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Ms. Peach to You
I’m sitting next to a man (?) who is the reason parents should watch their little girls when they get online. I can smell the tobacco – it’s revolting – see the dirt under his fingernails. “20, male, wheeling wv” he types to a girl whose font is multicolored. I feel a fleeting moment of sorrow for “savanahluvsya69” when she types “tall blonde hair blue eyes sweet tan” in reply to his “lets chat babe”. Then, a terrible thought: how many men (?) just like this one have I spoken to with my own fingertips? He tells her he’s “well-built.” Yeah. Right.
The fastest girl in the world, fast asleep at the wheel. When I look at you, I see her staring through me. Is she everything to you? Does she make you laugh? Does she make you cry? Does she know how you feel? Does she make you real? I can still find your smell on my skin. Now I wrap myself around you, a blanket full of doubt…your universe is full, but in my world, you made me laugh, you made me cry, you made me real. Now you know how I feel – in my world, there is only you.
Beautiful, aren’t they? The words that I promise you, I mean, the ones you promise me. The words that we’ve promised to far too many people. A boy left me a note and some rose petals today…five minutes later I went to your house and you made me a screwdriver slushee. Memoir of sex? I’m so confused. Fuck. Am I supposed to love you? How am I supposed to feel? The other day, when I begged for nearly an hour, I wasn’t embarrassed. It was worth it. I think you know that. I think that I know something. Maybe. Maybe?
Our language seems limited yet simultaneously limitless. Take for example this simple sentence, distorted and reconstructed: Sometimes I say things, and they don't come out right. I say things sometimes, and they don't come out right. Sometimes I come out and they don't say right things. They say right things, and sometimes I don't come out. I say things outright, and sometimes they don't come. Sometimes I come, and they don't say things outright. I come out sometimes, and they don't say things – right?
I've said all these things – but sometimes nothing can make them right.
Get my point? Right.
If I were the rain, I would drown both our sorrows. If I were the sun, I'd push back the clouds. If I were the ground, I'd grow something worthwhile, and if I were a volcano, I'd lie dormant, unblinking. But if I were the axe, I'd leave you where you stood. If I were the moon, I'd take you to the stars. If I were the wind, I'd whisper something softly.
But I am none of these things, dear. I'm so sorry. I can't be.
Oh, yes…and if I were a human smile? I'd already be dead.
I'm listening to some of my classmates read paragraphs from a book…and I'm stricken nearly speechless. It never ceases to amaze me – what my so-called peers have become (or not become. That is likely more appropriate). Lips fumble around words like "threshold", "exultant", "infidelity". I wonder what life must be like for those who have no command of language. I simply cannot imagine stumbling over the letters on a page. The boy reading now is in my Advanced Placement English class. Unbelievable. "Resolute" is the word…he's floundering, and I'm disgusted. When did such a basic skill become so terribly underrated?
Today I got so pissed off. Seriously, I was angry enough to do some serious ball-busting. I was taking care of the little middle-school kiddies I had charge of today, when suddenly an envelope comes to me from the man who runs the bluegrass club I'm in. For those of you who know me (estimated 10% of my readers) you know how busy I am. Well, this man says that my band (supposed to be a FUN EXTRACURRICULAR ACTIVITY, mind you) must commit to two two hour practices per week without exception for the rest of the year. Um, no.
I am seven days behind, and it’s so depressing. I’m really pissed off about my stupid computer. After it crashed, my father took it to “Bob’s Computers” (sounds like such a reliable institution, doesn’t it?) to be fixed; we got it back yesterday, with a new hard drive in it, and the damned thing STILL doesn’t work. I hooked everything up and tried to turn the sucker on – all I got in reply were a few angry beeps from the tower. I’m pissed. Stupid computers, stupid innovative technology. Someone hand me a number-two pencil and a sheet of blank paper.
The grand total (after one month): over $1,300. Holy mother of JC on a pogo stick. I couldn’t believe my eyes, so I added it again – the same sum glared back at me. I can’t fathom this...it’s impossible, unreal. Cheating the system IS intoxicating. I see why the true nonconformists (not, mind you, the conformist nonconformists) do. I’m addicted now, and I have the feeling that this isn’t the sort of thing you can get a prescription for. I smile and close the ledger; I’m lost, I think. I’d go to hell...but it doesn’t exist. I’m making earth a heaven.
After a week in Florida, I was the first person you called. You have no idea what a relief it was to see your name on my caller ID. I was beginning to worry, thinking I’d been lied to. Again. But not you, never you, you are not Mike, you are unlike anyone I’ve ever had. I picked up my phone, sitting among friends in a restaurant; I was so excited I left the table to speak to you. I asked if I could call later – you said please – and I felt something in me sink when I hung up.
I’m churning them out. I am a veritable cesspool of life, giving birth to my children, the letters on a screen. Fucking computers are so unreliable, like the sitter who cracks her gum when she says nicetameetcha; would you trust your baby in the hands of some irresponsible preteen? That’s what I feel like I’m doing, every time I shut down, but I can’t do anything about it. I wish I could make sure everything was going to be okay, like the mom that calls to check on Susie every half-hour. My offspring are infinite...until I shut down, too. Permanently.
