Father’s Day 5 years after

I’d take you to the smaller towns

Flattened cobblestones with poor grip

You’d carry on regardless

Enjoy the river

Drink beer beneath a canope

Wear a hat

 

I built a life after you

Planted seeds

In unexpected places

And grew and grew

You’ll never know how proud you’d be

Or how short five years is

 

Maybe in another life

I find you where I least expect to

Maybe in another life

I don’t have to

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Marlow

-Are you ok?

In the kitchen, gasping for breathing space.

-Feeling pretty weird.

I think of all the men he reminds me of. Men with blue-green-grey eyes who understood my language.

Except here, when I try to speak, my words turn strange in my mouth, come out clumsy, jarred and wrong, and he’s looking at me in that way that makes me feel like I shouldn’t be here at all, and I wonder when I lost myself.

I’m not sure if I’ve ever been found.

I tell him:

-I know my flaws.

He responds:

-No one can know all of their flaws.

I wonder who the fuck he thinks he is to tell me what I can and can’t know about my own mind.

I wonder how he is able to make me feel so boring.

-I’m sorry.

-You have nothing to apologise for.

He’s looking at me the way men do when they want you to know that you deserve what happens to you.

I have died so many times.

I don’t know how to stop.

I want to leave now.

But the subway closed two hours ago, and I could go to another friend’s house but I don’t want to be dramatic.

The first time they starved me.

My bones jutted from my skin,

face sunken and gaunt.

I want to cry but I don’t want to cause a scene.

The second one tore through my entrails

Taking my right lung and most of my lower abdomen

But thankfully leaving my heart

Intact

He tells me that his favourite book is by Lady Lazarus. I try not to laugh at the irony.

The third held me just below the surface

Drowning for two years

Until I woke up near dry land

Begging for someone to breathe the life back into me.

I’m doing an excellent impression of unrequited love, so good it’s fooling myself, but the reality is sicker than that, and anyway, I can’t love, I’m not even breathing.

So what’s it going to be this time?

Sentinel. He is stall worthy and kind, and I am a complete fucking mess.

And I wonder if he knows that I’m not real. That the woman he’s speaking to has been stuck in the mind of an 11 year old for 12 years now.

But people don’t tend to question these things.

Don’t come near me, don’t touch me.

I will break you without meaning to.

Sugar

He asks why I am angry and I cannot respond.

There is heat in this carpet. I curl up in a patch of sunlight, begging for warmth.

I am so cold all the time.

-thanks for coming, it’s lovely to meet you

-thanks, you too

-this is Jordan’s girlfriend

-lovely, thanks for coming

-thanks for inviting me

I am in a room of strangers sitting in circles around white tables, skirts and alcohol and bits of food.

He holds my hand beneath the tablecloth. I catch his eye and smile because I know how to smile.

But I haven’t learned yet how to talk, how to be. How to exist and burst out of myself in a room full of strangers dressed in white.

In the bathroom other women smile at me and tell me how beautiful I look.

I have gotten good at being beautiful.

I am also good at remembering facts. Quotes from the plays and the books I have to read. Statistics. Voting systems. Franzosisch y l’allemange. Billions of words and sentences, different languages.

But before all that, nutrition. Vitamin B1, B12, calcium, selenium, whole proteins. Low carb, smart carb. 8 Glasses of water a day.

This is just a small body. There’s not room for much between my skin and my bone.

At the table there is cake. I eat the icing.

-don’t tell me you don’t like cake

-I just like the icing.

I tricked him, though I didn’t mean to. I painted a picture on myself of a warm woman full of passions and ideas and he fell in love with her. But I cannot explain to him why I am so angry and sad for no reason, or why I shiver all the time. Or why I’m doing so well in school and not much else. And how I don’t know how to talk to his family.

And now he starts to realise that I’m not a woman, not even a human at all.

We do not stay at the hotel.

The next day I take a train home and continue writing a script for a film I’m making.

He makes his excuses. I never see him again.