It’s Very Easy to Forget What Little Things Used to Make You Happy

Today the air smelled like pine trees and my head sang “Pulaski at Night”. The medication makes it hard to sleep so I take more medication. When I do I don’t wake up feeling any more rested than I would, but I do have the most satisfying, spine-tingling stretches, the kind cats take after a nap. Those have to come naturally, reverberating out from your core to your entire body, and they haven’t in a long time. 

I don’t know if the medication is working. They say it’s too soon to tell. But today the air smelled like pine trees and my head sang “Pulaski at Night”, and that, at least, is something.

Mary

I think the reason I hang out with boys so much is that I’m just not smart enough to keep up with other girls.

Boys do lie, but they lie in what they don’t tell you – lies of omission – or they lie about things that are obviously untrue: feelings, libido, boasting. And they speak in words. They ask questions, answer questions.

Girls speak in glances that I never quite catch, in harmonious laughter at a joke I don’t get. They don’t ask the questions that mean anything and don’t answer the ones that mean everything. They love deep, difficult conversations, but only when they’re standing at the podium delivering verdicts or wearing objective, unattached safety-orange and directing emotional traffic. It’s harder to get guys to talk about the things that matter, yes, but when they talk they really do. Hidden behind a thin veil of candy floss and amorphous sisterhood, girls can lie to you with a warm smile, a cold stare or honest tears in their eyes. At least, the ones I’ve known can. 

And this is fine. This is a survival mechanism women have picked up after centuries of silenced voices, injustice and fear. Our subtleties and secrecies protect us. And they provide a language, a lingua franca for women from all walks. There is no feeling greater than noticing the tilt of a stranger’s head and sharing for a moment that magical, near-telepathic sameness of thought and instinct. I have felt this a rare few times and they were the only rare, few times I have understood that vague, amorphous Sisterhood. 

And I am not free of subtlety or secrecy. If I was, I’d be dead. I wouldn’t have survived without neglecting to answer the questions that meant everything. 

But as smart as I am to know when I’m being lied to, to feel the hidden intentions behind a smile or a laugh and taste the energy in the air when a question is asked or answered, I’m not smart enough to play along. Like the Mary’s Room Thought Experiment. I have studied color my entire life, I know the science and significance of every shade, but my world is black and white. I’ve learned all the steps to the dance but I was born with two left feet.

Inside, outside. Boys, girls. There’s no difference really. I sit, untouched, pristine. My world is black and white.

Emotional Snapshot

I’m listening to you play piano and mumble to yourself about what key you’re in and does this note go here and why your creative process has to be rushed. When you told me you were here I said I would come up and do homework but now I’m just turning my computer screen away and trying to look busy. I can’t stop smiling.

God, when I’m not around you I rant and rave about how stupid I am to like you. I fret over every text, I pull my hair when you don’t respond but scold myself for jumping at the phone when you do. But when I am here, and you’re there, five feet away tapping at the keys, not even looking at me but just being there, being comfortable enough to talk to yourself in front of me, responding wittily to my agonized groans of how I just can’t write this paper, singing. I can’t stop smiling.

Jolt

I don’t scare easy, except when I do.

I sleep in a rickety bunk bed. It’s beams whine threateningly every time I throw myself onto my mattress – and I do throw myself. I walk the streets of Manhattan at one, two, three in the morning, just to feel the cold air on my face. I moved thirteen hundred miles away from home to a state where I knew no one and no thing without blinking. I watch horror movies for the giggles. I do not scare easy.

Except when I do.

I jump at the sound of slammed doors. If tapped on the shoulder from behind, I give off a terrified, high-pitched squeak. If you suddenly raise your voice at me, I’ll cry.

It’s fear not in the unknown, but the unexpected, the sudden, the violent. Not in the epic, astronomical tectonic changing of the world, but the unpredictable, seismometer-defying earthquake. A warm front into a cold front becomes a tornado. Peace is never broken slowly. It shatters.

– via the Daily Prompt

“Why are you smiling?”

Because the toddler I passed on the street was punching the air in perfect time to the A$AP Mob in my headphones.

Because I realized parking garages would be the perfect caves for car-hoarding dragons.

Because the cashier at Starbucks gave me two donuts for the price of one since the first one crumbled while she was heating it up, even though I wouldn’t have minded just eating the crumbly one.

Because I had friends to watch over me while I was napping, and when I woke up they’d brought me tea.

Because those two are so perfect for each other.

Because Tyler is hilarious!

I’m high as fuck, dude.

 

I dunno.

It’s a beautiful day! Why aren’t you?

Comfort

I’ve never said I love you and meant it, not like you’re supposed to. I say it to friends who I do love, seriously, and then it’s as easy of breathing. The words slide together and slip in and out of sentences and lace every word, God, I love my friends. But I’ve never been in love. And then, in that context, even saying the word is hard. Alone, bare, dense as dark matter. Love.

I love? I can’t. I can’t even imagine it. My hands are clenching around my phone, vice grip, fingers slow and fumbling. A text with the word or the connotation of love is a death wish. I can’t love, I don’t know what that is.

I think of people I may have loved and just not known it at the time and my stomach tightens like handcuffs around a criminal wrist, around the notion of love, and my hands fumble further and pull to a stop.

I want to vomit. My vision is getting hazy. Invisible tears yank my Adam’s apple ragged in my throat, telling. I put on makeup today to impress a nonexistent lover, to seek what can’t be sought and what I may not even want! The idea of love terrifies me in the great and terrible way the shadows on the wall terrified the cromagnon in “Allegory of the Cave”. The shadows are my world and I do not know the truth of them and cannot see beyond them, if I walk into the sun will I let my eyes adjust to the light or reject it and run back to the dark? 

Being cold is all I’ve known. It’s comfortable by now.

My eyelids dip and my consciousness fades as I sink back into the black and let the nothing caress me like no man has. I am a stained glass woman in purple and blue, all light that passes through me comes out shades darker, never pure. I will shatter with one thrown stone. 

It’s comfortable by now.

Murmuration

I do not stand in an oubliette. A blank white oubliette with barely enough room to move, each of its four walls a breath away from my skin, so tall the sky seems a million miles away. I do not hear whispers pour from the trapdoor in the ceiling and reverberate against those four white walls again and again like flies bouncing and circling around a bug-zapper. I do not shut my eyes against the whispers as if I can shut my ears along with them and I do not scream, begging for release as the murmurs breed and multiply and funnel into my head, wicked laughter dripping from every half-heard word.

I do not do these things. I am in a classroom. I have performed a scene for my teacher and classmates. The room is deathly quiet. I do not hear them whispering.

Yet.

via Daily Prompt: Murmuration