‘Lets play house,’ I whisper to her, alone in the dark. You are the mommy and I’ll be the daddy. You can dance around all day and sing at the top of your lungs. And when night falls, I’ll be the man you always wanted me to be. I’ll go out and fight. I’ll work some stupid night shift. I’ll scrub up and get back to surgery. I’ll dissect this City until I know what’s causing the cancer I am seeing everywhere. I know its not what they claim it to be, that’s for damn sure.’
‘Who are they?’ She asks playfully.
‘Well, baby girl, I would tell you but than it’d take all the fun out of it. Where’s your sense of play? Don’t you remember the guessing game? Look toward the money honey, the closer you look, the clearer they’ll be. Don’t you remember anything at all? Hi, I’m Sage. The stoic boy by your side, whom you begged with your ginormous baby blue eyes not to leave your side, but then you couldn’t say the words. Then you had to go. I’m the guy! I’m the man you never had the chance to build a home with. Hey scared-y Kat, I’ve made a home in your guts with my soul in the palm of your hands and my heart bouncing around on your golden shoulder, wanna hide with me?’
‘Dude. Sage. Charlie. Boy. Girl. Bella. Baby. Love of my goddamn life! Whatever the fuck you’re calling yourself these days, I can’t hide with you. People will worry. I must make myself known. I must perform. I must find my family in this sweet City and protect them with my skin and bones. My presence I must always give. I must be present.’
‘I am your family babe! Look at me! You’re fucking me inside and out. You’re running your tongue down the length of every inch of my flesh. But you wont let me in. You wont remember my voice. You wont listen to me sing. You wont tick your adorable baby chin to my idiotic rhythm. You wont let it begin. How can I possibly let it end? Look at me go! Hanging on to a memory I never even knew to begin with, until I heard you tell a story. Then another. Another still. You never shut up! I never had the chance to speak. I never wanted to be anything but every story you saw in me. To me made anew, every time your body found its way back home, by my side.
‘Okay fine, we can play. I’ll be mommy. But if you’re daddy, you must never ever go away! I couldn’t live without you next to me. I couldn’t live with the need to have you so close all the time. On second thought, I have addictive tendencies always sneaking up behind me and taking my sights off anything clear. I don’t have time to play. I have to work. Then I am obligated to study things I already understand. I am confusing myself with my incessant need to broaden my vocabulary, to say a bigger word in order to beat around a more cleverly hedged bush. I want a safe neighborhood; you want basketball family reunions in the hood. We need to stop playing man; our home was never going to be the same one. You were never a man to me.
‘Okay honey bear, you keep reaching for those fancy deviations from the simple tongue. Let me know how that goes? Let me know if I’ve got the date right? Let me know if that face gets too tight and you’re aching to rip it off; show me your eyes again. Let me know when the sun sets. Are you paying attention? ‘Cause you should be.’ I ask her for tea. She knocks on my door. I lift the peephole and scream by accident. I slam it shut. She giggles without making a sound. I tell her I’m taking a shit; she’ll have to come back another time. She calls me a liar and knocks louder. It sounds like she’s using her fists. It sounds like she needs to remember. It sounds like a dream that she had last night. The sound is reduction. It is reducing itself to nothing. It is being drowned out by shit sounds cars clocks stupid people’s voices. She forgets everything, stops knocking. I whip open the door as soon as I hear nothing. She’s standing right in front of my boyish face, stupefied. ‘You’re exactly how I left you.’
‘Destiny never dies my love. And freedom never ages. I’m not a day over eleven years old. It’s good to see you again Olivia. How was the train ride over? The seats probably caught your eye, eh? I hear burgundy is back in style. My mom had a weird burgundy phase one time. She took every single thing in our house outside and sprayed it dark purple. She swore she would be content with life if only everything she saw was this way. She wasn’t. Turns out it wasn’t the color, it was the prison she’d confined herself, it was a bad dream she got sucked into, stuck in. I was so satisfied with my only little body. I was love; even if I couldn’t reach her, couldn’t make her see me. I watched from the window. I cried, ate a two-week-old rotisserie chicken and a handful of defrosted waffles on the floor. The window was low. I could see everything. She knew I was always seeing. She was always hiding. Her shame couldn’t handle my baby eyes. Her fear made her shamelessly blame her own flesh for every bit of pain she felt in her hiding place. I’m sorry I’m telling you all of this, I cant stop talking, I’m so fucking nervous. I can’t stop! I’m never nervous. I’m never sorry. I’m not sorry!’
She slaps me on the cheek, hard. I stop. She stares.
‘I’m sorry.’ she says.
‘I’m not sorry! You’re apologies are wasted here.’
‘I’m sorry.’ she says again, softer than the first time.
