Believe Me, I Wanted To Tell You A Story
I was supposed to tell you a story. Lead you by a noose, a rope, or a gentle hand guiding you in and through my world because people often get lost in it. I had my cruise director hat on — you have to believe this — but I couldn’t do it. I even tried cribbing from my older stories when I was in a similar space but the graft wouldn’t take. I kept re-reading the words I’d written, angry about how fucking good I was then and how paltry I feel now. I wanted to lead you through the ocean even though our lungs filled with seawater, drag you kicking and screaming in the all-caps way we tend to speak now through the smoke and haze and bales of fire so you’d see it, feel it, a fraction of how I feel. But I couldn’t do it.
Better to leave you there. Outside. You carry their own dark, bear the wounds you’re forever redressing. Why should I, a stranger, stick a poker and prod at you, break the skin? Just because I can. Just because up until today writing essays came easily to me.
Lately, not so much. Lately, I stare at blank screens and play old music and wail like a fucking child, though I’ve never been the Puffs Plus type. Yesterday, a postal worker caught me mid-wail — he’d heard me through the window — and asked if everything was okay. Did I need something. He took off his mask so I could see his face, the dignity of it, of him, laying himself out to bear, and it broke my fucking heart in ways I still can’t comprehend. Yeah, I need something. I just don’t know what that something is. Know what I mean? He nodded like he knew and handed me my package.
On the bus, a man is screaming because there’s always a white man screaming on the bus and the woman next to me white knuckles the clasp of her purse and whispers what I believe to be a prayer. She’s talking to Jesus. I start laughing — we’re talking game show laugh tracks — because this is what I do to protect myself from crying in public. But the woman eases, her shoulders slack and she asks me in Spanish why is everyone crazy? She’s afraid these days, to ride the bus, to go to work because of all the rage. All the anger that trails all of us like some sort of sickness. And I reply, best I can, in Spanish, and say everyone’s scared because normal no longer exists.