Corners Of My Mind
My words were difficult to read, he said.
“They’re not exactly a picnic to write,” I answered. “But if you really want to see what’s in my head…”
So I opened the vault and invited him in.
“It’s dark in here. And remember that I warned you. When you’ve had enough, you can go back the way you came in.”
Because the reader reads, while the writer bleeds.
“I’ll let your eyes adjust, it’s wicked on the senses. See, her over there? Looks like me, doesn’t she. That’s Faith. Don’t be alarmed by her greyish-blue color and her black eye. Everything in here is sort of dead, and she’s in the middle of choking on hypocrisy. I used to dress her up and take her to church, and we’d sing songs and cry and praise God for the glorious mystery in misery. But there’s not enough makeup in the world these days to fake her life. She used to tell me there was a purpose for all of this, that all we needed to know was that our sins were cast as far as the East is from the West and we’re all just one little prayer away from our salvation. Sometimes I revive her and remind her that it was God himself who dared Satan to test Job’s faith. But we’re nowhere near as good as Job was, and she’s just tired of getting beaten up. That shiner she’s got, it was a right hook from Hope….
That’s her over there, Hope… curled up in the corner in the fetal position. You see, they got into it, Faith and Hope, and no one won. I guess it was dark in here, how silly of me. They always used to provide their own light, now it’s kind of dim. You can’t see from here, but Hope, she looks like me, too. Just like me when I was 12. Back when the world was full of possibility and even though I didn’t believe in Santa Clause anymore, I knew that believing in things was what gave them magic. And when you’re 12, the world is still dripping with magic. Sizzling with it. Hope is eternally young, but she gets so very beat up by all the things that never happen and bleeds internally from the the things that do. I think she’ll be okay, though. She’s resilient, she’s tough, and like me when I was twelve, she doesn’t know when to quit.
Try not to stare, but yeah. That’s Love. Her resemblance to me, also striking, isn’t it? And probably, she should be dead because you can see that pool of blood beneath her feet, dripping from a series of wounds she’s taken to the heart. Yet she’s standing there, and she looks strong, doesn’t she? It wasn’t always like this, that smell of iron like incense on a burner. No, no… for the longest time, she had some kind of a slow leak. A drip here, a drip there. And she’d take this old bucket and mop from the closet and tell herself it’s her own damned fault, and she’d clean it up. She wouldn’t let anyone help, didn’t want anyone to see, like she was ashamed to bleed. That sound you’re hearing, that whooshwhooshwhoosh? It’s alarming, I know. You hear it in your own ears when you run or swim or let your own blood boil in your heart as you feverishly, involuntarily keep pumping… but right now you’re hearing hers, and it echoes like it has something to say. She begs it to slow down sometimes. Sometimes, she holds her breath just see if it will stop.
But it doesn’t.
Between you and me, she’s tired of cleaning up the mess.”
He sees the closet full of supplies in my mind, and without permission wanders over. I watch silently as he emerges like a magician with the right set of tools. He stoops over Faith, taking her chin in one hand and with the other, he produces a small bag of frozen peas to soothe her bruised cheek. I had no idea I kept frozen peas in my mental closet. He turns to Hope, helps her up, situating her so she can lean with her back against the walls of my mind. He gives her a towel and a bottle of water, and gently asks her to take a sip. Then slowly and deliberately, he turns to Love. Disregarding the sticky puddle at their feet, he embraces her in a way that softens her pulse. I notice the prints his boots make as he steps outside of the pooled blood, intrigued by the fact that he was, after all, willing to get them dirty. He turns gently, somberly, and begins cleaning up a mess that wasn’t all his to clean up.
He says, “If you’ll let me stay, I promise this will never, ever, happen again.”
And I want desperately to believe him.