December 30, 2016
I wake up in a hospital and the first thing I notice is that the bones under my skin no longer feel like they’ve got ants crawling on them. I’m hooked up to machines that chirp and beep. My mother sits in a tacky arm chair to the right side of my bed, her lips pulled thin. If she’s angry, I must be okay. When she notices that I’m awake she exhales a breath that I immediately regret making her hold.
“What the hell did you do to yourself?” She asks as she stands and hovers above me, pressing the back of her hand to my forehead. Typically she doesn’t look so tough with her shy smile and sandy brown hair, but at this moment she’s God Almighty and I’ve just been caught in Sodom. All five feet of southern spit wants answers. Now. For a split second I think about lying but she’s always seen right through me. So instead I tell her the truth. I tell her that I can’t sleep at night, so I drink. But even when I pass out piss drunk I still am awoken by Julia’s laughter eating away at the back of my mind. I tell her that every day I walk to class I pass the coffee shop where I accidentally told Julia I loved her. I tell her that I’m a wreck and I don’t want to do this anymore.
She asks what “this” is.
“Be in love.”
She steps back slightly losing her balance as she collapses into that armchair. The chair is beige with green leaves and it looks like something a very boring person made. Probably some carpenter named Dale who clawed his way out of community college. Dale has dark brown hair and dark brown eyes and a perfectly ordinary mustache on his top lip. Dale drinks his coffee with one sugar and no milk and on Thursday’s he always eats at Hung-Lin’s Kitchen. Dale’s wife is named Barbara. She drinks wine at ten am from a coffee cup in their Jack and Jill bathroom. She gave up trying to get Dale to perform oral sex on her two years into their marriage. She’s currently contemplating sleeping with the guy who delivers her purified water. I think I may like Dale’s wife more than I should.
I hear my mom say my name and I pull my eyes away from Dale’s Masterpiece and land on her. She looks worried now. I can hear the words before she says them. “Were you trying to kill yourself?”
I shake my head more aggressively than I intend to. I explain that I was high and Brenda Breckenridge is a skilled orator. I didn’t want to end my life… I wanted clarity. I ask what happened and how I ended up in the hospital. Mom says that although the electrical currents weren’t strong enough to erase my memory, they were strong enough to throw my body into a state of shock. I’ve been unconscious for 20 hours. I assure her again that I wasn’t trying to kill myself.
She doesn’t look convinced.
December 30 (later)
I haven’t seen Dr. Green since I was eleven. I use to have severe panic attacks that would hinder me from going to school. My mother thought I had some adolescent issue that I needed to work through so she sent me to her ex-husbands current mistress, Dr. Green. Dr. Green is a psychiatrist, but she refuses to write me any prescriptions because one year I swallowed a handful of my dad’s Lortabs and tried to jump off his garage and into the pool. I saw it in a movie once, but apparently that wasn’t a viable excuse.
She sits across from me, still beautiful with age. Her chestnut brown hair is pulled in a tight bun. She looks at me as if she doesn’t believe a word that’s coming out of my mouth. I’ve told her about Brenda and the electroshock therapy and how Julia’s name sounds when I say in our empty bedroom.
“Do you see people who aren’t there?” She asks in her clinical doctor’s voice and I want to tell her to drop the charade because I know her secrets too and my dad won’t ever marry her. But I’m too polite so instead I assure her that I’m not insane, my hearts just shattered. And as I hear myself say this I’m pulled back to the day I slipped up and told Julia that I loved her. We skipped class and spent the evening making love instead. Later that night I awoke barely able to breathe because my heart was rupturing to the sound of her sleeping. I panicked wondering what she would think when morning came and she awoke, face smeared with my blood. I was so grateful to have her. To be hers.
Dr. Green raises a perfectly sculpted eyebrow and silently scribbles down something into one of those yellow legal pad. She looks at me and frowns.
Maybe I am insane.
