The Fault Line

Don’t make mountains of molehills, they say, without helping you decipher between the two. Your sleep is chased away by the ghosts that haunt you in every disastrous lie every boy in your life has told you. The lies reverberate in the type of clarity only hindsight can afford –a record skipping with wild abandon. It is the feeling of falling that knocks you from a dead sleep. It is a history of building homes on fault lines, and late nights praying the roof isn’t going to fall on your head while the world trembles.

Inevitably, there will be a moment when you feel unwanted. The turned shoulder is the best you can hope to get that night. You can pray that the night doesn’t stretch into a week of loneliness, a month of holes in your chest that keep leaking sadness, a year of thunder clouds hanging over your head. But you just don’t know how long the damn night will last, and your best bet is to hope the walls don’t start shaking.

And throughout, a thought: Maybe this time, it really is just a molehill. Maybe you should stay. Face it and rage against the ghosts keeping you afraid of the night, of deafening silence, of sharing vulnerabilities with another human.

Fault lines aren’t reliable in their destruction, and they have trained you well in how to respond to the slightest shift under your feet. The smallest moment, then, will have you reeling backwards, out, away. The first sign may be the smallest, but it will not be the last– without action, you could be buried in the rubble.

I keep thinking of drowning and love and how they feel kind of similar. They suspend you, weightless, and everything about it is pain. But really, drowning. Is it the worst way to die? It’s suffocation, but more violent. The oxygen isn’t there. It isn’t being taken away. It’s replaced by something we can’t live with. It’s our own bodies giving up on us.

My stomach hurts whenever I talk to you. I wish I could pinpoint what brings out that feeling in me, but it isn’t good until we’re laying next to each other, naked, talking about nothing. And then I cry when I leave, headed home, knowing there isn’t a guarantee I’ll see you again. This time, I won’t.

This is it. We’re nothing like the dramatic ways of the movies, but my emotions have shifted into something smoother. Gentle waves. My bones ebbing away, the tears tracking down my cheeks and wearing pink skin raw. What is this? Why do I care?

We share similarities–we have both been adopted at birth. I don’t want to know. I feel a recklessness when I think of the birth parents, overpowered by guilt. So much guilt. That, worse than anything, hurts. It pulls at my blood like you do. You, though. You actively searched them out. You want to meet them. I wish I had that courage… that audacity. But my parents would be hurt. Aren’t we good enough? my mom might think. Their doubt would crack our relationship–their self-doubt, caused by me.

Bitterness. I feel weightless and bitter and my lungs sting as if the pacific ocean has taken up residency there, because we can’t talk about things like this without my blood running hot and cold and I can’t miss you without feeling guilty and I can’t love you because there’s no ‘us’ or ‘we’ and you don’t give a damn about me. You use me for my body. You use me for my warmth. I cannot sustain the both of us, and maybe you know I’d give it all to you. Take it, so I can feel nothing. Maybe then I’ll feel at peace.

Remember the Silence

When my aunt proclaimed that it was such a shame, my cheeks turned red–but maybe it was just the Southern heat. When my mom nodded in agreement, my stomach twisted.

Before I could open my mouth, they were onto the next picture. A picture of a house in San Francisco, where my mother had lived in luxury for ten days with my dad and another couple, drinking wine and chasing sunsets. And then a picture of the vineyards they had visited, of the barrels housing wine that stretched on for a mile in a warehouse too enormous to fathom. And then a picture of my mother and my dad. And my aunt cooed something about how nice they all looked.

And while they drifted on with the pictures, their conversation curbed by scenes on my mother’s phone, I was stuck on that one picture from two seconds ago, five minutes ago, ten hours ago, now three months ago.

“This one is gay,” my mother had said, pointing to my classically pretty roommate, as if her sexuality said anything about her personality.

“That’s a shame.”

I swear, those words are burned behind my eyelids and in my bloodstream, and my heart is allergic to those words because it stops beating when I think of them, and my throat closes up and I wish for all the world that I knew they was coming, so I could prepare something to say, some defense that would stop them cold and make them realize.

But my cheeks turned red and my fingernails bit into my palm and I was in another room, in another universe, where it doesn’t really matter who someone loves or likes or dreams about or fucks in their spare time.

That’s a shame–

Was it because she expected lesbians only to be ugly? Or masculine? Buzzed heads and tattoos, nose and eyebrow piercings, a smug smile and unmanicured nails? That’s the stereotype, right? Because being a lesbian is a death sentence, right?