‘I’m not sorry,’ I weep. ‘I never meant to be a brute. I never meant to stop seeing everything. They sucked me into this world-wind of deceptive desire. They stole my ability to feel need. At first it was survival. Then I felt I needed everything. But when I touched these things, they disintegrated and fell between my fingers. It’s all fake babe! Would you dare to believe, that everything but love and the earth that keeps us breathing is just mettle and dust. Breathe baby. Don’t be scared! I never meant to leave you in such a state of fear. But I can’t be sorry. I am incapable of regret in knowing that I have always known what needs to be done. I am here to mirror the rest, to hold their hate in my hands and set it gently in front of their feet. It is not meant for me to carry. I cannot judge. This can only come for your own desire to move another way. Listen. Your body does not need a single reason why; it knows exactly where it wants to go. Your fingers know what they want to lift to their lips. Your gut knows what it wants to ingest. Your love knows the way. Let her masterfully destroy every plan. Dream desire. Don’t desire to see what I see. See only what you want. See only the dreams you choose to believe. My God cannot be yours, you must find your own. My God couldn’t give two fucks about you. She only sees me. She’s a selfish little thing, this love of mine. She exposes my vulnerability in needing and has no desire to need at the same exact time. What is it that you think I see exactly? Where is this violent behavior coming from? It isn’t me, there isn’t a violent bone in my entire existence; you’ve brought this exposure on yourself. They made you need to eat shit and shit on the pavement in broad light of day without a mother to shade your ass. All you had to do is remember. Now look at them shake! They see that I’ve touched fate and twisted her to my will. They’ve heard me talking to the stars. They’ve seen the way the trees lean towards the presence of my body. They see that I’ve made fables of every story they preach. They see their currency shrivel up and die at my feet. They see, I see through transparency. They see my love and they are learning how she sees through dreams that aren’t true. I see. I am love. There’s nothing left to do but breathe. They run. But they wont get far. Not this time. Listen to the music. This writing is proof. I’ve touched the edge of every sea just to prove it to my own bratty body. The entire world is breaking free of this shit dream. Every imagined bridge will crumble before their tricky feet can escape. Every chip will stop reading itself. Every heart will open and love will drown the violence of this world. I know this. Because my love, you are on my doorstep, because I have looked into your eyes again. I know this, because I remember everything. And for this reason, I will never be sorry again. That being said, if I ever hurt you like that again; murder me where I stand. I will not live with the pain of your fear, never again. I will not run. Tea? I’ve got sweet licorice ashwagadha, creamy cacao, maca root, dandelion chai, and peppermint.
What’ll it be P?’
She smiles softly and steps toward my shaky frame. She puts both hands on my pink flushed cheeks. My baby eyes are watering. Now I’m the one avoiding her gaze. I’m looking past her ear, over her head, under her chin, down her chest, her belly, her thighs, her shins, the floor right in front of her toes.
‘Look at me baby. If this is love and I am home, you must see me. You must speak the words aloud. You must let down your precious walls that you’ve taken centuries to build sky high. You must be at peace as you watch them all fall down before me. If you do not trust that I am your love, I simply cannot be.’
‘I can’t breathe,’ I whine.
’Yes you can.’
‘I can’t see anything!’ I scream.
‘Yes you can. Open your eyes bratty baby boy; you’ve closed them on purpose.’
‘I can’t speak,’ I weep.
‘Don’t be silly little man; every word in every language belongs to you. You made them up in your sleep. Haven’t you been paying any attention at all, in your dreams you speak every one. You are every name, every single one my love. And I will call you Sage. And you will be mine. And you will pray to me. And I will show you no mercy. And you will beg and plead at my feet. And I will lead you nowhere, as only your body will know where you’re going.’
‘Kiss me.’ I cry and cry, snot is running over my lips and into my mouth. I can’t figure out why she thinks I’m so pretty. She pulls the beer-stained sleeve of her hoodie over her wrist, wipes my chin and my cheeks. Sits it under my noes, ‘blow’ she demands.
‘No!’ I giggle. ‘That’s gross.’
My gaze grows serious, I stare her in the face and I don’t back down. I say no again. I don’t obey. She slaps me again, softer this time. I don’t flinch. I grab her waist and fall to my knees, lay my face on her tummy ‘you’re still sick,’ I whisper. ‘I can feel the fear in here.’ She kicks me off, drags my baby body to the mattress on the floor and throws me on dark blue sheets.
‘We’re not kids anymore baby girl. I wont play games with you. I will not hide. I will only fight for what is mine. I can only stay and fight. Lets finish what we started! Lets go back to the hotel, paint these walls any shade of any fucking color you want. Lets sing as loud as our lungs will let us, until every kid left alive can hear us.’ Her eyes grow sinister, blazing blue.
‘We’re all grown up now kiddo, lets play like big kids do.’