Strange Scent

he rubbed his chin, and thought of Tynan, one of his rowdy kindergarteners, and Kwasi, the sweet, brilliant boy in the hospital who’d wanted Ben to adopt him. He could picture the orphanage on the compound – all the beautiful kids who needed a home. Seeing them, he’d been so close to giving up on his dreams.

39

Sleep calls to you, but it’s a siren song, beckoning you to ruin. No, best stay in the middle and not seek solace on the shores to the left or to the right. Best not to even look overboard, because you might be dragged over before you even know what’s happening, and then where would you be?

Remember When

Love. Love had taken a hold of him like a vice, just for that one moment, and he hadn’t been able to breathe. He didn’t know whether it was God, and if so, which one. He’d vowed to make amends, and do whatever it took to make himself worthy of that box of dreams. On pain of hell or bad karma or whatever cosmic consequences would hold him accountable, he was determined to change.

Blessings in Disguise

hose huge eyes narrowed, and he realized they looked particularly big because of the goop applied so expertly to them that it naturally enhanced her eyelashes. She caught her lip, the same candy-pink as her high heels, between her bottom teeth, and regarded him with a look so unlike her usual haughty poutiness, that he suspected she’d entered a new phase in her emotional development – self-actualization.

Crap.

It’s Not Your Story To Tell

It was always predictable, the death of hope. To hope was to fall, after all. To love was to kill, and to trust was to die. It started in the eyes, when the attempt to be brave or laugh it off or remain stoic gave way to the tiniest crack of doubt. And then, that glass box of hope would bust wide open, unable to contain the mortal terror that burst forth. Sometimes, when the torrent had slowed to a trickle, there would be acceptance.

36

I write this on behalf of you and other survivors who can’t face their abusers. I write this on behalf of my own child who will one day realize the extent of the damage that my own pain caused him. I do hope that I can be well enough one day to receive his honesty and honour his story, but if I can’t, at least he’ll know that once upon a time I knew how he feels. I also write this on behalf of the perpetrators of emotional violence, like I myself sometimes am.

Magnum Opus

She sank her fingers deeper, closing her eyes, imagining the feel of his thick, black hair, his impossibly warm arms. She pressed her ear to the ground near the head of the grave, where she thought his heart might be. She listened, and she waited, but just like in the garden when he’d had that white guitar, she heard nothing. It was just one of a million quiet summer days.

41

So, sometimes I forget that I have this thing. Sometimes, life will be going so well that I forget that I’m sick. All it takes is a few good days, and for some reason, my brain thinks that I’m cured, that I’ll never have a bad day again, or if I do, it will feel different, and I’ll be able to rise above.

40

So I wonder, does God see only the fiftieth time that I’ve messed up that day? Does He hear my cries when my heart can’t take it anymore? Does He hold my dreams as tenderly as I do? Does He look at the efforts I expend to try and make the world a better place and smile? The same way I smile when I see my son doing the same?

33

I don’t know what your story is. What I know is that even if your trauma isn’t “as bad” as mine, I won’t hold it against you for having a more severe reaction than me. And I hope you can understand that even if my trauma isn’t as bad as yours and I still can’t keep it together like you, it’s not because I’m trying to take attention from your pain, or imply that people like us are incapable of healing. I don’t want to disrespect your trauma by appearing to complain about something that seems minor to you.