I want to go back in time and smack my aunt and my mother and let fire the words that I know could change their minds, change their culture, erase their upbringing, shine the light in their eyes and clear the cobwebs away from their ears so they could know what I know. I want to tell them that I’ve gotten better sex advise from her than I ever could’ve gotten from my mother, that when I say her girlfriend I mean lover not acquaintance, and that their hatred or fear is not getting them anywhere, love is love and it is not a shame if she find someone who appreciates her.

This is supposed to ease my guilt. This writing, this crucifixion of my aunt and mother, this lament. But it will not ease my guilt, it will not stave the hurt I feel when I realize, again, that I did not say anything. I remember my silence most of all. It was the heaviest thing in the room that night.

That’s what’s shameful.

Like Ice

God, it’s happened somehow. I used to be cold. I used to be ruthless. I used to be fearless and self destructive, because I could not speak. I couldn’t speak what I was thinking so instead I painted lines in my skin with a blade and I used to scoff at the idea of love and beauty and now I am drowning in both of them. I look at you and I see me five years ago, facing a boy who is me at present, whispering I love you three weeks in because we know how to articulate it, we know how to feel it quickly, eagerly, without abandon, the boy from my past and present me, facing you presently and me five years ago. And you and past me stare and squint and can’t comprehend the slide into delusion– how did it happen to you so quickly? how can you be sure? Do not tell me this, I am not ready to hear it, we say.

I used to be self destructive. These past three days I ate only lunch and today my belt buckled one notch tighter and I felt surprised and proud and I thought, that’s what starving yourself does.

Can I be cold again? Would I want to? Can I go back to that dark place and shut out the sunlight that knocks politely on my door and rip my skin open with a knife and hide the scars? Hiding is half the fun, it makes you hide your personality, too. Smile. Careful.

I have a dream where every cut I ever made opens and the blood comes heavier than ever and it makes me think yes, how do I get there, how to I get to the place where my skin is permanently stained with blood that should be locked under my skin, not on it, drying in the air, how do I get to the place that makes me feel out of control reckless dangerous someone who needs help but could never ask for it?

I might be there. I might lose the love and beauty and I might become cold again. My heart will be ice and my lungs will freeze and my blood will slow and it will be good, because you and I will be okay, staring at each other laying on the bed knowing nothing more will ever happen between us. I will be okay because I won’t feel it, I will feel my blood stinging as it meets the air and that’s all I will need to feel.
That’s what you do to me.

My Friend

There’s a whisper at the door. Angels have feasted on my new friend, on her hair, turned it golden, and made it glow. Demons leak through the creaking floorboards and watch us carefully. They bow over and attach themselves to her feet, slowing her rhythm until she cannot remember the last time her heart beat. She does anything to numb the pain as they flood her bloodstream and tell her nasty things. The angels are gone, there’s no room for them here anymore.

The whispers grow louder. My friend’s lungs mourn oxygen as a flower mourns warmth in the winter and with a last breath they shrivel, together, the flower and my friend, the petals and her hair, her skin, the stalk and her bones, her teeth, the leaves falling to the snow like her blood hitting the shiny wood floor, until there’s only a ghost standing in front of the mirror, pulling shards of ice out by her fingertips wondering when the frostbite will set in.

Does she realize angels have touched her? The demons live in her now, it’s almost pointless to contest, all it would take is an MRI to see her heart is dying and it’s pathetic because we love her for her beauty. We love her for her beauty but we despise the words that might come out of her mouth–words like tar spread across her lips, a much thicker concoction, made of blood and pain, except it doesn’t hurt her, it just chokes her and leaves her feeling as if she had missed something desperately–something like air, the air her lungs have been craving, starving themselves unwittingly for, because she couldn’t swallow and talk and breathe all at once, and the demons made her pick the former, never the latter. Instead of air she gets regrets and ice and a mirror that reflects what the angels gave her and what the demons took.

The demons leave when she wipes her mouth, black hatred smearing across the back of her hand like lipstick. They leave when she can no longer stand up straight, when she can no longer let loose the volley of words that aim to maim–because maiming is so much worse than killing–because the people are driven away from her chill and there’s no one left to hurt, not even her friends, not even me, not when she hurts me and I evaporate and watch from a distance. My dear friend’s warmth is entirely put out, as she finally takes a look at what they did to her and finally tries to stand tall. But it’s the trying that’s the hardest, and everyone knows it, and everyone watches her knees tremble and her bones shatter under the weight of the world on her shoulders–this self imposed weight that is born of a newfound guilt–but still she stands and she raises her hand to her reflection. She doesn’t flinch, this friend, this girl, this angel, but the mirror does, the mirror bows away from her and vibrates in a way that mocks praying, mocks the girl’s knees, mocks the ground she stands on because everything is suddenly unstable.

