Book Two: I

Nights III

I’ve kept up my A average so far this year, but barely. It wasn’t easy with Patrick always wanting my attention, and all my drunken weekend shenanigans with Persephone and Chloe. 

Thankfully I broke up with Patrick last week, after the Easter dance. We fought all the time. He was so whiny and clingy. If I spent any time with my friends, or my homework for that matter, he got jealous. If he made my lunch for me one day and I didn’t return the favour the next day, he called me selfish and unfeeling. If I didn’t call him every night at ten o’clock to say goodnight, he would accuse me of cheating on him. 

So I gave him the boot. I don’t need that kind of slavery in my life. He wants to get back together, of course, and I have already slept with him again, twice. He is just so good at oral. It’s hard to leave behind my attachment to having sex with him, I suppose that’s why people wait until they’re married — so they’ll never have to do without, once they have it. 

But breaking up with Patrick felt so free and refreshing, I knew it was the right thing to do. It’s just when I see him, something in my body responds and I want to be close to him again because we’ve had sex so many times together now. I guess that’s what bonding is. But I don’t want a bond with that guy anymore, so I have to pull away in body and mind. 

My heart is already done!

It’s been an exhausting spring. After I first did away with my virginity (I refuse to think of it as losing it), I was casually chatting about it on the phone with Myname, who finally showed a little congratulations, short-lived because she had to go babysit her baby brothers. Charlie heard me through his bedroom wall and came barging in my room, with tears rolling down his face.

“You’re not a virgin anymore,” he bawled at me.

“No, I’m fucking not,” I yelled. “Why the hell do you always spy on my life? Get your own life, you sick pig.” Everything from the past numerous years came back and spewed out of me, and I wanted to punch his face.

“I can’t believe you let Patrick fuck you, you’re only sixteen, you don’t love him,” he cried. 

“I fucked Patrick, and I’m seventeen, and I do love him,” I shouted, because that was when I still did love him and the sex was just beginning.

At the same time as shouting these words, I felt the absolute horribleness of the fact that I was being forced to having a conversation involving my vagina and my body with my brother, who had seen me in the most compromising positions and acted now as if I somehow belonged to him. It felt wretched.

I stopped talking to him then. 

He blubbered on awhile about my purity and couldn’t even see that he was talking like a boyfriend and not like a brother. I took his shoulders, turned him around and marched him to my bedroom door, just like I used to the nights when he came into my room pants-free to hang his dick in my face. 

I pushed him out the door and yelled, “You don’t own me, you pervert,” and I haven’t been talking to him at all since. I’ve decided I won’t, unless we’re at the dinner table and my Dad and stepmom are making necessary conversation. 

Sometimes I can’t believe that I used to have another life back in Howey Bay, where everything was predictable and simple and my friends were all the same. For my whole life and there was nothing to do, ever. It’s like a dream. 

I do dream about it sometimes, when I can sleep. I’ve had insomnia over the past few months, which leads me to sit up at night writing miserable poetry and smoking out my bedroom window and feeling very restless. I have a raging inside my heart that makes me feel like I’m going to fall apart. The thing I need most is sleep, and I can’t have it. 

When I dream, lightly, I dream of frozen lakes and Marjean’s veil and underneath it her long black coil of hair . . . or I dream of my mother standing over me and Charlie at the table, only she is much taller than in real life. 

Then I wake up sweating and lie there with blackness in my head, with a big red flaming wound in my heart, knowing I have given up my virginity and won’t be with Patrick for the rest of my life and my future husband will see me as dirty and used.

I’m wasted, ruined. I smoke cigarettes every day and have cravings when I don’t get enough nicotine. I try to smoke marijuana only once every two weeks, but sometimes it’s every day. And I drink on most weekends. 

I lie there, not even able to cry, but missing those simple times with Miranda and her needle-embroidering friends with a sickness that I can’t describe. A sickness for something I’ve never had. Or I did have it, with you in the Slimes and down at the lake there. I don’t think I’ll ever have it back, it was hard to get even then. 

Where are you now? That little culvert and stream are so stupid and bare, nothing but a farce compared to where you and I used to meet. And I don’t know a single person who knows how to hum a hymn, or what cross stitch is, or why Jesus reigns supreme.

I find myself talking to Miranda out loud, mumbling about my life and the things I’ve done that can’t be taken back. 

“Miranda,” I chant, “To say you wouldn’t believe what I’ve been up to is an understatement. You don’t even have language for some of my activities. You wouldn’t know what tripping is, besides falling over your shoelace on the sidewalk. Are you aware of what an orgasm is? Or a tracer? Or a bottle toke, otherwise known as a BT? We do those all the time here. What would you have thought if you were with me at the county fair last weekend, where I was dressed in a secondhand Tanzanian shirtdress with jeans on underneath, and I dropped acid and went on the Gravitron where I experienced God on a whole ‘nother level, and then I fell over a wire fence and ripped my long shirtdress all the way up the front. My drunk friends caught me before I hit the wet ground, luckily. Would you believe any of that, Miranda? Or understand anything I just said? Let’s just make it simple, Miranda: I’ve been dancing. I’ve been doing a lot of dancing.”

I find you, God, dancing in my head as something you are and are not, a simply beautiful comforting presence and yet an exacting master of perfect morality. I don’t even know whether to refer to you anymore, since I know I’ve done (or am doing) enough to warrant being ex-communicated from the Christian faith. I don’t pray to you or think about you that often; I exist mostly in and of myself, right now, and you and I both know it. I’m not going to stop my shenanigans anytime soon; you and I both know that, too. 

There’s some kind of adventure we find in it, together — so don’t try and deny it!

Also, I’ve got to tell you that I firmly believe every person should be required by law to take magic mushrooms at least three times in their life. I mean, what I’ve noticed is that coming out of childhood and into this urban wasteland of unsupervised adolescence, it’s not as easy as it once was to grab ahold of the thread that leads to you. Nowadays, it’s as slippery as it is invisible. 

But magic mushrooms are the perfect thread; I’ve found you over and over, deeper and wider and beyond and within all realms, an endless mystery that is yet utterly simple in its purity and grace, a perfectly clumsy delight and wonder that is just what I expected and a surprise, too. I think it would do a lot of adults good to learn to let go of their ideas about reality and give in to the lovely new discovery that happens on a mushroom trip. I’ve made such friends with nature and folks alike. I can connect with anything. It makes me feel like a child again, young and breathing and crying and running; I remember that easy natural purity when you and I were together and impossible to separate. We were together in every way. Even as lovers, you could say.

But most nights I am far, far away from you. I do still believe that the Kingdom of God is within me, only I also believe that God is so vast he includes everything and that means all hell and bad feelings too. So here I am, with your Kingdom and your glory and all your drama and suffering, too. I’ll bet a million bucks this is how Jesus felt right there on the cross. Far away, with little hope. This is the one way I am definitely made in your image: I am far away from myself and everything I’ve created. I participate as well as I can, but I don’t know what to do anymore than you do. 

But we’re both going to tell each other that we can shape and predict the future. It’s the simple loneliness of Being that brings humans and you into commonality with each other. I know that pain, that wound, that maw of longing. We speak like fools from that place, and throw our problems at each other from a hole of anguish. 

Yes, I’m made in your image.

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