I'm considering apologizing to my English teacher. I feel some grave responsibility to her, as though it's my fault that she can't control her rambunctious students. Today there weren't very many people in class; she read us a sestina she'd written and I listened to her for the first time in a very long time. I was...not astounded, not impressed, but at least...moved. Maybe nudged would be more appropriate. I feel sorry for her, in a pathetic, almost-not-sorry-but-sorry-anyway sort of way. Don't get me wrong, I still wish that the class wasn't so useless and frustrating, but something's...different now. Maybe.
Thisisgoingtobealongentrybecausemycomputerisgoingtotellmethatallofthesewordsareonlyone. Onecouldreallyapplythistechniqueinreallife; smoosheverythingtogethertosavespace (orwork). WhyhaveIchosentodothis, youask? I’mnotsure. Maybeit’stocheatthesystem. IdidsayinarecententrythatI’maddictedtocheatingthesystem, didn’tI? Orsomethinglikethat. Mostlikelyit’sjustbecauseI’mlookingforachangeofpace. Icheckthewordcountanditsays12. Ican’tstoptheimpishlittlegrinthatspreadsfrommylefteartomyright; thisisfun, Iamtrulyenjoyingmyself. Aninnovativewaytodoanentry, don’tyouthink? Probablynot. Ibetyou’regettingaheadachefromtryingtoreadallofthis. Ifso, I’mverysorry. Wait…noI’mnot. ::evilgrin::
In any event, I’m giving up, for the sake of saving time, because I’m in class now and this period is almost over. I would like to sincerely apologize to the person who has to run this entry through a word counter; he/she is probably grumbling to him/herself, “grumblegrumble damn those 100 words grumblegrumble ruffians!” Oooh…I’m a ruffian. That’s exciting. Sickening, aren’t I? HA! 1,000 characters and only 100 words! I win a prize again.
I wanted to say a million things to you, sitting on your bed, staring across the room to you on your couch. Why is it that whenever things like this happen, I forget everything that I meant to do? You told me that you kept my letters; I thought back on our three months and could remember nothing handwritten, nothing that I could have kept in my desk drawer and brought out when I needed tears. I am jealous of you...of the way I loved you. I hate this feeling. I hate you for making me feel this way.
Imagine the sun on your face, the wind in your hair, the smell of salt on your jeans; a bonfire at night, a million stars; sand (laughing at the old cliche) slipping through your fingers, skin that is always warm. Imagine clutching a dream when people around you whisper ‘it’s out of reach’, singing a song you wrote yourself and wanting someone to hear it; a sky on fire, a heart tearing at the seams; love teasing the corners of your mouth, oceans of thoughtless or thoughtful emotion. The picture brings me back to one heartbeat I stole from you.
Dana was so drunk tonight. So fucked up. I was working late, and she ordered her fourth rum runner, called me over. HAVE A DRINK, she swaggered. IT’S GOOD. Slur those words, baby, it’s really attractive. (Kind of like your new boyfriend. Armadillo midgets with bad teeth really do it for me.) I can’t, I said. I’m working, I’ll get fired, etc. etc. NO YOU WON’T; I’LL HIDE IT, LOOK! She pushed me down toward the straw – I grinned at the bartender and leaned over, took a drink. Dana clapped loudly; I smiled to myself, and thought, Damn. It was good.
I came to this slow realization today, driving: I do not cry because of the memories themselves. I cry because I can’t stop them from coming. Wind, cold, music; looking into the mirror, I can’t see my face; you are there instead. Snap me, break me, bend me, burn me, but for God’s sake, touch me, before I die without your skin on mine. I once wrote that I needed something and didn’t know what. I know now – it isn’t you, but the antidote to you, something to burn the pictures in my head, unmake the moments in my heart.
The cards flying across the table, I come to terms with my own frustration. There you are, inches away, and I cannot sort out my feelings. You cut me down: “asdfklsdfwoernhg.” You give me a compliment: “sdfuetoc, gosdfh.” I accidentally say “Jesus Christ” and you jump down my throat. I’m so sorry, cut me down again, that’ll teach me a lesson. You and your friend leave the room (briefly); my friend and I speculate (briefly). Brittany, I ask myself, what the hell is going on with you? Brittany, I answer myself, I don’t know. That’s the long/short. I simply...don’t.
I detest twelve-point font. Okay, so now that that’s out of the way...
I think often, quite calmly, of suicide. Not of actually doing it, thankfully, but of what it would be like. It’s morbidly tempting, in a way, to imagine what “life after death” really is. Thinking about that always brings me back to a conversation I had with Dan, several years ago. I asked him what he thought happened after death; he looked me straight in the eye and said, “Worm food.” Blank. Blank. Canvas – do we cling to faith so we aren’t empty? Suicide: freedom or prison?
