Stuck. Lodged in a corner against the wall, bare feet touching the wood floor, skin sinking into the cracks and grooves. I peel the paint with my fingernails. Chips gather beneath them pricking the skin, making them bleed. There is white beneath the paint and it quickly soaks in the blood welling under my nails. A blur of red on the white wall, tangible proof.
My insides are soft and flowing. They are a river, coursing over the feet of a little girl dressed in yellow, sitting along the edge. She watches them thicken and thin, morphing like the changing seasons. But lately, my insides have succumbed to the tempest. Unsettled, hungry, always wanting more. Somewhere beneath the raging colors of the storm, the girl sits motionless with her feet dangling in the water. The violent breeze sings to her and the rushing water sloshes in between her toes. Her cheeks redden from the cold but she does not move because she knows it will pass. Besides, there’s something beautiful about a storm, isn’t there?
I feel as though I’m trying so hard to keep it together and this time it’s not working. Slowly, very slowly I’m unraveling so when I lose it completely, I won’t even know it. A ball of yarn whose string keeps being pulled a little bit every day. I try to keep it together but my heart’s not in it this time. I can’t see the purpose of it anymore. Why try if it will all fall apart again and feel worse than it did before? Maybe I am the one unraveling myself, tired, so tired of staying balled up.
Delicate, delicate girl with your eyes all twisted up toward the underside of his chin faintly darkened by hair. He smells like you expected musky but in a way that makes you think of the pine trees in your grandmother’s back yard. Maybe you will get lost in him like you got lost in those trees. They have will have to send a search party out for you but it will be you who finds your way home like last time. He doesn’t look down at you when he talks and you like it. You are thankful that his eyes wander around the room behind you and not wander around your face or below to your body because his eyes are the only thing that are off. They are too wide. They pick up too much and give away too much. When you are finally doing it, you will not stare him in he face or hope that his eye will remain closed the whole time especially toward the very end when the movement gets slower and you finally start to notice the weight of his body on yours. For now, you will look at him while you are both still vertical and look away when he brings his eyes toward you. He will think this is alluring. He will think you are shy and nervous and humble. He will never know.
I’ve been going to the library lately instead of going outside. It feels like I’m in school again and skipping out on recess but the library has less activity so I can sleep. When I try I sleep at night, the noises become amplified and I can even here my own staggered breathing. In my cell I don’t let myself think of her. Not at night. With the noises and the small yellowing light, I only have nightmares. I do not want to think of her that way because when she comes to visit I want to be a happy to see her and nothing else. In the library, I let myself dream sometimes and think of her and the old life. Like the cake she would make for the old woman across the street that she would never let me try or that bleached and baggy old shirt she would wear as pajamas. After she would make that cake her fingers would always smell like vanilla but taste like salt. Sometimes I would read picking a book at random. I never read one all the way through but I would try to memorize something from each one of at least remember its jist
I could feel him in the nighttime as if he left an imprint on our bed. There was a permanent sag on the left side where his body used to lay. When I would sleep, I would fall into it an it felt like I was being swallowed up. Cradled in the mass of blankets I would lay softly with my eyes just barely closed trying not to move feeling as if i could sense the heat of his skin. Once I woke up after I had rolled over to his side and heard my name. Dell. Dell. Just twice. It could have been his voice but I wasn’t able to discern it well enough. I was so groggy I didn’t realize that the voice could be real or at least left over from the past. I just scooted back to my side and fell asleep again. The nights weren’t lonely exactly. I didn’t miss him necessarily. Sometimes I would miss his body evening out the mattress and giving of heat or his steady breathing. The nights were more eerie though. My room became this strange relic of the past. I couldn’t remember the time before him when it was used to just hosting me. Back when I would wake and hear the mattress sigh or the walls expand as familiar as if they were calling my name. I missed that time more than I missed him. Being alone and not feeling lonely is the most beautiful feeling I have ever felt.
I am more than you can handle. I understand that but there is something more here that you must see. There is the child, yes. He does make a difference, a big difference. I know. But there is something beyond even the child that you must remember. This is in your blood. Remember, your grandfather the one who everyone called an alcoholic, well he had what I have. He was the same as me. No difference expect for a misdiagnosis. Look at the signs, dell. Come on do you really think it was just the alcohol that made him act like that? There was something in him always with or without a drink in hand. He could never function properly. You saw that everyone saw that but they blamed it on a substance. Dell, you knew it was more than that just like you knew about me after the pie incident. I could see it on the loom in your eyes. Now, honey, I’m telling you this to make you feel weak and trapped. You already are. This is in your heritage, in your blood. Just know you will be forever fighting within yourself for clarity you will not get rid of it