can’t stop thinking about you, replaying your grace.  And this writhing, seething jealousy is going to cannibalize me.  Because I’m not like you.  I’m nothing like you.  And I wish to darkness that I were.

Would you please just
would you please just
please just
infect me?

how It is

Dearest Father,

I’m pretty sure you cheated.

Your heart stopped beating at two in the morning.  But that was the exact moment when everyone gained an hour.  You literally stole sixty minutes from life while on your deathbed.

I can laugh about it now.  But at 2/3:02 in the morning that day, I didn’t know what was happening.

I was wearing a dress shirt that belonged to you.  The vertical stripes were salmon-colored, but you thought it looked too much like pink.  Did you know that I still have the pajama pants I wore that night?  They’re faded and torn and the word “Knockout” is no longer legible on the butt, but I can’t seem to bring myself to get rid of them.

I ate pizza that night and watched “Friends,” though for the life of me, I couldn’t tell you which episode it was.  There’s a general consensus stating that it takes approximately 40 muscles to smile.  I’m sure my body laughed, but my heart didn’t.

Someone recently asked me this question: “What is your biggest mistake in life?”

I blinked, licked my lips, swallowed, and looked down at the table.  My reply was quiet, but definite: “Not telling my father I loved him the night he died.”  Pause.  Another swallow.  Sandpaper maybe.  “That was my greatest failure as a daughter.”

You would’ve been sixty-nine years old today.  And here I sit, in a stuffy apartment, miles away from a house full of memories with you, and I’m not sure if I feel comforted or just lonely.

I still think about you, you know.  Every day.  That might sound cliche, but I swear to you, it’s true.  Sometimes it’s silly things like giving a tailgating motorist a hard time the way you always did.  But it’s also bigger things, profound and so staggering that I don’t understand how I can remain standing when all I want to do is fall to my knees and weep with missing you.

I used to write you letters everyday.  They never made it to you; you were six feet too far.  At some point I stopped writing them because mother once told me that if I talked to you in my mind, you’d hear me.  Figured I wouldn’t waste the paper.

Still.  There’s something to be said for the empirical.  I know these keys won’t bring you back.  I know this box full of characters won’t bring you back.  I know remembering you today or any other day won’t bring you back.  Nothing I will do for the rest of my life will ever change the fact that you died.

But on the off-chance that you browse the world wide web when you’re not busy playing golf with St. Peter and all your siblings, know that I’m sorry.  I should’ve told you that I loved you.  It’s not enough that you knew on some omniscient level.  You fucking deserved to hear it.

I love you.  And I miss you.  And happy birthday.

I Remain,
your daughter

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