Behind on my entries– there's a not-surprise. I have a great deal of difficulty in committing whole-heartedly to anything, I think. I'll pledge myself to something, attend all the meetings and fulfill all the requirements, but when it comes to crunch time and I'm expected to go above and beyond, I get stuck. I'm too tired, there are too many demands upon my precious time. Is all the stress worth it? Although I'm a commitment-phobe, I care about how it looks if one day my name is plastered underneath a glossy club photo, and in the next instant it's gone.
I'm thinking of you – of vomiting. It made me so angry when my father asked, "Now can you understand why your mother acts the way she does?" I'm not my mother. I am nothing like her. Nothing. My hatred is pure and fresh, but it will fade in a week or so. Her hatred is gnarled, crippled and sour like that old tree in the backyard that you keep meaning to cut down (it's too thick; would cost too much to have someone else do it). For now, I relish the idea of feeling my fist slam into your face.
Thought is so fluid. I am a scribbler, so I know this better than anyone. In trying to recreate something I wrote yesterday or the day before, I am reaching for a forbidden fruit. A month ago, when my computer crashed, I lost nearly everything I’ve ever written. It still depresses me when I think about it – a novel, countless short stories, speeches, reports, poems. I yelled at my father when he refused the $380 data retrieval fee. If I was kidnapped and you had to pay to get me back, I asked, would you? It’s the same thing. Really.
Why do you fear laughter so? Upon your words of January 2nd, I must tell you that you, like always, have assumed too much. Apparently, as of January 6th, you laughed, too. Laughter, laughter, the recurring theme, the greatest fear, your worst vice. Even still, Ryan, I am enchanted with the thought of you, with the speculations on thoughts I see behind your words. I really am laughing now, dear, but not at you – at my own ineptitude, my startling, uninhibited inhibition, ay my total inability to control anything. Listen to me. I know it’s my fault. I’m so sorry.
Once again I have chosen to surrender, to give myself to a force not entirely in my control. Half of me feels exquisite and free, like I’ve taken flight; the other half hopes desperately that I’ve not just been willingly caged. So here it is, from the identified admiress to her admirer: I hope that I am not already too far gone. I hope that I can become the person I should be. I hope I am not dreaming, that like so many others you won’t just disappear. I hope I’ll make you happy; I will try to be enough.
I want you to know that you make me sick. If I ever saw you again, I'd feel no remorse about jacking you right where it hurts. I am so angry right now. I am so angry right now. I think about what I've read, compared to the things that you've told me and that you STILL tell me. I want you to know that I despise you and that you're a miserable failure and you always will be. You FAIL. You fail in life, in love, and in everything else. I look back on you and want to vomit.
People always ask me about the ring (on my right hand, fourth finger, mind you). That's beautiful, where did you get it? I always smile, a guilty little grin; someone I once knew, I'll say, my exboyfriend. Three diamonds set in white gold…a symbol of not a promise, but a lie. He still calls me; once he called to ask if I still wore it. I confess that, at first, I had felt bad about not giving it back to him, but that passed quickly. Yes, I told him, I do. It's not the ring's fault that we broke up.
Feeling closed in and cut off from life, I decided to talk to my teacher. My teacher suggested that I speak with my guidance counselor, so I went to Guidance. After a few minutes, he came in and told me to talk to my principal. I trudged down the hall, still feeling pretty awful, and waited for my principal. She told me in her roundabout way that I should talk to my parents. After school, I drove home, and tried to talk to my father. He told me he didn't have time -- and suggested I talk to my teacher.
Last night at work I thought that I was going to witness a death. I watched as a man, laid out on the floor, turned bluish-gray; he stopped breathing for a moment and I had to give him mouth-to-mouth. He started breathing again; I was relieved I wouldn't have to do CPR, too. I've never been so scared in my life. A waitress asked me later if I was OK. I said 'sure.' Things like that make a person acutely and painfully conscious of their own mortality. I know that's how I felt, watching the paramedics wheel him away. Mortal.
I remember that there was a time I had a lot of respect for you. You've got so much going for you in the way of raw talent (even if you don't think so). Now I'm sitting here across from you, listening to you ramble on, and I'm wondering where the boy I knew has gone. You get your guitar out of its case and start to play softly, singing along -- I can hear nothing beautiful coming from either instrument. Hoping I'm wrong, I look into your eyes, praying that I'll see some glimmer of someone I once knew. No luck.
Forgive me. I read your letter and felt an intense remorse, a weighty guilt. There has got to be something wrong with me...I always do this, and it's making me crazy. I want to wrap my arms around you and apologize until memory is drowning in all of my sorries. I remember sitting on my floor with calculus books all around us, telling you I'd forgotten how to feel, forgotten what a family was, forgotten how to love. And you listened. For that I will be forever grateful. Indebted, even. And this is how I repay you. I'm so ridiculous.
Ah...the last entry of this month comes at last. It's truly been a tumultuous ride, this January. I was looking back through some of my December entries -- and I found myself sometimes proud, sometimes disgusted, sometimes entertained, and sometimes ashamed. I don't like that feeling, being ashamed of something that I produced myself, especially of something that I wrote myself. Writing is such an intensely personal thing for me. Sometimes I think that this 100 words thing was a bad idea -- it puts a part of myself out there that maybe shouldn't always be. Hmm. What a thought.
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