Last night I was in a dark echoing room all alone, paranoid that he was coming to kill me. I screamed. And I screamed, like I was under the wool-fog layers of dreaming trying to rip myself awake.
Then I was with him in the warmth of our bed, and I told him that I had been afraid. “I was afraid you would kill me,” I whispered, my cheek against his chest, my arm closing in around his waist. After a dry silence, I ventured again. “…would you kill anything?”
He said that, sometimes, it’s okay for people to die.
When I wake, all I feel is that I am drifting in a cloud of unplaceable longing. Though I’ve only been in the plane seat for a few hours, my face is coated with an oily layer, and my thick hair is lacquered to my scalp in greased strings. My nostrils and throat are papery from the recirculating air, and I contemplate the feasibility of finding my way to the plastic bathroom door from my seat. I am positioned between two sweatered forms whose faces I have not met. So instead I tuck my knees up against the seat in front of me and snuggle into myself.
I remember an ancient method of torture. The captive is placed in a box that is neither tall enough to allow him to sit up fully nor long enough to allow him to lay down. He is forced to hold this unnatural and uncomfortable position for an indefinite amount of time.
I wiggle into an upright position as the flight attendants come around with their trays of tomato and orange juice cans.
Then I drift back into myself. I am in a dark and dusty theatre. On the raised stage a series of lolloping gestures and gibberish syllables are being performed. Midway through the show I glide out of my aisle seat and stand directly in front of the stage, facing the audience and obstructing the view of the ongoing performance. I am holding a messy vanilla ice cream cone, and it is melting and glopping onto my wool sweater. I try to grasp the sticky mess as it melts through my fingers and onto the floor. I stare out helplessly for a beat. The actors become frustrated at the mounting distraction, just one of the many factors that have made performing this show unbearable. They give up and walk off stage.
A few minutes later the theatre has emptied, and only a few people remain, drifting about the rooms like scavenger birds in a post-apocalyptic city. I find a small group sitting cross-legged in a circle on the floor. They are extracting lengths of silver ball chain from their throats and polishing them in their laps. I sit down and form my fingers as holding a pen. I reach into the back of my throat and begin to pull up a chain. I pull and pull and they look on, mildly impressed. The chain tugs evenly at my innards as I remove it, like yarn pulled from a a skein, and I struggle to keep from gagging. Finally I come to the end and look down at the length laying at my feet. My silver ball chain is like the rest, except it is wrapped tightly in a tube of pink intestine like some nightmarish unborn fetus, and what’s worse- somewhere deep in the base of my stomach the length is still attached. I look around, desperately seeking scissors that are not to be found, struggling to breath around the umbilical cord.
Increasing turbulence jars me awake, and a flight attendant urges me to fasten my belt. I click the shiny metal square into place. My body feels like the very bones are raging with emptiness. Now I am less than an hour from landing.
I was sixteen when I moved in to a boarding school on the other side of the state. I discovered this: coming to a new place you have a new set of expectations- you are washed clean like a newborn child. But you are also fully aware of each new mar. A string of gossip is not a fleeting lapse but a facet of your character you had hoped to leave behind.
As passengers begin to disembark I wait my turn and then stand, enjoying the rediscovered luxury of unrestricted movement. I heft my baggage from an overhead compartment and slip it on to my familiar shoulder. I nod a polite thanks to the flight attendants and stroll down the hallway and into the buzzing airport. I find the nearest bathroom and rinse my face with the clean-in-every-culture scented soap, inspecting and retying my greasy hair.
Outside of the airport I stand across from a greek columned building. From its triangular roof top green oxidized statues gaze down at the passers by, their eyes, noses and creases leaking black soot. It is as if the statues are melting, evoking a temporality not meant for stone.