When I freaked the fuck out that night in July with hot rain pounding on the windshield, you let me. From your view on the grass, you watched me attempt to rip the radio out of your car. Screaming curses at it, I tried to pry it free with one of your screw drivers. My grip slipped so many times, my fingers scrapping and tearing at the controls, that I started to bleed.
After about fifteen minutes of hellfire and hollering, I had moved onto sobbing and laying on backseat with all the doors open. You didn’t tell me I was over reacting. You didn’t tell me to close the doors, I was killing your battery. Instead you went to the trunk, found my duffel, dug out all my prescriptions, and gave me one pill and a bottle of water. A moment sooner and I might have tried to bite your fingers off. A moment later and I would have ignored you to roll over to die in my misery.
For the next half hour, you sat in the rain and watched me fall asleep in the car. When I woke up, you had bundled me in the front seat and we were on the road again. The hot rain had given to a cold front.
Whenever I would lose my shit, you would call it “getting worked up.” Like it was typical to every other person. Like a two year old throwing a tantrum. I didn’t mind because that was essentially what I was.
My grandma hated me. Every time she saw me she would swear she could see the devil in my eyes. When I was four she found me asleep in the garden with a rat snake coiled under my chin. My first memory of her is her crazed face above the shovel as she slammed it down at my throat. †She severed its head from its body and ground it into the dirt.
She dragged me into the house as I screamed, clutching its still writhing body in my little hand. Slapping me left the scar from her ring under my right eye. Throwing me in the shower, she blasted me with cold water until I passed out.
Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.
Lord, have mercy.
My grandma thought I murdered my sister using the Malocchio. When I woke up, my dad had come home. The baby had been stillborn. He didn’t ask about the gash under my eye. He didn’t ask about the bruises on my hand where my grandma had smashed it so I would let go of the snake.
My father held his head in his hands. I touched his face where the stubble had grown. Before I could climb onto his lap, my grandma grabbed me by the hair and tore me from him. I screamed over her insane accusations. You little witch. You slept with the devil. You maga. » cagna, cagna, non toccare mio figlio.
On my seventeenth birthday, I got drunk in my basement off of my dad’s liquor collection. It was pretty much the only worthwhile thing he left when he died.
On the edge of four AM I crawled halfway up the stairs, got tired, and called you. I hoped so hard you wouldn’t answer me. Of course you did. I told you to fuck off and I hung up. After you called back, I started crying and begged you to come get me.
You carried me to the back porch and deposited me on the swing. I cussed you out for about an hour. Curled up in a ball against your chest, I mumbled and slurred my way across every insult I knew and a few that didn’t make sense. You didn’t question me though. You just let me talk myself to sleep, fingers curled in your tee shirt and head resting on your shoulder.
I hated you and hated you because I hated myself and you didn’t hate me. You were the only person in the whole world that didn’t hate me.
Emma had told you to quit indulging me.
When we were four, Emma had an “accident” in her bed and I cleaned it up and helped her hide it from her dad. Someone might have thought that the bond forged would be stronger than jealousy over a boy, but I guess not.
She called me childish.
I called her a bitch whose mouth was too big to even be useful sucking dick.
But she was right.
When we were sixteen, I held Emma’s hand until the doctors took her for the procedure. I kept my arms around her while she cried into my shoulder for the next few days. This was a different kind of accident I had to help her clean up and hide from her dad.
I always thought it was stupid to name the fetus if you were going to abort it, but it helped Emma, so whatever.
She named her Rose.
Sometimes I think about if Emma had kept the baby. If I could have put my cheek to her belly and listened and whispered to the baby as she grew. I would have called her “Rosebud” for the first fourteen years of her life. When she would get her first period I would call her “Rose.” Maybe that would have meant something to her.
Rolling the joint between my fingers, I stared at the glow of the burning against the night sky. It was cold enough to see my breath without the smoke, but I had left my jacket inside. I had a fever, but hadn’t mentioned it to anyone.
Since I lack depth perception, I never lighted up myself, not cigarettes or joints, because I didn’t trust myself to keep the flame a safe distance from my face. Brandy always put both our cigarettes between her lips when she flicked the lighter on and let the fire start the smolder at the end. I smoked when I was drunk enough to forget the dangers of the cigarettes, drunk enough to forget the danger I was to myself.
An elbow to my side reminded me to pass the joint. My eyes snapped open. I hadn’t realized I closed them. When I took a puff, I closed my eyes again, and then held it out for it to be taken. I felt fingers next to mine and let it go before releasing my breath.
Opening my eyes again, I scanned the area. The three cars in the back parking lot belonged to my companions on the fire escape with me. I didn’t drive. It came back to my depth perception. But mostly my phobia of controlling a screaming metal death trap.
At some point I had moved from upright with hands on the railing to curled against the side of the building. And my shoes were missing. As the night smoldered to an end, they began to leave. Brandy was last. She wanted to know if I would be okay. Brandy was good like that. God, Brandy. I don’t think I ever got over her.
Before heading down the fire escape, she kissed my cheek and stroked back my hair. She was too high to know I was lying when I said I was fine. I don’t think I could ever get high enough to think I am fine, to forget I am never fine.
When I found my way through your window, your bed was empty except for the scent of sex in your sheets. She clung to everything in your room. I could see ghosts of her motions all blurred together, filling the air with a thousand instances of unadulterated humanity. How this girl was good for you in ways I could never be.
I was here, but now I’m gone.