December 30 (even later)
Sometimes I think that I’m the worst kind of person. I know that’s not something I should say about myself. My dad’s best friend, Ms. Rhonda, always told me to keep my eyes to the sun and my heart strong. She’s an ex-youth pastor for the church I use to go to when I still silly enough to believe in a grand plan. They kicked her out when they found out she had a wife named Bev and they were trying to get pregnant. I was in sixth grade then and I got into a fight with some girl who said Ms. Rhonda didn’t deserve to be there because she was a “sinner who was going straight to hell.” It didn’t make sense to me. I remember spending our entire seventh period trying to think of one terrible thing Ms. Rhonda and Bev had done and could conjure nothing to mind. She baked cookies for the neighborhood kids, they spent a lot of time cleaning up animal poop for free at the shelter and one Thanksgiving they convinced my parents to take us kids down to the Soup Kitchen to feed the homeless instead of stuffing our faces with my mom’s dried turkey. I’ve never known how to properly process my feelings so when I couldn’t figure out why that girl thought Ms. Rhonda shouldn’t be my youth pastor anymore my confusion turned to anger and I stood up and punched her as hard as I could in the back of her neck. The impact felt like hitting a brick wall and every bone in my hand sobbed. The girl in turn kicked the shit out of me. I got suspended for five days but that was okay. Ms. Rhonda doesn’t know what I think about myself anymore and now that she has her own disgruntled kids to worry over, she probably doesn’t even care.
I hail from the technology generation. We do our bidding behind computer screens or against the glow of a smartphone. A lot of us don’t contribute much to the population except for the occasional cyber bullying and a forever increasing, make-you-squirm collection of porn. I have all the necessary social medias. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr. Except I only use my Twitter to pretend to be friends with obscure celebrities, my Tumblr no one in my real life knows of and my Facebook is a hollow reminder of high school and all the kids I used to hate.
Facebook is where I am at the moment. I keep hitting refresh on my news feed, waiting for something interesting to pop up. And by something, I mean what she’s doing. I know what it’ll do to me and yet I still wait. Still thumb F5 until my eyes start watering from staring at my computer screen. It’s 2 am and I have a class in six hours. English Literature with Professor Abrams. My friend Ryan says he thinks she wants me. But Ryan’s done meth a few times too many so any credibility he may have had years ago has been shot.
I hit F5 again and there she is. “Snuggling up with the love of my life.”
It feels like I’ve swallowed a pound of cement. My heart beat doubles, triples. Makes me work to catch my breath. I want to comment and say that I don’t like her choice of words… Or at least remind her that I can see this. See that she’s building a life with someone who is not me. Remind her that five short months ago, I was the love of her life. Ask her if she has died and was born again and is currently living a new life and I just didn’t hear about it and that’s how come she’s in someone else’s bed right now. I can feel the synapses in my brain fire off one after another, like fireworks… Or some embattled country. I catch sight of my reflection in the computer screen. My eyes are sunken and my face is impassive and I wonder how that could be. Inside of me wages the quietest war ever fought and no one will ever know. If I become a casualty to myself who will write to my mom?
Julia has gotten five likes on her comment already. Friends we share. I wonder if it would be okay to yell at them tomorrow and remind them that I, five months ago, was the love of her life. Five months ago, that’s less than half a year. And if she did in fact pull a Jesus with the whole being born again thing, then why the fuck didn’t they tell me about it?
Or maybe that’s what love is and I didn’t know it before it was too late? Falling in love and then it dies and a part of you dies until you meet someone new and they resurrect you. I don’t like how biblical this sounds. I don’t like the idea of investing my heart into someone only to wash, rinse and repeat. I don’t fall in love, I crash and crush and implode. Ms. Rhonda use to lecture me on the dangers of being too dramatic, but I don’t think I was listening well those days.
I deactivate my Facebook and suddenly feel alive and disconnected. As if I was in a coma and some empathetic nurse just pulled the plug on me. I shut my laptop and let my eyes readjust to the darkness. The streetlights give my room an orange glow. She used to think it was beautiful. It made me think of sick people. I miss the way she used to curl into my side. I miss the way she would kiss my neck, I miss the way I could stare at her forever and not have to wonder if she thought I was weird. Five months ago I was the love of her life. I don’t understand love. I don’t understand war. I don’t think I ever will. It takes me less than a minute and my Facebook is reactivated.
Sometimes I know I’m the worst kind of person.
30-something Mississippi queer. Bleeding heart with a soft spot for honesty and oversharing. Conquering corporate America and my own insecurities– one day at a time.