Thursday, April 28, 2016

It burns.

I was in a car with friends. An 18 wheeler jack-knifed in front of us. As the scar screeched into the flames of the explosion, I knew this was serious, and I’d likely die. I was surrounded by fire, and soon the car was engulfed. I knew the flames would soon get into the car, and as they did I counted upward from zero. I don’t remember pain, but I remember heat. And when I reached fifty, I stopped counting.

When I woke up I was in a hospital ward. I had no lips. I could not lick them. I was missing part of my tongue. I was gravely scarred. I wasn't in pain. My mother was there. I asked where the other passengers were. Two lived, one died, she said. Don’t think about it now, she said. I cried. Sobbed.

I slept and wept. Slept and wept. People talked to me but I didn't hear them. I heard muffled noise. I looked at them but didn't really see them. I saw them only partially, like a living memory.

When I was up to it, I made my way to one of their rooms; he was the one I was closest to. He lost his legs. I held his hand and we sobbed together. There was only a fraction of him left. Can a person be a fraction?

The other I did not visit. He was a liar. He misrepresented the dead, and made it seem the dead burned us all, but it was the liar who drove us into the suffering. He wasn't paying attention. He wasn't careful, and I asked him to be, twice. The dead one couldn't defend himself. The one I know best, he was catatonic, and I had been sleeping. Nobody could tell the truth, so the liar lied.

My mother told me I slept and slept. It seemed the best thing to do. My body was broken and my mind couldn't process this. Why was I alive? How could my body still function? All of us had lost so much of ourselves. Our literal skin. Our demarcations. The parts of us that identified us as beings. We were charred and fetal. Ripped apart.

When I could finally use my voice, I tried. My missing tongue meant my speech was impaired. The sound of my voice infuriates me. It reminds me of my impairments. It reminds me I will no longer speak strongly. My laugh is not joyous. It’s an angry cackle. It’s all I have now. I am a living witch. Leave me in the woods to rot.

I tell those who listen about what happened. I am not the dead one. I am not my favourite, the one who cannot speak. I am not the liar, so I tell the truth. My rage seers him a second time.

I cannot smile.

I wear a ridiculous hat. It’s stupid. It reminds me of the hat Gilligan wore. I never watched Gilligan’s Island. I'm too young. I know his hat because it’s a cultural reference, but it annoys me I know who he is. It adds to my embarrassment over the dumb hat. I wear it because the rim fits just so. It aligns with where my eyebrows would be. I feel surrounded. If I could I’d wear a body-suit. I’d be covered and kept. I always feel exposed. I am an open wound.

Weeks pass. I feel sorrow for my mother. First she had a sad girl. Now she has a broken, pained girl, whose sadness has been calcified into vitriol.

What kind of life will I have? What possible enjoyment will I find?

Why didn't you just let us all die? Surely seeing us this way is worse?

I envy the dead one. His family visits me. I say this to them. It upsets his mother. But I tell her the truth. I tell her I am in pain, that I live as a ghost and that my being in this world is cruel. I will have moments of being okay, no doubt, but is that enough? I tell her this. He is free I tell her. I tell her he was my friend, and I loved him, and that he was gentle and kind and that he deserves his freedom. I hold her hands and I tell her he was such a good, kind boy. I tell her I knew him since kindergarten, and that he was never anything but sweet to me. That she raised a good boy who knew how to be friends with girls. That he respected me. I thanked her. I held her hands and told her that with all the love in my heart that I had for him—for her dear sweet boy—I was happy he was dead.

She left with my mother. My mother sometimes acts as a translator to me. She doesn't mean to say, she starts. I mean to say.

Months pass. I am at an assisted living home. I monopolize the therapy dog. It likes me best you fucks. We take walks. I walk to the far-off fruit trees. If a bear comes maybe he’ll eat me. Are there cougars in this part of Canada? Could a cougar kill me? I wouldn't want the bear or cougar to get the dog though, that would kill me as well.

My mother and I walk by a manicured lawn. There is a pug sitting by a pond. It looks to be lounging. This amuses me.

Parts of me keep burning. I'm angry. The pug isn't enough. I resent being kept here. What kind of life will I have? How can I possibly stay good with all this anger in me? I can’t see the good anywhere. The pug isn't enough.

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