Most of the time, in my experience, with most people, when I tell someone they are hurting me, they back off, they soften. I can sweep together all the unspoken protests and all the eye-rolls not unleashed, concentrate them into a ball of fire between the two wings of my rib cage, and it’s not the earth’s husband but it is somebody’s sun. And finally when my body breaks we all realize it was only ever glass, a glass candle against all the fury of a nameless wind from the belly of the Antarctic, a glass candle with a flame flickering, asthmatic, never ought to have been placed in the arena, was never meant to fight, and instead of the lion’s maw she gets a superglue bath, a cold compress, a warm hug. And I break again, when I am hugged, but it is in a smaller way, and the sun rekindles itself.
But with you, I found out, it was different. If I let you know you were hurting me, instead of softening, your winds would roar harder, robust themselves off the sustenance of my fear and laugh louder, noosing gleefully all around the planet. The small one, you know, the one for which my sun is someone’s son. Between my organs. So I knew I had to break a different way.
But knowing doesn’t change one’s breaking, except in the case of the cat’s spine, genius in the split second between bureau summit and plummet to carpet. So — I broke down. Every day in that car when long termite-like trucks closed in too close or when your hand swerved the wheel a bit too late or when I noticed the scars on that hand trace a map that could just as easily be pointing at me as what it’s really pointing at — I broke a little. I still held my candle to the oblivious wind. A flame of glass is an easy flyover.
And every day with “You guys wanna hit the train?” and “I wish I was special” and “They’re so perfect together it makes me feel like a piece of shit” and “I’m not gonna crack” and “Call 1-800-BE-IDEAL” and “it only hurts when I laugh; gone too fast” and “I’m not gonna crack” and finally you lobbed your rockets at my nation — the small one, you know, sprouted upon the planet that orbits the sun between my lungs. You sent a fallacious hurricane to tear out my hair and rip the trees from their roots.
So finally I had a legitimate reason to be angry, and my flame fizzled out loudly with much expulsion of the fluids of the eyes and nose. And because I happen to take the form of a fragile glass figurine, the ravens which circled had their backs to me, their beaks brandished outward at you. You just stood there. And when they nibbled the tips of the stalagmites in your stubby fingers I nearly drowned in the possibility of a thousand years of water being suddenly unannexed into a flood, blood too rich in oxygen, to wrap like ferret-skin around my neck and tickle me towards a blissful helium asphyxiation.
I have discovered a creature which, when made aware that its self-destruction is wilting me, will get joy. Will destroy itself louder, harder, faster. And I know that even if you are too strong to be destroyed by yourself, I am just a glass candle in the wind, and if the wind doesn’t have that same gasp-drawback reflex everyone else has when they see me start to break, well, then I just don’t know what to do. Writing this would normally clarify the other person’s eyes, get them to tremble as I trembled and soften as I melted. But if you were to read this, you would only laugh and pitch twice-harsher gales.
And maybe scaring me to death will give you a sense of purpose in life and you’ll start talking less about hanging yourself and then I can finally relax. For now my sun hungers rudely even at night. This candlelight keeps me awake when I only want to fall to sleep on the snow.
Image credits in order of appearance:
“A murano chandelier – another view on the green flower.” By Mummelgrummel – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24559312
“Blistering winds above Breckenridge’s Imperial lift-the highest lift in North America. Totally EPIC! *fixed the colors now available full size! Check it out on black! View On Black.” By Zach Dischner – Imperial Hurricane, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=40575719
“View over the greenlandic ice sheet shortly after a snow storm at Camp Raven.” By Ingo Wölbern [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Campraven1.jpg
See the earlier chapters of this story:
References from paragraph 4:
“I wish I was special” – Radiohead: “Creep”
“I’m not gonna crack” – Nirvana: “Lithium”
“Call 1-800-BE-IDEAL” – from radio ads for a company called “Ideal Image”
“It only hurts when I laugh; gone too fast” – Red Hot Chili Peppers: “Dani California”