I was thirteen when they came to Bethel in droves– hippies, freaks, artists, sexpots. It was a beautiful, colorful sight to see. Every time they came the world turned into a bright shade of sepia, as though signaling the beginning of a welcoming eternal summer.
I remember climbing to the roof when I heard the music start from the farm. It may have been far but I could see the white woman onstage, and I could hear her drawl. It was a beautiful, sexual drawl, one filled with years of torment and pain and sadness and longing. I felt for the woman, and I loved her sad, sensual song.
By the time it was all over I wanted to get rid of everything. Before they came, I wanted to be a doctor– I had plans to go to college and study medicine and marry and make love to only one man. Now I felt like I wanted to leave that all behind and just be something else… something more. So I ran away from home and wrote songs about what I had heard and the people I saw. I learned how to send them in and wait for feedback. Sometimes, I would sing them and hold out a jar people would fill with dollar bills and letters of love.
It was a beautiful, blissful time, and I wish it had all come true. I wish it had happened. I wish I hadn’t woken up and let all those silent dreams never come true. I wish I hadn’t studied hard and gone off to medical school and married the first man who promised me he wouldn’t leave. Because he did.
And here I am now, writing this… in the middle of the house where all those happy dreams first came alive.
There’s rope on the table beside me and a knife under the carpet.
It’s been three years, and she’s doing better.
The doctors tell me they might have been wrong about her. The dreams are gone and she sleeps peacefully. In the mornings, she wakes up early, eats, and smiles at everyone. They say she shares stories with the nurses about a happy childhood in the farmland: waking up at dawn to feed the chickens and work the plow. At night, she sleeps the earliest, making sure to take her pills and leave her book outside before the rooms are locked.
I feign a smile until I’ve left the Center and I’m back in the car. It is then that I break down. Tears stream down from my face as I remember the farm. Yes, there was a farm. We were in the farm, me and her. We were there when the skies got dark and the evil people came in. They took our Mommy and our Daddy, and made us work.
In the morning, they whipped us when we wouldn’t wake up before the sunrise to feed the chickens. At night, things got worse. She got lucky when the hippies passed by for food and they took her away from me.
I still go home to those fuckers, but they don’t know where she is. I’d rather keep it that way. I love my sister too much to let her go back to them and die.
There are screams once more in Thebault Center. The hippie girl in 504 is having nightmares again. They find powder under her bed after they’ve taken her to isolation room six.
She won’t be getting out anytime soon.
I want the world to shine the way it was supposed to, when I knew me and I knew you.
When I understood what ‘love’ meant and smelled ground diamonds like they were as precious as the salt of my soul.
I wish I could live in that time and allow myself to understand everything the way I was supposed to.
I found her letter wrapped in a tie-dyed bandanna soaked in white powder, wedged in between the gun she used to shoot up the building where I slept and the guitar she broke in half.
She lay on the bed with her shirt open and her shoes bloodied.
It had been hard, I could tell.
But she didn’t look dead.
The best time to do it is when no one’s watching.
When it’s late at night and everyone’s asleep.
Take the nearest one you can find and sit down.. calm yourself.
Stay relaxed in between heavy tears.
And then, slice.
Force it in as hard as you can. It doesn’t need to bleed.
Bite your tongue if the pain is too much.
Hide the knife when they come in.
Pretend to smile
Even when your eyes are red and puffy.
Take it out when they leave
Blood is no object.
In the morning, the scars are gone.
But the pain is forever.
Paint me like one of your French girls.
Draw me in detail
With my black tears streaming down
And the melted lipstick on my nose.
Spare me the scarcity of covering
And draw what you wish to see.
Look in and depict
The coloring of my mouth
The shade of my blush
The rupture in my soul.
Notice how my arms are bent yet stay straight
Notice the white in between my shoulder blades and my chest.
Take your brush and mix the brightest shades with gloom
Feel my emotion as you paint.
A strand of hair is on my belly
Yet the shade does not match mine.
Take note of the blanket: it is white, not gray
And it covers the red you noticed
Before we began.
Find time to draw the ruffles on the cloth
And the things you don’t see fit to shade.
End with your name.
I’ll probably never find you, but in case fate is kind to me in this first lifetime… here goes.
First of all, I couldn’t be more thankful that you even exist. There have been several points in my life when I’ve doubted I would be as lucky as those around me. My friends have gone on to marriages less than ten years after college, and yet here I am: single, stressed and alone. A part of me always wondered whether there was something wrong with me. There were times when I would look at myself in the mirror and scrutinize every inch of my face in hopes of finding the reason behind my unattractiveness. Was there a pimple I didn’t notice? An ugly scar perhaps?. I was this close to calling myself an old maid before you came along. So, thank you for that.
Secondly, thank you for accepting me and loving me just the way I am. I know that there are more beautiful and smart girls out there, and yet here you are, settling down with someone like me. I’m sorry for talking like this again, but you know how it was for me growing up. I’ve never been the most confident girl in the world: especially when it comes to my appearance and my personality.
No one in my life has been more supportive and more encouraging to me. You saw me as beautiful when the only thing I worried about was the fact that I couldn’t fit into anything. I remember that time you laughed at me when I told you I was conscious about the pimple that had grown on my cheek. Instead of handing me the cream on my dresser, you threw it in the trash and kissed me, telling me that it didn’t matter. “You’re still the most beautiful girl in the world to me,” you whispered then. That was the sweetest thing someone’s ever told me. That’s how I knew you were the One.
I know that life has its uncertainties and fate is never kind. But even when things close their eyes to the possibility of happening, there’s nothing wrong in embracing hope.
This is what I leave you with: a message of certainty. I know I’ve said much but even I know that the possibility of this reality lacks a certain probability. Just know that if ever I do meet you, and if ever things do go through as planned…or even if they don’t, I’ll always be hopeful. Even when it seems like my life will reach its fated end.
A Certain Hopeful Dreamer
Chi is the dream that you wake up from
From the world where connections are connected
Connected like two peas in a pod, two electrons in a slot.
Eyes covered from the belief that tomorrow comes in an hour
Hour of self-reflection via lemon-flavored euphoria
Euphoria worth three rides to Cantanta.