The storefronts inside my head are barricaded. Respectable families stay indoors with everything bolted, the only movement on the streets feral and lost. Thick cloud makes everything grey and there's a mean wind that would chill you from bone to skin. Nothing is safe.
A woman walks down the street in black and white gingham flats. She is nearly 37 years old. She is nervous but forces herself to skip. Everything is fine, she hums to herself, stepping around the remains of a broken window. Just an Event, this is, and everyone has Events.
I am driving. Was it me? Was it all just something I imagined? I can't remember him. He is in front of me every single day but I can't remember him. Something took him. Didn't it? Or was it just me? The world splits in two and in one half, my car is splattered in blood and fur and remnants of life. In the other I swerve, and the deer escapes.
We all have events. Those events crown us authorities. Abuse or loss or abortion or sickness or assault or deception or addiction or an aversion to loving ourselves or the aversion of others to love us or your spouse goes to work and never comes home or a), c), e) and f). And no matter how you insist upon your love and enlightenment and non-violence there is a taut sting of gristle that runs down your spine. Mine too. With every event it grows stronger. It causes you to perceive others as skinnier or richer or better-born or less violated or luckier than you. And there it is, the sound your gristle makes when it's plucked: You are completely, utterly clueless.
It is true. That skinnier, richer, better-born, less violated, luckier person is completely, utterly clueless. She looks at you and thinks the exact same thing. You are both correct.
All you need do is trust your body! Your body knows what to do. You can will the birth you want into being. You just have to want it. Do it and be a better mother, a bigger woman, an admirable feminist, further proof. Do it and be a warrior.
I wield the bat of my experience in order to punctuate: You are completely, utterly clueless.
Compassion roots there, in that barren spot.
I imagine something prickly but beautiful. Something Sydney-like, etched. I imagine a lack of symmetry, as there is. It begins at the nape of my back and then curls up along one side of my trunk, wrapping around and reaching, my ribs the trellis.
I imagine getting addicted to the punishment of it. I imagine it spreading while I sleep, a constant sting. Sounding like roots that press into earth in time-lapse. Creeping over every surface except my lids, lips, until I am a circus. I walk down the street in black and white gingham flats. People see me. Look at all that pain.
It is glorious.
Beet greens and portobellos and those croissants with the bitter chocolate on the inside. Seedy rye bread and Munich sausages from the German baker. Zat veel be seven hundred million dollaz! I smile, pass him a handful of coins. He adds two orange stollens to my basket, pretending to be sneaky. He refuses to let me pay.
Evan is a blur, running wild, he and his posse hunting and chasing and begging for berries. Ben sits neatly on a boulder with a chocolate cupcake, and we stand in a circle of parents who are our friends. There are fiddles and hot morning drinks and a man yells solicitously about smoked ham on baguette. They smile and laugh, arms full of green and goodness, and suddenly I can feel it stirring, that mean wind that would chill you from bone to skin.