She told me it would have to stay between us, but she didn’t mean it. I didn’t know that at the time. She seemed so genuine, holding my hand and telling me to get it all out. She didn’t tell me that once I got it all out, I wouldn’t be able to get it all back in. I had many things to learn, and this was the first. And learning to deal with the discomfort- that slick, red feeling that burned me when I spent too much time with her. With it. With myself.
I met her then, the real her. Not the constructed costume. Not the pose or the carefully manicured neurosis. You gotta peal all that back. Underneath, where she doesn’t want you to look; that’s where you’ll find it. But don’t stare, it is scared of you.
So, bless me with righteousness. Destroy me with vigilance. I don’t care. I just can’t take that slow, judging stare. What do you think? Why do you think I think I came here? Because I didn’t know what to think. I expected some kind of salvation? Maybe that was naïve. But I expected something more than a parrot.
Still, I gave her the cracker.
It comes for you when you are quiet. When your brain is still and vacant. The small voice of fear. Everyone has a different voice, but there are commonalities. The things we are all scared of rarely keep us up at night, though. It is the personal fears … the fears near and dear to your own heart. What if she never loves me? What if I get too dirty? What’s it all mean?
If we are especially unlucky, the fears are just memories threatening a second act. So many of us have these fears embedded in us, placed there by powers outside our control. What are you scared of? The dark? Me, I’m afraid the same things will happen to me again. They almost broke me the first time.
You can’t push it away, but you can fight it. It can become a struggle and the struggle can keep you on top of the quicksand for a while. Red lights and sirens. Pain. Hopelessness. These are the spices that add flavor to your life, and they are all friends with fear.
I bet you can’t walk on it barefoot. I bet your Moms is gonna yell at you anyway. Hey, guys, his Moms is gonna bitch him out if he hurts his little feet. But now you a tough guy. Go on then, tough guy, walk across the lot. Those rocks are hot and sharp, but they’ll tell us everything. They’ll peel back the layers of you until we see what a slimy piece of pushy trash you are. I bet you can’t swallow that chaw and not throw up. I bet you won’t let me throw this dart at your head. I bet I can take your knife in Mumblety-Peg.
Your Dad wears women’s clothes. Your Dad’s not a real man. I heard that the mailman is giving it to your Mom right now. What would you do? If he was? What would you do? I bet you wouldn’t do nothing. I bet you’d just sit there and take it.
I bet you won’t stand up to that asshole. I bet you won’t drink my cousin’s shine. I bet you won’t jump from the roof to the tree. I bet you can’t hold your breath as long as me.
I bet someday we’ll all think back at this and be amazed we’re all still alive. Amazed we can still look at each other. I bet my family will take a nicer vacation than yours will. I bet my TV is bigger than yours. I bet my God is the right God and you’re a sinner. I bet you’re evil. Different.
I bet we have nothing in common. Wanna bet?