And that’s when she realized there were never any angels or demons. They were in her imagination and it was her that drove people away and only she that could save herself. Everyone watches while the mirror cracks and crumbles and my friend is left staring at a wall that needs another coat of paint because of everything that’s been ignored, the paint on the wall is certainly at the top of the list, and it’s a relief not to analyze herself anymore, not to stare at her reflection and into her eyes and at her lips and nose quiver, wondering where the air in the room has gone. Now she can close her eyes–she does close her eyes–and she can sit down–she does sit, ungracefully, because no one is watching and she knows it, she’s fully aware of the empty room around her now that the pieces of the mirror on the floor only reflect the ceiling, bouncing off-white cream-colored peeling paint back at itself and we’ll see how much time it takes for the paint to pull away from the plaster, to hate itself like she does.

Now she sits and breathes for the first time in years, because for the first time the air is warm and the ice inside of her melts and her lungs uncurl from the fetal position they had taken up inside her chest, safe under her ribcage. She’s the flower now, her lungs singing praises as the stem breaks through the ground and the tiny bud splits open, showing the world beautiful colors they never imagined.

 

Vanished

The prince’s arms still held their ghostly shape. In her absence, the room was empty. A thousand eyes glared upon him, but the only feeling in the room was one of confusion. One minute, dancing. The girl was a beauty in ice blue. The next, the prince was alone on the floor. No one had even seen her leave–and that was the most startling part.

She had vanished like smoke, her blue dress simmering until she was translucent, and her grasp in his raised hand grew fainter, until he squeezed and his fingernails bit into his own palm.

The prince, defeated, dropped his pose. The crowds parted for him as he walked out the door; conversation rose in his wake, a swollen chatter that emoted confusion. The hallway echoed his footsteps, and it appeared to the prince as if the very walls were mocking him. At the stairs, he made it halfway down before the realization struck: he hadn’t even gotten her name.

Girl on Fire

She walks on embers, but she doesn’t burn. Inside, she is cold. The one thought she had was to escape, but they stopped her with hot words and heated glares. Now, her room is a furnace and the air is filled with sparks. Her heart seizes after every beat, a neat little silence that fills the air for the briefest of moments. Her breath puffs out in front of her nose, an icy exhale melting into steam.

They cage her like they’re afraid. She shakes and trembles and bares her teeth when they approach. The coals under her feet want to ignite the air, but hiss as she shifts over them. The entrapped girl can only pace, as frost turns to sweat on her temples. ‘Make her like us,’ one had said, unerring, as they observed her. ‘She does not have fire. She will break.’ They pushed her with spears of red iron, prodded her sides until they withdrew their chilled weapons.

The girl of ice was thawing. Her breath was no longer visible, and her palms were hot. The air clutched at her throat, attacked her eyes. Salted water poured over her nose and into her mouth. It took an infinite amount of time for the girl to crack, but here she was: ice to slush, and then into a new substance entirely.

The girl shrinks away from her bars, unable to touch the metal as she once did. They wield hot pokers that sear her skin, char it black. She lays on the embers and wishes for a cold breeze. The heat in the air accepts her defeat and lays with her. It evaporates her tears.

‘You have broken her,’ one says to the others. ‘That is not what I wanted.’ They shake their heads at the damaged wreck at their feet. ‘Her ice kept her alive. She cannot withstand the fire.’ They did not disagree. She picked herself up one last time, hot through and through, and stared at the man who had killed her.

Announcement

Up until right this very second, everything I have posted has been 100% true in my own mind, and I felt the emotions I wrote as I was writing it. (Yes, this is including Ghost Girl.) I feel now would be a good time to diverge from that, and practice something a bit more fictional. It’ll be posted in the ‘fiction’ category, as well as the ‘fiction’ tag. (This is experimental… but then again, this whole blog is an experiment.)

Thanks for reading!

-Sara

Let Me In?

I stand at your gates and look up to the sky;
It’s dark where I stand, and I’m not sure why.
My head is spinning, because I want to scream
At the way you hide away, lost in your dreams.

I’m on my knees, ready to plead,
But you don’t know what I need.
You keep yourself hidden, you’re locked
In your mind, a headache forming, I knocked.

Please forgive me, I need to know:
The way you say hello
Is quite magical, dear,
And its realness is my only fear.